We know our paths to motherhood are all unique. Our goal at Love Child is to share as many stories as we can that include families who have adopted, fostered, used a surrogate, natural conception, fertility treatments, etc. We want to celebrate and share them for many reasons but mostly to show there are options for families and that you are not alone if you are currently in the process of one of them. Today, we bring you the story of Kelle and Weston Amaro from California. After being diagnosed with endometriosis, they decided adoption was the right path for them. Kelle shares their touching story of processing her infertility (since she was 14), the ups and downs of the match and adoption process, and the fateful day that brought Elliot, their beautiful baby boy, into their lives. Photography by Emily Noble
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Kelle Amaro. A twenty-six year old, Transitional Kindergarten teacher, living in Southern California. Weston and I met over 10 years ago! (Crazy!) I was a Junior in high school, he had recently graduated, and our best friends were dating each other at the time so we hung out a lot, but always in our little friend group until one night when he suggested we get dinner just the two of us. I was so nervous, I couldn’t even eat anything and only ordered a chocolate milkshake, even though it was a freezing, rainy night in February. I wasn’t even sure if we were on a date or not, but I had such a huge crush on him that I spent the whole night analyzing every move trying to figure it out. After he dropped me back off at home, I was sure I had completely blown my chances at being “more than friends” and sat in my bedroom, painstakingly going over every detail of the night and everything I was sure I had done to embarrass myself when suddenly my phone lit up and it was Weston, saying HE was sorry for being so weird all night and then admitted that the reason he had been so weird is because he liked me. *cue highschool bedroom dance party * And the rest is history!
Was starting a family something you and your husband both wanted?
We knew that we definitely wanted to be parents someday, but I had been dealing with so many health issues throughout our relationship that I think we both had our guard up a little bit. After 10 years of being shuffled around through different doctors offices where nobody could figure out the cause of my debilitating period pain, I finally got my diagnosis : endometriosis. This is a condition where the tissue that’s supposed to line the inside of your uterus and shed itself each month, grows elsewhere in your body and creates scar tissue often fusing organs together, causing chronic pain, and for many women, infertility. I had two surgeries and after the second one, my doctor said I still looked physically capable of getting pregnant, but told us that the sooner we started trying after the surgery, the more likely our chances were. So we started thinking about that a lot more seriously then, but we were still engaged, house hunting and definitely not ready to get pregnant just yet, so for a while it was just more of a consideration than anything else.
Did you try to conceive naturally? What was that journey like? Any interventions you are comfortable sharing?
When we had been married for about 6 months we decided to start trying to get pregnant. By then, it had been almost a year since my surgery so the timeline was just right. We went and saw my naturopath and after running some tests and reviewing my history, her biggest concern wasn’t me BECOMING pregnant, but rather STAYING pregnant. I’m allergic to progesterone which is something my body would be making a lot more of during pregnancy and her concern was that in the past, my body has tried to fight off progesterone and it’s made me incredibly sick and also make it really difficult for a baby to make it full term. It would be a high-risk pregnancy from the start, but she told me to think about it, put me on some vitamins, had me drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea multiple times a day, and we were using a daily ovulation kit for a few weeks before Weston and I admitted to each other that our hearts just weren’t in it. Weston was so afraid of seeing me sick and in the hospital again. I was so afraid of getting pregnant KNOWING the risk of miscarriage and thinking of how guilty I would feel if anything happened to the baby when I knew this in advance. It’s a really personal thing. Everyone is so different but for us it didn’t feel right to pursue fertility treatments or anything else at that time, with that information.
I can’t imagine how difficult and emotional this was for you. Who made up your support system? Do you have any advice or resources for women struggling with infertility?
In a way, I had been processing my infertility since I was around 14 years old. Throughout my years with unexplained Endometriosis and all the different tests, treatments, and trials I went through with that, I was told MANY times by doctors that I would never get pregnant. There was a time where I left an appointment where a doctor had read me some results that were extremely depressing and she told me there was probably no way I’d ever have a baby. I was probably 18 or 19 and I left the room while my mom continued talking to the doctor and I went back to the car and just sobbed. It was the first time it felt real. And even though I wasn’t trying to get pregnant, I was finally at an age where I was planning my future and it just broke my heart to feel so out of control of my own body and my own life choices. In a way though, I was at an advantage. Because so many women go into their marriages without a single doubt that they’ll get pregnant, then when they begin trying they’re shocked at the difficulties they face. I knew from the start. Weston knew from the start. He married me anyway and we knew we’d just take it one step at a time. He and my mom were incredible to me throughout all the emotions of chronic illness and infertility though. My mom was there for me at almost every appointment, she cried with me and let me feel the gravity of everything. And Weston was there to pick me up, dust me off, and reassure me that everything was going to be okay. I also dove headfirst into the endometriosis community on social media once I got my diagnosis and being able to connect with other women who completely understood what I was going through was super helpful too. We lovingly call each other “endosisters” and many of them had experienced infertility and also were a great resource for me.
