Note: All birth family names have been changed for privacy.
“Sounds like you’re having a bad day.” Gayle Brady commented to the waitress, “Julie,” who served her and her husband dinner at a diner in Michigan. Knowing Jim and Gayle is to know that they are very kind and loving people. So, it was not unusual for them to ask how this waitress was doing or notice that she was under immense stress. I (Kristen) had gotten to know Jim and Gayle quite well when they would come to North Carolina for the winters, and I was nannying their grandchildren. So, they had already been following our adoption journey and knew we weren’t having much luck.
Julie went on to share with Gayle that she had a lot going on in her life lately; she was concerned because she recently found out her 21-year-old daughter was pregnant with twins who were due in November, and her plan was to safe-surrender the babies at the hospital after the birth. She feared the babies would end up in foster care or be split up and also shared that her daughter already had a 2-year-old she was working hard to support. Gayle mentioned that she had friends in North Carolina (us) hoping to adopt and asked Julie if her daughter had ever considered adoption. Julie was unsure if her daughter had thought of that but became very hopeful about the possibility. So, Gayle and Julie exchanged numbers.
The next day, Jim and Gayle shared this information with their son and daughter-in-law, Chris and Terri Brady, our close friends, and asked if they should share it with us. They both answered with a resounding YES. Later that night, Terri reached out to me about the possibility but encouraged me to be cautiously optimistic as there was so little information and details known at this point.
I was SO excited; however, we had already been so discouraged by the adoption process up to that point that I was afraid to get my hopes up. I reached out to Gayle the next day and asked for Julie’s phone number to contact her. When we reached out, Gayle shared a similar message of being cautious because this seemed to be a long shot and may not go anywhere. However, after much thought and discussion, she decided to step out on faith and pass along her phone number. She went on to share that she knew nothing about Julie except what she had shared at the restaurant that day but that she really liked her and felt for her and her situation.
The next day Tad and I called Julie to see if we could connect with her. She didn’t answer, so we left a message but never received a response. I then texted her the following day to see if that would generate a response. Nothing. Tad called another time that same week, but it went straight to voicemail. A couple of days passed, and we were beginning to think it wasn’t meant to be. Then, on Sunday, August 28th, we were leaving church and ran into Chris while walking out. He had asked if we had connected with Julie yet, and we told him that we couldn’t get ahold of her but would try one last time that day, and if she didn’t answer, we were going to “close the door.” As we were leaving the church parking lot on our way to the pharmacy, Tad tried calling for the last time, and SHE ANSWERED! We were both in shock and so nervous, but the conversation seemed to flow so naturally.
We talked to Julie for around 30 minutes, and she told us all about her daughter, “Kayla,” and we also shared about ourselves and our adoption journey. It was a great conversation, and we felt like we had really connected with her. We then texted her some pictures of ourselves so that she could share them with her daughter.
Side note: After later meeting Julie, Kayla, and Kayla’s dad, “Mark,” in Michigan, we learned that Julie doesn’t answer her phone for people she doesn’t know, which is why she never responded to our calls. However, that Sunday, Mark happened to be at Julie’s house and told her to pick up the phone! Had Mark not been there at that moment, she would not have answered… It’s just another part of the story that we find so amazing, and God aligned all of it.
Julie said she wasn’t sure if her daughter would go for it, but she would talk to her on Monday, show her our pictures, let her read our messages, and let us know what she says.
On Monday night, we received a message from Julie that she had let Kayla read our text messages and convinced Kayla that this would be a wonderful opportunity for us and the babies, and she felt good knowing the babies would be going to a good home. She wanted Julie to attend her ultrasound the next morning with her so she could talk to the nurses about how adoption worked.
We had already made calls to two attorneys in Michigan (one for us and one for Kayla) just to be sure we had accurate information for Julie and to be ready with the next steps if Kayla was on board– since it was private and not through an agency. We confirmed that there wouldn’t be a lot involved for Kayla, which was important to her.
On Tuesday morning, August 30th Julie sent a text: “So I must say congratulations to the new parents of twin babies! Any names picked out?”
To say that was an emotional moment would be an understatement! It was almost like a dream! Tad had been traveling for work that week, so we were trying to navigate all of this from different states. We immediately hired an attorney for Kayla, and within two days, she met with the attorney and created an adoption plan. The birth father also showed up to that appointment and signed his consent for the adoption. We couldn’t believe how quickly and smoothly things seemed to be falling into place.
