After Kortni and Nick Miller adopted their son Eli, they found out that he had a little brother. But what they didn’t realize was that he lived less than an hour away from them. And when they finally discovered the truth, the moms arranged for the boys to meet for the very first time.
When Miller and her husband decided to start a family, they struggled to conceive naturally. And Miller now admits that as she watched her pals become mothers, she longed to have a baby of her own. So when it didn’t happen for her, she started to pray – and became increasingly frustrated.
In a message to her younger self that she shared on Facebook in November 2018, Miller remembered how she’d felt back then. “You are going to know what it feels like to be angry with God, and sad,” Miller wrote. “Really, truly, deeply sad when you realize the babies are not coming.”
Nevertheless, Miller turned to her faith to guide her through that difficult time. And then one night, inspiration came to the couple from a surprising place. Miller and her husband were watching the movie Martian Child, in which John Cusack’s character adopts a little boy who believes that he comes from Mars.
“The story hit us like ice cold water to the face,” Miller revealed in October 2018 on Facebook. “We both knew we wanted to adopt at some point in life, but we hadn’t tried anything exceptional to have kids yet so it wasn’t exactly the first thing on our minds.” However, she added that when they watched the film, it “quickly became all we could think about.”
It was Miller’s husband, in fact, who suggested that they go ahead with an adoption right away. So they contacted an agency and cleared out their bank account to pay the initial fee. And within just a couple of weeks, the agency had identified a pregnant woman who was planning to give her child up for adoption.
Miller and her future son’s biological mother subsequently came face to face at an Olive Garden and spent a couple of hours talking. “She told me her biggest fear was that she would regret this decision for the rest of her life,” Miller recalled in a blog post for Love What Matters. “I promised myself right then and there that if she chose me, I would spend every day of his life making sure she wouldn’t.”
A fortnight after that, Kortni and Nick Miller became parents to a little boy named Eli. His biological mother wanted her son to have a better shot at success than she could give him. “She refused to let any child she gave birth to be cheated out of life, just because hers wasn’t together at the time,” Miller explained.
Miller added, “She endured her greatest loss in order to deliver me my greatest joy.” It’s clear that the new mother adored her son from the first moment they met. But what she might not have known at the time was that it was just the beginning of her adoption journey.
In fact, just prior to Eli’s fourth birthday, he got a baby brother. And he was the one who picked the name Oliver, or Ollie, after the skateboarding trick. Miller took the new arrival home from the hospital 24 hours ahead of Eli’s birthday.
Miller has also maintained a relationship with Ollie’s biological mother in the years since he was born. This is known as an open adoption and means that the birth parent remains aware of developments in the child’s life. But in Eli’s case, he didn’t know his biological mom for many years.
What’s more, 12 months after Eli was born, the Millers were again contacted by the adoption agency that they’d found their son through. They were told that his birth mother was pregnant again with another boy, and the mom wanted the brothers to stay together. So she took a flight out to Utah to meet with the Millers about potentially adopting another child of hers.
Miller was hopeful that the adoption agency would also believe it was in everyone’s best interests to raise the brothers together. “We thought because they were siblings and we had just given this agency over half of our annual income, and sold most of our belongings to bring Eli home, that they would be willing to work with us,” she wrote. But she claims the company wasn’t willing to discuss a payment agreement or discount of any sort.
Instead, Miller alleges that the adoption firm “cut off communication” when the family made it clear that they wouldn’t be able to pay the high costs outright this time around. According to the mom-of-two, the agency also implied to Eli’s birth mother that the couple were “not interested” in adopting another child. So, despite everyone’s wishes, they couldn’t take Eli’s brother home.
“We had no choice but to let go and grieve the loss of the baby boy who would never be ours,” Miller explained. “The last thing we heard was that she had placed him with another family. The agency never delivered our letters or pictures that she requested, and we never heard from her again.”
So as Eli grew up, he didn’t know his biological mother – and the Millers had no way of contacting her. At the same time, Miller claims that the agency in question ended up losing its certification and faced other legal issues. She also alleges that the business owner was put behind bars on various charges of financial misconduct.
The family eventually concluded that when it came to having another child, they would try out an alternative means of adoption. “We decided to go the private route the next time around and take on the emotional and financial burdens of an expectant mama all by ourselves,” Miller wrote on Instagram. “We were confident we could do it better than any agency could have.”
During the ensuing process, however, Miller admitted that “there were red flags everywhere.” But the couple apparently didn’t see the warning signs until it was too late. The mom-of-two later confessed that they not only suffered the emotional trauma of trying and failing to adopt a daughter, but they were also left struggling financially as a result.
“We left an unbearable situation with broken hearts and an empty bank account,” Miller revealed. “We had gone to hell and back for a baby girl we would never know.” Ultimately, though, things worked out for the family when they welcomed Ollie into the world. But it’s clear that losing out on adopting both a daughter and Eli’s brother left its mark.
Miller told her followers on Instagram in March 2019 that she and her husband probably wouldn’t have gone on to adopt Ollie if things had worked out with Eli’s brother. But while the couple eventually got the two children they longed for, their story wasn’t over yet. Because out of the blue, when Eli was ten, something happened that changed their lives forever.