When did you decide adoption was the right path for your family?
It’s funny because when I was little, I used to tell my mom I was going to adopt my babies! It’s like it had been on my heart from the very beginning, but when you meet someone and fall in love, I think it’s really common to want to bring life into the world with them, so of course my plans changed a bit. But as soon as we had the discussion about not wanting to get pregnant anymore, it went right into the adoption conversation. It was something we had both been open to before getting married so it wasn’t a huge shock or anything. It was more so just examining our different options. Did we want to adopt from an agency? County? Boy or girl? Baby or child? Did we want to be more open or more selective? Within our first conversation we decided that we wanted to adopt through our county’s foster care system. One of my former students had been adopted that way and his mom and I had remained friends after he left my class. So the first thing I did was reach out to her and ask if we could have dinner with their family and hear about how their adoption process went! We went over to their house a few weeks later and ate pizza while they told us about the highs, lows, and crazy twists that ended up bringing their family together. Their son sat with us and proudly showed us pictures of his adoption day and as soon as we got in the car to head home, we looked at each other and said, “Yep! We want that!” Two weeks later, we attended our orientation.
Can you describe this process.
For our county, we started at an orientation where they gave us a rundown of everything to expect, fingerprinted us and started our background checks, and we filled out a lot of paperwork – although in hindsight it’s funny how we thought that was so much paperwork. Adoption paperwork is literally never ending! The next 5 weeks we spent our Saturdays in classes where they prepared us for different scenarios that come up in county adoptions : how to parent children who have been abused, what the timeline looks like for adopting out of foster care (spoiler alert : there is no set timeline), and what is required of us and our home if this is something we want to do.
From there we had to wait to hear from a social worker who was going to write our homestudy. This took two months but one morning in December, I had taken the day off work to go to Disneyland with Weston and we were sitting in traffic, waiting to enter the parking structure when my phone rang and it was M, calling to say she had been assigned as our social worker and she was going to come do our first homestudy interview the following week! We were so excited and all day at Disneyland we kept pointing at kids saying “What if our kid looks like that?!” Haha
M came to our home twice and interviewed us. She asked extremely in depth and personal questions about our family history, how we grew up, my health, our marriage – everything. She used what she learned about us to write up a document called a homestudy, which is basically just a huge file that says everything about us and it’s what the social workers look at to determine which family would be the best match for a child. At our third and final meeting with M, we got to read the homestudy and sign it to say that all of the information inside was true. That day, M said, “The next time I see you guys will be the day you get matched!” She told us that her supervisor would look over the homestudy, approve it, and then our profile would officially be listed as “waiting and available” and we could get matched at any time! But what was supposed to take two weeks ended up taking much longer.. Almost 3 months after our homestudy was completed, on Good Friday, I finally got the news that M’s supervisor had signed the document and to keep our phones close because were OFFICIALLY waiting and available! Paper pregnant! We were thrilled! And even though everyone had warned us that we probably wouldn’t get matched for at least 4-6 months, I didn’t put my phone down at all… Well, until May 5th.
Tell us about your first match.