One of the most beautiful parts of this story is the connection we’ve developed with the birth mother and her family. Initially, Kayla wanted no contact with us, but it wasn’t long after she had created the adoption plan that we had been communicating regularly. Because this was a high-risk pregnancy (being twins and Emma had a 2-vessel umbilical cord), Kayla was going for ultrasounds twice a week and being monitored very closely. I remember the first time she sent me pictures of the ultrasound. It was such a surreal moment. It’s rare in any adoption to have contact with the birth mother before the babies are born, especially if you didn’t know her prior. So, it was extra special to be able to bond in this way. Kayla then started inviting us to join the ultrasounds via FaceTime. It didn’t always work out depending on the nurse that was working since they have strict rules about video and pictures. But her willingness to involve us for each appointment and continually provide updates was so amazing and brought us so much peace! When we met her in Michigan for her last ultrasound on Monday before the birth, she let me join her in person, saved all the printed ultrasound pictures from the time she found out, and gave them to me. 🥲
Kayla and I had been in close communication for most of September and into early October, texting almost daily. She would send me pictures of her belly and videos of the babies moving around. She made me feel so involved in the pregnancy, which helped Tad and I bond with her and the babies so much! Outside of the adoption itself, it was one of the most special and selfless things anyone could do for another person.
The more Kayla and I continued to connect, the more comfortable she was with me. At one point, she told me she wanted me to be in the delivery room and cut the umbilical cords!😭 We later found out that wouldn’t happen because she would be delivering in an operating room where she could only have one support person (her mom), but even the thought of her offering meant so much to me.
Kayla was having some difficulty around 31 weeks (September 25th) and had ended up in the hospital on three occasions and being admitted for a couple of days. At that point, every day seemed like a possible delivery day. That’s when I started packing my bags so we would be ready at a moment’s notice. As the weeks began to wind down and the ultrasounds showed that the babies were not growing much, the doctor decided that he would induce her around 34 weeks.
Tad had been traveling a lot in October, so as soon as the doctor said he would induce within the next week, we decided to drive up to Michigan. He had taken a father-daughter trip to Florida with his 13-year-old daughter, Alexandria, and on the day of his return (Wed, October 12th), we set out on our journey to Michigan. We arrived on Thursday, October 13th, and just happened to be driving by the hospital where Kayla would deliver at the exact time she was at her ultrasound appointment. We had hoped to attend with her, but it just didn’t work out. She let us speak with the doctor, and it was on that day that they had scheduled her induction for Tuesday, October 18th, at 7:30 pm.
We were hoping to connect with Kayla before meeting with her for the first time on delivery day, but we didn’t want to put any additional pressure on her or overwhelm her, so we let it be. However, she reached out later that evening and asked us if we would like to meet for lunch? We were very excited but also nervous! She wanted to meet us at the same restaurant that her mom worked at – the one where Jim and Gayle had first made the connection. A little later in the evening, she shared with us that her dad would also come. Of course, we let her know that we were also looking forward to meeting him!
Saturday morning came, and we prepared to head to the restaurant. As we walked in, an older gentleman saw Tad’s Buffalo Bills license plate and started a conversation about the upcoming game. Little did we know, we were talking to Kayla’s grandfather (Julie’s father), who also worked at the restaurant. As soon as we walked in, we met Julie (who was working); moments later, Kayla and her dad walked in. We were meeting most of her immediate family, haha… no pressure!
After exchanging hugs and handshakes, we all sat down. We made small talk and got to know each other for a little bit. When the food came, Tad asked if he could pray for our meal, which he did. Kristen asked Mark if he had any questions for us. He wondered what kind of church we attended, and we shared a bit more about our church. Mark shared that before COVID, he had been going to church but hadn’t been back since. When talking with Kayla, she said she always believed in God, but after everything that happened with the adoption, she believes in God much more and wants to start going back to church! Tad and I left lunch feeling excited and hopeful. It went very well, and we had even more peace about everything progressing. We were so grateful that all of Kayla’s family were very supportive of the adoption plan and even grateful that it was happening! While I can’t imagine how hard it is for them, we know that having a supportive family is paramount in adoption. We planned for another dinner on Monday night, Kayla’s “last meal” before the big day, which Julie, her mom, could attend. That also went great and helped our families connect and get to know each other better.
