Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Adoption on my mind and Curly Fry will be 2 this week!

The first time I held Curly Fry.
Mad Baby Curly Fry: 1 day old

Curly Fry smiling in his sleep: a few days old

Curly Fry and Junior Mint's 1st meeting!!!
Brothers. Kind of eery how alike they look, don't you think? (Before the curls came in, that is.)

Adoption has played a major role in my life. Obviously. It's on my mind tonight for a few reasons...1) I learned today that I had been misinformed and that our baby's (Squeaky Bean) adoption isn't final yet like we were told and won't be for at least 2 months. 2) There was a great adoption special from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (http://www.davethomasfoundation.org/) on tv tonight and I wept for all the children in need of families and in joy for those families who have found each other through adoption. 3) Watching the tv special made me reflect on what our life would be like without our two adopted children and I felt extra grateful as they giggled and played together tonight. So, tonight I feel a little like sharing a small part of our adoption journey. Here goes.

After the death of our daughter nearly 6 years ago and the many (read 6) miscarriages we've experienced--one on the first anniversary of our daughter's death if you can appreciate the sad irony--we can see how plain a miracle it is that our only living biological child exists at all. And we are sensibly grateful for him. (I love you Junior Mint. What would we ever do without you?) If you are happy to be part of a big family like I am--one of six--you will understand my growing concern at our son's lone place in our family. I feel like a childhood without siblings is half-lived... at least I can't imagine it without a sense of deep loss. We wanted more children for ourselves--we felt our family was not complete as it was--and we wanted our son to have siblings.

After our 4th miscarriage, I brought up adoption as a valid choice for growing our family to my sweet husband. He took a little time to acclimate to the idea and sometime later, we began the tedious, heart-wrenching, frustrating, exciting, unpredictable, spirit-filled, prayerful, humbling, life-changing journey of adoption. If you are ever going to adopt, it is very helpful to relinquish the idea that you have any control of your life...having baby after baby die is helpful in this process, but is not the preferred route.

After one very sad false hope of adoption (which was like a miscarriage without the bleeding), and 2 years of hoping and praying and giving up and hoping again, we received word that we were chosen to adopt a baby boy who would be born in the Sacramento, California area any day. We were shocked and elated!! (And honestly, I was a little concerned it might not be the kid for us because I had always thought we'd get a black or biracial little girl and I couldn't see how this fit my preconceived notion.) It was a hellish month later that our sweet son was born. (I say month because the doctors let his poor birthmom go 3 weeks late.) I say hellish not because we felt conflicted or didn't want him. Of course we did! But I was riddled with fears that it wouldn't really work out. I was crying at unpredictable moments, prone to spastic elation, and carried around a new baby bottle my friend had given me like a security blanket, clinging to this symbol of hope that we would get this new baby. Basically, I was a wreck.

If you were unfortunate enough to be my friend at that time, you will remember that I stopped taking phone calls because every time the phone rang, my heart lept and then fell when it wasn't "the call." (Sorry, Emily.) And if you were an old childhood friend, you'll probably never realize how much your incomprehensible certainty that it would work out convinced me to be hopeful for days at a time when my own faith wasn't enough to go on. (Thanks, Lisa.)

When it finally was time--2 days after Christmas--and it really was "the call" despite my assurance to my mother-in-law that it certainly wasn't when she anxiously answered the phone, we bought tickets, packed up, drove to BWI and were in the air 3 hours later. (It helped being in Delaware and being able to leave Junior Mint with his beloved Grammie.) That night at about 1 a.m. we landed in Sacramento, picked up a rental car and drove to a complete stranger's house who was the mother-in-law of the sister of a friend I met twice at adoption activities in Utah. (Yeah, not exactly a direct connection.) This amazing, loving family started out as strangers and quickly felt like family to me--especially after my husband went home and I stayed with our new son to await approval to cross state borders and return home. (Thank you forever, Kelly family.)

