A Tough Spot
In 2006, a 25-year-old Crystal felt lucky to have Danny as a partner, and he felt the same way about her. Outside of the relationship the couple faced their own set of circumstances that were anything but “lucky.” As a diabetic, Crystal’s health has been a lifelong roller coaster ride due to all that the disease put her through. Diabetes was not her only physical battle, on top of that she has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Hepatitis A, B, and C which she contracted at a previous place of employment.
Danny, on the other end, had recently violated his probation and was potentially looking at a year in jail. Both he and Crystal had another demon they shared together, drug addiction. Just when they thought they were dealing with all they could handle; life threw another test at them. Crystal found out she was five months pregnant.
An Unplanned Pregnancy
“You’re pregnant” was met with a pause of disbelief. Crystal’s world came to a sudden halt, this just could not be true. The doctors told her at 19 years-old that her chances of getting pregnant were slim.
With Crystal’s health in such poor shape, no job security, Danny possibly facing jail time, parenting an infant would be met with toxic chaos. If they could not parent, adoption was the only other option they had. Neither of them knew very much about adoption, so they started by calling an agency to get more information about the process.
Adoptions From The Heart’s (AFTH) Delaware office is in the Trolley Square section of Wilmington close to Crystal. She called AFTH to make an appointment. Danielle Goodman, a longtime AFTH social worker sat down with them to go over the premise of what is known as an “open adoption.”
Jeff & Michelle
An open adoption gives birth parents the chance to have contact with their child growing up. Crystal and Danny were glad to hear that they would be able to pick their son’s parents as well. “It [open adoption] was the better decision to give him [future son] what he needed than put him in a situation that was unpredictable at the moment,” said Crystal. She viewed the profile of prospective adoptive parents Jeff and Michelle and asked Danielle if a meeting could be set up so she and Danny could meet them.
The couples came together and felt a genuine connection. Michelle reassured Crystal that she and Jeff would let their son know from infancy that he was adopted, along with providing him with information about his birth family. At that moment she had no doubt that Jeff and Michelle would honor this promise to them and do right by their son.
Returning to Adoptions From The Heart
Crystal and Danny were more established than they were when they placed Logan for adoption. They were both employed, sober, and able to save money however they lived in a small in-law suite with bug problems and did not have a car.
After lots of consideration about parenting, Danny started thinking about the reality of Crystal’s health struggles. He had seen her health go up and down throughout the relationship. What would this mean for their family and the child’s upbringing? “If something happens to you, I can’t take care of a baby on my own,” Danny told Crystal. 10 years after their first appointment with Adoptions From The Heart, they called to set up another one.
Sacs Full of Love
Crystal and Danny were assigned to adoption counselor Amanda Aliberti, who works alongside Danielle, their original social worker. At the first meeting, Amanda pulled out years’ worth of bags filled with letters and pictures addressed to Crystal and Danny. Michelle and Jeff truly did honor their word, even when their efforts to send updates received no response.
When Crystal returned home, she spent hours looking through photos of Logan. She read every letter that Michelle and Jeff poured their heart and soul into providing updates on their son. All the letters and pictures were solid proof that she made the best decision for him. He had all the opportunities and experiences she could ever want for him. She yearned to reach out and reestablish a relationship with the couple and begin one with Logan. However, she was worried they might reject her desire to reconnect after being silent for so long.
Reaching Out in Hope
She did ultimately push herself to write Michelle and Jeff a letter. First and foremost, she apologized for being distant and unresponsive during the past 13 years. Crystal assured the couple it had nothing to do with them, she was just not in a good place. She also let them know that she and Danny were still together and that they were pregnant.
Their response to her letter truly touched Crystal. They were understanding and forgiving. They assured her that they would let their son know she reached out along with the pregnancy news.
Ultimately, Crystal and Danny continued to move forward on their adoption plan for their second child. Two months earlier than expected, they gave birth to a baby girl. Their daughter needed to remain in the hospital a bit longer due to being premature.
When Crystal was released from the hospital, she returned regularly to change, hold, and feed her baby. “I tried to spend as much time with her as I could,” said Crystal.
The day finally came when their son would be ready to make his debut into this world. The birth did not come without its share of complications. They discovered at one point that there was not enough fluid surrounding the baby, a situation that was serious enough for the doctors to ask everyone to step outside the room. Thankfully, Crystal’s doctors were able to safely deliver her son. After delivering her baby, she was at peace knowing he was in the care of great doctors, and that Jeff and Michelle were by his side the whole time. Jeff and Michelle named the baby Logan.
While she felt content in how Logan was being cared for, there was an intense force of devastation eating away at Crystal’s heart and soul. She knew they did what was best for Logan by placing him with Jeff and Michelle. Unfortunately, there are certain situations in life where doing what is realistically “the right thing” can still lead to heartache. “I was sad, you’re not supposed to leave [the hospital] and not take your child with you,” said Crystal. She praises Danny for truly being her “rock” during this difficult period.
Shortly after Logan was born, Crystal fell deep into a lifestyle of substance abuse. As much as she wanted to keep in touch with Logan, Michelle, and Jeff she opted to distance herself- yet again another decision that was painful, but a decision she felt was necessary. She did not want her son to get to know her as the messy, unreliable person that the drugs turned her into- that is not who Crystal is at her core. “They [Logan, Michelle, and Jeff] didn’t deserve that,” said Crystal.
Sober and An Unexpected Surprise
It took years for Crystal to reach sobriety. She had to fight her whole life to stay healthy, so she mustered up the same perseverance to create a better lifestyle for herself. In 2018, Crystal and Danny hit an important milestone of celebrating two years of sobriety together. They both reached a place in life where they had secure jobs and things were starting to fall into place.
The only thing that remained a concern for the couple was Crystal’s health. She had drastically lost 112 lbs., and her sugar was off the charts. She was also having problems with her liver, which led her doctors to schedule her for an ultrasound to see if she would be a good candidate to undergo liver treatment. At one point during the doctor’s appointment, the ultrasound technician froze then turned around and said, “you know I’m not supposed to tell you this but you’re pregnant.” Crystal went straight to Danny’s workplace “he thought I was joking,” said Crystal. When he finally realized she was telling the truth, the news was just as nerve racking to him as it was to her.
On the second to last day Crystal was able to have some bonding time with the couple she and Danny chose to be her daughter’s adoptive parents, Danielle and Dave. She cherished those moments getting to know her daughter Tess and her adoptive parents more. The day Tess was released from the NICU, Crystal was there to say goodbye to her daughter. Because it was an open adoption, she knew this was just goodbye for now.
Crystal is no longer a prisoner to her addiction, nor is she a prisoner to her past trauma. “I do have my head on my shoulders. I’m looking into buying a house. I’ve finally gotten myself to that point in my life where I can see them [Logan and Tess],” said Crystal.
Both of her children’s families are in constant communication with one another. Crystal says that Danny is “more than happy with the choices we made” regarding the parents they chose for Logan and Tess. Ultimately her advice to all birth parents is to stop punishing themselves for the decisions and situations they were in at the time they decided to place their child for adoption. “Have faith in the fact that your heart loves your children, but your mind has enough sense to give them a better life,” she explained.
As a birth mother, Crystal is moved by how much love the two couples have for Logan and Tess and grateful for all the opportunities they have been given. When Crystal is asked what the first thing she would say to her children face-to-face would be her answer is “you’re exactly where I wanted you to be” in regard to the life they have, and the love surrounding them.