November is National Adoption Month. By sharing stories and offering an array of benefits and resources, Best Buy is committed to supporting employees who are growing their families in this way. Content warning: This article discusses cancer and fertility struggles.
As Wesley and Julie Brazen snuggle their daughter, their faces radiate the joy of being new parents. Dakota Christine — named after Wesley’s late father, Chris — just turned three months old, and after being on a long path to parenthood, the parents are celebrating every milestone.
To say the least, it was a challenging road … one involving cancer, failed fertility treatments and an adoption that fell through. But the Brazens’ dream came true in August, and Wesley, a supply chain manager in Chicago, is grateful for the support he received.
“My boss and coworkers were absolutely amazing every step of the way,” he said. “And there are lot of benefits out there for employees to check out.”
When Wesley and Julie made the decision to pursue adoption, it was during the pandemic when much of the world was locked down and keeping interactions to a minimum.
“We thought, ‘Should we wait for COVID to be over’?” he said. “But we also just knew it was the only option we had.”
The Brazens researched adoption agencies and chose one that felt right for them. Then, the hoop-jumping began. They completed background checks. They met with a social worker who conducted a home study to ensure they were fully prepared for adoption and guided them through myriad discussions, like the types of adoptions they’d be open to and the dynamics of diversity within families.
Wesley and Julie also went through medical examinations and health histories — even their two cats got checked out. Then, after everything was vetted and they were approved, the couple worked with the agency to create profile materials for birth mothers to browse and learn about them.
And then, they waited.
“We never knew when the call would come for a potential match,” Wesley said.
Holding out hope
The months that followed brought a series of ups and downs. Ups when their profile was viewed by a birth family, downs when they weren’t selected. Ups when they were chosen by a birth mother, downs when that potential adoption plan fell through.
Then, in May, the Brazens found out another birth mother was interested in meeting them.
“Obviously, we were extremely nervous. Very cautious of opening our hearts,” Wesley said.
They drove to meet her and her family several states away, had dinner as a group, and snapped a photo together before heading home. Wesley recalls having a good feeling. Something felt right. And he was right: He and Julie were chosen to welcome the baby into their family.
On August 9, 2022, Dakota was born.
Here to help
Wesley is thankful to be a new dad and also thankful for the well-being benefits offered by Best Buy. He took advantage of the company’s adoption assistance program, which offers financial help toward adoption-related expenses, as well as caregiver pay during his leave of absence after Dakota was born. He and Julie had taken on significant expenses associated with their fertility treatments and the adoption process, and he says the assistance offered by the company came as a huge blessing.
Wesley, an employee of more than 20 years, says Best Buy has many more well-being benefits than he was aware of. He urges others to check them out, along with their related employee support groups.
“It’s a crazy long journey and you don’t know what you’re doing, but if you can have someone help you, it gives you that extra assurance,” he said.