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Joyful and Triumphant

8 Jan

When I last left off in our story, we were trying to get some sleep in the early morning hours of December 12. Later that day I would meet our son, but there were miles to go before that could happen. Literally miles. We live in Virginia and our son was born in California.

It’s hard to describe the emotions I felt that morning. I was definitely excited and happy, but also scared and nervous.

One of the reasons my stomach was in knots is that I would be doing all of this without Don by my side. I’m the emotional one and Don is always my rock. I rely on his strength and I was scared to be facing this giant life change alone.

We’d been told countless times that your match would come when you least expect it. That was not quite true for us as I never stopped expecting it. But I can say that our little man burst into our lives when we were least prepared for it. And that’s one of the reasons I was travelling alone. Don taught a university class last fall and the final exam was scheduled on the same day our son was to be discharged from the hospital. Of course the finals were in-person presentations – not a test for which he could request a proctor to administer. He had to be there. On top of that, we had 65 people coming to our house on the 14th for our annual holiday party. We had purchased about half the food already and all of the beverages.  We couldn’t cancel the party without a reason and we couldn’t tell people why we needed to cancel yet.

After a brief discussion it was decided that I would go to California on Wednesday and Don would come on Thursday. That’s how it came to pass that I was sitting nervously by myself at an airport at 5 a.m. on December 12.

I should also mention that since we booked these tickets at 9 p.m. or so the evening before, there were no seats on direct flights. We both ended up on flights that went from DC to Boston and from Boston to Oakland. You wouldn’t think this would be a big deal, but it ended up impacting the flight time considerably. I naively thought that Boston to Oakland would be roughly the same flight as DC to Oakland, but it’s much longer. DC to Oakland is about 5 hours, but from Boston is takes 6 hours and 45 minutes.

I had enough time in Boston to get a latte and call Cole, the birth mom specialist, for any overnight updates. There had been one. Initially, the birth mother said she did not want any contact with us, but after Cole told her how excited we were and how we were booking tickets to travel 12 hours later, she decided to meet us. I was very happy for a chance to meet her and thank her.

When I hung up the phone, a woman sitting next to me said she couldn’t help but overhearing that I was on my way to California to adopt a baby. Her niece had just adopted, too – AND that baby was born on the same day as our son. She was incredibly sweet and showed me a picture of the new family. Seven hours later, when I was standing in line for my rental car, the same woman approached me. She told me again how excited she was for us and gave us a children’s book called “San Francisco Baby”. I was so moved by her kind gesture.

The flight from Boston was incredibly long. I watched a lot of HGTV and Food Network and tried to read “What to Expect the First Year.”

Finally – finally – we landed in Oakland. (I was in the same state as my son!)

Our dear friend Suzanne met me at the airport and we picked up the rental car with the infant seat installed. (I needed an infant seat!)

It’s about two hours from Oakland to Modesto. Boy, that seven-hour plane ride had NOTHING on the two hours I was in the car. I was so glad Suzanne was with me and she did her best to keep up the conversation so I wouldn’t freak out, but I’m afraid I wasn’t the best company. I seriously thought my heart would explode right inside my chest.

As we approached Modesto, we turned on the GPS. Somehow we missed a turn and ended up at the wrong hospital. A few minutes and one course correction later, we pulled up in front of Doctor’s Medical Center. My son was in that building. (My son!)

I was ready to meet him.

Catch up on our story:

1. Spoiler Alert

2. It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night

1 Jan

Way back when we started the process of adoption, someone spoke to us about what typically happens during your match period. Every match and placement story is unique and there is no formula. That said, there are things that are typical. Things that normally happen.

For example, normally you have some notice between being matched and meeting your child. Well, no one ever said Don and I were normal.

On Tuesday, December 11 I was still in my office when my cell phone rang just after 6 p.m. on the East Coast. The caller ID showed me it was coming from Overland Park, KS so I knew it was someone from our agency. We had sent in our expiring clearances a few weeks before so I while I hoped it was “the call”, I figured it was more likely to be about those forms.

Now, just a quick word about how our agency is structured. Adoptive parents have social workers who only work with them, and expecting moms have social workers who concentrate exclusively on their needs. That means that even though each family has its own social worker, he or she is not the one who calls you when you are in a match.

That’s why when I answered the phone and the caller identified himself as someone I had never spoken to before, I knew what was happening. I shut my door, sat down and started taking notes.

Before Cole, the birth mom specialist, told me about our match, he did mention those expired documents. When I told him they had been sent the day before Thanksgiving he said something peculiar.

“Well, that’s great,” he said. “It might affect the length of your ICPC stay, but it shouldn’t make much difference.”

That seemed peculiar because documents that should be ready within the week seemed hardly likely to impact a match.  That is, unless the baby had already been born.

WAIT. Had the baby already been born?