Kayla was scheduled to be induced on Tuesday, October 18th, at 7:30 pm, which felt like the longest day ever. When we arrived at the hospital, Julie, Kayla, and her best friend “Shannon” greeted us at the main entrance. Julie was kind enough to bring us a gift basket full of baby items. We all made our way to the room where Kayla would be and began to set up “camp.” Kayla was comfortable having Tad and me in the room with her for most of the night until things started to progress, which is when Tad stepped out into the waiting room. We would spend the next 22 hours in Room 2 of the Labor and Delivery wing. It was probably one of the coolest and most unique moments of any adoption story!
October 19th, 2022, was the day our lives changed forever. While it was a long night that extended into the following day, we knew things had to be getting closer. By 3 pm on Wednesday, October 19th, contractions started to become stronger and closer together, but dilation was slow, so we anticipated being in for another long night. At about 4 pm, Julie and Shannon had stepped outside, and Kayla and I were in the room together. I loved that she wanted me to be there and didn’t want to be alone. Thank God I was! Just minutes later, Kayla was in distress and felt like she had to push. I immediately called Julie and Shannon to get back to the room and tried to support Kayla the best that I could by encouraging her not to push, holding her hand, and rubbing her head. What an emotional and special moment that was for me. I knew it was time! We went from 22 hours of almost nothing happening to “these babies are coming…NOW!” Once Julie and Shannon arrived back to the room, we all searched for a nurse and a doctor, and there was no one to be found. It became apparent that Shannon, Julie, and I may have to deliver these babies! What a crazy moment that was for all of us. Eventually, the nurse showed up, and she and Julie wheeled Kayla down to the OR. (The plan was a natural birth, but delivery in the OR was scheduled just in case they needed to do an emergency C-section.)
As they wheeled Kayla to the O.R., I ran into the waiting room hysterically to let Tad know what was happening. He said I was more upset than he’s ever seen me. The unknown was so terrifying, and I also knew I was about to meet the babies I had been dreaming and praying about, so I completely lost it. We waited for what seemed like forever, but it was only a matter of minutes. Then, my phone pinged, and it was a text from Julie with a picture of Emma followed by a message that she was doing great and a video of the birth! We both sat sobbing in the waiting room while we watched. Then, 5 minutes later, my phone pinged again with a picture of Jaxson and a video of his birth! It was so amazing that Julie would think to do that for us while supporting her daughter during such a difficult time. It was so special; we hope she knows just how much that meant to us. The time from 4:45 pm – 5:45 pm seems like such a blur, but it was the moment our lives changed forever.
Emma Grace Sherman was born at 5:30 pm on October 19th, 2022, weighing 3 lbs 11 oz and 17″ long, and Jaxson Taylor Sherman was born at 5:35 pm on October 19th, 2022, weighing 4 lbs 5 oz and 17.5 inches long.
30 minutes after the babies were born, we visited Kayla before going to the NICU to hug her and thank her for what she did for us. She was beaming! You would have never known she had just given birth to twins. We captured a special picture of the 5 of us, which will forever be a beautiful reminder of this amazing story!
Since the babies were born, we’ve continued to stay in touch with Kayla and support her in whatever ways she needs. We even attended church together a few days after the babies were born. We care about her so much and are incredibly grateful for her brave and selfless decision to choose life and adoption for her precious babies. We will forever be connected because of them, and she will forever be such a special part of our lives.
Currently, Emma and Jaxson are in the NICU and doing well. They are still tiny, but they are learning and growing daily! We are so in love with them and eagerly await the day we can bring them home!
We don’t believe there are any coincidences in life. God knew that Kayla would be carrying twins conceived the very time we began our adoption journey. He knew that we would struggle with infertility and pursue adoption. He knew that the timing of her pregnancy and our adoption journey would align perfectly. He knew that Jim and Gayle would celebrate their anniversary at that restaurant on the night that Julie would be working. He knew that Julie was going to have a hard night and need a friendly face to share her struggles with. He knew that Kayla wanted what was best for her babies and would ultimately choose adoption for them and us to be Emma and Jaxson’s parents. Nothing is a surprise to God. He wrote this story before the beginning of time, and we give all the glory to Him!