Miller was sent a message one evening on social media. And she was shocked to discover that it was from Eli’s birth mother, who had tracked the Millers down despite the limited information that she had about them. “She knew our first names and like a needle in a haystack opened an account to find us,” Miller recalled on Love What Matters.
Instantly, the Millers wrote back to her and between them, the trio pieced together everything that had happened. Moreover, during their conversation, Miller and her husband knew that it was time for Eli to meet the woman who gave birth to him. So they arranged for her to come and visit them.
As a result, in November 2018 Eli’s biological mother saw her son for the first time since she’d given him up for adoption a decade earlier. And right away, the connection between them was evident. “The moment she walked into the room and they took each other is what can only be described as one of those rare, deeply awing moments that etches itself deep in your soul where you know you will forever remember it,” Miller wrote.
“One of those moments where I give up words for a while because none of them are big enough. I felt quiet and small,” Miller continued. “Standing there, I felt like my heart had taken up residence in my throat and it would come crawling out if I tried to speak.”
Both Eli’s birth mother and his adoptive mom subsequently burst into tears and shared an embrace. Although the adoption had taken place a decade ago, Miller stated that she’d never forgotten “the love and bravery and heartbreak” that Eli’s biological mother went through to give him up. Miller added, “It is now my one great honor to be able to give her back these moments of his life after what she has given me for the rest of mine.”
It was a touching experience for the whole family – and it only became more emotional from there. That’s because Eli’s biological mom told the Millers that his brother, whom they’d tried and failed to take home all those years earlier, had been adopted by a family whose home is less than an hour away from the Millers’.
What’s more, Eli’s birth mother organized a meeting between the two brothers during her visit. They encountered each other in a hotel, and Miller could see that Eli had an instant bond with Perry, his biological younger brother. Although it was bittersweet for Miller, she felt as if Perry too had always been a part of her life.
“I hugged him tight and saw how God wrote this story for the good of all of us,” Miller wrote on Instagram. “For me, for the mama who adopted him and for his birth mom who had to make an impossible choice. Most especially though, for the two of them.”
Eli and Perry then went swimming together – and knew how to do plenty of the same moves. Moreover, as they talked, the brothers found out that they had lots in common. “Their connection was instantaneous and by the end of the day they were already stealing each other’s stuff and wrestling each other to the ground,” Miller revealed.
As Miller and her son drove home after the brothers had met for the first time, the mom thought about how different things could have been if she had successfully adopted Perry all those years before. It was an emotional moment for the family. But, ultimately, Miller felt that things had worked out for the best.
For Miller and her husband, the experience was healing and helped them to get over the heartache of their first failed adoption. And they knew that this was just the beginning for Eli and Perry. In fact, Miller made it clear that she planned for the brothers to be part of each other’s lives going forward.
Living just three-quarters of an hour apart meant that Eli and Perry could potentially spend time together frequently. And Miller intended for them to get to know each other much better. “Eli was made for this big brother gig and I cannot wait to see the way their bond deepens over the years,” she wrote on Instagram.
Before they said their goodbyes, Eli and the Millers also posed for a photo with Perry and his adoptive family, as well as the boys’ birth mother. And Miller clearly wished that the encounter had been as healing for her son’s biological mom as it had been for them. “I hope that what she experienced this week gave her the peace and assurance she needed,” Miller wrote on Instagram.
“I hope she saw the life she imagined for him when she chose me,” Miller continued. And she revealed that the Millers would be staying in touch with not only Perry and his family but also Eli’s birth mom through social media. “I pray she always continues to see the life and love she hoped and dreamed for her baby boy,” the mother-of-two added.
In fact, Miller uses her Instagram page to share her experiences of adoption with the world. Through the social-media account, she also opens up about the challenges that Eli faces because of his race. And in April 2019, after posting some photos of Eli and Perry on a playdate, she had an important update.
Although her past experiences had left her somewhat jaded, Miller decided that she nonetheless wanted to turn her passion for kids into a career. So she secured a job working for an adoption agency. Miller announced on social media that she had landed a position with A Guardian Angel Adoptions, a company that was established by three good pals who all have adopted children of their own.
Miller revealed that she will be producing social-media and blog posts on behalf of the agency. Furthermore, the mom-of-two will be giving advice to those going through the process of adoption via a helpline. She says that she joined forces with A Guardian Angel Adoptions because she wanted to give back to other moms.
For ten years, Miller struggled through the highs and lows that come with adoption. But after getting to know both Eli’s biological mother and his brother, it seems that Miller and her family are finally at peace. “Their story began with brokenness and heartache and tears,” Miller wrote on Love What Matters.
“But there was also selflessness and joy and laughter and hope and gratitude and so, so much love weaved right alongside it,” Miller continued. While she acknowledges that having an open adoption presents its own difficulties, she wants her children to have the comfort of knowing where they came from. And she credits her faith with getting her through the toughest days.
Now, Miller hopes Eli and Perry can recognize how lucky they are. And she knows that what they’ve experienced will help to shape their lives forever – just as it has changed hers. She added, “I hope someday they will see that they too have the strength to live and laugh and love, not in spite of the loss they have experienced, but because of it.”