Then Cole confirmed what my mind was just starting to stumble upon. The baby we’d been matched with had been born the day before. In California. His birth mother had chosen us as his parents and since he was being discharged the next day, we’d need to get ourselves to Modesto right away.

Thankfully, Modesto is only 2,800 miles from Arlington.

Remember that I was at work still. Don was on his way home and even though I had sweet fantasies of how I would tell him we’d been matched (assuming I was the one who took the call), there was no time. Cole asked me to reach him via cell phone so that he could communicate as soon as possible with the baby’s birth mother.

When Don answered the phone I said, “We really need to decide what middle name we want for a baby boy because when they ask us to fill out his birth certificate tomorrow, we’re going to need to tell them.”  He laughed and then said, “Really?”.

A few more phone calls with Cole and it was official. We were in an immediate match. We stared at each other in disbelief. We laughed a lot. We opened champagne. We called our parents. We called someone to watch Casey puppy. I called my boss to let her know I’d be out for the next 12 weeks (!). We called Jaimie and Dean to see if we could borrow some infant clothes. We found someone to notarize a document at 10 p.m. We booked plane tickets. I packed.

At 2 a.m. we turned off the lights. I started to cry. It was a crazy mixture of happiness, fear and relief.

I have never been so scared in my life. I had never felt such joy. Until the next day, when I held my son for the first time.

Spoiler Alert: Call Me Mommy

31 Dec

If you have not heard the news by now, there’s no point in dragging it out.

Don and I are the proud, excited, exhausted and overwhelmed parents of a tiny and perfect boy. Our little bird arrived on December 10, but we didn’t know about him for about 36 hours. When  we did find out about him, we had a to jump on a plane and travel clear across the country to meet him.

The minute he was placed in my arms, I melted. I mean, look at this face. Who wouldn’t melt?

Seriously. This was my first look at him. I took the picture about 4 minutes after I first held him. I was still holding him when I took it. He’s so beautiful. And calm. And peaceful. Totally, 100 percent in love.

The next three weeks were a whirlwind for all three of us (and I’ll tell you all about it in future posts), but we’re happy and healthy and home.

Thank you for your love and support. Stay tuned to hear the story of how we filled our nest.

And Happy New Year to you. It was tough year in so many ways, but for our family it ended on a sweet note. I hope your family will also receive joy and happiness in the year ahead.

And You Start All Over Again

13 Nov

In Virginia the main portion of your home study is valid for three years, but there are dozens of documents that make up the home study that expire every year. A whole bunch of ours are expiring in November and December so we’re attacking piles of paperwork again just like we did at this time last year.

For example, we both had to get updated fingerprint cards this week.

We also have to have our state and federal criminal clearances updated and our child abuse clearances updated. It’s a pain, but it’s necessary.

How many times did you have to re-do your home study documents before your placement? I REALLY hope this will be the only time we have to renew ours.

Passing the Time

23 Oct

Photo courtesy of smellslikeupdog
courtesy of smellslikeupdog

Our video profile was posted on September 10 and it was, one one hand, a big relief. We went around and around with our agency over the video contract and then we ran into all sorts of problems actually getting it filmed.

What kinds of problems, you ask? Well, for example, I had an Avastin injection on July 2 that resulted in a big, red burst blood vessel in the white of my eye that was hardly the kind of thing I wanted immortalized on video. Then our puppy, Casey, got into the foam packing for the video camera and destroyed it. Oh puppy.

Anyway, once the video was posted, I  was relieved. For about three days.

That’s how long it took me to realize there was nothing left for us to do. We filed all our paperwork. We passed our home study. We filled out the Adoption Planning Questionnaire. We created our family profile. We filmed our video profile. All the tasks were done and all that was left was the wait. We’d been waiting for three months already by the time the video was posted, but our profile wasn’t technically complete until that video was online. Until then, I was still mentally checking things off a list.

And now I’ve come to the end of the list. Nothing from this point forward is in my control. We’re just waiting for time to pass.

It’s terrifying. As a project-oriented person, the end of a to do list leaves me feeling at odds.

I waited a month, hopping that feeling would pass. No such luck. A series of events in late September left me feeling even less in control of the world.

Our called our adoption specialist who offered this advice on passing the time: Decorate the nursery. Travel (with trip insurance). Go out to dinner and to the movies. Finish up any lingering house projects.

Oh – and start thinking about new photos we might want to put on our profile in three months or so.

Ah-ha! A project …

Four Months

4 Oct

 Source: via René on Pinterest

It’s been four months to the day since our profile was posted. No news to report, just wanted to mark the occasion.

C’mon, baby. We’re ready to meet you.


Temporary Blindness

1 Oct

Welcome, baby!
Welcome, baby!
courtesy of Bethany Ann Khan

Two weeks ago Don and I got an e-mail from our agency with the subject line, “Can we show your profile – BABY BORN”.

It’s not the first time we’d gotten a request to show our profile to a birth mother outside of our APQ, but it was the first time that the baby had already been born.

