Get married. Buy a house. Have a kid or two. That’s the Order of Things, right? Well, not necessarily. It turns out that our internal GPS doesn’t always sync with the path of life, and it forces us to make an unexpected left turn.
Lisa and Bradley Blaeser understand this.
Eight years ago, the East Side couple married after a 20-year courtship that began in fourth grade. They later bought a house in the Brady Street neighborhood, secured good jobs and got a dog. But building a family didn’t fall into place like the other pieces of their life.
The couple endured five years of infertility treatments, eventually coming to terms with the possibility that a biological child wasn’t in the stars. Through counseling, soul searching and strong faith, the Blaesers let their Baby Dream birth a new form.
"As we learned more from friends and family that have been touched by adoption, we felt that adoption was a path we were ready and willing to take," says Blaeser, whose brother has two adopted children.
The couple chose domestic adoption -- as opposed to international adoption -- and started the adoption process with their agency 10 months ago.
Donna Strayer is the director of Adoption Services, Inc., an adoption agency with locations in Waukesha, Mequon and Appleton. Last year, Adoption Services placed 22 healthy newborns with "forever families," but according to Strayer, 50 percent of the time adoptive parents find an infant on their own.
"A lot of times, the birth mom feels more of a connection if the parents are friends or friends of friends," says Strayer, who is also a birth mom
Aware of this fact, the Blasers -- who hope to adopt a healthy infant of any race -- created a Web site and Facebook cause. Also, they sent an e-mail to hundreds of friends announcing their search for a baby to adopt, and asked people to forward the e-mail to others.
"As we began to market ourselves, many of our friends didn’t realize that they could actually help us connect to a woman who may be considering an adoption plan," says Blaeser. "Many times these connections happen through word-of-mouth between friends, family, business associates, counselors, healthcare workers and school contacts."
According to Strayer, the cost of a domestic adoption is $10,000-$15,000, and sometimes more if the adoptive parents pay for the birth mom’s living or medical expenses. Domestic adoption, however, is usually less expensive than international adoption, which can cost up to $40,000.
In the world of domestic adoption, pregnant women considering adoption look at profiles of hopeful adoptive parents, both online and in hard-copy scrapbooks, and pick the family she feels is the best match for her unborn child. Strayer says the birth mom usually chooses a family based on common interests and opportunity.
"She’s looking for family-oriented people who will offer the child a lot of opportunities," says Strayer. "Particularly opportunities that the birth mom didn’t receive as a child."
Couples hoping for a domestic adoption must understand the risks. After a baby is born, adoption papers are filed, and the court gives a date to finalize the adoption within 30 days of receiving the documents. Before the adoption is finalized, the birth mother can decide to parent, and according to Strayer, this happens in 25-50 percent of her cases.
"Basically, the birth mother has to make a difficult decision not once but twice. Once when she’s pregnant and once after the baby is born," says Strayer. "It’s impossible to know how she is going to feel until the baby is born."
But the Blaesers are well aware that life doesn’t come with guarantees, and they already learned to let go of expectation. These challenging lessons allow them to travel an uncertain path to parenthood, and to believe that the baby will come when the time is right.
"As social workers and strong individuals, we feel that we have so much to offer a child," says Blaeser. "Not only will our child be lucky to have found us, but WE will be so lucky to have been found."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.