Our adoption story [part 2]

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+++ {the following is continuation from part 1 of our adoption story. you can read it here.}

We read into each of the questions the birth mom had for us. Was she young, old, rich, poor, married or single? Was it her first pregnancy, her second, her fifth? Was she for sure adoption was for her or was she simply "trying it on for size"? I answered most of her questions with ease, answering them as honestly as I could. The last question was her wanting to know how we desired our relationship to be with the birth mom of our adopted child. At first I second-guessed my answer, but then knew that honesty was the path we would need to remain on throughout it all. My answer:

During our home study process we received extensive education about openness in adoption and have come to a place to not only accepting open adoption, but preferring it. At a minimum, we love the idea of a birth mom – who has given us SO much – being able to see updated pictures and letters of the child that she carried and birthed. Also, we love the idea of our child being able to read a letter (or two or more) as well as see a photo of the incredible woman she came from. We believe that this will help her adjust as an adopted child. Again, this is the minimum contact we would prefer. We are open to more if the birth mom is too.

The following day S (the lady who managed/organized/facilitated our adoption) called to say that K (birth mom) wanted to meet. We decided we would have our first meeting be via Skype. It was less overwhelming than meeting for the first time face-to-face. Corey would be returning from Honduras on Thursday. Our Skype session was scheduled for Friday morning. I surprisingly felt an incredible amount of patience as Friday crept closer.

When we arrived on Friday S told us that our Skype session should remain short. “You’ll know pretty quickly if you have any chemistry. Meet, chat, keep it short and then I’ll discuss with both of you if you would like to move forward.”

When the video appeared it was K’s mom. K was outside, coming soon, but feeling incredibly nervous. When she finally sat down in front of the video we all smiled from ear to ear. I instantly felt connected to her. We nervously chatted and talked and asked each other questions and K expressed – to our surprise – how good she felt about us already as adoptive parents. “I loved your book, your large family and the last page of all the funny pictures you put of the two of you. It made you seem ... well ... real.” This meant os much to me. The entire time I was designing our book I was so worried our lives were going to seem perfect and thus fake. I wanted nothing more than to seem real when a stranger was perusing our book.

We ended our Skype session all a bit giddy. S quickly said, “Well …that couldn’t have gone much better! And, Jessica … is it me or did you think you looked like K?”

Corey and I left, went out to eat and took turns telling each other all the things that could happen to keep this from continuing to unfold as it had so far. Nevertheless, we were both feeling a bit overwhelmed with hope. The hope that the baby girl growing in her stomach, 30 weeks along, would one day come home with us … would one day be ours.

Our next visit was going to be face-to-face, over dinner in Cleveland. Those two weeks crept by sooooo slow. I was working SO much it was incredible and maybe a bit ridiculous … although I’m quite thankful for it. It helped me not be overwhelmingly consumed.

A couple days before we were supposed to drive to Cleveland S had not heard from K in several days and was beginning to think that she had disappeared. “This is quite common actually,” she said. My heart had a hard time believing this, especially after our Skype session. Nevertheless, we were so sad. I went for a long, hard walk and begged God to not allow us to go through one more valley.

When I returned home from our walk S called. “Good news. Talked to K and she is definitely still planning on you all coming up. Her phone doesn’t have any minutes. I had to call her mom. Red Lobster. 6:00.”

On our way up we were nervously excited. This was to be expected. What I did not expect is how I felt when we got about 30-minutes away from the restaurant.My heart was racing, my head swimming. I thought on numerous occasions I was going to faint. Literally. I kept imagining ourselves walking in and sitting across the table from this girl that would be super pregnant, all the while us “interviewing” for her baby. I mean it’s total craziness, right? Lucky for me I have a husband who is so good with people and handling situations like this. As soon as we sat down he broke the ice by saying, “This is awkward. Can we just get that out on the table?” From then on our conversations flowed pretty effortlessly. We stayed for over 2-hours and my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. K told me later that when friends would ask her what it was like meeting us she said it felt like she was eating dinner with members of her family.

