Monday, February 20, 2012

A Precious Moment

We were shocked and speechless.  After I hung up with Liz, Chris and I stood in the kitchen, silent.  Our jaws were dropped, and we intermittently let out a laugh of disbelief, but then returned to our previous silent state.  Our response was so drastically different from the last time we were chosen by a birthmom.  This was so unexpected, yet so wanted.

This was the same birthmom from the circular email that broke our hearts and made us cry.  This is the same birthmom that we repeatedly asked Liz about when we were deciding whether or not to say yes to the baby boy.  This is the same birthmom that we asked about first thing after we found out our adoption fell through.  This is the same birthmom that my best friend and Chris were praying would pick us after she had already chosen another family!  We wanted this baby girl the moment we read about her and her birthmom.  And we were going to get her.

{For the sake of confidentiality, I'll refer to our birthmom as Abby and her mom as Leslie.}

We had an appointment to meet with Abby and Leslie the following Wednesday.  We were going to meet them with Liz and Abby's caseworker at the Bethany headquarters in Grand Rapids, MI.  We were excited, anxious, unsure of what to expect, and above all grateful.  How could we, in a brief hour meeting, communicate our gratefulness and respect for the sacrifice she was making?  Would I still be at a loss of words like I was in my kitchen?  It didn't occur to me til the morning of the meeting when I spoke to my best friend that I was going to be in the same room as my future daughter.  So many emotions yet I lacked the ability to articulate any of them.  Chris and I woke up early and left home around 8 Wednesday morning to make the three hour drive to Grand Rapids.

We got there a little early, prayed in the car, and then went into the building.  We were led to a room with chairs and couches, like a lounge, so that we didn't bump into Abby and Leslie in the waiting room.  Liz came in and prepared us for the meeting.  She had emailed us a document a couple of days prior that Abby would have to use to ask us "get to know you" type questions.  Liz prayed for us, and then we waited. A theme in adoption.

We didn't have to wait long before Leslie, Abby, and her case worked came in.  {I'm not going to go into detail here about Abby and what she is like, mostly because those are precious details I'm saving to tell my daughter.}  Chris and I hugged Leslie and Abby, and we all had a seat.  We spent the first half of the meeting asking lots of questions to get to know one another, things like hobbies, favorites, and how Chris and I met.  They were both very forthright about us being included at the hospital and hoped we could have our own room to be with the baby.  We were able to tell them our plan to name the baby Amelia Rose, and they loved it.  Abby, Amelia, and I would all have "A" names.  Chris attempted to put into words what we were feeling, thanking Abby for choosing us, and before he choked up he told her, "You're my hero."  We exchanged email addresses (we had one of specifically for them to use that didn't have any identifying information in it) and cell phone numbers.  Leslie said that Abby had a doctors appointment on Friday, and she would text me how it went.  We all took pictures together and hugged again before we said goodbye.  They said they hoped to see us sooner than later.

After they left the room, Liz debriefed with us.  It couldn't have gone better.  Liz was leaving town for the next week, so a part of us hoped the baby wouldn't come til she came back in town so she could be a part of the hospital experience.  Chris and I left and, of course, went to get a bite to eat.  What we do best!  We were relieved, excited, thankful, and partly still in disbelief.  I still had last minute projects to finish up the nursery, and I exchanged alot of the gender neutral clothes we had bought for pink and ruffles.  Leslie texted me Friday while I was at Wal-mart buying spray paint for some of those projects.  She said the appointment went well, and the doctor felt like the baby could come any day.

More to come,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Music to My Ears

Texas was our one last hurrah before it all began.  Our time with our friends was sweet.  My best friend has always been Miss Positivity throughout all of my infertility and the adoption process.  She kept talking about how this was our last time together before we would have a baby.  I was always reluctant to agree with her and would remind her that we just don't know.  She would say, "Exactly.  We don't know.  You could get a baby next month," or some other glass-half-full comment.  I love her for it.  The Lord knows I'm skeptical enough for the both of us.  I guess she is optimistic enough for the both of us.  Both her and her husband were devastated when our adoption fell through just a few days before we saw them.

