Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Story, part 3

I took the loss of our first adoption very hard. Some of my reactions were kind of silly and strange, but it was just my way of trying to exert control over something I couldn't control. I didn't want to hurt like that again, and wanted to try to avoid it. Kydon and I came very close to putting our adoption profile on "hold"- making it so potential birthparents couldn't see us. We thought and talked about it a lot, but the bottom line was that despite the hurt, we still wanted to be parents. We still wanted to have a baby, so we left our profile active. One of the funny/strange things I decided was that I was never going to be on hold for more than 2 months. Meaning that if a birthmom picked us, and she was more than 2 months out, I would tell her no. I was quite serious about that decision- again trying to exert that elusive control.

It seems so silly to me now. I mean, really? If we had been contacted by someone sooner, would I have REALLY said no? I have no idea. At the time, I was adamant, but now I can't imagine turning anything down!

During this time, we were still pretty heavily invested in the previous adoption. We were resuming contact with the birthmom, and we were pretty much grieving and still thinking about that situation. We had a few emails now and then from different girls, asking us various questions, but we never heard more than the initial email, and we figured they didn't pan out to anything.

One day in November, we recieved an email that would forever change our lives. I still remember the exact words as a wonderful woman told us of her decision to choose us as the parents for her little girl. The first sentence of her email said "I have known for a long time that you were the right family, but I felt like the timing had to be right to tell you". When I read that, I glanced in the corner at the date, and I realized that this letter was sent 2 months to the day before her due date. I started to immediately cry, and I almost couldn't read the rest of the letter! It was truly a miracle for her to have that inspiration, and about something so silly as my 2-month decision.

She was one of the girls who had emailed us. Her situation was that they had seen some indicators on the ultrasound that might indicate Down Syndrome. They wouldn't know until birth. She had emailed us along with several other couples to see if we would be open to her situation because she didn't want to be at the birth and have to find another family.

When we got that initial email, asking us this question, it was no problem. We talked about it for approximately 10 minutes, then responded that we would be fully on board! I am a nurse in a Pediatric hospital, and I was constantly scouting for babies. Kydon used to get calls on a weekly basis-- "I found us a baby!" One baby was very memorable to me. He was the most adorable little thing- just days old, in the ICU. He was placed for adoption, but when he was born with medical problems, the adoptive parents backed out of the placement. I took care of him for several nights. Holding him, feeding him, bathing him, and trying to learn all I could about him so I could contact the social worker. Unfortunately, his problems were severe, and he passed away after just a few weeks of life. I came home and told Kydon that we would NEVER back out like that- I made sure he knew that if it was *our* baby, it was ours just like if we gave birth, and we would take it however it came out. Of course, I'm a nurse. We have a lot of family support, and are very close to a lot of medical specialists. It never scared me or worried me to adopt a child with special needs. So, when the email came, it wasn't really a decision to remake- we had already decided we were open to that, so we responded as such.

So, we had 2 months! We wrote letters to our new friend, and started developing that great relationship. I felt much more guarded this time. I kept a small part of myself back. I never really believed in my heart that it would go through. But, still, it might, so we got ready. We picked out names! We cleaned and painted the "baby room". We went to the baby store and registered! That was totally the funnest part for me, since I felt like a huge fraud whenever I looked at baby stuff- I felt like I didn't belong there, and wasn't part of that 'club'. So, to go in, write down the "due date", and begin scanning items was one of the funnest things I had done in years! It was also funny when the store clerk ran after us to check the due date, very confused by the 2-week-away due date and my very non-pregnant belly. I bought a few baby clothes. I made lists and lists of things to buy, things to pack, things to bring, things to send.

We also took a trip to meet this girl! It was an amazing meeting. She was so amazing, and we felt a great connection with her. She seemed so put together and wonderful- I felt quite inadequate that she had choosen me! It was so great to be able to put a real person with the letters, and we came home really happy and excited for this baby.

We got the call on Jan. 9th that our birthmom was in labor! That day is probably the weirdest day of my life! I had worked the night before, so I was asleep for 2 hours when Kydon called with the news. There was no way I was sleeping after that, and I jumped out of bed and started running around! We made airplane reservations, arranged for a rental car and place to stay, I packed all our bags, borrowed a car seat, and cleaned my whole house! We had no way of contacting anyone, so I was carrying my phone around checking it every 5 minutes, waiting for her caseworker to call back to say if the baby had been born or not! We went out to dinner that night with some really good friends... at California Pizza Kitchen. I can remember it so clearly, feeling a little buzzy from no sleep and so much excitement, and just saying over and over how our baby might be born now! It was the weirdest feeling! On our way home, the caseworker FINALLY called! The baby was born, everything was great, and the birthmom was still on board with the adoption plan. Whew! Of course, he couldn't remember the weight or height or if she had hair or anything, but we would find all that out the next day.

