Our Open Adoption Documentary

For the benefit of our daughter, the birth parents, and our entire family, we have been chronically our story all along the way. We’ve captured our remarkable journey through photos, videos and blogs – beginning with our first miscarriage all the way through forging a relationship with a teenage couple considering adoption and the two years that have since past. We have nearly a half-decade worth of trials and tribulations that have been whittled down to 15 minutes. If you have 15 to spare, we invite you to catch a glimpse into our lives…

Documentary Overview

A heart-warming story of two families who opened their hearts to one another and the precious little girl who continues to melt everyone’s heart all along the way.

A Perfect Plan

This story is a celebration of little miss Madeline Brooke who was adopted and the uniquely loving way in which she is being raised. It recounts two families who unknowingly, but desperately, needed one another and how God wove a perfect plan together for all those involved. ‘Perfect’ in this sense does not mean without hardship, heartache or healing – but it does mean the way in which hindsight eloquently articulates that something bigger than yourself is at work. It’s the kind of perfection that comes along with the messiness of life – when you can look at your deepest, darkest seasons of hurt and sorrow and genuinely feel that you’d endure it infinitely over again to wind up at the exact same outcome – because on the other side, one bear hug from a one year old is indeed all the perfection you need in life.

It is in no way a stance on the ‘right way’ to do things. After all, ask any parent if they have found the foremost expert on the single right way to parent and you’ll find no two answers alike. Every child is different. Every family dynamic is different. Every circumstance is different. This shared testimonial is simply ‘our story’…and what a story it is.

At the time of video production, Madeline is about one and half years old. She has a brother who is also one. {More on that in the video!}. None of us know what the future has in store for us – but neither does any family. All we know is where we’ve been and what we have today.

So what was the catalyst for doing this documentary (other than being giddy and parents and wanting to brag about the cutest kids on the planet)? Well, we (the adoptive parents) tell our story all the time as does the birth parents. We have scrapbooks, blogs and all sorts of storytelling tools. But there was something that sparked a beaming pride that just couldn’t be ignored. At our last adoption visitation outing, our birth-mom told us about her senior class project. She decided to take up teen pregnancy adoption education whereby she speaks to other pregnant girls who are faced with an excruciating circumstance. We couldn’t believe her maturity and compassion for others. Here we all were, side-by-side, watching Maddie and her brother giggle ferociously as they navigated the water spickets in a community park. The birth-dad was picking up Maddie’s pink sippie cup for the millionth time off the floor, the birth-mom was telling us about her college plans and senior project and my husband and I were taking video to capture the beauty of life’s messiness. We couldn’t help but silently praise God for his incredible grace on all of us. Did any of us think we’d be strong enough to do this? Did any of us think it was even possible? There’s a pair of baby blue eyes –  that with one look – will indeed show you that all things are possible….

We hope you enjoy our story!

Production Credit

A big shot out to the incredibly talented team at Reel 9 Studios for capturing our story. It was filmed on 2 Sony Z1U cameras and edited on Avid MC by Caleb Mixon, CEO. He was amazing to work with and we highly recommend him!

If you are interested in our story, or would like to learn more about our documented footage, feel free to contact me. We hope that our story inspires others to the blessing of adoption. What once felt so unfamiliar is now the very core of our lives.

Letter of Recommendation: Scholarship

Project: Letter of Recommendation (LOR)
Person: On behalf of Autumn F.
Desc: College scholarship application

January 31, 2011

RE: Letter of Recommendation for Miss Autumn F.

To Whom It May Concern:

Autumn F. changed our life. Now, let’s back up and qualify that simple statement.

When  Autumn asked if I would write a letter of recommendation on her behalf as part of the college application process, I couldn’t help but feel both honored and excited. To have any part, no matter how small, in seeing her continue her education and reach her potential is beyond gratifying. She is a remarkable young women and I continue to be in awe of her grace and maturity at every new stage of our relationship. To say she has “overcome adversity” is to say the “grand canyon is a neat little crack in the ground”. Autumn has done far more than simply overcome a challenge; in my humble opinion, she has changed the world for the better.

After 5 excruciating pregnancy losses, including a daughter who died in my very arms, my husband and I turned to adoption. Like any other adoptive parent newbies – we had no idea what to expect outside of exaggerated theatrics as often described in made-for-TV movies. But God had different plans for us.

