Thursday, April 18, 2013

Getting Our Girl: Part 3

If Saturday was my peak of labor cry, and Tuesday morning was my "heading to the hospital" prep, then the breakfast room of the Days Inn is our delivery room.  It was in that room that I first met my daughter.

She was standing - well, propped up and supported by her birth mom - on the table.  The room was small and warm with tile floors and one window.  Faith was wearing a fleece dress with purple and blue flowers.  I remember thinking, She seems happy.

We shook hands and greeted her birth parents.  I cooed at Faith and stroked her cheek and she studied me.  I don't remember how long it was before I asked, "Can I hold her?" But then I was - holding my soon-to-be daughter.  She felt simultaneously stiff and floppy.  I cupped my hand around her head and held her close.  I bent my cheek down to rest on her head and soaked her in.  I kissed her and stroked her head.  The Husband was holding Lila and Lila was begging to hold Faith.

What happened next was both my worst fear and a great relief.  We had been warned that Faith's birth parents might not be emotional - that they had resolved themselves to this as the best option for Faith and they may not show any emotion.  As I held Faith, my mom had obeyed what I believe was a nudge from the Holy Spirit to bring Faith's birth mom into an embrace.  In the corner of my eye, I saw them hug and then this mournful wail began to fill the room.  Birth Mom was crying, wailing.  I felt uncomfortable in the exact way I should have felt uncomfortable.  I felt sick to my stomach.  Our joy was her heartache.  Our beginning was her ending.  Our soon-to-be was her almost-over.  I hardly knew what to do.

Faith's birth father took Faith back from me which freed me to hug Birth Mom.  The same wail, the same grief poured from her, and my heart met her in her grief.  Mother to mother.  And then she began to repeat in her moaning, "Thank you, Mommy.  Thank you, Mommy.  Thank you, Mommy."

My heart.  My heart.  I just held her and prayed.  It was horrible and holy.  Beautiful and tragic.  I was so grateful for those words because I just wasn't sure what the tears before had meant.  But now I understood.  I have nothing else to compare it to to help you understand, but somehow I understood how she could be thankful and grieved at once.

It was so...humbling.  It was so holy.

We have a video of this exchange, but I equate it to the video I have of Lila's birth.  I will treasure that video, watch it with a tender heart and cry each time the scene unfolds.  But it is not something I will share with anyone outside our family.  Lila's birth is a bit too graphic - a body laid bare and exposed.  This one is, too.  A heart laid bare.  A deep sadness exposed.

We have been met with mixed reactions when we explain the circumstances of our daughter's adoption.  Most assume, based on what is common culturally, that Faith's birth parents simply did not want her.  This is, without a doubt in my mind, the farthest thing from the truth.  She was wanted.  She was loved.

This assurance brings my heart a strange mix of joy and grief.  Joy because I want my girl to know that her birth family loved and treasured her - that there was no part of her that was unwanted.  I am so thankful that I can tell her without a doubt that she was loved by them.  But I am also grieved because I know that, had their circumstances been different, they would have parented her.  It grieves my heart that any parent might not be afforded the resources and rights to keep their child.  Faith's adoption was in no way coerced or forced, but if her birth parents were born into my circumstances rather than theirs, she would not be our daughter - she would still be theirs.  I cannot, and don't think I will ever be able to, fully reconcile the gratitude I feel that Faith is my daughter and the guilt I feel that she is not theirs.


To be continued...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Today


Today I picked Faith up and propped her on my shoulder and as I did that she somehow got her chubby little arms around my neck and gave me the most swoon-worthy accidental hug.  Then she looked at me and grinned.  And without thinking about it, these words came pouring out of my mouth as tears came to my eyes,

"Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you."

From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

My heart is overflowing today.  I am so very, very grateful that I get to be that baby girl's mommy.  I just can't believe my good fortune.


Our "Getting Our Girl" series will continue tomorrow so check back in then!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Getting our Girl: Part 2

I woke up Tuesday morning and immediately felt sick to my stomach.  I don't know if I was more nervous about meeting Faith or her birth parents.  What if I didn't feel like she was my baby right away?  What if her birth parents didn't like us?  What if Lila misbehaved in front of Faith's birth parents?  What if things just kind of fell apart?  Basically, I felt like I was going to puke all morning.

I took this picture of myself when I woke up and the weight of the day hit me.  I kind of equate it to that last picture you take before going to the hospital to give birth.  Which, ironically, we didn't take during Lila's labor, but there you go.  This was my "I'm about to meet my daughter" face.

I also took this picture of our hotel room.  I don't really know why except that I just felt this urge to document everything.  I imagined myself showing Faith the picture in the future and saying, "This is where we stayed when we came to get you."

The plan was for our adoption coordinator to pick up Faith and her birth parents and bring them to the hotel where we were staying.  Our attorney had arranged for us to use the breakfast room of the hotel for our meeting place.  Our interpreter (the college student our attorney had tracked down) and his college advisor would also be meeting us at the hotel.

