Jay and Brooke Sellers traveled a long road to adoption.
It goes back more than 17 years. Four miscarriages led to Brooke losing the ability to conceive naturally. They investigated in vitro fertilization, but found it prohibitively expensive.
They had been working in St. Simons Community Church’s youth ministry, and around the time they were exploring options, a young woman at the church offered them a chance to adopt her unborn child.
“It was literally a tap on the shoulder,” Jay said. “We turn around and she spills that on us. ‘Hey, do you want to have a baby.’”
She was 19 at the time, and lived with her family on St. Simons Island. She gave birth to Hayden several months later. The Sellers took custody of the child almost immediately. An arrangement to allow the birth mother to be part of Hayden’s life fell apart when the mother ended up moving to Alabama.
Jay and Brooke didn’t hear from the mother’s family for another six years. In April, they got a call from the birth mother’s mother, asking if they would like to adopt her fourth child, Maya.
Named for her birth mother, grandmothers and Maya Angelou, Maya Annalee and her brother Hayden look different — Maya’s father is African American, while Hayden’s is white. Both share a birth mother, however. Maya come home with the Sellers on July 13.
“(The birth mother’s parents) knew us well enough to know we would be capable of taking care of their grandkids,” Jay said.
The timing was not quite so ideal this time.
“That happened at a time when we had just, months before, just bought a house. Six months before we bought a house and we were broke,” Jay said. “We scraped together whatever we could to get into the house, and then we get that call.”
YouCaring, a crowd-funding platform through which people can seek help meeting financial needs, provided an answer.
“We knew that if we put the word out there, there would be a lot of support,” Jay said.
The generosity of people donating through YouCaring covered the roughly $5,000 cost of adopting a child from across state lines.
Since contact was reestablished through Maya, Hayden’s birth mother, who asked to be called his aunt, calls regularly to talk with him.
“(Hayden) treats her just like any other family member. Like an aunt,” Brooke said. “He is definitely a momma’s boy, he is attached to me 24/7.”
Neither Hayden nor Maya will be kept in the dark about where they come from.
“I never wanted him to feel like there was this moment, I wanted him to feel comfortable with it,” Brooke said. “I didn’t want that, so we have been open with him about that for as long as he could understand.”
Jay said they used a children’s book written by Jaime Lee Curtis, “Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born,” to help him understand the concept of being adopted.
“Everybody wants to have that Andy Griffith moment where the kid’s sitting on your knee and you tell them the truth and they totally understand it. The truth is, I’m not Andy Griffith, I’m not Andy Taylor, this isn’t Mayberry,” Jay said.
New arrangements were made after the Sellers adopted Maya. The birth mother contacts them to talk, but the rest of the family has decided to cut themselves off. Jay said Maya’s grandparents, through mutual agreement, will not be involved with them at all.
Adopting children was a great decision, Brooke said, but they believe the children they have are plenty. She and Jay now observing National Adoption Awareness Month as the parents of two adopted children.
“Right now, I think our (adoption) story is over,” Jay said.
Coastal People appears Tuesdays.
Taylor Cooper is filling in for Lindsey Adkison. To suggest a person to be profiled in Coastal People, call 912-265-8320, ext. 346.