REXBURG — When Lauren Madsen and her husband, Nate, married, they planned to adopt children but expected to do so after having a few biological children first. Those plans changed after Lauren Madsen suffered a series of miscarriages, and the couple decided to speed up their plans by starting their family via adoption.
The Madsens turned to the Rexburg-based AdoptionLife.org, southeastern Idaho’s only private adoption agency. About six months after going through a lengthy adoption process, the couple adopted a son through the agency recently.
“When we were dating, I said I’d always wanted to adopt. Nate said, ‘That sounds great. Let’s adopt someday.’ We just kind of thought we’d be a little older. We didn’t expect it to happen so soon,” Lauren Madsen said.
The couple started on their journey in August. They held various fundraisers in hopes of earning money to cover adoption costs. From there they underwent background checks, home studies, fingerprinting and reviews by various birth mothers. Eventually a birth mother accepted them.
“They do one-on-one interviews and do an interview as a couple. They asked us to write down information about both of our families, all of our siblings, our growing up experiences and how we want to parent,” Lauren Madsen said.
She noted that those looking to place their babies are of varying ages and came from different backgrounds.
“We talked with teenagers. One of the expectant mothers we talked to was married, and her husband didn’t feel they were ready to have a family. Some of them already had children,” she said. “There was a very wide variety of people who were interested in placing their children for adoption. Each situation is very unique.”
After the Madsens posted their profile on the adoption agency’s website, a woman Lauren Madsen calls “Rebecca” came across the couple’s information.
“She contacted us and asked if we’d like to get to know her a little bit more,” she said.
AdoptionLife.org later arranged a visit between the Madsens and Rebecca.
“We just started talking, and then we set up our first meeting. We had been texting and talked on the phone and then met Rebecca and her mom. We got to know each other,” Lauren Madsen said.
Rebecca was in her 20s and had plans for college, she said.
“I kind of expected a very young girl who hadn’t had much life experience and was just nervous about raising a child. Rebecca was mature and wanted her baby to have a dad involved in his life. She wanted something for him that she couldn’t provide at this point in time,” Madsen said.
The Madsens got to know Rebecca and her family very well. They got so close that the Madsens gave their son a middle name after one of Rebecca’s family members.
“It was like a tribute to the birth family, and because they welcomed us with open arms. Now it just feels like we’re extended family with them,” she said.
The Madsens keep a picture of “Mama Becky” in their son’s room. In the meantime, Mama Becky has moved on with her life.
“She’s wanting a fresh start. We talk a couple times a week. We share pictures and videos,” Madsen said.
Today, Lauren Madsen is a full-time mom and couldn’t be happier spending lots of time with her growing boy.
“I call him ‘my little wiggle worm.’ He likes to dance, kick his feet and punch his little hands. He is really, really cute,” she said.
Those who don’t know the Madsens’ baby is adopted often remark how much he resembles his parents.
“We went to the doctor’s office and someone said ‘Oh, my gosh! He looks just like his dad.’ I said, ‘Does he really?’ I see Rebecca’s family in him. I see so much of her and the birth dad in him. I see so many similarities between them,” she said.
It all proved a long journey for the Madsens, who suffered four miscarriages prior to adopting. The gender of two of the children isn’t known, but two years ago, the couple lost a little boy they named Hunter. He was stillborn at about five months. Last July Lauren Madsen miscarried a baby girl the couple named Hazel.
Lauren Madsen suffers from a condition called “unicornuate uterus.” According to the Boston Children’s Hospital web page, as a female fetus develops, her uterus doesn’t fully form, and, in the process, creates what’s called a “single-horned uterus” or unicornuate uterus.
The hospital says that an estimated 4,020 American women suffer from this condition, and it’s usually not diagnosed until a woman starts her family. While some babies have been know to make it through a full-term pregnancy, the small size of the mother’s uterus makes it very difficult for the baby to stay in utero for nine months. When the baby does make it to term, doctors routinely deliver the child via cesarean section.
Lauren Madsen says that while she’s thrilled to have a baby of her own, she still mourns the children that she lost.
“I think when you have a child — whether biologically or through adoption — you feel a little bit guilty. You’re moving on with your life, but you don’t want them (deceased babies) to think you’ve forgot about them. But at the same time, you need to move forward with your life. It’s a part of the healing process. They are still very much a part of our family, and we find ways to honor them,” she said.
Someday, Lauren Madsen plans to teach her baby boy about her other children. She has a teddy bear containing a recording of Hunter’s heartbeat.
“He can listen to his big brother’s heartbeat,” she said. “I think he’s got lots of guardian angels.”
In the meantime, Madsen is working with Adoption.com to answer prospective parents’ and birth mothers’ questions about adoption.
“I post about our experience. I try and help break some of the taboos that surround adoptions and birth moms,” she said.
Madsen noted there remains some negativity directed toward unwed mothers.
“The idea is that they’re irresponsible, druggies and immature. That’s definitely not the case. Honestly, they’re amazing, selfless individuals who love their children and want the best for them,” she said.
Rebecca’s unexpected pregnancy wasn’t the result of an error on her part, Madsen said.
“I don’t think it was a mistake. I think these babies were meant to be here. Our son was meant to be in our family but needed to find another way to get here. His birth mom was meant to be in our family. We were meant to be in each other’s lives,” she said.
For more information on adoption visit AdoptionLife.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-11.