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Laboring to adopt her first daughter
Lauren Youngblood was hospitalized at Northeast Georgia Medical Center when she was pregnant with her baby girl, Anniston Belle Youngblood. But she wanted to keep her promise to adopt her husband’s daughter, Ivy, before Anniston was born. To accomplish that, the family proceeded with the adoption via FaceTime.

Sometimes things just fall right into place. And no one knows that statement rings more true than Lauren Youngblood.

Before giving birth to a baby girl Feb. 4, the Clarkesville woman was finalizing the adoption of her stepdaughter, Ivy, over FaceTime. Youngblood explained she wanted to make Ivy truly her first child.

"She is my first daughter," Youngblood said. "It may not be by blood, but she is my first daughter."

Youngblood met Ivy when she started dating her father, Joseph, in 2004. The single father had raised Ivy since she was a year old.

Nine years later, Joseph and Lauren were married. Since then, the two have been raising Ivy together.

Lauren Youngblood said she and Ivy are a lot alike and they have gotten along since day one. She said she truly considers her to be one of her own.

"She’s a quick-witted, funny little girl," Lauren Youngblood said. "It’s just like any other mother-daughter relationship."

And the plan had always been for Lauren to adopt Ivy as her own.

"When we got married, Lauren agreed that she was going to adopt my daughter," Joseph Youngblood said, noting they hired an attorney to follow through with the legal process.

"Clint (Bearden) has been fantastic working with us ... and he represented us in the adoption," Joseph Youngblood said.

During the process, Lauren Youngblood discovered she was pregnant. At first, she was shocked. And her first thought was of breaking her promise to Ivy.

"I promised Ivy that she would be my firstborn," Lauren Youngblood said. "I wanted it to happen in that order."

The couple raced to beat the pregnancy clock, contacting their lawyer as soon as possible.

Then came another time issue. Lauren Youngblood developed pre eclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy. Therefore, she had to deliver the baby earlier than expected.

One judge came to the rescue. Superior Court Judge Russell W. Smith finalized the adoption via FaceTime while Lauren Youngblood was at the hospital. It was something he had never done before.

"He agreed that this was a very unique situation, that he felt was ‘worthy,’" the Youngbloods said of the judge.

But time was still of the essence. Lauren Youngblood was set to deliver her baby soon.

On Feb. 2, Joseph Youngblood left his wife in the hospital at 7 a.m. and met his lawyer at the courthouse.

"Clint hooked up his Apple computer and Lauren logged in via her iPhone through FaceTime and we did her testimony," Joseph said.

Two days later, the couple welcomed a little girl, Anniston Belle, into the world at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.

The parents said Ivy, Lauren’s now-official first daughter, is excited about being an older sister.

"The first time that she (Ivy) held Anniston, she held her like a pro," Lauren Youngblood said. "I had never seen a kid hold a baby like that. She’s going to be a good big sister."

Now that the dust has settled, the couple agrees they are most looking forward to being a family of four.

They are also extremely complimentary of the hospital.

"All of the hospital staff have been very accommodating," Joseph Youngblood said. "There for a while, the doctor was going to let Lauren leave the hospital to go testify until her condition didn’t warrant her to do that. They did work with her to do the FaceTime testimony."

Though things didn’t go exactly as planned, everything worked out in the end.

"This won’t change our family dynamic. It’ll just add to it," the couple said. "We welcome Anniston and we hope to parent and guide her to make good decisions in her life, and to find faith in Christ. Everything else will just fall into place."

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