We reluctantly wrapped up our conversation with Faith's birth parents Tuesday afternoon, March 26th. It had been a whirlwind few days. I went from crying in my car Saturday morning, afraid the adoption was going to fall through to reading and re-reading an email Saturday afternoon that told us to pack our bags and buy some diapers! We nailed down details Sunday and Monday and by Monday night we were on our way to Liberal, KS to meet our new daughter and her birth family. The seven hour drive was enough to exhaust us, but I still barely slept Monday night, knowing that I would be meeting Faith the next day.
Tuesday was equally as exhausting, but more emotionally exhausting than physically exhausting. As much as I couldn't wait to have Faith with me, I was grateful that we had an evening and night to rest and recover before taking custody. I was also grateful that Faith's First Parents had one last night with her after meeting us. I hoped and prayed that they slept that night with peace in their hearts about their decision.
We went to dinner and Lila fell asleep in my arms before our food even came which is sooooo unlike her! That girl was pooped!
We woke up the next day and packed our bags, waiting for word that Faith's birth parents had signed their parental rights waiver. The wait wasn't long and to be honest, was a bit anticlimactic! Susan, our adoption coordinator called and said, "It's all signed. They're ready for you to come get her." With nervous hearts we drove to the little house where Faith had lived with her First Parents for the last three months. We took this picture on our way. You can see the exhaustion in my eyes, my face puffy from lack of sleep. I was ready to get my baby and go home to start our life as a family of four!
We pulled up to the house and I snapped a picture. I imagined flipping through a photo book with Faith when she's older and pointing to that house saying, "That's where you lived with your Mama and Baba." I love the hazy blur from the sunlight, like a picture of a memory.
Faith was napping when we went inside. She had about four layers of blankets on top of her and I mused inwardly at the stark difference in cultures - one that fears cold and one that fears suffocation! I'm convinced that to this day, Faith's First Mama worries that I don't keep her warm enough! This week she asked me if I brought a blanket to drape over her while she napped in her carseat! Evidently even in 90+ degree heat, babies need to be bundled! I was informed by our social worker (who has spent quite a bit of time in China) that this is very cultural which was a relief to know!
My heart tweaked with empathy as I watched them empty their room of baby things. They packed up their stroller, their bouncy seat, bags of clothes, the pack-n-play, blankets and diapers and lotions and bottles. Little by little the room held fewer signs that a baby lived there and I wondered how long it would be difficult for them to enter the room without a pang of grief at its sparseness and lack of baby paraphernalia.
One last poopy diaper was changed, one last rub-down with Aquaphor.
One last snuggle and kiss.
One last family picture.
And then we were loading her into her carseat and clicking her into the car. We were hugging our fellow parents one last time. We left them standing at the end of their driveway with their arms around each other, weeping. It was horrible. Horrible. I sobbed as we drove away. I said something like, "It shouldn't feel like this." I kept looking back at the carseat holding my new daughter who had no idea what the hell was happening to her. I couldn't get myself to believe the reality of what was happening - that I had a new daughter which was supposed to be a really happy thing, but I couldn't get her weeping birth parents out of my mind.
That began to change when we got back to the hotel. Lila held Faith for the first time and I started to see the future a bit despite the present.
She took her first nap in my arms.
We began what would become the Great Bottle Battle (girl does not like her bottle due to reflux and generally pickiness). And mostly, we just fell in love again and again and again.
And yet, I still couldn't get those sweet people out of my head - standing at the end of their driveway, watching us drive away with their baby girl.
To be continued...