In Mathilda Webb’s room there is a very special framed picture of five people. It shows two-month-old Mathilda with four people who love her very much: her adoptive parents and her birth parents. The picture was taken at The Cradle on February 17, 2016, the day that Mathilda went home with Emily Meyer and Ed Webb.
“The first month and a half that Mathilda was home, we just had a revolving door of visitors,” Emily says. Everyone wanted to meet baby Mathilda, whose story started many years before she was born.
While in college, Emily was diagnosed with a medical condition that would impact her ability to conceive. She and Ed got married in 2011 and both felt that Emily’s diagnosis was a confirmation they were meant to adopt. They began by attending an informational meeting at The Cradle in early 2013. Emily recalls that this initial meeting really helped to set expectations for her and lay out the process that she and Ed would go through before bringing a baby home.
She also remembers thinking about each step as a task on a checklist, with every completed item bringing her closer to her child. The couple took classes, filled out paperwork and had their home study approved. But the real test for Emily came after all of this preparatory work was finished. In August 2014, they went on the waiting list. There were no other steps to check off. There was little to do, in fact, but wait and hope for a call.
The months passed, and Emily and Ed received a number of calls letting them know that a birth mother was reviewing their profile. Each time they were close, but weren’t selected. Their Cradle counselor, as well as a Cradle mentor family, offered them support and guidance, reminding them that the wait would be worth it.
“As much as I anticipated it and was nervous about it, when the call came, it was so much more than I expected,” Emily says. “I remember walking into the room to meet the birth parents, and I had to just stop and catch my breath.”
Although it was initially stressful for Emily and Ed, from that first meeting they knew that this baby was meant to be part of their family. The birth mother told them how excited she was for them, and how some similarities had led her to choose them. Their dogs have similar names, for example, and Mathilda’s birth father and Ed share a love of science fiction.
“No matter what I thought I would feel and how I imagined it to be, it was ten times that,” Emily recalls. “I was thinking, ‘This woman is so strong and brave. She is trusting us to take care of her child’.” Emily says that the connection with the birth parents and their level of comfort with the transition was amazing. It was one week from their meeting to the placement, and according to Emily, that week felt as long as the entire three-year process.
Ed and Emily at The Cradle on Mathilda’s placement day
On placement day, Emily and Ed arrived in Evanston early and waited at a nearby Starbucks with an infant car seat until the surrender documents had been signed. Then they went to The Cradle and talked with the birth parents until Mathilda’s birth mother placed her in Emily’s arms.
Today, Mathilda is a happy and smiling eight-month-old. Emily and Ed send her birth parents regular email updates as they celebrate Mathilda’s growth and the constant new milestones she reaches.
Emily sums up their experience saying, “Sometimes I still can’t believe it. I just stop and look at her, and I think, ‘She’s here. My daughter is here’.”
Mathilda at The Cradle Family Picnic on July 30