Laura would say, "You know I'm really sad you didn't get the baby boy, but I'm even more bummed you didn't get the baby girl."  I couldn't help but agree.  She always followed it up with, "I'm still going to pray you get her."
"Mama {our name for each other}, the birthmom already picked another family."
"I know, but I can pray whatever I want."

Chris would say the same thing.  "I really wanted that baby girl."
"I'm sorry, honey."
"I just wish she would have picked us."
"Well, she didn't."  I'm quite the downer, huh?  What is it with everyone around me wanting something to happen that is not just unlikely?  It's too late.  The birthmom picked a family, and Liz said she was moving on with an adoption plan.  Chris said this often, as did Laura.  I would think, "Come on guys.  Get over it."

We flew back to Michigan on Tuesday, August 2nd.  When Chris and I got home, I still had two big bags of blue stuff to return.  I also packed up the clean bottles that were on our kitchen counter and said to Chris, "Hopefully these won't be put up for too long."  We both went back to work and life as usual.  That Friday we were going to go to a cookout with my department coworkers.  I had been working all afternoon and had about 30 minutes to go home and throw some things together to take with us.  I arrived home to music blaring throughout the house.  We have an intercom system from the 80's in our house that still works, and Chris had music blasting throughout every room of the house while he was working out.  "Hello!"  I shouted as I came in the house, as to not startle him.  He scares easy!  No joke.  "Having a good work out?"  I yelled.  We continued our loud conversation until I thought I heard something other than the music in my head.  Is that my phone ringing?  It was unrecognizable with all the noise.  I ran back into the kitchen and saw the screen on my phone lit up.  The called ID said Bethany Christian Services.  "It's Liz.  Shut off the music."  Chris walked toward me trying to hear what I was saying.  "It's Liz."  He promptly shut down the party.

Liz and I briefly had some chit chat and small talk before she said, "Well, I have some good news for you.  Your profile has been chosen by a birthmom."  But we hadn't received any circular emails recently.  There's no one looking at our profile.
"What?  Who?"  I'm whispering to Chris, as usual, repeating everything Liz says.  His eyes are bugging out of his head.
"It's the birthmom from June.  The one you guys kept asking about."
"The one having a girl?"
"Yep.  The family she previously chose backed out of the adoption, and she chose you guys."

More to come,

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Last Minute List

Our visit to Houston was wonderful.  Fun times with my sister and nephews, my parents, and our best friends.  And yes, we surprised their socks off.  It was awesome!

I know a number of you reading have told me you know someone who wants to adopt, who is thinking about adoption, or you are in the process of adopting.  I wanted to provide my most practical piece of advice, my Last Minute List.  As the nursery was coming together, and we were purchasing more and more off of our registry, I decided to make a list of items that we would need were we to get a last minute phone call.  It also included last minute tasks and chores that would need to be done.  It would be a list we could email out to friends and supporters to see if anyone wanted to purchase any of the bigger items or to see if anyone wanted to help me with some minor preparations.  My list included bigger items we were in need of including a car seat, stroller, swing, and pack-n-play.  It also had chores including laundering bed linens, clothes, blankets, and washing bottles and pacifiers.

On the day when we got the phone call about "Elliott" one of the first things I did was open my Last Minute List.  I began tasking out jobs and decided what I could do myself.  The incredibly awesome part about our trip to TX was that our car seat, stroller, swing, and pack-n-play were all purchased for us the week before we got the phone call.  It was all shipped to Michigan and waiting for us when we got back from TX.  There were only a few items left to be purchased.  For all of those times when I felt crazy at Babies R Us buying things for myself, I was completely prepared for that last minute phone call.  All of my preparation had payed off.  Yes, people could have bought us those things last minute as well, but I much preferred them providing meals and diapers for us instead.