At dinner we all decided we very much wanted to move forward. K expressed to us that she wanted us to get ready. “Even if I wanted to change my mind I can’t. There’s no way. I know words are probably not enough, but I want you to start getting ready. This is going to happen.”

We drove home feeling more flooded with emotion than we ever had before.

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My dad came up the next weekend and in the midst of a workshop and preparing for the kids’ workshops we began to prepare the nursery. In one weekend, we cleared out the room and Dad built recessed bookshelves into the wall and a new closet. I began cleaning out the house to make room. I have never felt so scared and sick and hopeful and happy and longing for the 8-week wait to be over, all the while freaking out that we only had 8-weeks!!!

This is where things start to blur into one memory. In the midst of that time we painted and shopped at Ikea, registered for baby items, went antique shopping for the perfect dresser, cleaned out the house from top to bottom and gave away about 20% of our stuff. We talked about names and wondered what she would look like. I sewed pillows and hung curtains. We bought the crib and left it in the garage, too scared to put it up. I bought half of Etsy and read baby books every waking free moment. I completed another workshop, Corey worked non-stop and we waited. For July 15th. Scheduled c-section. It came so fast and so slow. I know one day I will look back on that time with great fondness, but right now it’s all too fresh. The stress and wondering, the hesitant expecting and overwhelming excitement. The emotions were piled on top of each other to the point we could not … cannot ... make sense of it all still to this day.

Days would go by and K would disappear. Papers would go unsigned, everything would seem as if it was off and then all of a sudden answers would come and paperwork would be completed. And, then again … days … and nothing. I started to feel as if I was being fooled. As if everyone knew the joke but me and my lost hours of sleep searching for the perfect piece of artwork on Etsy was just ridiculous. In an especially overwhelming day I felt like I was going crazy. I left my work, went upstairs to our room and stood in front of the mirror in our bathroom. I could think of nothing to do but pray. I always trusted God’s plan and timing, but I needed some type of reassurance. I was longing to enjoy this time of waiting and instead I was suffering from mini-panic attack to mini-panic attack. I kid you not, when I went back downstairs I had a missed call from S from the agency. “K has her 36-week appointment next week and they are going to do an ultrasound. She’s wondering if you’d like to drive up and go to it with her.” I could not believe God’s grace and kindness.

And so I went and it was absolutely amazing. We enjoyed lunch (although she was 45-min late and again I had a semi panic-attack) and a nice, long visit at the doctor. When they did the ultrasound I could not believe what I could see – remember I’ve never seen an ultrasound of a baby. It was gray and fuzzy, but, “That’s her face, right?” and then, the tech pushed the 3D button and this is what I saw:

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We of course thought she was going to have huge lips, but instead we think she was must have been blowing a kiss. ; )

Then, a bit later this is what we saw:

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(Who knew babies cried in utero!? Although the top picture does not look much like her today, this picture totally does. That is SO her cry face!)

Do I even need to tell you how I felt? There’s now way I ever could. K gave me the pictures and I took pictures of them and texted them out as soon as I got back to my car. “Meet our crying Angelina Jolie baby!” Finally, all seemed real. On the way home I had a mini-panic attack. Four more weeks …

I focused on my students (80+) and poured loads of time into work. The remainder of my time was spent getting ready. I had this idea that when Charlotte (we finally had decided on a name) came home I wanted to be 100% present. I did not want to be hanging curtains or cleaning out closets. And, so I created the world’s longest to-do list and with great satisfaction marked everything off the list, finishing the day we left for Cleveland.

We went up to Cleveland for one more dinner with K and her family. It was tricky navigating the relational dynamics, being open and honest and "us" while also dealing with the fact that this was all so wonderful, but still quite unusual.

...

July 13, 2010

Little girl,

I’m up late again. Working and get tid-bits done before we leave on Wednesday. We are just a bit more than 2 days from seeing your sweet face for the first time. I am an excited, nervous-wreck!

