A Chance to Live
An Adoption Story
Partners Greg Hutchison and Timothy Wendling spent the day of August 16, 2015 with family at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.
After a long, hot, exhausting day of fun, the two hopped on the turnpike to return back home to Harrisburg, taking the same route as they had on the way down to the amusement park. Little did they know, they were passing by a hospital, just outside of Philadelphia, in which their soon-to-be son was being born on that very day.
It was an unexpected birth that would make Hutchison’s and Wendling’s dreams come true. Before they even knew it, they had just become parents who not only would give this newborn a chance to live a good life, but in return would also be able to live the lives they yearned for in so many ways.
From the moment Hutchison and Wendling met, it was clear that they both had the desire to have their own family one day. However, with these dreams, they hadn’t anticipated the difficulty of the process. But despite the paperwork, the money, the disappointments and the countless reasons to want to give up, the dream of a child of their own compelled them to persevere.
Over the years, the couple explored many different options – surrogacy, the idea of a Facebook page to promote their desire to adopt and their first attempts with established adoption agencies. All ended with situations that left the pair having every reason in the world to want to give up. But one final situation pushed them to the edge.
After spending thousands of dollars, risking identity theft and mentally and physically preparing for a baby they were promised to receive, they found out they were being scammed through a foreign agency.
They had lost everything and were back to square one – in a worse situation than they started. They had all they could take.
“When this was over, we were in the dumps,” says Wendling. “We were starting to think that it was not meant to be. It led us to take quite a break – about two years. We didn’t talk about the adoption for a while. We didn’t talk about what happened. We just kind of paid our loans, which we are still paying to this day.”
After that two-year break, Wendling knew he would not be satisfied if he did not get the chance to have a child of his own.
“We were determined that this was our last time trying,” says Wendling. “Regardless of what happened, this was going to be it.”
Adoptions from the Heart was their final hope at finding a child, a final chance given that was well worth the risk.
“They were willing to hold our hand and walk us through everything that needed done,” says Hutchison. “From the paperwork to the finances to the video that needed to be made for the birth mother, they were so good to us. They never made us feel awkward for being two gay men at the adoption agency.”
Paperwork and training started in September 2014, and by April 2015, the couple was on the market to wait for a baby. In the first few months, the couple immediately started receiving calls and opportunities but none worked out in their favor.
On August 17, 2015, the call that they were waiting for finally came. The day prior, a baby boy was born at a hospital outside of Philadelphia, which so happened to be the same day that they rode passed that very hospital twice, never knowing what fate lied within those hospital walls.
“We found out all the details by 11 p.m., and we had 12 hours to get to the hospital,” explains Wendling. “In the backs of our minds, we were going to bed that night thinking, ‘What if she changes her mind? What if we wake up tomorrow morning, and we actually have to go pick up a two-day old?’”
The following day, just shy of 24 hours from receiving the call that would instantly change their lives, the two left the hospital with their new son, 3-day-old Clark Wendling-Hutchison.
But the battle didn’t end there. They still had to fight through the first 30 days of taking him home, knowing the mother could, at any moment, legally change her mind and take Clark away.
“We told ourselves that no matter what, Clark needs us to take care of him for these 30 days,” says Wendling. “We didn’t hold back from loving him. Every day that we didn’t get a call, we felt better because as you get further away, that means the mother is coping.”
The couple did experience a scare when the birth father showed interest in wanting to raise his son, but he ultimately backed out, leaving enough time to pass by to lead to Clark’s finalization day on April 5, 2016, legally becoming the son of Hutchison and Wendling.
While the couple feels fortunate to have been given the chance to raise Clark as their own, they share a special relationship with the birth mother and her family, keeping the bond between the mother and son.
“Clark’s birth mother and entire birth family is amazing,” says Hutchison. “They still continue to support him without any expectations. One of the things that is unique about this adoption situation is that we are not worried about Clark calling someone else ‘mom.’ Neither of us is ‘mom,’ and she is always going to be his mom.”
It’s commonly thought that adoptions are great happenings for a child to improve their lives. But what isn’t always talked about is the impact the children have on their new parents, something neither Hutchison nor Wendling take for granted when they reflect on their now soon-to-be 2-year-old son.
“I often think about how Clark will never really know what he did for us,” says Hutchison. “Before Clark, Tim and I never went out to eat on the East Shore because we both worked over there, and we didn’t want to run into people and have to answer questions. We wouldn’t go to the movies because we didn’t want to run into our students and have to give them explanations.”
As both proud dads describe Clark, he’s grown to have a loving and funny personality that is adored by more people than can be imagined. One chance for a boy to live a fulfilling life has broken barriers for Hutchison and Wendling in being comfortable in their relationship and being more open about it.
“He has given us a reason to finally be proud of ourselves and who we are,” says Hutchison. “I have gone from never wanting kids to ask questions to suddenly having one of my own high school students babysit for me at our home. It’s amazing. Through everything, Clark has really just given us the chance to live.”