October 29, 2018
Stephanie Hollifield of parenting blog Momstrosity and her husband, AJ, were no strangers to the adoption process when they decided to adopt their fourth child. With two biological children (Anna Grace and Ezra) and one adopted child (Isaiah), the responsibility of caring for another child couldn’t overshadow their excitement to grow their family again. That was until Stephanie discovered she was pregnant.
Just after completing their adoption home study and meeting all state requirements, the couple was forced to change their plans to adopt after finding out they were expecting.
“A part of me was frustrated with the timing of our unexpected pregnancy because we had our heart set on adoption,” Hollifield told Parents.com. "We were excited to have four children, but for some reason, five seemed like such a larger number."
But six months into her pregnancy—with adoption as a distant memory—the Hollifield’s phone rang with news of a baby girl in need of a family. Since Stephanie was pregnant, it was against protocol to place a baby with someone already expecting, but just a few weeks later the social worker called again looking to place them with the same 7-month-old baby, Haley.
“Before we met our daughter, I had several moments where I told my husband to call the social worker back and tell her that we changed our mind. I was not confident at all in the decision. I was terrified that we wouldn’t be able to provide enough love and time to each child, that our big kids would be resentful, and that we would be providing our whole family a disservice,” said Stephanie.
Despite all fears, the moment the Hollifield’s met Haley all of their worries immediately disappeared. The social worker warned the couple of her possible low IQ due to her family’s medical history, but that never mattered to the Hollifield’s—in fact, they were excited to provide Haley with the best resources throughout life. Within 10 minutes of meeting their daughter, the Hollifield’s signed all the paperwork and took her home.
“I very much remember how upsetting it was to see a baby who was so vulnerable and helpless and to wonder if anyone had ever told her they loved her. I wonder if those 7 weeks spent in a foster home were filled with cuddles and rocking her to sleep. My husband and I immediately felt bonded to her. We had been assured this case would go straight to adoption, and we were looking forward to it,” Stephanie explained.
Once Stephanie gave birth to her son, Silas, the two littlest members of the Hollifield family were bonded just as if they were actual twins. The family’s dynamic was perfectly complete until the Hollifield’s received a phone call from their social worker straight out of their worst nightmares: A distant relative was fighting for full custody of Haley.
“I felt so helpless. I was shocked by the news, as we had been assured we would be able to adopt,” Stephanie explained. “I couldn’t imagine her going into a home I knew so little about or winding back up back in the system in a few years (which often happens). Would she be cared for and loved? Would she be safe? That was the most upsetting thing, to think of her possibly living a hard life without all the love and opportunity she deserved.”
The couple fought hard, exhausting all possible resources in search of a loophole to keep their daughter. Over and over the Hollifield’s were told it’s impossible. All hope was lost, and at that moment, Stephanie’s life was a depressing blur as she went through the motions.
With just a week left before giving Haley up forever, destiny revealed Haley’s distant relative backed out of the adoption and the Hollifield’s had the green light to permanently adopt their daughter.
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“I cannot imagine living a life without her smiling face. She is so fun and so sweet. Every single day she has us all laughing. I can’t imagine raising her brother without a playmate and the closest sibling being almost 5 years his senior. They have so much fun together. They have their own little language and stay up laughing and chatting for several minutes every night after bedtime.” Stephanie told Parents.com.
Looking back at all the pain and frustration, the couple realizes the power that comes with the world “yes.” Stephanie could have easily declined to meet Haley after discovering she was expecting a little boy, a reality she can’t imagine now.
“Family is family. Love is love. It doesn’t matter how children come into your family, you love them the same. It is a gift to see my children laugh and play and enjoy each other. My biggest hope in this life is that we will raise happy, healthy, productive adults who want to spend time with us and each other,” said Stephanie. “It all fits together so well. It makes me really think about things before I give an answer, because who knows what blessings I could be turning away.”