Sherry had wanted to adopt a child since she was 11. Her mind was made up after she saw a documentary on Chinese orphanages. It touched her to see so many children in need who might not ever be connected with a loving adoptive parent. The looks on those children’s faces left an imprint on her heart that would never go away.
Matt says Sherry told him about her plans to adopt “about 25 seconds after we met.” It was actually about six months into their dating relationship when she spilled the beans, just about the first time they spoke seriously about their future together. Matt accepted that this plan came with the territory, and the couple was married in April of 2004.
The Taders had their first child biologically, a girl they named Camryn in 2006. When she was about two years old they began to pray and talk seriously about adopting a little brother or sister for Camryn. Their church, Grace Community Church in Noblesville had a program called Grace Hands of Hope for the purpose of helping people through the adoption process. Their friends in that group referred them to Rebecca Bruce, adoption attorney (now Executive Director of Adoption Connections).
Matt and Sherry were excited to be connected with a birth mother through a mutual friend of the birth mother’s attorney in late 2009. They got to know the birth mother and grew attached to the girl inside her, whom they already thought of as their second daughter. But while the Taders were adjusting to becoming the parents of two, the birth mother’s boyfriend was threatening to leave her if she gave up the baby. She ultimately cancelled the adoption process. Matt and Sherry had an up close and personal look at what can happen in any adoption: birth mothers can change their minds any time before the baby is born. In addition, as the birth mom they were working with chose not to pursue adoption counseling, they were front row witnesses to a birth mom trying to navigate the emotional waters of an adoption plan without emotional support from adoption professionals.
Matt and Sherry were devastated. The failed adoption caused them to reconsider everything. They researched foster-toadoption to get a better idea of their options, which all seemed full of major obstacles, especially cost. Rebecca told them that she was starting an adoption agency, to be licensed in March 2010. Rebecca shared her vision that the birth mothers working with Adoption Connections would have one-on-one emotional support from an experienced social worker. They thought about it and decided to become one of Adoption Connections’ waiting families, having no idea how long they would have to wait.
About six months passed. It was August and Matt was away on business. She called Matt on a Tuesday, frustrated and defeated. Matt said, “I’ll tell you what. We’ll spend time this weekend and talk about what we really want to do.” They were considering just giving up.
On Thursday that week, Adoption Connections called to notify the Taders that a Ball State University student had showed up in labor at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie and had decided that she was not ready to parent; she wanted to place the child for adoption with a loving husband and wife. Somehow she had kept her pregnancy secret from her parents and she didn’t want them to know even now, such that she did not want the hospital to issue a claim to her father’s health insurance carrier. That meant that by agreeing to adopt the child, the Taders would be responsible for all related medical bills, including the cost of labor and delivery.
Though the circumstances made them anxious, Matt and Sherry felt like this was an opportunity God was handing to them. They called the agency back to say they had decided to go for it!
There was still some doubt because the birth mother was considering another family. Sherry went to bed that night not knowing whether they would be chosen.
“Matt woke her up at 11 pm on Thursday night and told her, “We have a son.”
The Taders rushed to the hospital to meet Liam, who was now one day old. His new parents spent the day with him, and though Sherry was obligated to sing in a friend’s wedding on Saturday she rushed back to be with her new son for the remainder of the weekend. Once Liam was released from the ICU with a clean bill of health, the Taders were allowed to take their baby boy home.
As it turned out, Liam’s birth mother found out she was not covered on her father’s insurance plan after all such that she actually qualified for Medicaid. Between insurance and tax credits the adoption had actually cost them nothing, given the Medicaid qualification and given Adoption Connections’ very affordable fees which are set on a sliding scale based on income of adopting parents.
Sherry is a stay-at-home mom. She says she loves teaching her children to serve others, to “see them grow and develop and become awesome little people.”
Matt says he loves watching his children grow, seeing their little personalities develop. “I love coming home at night to hear the kids yell ‘Daddy!’ and they give you a big hug. It warms your heart.”
The Taders want people who are planning to adopt to be prepared for ups and downs. “It’s part of life,” Sherry says. “It will happen when it’s meant to happen, and when it does it is the most rewarding thing in your life. All your fears about loving the child as much as you would a biological child are not an issue. God is placing that child in your life.”
They wish they had known before adopting that you can get through a failed adoption. They believe it was not part of God’s plan for them to adopt that baby girl in 2009, but that it was His desire for Sherry to be a part of that birth mother’s life. She later reached out to Sherry and asked her about her faith. Sherry has since been a part of bringing the young woman to Christ, and they are good friends today.
Sherry wishes she could be more a part of Liam’s mother’s life. Liam has a picture of her so as he grows up he’ll at least know what she looks like. Sherry says that if Liam’s mother ever wants to meet him she would love that. Though it is difficult to accept, Sherry understands it is not in her control. It is up to the birth mother to decide how involved she wants to be.
Matt and Sherry say they felt that Adoption Connections had the knowledge and experience required to guide them confidently through the process, and that they would recommend the agency to anyone who wants to adopt.
“It’s not a transaction,” Matt says. “They do it for all the right reasons.”