"Why couldn't he be both of ours?" the adoptive father said.
Schauna Austin, now 46, got pregnant when she was 20 years old and by herself. She decided to give her kid up for adoption because she wasn't ready to be a mother. It wasn't simple. "I've never talked about it — ever," Austin said to CBS News. She continued to say that holding her baby was " perfect." Austin further added, "I knew I would have him for a short time, so I made every minute count of it. I didn't sleep for three days."
She named the boy Riley and held him for 72 hours straight until it was time to let go. Riley then was named Steven by his adoptive parents. As is typical in closed adoptions, a wall was put up between Austin and Steven's adoptive parents. There was absolutely no interaction. However, that just about lasted a week. The family who would adopt Riley wanted to include Austin in every key milestone of his life. "It was like, 'OK, this is the way it should be. She was part of our family,'" adoptive mother Jennifer Schoebinger told CBS News.
Jennifer and Chris, her husband, said they never wanted to exclude Austin from Steven's life. They did not want her to miss out on anything. "You know, you can't have too many people loving you, right?" Chris Schoebinger said. "Why couldn't he be both of ours?"
Year after year, they mailed Austin loads of images and bound booklets describing Steven's every big and tiny milestone—including a detailed breakdown of his language—so that when Austin and Steven were ready, they could take up where they left off. When Steven was 7, they got back together. He learned to fish from Austin, and ever since, the memories have been reeling in. "I was blessed beyond words," Austin said. Steven agreed, adding, "I kind of got the best of both worlds, for sure."
Much to the surprise of his birth mother, Austin's child is now 26 years old, married, and the proud father of a son. Austin is elated to be a part of all this, especially when she heard Steven's baby's name was Riley. "That was really special," Austin said. "It just brought that full circle around." Steven explains that "it felt like that name was just supposed to be in the family," which is why the name made perfect sense to him.
Chris Schoebinger claims that their tale can serve as a lesson for others. "I think the lesson we learned is that sometimes we create barriers where barriers don't need to be," he said. "And when we pull down those barriers, we really find love on the other side."
Cover Image Source: YouTube | CBS News