Another item not on my Last Minute List, but something that we knew we would need was CA$H.  It was something that we continued to communicate about with people through email updates and in person.  Our friends were gracious enough to ask when we would see them how the fundraising was going, and we would be open about it.  Friends and supporters would send us checks for the adoption for hundreds and thousands of dollars.  One couple offered to email a list of their friends they knew would be interested in our situation.  Complete strangers sent us money.  Again, thousands of dollars.  By the end of the summer we had $11,000 and were only in need of a few thousand more to add to what we had saved up to put toward the adoption.  Amazing.

More to come,

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Quick Recovery

I woke up about five hours later and came downstairs.  I walked past the two big bags of blue stuff on my way to the kitchen.  "I will be returning all of you," I thought to myself.  It was so surreal to be home.  I always find it puzzling that we can wake up in Texas, drive for nineteen hours, and go to sleep in Michigan.  This felt more odd than usual because it was so unexpected.  Plus, the whole reason we drove back was now a non-issue.  Here we are back in Michigan with nothing to do.

As my mind began to process the previous 24 hours, I was mad about a couple things.  First, I was kicking myself for diving into it all so quickly.  I had always said as we were preparing for adoption that the child we're going to adopt is not ours until a judge says so.  Why was I so quick to say things like, "We have a son," and to my mom, "You have a grandson"?  Those statements weren't technically true.  Adoption is a legal process, and just because a woman says she is planning on giving me her child, that child is legally hers until a judge says otherwise.  We could have brought him home from the hospital and, legally, she could have taken him back until her parental rights were terminated.  Legally, he was not my son.  I hadn't guarded my heart the way I knew I should have.  My thoughts and words were not based on what was true.  I got ahead of myself.

I heard someone once compare a failed adoption with a miscarriage.  I think this is a complete unfair comparison.  It's unfair to the child, who is still alive.  The child has not died.  It is alive and being taken care of by its parents.  That's a wonderful thing, especially if the parent is capable of caring for it.  It's unfair to the birthmom, who was completely within her rights to change her mind.  She's the one that decided to look into adoption, and after looking into it can decide she doesn't want to move forward with it.  As I mentioned before, I hadn't lost a child.  The child was never mine.

As practical and objective as this sounds, I did have a good cry with Chris.  I was sad, and I was disappointed.  But there was nothing to mourn.  No need to sulk.  Our name was still on the distribution list to receive circulars.

Another thing I was mad about was that we had driven back to Michigan and missed out on time with family and friends.  My sister had planned her trip to my parents with my nephews based on our schedule.  We had friends that we were planning to see and spend time with.  And I just hate that drive in general.  We had two more weeks set aside for time in Texas, and here we are in Michigan.  Yuck!

Liz called later that morning to update us on the birthmom.  Liz had met with her to see how she went from saying she wasn't going to be capable of caring for her child to deciding to parent him.  It sounded like she had, in a short time, made arrangements to care for him.  I was happy the boy was able to grow up with his mom and other family members after all.  There was comfort in knowing it was an issue of practical factors {time and money} and not one of substance abuse.  He was going to a home where he would be loved.

My best friend called me frequently that day to check up on me.  I talked with my family and explained what happened.  Chris spoke with his parents too.  Chris mentioned to them how bummed we were that we couldn't finish our trip in Texas, and they graciously offered to fly us back down to Houston.  Chris asks me, "Would you even want to go back down?"
"Umm YES!"
"When would you want to go down?  Maybe this weekend?"
"Umm, why not tomorrow?"

We decided not to tell our best friends we were coming.  We couldn't pass up on this opportunity to surprise their pants off.  I called my mom and told her I would be there the next day for her birthday after all, and I was going to be able to go to the waterpark with my nephews.  Things were looking up.  Fantastic!  Before Chris let us buy tickets, we had to account for our dog.  We had to hunt down a line up of folks to care for him for two weeks.  Within an hour, we had three families that were willing to take turns with the pup.  A million thanks to those people!

