Despite a difficult adoption process, one Dassel couple welcomes a son and is now expecting
By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Ben and Gina Aho of Dassel can attest to just how difficult and heart-wrenching the adoption process can be, and how, through it all they have become doubly blessed.
For the first three years of their marriage, the Ahos tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant.
“We were really getting baby fever,” Gina said.
They thought about the idea of foster care, but felt it would be too difficult when it came time for the child to leave.
Then, the thought of adoption came to them “kind of like a breeze,” Gina said.
The couple set forth with the adoption process including five months of paperwork and three home visits by their social worker.
In 2008, the couple became notified of unborn twins in Mississippi that would be available for adoption. For two months they were in contact with the birth mother, when they got the call she had the babies.
They drove 19 hours in anticipation to see, hold, and love their newborn babies.
In Mississippi, the baby must be born before the birth parents can sign the adoption papers. Each state is different, Gina noted.
The birth mom just couldn’t seem to make up her mind. She knew, financially, it would be difficult to raise the twins, with a daughter already at home.
“She was torn between the love for her kids and the reality of the situation,” Gina said.
After spending three days in the hospital with the babies and birth mother, the couple were able to take the twins back to their hotel room with them when they were discharged.
“They were so small and so cute,” she commented.
Then, they got a phone call from their social worker telling them the mom couldn’t go through with the adoption and wanted the babies back.
“That was heart-wrenching,” Gina said.
For Ben, though disappointed as well, it was harder for him to see his wife so upset and hurting.
On the way back home to Minnesota, the couple cried and talked about their loss.
“We had definitely lost two children. We both felt we had to bury two kids,” she said.
A month later, the couple received another call to adopt a daughter in Louisiana. At the same time, there was a baby in Minnesota whose mother wanted an open adoption.
The couple did some praying.
“[Our] hearts were pulling us to Louisiana,” Gina said.
They had talked with the birth mother over the phone, who was very excited to be able to give such a wonderful gift to this couple. Even when the baby was born, the birth mother was sure she was making the right decision.
In Louisiana, birth parents have to wait two days from when the baby is discharged before signing adoption papers, according to Gina.
The couple decided to be on guard for fear of getting hurt once again and decided not to take the baby back to their hotel room.
This time, they got a call saying the father couldn’t sign the adoption papers.
Though the couple had become less attached to this particular child, it was still a disappointment none the less, especially for a couple so eager to become parents.
Two weeks after coming home alone yet again, the couple received a call about a baby boy whose parents’ rights had both been terminated.
This was a sure thing for the couple; all they had to do was say “yes.”
The arrival of Jackson
Jackson Wayne Aho arrived in Minnesota Feb. 12, 2009. He was four-and-a-half months old and only weighed 10 pounds.
Prior to his arrival, the social worker informed them that Jackson had been neglected and she was taking him to the doctor to get a bruise checked out.
The bruise ended up to be a spiral fracture in his arm. In addition, he had seven broken ribs.
“Putting a shirt on was torture for him,” Gina said, adding it was difficult to hear him cry over the phone and know that he was suffering.
Then they met him for the first time.
“He was teeny and so beautiful. I couldn’t get over him,” Gina said.
For the next two months, Jackson was in and out of hospitals and clinics for various medical conditions including Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
“We jumped into parenthood just dove right in,” she said.
Aside from the physical neglect, Jackson had been 11 weeks premature, meaning his lungs hadn’t been fully developed at birth, which quite possibly added to his medical conditions, Gina explained.
Once he received proper nutrients and necessary medical care, Jackson blossomed quickly.
“Now it seems he is at a really healthy spot,” Gina said.
At 15 months, Jackson is walking, laughing, and playing.
He is also a really outgoing and happy baby, according to Gina.
“He is easy to love,” she said.
God’s hand in it all
Before even exploring why the couple weren’t getting pregnant, Gina was advised by her doctor that she needed to get her Type I Diabetes under control.
Oftentimes, it’s more difficult for women with diabetes to get pregnant, she explained.
Gina decided to begin using an insulin pump, which continuously pumps small amounts of insulin into the body throughout the day. This would give her the control she needed.
After a year of being on the insulin pump, the couple got pregnant.
Though they feel the pump helped them get pregnant, they also believe God had a hand in it all.
If the couple had gotten pregnant sooner, they would have quit the adoption process because of the emotional and financial toll.
“We thought adoption had to be easier than getting pregnant, but it wasn’t,” Gina said, who is now 18 weeks pregnant.
Despite the disappointments and heartache the couple has endured, “The reward is worth it in the end,” Ben said.
“God sure had a plan for [Jackson] to come home,” Gina said. “He was definitely intended for us.”
Gina is the daughter of Vickie and Wayne Stonelake, and Ben is the son of Karen and Tom Aho, both of Cokato.