I was at Johns Hopkins visiting my eye specialists when I read the e-mail. I was between appointments and walking to the coffee shop when the email came so I quickly scanned it. What I first saw was baby girl, a budget number that didn’t make me freak out and the baby’s birth date. September 11. The same day we lost my cousin to lung cancer.

I called Don and we talked through the things I had not wanted to see on my first review of the situation. Scary things that needed consideration. Like the fact that the birth mom was an IV-drug user, was positive for Hep B and C, had received no pre-natal care and that the baby had been born at home.  The baby’s temperature was elevated, she was on antibiotics and she had tremors when startled. None of her tests results were recorded yet.

I called our adoption specialist and asked when the test results might be in. She said it could be up to two weeks for some of them. I asked if the baby had been born at home because the mother was using at the time of the baby’s birth. Angie said she had definitely used drugs on September 11, though it was unclear how long before she went into labor she had shot up.

I blame the eye doctors for my case of temporary blindness that day.

We passed on the opportunity. Angie told me three other couples had said yes so I didn’t have to worry that this precious little girl wouldn’t find her home. She is someone else’s daughter and they will love her. By now, they already do. By now they might know some of the medical issues she will face in life. She has a name. She has a mom and a dad. She has birth parents who will be part of her life as they are able and if have the desire. And someday, she will hear the complicated story of her birth.

I’ve been thinking about that little girl a lot and hoping for the very best things. She deserves an amazing life.

Our Video Profile is Done

10 Sep

Wahoo! Our video profile was posted this morning:



We were really, really nervous about this section – but I think it turned out OK.

Our agency sent us a video camera a few months ago and a list of instructions for making the profile. There were basically four different sections we had to complete – the family interview, individual interviews, a friend / family interview and the spots. The video spots constitute footage of us doing the things we talk about during the interviews. Our spots were taking Casey to the dog park, hiking, having a bonfire on the beach, going to the farmer’s market, working on Nice Mirror projects, cooking, playing with Casey and kids in the backyard, playing with our friend’s infant, kayaking, tubing, and having a crab feast with friends and family. We sent over an hour of footage and they edited it down to just 3.5 minutes. Nothing from our individual interviews was used and lots and lots of our spots were cut.

Our agency actually requires the video profile, though I think most agencies still offer it as an option. I can totally see the benefit of using video – if the photos were previously the most important part of your profile then it would seem video could become even more important.

What do you think? Does this seem like it gives you a better understanding of our lives than our print profile?


Just Needed to Relax for a Minute

31 Aug


I have shingles. Again.

As I mentioned last year when this happened, they are caused by stress or other factors igniting the dormant virus that lives in the systems of anyone who has ever had chicken pox.

In my case it’s a combo of stress and increased prednisone doses when I have a fare up of my eye disease.

So to relax a little, I took an unplanned week off and headed to the beach. It’s hard not to be calm when one is starring at the ocean.

See you after Labor Day.

When Two Months Feels Like an Eternity

4 Aug

Photo courtesy of planeta
Tito’s Pineneedle Basket, August Calendar #freeposter #oaxacatoday @BigHugeLabs
courtesy of planeta

Our family profile was posted on June 4 – two months ago today.

Rationally, I know that two months is not that long. I have had colds that lasted longer than two months (stupid, stupid suppressed immune system). But emotionally? Well, that’s a whole different story.

When we posted our profile, part of me just knew that we would fall outside the norm. I figured the six to nine month average range touted by our agency would come and go without finding our match. I feared we’d approach the 18-month mark before we had a match. I also assumed that it would be a three-month match, making our entire wait about 21 months.

And still another part of me thought we’d get a match in the first 13 days and that it would be a short match period – just two weeks.

Seriously, those were really the only two options I considered likely. A 21-month wait or less than one month. I have no idea what I thought might happen in all those other months.

One month passed and my parents were preparing for a two-week trip to see family in another country. I was then absolutely certain that our match call would come as soon as my parents boarded the boat that would sail them up the Rhine River in Germany – utterly unreachable. I played out complicated, “Surprise! You’re grandparents,” scenarios in my head. I imagined how we’d already be enjoying a blissful ICPC stay with our new baby – a champion sleeper, by the way* – in some state or another when my parents returned. But as the third day of their trip turned into the fourth and fifth days, I started thinking that we might not get the match call.

This weekend, my parents will return home and we’ve not been matched.

The summer is drawing to a close. As autumn ticks closer, I have to start preparing myself for the very real chance that our son or daughter will not be born in 2012. That he or she might not be in the same class as the children of three of my good friends who had babies this year.

It’s okay. I always knew there was that chance.  As I turned the calendar to August earlier this week, I came to terms with it.

Year of the Dragon or Year of the Snake, this little baby is going to be so loved whenever he or she gets here.

*What? It’s a fantasy, okay?