The ways in which families come together is constantly changing, with traditional conception, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy as some options for having children. But, for others, adoption is the best choice. “Biological children, you carry in your womb; adopted children, you carry in your heart,” explains adoptive mother Liz Granger.
Liz and Ed Granger
Liz, along with her husband Ed (a former Acadiana Lifestylecontributing sportswriter), were faced with making that decision years ago. After many years of infertility, the couple decided to adopt. They went through Catholic Social Services, which required an open adoption. “Our birth mother wanted an open adoption, which was not the norm at the time – at all,” Liz recalls.
After meeting with the birth mother, the Grangers agreed to write letters to her about the baby at least once a year. “We were the very first couple in this area to do that through Catholic Social Services,” Liz explains. It was a grueling process, with lots of paper work, meetings – and waiting.
After four years, the couple finally got news – a baby boy, born January 7, 1984, was available. On February 1, 1984, Liz and Ed officially adopted Ben. In between, they met with the birth mother. “Instantly, I felt a connection with her,” Liz recalls. “We hugged each other, and I felt this bond.”
Two years later, the Grangers got another call from Catholic Social Services asking if they wanted a second child. The couple enthusiastically replied, “Yes!” “In the meantime, we had been praying for another baby,” Liz shares. But, there was a catch – the Grangers had to be ready to take the baby the next day. Born June 9, 1986, John was just was a week or two old when the couple adopted him. “He the most beautiful baby – oh my gosh!” Liz gushes.
After adopting John, Liz got pregnant twice, both resulting in miscarriages. Then, a miracle happened – Liz got pregnant and had a son, David (Dave), born in 1990. “That was a surprise and a delight,” Liz shares. “All three were a surprise and a delight.”
Early on, the Grangers started telling Ben and John that they were adopted. “I started telling the two boys in infancy before I knew that they understood,” Liz explains. “I wanted to try, in some way, to give them a security in knowing that they were chosen.”
Ben, an outgoing kid, was proud to tell people that he was adopted. “When he was two or three, he used to go around and say, ‘I ’dopted,’” Ed shares with a chuckle.
At the time, people were more closed-minded about adoption. But, the Grangers were determined to change that. “It almost forced people to come around, and to let go of that,” Liz says. “Because we wanted it to be just a natural part of the way things were.”
At age 8, Ben asked to meet his birth mother. Through the agency, the birth mother agreed, and the Grangers arranged a meeting. “He was actually very, very nervous about meeting her,” Liz recalls. “ He wanted this, but at the same time, he wanted some type of security – he asked, ‘Are you sure that I can still come home after this?’”
Fortunately, the meeting went well, and Ben saw his birth mother a few times afterward. Eventually, John asked to meet his birth mother, which he did at age 6 or 7.
Growing up, the three boys interacted just as any brothers do. “They all thought that I favored the other two brothers over them,” Liz says with a laugh.
Today, Liz and Ed are surrounded by grandchildren - and two on the way. Ben and his wife Lindsey have three children – Benjamin, age 7; Leigh Katherine, age 6, and Allie, age 3. John and his wife DeAnna are parents to Ashton, age 14; Jared, age 6; Annabelle, age 4, and Bethany, age 2. This July, John and DeAnna are expecting a girl. A year and a half ago, Dave married Tori, and the newlyweds are having a baby girl in September.
Now that they are grandparents, Liz and Ed feel totally fulfilled. “I feel so incredibly blessed,” Liz shares proudly. “Some days, I have to blink and pinch myself that it’s actually real, because of the process that we went through, and that it took so long before we could build our family.”
For Ed, who was an only child, his large family is the best gift of all. “God makes families in all sorts of ways,” he says. “Ours is a little bit unusual, but we are family.”
Tina and Brent Indest
From the time that they got married 30 years ago, Tina and Brent Indest knew that they wanted to be parents. The couple tried different ways to get pregnant, but nothing worked. To complicate matters, Tina had endometriosis. The Indests’ dreams of having a child seemed beyond hope.
At the time, Tina worked at a law firm downtown. So, the Indests decided to pursue the legal route for adoption. The two perused the yellow pages and found an agency in Baton Rouge – fortuitously called Answered Prayers.
In 1996, Tina and Brent started the adoption process, signing on with the agency in 1997. Less than a year later, their prayers were answered. “It wasn’t even a full year before they contacted us about a baby,” Tina recalls. “It was a scary process, because it could have fallen through.”
But, it didn’t. On May 19, 1998, Jessica was born. “The moment I laid eyes on her and held her, I told Brent, ‘if I could change anything and get pregnant I would not – I knew that she is what God intended for us.’ She is the biggest and best blessing in my life and I could not imagine living this life without her.”
The couple was doubly blessed, as Jessica was a newborn. “There is a higher demand for newborns than older children,” Brent explains.
Tina and Brent told Jessica that she was adopted when she was about five or six years old. “We told her as soon as she was able to talk and understand,” Tina explains.
The Indests reared Jessica just as they would a biological child. “People just think it’s different raising an adopted child, but it never has been,” Brent says. “Anyone can biologically have a child, but it takes work to be a mom or dad.”
Tina has some sage advice for potential parents wanting to adopt. “Number one – do it! Especially if you are having trouble having kids,” she shares. “Patience is very important because it is a process and it takes time.”
Adds Brent, “It’s the biggest blessing we’ve ever had.”