My friend called me one more time that night to check in and encourage us to rest up for the next couple days.  He he.  Rest up on a plane in the morning!  48 hours after leaving Texas, we were back.  What a whirlwind!

More to come,
Who wouldn't want this guy in their house for two weeks?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Diving in Head First

Once I hung up with Liz, Chris and I embraced.  A son.  We had a son just waiting for us in Michigan.  I called my mom and said, "Mom, your new grandson was born Friday night."  I called my best friend and left a message, "She picked us.  We got him."  Unbelief.  Relief.  Pure excitement.

Chris and I packed up the car and headed to church.  Our plan was to leave for Michigan and drive all night once he was done speaking.  I used the hour drive to get some details worked out.  I called my friend in Michigan and told her the good news.  I asked her if she could go to my house and wash bottles, nursery linens, burp cloths, blankets, and all of my gender neutral baby clothes I had already bought.  She was ecstatic and more than willing, of course.  I remember saying to Chris, "You have a son."  Our minds and bodies were in shock and running off of adrenaline.  I couldn't sit still.  My hands were practically shaking.

We arrived at church to a group of friends who had already heard the news from a contact person Chris had texted.  Hugs all around!  It didn't take them long to decide to send us on our way immediately, and they would change their plans for Sunday School and the Service.  They prayed for us, and Chris and I were on the road.  We made one detour.  I popped into Target and Marshalls and bought two big bags worth of blue boy stuff.  Blue towels, socks, clothes.  Two very large bags.  We also drove through Rosa's for our last taste of Mexican food before we left Texas.  Priorities right?  Baby, then Mexican food.

In the middle of my second taco, Liz called to check in and let us know that everything was going well, but the birthmother wanted to "tap the breaks a little."  She felt like everything was moving so fast, and she didn't want to discharge the baby til she met with us.  Also, she decided to give the baby a name to put on the birth certificate, but was fine if we changed his name later.  Even though Liz made no mention of the adoption not taking place, the wind was knocked out of me.  All excitement turned into hesitancy and concern.  Chris was still optimistic and kept telling me to stop acting like this wasn't going to happen, but these were two BIG red flags in my mind.  Why would she give the baby a name?  We weren't even out of Texas yet.  We had 17 hours of driving ahead of us.

I felt deflated.  I would say to Chris, "I don't know.  Why would she tap the breaks?  We're not going to get him."  "Stop," he would say.  "We don't know that."  My head was a mess.  Out of control.  Where had my joy gone?  Real joy lasts, even when faced with potentially hard circumstances.  Maybe what I had felt that morning wasn't true joy.  Had I not learned about true joy during all of my infertility?  Month after month, had God not taught me that my joy is not found in my circumstances?  It's fine to be disappointed, but what I was feeling was an emptiness in the pit of my stomach.  I was fearful.  Joy and fear cannot coexist.  While I was taking a turn driving in Missouri I decided to stop.  Stop being afraid of what Liz's next phone call might say.  My mind still went back to that place of desperation, but I was quicker to recognize it and walk away from it.

That drive from Texas to Michigan is always a long one, but this was exceptionally long.  I drove through Missouri and watched the sunset, and I took the last shift and watched the sun rise in Michigan.  We arrived home at 7am to washed bottles in the kitchen and clean clothes folded in the nursery.  Chris and I promptly went to bed.  We laid next to one another while I called Liz to let her know we made it back and could go to the hospital whenever she was ready for us.  She sounded as exhausted as us.  She said, "I just spoke with the birthmother and she's decided to keep the baby.  I'm headed to the hospital right now to talk to her about her plan."  I looked at Chris and said, "She's keeping him."  "Does she know anything else about the other circular?" he was quick to ask, still holding out for that baby girl.  Liz said that they had chosen a family and were moving on with an adoption plan.

No baby boy.  No baby girl.  We didn't say anything else to one another.  Just rolled over and went to sleep.

More to come,