On May 5th, we were having a potluck at work! I stepped out of the classroom to fill up my plate with Cinco De Mayo goodies and for the first time in weeks, I left my phone on the counter in the classroom. When I returned, I checked it and it had a missed call!! FROM OUR SOCIAL WORKER! I immediately stepped back outside to call her. In our county, we had been warned that if you miss the call, they will move on to somebody else because these children need placements so quickly in many cases! When I got M on the phone I was already in tears and she kept telling me to try to be calm. “Listen, there is a newborn baby being discharged from the hospital today and you and Weston are being considered as a match, are you listening?” I seriously can’t even remember how I was reacting at this point but I’m sure I was not as collected as I needed to be. “It’s between you and two other families. The board is reviewing your homestudies and they’re expected to come up with a match within the hour but just in case you’re selected, I need to know that you are available to leave work and meet us at the hospital immediately,” she continued, “do you have a newborn carseat in the car?” I told her yes, we were totally available, our carseat was ready, and she said she would let me know within the hour if we were selected. When I stepped back into the classroom, all my students had big eyes and happy smiles, “Is it your baby? Is it time?” they asked. I shook my head, in shock, tears in my eyes, “I don’t know…” I said. I hadn’t known they would ever call us for a ‘maybe’ so I was completely unprepared emotionally at this point. I went and spoke to the director of my school and she said of course she could get another teacher to cover my class for the afternoon. Word spreads really quickly in the little school where I work so soon all my friends were sitting in my classroom on their lunch breaks, praying with me, hugging me, and talking about how I might get to be a mom by Mother’s Day which would be the following weekend! My stomach was in knots and then we finally heard from Michelle that they had decided to go with another family. “But don’t worry,” she told me, “you’ll be matched soon.” As much as I always believed in the matching process and knew that this baby wasn’t meant to be ours, it was still such a hard pill to swallow. Weston and I sat that night and talked and cried over this child. It isn’t personal, but it feels personal. Why NOT us? Why weren’t we a match? I started second guessing everything about our homestudy. Then I thought of Mother’s Day and my heart shattered at the thought of still not being a mom this year. After tossing and turning all night, I woke up in the morning and decided to channel my sadness into finishing up the nursery. We had been told so many times that the matching process could take a while, that we hadn’t been in any rush to finish the room, but now it was clear it could happen any time. So we went to stores for final details, hung frames, washed crib sheets, and at the end of the day I put some lyrics from Michael Buble’s song, Just Haven’t Met You Yet, on one of the shelves: “We might have to wait, I’ll never give up, I guess it’s half timing and the other half’s luck, wherever you are, whenever it’s right, you’ll come out of nowhere and into my life.”
You are very open about how difficult this was but yet remained so optimistic. Were there times you wanted to give up?
There were times I was really discouraged, for sure. But I never thought about giving up. I think that’s how we knew it was right for us. Even throughout our classes, the first day the room was packed with potential families and they were turning people away at the door, but as each class went on and they shared more of the reality of what some of these kids have experienced and what we might have to go through in the adoption process, more and more people stopped showing up. We ended up “graduating” with just 6 other couples in the end. I feel like when you’re faced with the challenges of it, you’re either motivated by it or deterred by it. You realize really quickly if it’s right for you or not. And even though it hurt, it continued to motivate us. We knew our child was out there somewhere, it was just really hard to be patient.
Tell us about the moment you learned you were matched with Elliott.
So our “almost” match happened on a Friday and on Tuesday, just 4 days later, I had just gotten home from work when my phone rang and I saw it was M. I didn’t think anything of it this time. I had asked her to call me once they received the feedback of why Weston and I weren’t chosen on Friday so I assumed she was just checking in with me about all that. “You still sound sad,” she commented as we exchanged pleasantries, “No, no no, “ I assured her, “I’m doing a lot better now. This weekend was really tough but we ended up finishing the nursery so we are feeling a lot more prepared now.” “Well, I’m glad you’re prepared,” she said with a hint of laughter in her voice, “because you were matched today.” All of a sudden I felt weightless. My heart started racing. “It’s a baby boy, just born today. His birthmom selected you guys and was adamant that you were the ones she wanted. So you aren’t being considered like last time, this is a sure thing.” I still couldn’t say anything except I think to squeak out a few “oh my gosh”es in between my tears. “He’s half caucasian, half hispanic…” she continued, “But that’s all I can tell you right now. Tomorrow morning at 9am, I’ll meet up with you and the relinquishment social worker and we can give you more information then. But have your carseat ready because we will probably be going to the hospital tomorrow so you can bring him home.”
When we hung up, I was shaking. I called Weston and shared the news with him while he was at work and he rushed home. We ran errands together, getting everything we needed for a newborn (remember, we had been open to 0-2 years so we didn’t have any age specific items!). We called our parents and siblings to tell them the news, and we let our jobs know that our parental leave was beginning now! But we kept the fact that it was a boy a secret and we didn’t tell anyone else that we’d been matched. One of my favorite memories of that night is we went to Old Navy and got a bunch of baby clothes and when we were checking out, the saleswoman asked, “Parents night out without the baby?” I looked at Weston and he smiled at me so I quietly said, “Actually… we’re adopting a baby and we get to meet him tomorrow. So these clothes are for him.” She started crying and jumping up and down saying “Oh my goodness! Really?! I have goosebumps!” It was so fun to tell our secret to one person. She shouted at us until we left the store, “Congratulations, guys! God bless you! Oh my gosh!”
