Published February 2016
By Shelbie Bostedt, Intern
Jenna and Anthony Comer-Hill vividly remember the first moment they laid eyes on their son. At the time, they had no idea they’d be taking him home around 24 hours later. As he stared up at them, wide awake and alert, they instantly fell in love. Before they even left The Cradle that day, the couple knew their lives were changed forever.
The journey leading to that moment had been a long one. After facing years of infertility, Jenna and Anthony began discussing the idea of adoption to begin their family. Upon finding The Cradle, they also discovered the agency’s Sayers Center for African American Adoption.
“Our family is multiracial, so our biological child would have been a child of color,” Jenna says, explaining that the program was something unique that stood out to her in her research. “There was an extra level of support and community for African American families, and we liked that idea.”
Despite the instant liking they took to The Cradle, however, and the Sayers Center specifically, the Comer-Hills needed some time to come to terms with putting their infertility struggles to rest.
“We definitely needed to be comfortable ending our infertility treatments and make sure we were okay moving forward,” Jenna says. “It was ending one thing and starting anew, realizing that this was the way we were going to go.”
Eight months after submitting their adoption application to The Cradle, and completing their home study, Jenna and Anthony went on the waiting families list, in April 2013. It would be another year until they brought their son home.
After experiencing a number of potential matches and one change of heart, Jenna got the phone call that she’d remember forever.
“I was at work and remember just sitting in my office crying,” she says. “I couldn’t muster up the initiative to call Anthony right away; I was just sitting there in awe.”
Jenna finally called Anthony to share the exciting news that they had been selected by a birth mother, and the couple promptly scheduled a time to meet her. It went just as expected, they recall, like a family reunion with people you haven’t seen in a while, or an “awkward job interview.” But after some time getting to know each another, the birth mom showed Jenna and Anthony pictures of Walker, who was already born and in The Cradle Nursery, as well as his siblings.
Though she gave them permission to see Walker in the Nursery, the Comer-Hills were unsure of whether or not to visit.
“We decided to go, not knowing if [his birth mother] would have a change of heart,” Anthony says. “We wanted to embrace him and show him love, even though we may or may not have ended up being his parents. It was important he got the love he needed at that point.”
During that visit, Jenna and Anthony learned they’d be able to take Walker home – the very next day! Immediately, they realized how unprepared they were. The couple raced to Babies ‘R Us, unsure of what they would need for a one-month-old infant.
“We walked out with a box of 800 wipes,” Anthony remembers with a laugh. “We knew we needed diapers, but we didn’t know what kind, so we only got wipes.”
Despite the challenges that all new parents face, the first few months at home with Walker were a breeze. The Cradle Nursery had the baby on a precise schedule that made caring for him relatively easy for Jenna and Anthony to “figure out.”
“One of us would hold him and the other one would just stare, watching him sleep,” Jenna recalls.
Walker is now a bright-eyed 23-month-old toddler, who loves walking his dog and playing basketball.
“Every time he makes a basket in his little hoop, he throws his hands up,” Jenna says. “He just wants to share his successes with everybody.”
The family’s relationship with Walker’s birth mother remains open. They send texts and pictures about twice a month to keep her updated about how he’s growing. The Comer-Hills say they’re open to expanding the relationship, but want to make sure she’s comfortable first.
“We’re open to her and Walker developing a relationship when he’s older,” Anthony says. “But it’s all about when she’s ready.”