Today, November 19, is National Adoption Day. This is my story.
We tried to make our own baby for over eight years. At the beginning of this year I decided I was done waiting for my family. We would still keep trying but it was time to start the adoption process. I was reluctant because I’m a pretty private person except the whole sharing my life on the internet thing I have going. My blog is on my terms and in my words so it is more comfortable. Adoption is a nasty clean out your closets and strip to your undies kind of process. Don’t get me wrong. I fully appreciate wanting to make sure the child is being placed in a safe environment but it does not negate the way you have to fully expose every aspect of yourself for judgement plain and simple.
In January, we attended a meeting of the group our best friends used for their adoptions. The group is not an adoption agency. They supposedly assist you in the adoption process. As far as I can tell, I paid several thousands for a check list of all the work I had to do. The group works with agencies across the country and once you are complete with your home study they give you a list of a few agencies to contact. I know I sound cynical. I guess I am. It is difficult to discover you will pay a ton of money to several entities but the work is mostly done by you! They take your money and your work and compile it. The whole process put a bitter taste in my mouth for for-profit adoption agencies. I have already picked out the non-profit I will be using for our second child.
Sorry to get slightly off topic. We started the paperwork in June. The delay from January to June was our time to stockpile as much money as possible. Adoption is not cheap. I can say we spent close to $40,000 in all. A large bulk of which is a loan we are still paying on. By August, we had our final social worker visit and were waiting for the finished homestudy. Around the first of October our social worker called to let me know she was done with it and I needed to proof the copy she emailed me. I did so and sent it back to her.
Another aspect of our agency is they will occasionally get calls from adoption agencies who have a baby in need of immediate parents. Whether the parent decided after birth to give up the baby or the first set of adoptive parents backed out, there are times parents are needed right away. These are often called agency picks because the agency is saying you are picked for the baby instead of the birth mother. This is what happened to us.
I got an email on Thursday, Oct. 14th saying a month old baby girl was getting out of the hospital the next day in Florida and was in need of parents. For various reasons unrelated to the baby, two adoptive parents had already fallen through. I emailed back we were interested. At this point, we had been ‘not picked’ about 6 times so we had no high expectations. An hour later, while I was standing in the Piggly Wiggly, they called me and said if we wanted her she was ours. I began to freak out and rush around Fedexing off the papers they requested. While doing this my social worker called to tell me she had my homestudy ready to pick up! I told her what was happening. It was total kismet everything was falling right into place. Within 10 hours we had bought a car seat/stroller, got a dog sitter and were in the car driving all night to get to our baby.
The minute I walked into the hospital room and looked at her I knew she was mine. She had to spend the weekend in the hospital because we had to stay overnight with nurse supervision to make sure they felt comfortable we could care for her. Plus, we had to have the mandatory CPR class. I was happy to do this because it is difficult to go from no baby to suddenly having a baby. I felt like I had just taken a ride on a dizzy dummy.
The law requires you stay in the state until someone calls you and says the paperwork is all approved and you can cross state lines. Unfortunately, my husband was in the middle of an important project at work and they had mandatory overtime which meant my husband had to go back to work. This left me in Florida in a hotel room by myself with a new baby. I won’t lie. I was petrified. Baby Bug has colic. For hours at a time she will simple scream and scream and scream. The first two days I was so engrossed in caring for her, I forgot to eat or drink anything. At one point, Heather of The Hopeful Elephant, told me about Mylicon because I noticed Baby Bug had a gas problem. In hopes of stopping some of the screaming, I went in search of this magic elixir. I rolled Baby Bug out to the car to go to CVS. I snapped her car seat in and went to put the stroller in the back. I was so preoccupied I couldn’t remember how to collapse the stroller. In desperation I lifted the whole thing up and tried shoving it into the back of the SUV. After a few minutes of unsuccessfully putting a square peg in a round hole I remembered how to collapse the darn thing. When I finished I looked over to see a man sitting in his car watching me. I shrugged and went to CVS. I figure I was on the new mommy pass. I no longer gave a flying whiffle about what anyone thought except my baby. It was the hardest four days of my life. Being by yourself in a hotel with a screaming baby is beyond difficult and I don’t recommend it. There were times I just sat on the bed rocking the screaming baby and crying. I felt so inadequate.
On Friday afternoon, the phone rang. It was the social workers agency. The woman informed me a few pictures were missing from my paperwork and if I wanted to go home that day I would have to email them in. I freaked out. How the heck do I email pictures when I’m in a freakin’ hotel room but I said ok. Five minutes later, I had shoved Baby Bug into the stroller, loaded the diaper bag and was headed out the door when the phone rang again. ”Our mistake. The pictures were here all along. They had fallen on the floor. You can go home.” I have never packed up a hotel room faster in my life. I was shoving things everywhere. I knew if I could just get home my husband could hold her for a few minutes so I could breath. Two hours later, just over a week and one day after I got the email, I brought home my daughter.
We had nothing except the car seat, stroller and supplies the hospital gave us. I was so overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends, family and fellow bloggers. In no time, we have started to fill up her room. My cousin arrived the day after we got home to spend the week helping me and I will forever be grateful. With her help we painted the nursery, got a crib and assembled it and she took several night feedings so I could get some sleep.
Exactly one month after we brought her home Baby Bug looked up at me. A light turned on in her eyes and she got the largest smile on her face. I sobbed. In that moment, I knew she had bonded to me and claimed me as her mother. I would gladly walk naked thru Central Park and roll in a field of stickers to see the love in my baby’s eyes. It was worth all the paperwork, tears, sacrifices to save money, invasion of privacy and turmoil. A piece of my war torn soul was repaired with one look.