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After agonizing adoption ordeal, Fargo couple become parents with help from Forum story

Andrew and Jeremy Young welcomed Mari Mae in December, just a few months after a previous adoption agreement fell through.

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Andrew and Jeremy Young recently adopted a baby girl they named Mari Mae.
David Samson/The Forum
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FARGO — A Fargo couple, heartbroken after their adoption of twins fell through last summer in a sad twist of fate, are now parents.

Andrew Young and Jeremy Young, married for five years, recently adopted a baby girl they named Mari Mae.

“It was good to have the excitement of a new prospect come along so quickly,” said Jeremy, a choir teacher at Northern Cass School in Hunter, North Dakota.

Andrew, creative director at a local marketing firm, said the birth mother made “an incredibly selfless, loving decision.”

The two were thrilled last June when an expectant single mom in Florida chose them to raise her twins, a boy and a girl.

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But their elation turned to grief when the mother, who had not had any prenatal care, went to the hospital to give birth and learned the baby girl had died in the womb.

The surviving twin, who the couple named Milo, was in their arms for less than 48 hours when the birth father filed papers to obstruct the adoption.

They were forced to give Milo back to the mother, who is raising him alone with her five other young children, including a set of toddler-aged twins.

Despite the father’s claim to paternity rights, he is not a part of Milo’s life, the Youngs said.

They didn’t have time to mourn the turn of events for long, however.

About a week after The Forum published a story in mid-September about the Youngs’ ordeal, the agency they were working with, American Adoptions, called to say that sharing their story had made a difference.

A woman with a few months left in her pregnancy and living just across the border in South Dakota had searched the internet for “adoption” and The Forum article was the first thing that popped up.

“What are the odds?” Jeremy said in wonder.

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The woman contacted the adoption agency to say the Youngs’ story had given her assurance about adoption, which she wasn’t comfortable with previously.

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Andrew and Jeremy Young are proud parents of their daughter, Mari Mae.
David Samson/The Forum

Two weeks later, the agency called again to say the woman wanted the Youngs to raise her daughter.

They were there for the baby’s birth in Bismarck on Dec. 4, and were even able to cut the umbilical cord.

“We’re excited to give her the life that her mom wanted her to have,” Andrew said.

Cautious this time around

Mari’s birth mother is from Texas and plans to return there, but was living and working in South Dakota for the remainder of her pregnancy.

She was adopted as well, Andrew said, and had been staying with her birth parents. She also has two sons.

The Youngs were careful not to tell many people that they would soon become dads, given what happened previously.

The couple received a call at 5 a.m. on Dec. 4. The birth mother’s water had broken and she was headed to the hospital.

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Winter weather conditions weren’t great, so they waited until first light to hit the road.

They arrived in time to talk with her beforehand and waited outside the room until after she gave birth.

The couple was given their own room at the hospital a few doors down from the birth mother, and all were able to leave the hospital around the same time, as mother and baby were healthy.

The Youngs named the baby Mari, after Jeremy’s grandmother, and Mae, which is Andrew’s grandmother’s middle name.

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Andrew Young holds newborn Mari Mae as Jeremy Young looks on in their downtown Fargo home.
David Samson/The Forum

But they weren’t officially able to call her their own quite yet.

In rural South Dakota, a traveling judge holds court sessions only once a month.

Because of when Mari was born, they missed the December court date and had to wait for another date in January.

There, parental rights of the birth mother and birth father were terminated, giving the Youngs custody of Mari.

After a successful six-month home study done by a local agency, they’ll be able to seek full parental rights.

Sharing the duties

Jeremy was able to get an extended sabbatical from his teaching position to care for Mari, and won’t return to the classroom until the fall. This was granted, in part, because they didn’t have much time to get child care lined up.

Like any couple, the Youngs are taking turns with the parental duties.

Jeremy gets up with Mari overnight for feedings and cares for her while Andrew is at work, and once Andrew is home, he takes over while Jeremy rests.

Things have gone smoothly, Jeremy said, because Mari is such a good baby. “It's a little bit easier maybe than we were anticipating,” he said.

Andrew jokes that there are two advantages gay parents have over heterosexual couples.

They didn’t have to decide about breastfeeding, he said, which can cause anxiety and peer pressure for some couples. Another plus is that neither one of them had to recover from giving birth.

Andrew said he’s excited to see Jeremy grow as a dad, and they’re both looking forward to doing with Mari what they enjoyed as kids, including bike rides, swimming at the lake and hanging out with cousins.

“She's gonna have a fun life, that's for sure,” Jeremy said, with a smile.

During the lows of their first adoption experience, they always focused on a future where they knew they would become parents.

Adopting one or two more children is also in that not-too-distant future, they said.

“God willing," Andrew said.

Huebner is a 35+ year veteran of broadcast and print journalism in Fargo-Moorhead.
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