“We just realized we wanted to be parents more than we wanted to be pregnant,” Emily Nagle said.
In making the decision to continue trying to conceive or to start the adoption process, she and her husband Chris weren’t alone. It’s a decision that one in six U.S. couples face when trying to start a family. This is National Adoption Month, and Chris and Emily are sharing their story in an attempt to help dispel all-too-common negative perspectives about foster care and adoption in America.
High school sweethearts, now married and living in Missouri, Chris and Emily always planned to have kids. They wanted a few biological kids with the potential for adopted kids later on. “And obviously, there were different plans for us. We struggled with infertility for a little while and we were going down that path and trying to explore different options, and at one point we just decided, we went to a conference in Nixa and that really, I think, is where our minds kind of changed,” said Chris.
They realized what so many adoptive parents have realized before them: that a child doesn’t have to grow inside you to be yours. They started working with Lutheran Family and Children’s Services, an adoption agency in Springfield. One of the many decisions they had to make about adoption was whether or not they would be up for an “open adoption” where the birth mother has contact with the family and her child after the adoption is finalized. From the start, Chris and Emily decided they wanted their child to know his or her birth mother.
After the home study was done, they didn’t have to wait long before a birth mother, Allison, chose them to parent her daughter. Allison told the Nagles that she knew they were meant to be parents. “Our biggest question before we met her was, well, why did she pick us?” Emily said. “What did she see in us? And truly, it’s not one specific thing that she was able to answer that, it just felt right, ‘you guys seemed perfect’ and it really was… it was a miracle match. It’s felt right and from the moment we met her, she’s family to us.”
In due time, Kenley was born and adopted by the Nagles. A picture of her birth mother sits by her crib. The Nagles plan to answer all her questions as they come, hoping Kenley always knows how much her birth family loves her too. “If we could have dreamt of a perfect adoption story, this is far better than that,” Chris said.
Just how many potential adoption stories like the Nagles’ are there? In 2002, there were 18.5 million American women, aged 18-44, who had ever considered adoption. Of that number, 2.6 million women took concrete steps to adopt. With the number of married women seeking adoption on the rise, it has been said that there are approximately 36 hopeful couples, like the Nagles, waiting for every one baby put up for adoption.
Despite these numbers, children are still aborted in America at the rate of nearly one million every year, at the expense of the argument, “Every child a wanted child.” The shortcomings of the child welfare system in America are broadcasted and women are told that adoption is too hard to endure. But Chris, Emily, and Allison are evidence that this is not insurmountable or even true. No matter what abortion rights advocates say, every child in America IS wanted, 36 times over.
And Kenley is alive and happy today because three people, once strangers, but now a family, were motivated by love, not selfish ambition.