As we were grieving the loss of our latest baby, there was another couple who were also facing an extremely difficult situation. Autumn, just a sophomore in high school, became pregnant. While the rest of America was gobbling up the “coolness” of being a teen mom, as glamorized by MTV, Bristol Palin and the latest crop of misguided girls who are purposely getting pregnant, Autumn did the unimaginable: SHE PUT HER CHILD FIRST. There are not too many adults, let alone teens, who are unselfish enough to make such a mature and excruciating decision. She could have easily hopped aboard the teen mom bandwagon and paraded her daughter around like the latest handbag, but instead, she looked deep inside to make the best decision for the baby. That is when God put us together.

I could spend just about an eternity describing what my life has been like since meeting Autumn, but it’s not about me, so I will do my best to remain on point. With no other barometer of how to engage in an open adoption relationship, our birth mom/adoptive mom communication rested solely on mutual instinct. We both had to tune out everyone’s well-meaning advice and go with our guts. It turned out to the best decision that either of us could make.

I got to know Autumn on many different levels. One thing I really enjoyed about her was her zest for school. During Autumn’s pregnancy, she was steadfast in her dedication to her education. In our correspondence, she would beam with excitement for doing well on a test or plowing through a report. She often discussed how much she loved being involved in extracurricular activities, like chorus, and that getting good grades is a central focus of her life. She knew the ticket to success was college and made every concerted effort to not let her pregnancy push her into the expected life of mediocrity. I’ll never forget when Autumn called me several months after the adoption to tell me she just landed her first job. She was so happy about earning her own money and taking on this new responsibly. While most girls in her situation would be understandably stagnant, here she was mustering the strength to keep paving her path to excellence. Make no mistake, she did this with a broken heart. She did this with the anguish of a mother’s baron nest. But, she did this in the best interest of both her child and herself.

This is by far one of the things that made me so impressed with her (and continues to do so today). I was drawn to her insatiable hunger for overcoming adversity. There were so many nights that I stayed up with her on the phone as she sobbed at the gut wrenching task ahead – that of placing her child with another family to raise. Can you imagine the dynamics of trying to console a girl who is “your ticket to a family”?  But this was no ordinary girl, and again, we just had to rely on our hearts to guide us in the evolution of our relationship.

Fast forward 10 months post adoption. I am now the proud mommy of the most adorable girl on the planet, Madeline Brooke. She has Autumn’s gorgeous eyes and I love telling people where those magnetic blue peepers came from. I think the most convincing thing I could say about writing a letter of recommendation for Autumn is that I would be darn proud of Madeline if she grew up to posses the same fortitude for life, the same maturity, the same grace, the same dedication to education and the same compassion as that of her biological mom. I greatly look forward to watching Autumn’s life unfold and for being a part of it. Outside of her own parents, my husband and I are her biggest fans.

I am happy to answer any follow up questions you may have about this extraordinary girl.


Mrs. Jourdan M. Hathaway






Have You Ever?

Have you ever heard the story about a friend of a friend who knew someone that got pregnant after they adopted? It seems like any time people choose to adopt a baby, it elicits this conditional response of, “watch, I bet you’ll get pregnant now”. Statistically speaking, only 5% of adoptive parents actually go on to have a biological child. This is a very small percentage; and chances are, it will not in fact happen to the person you are chatting up about it.

Well now, here comes the crazy part. Drum roll please. It would appear that Cam and I are in that 5%. That’s right, we are pregnant! Insert, “I told you so’s” here. We are actually 6 months along with a little boy due October 20th. We waited until nearly the end to share the news and we are happy to report that we’ve passed all of our prenatal testing with flying colors! (However, please keep the prayers coming as we still have a long road ahead.)

Just to recap:

  • This is our 6th pregnancy in 3 years.
  • Our children will be just over 6 months apart.
  • Last Thanksgiving, we were grieving the loss of our 5th child. One year later, we are celebrating the holidays with not ONE, but TWO babies.

We haven’t really moved past the shock or figuring out the logistics of raising two babies just a few months apart. Can you take two maternity leaves in a year? Will we ever sleep again? Do we need a minivan? Honestly, we are perfectly content basking in the possibility of having two children and have faith that the rest will fall into place. It’s the family blessing that we’ve always envisioned for ourselves.