I had a shower with 7 girls who mean a lot to me – Cyndi (hosted it), Martha, Beth, Lisa, Barbara and Tera. We ate incredible food, drank margaritas and ate delicious cake – all at Nada – for over 4 hours! It was SO MUCH fun and I feel so special and cared for and loved and just blessed. You are in for a treat, sweet girl. Beth said it best in her card – she is prepared to love you and to fight for you. I love that. She is one of many.

My prayer right now is that the Lord would create a supernatural moment between the three of us. That even when you come out of K’s stomach you will feel at home when we hold you for the first time. I pray God allows your heart and soul to know us the second we meet. We’ve been waiting for you for so long and feel so humbled that God has chosen us to be your parents.

xoxo,

your momma

...

July 15, 2010

It's 4:45 a.m. on your birthday. I can't believe we get to see your sweet face in only a few hours! I feel overwhelmed with joy & excitement & nerves! I'm already crying ...

Your daddy is shaving. He's very ready to nestle you into his cheek.

K just texted "good morning." I texted back " good middle-of-the-night!" She wrote back that she was laughing out loud. I like her a lot. I am so grateful we connect like we do.

Gotta go get ready! I hope you are!

Love, love, love!!!

your (WAY EXCITED) momma

...

K ate a doughnut for breakfast. Since it was a c-section she was not allowed to eat so all was postponed for the following day. I begged (/didn’t give an option) C to talk to the nurses and explain our situation. Although they said there was nothing they could do, the doctor called K a few hours later to say that she could squeeze her c-section in that evening. It was back on!

I cannot write much about our 3-days in the hospital. It was the most intense, memorable, overwhelming, trying and joyous 3-days of our marriage and it’s something that is and always will be so very sacred. Charlotte Louise was born alive and kicking. We all cried. A lot. She ate and slept and snuggled, cried, opened her eyes, had her first bath and ate and slept some more. We spent most of our time in a teeny room across from the nursery and would then roll her back to K’s room. We would sit over meals and wonder if it was really going to happen. We didn’t sleep. K and I sent each other easily over 100 text messages (thank God for text messaging!!!) and I could tell that with each passing hour her decision was becoming more and more difficult and more and more selfless. She is someone I will always love. Someone I loved before I loved Charlotte. We desire only good things for her. We desire that Charlotte will one day be able to meet her and that their reunion would be sweet and fulfilling.

K’s mom is also someone we became very attached to. Without her the entire process would not have been as easy as it was. She always had us in mind and did a fantastic job facilitating our relationships with one another. A vision I will never ever forget is her rolling Charlotte around the corner to us when papers had finally been signed. There was a fury of commotion around us, the lady from the adoption agency jabbering away about any and everything, nurses exchanging papers and making phone calls and yet in that moment it was as if the world came to a standstill. K’s mom stopped half way down the hallway and cried. She talked to Charlotte and touched her, kissed her over and over and then looked up and smiled at us. We all knew in that moment just how amazing this moment was. I of course was crying uncontrollably, but what was most surprising was how hard Corey cried. He had fallen madly and deeply in-love with Charlotte and he knew the sacrifice that was being made. I have told the story a dozen times and I can still not do it to this day without crying. It was the perfect picture of redemption. Can you see it?

After papers had been signed K and I sat on her hospital bed together and hugged and cried. I told her all the things we desired for Charlotte and the parents we promised to be. She said to me words I will never forget: “I needed you as much as you needed me.”

And, that is the story. Our story. The story I've been waiting to live and share. It's a story that will always leave me humbled and overjoyed. I still can't believe it's ours.

Thank you for reading and caring and asking why it's taken me so long. You guys are the best!

xo,

jc

p.s. Did you know that the week Charley was conceived was the exact week we called the agency for the first time? And, did you know that the morning S called from the agency and left us a message on our answering machine that a birth mom was interested in us I woke up to the ring of the phone with a racing heart? I somehow knew the call was important. So much so that I got out of bed and went downstairs to check the answering machine. (I never do that.) Throughout the waiting process I often went back to the way I felt when the ringing phone woke me up. I will always believe God had been waiting for that day to finally say, “It’s your time.”

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