We got on a plane the next morning. When we arrived, we were told to go to the hospital that evening to meet the birthmom and baby. I was still, even now, plagued with fear and doubt. I kept thinking how sad it was going to be to fly home with an empty carseat. I still couldn't really believe it. At 5:00 that evening, we went to the hospital. We didn't know what to expect- if we would be able to hold the baby, or just talk to the birthmom or what. Once again, we were incredibly nervous!

We got to the hospital, found the room, and went on in. The next few minutes were some that I will never forget. As we entered the room, we could hear Abigail crying. Her birthmom saw us, and said "oh, it's time to feed her- do you want to do it?" What a question! I was prepared to not even hold her, but was so grateful that she wanted us to. When she placed that baby in my arms, I became a mother. Not in the legal sense, not even in the physical sense, but spiritually, that moment I could feel my inner self change. I gazed in my daughters eyes, and it was quite literally love at first sight. It felt as if I had been her mother since the beginning of time, and I could not remember a time when I didn't have a daughter. It probably goes without saying, but all the doubt and fear and worry left at that instant. I knew without a doubt the adoption would go through. I knew she was my daughter. It was an amazing feeling.

Love at first sight- this is the day we met our daughter!

We went the next morning to pick her up. We ached for the sadness we knew that her birthmom was going through. She tried her best to hide from us the emotions she was feeling. It was hard for me to accept that the happiest moment of my life was someone else's saddest moment, especially someone I loved so much. I would have done anything to take that hurt away from her. Of course, there was nothing I could do. We watched her tears, then hugged her as she placed Abigail in our arms. We were all crying. She left, and I missed her so much. We had barely begun to know each other, but the bond was so deep and strong. We spent the next few minutes getting Abigail discharged from the hospital, absorbing all the information they had to give us, and making arrangements with the caseworker.

I have to tell you, and it seems quite silly, but we still weren't really sure if she had Down Syndrome or not! One of the adoption requrements was that we see a pediatrician before we left the state, so 2 days later we saw a doctor, and we finally asked and were assured that she most certainly did not! It is funny now, because they obviously would have told us, and she would have had a lot more medical intervention, but I remember bringing her "home", and wondering- does she or doesn't she?!

I slipped into motherhood quite easily and naturally. I had spent a lot of hours in the NICU, so babies were very familiar to me. I could bathe, feed, burp, diaper and swaddle. I was quite experienced with all that. And as I said before, Abigail just seemed a part of us. Like she had always been there. I remember sleeping on the couch holding her, because the bed was just too far away from that pack and play, and I needed her closer to me! The adoption process for Abigail was also so smooth and easy. There were no complications, no stressfull moments. We signed the papers, and 2 days later had permission to go home. Her caseworker told us to never expect such and easy adoption again, and we felt so lucky that everything had gone so well.

We came home. We celebrated with our family. We rejoiced in our daughter. Those first months with Abigail were a little challenging, but mostly I remember them as the happiest months of my life. After we brought her home, we realized that the name Abigail means "my Father's joy", and, if you include mother, it couldn't be a more fitting name for our girl. She was totally joyous to us. She was quite literally the easiest baby to take care of- great sleeper, she didn't care about a schedule, she could sleep anywhere, and if she ever cried, she just needed a bottle. She didn't spit up or get messy, and loved to be swaddled and held, which is what we loved too.

These stories are getting long! Part four will be coming soon, and it might have to include a part 5! There is just so much to tell- I hate leaving anything out!


colleensewnsew said...

Okay, even though I already know these stories, you are making me cry as I read them again. I am so grateful for Abigail and the joy she brought back into your life as well as ours. I too will always be grateful and love her birth mom.

Julie P said...

I've loved reading these stories!

Katie said...

I am loving this! What a beautiful story. Do you mind if I link back from my blog?

Shanna said...

Go right ahead! I link to you all the time!

erika said...

Sniff, sniff. What a beautiful story, and I loved reading it! Love you guys :)

The Clanton Gang said...

How sweet!! But you should really put a "tear-jerker" warning on this! I had to run and get tissues. ;) Thanks for sharing!

Cecilee said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful adoption story. Although I have heard this before, there are parts I must have missed somewhere along the way. What a moving story, especially the part about holding her for the first time. Although its been almost 7 years, congratulations on being a mother to that beautiful baby!