Kaoru Tachibana’s journey in becoming an adoptive parent has been a race against time involving layers of legal hurdles, stacks of bureaucratic paperwork and considerable soul-searching as she waited for her child with an empty baby bed.

Before she received notice this summer that she should be expecting to welcome a newborn in October, the 40-year-old office worker was on the verge of giving up on the prospect of becoming a mother. A prior match had fallen through earlier this year when the birth mother decided against giving her child away. Tachibana’s husband was also about to turn 52, several years beyond the age limit many private adoption agencies have set for aspiring parents.

“We had rented a baby bed in anticipation of welcoming a child the first time around. It had a six month lease, so we decided to call it quits if we didn’t hear back from our agency before that expired,” says Tachibana, who asked to be referred to by her maiden name to protect her child’s privacy. She currently lives in Okinawa with her husband and adopted baby girl.