The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE student adopts a baby girl after much difficulty

By Sandy Hill/reporter

A NE Campus student and his wife never gave up on their dream to have a child and, in the process, learned a valuable lesson in patience through the eyes of a child.

Eight years ago, Mark Young made plans for a life with his new wife, Erika — a life that would include children. Although the couple already had two children from his previous marriage, they wanted to have children of their own.

That hope began to dim when after four years of trying to conceive naturally, the couple was still unsuccessful, leading them on an emotional journey that would not only test their resolve, but in the end, strengthen their faith.

Life doesn’t always work out as expected, Mark Young said.

“We got married, and we kind of planned our life out,” he said. “I’m just learning that in life, all of these different things that come, though they may shake you, you just can’t break.”

With their hope of having a child of their own beginning to fade, the Youngs decided it was time to take the next step and consult a local fertility treatment center.

Doctors ran the usual tests but found nothing that would explain why the couple wasn’t able to conceive. After enduring multiple fertility treatments and procedures that failed, their doctor finally recommended in vitro fertilization. A costly alternative, the couple agreed it was time to look into adoption.

“[My wife] hasn’t been able to put her finger on why we can’t have kids,” Mark Young said. “We just felt like whatever the reason is, we just have to trust God in it. But at the same time, being human, we had these struggles.”

At first, Erika Young feared whether she could love and accept a child not naturally born to her, but her fears quickly gave way to her faith.

“If God is faithful enough to give us a child, he is faithful enough to give us what we need to raise her in knowing she is loved and accepted,” she said.

The couple started researching local adoption agencies.

An interracial couple themselves, the Youngs wanted to adopt a biracial child. They went through the Gladney Center for Adoption’s ABC program, which specifically targets African-American and biracial children.

In January, the couple received a phone call about a birth mother who, after reviewing their profile, wanted to conduct a phone interview. The young college student had shared the couple’s information with family and friends, who all agreed with her choice of prospective parents.

After a two-hour phone interview, the Youngs felt they had made the connection they were looking for with the birth mother.

“I knew after talking to the birth mother on the phone for three minutes she was carrying our future child,” Erika Young said. “Our connection was deep, almost spiritual. I have never felt a strong connection like this with anybody else in my life.”

“We thought she was very mature to be an 18-year-old,” Mark Young said. “She sounded like she really had thought about this. She said she’d been praying about it.”

The couple had been praying about it, too, Mark Young said.

“We wanted the connection to be right because we do want the child to know about her mother and to stay connected,” he said.

Although the baby wasn’t due for another two weeks, the birth mother hung up the phone and went into labor an hour later.

Lisa Benedetti, Mark Young’s speech teacher and forensics coach, said something that made an impression on him.

“She said, ‘You know, Mark, maybe the whole time she had this [profile] and she was praying and asking God for peace about this, after talking to you, she felt peace. Her body just settled in, and she had the baby,’” he said.

Two days later, the couple met the birth mother face to face in the hospital and was introduced to their soon-to-be baby girl.

“I actually didn’t feel anything because I was in shock,” Erika Young said. “My heart felt a little protected. She was so beautiful, though.”

Erika Young was afraid to believe the two-day-old baby was actually going to be hers until the birth mom took the next step toward making it legal.

“We still had to wait 48 hours for the mom to sign over her rights,” she said. “I couldn’t quite grasp that this was the one we had prayed for, for so long.”

Feeling since their adoption journey began that their baby would be a girl, the couple had already chosen a name for the child they were anticipating.

“We gave her the name Kahli,” Erika Young said. “God gave me that name two days before I even heard that there was a birth mom interested in us. When I shared it with Mark, he said, ‘That’s it! That’s the name of our future daughter.’”

The termination of parental rights is normally granted based on the consent of both birth parents. Many times, though, when a young mother has decided to place her baby up for adoption, the birth father is hesitant or unwilling to sign papers forfeiting his rights. This was the case with the Youngs.

In Texas, the Putative Father Registry resolves the issue of consent giving the birth father one month to get a lawyer and pursue custody.

“The registry time starts the day the baby is born and runs out 30 days after birth,” said Betty Noyola, the couple’s caseworker at Gladney. “At that time, the judge will terminate the rights of any known and unknown birth father who has not come forward.”

During that time, the baby is placed in transitional care. The birth mother can see the child during the waiting period, but the adoptive parents are not allowed to visit the child.

The birth mother had already signed the paperwork giving the Youngs full custody of baby Kahli. With the birth father  out of the picture, he was not expected to try to claim custody, but no one knew for sure. The Youngs tried not to worry.

Noyola said it is common for parents to have to wait out the 30 days before proceeding with the adoption.

The couple looked forward to the day when the child they had longed for would come home to stay.

“To actually bring home a child that is the one I have carried so long in my heart is going to be awesome,” Erica Young said. “I can’t wait.”

That day finally came on March 8 when Mark and Erica Young met with the birth mother at Gladney for placement. The 30-day wait was over, and the courts had terminated the birth father’s custody rights.

“I don’t think it has really hit me that we really have a baby,” Erika Young said. “It was like a dream come true when we drove away from the adoption agency.

“That was the quietest drive Mark and I have ever had. We were speechless.”

Since that time, there have been e-mails and phone calls.

The Youngs said the birth mother is happy with her decision and thankful they are raising Kahli.

“She said in a letter to me that she knows Kahli was sent here to save her and allow her to make the first selfless decision of her life,” Erica Young said, “and that Kahli was put here to be brought to the two of us.”

After a six-month supervisory period required by Texas law, the couple will go to court where the paperwork for the final transfer of custody will be filed.

The couple is currently working with the Oprah Network on a piece it is putting together about adoptive parents and their journey. When Gladney was asked to provide families to be candidates for the show, Noyola chose the Youngs.

“They are a cute, charismatic and outgoing biracial couple,” Noyola said. “There is a great need for African-American and biracial couples to adopt, so we felt it would be a way of reaching out to other families that are like them.”

The Youngs said the birth mother has a special place in their hearts, and they will always be thankful to her for making their dreams come true.

“She will always be the miracle that God sent us,” Erica Young said.

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