Candace Sue and Rob Hofmeister knew their second adoption might come with some challenges. The couple adopted their daughter, Violet, nine years ago and were prepared for the occasional hiccups that can come with the adoption process. What the couple didn’t anticipate was that their adoption would involve a 1,700-mile road trip during a global pandemic.
All the preparations had been made, and the family’s home study completed, when the shelter-in-place requirement went into effect. It was then, in late March, that the Bay Area family received a call from JFCS’ Adoption Connection that put them in touch with a birth mother … in Texas.
Candace felt an immediate connection in phone conversations with the birth mother, who was due April 4. Because of restrictions on air travel, the family had to make a quick decision to drive to Texas to pick up their baby. Despite their car breaking down in Fresno—which required renting a second car—the family made it to Texas, in 25 hours, just as the due date approached.
In Texas, the family encountered hospital restrictions due to the pandemic, and Candace could only visit the birth mother once. As they continued to talk by phone, Candace learned that the birth mother had had very little support and had hid her pregnancy from many close to her. “She was in a difficult situation,” Candace says. “Adoption Connection gave her safe choices.”
Braving the Pandemic to Build Families
Even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, adoptions are still happening regularly. Michelle Nobriga, Director of JFCS’ Adoption Connection and 21-year professional in the adoption field, says, “Families, birth mothers, and expectant parents are going through the adoption process amidst all the craziness in the world. That takes bravery and courage.”
In fact, attendance is up for Adoption Connection’s virtual orientations and calls continue to come in from hopeful adoptive families. “People are creating families in spite of Covid-19,” Michelle says, surmising that the pandemic may be helping people realize how important family is for them. “They’re taking leaps of faith, and I am grateful to witness that side of human nature.”
Candace and Rob found Adoption Connection after moving to the Bay Area from New York, where they adopted Violet. Candace said she knew Adoption Connection was the agency to help her family grow because “it felt like home.”
Michelle attributes this warmth to the families of Adoption Connection. “We are a dedicated, passionate team, but the parents are doing the brave work. We are cheering them on.”
A Harmonious Ending
On April 7, three days after the family’s arrival in Texas, baby Harmony was born. “She was healthy and perfect,” says Candace, who was in the hospital for the 21-hour delivery and cut the baby’s cord.
Harmony’s name, incredibly, had been on both the birth mother’s and the adoptive family’s list of favorites. Her middle name, Rose, is a nod to older sister Violet.
The tale didn’t end there, despite the happy birth. Because of pandemic-related travel restrictions, coupled with the required waiting period before moving adopted children between states, the family stayed in various Airbnb rentals in Texas for another 11 days. With most parks and other venues closed due to Covid-19, they entertained themselves by visiting stockyards and walking around.
Through it all, Candace says she felt fortunate. “So many people during this time are scared and lack clarity. We were blessed to be able to travel, to be with the birth mother, and to take our daughter Violet to be part of it. She is going to be a great big sister.”
And Harmony? While she’s not a fan of sleeping nor diaper changes, she is already showing some expressiveness and the ability to flip over at just one month old. She loves being swaddled and held by Violet.
Candace advises families who are exploring adoption to contemplate the decision and, if it’s right, to prepare their families and homes. She adds, “We knew we had space in our hearts.”
Adoption Connection is a full-service agency and national leader in domestic open adoption. A nonprofit program of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Adoption Connection has assisted with over 3,000 infant adoptions throughout its long history.