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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jul. 10, 2019 10 months ago

Fragas waiting to welcome a baby home

Heather and David Fraga have turned to social media to help them meet a birth mother looking to find an adoptive family for her baby.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

Heather and David Fraga are longing for a baby. So much so that a nursery is set up in their home, waiting to be filled with the sounds of lullabies and baby cries.

The last few years have been a rise and fall of emotions for the Winter Garden couple, who have experienced getting a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome, finding out they were expecting a child, losing the baby in a miscarriage, setting up appointments for the fostering process only to have the meetings canceled, and being contacted by someone looking to scam them.

The couple have been married for six years and have always shared the dream of raising a family together. After the third year of trying, Heather learned she had PCOS.

“I knew it was going to be hard, but we didn’t think it was going to be impossible,” she said. “Long story short, here we are six years later. I no longer have it. It’s just unexplained infertility.”

The Fragas said they have made healthy changes to their diet and environment — from becoming gluten- and dairy-free and avoiding processed sugar to switching their laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner and dish detergent.

“We did get pregnant; after all the changes in dietary and personal care products, we got pregnant in 2015, and we had a miscarriage the day before our wedding anniversary,” Heather said. “I was seven weeks, three days. And it just never happened again.”

They started thinking about adoption last year after their decision to open their homes and hearts to fostering didn’t work out as planned.

“You have to go through a (fostering process), like 70 hours, and they canceled it on us three times because there wasn’t enough interest,” she said. “That’s frustrating; every time you turn on the news, (you hear), ‘We need more foster families.’”

When the Fragas began researching adoption agencies, they learned that can be a costly route.

“The last (adoption agency) was $20,000 just to be an agency family,” David said.

This didn’t include attorney and court fees, which could run the total up to nearly $40,000, Heather added.

Through their process, they discovered information that changed their strategy: In the state of Florida, an adoption entity has to complete the adoption but it isn’t necessarily the only way to connect couples with birth mothers.

“We are doing what is called self-matching,” Heather said. “Statistically, our generation is the first generation since adoption has been tracked that want open adoptions, that want relationships with the first family, that really want to walk in and walk beside the birth mother.

“They have to still be a part of their child’s life,” she said. “They have to be a part of the parenting team. Hopefully what that looks like is family cookouts and being there for birthdays.”

The couple expects this adoption process to cost closer to $15,000, which will financially allow them to adopt again, she said.



So how does a young couple in their young 30s go about finding a pregnant woman who has chosen to deliver her baby but doesn’t want to keep him or her?

The Fragas turned to social media and, within six months, have amassed more than 2,600 followers on their Facebook page, “David and Heather Adopt.” They have a .com website with the same name.

They were home study-approved for adoption in January, created the Facebook page and, by March, had 600 followers. After another failed match this spring, Heather said, they have tried even harder to get the word out about their journey to parenthood.

David suggested a contest, and the couple has put together a prize pack that includes gift cards to a restaurant, movie theater and retail store. The person with the most accepted invites to the Facebook page by Sept. 1 will win the prize. In the course of a week, the Fragas gained 1,200 followers — 1,200 more people who might know someone looking for an adoptive family for their baby.

They also are diligently raising the funds that will be needed to pay the birth mother’s medical costs, as well as the adoption fees, and have held a T-shirt fundraiser that brought in $1,000 and a massive garage sale that netted $4,200.

For every stop at a gas station and convenience store, a stack of “David and Heather Adopt” business cards are left behind in hopes of reaching the right person. This is a waiting game, and it’s hard.

“I don’t think either of us were prepared for the brokenness that is adoption,” Heather said. “I think we went into it thinking we were going to adopt a baby and give it a good home. I think what we’ve learned in the last six months is, it’s sad thinking of what all the baby has to lose in order for what it gains.”

David is an Orange County deputy sheriff and Heather works in property management for a family-owned real estate company. They financially are secure and say the best way to describe their life is that it’s stable.

“We are able to offer stability,” she said. “We know that based on our experiences, that we can love a child whether they share our DNA or not, and we also … know that we want an open adoption. We want to be a parenting team.”

 “I wouldn’t want a kid to ever wonder where they came from,” David said.

No matter the circumstances behind the baby’s arrival, these future parents are certain of one thing — how they will move forward as a family.

“We write a letter to the expectant mama and we tell her that our goal in life is to expose this child to all the people, the music, the food, the landscapes, the cultures that are on this planet,” Heather said.

The couple attends Lakeside Church, in Oakland, so their child will grow up in the church. And there will be plenty of love for this baby because between the two there are dozens of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents.

For now, the Fragas continue their search and continue their prayers.

“It’s going to happen,” Heather said. “I know it’s going to happen. We just don’t know when.”

Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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