The next morning--before 7 am, I think--we got a call from our social worker instructing us to head over to the hospital because our son's birthmother wanted to go home and we needed to be there with him. Now, don't judge this woman unkindly. She willingly went through a pregnancy whose fruits she would not keep and enjoy because although her child was unexpected, he was not unloved. He deserved a family and she would find him one. She prayerfully chose a family for him and to our eternal gratitude, it was ours. When she had done her part, she felt a deep need to move forward with her life. We met her and her mother, spent time with them talking about their interests and life stories. After our conversation, we went into the nursery and first clamped eyes on our little Curly Fry. I think I insisted that Hubba Hubba get to hold him first. He was a little beauty. After meeting his birthmom, I had high hopes that his hair would someday be curly and it has proven so. (One AWESOME advantage of adoption over biological reproduction is that you are not limited by your genes. I could never have produced a child with such prodigiously beautiful curls as our son has.)

Soon after we met Curly Fry, we returned to his birthmom and said goodbye as she prepared to leave the hospital. We made arrangements to come to dinner at their family home the next day and that was a wonderful experience where we got to meet all the biological relatives around and they got to meet us. I hope they felt comforted that this little boy was going to a home where he would be treasured and loved. We definitely felt grateful to meet this large, loving family and learn so many good things to teach our son about his biological heritage. Anyway, after the birthmom left, we got to spend the rest of the time with our baby in the hospital--about 2 days and 1 night as it turned out.

When I called my mom to tell her we were really there and he was really ours, she asked me how it felt. I think she expected a different answer than what I gave her. I said it felt warm and soft to hold him. I didn't have any lightning bolt experiences with this new son. But it felt right. It didn't take long at all to feel that he was ours and would be forever. And I hope and pray each day that we will live worthy of the blessing of eternity with our family.

As a side note--when we called and told Junior Mint that he had a brother, his first counsel was, "Don't let him catch on fire." Sage advice indeed. We have heeded it faithfully. (I think he was deeply affected by Jack Jack from The Incredibles.) And those two have been the sweetest pair of brothers ever since they first met--despite the 5 year age difference. I am so glad they have each other...and only 14 months later, a sister! But that is a story for another post...


Stephanie said...

Thank you thank you thank you - for sharing that story. I missed that part of your life. I love the way you write and the emotions that I feel as I read.

Your paragraph in there that talked about wanting a sibling for your child - I FEEL that exact same way. It's a tough road sometimes.

Can I say again how happy I am to have reconnected with you?

Linda Kelly said...

Christmas has never been the same for our family without thinking of your wonderful visit into our lives in Sacramento. We were so honored to have you at our home and include us in your special moment of adopting this wonderful little boy. We thought he was and still is one of the cutest little guys we have ever seen and could not believe how HUGE of a newborn he was. You and your wonderful husband are such great parents and examples of what any mother who is considering putting their child up for adoption would want. We are so thrilled that you are still getting little ones added to your family. I just love reading your ups and downs and hope you know that you will forever be in our hearts.

Holladay Family said...

It is experiences like these that testify to me the Power of God to choose FOR US. He knew curly fry was yours. It always was in the plan. The plan isn't always easy (I know) but it is the life we were meant to live. Your curly fry, junior mint (makes me want some when I say that), and squeaky bean are amazing. I love your sweet family and am thrilled when good things happen to you. Love ya. Lisa P.S. I get to see J tomorrow. I am very excited! :)

We Are A Happy Family said...

HOw beautifully put. I am so happy for you and your wonderful family. I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas.

Mike and Kelly said...

Way to make me cry. I love that story. I have a few friends who have gone through the adoption process, and each of their stories are amazing. You and Your Husband are such darling parents. Congrats again. And Happy Holidays.

GrowingRopers said...

i remember "dont let him catch on fire"!!! :) oh...{what do you call THAT kid on your blog again...well, enter HIS name here :) }

GrowingRopers said...

i was laughing about HIM so much that i forgot to comment on the rest of the post.

and now all i can think to say is I LOVE YOU. you are amazing and proof that Heavenly Father blesses us with challenges to GROW. i love you, i love you!

Jessica said...

So I was so surprised to see that you and Linda are still chatting. I think that is great! She is a sweet gal and I know she has done a bunch to help my sister out. I am so glad that everything worked out for you guys two years ago. What a roller coaster of emotions but now your life is filled with so much joy! YEAH FOR ADOPTION!! I was also thinking of your other little one that you lost, wasn't it in Jan. that your sweet daughter passed away? I couldn't remember if it was Jan. or Feb. I think of you every time I drive by the Provo cemetery (especially with snow on the ground). Hope you are doing well.