Adoptive parents had a long road to parenthood
The path to parenthood was a longer one than some for Anna and John Wright, but along the way they’ve become quite adept at overcoming challenges.
Which is why the couple wasn’t about to let the coronavirus outbreak stop their family from celebrating the 1-year birthday of their son, Graham.
The parents had planned two large celebrations that would have taken place last weekend but instead had to settle for a porch party where friends and family could park and wave to the happy family from a safe distance in the yard.
“It’s not what everybody planned to do but it’s the best we can to keep him and everyone else healthy,” Anna said.
Friends and family parked their cars, some decorated for the occasion, in front of the house and gathered in the front lawn to sing “Happy Birthday” to Graham and see him blow out a candle on a cupcake before taking a few nibbles. The couple set up a table filled with snacks on the sidewalk going up to the house, with some hand sanitizer for good measure.
It’s a small sacrifice to still celebrate Graham’s birthday, a celebration in of itself after the couple’s struggles to have a child.
Several years of fertility treatment was unsuccessful and after 10 years the couple decided to stop trying.
Anna’s mother Pat Leal said it was difficult for the couple.
“The one thing I always admired about them was they were always so happy when someone else had a baby. So genuinely happy,” she said. “(It would take) a lot of inner strength, inner peace to be happy for someone else with what they were going through.”
Shortly after they had stopped their attempts, however, an adoption opportunity arose with The Center for Youth and Family Services in La Salle. The couple met with the mother who was expecting and a day after meeting she selected the Wrights to take care of her child.
From that day forward, the Wrights went with the mother to all of her doctor appointments and stopped by for all hospital visits. Anna was even in the delivery room and was one of the first to officially meet Graham, a name the Wrights had selected but also carried importance to the birth mother’s family.
“From day one, I knew he was meant to be ours,” Anna said.
“I just lost it,” she said about holding him for the first time. “I cried for, well I still cry every day, but I cried almost the whole first day I was in the hospital.”
She carried Graham out to John in the waiting room.
“It was unbelievable to start our journey together,” she said.
And parenthood has been as “amazing” as the couple had expected it would be and has consisted of taking Graham on their first family vacation to a beach in Michigan as well as hiking at Buffalo Rock State Park and a trip to Chicago.
They also celebrated all the “firsts,” such as his first Halloween, Christmas and now his first birthday.
The couple had planned to have a couple of parties as a celebration of Graham’s birth but also of their own joy of having a baby. But as news of the spreading coronavirus began to arise and the recommended gathering sizes began to shrink, the couple discussed postponing.
Anna recalled crying with her mother on the phone, not wanting to suspend the festivities, but was convinced by a friend in pediatrics in order to keep everyone safe.
“I cried because I, selfishly, felt my son deserved it and my husband and I deserved to celebrate,” Anna said. “But nothing about our situation has been ordinary, so of course this is going to be a unique situation.”
The couple decided to have people gather in the front lawn as it was more personal than a phone call or recording a video that Pat and her husband Mick appreciated. But they plan to have the parties as scheduled, once the pandemic is over.
Mick said Graham, their 14th grandson out of 15, joining their large family has been a “blessing” not only to Anna and John after their struggle but also the family as a whole.
“He’s the biggest part of our life, our biggest blessing,” Anna said. “Every night when I rock him to sleep, I still can’t believe I’m a mom.”