I stayed up all night cleaning bottles, doing laundry, and just feeling so nervous. I knew this was our last opportunity to sleep for a long time but I couldn’t close my eyes without getting so many butterflies in my stomach imagining what his face might look like, imagining holding him… It still didn’t feel real!
The next morning, we met with the social workers and at the end of our meeting they showed us pictures of him. We just kept hugging each other and bawling. There were two photos so we kept switching back and forth saying, “He has the cutest nose! He has the cutest lips!”
When we got to the hospital they threw us right into parenthood. Weston changed Elliott’s diaper and I fed him within 5 minutes of meeting him. We kept staring at him and marveling at how perfect he was, but things were so hectic and crazy in the NICU that it really wasn’t sinking in that this was real and he was ours. Hours later, they finally discharged him and we made the hour drive home. When we got inside the house it finally felt real. I stood with him in my arms, in HIS room and just cried the most joyful, fearful, overwhelming tears.
Our families came over that night and we loved seeing their reactions when they found out it was a boy. For the first 24 hours, we actually didn’t let anybody hold him except for us. I was so concerned about him bonding with us that I didn’t want him passed around until we had enough time to show him that we were his constants. But everyone sat with us and stared at him, held his hands, and my mom made Christmas Breakfast for dinner because she said this was the greatest gift our family had ever received. 🙂
And a few days later, I got to celebrate my very first Mother’s Day after all! And that was the day we finally shared the news with the rest of our friends and family. Everyone was thrilled and so surprised! It was the happiest day!
Will you have an open or closed adoption? How did you make this decision?
We felt comfortable with a partially open adoption – possibly meeting Elliott’s birthparents and then continuing contact via letters and pictures, but not continued visits. Because of the nature of many county adoptions, keeping in touch with some of these birthfamilies is not in the best interest of the child so we had said that we would take it on a case by case basis and do what felt best for Elliott. Initially, his birthmom wanted to meet us and maintain contact which we were open to and I was even excited about, but as of now she’s changed her mind. I can’t even begin to imagine what she’s gone through and I won’t speculate about what may have changed her mind, but if she ever wants to contact us, we would still love to keep her updated on Elliott’s life. I feel that it would be in his benefit to know that we all worked together to give him the best life possible. She loved him so much, she did something that broke her heart to give him the life she wanted him to have. And I’m honored and humbled to have been trusted by her to be his mom.
What advice would you give for families considering adoption?
Don’t give up! If there are things that come up that slow down your process, it’s because your child is not ready for you yet. I really feel like these children go to exactly who they are meant for and there’s definitely a child out there who is meant for you, so don’t ever give up on finding them. I also think it’s really important to be open minded. If you go into it wanting a perfect scenario, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you keep your heart open to possibilities that may be a little out of your comfort zone, but not out of your capabilities, you’d be surprised how perfect even the messier situations can seem.
Will you adopt again?
I think it’s too soon to know for sure, because we’re still getting the hang of parenting and enjoying where we are right now, but in my heart I feel like we will do it again someday. We’ve both always imagined having multiple children so I think it’s just a matter of time. We would go into it knowing that every situation is completely different though! The second time around would be a whole new ball game and once again we’d have to learn as we go.
Tell us about the nursery. Did you save final touches for when you got the official call (that he was a boy!)?
Yes! So we painted it light blue and if it was a girl, I was going to decorate with florals and if it was a boy, we wanted to do a mountain theme. Literally my first stop after M called us and said it was a boy was Hobby Lobby haha. I think I bought out their entire woodland inventory! Over the next few weeks we received a lot of gifts so it took a while before everything had a home and the room was complete, but it was really fun to watch it transform from a gender neutral space into a nursery specifically for Elliott.
What is the best part of being a mother?
Honestly, I love every single part of it. When Elliott grabs my hand, smiles at me.. or especially when I can make him laugh, I feel like there’s literally nothing better in the world. I’m just overwhelmed with love!
For more on Kelle and her beautiful family, follow her on instagram at @kelleamaro