Adoption makes Mother's Day extra special for local mother

Heather Cannon's plan is to spend this Mother's Day surrounded by her husband, Sterling, and her three energetic children: Lane, 6, Wylie, 4, and Isabel, who just turned 1. They'll go to church at St. Andrew's Presbyterian and have a family meal, perhaps with Heather's mother. "I just want us to be together," Cannon said recently.

Cannon hasn't always enjoyed Mother's Day so much. There were painful years of being unable to conceive, then a long and sometimes bumpy road to adopting her three lovely children through an agency in Florida.

"I think I enjoy these moments so much more because it took so long to have one," Cannon said.

The Cannons have been married 11 years and knew each other for many years before their wedding. He was her brother's best friend growing up. They "re-met" years later and started dating, knowing pretty much from the start they wanted to get engaged to be married.

"We always wanted kids," the young mother said. "About a year after we married, we decided we wanted to start a family. Four years after that, we still didn't have a family."

They also always wanted to adopt children. "The Lord just knew we needed a little bit of a nudge," Cannon said, explaining that they got a call from a friend of a friend who knew a person who wanted to place a child up for adoption.

"We decided to say OK. We were all in," Cannon said. That adopting fell through, but it was the impetus the Cannons needed to pursue adoption in earnest.

At the time, Sterling Cannon was in his residency and the couple was living in Oklahoma. "We had no money, and no family close by," Cannon said.

They moved back to Columbus and decided to use an agency in Florida where Cannon's brother-in-law was a volunteer.

"We ended up starting the process, doing all the paperwork at Thanksgiving. We were matched in December for a baby that was due in March We were supposed to meet the birth mom, but she backed out. That was our fifth anniversary. That

was probably our lowest point," Cannon recalled.

They spent all Sunday night praying for calm and patience. Back home in Columbus from the trip to Florida, they got a call at noon Monday that a boy was born that morning.

"He's yours," they told Cannon.

They were unprepared to bring a baby home because they hadn't expected one until March. They had a crib, but had nothing else.

"We decided to start driving down," Cannon said. "We stopped in Tallahassee to eat and decided to keep driving."

When they arrived and met Lane, "he was perfect," Cannon said. He had to stay in the hospital 48 hours, and the couple spent every possible moment with him. Their parents came to the hospital to meet their new grandson.

When they got home to Columbus, their was a big bow on the mailbox and balloons. Their friends had rallied to bring them everything they needed to care for a newborn baby. There was a rocking chair, tubs of clothes, formula and bottles.

"We were in shock at what people did," Cannon said. "It was surreal."

A year later, they started the paperwork for a second child. Cannon got an e-mail saying to call the agency as soon as possible. A boy had been born two days previously, and the birth mother decided to place him for adoption. They had to come to Florida right away.

Sterling, an ophthalmologist, was supposed to be on call that weekend, and everyone else was headed to New Orleans for a conference. A good friend who was on his way to New Orleans told them he would come back and take call so they could go to Florida.

They hastily packed, asked friends to pray, and got on their way to the hospital -- eight hours away. Once at the hospital, they just had time to meet the baby and it was time to go, the hospital staff told them.

"We were in shock," Cannon said. "We had a baby." They even had to change his clothes and put him in his car seat outside the hospital.

They waited a little longer to put in their paperwork for a third child. They were matched with a baby who was born March 31, and the birth mother changed her mind April 1. A year later, Isa was born. They had waited two years.

"God has a plan for our family," Cannon said.

Isa was born in March last year, and the Cannons got to be in Florida when she was born. "Now that we have three, we're thinking about a fourth," Cannon said.

Now the contented mother of three, Cannon can still remember Mother's Day before she had a child. At church, new babies would be dedicated on Mother's Day, and Cannon recalled that she would cry. One thing that comforted her was that the pastor in Oklahoma "always prayed for those who desire to be mothers" also, Cannon said.

Her husband made a big deal of Mother's Day for her. They went to church, and didn't even let Lane go to the nursery.

"I had this pain in me, kind of a sick, queasy feeling," Cannon recalled. "The moment Lane was born that pain went away."

Before having children, it was hard to hear about people being pregnant, although she was happy for them.

"It wasn't a pregnancy I wanted; it was a baby," she said.