Russell Elkins has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. Years of struggling with infertility left Russell and Jammie with a decision to make and
their lives changed dramatically when they decided to adopt.
Pam to Rusell: Was adoption a decision that came to you gradually, or suddenly? What was the process like?
Russell to Pam: For a lot of people there's that "ah ha" moment. That one single moment when you make that decision. For us, that decision came over time. We had been trying to have kids for about 4 1/2 years and weren't succeeding, and the thought of adoption kept getting stronger and stronger in our minds during that time. We decided to try some formal infertility treatments first. We had our hopes up pretty high during that time about getting pregnant, which only left us that much more downhearted. We didn't try infertility treatments as long as a lot of people do. It was just at a point where we knew we needed to either try something new with infertility treatments, or go a different route. The thought of adoption brought peace to our hearts, and the thought of more infertility treatment stressed us out. Simple as that.
Pam to Russell: Which of your personal values helped you make this decsion?
Russell to Pam: We didn't know a whole lot about adoption. I mean, everybody knows what adoption is and what it used to be like, but we started talking to people around us about modern adoption. It's not like it used to be. Adoptions are usually "open" now, meaning that there is still contact with one or both biological parents throughout the child's life. The idea of adoption really just stood out to us. My wife and I are very spiritually minded people, so I guess you could say we felt like we were being called to it. We didn't feel like it was our option just because we couldn't have biological children. No. We felt like that's what God was asking us to do and it excited us.
Pam to Russell: What did you find the most frustrating obstacle on your journey to becoming parents?
Russell to Pam: There a better description of it in Open Adoption, Open Heart, but the situation with our son's birth father was really stressful and frustrating. Basically, he was 16 and birthmom was 15 at the time. He said he wouldn't sign
adoption papers, but he also didn't want to be a parent. Brianna (birthmom) had
no siblings left at home and her mom worked a crazy amount of hours, so Brianna would have had to drop out of school and live on welfare just because he refused to sign the papers. Finally, she said she was going to Idaho (where we live) to have the baby, which meant he had 2 choices- to parent the baby himself or allow her to choose adoption (Idaho has different laws and only requires one signature for adoption).
Pam to Russell: What was it like for you the moment you finally felt the miracle of parenthood?
Russell to Pam: The moment it first sunk in that I was going to be a parent was when we got to choose the name. I don't know why, exactly, but that was a huge moment for me. Ever since I was little I wanted to name my first son Ira, which is my middle name that I received from my grandfather- who got it from up the line to my great-great-great-granddad. I've always loved that name even though it's not very common.The moment I was actually "Dad" was in the delivery room. Brianna was gracious enough to let us be there in the room. I was a little nervous when Ira first came out because I'd never seen a baby one second old before and I had to look at the doctor to make sure he was supposed to look like he did. Brianna asked me to cut the cord. Not many men get to hold their wife's hand while standing over the baby as the nurses clean the child up (since the mother is usually still on the bed getting tended to by the doctor, of course). It sunk in even more there, but I think the biggest moment of overpowering awe came a few minutes later when I got to be the first one to feed him his bottle. It was almost as if I could see into his soul. I hope that doesn't sound cheesy, but
bonding with him at that moment was like nothing I'd ever felt before.
Pam to Russell: As a fellow parent, I'd say you're in good company. It doesn't sound cheesy at all! When did you first realize, as all parents do, that your child had a personality of his own?
Russell to Pam: I loved watching every new thing Ira could do. The first time I got him to smile was such a thrill. It was funny how my wife and I could both get him to smile, but he smiled with us doing different things. I mean, what I did to make him smile didn't work the same when my wife tried it- and the same the other way around. Plus, he likes tomatoes. He obviously didn't get the from me-
Pam to Russell: Hah! Point well taken. What's your most useful insight for prospective adoptive parents?
Russell to Pam: Do not, I repeat, do not go into an adoption blind. Adoptions are almost always open adoptions now, meaning that there will be some level of communication between the biological parents and the adoptive family. For some people that is very little communication, for others (like us) there is a LOT of communication. You will not know until you've done some homework about what to expect, so don't make those decisions blindly. That's why I wrote Open
Adoption, Open Heart the way I did. I wanted people to go on the ride along with
us through our journey. It talks not only about the storyline aspects of what we went through, but talks about all the emotional ups and downs. A lot of the emotions we did not anticipate, but they made sense when we got there. Our story is written in a way that anybody, whether planning to adopt or not, can put themselves in our shoes and think, "what would I do or how would I feel if I were in their shoes." It's quite the ride.
Pam to Russell: What advice do you think prospective adoptive parents would be wise to disregard?
Russell to Pam: I loved loved loved hearing the advice people gave us about infertility. Some of it was good, yes, but so many people had an opinion- "My brother cut salt from his diet and got pregnant that same month". That type of stuff. Everything from stand on your head to rub ice cubes on your body- we heard it all. We figured the doctors knew what they were talking about and we listened to them instead. If wearing boxer shorts instead of briefs, or the other way around, would have fixed the problem, then they would have told us.
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