November 20, 2020

‘A lovely exchange’: Couple rejoices in their daughter—and celebrates the relationships and blessings of open adoption

Katie and Trent Lloyd smile with their daughter Eliza, whom they adopted on Nov. 13, 2019, through Adoption Bridges of Kentuckiana, an agency of St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in New Albany. (Submitted photo)

Katie and Trent Lloyd smile with their daughter Eliza, whom they adopted on Nov. 13, 2019, through Adoption Bridges of Kentuckiana, an agency of St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in New Albany. (Submitted photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

When Katie and Trent Lloyd said “I do” in 2014, their hearts were open to welcoming children—and not just their own.

“We always wanted to adopt,” said Katie. “We wanted to have both biological and adopted children. It took a little longer on the biological part, but adoption was never a ‘second choice’ for us.”

So even as they waited for a child of their own, the Lloyds pursued adoption. Katie, 31, and Trent, 34, were hopeful after fostering a little girl for nine months.

“Then she left us abruptly,” Katie recalled. “We were not feeling hopeful—we were more toward feeling desperate.

“So to get a call that she was here meant everything.”

“She” is the Lloyd’s now-15-month-old daughter Eliza, whom the couple adopted on Nov. 13, 2019—coincidentally during Adoption Awareness Month.

The couple adopted her through Adoption Bridges of Kentuckiana (ABOK). The agency, which provides assistance for birth parents and adoptive parents and offers free pregnancy tests, falls under the umbrella of services offered by St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in New Albany.

“It wasn’t just about adoption with them,” said Trent of why they chose to adopt through the agency. “They were concerned for the life of the mother and the child and the couple during the whole process.”

‘It’s a lovely exchange’

The Lloyds, both ministers at different Methodist churches, had researched and visited several adoption agencies.

“A lot of times we felt like we were being sold something, even at Christian agencies,” said Katie.

But their experience was different at ABOK. When they met with the agency’s adoption program director Julie Barkley, “she was really honest about the process,” said Trent.

And ABOK is “ethical and cares for birth parents and prospective birth parents,” Katie added. In a questionnaire from the agency, the Lloyds noted they were pleased that birth parents are “provided with the support and counseling they need” both pre-and post-birth—all at no cost.

“Up until then we weren’t sure about the timing,” said Katie. “But with them we said, ‘We can do this, and we can do this with them now.’ ”

Like most couples who adopt through the archdiocesan-supported agency, the Lloyds chose to have an open adoption, meaning they were open to meeting the birth mother in advance and to remaining in contact with her after the adoption was complete.

But in the Lloyd’s case, they didn’t meet Eliza’s birth mother until a month after the baby was born.

“She was born at 33 weeks,” Trent explained. “We were an emergency placement,” meaning the mother decided to place her child for adoption after giving birth.

When they did meet, he said, “It was really lovely. We got to know her story and hear about her life. And it was so neat for her to be able to hold Eliza and [to] see the love she had for her in that moment, even though it was a hard decision” to have another family raise her child.

Since then, the Lloyds and Eliza’s birth mother have remained in contact. The couple email photos of Eliza, and the birth mother shares pictures and updates about her own life.

“It’s a lovely exchange,” said Katie.

‘There isn’t this giant question mark’

Not everyone views open adoption so positively at first.

“We encounter a lot of fear and suspicion around the idea,” Katie noted. “We even have people at church say, ‘Aren’t you afraid she’ll come back to take the baby?’ ”

“That’s not the way [open adoption] works,” Trent explained. “Once the adoption is final, it’s final. Our daughter is just as much our daughter as if Katie gave birth to her.”

“Eliza is stuck with us,” Katie agreed with a laugh.

While recognizing that open adoption is “a relationship and a process,” she considers it “good on both sides.”

“It’s good for the adopted child because there isn’t this giant question mark,” said Katie. “As [Eliza] gets older, she can see how she looks like her birth mother. She can learn about the circumstances that led to her adoption and know ‘I wasn’t abandoned.’ She can talk to her birth mother and get the truth, and see people who look like her.”

As the couple noted on the questionnaire, providing such knowledge and understanding to Eliza is “a gift.” And their daughter “will be able to see how loved she is by her birth mom. The immense love and care her birth mother has for her comes through in every word.”

From the other point of view, Katie noted that “Eliza’s birth mom seems to really enjoy getting the pictures and updates.”

But her perspective extends beyond her daughter’s biological mother. Recently, Katie started working at Adoption Bridges of Kentuckiana as a birth parent advocate in addition to her ministerial job.

“I’ve heard other birth mothers say they appreciate seeing they made the right decision and seeing their child grow and be nurtured,” said Katie. “There’s no question about ‘How is my little one?’ It helps give peace and affirms the decision they made.”

‘A relationship and a process’

On the ABOK survey, the couple admitted that, while they were not afraid of open adoption, they thought it meant “you talked with the birth parents all the time and visited, and they became as close as other members of your family.”

Such closeness “is one beautiful way that open adoption can take place,” their answer continued.

“But over time, we learned that there are so many ways to have an open adoption, and all of them are beautiful. An open adoption can mean emailing or phone calls or it can mean visits. And what it looks like can change over time, and that’s part of the beauty of it.”

For now, the Lloyds email Eliza’s birth mother several times a month. They noted on the questionnaire that “this has worked well from the beginning, as it allows space for her birth mom to grieve and process but to still have photos and stories there when she’s ready to see them.”

They’re now such proponents of open adoption through Adoption Bridges of Kentuckiana that they refer other adoption-seeking couples pursuing to the agency.

“We keep sending so many people, we joke we should get a discount with our next adoption,” Katie said with a chuckle.

‘We felt hope’

On a more serious note, the Lloyds expressed their deep gratitude for the agency and the hope it brings to couples, birth parents and children.

“We felt hope through the whole process,” said Katie. “Even though we had to wait a long time, we knew when that little person came, it would be worth it. …

“And I imagine Eliza’s birth mother watching her grow and set goals for herself would give her hope.”

The Lloyds “absolutely” want to adopt another child through Adoption Bridges of Kentuckiana.

But not for a while—the couple is expecting their first biological child in April 2021.

In the meantime, the Lloyds have already started sharing with their daughter about her birth mother and biological family, using a book with photos and a simple story of her birth they compiled.

The relationships in an open adoption “can be complex, and there can be misunderstandings,” said Katie.

But she and Trent are thankful they did not “let fear keep us—or especially Eliza—from having this beautiful relationship in our lives,” she said.

“That would have been a true loss.”
 

(For more information on St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities’ services through Adoption Bridges of Kentuckiana, go to www.stecharities.org/adoption-bridges. For more information on the United Catholic Appeal and other ministries it supports throughout central and southern Indiana, or to donate to the United Catholic Appeal, go to storybook.link/UCAstorybook.)

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!