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Published December 22, 2012, 11:30 PM

Moorhead couple remains optimistic they will adopt a child

MOORHEAD - Nicky Nelson couldn’t look at the sign a minute longer. It had been a big step for the Moorhead woman and her husband, Erick, when they first attached the window slick to their car. The sign publicly proclaimed their wishes to adopt. “Longing to become Adoptive Parents,” it read. “Call, text or email ...”

By: By Tammy Swift, Special to The Forum, INFORUM

MOORHEAD - Nicky Nelson couldn’t look at the sign a minute longer.

It had been a big step for the Moorhead woman and her husband, Erick, when they first attached the window slick to their car. The sign publicly proclaimed their wishes to adopt. “Longing to become Adoptive Parents,” it read. “Call, text or email ...”

Last spring, The Forum wrote about the Nelsons’ unconventional search, which included posting fliers in grocery stores and handing out adoption-minded business cards.

Several prospective birth moms contacted them, but nothing panned out. And so earlier this month, the normally calm Nicky took a razor blade and scraped every last shred of the window slick off her sedan.

Today, Nicky isn’t 100 percent sure why she did it. Maybe it was too much of a constant reminder after a two-year adoption search fraught with false hopes and frustrations.

“It was something I could control at a time when I feel like I have no control,” says the 36-year-old, still dressed in bright blue scrubs after a full day working as an OB-GYN nurse at Essentia Health.

Nicky and Erick Nelson haven’t given up. They continue to put themselves out there. They maintain a Facebook page, have built a website (www.erickandnickyarereadytoadopt.weebly.com) and have been listed on websites and “the book” – a catalog of prospective adoptive parents – with Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota since 2010.

More recently, they’ve expanded their search by listing themselves on the national website, www.parentprofiles.com.

The decision to cast a wider net has yielded more results, but it has also taken them on an unpredictable, sometimes painful journey.

“It has come with some issues,” says Erick, 37, a retail sales supervisor. “We get quite a few emails, most of which we never hear back from. It’s hard to tell if any of them are legit or not. In the end, though, it really is the only way for us to know we did what we could.”

A proactive approach

The Nelsons always knew they wanted children. But they also knew they could never have them the traditional way. Nicky has a genetic condition called premature ovarian failure, which required getting a hysterectomy in 2005.

They began working on an adoption plan with Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota in the summer of 2010.

After more than a year went by with no nibbles, their LSS social worker, Vicki Haugen, encouraged them to use more public methods, such as social networking, to attract birth parents. It’s all part of a national trend of prospective parents using more aggressive approaches to woo the ever-dwindling pool of birth parents who wish to make adoption plans, Haugen says.

The couple, who consider themselves reserved Midwesterners, initially balked at the idea.

“It was difficult to put ourselves out there,” Nicky says. “We are more of a private couple.”

But they were both in their mid-30s, and worried they only had so much time left before they were too old to adopt a newborn. Other options, like hiring a surrogate mother, were too expensive for them. And so they agreed to try more proactive adoption methods, such as leaving “Looking to adopt” business cards in mall restrooms or posting fliers on public bulletin boards.

That was more than a year ago. Since then, they’ve been contacted by three birth moms who were looking to make adoption plans.

The first canceled right before their first scheduled meeting.

The second seemed so erratic that it made both of them feel uncomfortable. They passed on a match.

The third woman seemed like the perfect birth mom. But after they met, she sent a text that said she had decided to arrange the adoption with another couple.

Little did they know their biggest disappointment was yet to come.

Devastated in Des Moines

Several weeks ago, the Nelsons received a message on the Google voice number they’d set up for adoption queries. The message came from a woman who had spotted them on the Parent Profiles site. She said she was 31 weeks pregnant with twins, but didn’t wish to keep the babies.

Texts and phone calls were exchanged. On a Friday, just days after their first contact from her, the birth mom texted to say she was having contractions and planned to deliver the babies that day in a Des Moines, Iowa, hospital. She even sent them photos of the twins right after delivery.

At her request, the Nelsons hurriedly packed to travel to Iowa. They drove eight hours in heavy fog, arriving in Des Moines at 2:30 a.m. Saturday. The couple had agreed to text the mom to arrange a meeting place later that day. But all their subsequent texts to her went unanswered.

Disillusioned, the Nelsons began their long journey home. They had reached Minneapolis when they received an angry text. “Where are you?” the woman wrote. “Why did you leave? Can we meet?”

Desperate and exhausted, the Nelsons grudgingly agreed to turn back. This time, they had only driven an hour when they received another message from the elusive birth mom: “It’s too late. Just go home.”

By now, the Nelsons were as angry as they were heartbroken. They contacted the adoption agency the woman had claimed she had called.

The agency had never heard of her.

They learned that, contrary to the woman’s early claims, no twins had been born in the hospital’s neonatal intensive-care unit that weekend. Further investigation showed the “twins” baby photos were simply stock images from online. The Nelsons contacted the Moorhead Police Department, but they haven’t been able to track down the apparent scam artist yet.

Nicky says she felt every possible emotion during the incident.

“You don’t think about it when you are in that moment,” she says. “I was mad, upset and heartbroken. Yet the nurse in me had to wonder: ‘Is there a disability? Did she have mental health problems and need help?’ ”

Still hopeful

So life goes on. Erick especially enjoys Christmas decorating, and so they’ve decked out their home with a cheerful assortment of wreaths, garlands and trees.

Nicky plans to return to school in January to get her bachelor’s degree in registered nursing. And they talk of buying a house that would have plenty of space for a child.

But adoption is never far from their thoughts.

Nicky is reminded of it every day when she sees new moms and babies at her workplace.

She admits she sometimes checks the Nelsons’ online profiles compulsively to gauge how many people have seen their listing. Photos on their website show them lovingly cradling friends’ and relatives’ babies.

Nicky says all the couples they met while first initiating their adoption search have now successfully adopted.

Yet, even after the ups and downs of the past few years, the Nelsons haven’t given up hope. After a series of disappointments that would have made many give up, they refuse to do so.

Well-intentioned friends and family members try to comfort them. “If it’s meant to be, it will happen,” people have told them.

By now, those words are cold comfort.

“We’ve always been willing to give fate a little push,” Nicky says. “We’re just waiting for the child we’re meant to have.”


Author Tammy Swift is a former staff writer and columnist for The Forum.

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