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‘It’s like winning the lottery’

Adoption was the method for creating one happy Valencia family

Posted: October 22, 2009 9:40 p.m.
Updated: October 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Brenda Rubin holds up 3-month-old Zack, the newest addition to the Rubin family.

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Matthew and Brenda Rubin, Valencia residents for six years, are one of many couples who wish to have children but can't naturally.

"I found out when I was 17 I wasn't going to be able to have children," said Brenda Rubin, 29, a bookkeeper at an equipment rental company in Burbank.

Fortunately, couples these days have a variety of options to create a family.

One option is surrogacy. According to the Women's Health Web site, a surrogate is a woman who agrees to become pregnant using the man's sperm and her own egg.

It states the child will be genetically related to the surrogate and the male partner. After birth, the surrogate will give up the baby for adoption by the couple.

In vitro fertilization, commonly referred to as IVF, is another option. IVF is the process of fertilization by manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish, according to the American Pregnancy Association Web site. When the IVF procedure is successful, the process is combined with a procedure known as embryo transfer, which is used to physically place the embryo in the uterus.

"We met with a doctor about in vitro," said Matthew Rubin, 31, an eigth-grade science teacher at Castaic Middle School. "There are a lot of pros and cons, but in the end, it would have been too difficult and we would be taking a big chance."
Then there's adoption, which the Rubins chose.

Adoption is usually a long process. It could take years before a baby is finally placed into a home, Brenda Rubin said.

But the Rubins got lucky.

Twice.

Hannah becomes a Rubin
The Valencia couple started looking into adoption in February 2007. They filed paperwork with Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, an adoption agency in West L.A.

Each couple interested in adoption is required to take a four-week class before adopting as well as a home study course.
"We took the classes and the home study simultaneously," Brenda Rubin said.

After the classes and home study are completed, the couple is officially eligible for adoption.

The average time a couple waits to welcome a new addition to its family can range from nine months to a year and a half.
The Rubins waited about a month.

On March 13, 2007, the couple's lawyer called to ask if they had a scrapbook ready for a potential adoption. Couples interested in adoption make scrapbooks of themselves to give to the birth mother, which helps them choose the adoptive parents to their child.

Because the Rubins had just completed the necessary classes and home study a few weeks before, they hadn't created their scrapbook yet.

"We ended up staying up all night putting photos together," Brenda Rubin said.

On March 14, 2007, the Rubin's social worker called to congratulate them on being picked by the birth mother.

An hour and 45 minutes later, Hannah was born.

Hannah's mother, Megan, told the nurse at Olive View Hospital in Sylmar that she was considering giving her baby up for adoption.

The nurse at the hospital was associated with Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services.

"We said we were interested, but it was still up in the air because Hannah's family came forward to say they were going to take care of her," Brenda Rubin said.

The social worker from Vista Del Mar gave the mom 24 hours to decide.

"We met (Hannah) at the hospital Friday, and we took her home Monday," Brenda Rubin said, smiling.

"We literally had the weekend to turn the office into a nursery," Matthew Rubin said with a laugh.

Doubly lucky
The Rubins waited until Hannah was two years old this March before deciding to adopt their second child.

They started the process again, thinking it would be at least another year before coming home with a second child since Hannah's speedy arrival was quite unusual for adoptions.

The couple created a new set of scrapbooks to send to a few birth mothers.

After a couple of phone calls, the Rubins found themselves speaking with a birth mother from Texas.

"I called Michelle and talked to her on the phone," Brenda Rubin said. "But I felt no connection. I remember thinking, ‘She's not going to pick us.'"

The Rubins sent Michelle their scrapbook anyway.

It turned out that Michelle had already picked the Rubins to adopt her child before even seeing the scrapbook.

Matthew and Brenda flew out to Texas a few weeks later to meet her.

Michelle was about nine months pregnant and due to give birth in June.

"She's the nicest human being on the earth," Brenda Rubin said.


Zack joins the family
One of the first issues the Rubins and Michelle had to discuss was where to have the baby.

"There are pros and cons to both," Matt said. "Texas is the most expensive state to adopt in."

But since Michelle was on state aid, everything would be paid for medically, he added.

Michelle decided to give birth in California. The Rubins paid for her medical and living expenses.

The cost ended up being the same as it would have been if she gave birth in Texas, according to Matthew Rubin.

Michelle stayed in the SCV for the last month she was pregnant. It was her first time to California, so the Rubins took her out to see hot tourist spots like Hollywood and the Long Beach Aquarium.

On June 19, Zack came into the world at 5 lbs. 11 ounces.

He was welcomed to the Rubin's home a mere three months after they decided to adopt another baby.

"Both times, we got them quick," Matthew Rubin said. "We were very lucky."

Post-birth agreements
The Rubins agreed to send Hannah and Zack's birthmothers letters and pictures, updating them approximately three times a year.

Though the agreement is not legally binding, the two parties made a contract.

"With Megan, we sent the letters and photos through the agency," Brenda Rubin said. "We also gave her our cell phone if she ever wanted to call, but she never has."

With Michelle, the Rubins sent the photos and letters directly to her.

"We spent three months with her," Brenda Rubin said. "Michelle and I would have been close friends" - if it weren't for their circumstances.

Initially, the Rubins decided not to have face-to-face visitations with either birth mother.

But "somehow our social worker got the idea that we wanted one," Brenda Rubin said.

The Rubins set up a meeting with Megan, who lives in the Santa Clarita Valley. "We didn't want to run into her somewhere around here and have it be weird," Matthew Rubin said.

They decided it would be better to meet on their own time with the presence of a social worker, so Brenda, Matthew and Hannah met Megan at the Burger King on Bouquet Canyon Road.

"I was nervous because I didn't know what to expect," Matthew Rubin said.

But Megan was very respectful and complimented the Rubins on their daughter.

"It was very appropriate," he added. "She made it as easy as possible."

Megan worked at Sketchers at the time, so she brought Hannah a pair of shoes as a gift.

"(Megan) looked ecstatic," Brenda Rubin said. "She was really happy to see Hannah so happy."

Megan has since moved out of the SCV, but the Rubins continue to send her updates about Hannah.

There's no difference
Matthew and Brenda give back to the adoption community by going back to speak during the classes those interested in adoption have to take.

"You learn how to be a student, a friend, a daughter. You learn how to be all these things in life," Brenda said. "But this is totally new. There's no training."

The Rubins advise those interested in adopting to establish open communication between one another.

"Talk about everything with your partner," Brenda said.

With so many options, couples need to establish a criteria, the Rubins suggested.

"We didn't have anything too specific. We were open to different races, cultures, backgrounds, etc," Brenda Rubin said. "We just wanted a newborn."

Couples should also be open with the birth mothers and not be shy.

"You're racking your brain for all the negatives to make sure everything is ok and to let them know what they are getting themselves into," Brenda Rubin said.

Once the Rubins were paired with a mom, they treated her pregnancy as if it was Brenda's pregnancy.

"We took everything as if it was really happening to me," she said.

It's stressful, but not as scary as people might think, she added.

"I don't have biological children to compare them to, but there's no difference. Just because I don't breast feed or they weren't in my stomach doesn't mean anything. I'm still a mom," Brenda Rubin said.

"I have the two most amazing children in the world. I don't see (adoption) as a last resort like most people do. It's like winning the lottery."

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