God is really amazing, with a bit of a sense of humor I suppose. We wouldn’t change our situation for anything. Clearly God wanted us to be part of Autumn and Jay’s lives and we are actually thankful our losses brought us to them so we could have Madeline Brooke. We feel so incredibly blessed that we can experience adoption and childbirth. Even more miraculous is that our children can forever be a testament to God’s power and they will grow up learning that families are made in many ways.

So go on, keep telling that story about these people you knew who adopted a baby and then got pregnant. Only now, it won’t be a friend of a friend who knew someone….it’s people you know firsthand!

If anyone would like to contact Lifetime so they can start on the script of our movie, we give you the green light!

The Hathaways

How Adoption Was God’s Plan To Make The Hathaway Family

Blessing of Adoption

This is our story about recurrent pregnancy loss and how adoption provided the hope to fulfill the role we were always meant to be: that of mommy and daddy.

Off To A Great Start

We were married on June 2, 2007 after a blissful 3-year courtship. We waited until everything was “just right”. During our engagement, we saved up the money for our wedding and perfect honeymoon, as to not go into debt. We bought the picture perfect suburban 3/2 house in what I like to call, a “trick-or-treat friendly” neighborhood. We were at the height of our careers, me a director of an advertising agency and my husband a sr. designer in the marketing firm of a very family-friendly hospital.

Following our honeymoon return, it was time to start the family we’ve always longed for. I prepared my body for a baby and we prepared our home for the impending arrival. The only area of concern was what bedding we would choose for the nursery – living in an ignorant bliss that would all-to-soon be shattered.

Fast Forward 2.5 Year

On Father’s Day 2009, I delivered our 20 week old daughter who died in my arms moments later. She was seemingly perfect. 10 little toes to kiss; 10 little fingers to hold. During the amnio, there were no chromosome issues. However, she had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, one of the most rare congenital heart defects out there. There is no family member on either side with anything remotely like this.

Unfortunately, this was not the first time this happened to us. In total, we have lost 5 children; all of them have been for vastly different reasons; all of them are now angels in heaven. All the doctors kept saying “really bad luck” for the first few times. After our third, our doctors told us to just try again. Surely it wouldn’t happen for the 4th or 5th time. But, it could. And, it did. We fell into a very frustrating category of “unexplained infertility”. More rare, is that we have successfully conceived 5 times in a row, and even made it past the dreaded first trimester, with no known medical basis for their losses.

Two Sides Of The Fertility Coin

In an even more humbling experience, I had been to the same doctors more than half a decade ago on the other side of the fertility coin, so to speak. You see, I was an egg donor in college. Not once, not twice, but four times. Yes, four times I gave my eggs to other women in my very same situation; and, ironically, five times I have lost my own baby. I once received a hand written letter from one of the recipients who had ovarian cancer. It was touching to see the hope I gave her. Unfortunately, I now understand her broken heart in ways that I could have never imagined. Never in a million years did I see myself on the other end. Here I am with the same doctors, asking the same questions that those families had. Why me? Why can’t we fix it. I was only in my 20’s.

Opening Our Heart & Mind

Sometimes life has an unconventional way of reaching you and teaching you. Truth be told, adoption was not in our everyday vernacular. But, a strange thing happened: God intervened in a most overt sort of way.

  • Our first introduction was from a fellow church member that we were introduced to. She had also endured several late term losses and reached out to us. Her own ironic circumstance was that she worked for a Christian adoption agency while the losses occurred. She gave me words of encouragement and strength. Adoption began to build in our mind.
  • Not soon after my third loss, my advertising agency took on a new client: CBC of Seminole County. I was tasked with developing a long format video to be used as an education tool for foster care, adoption and independent living services. Imagine my initial surprise at the subject matter. Part of my research was meeting with a birth mother to learn about the process. This is when I saw a third side of the fertility coin, so to speak. It is the most selfless thing a mother can do and I will never forget when I learned about the unconditional love and courage required to place your child up for adoption and what it truly means for those waiting on the other side. Adoption began to build in our hearts.
  • Then, after my delivering my fourth child, my husband and I underwent extensive genetic testing with a world-renown geneticist in California. He told me about his two adoptive children that are the center of his universe. I hung on his every word. Adoption became our source of hope and strength.
  • In the most gripping situation, my dear friend who was pregnant along side me after 2 consecutive still births lost her third child only 6 days after we lost our baby. Marking her third loss, she decided to give her son the sibling she longed for via adoption. She joined with A Chosen Child and then shared with me the joy in her home and heart knowing that a blessing (and not agonizing tragedy) was soon on the horizon. Adoption was firmly cemented in our mind, heart and home as the way we would complete our family.
  • Following that, I was at a yard sale and the topic came up (as ladies often revel in small talk to perfect strangers). As fate would have it, the woman was in the process of adopting her second child. Her first experience was so amazing that she affirmed she would endure the 10 years of infertility infinitely over again if it meant that it lead to bringing home the daughter “that was always meant for her”. She spoke of the blessing that the birth mother bestowed on her as the most precious gift in the world. Adoption was reinforced as the most highly-anticipated and best decision we could ever make.

