When the letter came from the adoption agency saying their home would need to be re-inspected Saturday because of a change in the law, Karen Faherty was suspicious.
The laws haven’t changed, she said. And the adoption agency they applied to a year ago was known for surprising couples with their new child unannounced.
“I think we’re going to get a baby,” she told her husband Michael.
He wasn’t as sure. It’ll either be that, or they’ll end the day with an inspection and broken hearts. He tried to convince his wife it would just be a regular visit, then prepared for that to happen.
The Baltimore couple, both 29-year-old Army veterans, made the decision to end their service commitment to put down roots and start a family, Michael said. In September, he graduated from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department’s 57th recruitment class and was stationed at Ferndale Volunteer Fire Company, where he is assigned to ambulance 349 and responds to calls in Glen Burnie, Brooklyn Park, Ferndale and the surrounding areas.
Saturday morning came. Then, a parade of 30 Anne Arundel County firemen. Then Baltimore City’s Engine 42. And then, finally, in the arms of the adoption agent, Michael Terrance Faherty III.
The shock and joy of the moment was captured on video, shared on Facebook and has now been seen by more than 160,000 people. The couple didn’t know a family had chosen them.
“Knowing adoption would be a part of our story, we knew it would be a twisty path to actually start that family,” Michael Faherty said. “What I don’t think either of us expected is the highs and the lows this journey would take us on.”
They’re grateful — to many people, but none more than the birth parents, who selected the Fahertys. The adoption was coordinated by Cockeysville-based Adoption Makes Family.
“I’ve never seen a greater gift,” Karen Faherty said.
Chaplain John Long and Michael Faherty’s ambulance partner Cole Eicholtz helped coordinate things after they were contacted by Adoption Makes Family Executive Director Dean Kirschner, who surprises his clients with their baby so they have a story to tell about the day they became family.
Eicholtz said he gathered $20 from each of his classmates to purchase supplies for the baby, as the parents weren’t expecting the boy that day. Another person made food so the couple wouldn’t have to worry about cooking. And little Michael has a pair of knitted pants with his name on the back, just like a fireman.
“They were stunned,” Eicholtz said.
Eicholtz said Faherty helped his classmates with leadership tips gained from his time in the Army.
“He was a very out-going and supportive part of the class,” he said.
Kirschner said the Fahertys applied to adopt a baby a year ago. The birth parents were excited about the idea of the couple being surprised with the baby, he said.
“I believe that these are things that give the adoptive family a beautiful story around which they can build this loving adoption,” Kirschner said.
And it can help on both sides of the exchange, he said.
“I tell birth mothers ‘from your pain, the pain you experienced, comes the greatest joy you’re giving to a family and maybe in some way, that will help you manage your grief through this process,’” he said
Online, some people remarked in the video Kirschner doesn’t hand the couple the baby right away — that’s for safety, he said. They were in shock.
The couple visited with Kirschner Monday morning.
“We hope and pray that all families waiting for their son or daughter have a happy ending,” Karen Faherty said. “The wait can be agonizingly long.”
“Little Michael, he makes our family complete,” Michael said.