Birth siblings Nick and Zoey were both adopted from The Cradle. Hear how adoptive parents Wendy and Matt formed their family through adoption and the close relationship they formed with their children’s birth parents.
At three years old, Nick was a fiercely protective big brother to 19-month-old Zoey. She looked up to him like little sisters do, and no one could make her smile like Nick could.
Both Nick and Zoey were Cradle babies, and like a number of children adopted each year, they are also birth siblings. Nick and Zoey’s parents, Wendy and Matt Miller, recount how their adoption journey led them to two children who are perfectly matched to their family.
Navigating the Illinois Adoption Process
“Even when we were still dating, we always knew we wanted to have kids,” Wendy says. “Once we did get married and tried to get pregnant, we weren’t successful. Matt was ready to move to adoption pretty quickly. It took me a bit longer, but once I understood the whole process, I was all in.”
They came to The Cradle because of the agency’s reputation and were soon immersed in the home study classes, paperwork and myriad other details that go into becoming a parent through adoption. The Millers worked diligently on their adoption profile.
Wendy — who is a writer and loved the creative aspect of drafting a profile — called it a “labor of love.” Matt felt the end result “perfectly captured who we are.”
Six months after Wendy and Matt came to The Cradle, they went on the waiting list. They received a call almost right away and went through a match meeting with an expectant birth mother, but she ultimately decided to parent the child. Three months later, there was another potential match that didn’t work out. Finally, nine months after they first went on The Cradle’s adoptive parent list, Wendy and Matt were chosen a third time.
“We were excited but still cautious, since we had been through a match meeting before,” Matt says. “However, there was a difference this time, because the baby was already born and was currently in The Cradle Nursery.”
Connecting With Nick and Zoey’s Birth Parents
The match meeting with the birth parents took place at The Cradle in early October 2012. Matt and Wendy clicked with the birth parents immediately, and two hours went by in a blink.
“Because of the parking situation at The Cradle [at that time], the birth parents had to move their car after two hours, even though we were in the middle of a match meeting,” Wendy recalls. “They had asked us if we wanted to meet the baby, since he was up in the Nursery. We were of course so excited, so they went to move their car and then we were going to meet the baby.”
When the couple came back, their birth parent counselor told Matt and Wendy the couple had made a decision: They wanted Matt and Wendy to adopt their baby, and they wanted him to go home that same day.
The Millers offered the most enthusiastic “yes” of their lives.
“We had come in prepared for a match meeting. We were positive and hopeful, but because of the previous [birth parent’s] change of heart, we kept our expectations low,” Wendy says. “My mom was out of town when we scheduled this meeting. She had offered to cancel her plans, but I said, ‘Don’t be silly — we’re not bringing home a baby.’ But that’s exactly what happened!”
Taking Home Baby Nick
The Millers made a quick run to Target for baby essentials while the birth parents completed their part of the paperwork. (Cradle policy requires that the adoptive parents leave the building when the birth parents sign surrender paperwork.) When they came back, Matt and Wendy met their son Nick for the first time, with his birth parents at their side.
Wendy describes the moment as surreal. “It was incredibly joyful but so bittersweet,” she says. “We were the happiest that we could ever be — yet looking at these beautiful birth parents, we knew that the best day of our lives was one of the worst days of their lives. To love someone so much to be willing to make a decision like that is truly amazing.”
The first year of parenting was “blissful.” Matt stayed home with the baby and Wendy worked as a first grade teacher. They had an open adoption relationship with Nick’s birth parents from the start, but Matt and Wendy also understood that sometimes they may need distance.
“We text and send photos, and there are times when we don’t hear back,” Wendy says. “Nick’s birth mom told us once that while she loves getting updates and seeing the photos — because it confirms they made the right decision — it can also be painful.”
Adopting Birth Siblings: Welcoming Daughter Zoey
Matt and Wendy always knew they wanted more than one child, and when Nick was 18 months old they started talking about getting back on The Cradle’s adoptive parent list. Matt was at home one day when he got a call from Dana T. Davidson, their Cradle counselor at the time. After a few minutes of catching up and asking about Nick, Dana asked Matt if he was sitting down.
“I said ‘Dana, the last time you said that to me you gave me a kid,’” Matt says with a laugh. “So then Dana repeats it again – ‘Matt, are you sitting down?’”
It turned out that Nick’s birth mother had delivered a baby girl that very morning, and she called The Cradle to ask if Matt and Wendy would consider adopting again.
“Subsequent pregnancies are not common, but they do happen,” says Dana, who is now Co-Director of Adoption and Family Support at The Cradle. “Most women feel incredible stress, embarrassment and shame, and are very worried about being judged when they call The Cradle a second time. Our job is to assure them that we will always support them, we are always here for them, and we honor their courage and love for their child to be making that very difficult phone call.”
That was certainly the case for Nick’s birth mother.
“The birth parents were very worried that we wouldn’t be open to adopting again,” Wendy says. “There was tremendous relief on their part when we said ‘absolutely, yes’ — that not only would we love to parent again, but it would further cement our connection to these amazing people.”
Their daughter Zoey spent four weeks in The Cradle Nursery before coming home to join her big brother in April 2014.
Raising biological siblings has been great fun for the Millers, especially when they see signs of physical resemblance between Nick and Zoey or one child’s mannerisms show up in the other. “Zoey looks like her mom, while Nick favors his dad, but they both have dimples,” Wendy says. “Sometimes I will see Zoey do something and I will laugh because it’s a total Nick face!”
The Cradle places a high priority on placing birth siblings together to ensure it has sufficient options for all expectant parents in its General Domestic Program. Through its Finding Families for Children Initiative, The Cradle reduces the adoption fees for families who have completed a home study for its General Domestic Program previously are willing to accept a second placement of a birth sibling. Wendy and Matt are appreciative of The Cradle’s open adoption process, particularly the support offered to birth parents.
“I love that there is so much counseling and education for the birth parents,” Matt says. “I have told Nick’s birth parents, ‘Don’t ever worry about reaching out. Don’t ever think it’s too late. If five years goes by, you can always reach out for support to The Cradle. They will be there for all of us.’”
For 100 years and counting, The Cradle has built nurturing families and provided lifelong support to people whose lives have been touched by adoption. Faces of The Cradle is a celebration of their stories. Meet more of the people who make what we do possible and all the more meaningful.