A Mutual Understanding Despite The Differences

Adoption is not easy for either party. I imagined that my husband and I, and the birth parents, have all arrived at the decision after enduring a heart breaking set of circumstances that no one ever thought they would face. While it is very different on each side, each mother’s heart has labored over the decision, playing the scenarios over and over in their heads. My heart ached for the birth mom, as I knew what it felt like to have a baby kick your tummy, but know that he or she would not be coming home with you. I knew what it is like to hold your child in your arms and then have to kiss them goodbye, hoping only that heaven (or a new mommy) would take good care of him/her. I understood the trepidation…despite our differences.

Our Journey Began

And so began our journey to completing our family through adoption. It was no coincidence that life led us to this path. Our circumstances prepared us to know the incredible blessing of what a child truly means. We would never take a baby for granted. The first steps would be applauded with the veracity of winning an Olympic gold metal. A lost tooth would be celebrated with the tenacity of winning the Superbowl. Even teenage rebellion would be looked on with an internal smile from ear to ear – just knowing that were finally, against all odds, blessed with having a child who now thought we were “totally lame”.

We began the long road ahead on November 16,2009 and eagerly awaited the mother who would chose us. I loved her unconditionally already, knowing that I would raise her baby with more love that any human could fathom. We prepared for the story of how the child, who would be sent to us through the selflessness of his or her birth parents, would finally came home.

In Four Days He Said, “Let There Be Life”

Four days pass from our initial adoption seminar where we learned the ins and outs of the somewhat overwhelming process. I went to the bank to start exploring our finance options to come up with the exorbitant legal expenses. Meanwhile, Cam’s boss, who we firmly believe is our living guardian angel, called him to ask a poignant question. She inquired, “have you and Jourdan ever considered adoption? My friend’s daughter is 15 years old and pregnant and is exploring adoption”. Keep in mind that his boss had no idea we were planning to adopt. It had only been 4 days since we went to our first seminar and learned anything about it. But, she had been with us through all of our losses and we came to her mind when she learned the news. After some mass hysteria of disbelief from all of us, we end up getting the girl’s email.

I rushed to my computer and sent her our story in efforts to connect with her. I then start biting all of my fingernails off wondering if and when she would reply. 3:07 pm. There it was; a response from Autumn Fisher, the girl who would forever change our lives. OMG. I could barely breath. I opened her email and saw that she was receptive to me. The email was warm and she empathized with our situation. She also attached a pix of her and her boyfriend (of whom she was still with). They were the most beautiful people in that moment. I stared at the pix for nearly 2 hours.

We ended up exchanging email after email throughout the evening until I almost felt like I was chatting with my little sister. She was smart, funny, driven, beautiful inside and out. I remained in disbelief that it would lead to anything. Cam and I were nearly resolved to believe that we would never have the reality of parenthood.

Our First Meeting With The Birth Mother

On Wednesday, 12/2/09, me and Cam went to Applebee’s to meet with the birth mother and her mom. We arrived first. Our stomach was in knots. Cam was about to yak and I looked down to realize that I was wearing the wrong shoes. Not that it mattered, but I changed 6 times. I wanted to look like the “perfect mom”. What does that look like exactly? I finally decided on something that was representative to who I really am, and not what I thought I should be. It was black pants, a white sweater with hints of silver and fun silver jewelry. My shoes? Well, they were brown with gold buckles. Brown was the last outfit. What the heck? I started obsessing over my shoes until she walked in and I saw her little protruding tummy. I quickly forgot about my shoes and become entrenched in every nuance of this beautiful young girl.

Luckily, all of our previous emails had established a relationship already and it was pretty easy-going. Over the course of 2 hours, we learned that she was much like I was at that age. Super organized. Driven. College bound. Loves pink. In fact, we found out that we both had a pink bedroom and that made her happy. We also learned that her boyfriend and Cam had a lot in common. He’s was into muscle cars and computers. It was item after item of shared commonalities between us. We left there feeling very good. More than good, on cloud 9. We discussed some of the things that were important to her about the arrangement. All of them were more than reasonable. We shared with her that knowing the birth mother would be important for all of us and absolutely in the best interest of the baby. This also made her happy. Her mother was a strong and loving advocate for her daughter and wanted to ensure her daughter could continue with her life goals, but still remain an important part of her child’s life.

Our First Meeting With The Birth Father

One 12/6/09, we went to Denny’s to meet the birth father, his mom, and the birth mother was there as well. This time, we were far more relaxed. The birth father was 18 years old and had been with the birth mother for 2 years. They obviously cared deeply for one another. They were a very cute couple. A Florida native, he showed up looking like a surfer kid with shaggy brown hair, board shorts and flip flops. Very handsome and reminiscent of Cam’s casual demeanor. Both him and his girlfriend had the most piercing blue eyes. The birth father shared his many talents: he can play piano by ear along with the guitar, clarinet and trumpet. He loves computers and wants to be a pilot or computer engineer for airplanes. He’s a pleasure to be around.

Most notable: he loves muscle cars. Knowing this, Cam drove the Shelby. The conversation never dulled. We were there for nearly 3 hours. I’d say 2 of those hours were spent talking about cars. Cam and I bantered back and forth with each other as we normally do and they did as well. We told jokes, looked at pix on each other’s phones, listened to the birth father’s mom tell childhood stories. It was great.

Jay ate 8 pieces of bacon, which I thought was awesome because I absolutely love bacon. Someone brought up sandwiches and both me and the birth dad said we hate sandwiches at the same time. I know it’s a little insignificant thing, but these connectivity points really paved the way for what would become and formidable and comfortable bond.

The birth father’s mom was awesome. She is really a beautiful woman who loves her son and only wanted what was best. She told me all about their family history and I hung on to every word. There’s an opera singer, a pilot, a lawyer and even an adopted sister in the family. Oddly, we found out that I was even born in the same exact hospital as the birth father.

We parted ways and I sent a follow up email thanking them for their time. The birth mother gave us a DVD to watch called, “16 and pregnant”. She wanted us to watch it to know what she was feeling. It would later open our hearts and minds to the amazing joy of open adoption.

The Moment Our Family Began

Fast-forward a few weeks, many emails, and a ton of relationship building. On 12/11/09, the b-mom sent us the most beautiful email I could have ever imagined. Outside of my vows, they were the most touching words I have ever read: “It didn’t talk long to decide, but after talking to my boyfriend, we have decided that you and Cameron are who we want to raise our daughter. We would love for you to adopt her.”

I read her email over and over again. There were no words good enough to describe how thankful we were and how happy our hearts felt. I responded by telling her that Cam and I would spend every day for the rest of our lives protecting, cherishing and loving their daughter. We spent the rest of the pregnancy forging our incredible bond and shared love for our baby girl.

It was hard for me to imagine my life finally free from the burden of infertility and a childless home. It was amazing that something this good, this miraculous, could actually be our story, despite all that we had been through. But, this is our story. In retrospect, it was always our story, and only God could have authored it in this way.

To my daughter, this is your beginning….welcome to the world. You are loved beyond measure.

“I always dream about keeping her, but I have made my decision on adoption. I am very well aware that this will be very hard for me to do, but because I love my daughter, I want her to have the best life possible and I know that is with you and Cam. I feel like it was meant to be for us to find each other at this time in our lives.” – birth mother

“There are no words good enough to tell you how thankful we are and how happy our hearts feel. We will spend every day for the rest of our lives protecting, cherishing and loving your daughter. She will always know that you and and her birth father love her. I hope that you will feel like you are not losing one family member, but gaining three!” – me