We paced the hotel room waiting for our adoption coordinator to call and say that they were there.  I kept looking at the picture that had been the lock screen on my phone for the past three months - the first picture I had ever seen of Faith - thinking "I'm going to meet this baby.  This baby is going to be my daughter."

Finally, the moment had come.  My phone rang and I heard the words on the other line, "We are here."

"They're here!" I said to the Husband.  I reapplied my deoderant for the fifth time, checked my reflection to make sure I looked responsible and motherly and shakily began to walk down the hall.  We snapped one last picture as a family of three, just before we met our youngest daughter:

My mind raced as we walked.  One step closer to her.  I could hear voices at the end of the hall.  Another step closer.  I smiled widely and rounded the corner and there she was - my baby girl.  The image of Faith in her birth mom's arms as the smokey sunlight filtered in from the windows behind them will forever be etched in my mind.  The first time I laid eyes on my daughter.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Getting our Girl: Part 1

Today we hit the two week mark of having Faith in our family and it sort of feels like we have our sea legs.  Faith is doing so well.  To the point where I'm a little afraid things are about to fall apart.  It feels like we cheated.  Isn't there supposed to be some difficult adjustment time?  Maybe there will be and this is just the honeymoon phase, but we're enjoying it nonetheless.
Happy baby
I want to write up a few posts about the week we picked Faith up, but I haven't really had the time or mental energy to come up with the right words to do those days justice.  I'm going to try to start though.  I've already written about the day we found out that the adoption would be happening.  That was a Saturday and we spent Sunday rushing around trying to get our heads to stop spinning and figure out what took priority on our to-do lists.  As of Sunday, we still didn't really know the plan for the week.

Part of the chaos was that the timeline kept changing as we got new information and as the details fell into place.  In fact, the plan changed right up until the last minute.  There were a few things that we were waiting to hear had gotten figured out before we could make plans for making the trip to the town where Faith was living with her birth parents.  We went to bed on Sunday night not knowing if we would be driving the seven hours on Monday or Tuesday.  Or Wednesday or Thursday for that matter.

Monday morning, I called my friend Kathleen and asked if I could drop Lila off at her house for a few hours so that I could run errands and organize my thoughts without an inquisitive and needy three-year-old interrupting my processing.  I found myself meandering around Target buying such necessities as picture frames and curtains.  I simply could not pick up my new baby and bring her home to a room without curtains.  (Never mind the fact that said curtains have since been returned and replaced with different curtains.)  While I wandered, my phone was ringing like crazy.  I kept having to hang up on people to answer calls from other people.

Most of my conversations went like this:
Me: Hey, okay so here's the latest....oh wait hang on, So-and-So is calling me.  Lemme call you back.

We had asked my parents to come with us last minute to help with Lila, so my mom was calling me wanting to know the latest ETD so that she could plan her day.  Our adoption coordinator was calling about every 20 minutes with new information.  Then our attorney would call and tell us the latest from her end.  Then I would call my mom back and to inform her what I had learned, only to have to hang up on her because our adoption coordinator was calling again with a change of plan.  From Saturday on, my phone was dying by 3:00 in the afternoon from the excessive use!

When it was all said and done, we had a plan to leave that evening (Monday), meet Faith and her birth parents the next day (Tuesday), and have Faith's birth parents sign their papers Wednesday morning at which point we would pick Faith up and drive home.

There were multiple miracles that happened for that plan to come together.  As I've mentioned before, Faith's story has several complicating factors.  Not the smallest of which is that her birth parents do not speak English.  A big piece of the puzzle was finding translators to translate the legal documents, and certified interpreter to interpret the information while Faith's birth parents were signing their paperwork.  Then, the icing on the cake was finding someone to interpret for us when we met with Faith's birth parents on Tuesday.

Our attorney was amazing and she ended up cold-calling the community college and asking if they had any international students who spoke Mandarin.  Because God saw fit to leave no stone unturned in this story, we now have a special place in our hearts for a nineteen year old college student named Greg who gave up three hours of his day to interpret for us.  He did a fabulous job and I really don't know what we would have done without him.  At the very least, there's no way I would have the seven pages of notes of what Faith's birth mom told us about her and their family scrawled in my journal if not for him.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's back up to Monday again.

The Husband had been at work trying to tie up loose ends and waiting for a call from me telling him when to head home.  We got on the road a little before 5:00pm Monday night and drove the seven hours through most of Kansas to get to the town where Faith was living.  We got into town exhausted and nervous for the next day, and still pinching ourselves that this was actually happening!  We would be meeting our daughter in less than 12 hours!

To be continued...

Friday, April 5, 2013

8 days

Faith has been our girl for eight days!  She's such a delight.  We are in love.

First swing.  She wasn't quite sure about it at first, but she warmed up to it pretty quickly.
She continues to be a happy baby, although each day feels like she does something different as far as sleeping and eating so I think it will be awhile before we can really figure out what she needs and organize a schedule around those needs.  Which kind of makes feel crazy.  Guess what? I like schedules.  I'm sure that surprises you.

Faith's birth mom came to visit today.  There was some confusion (I thought she was coming Friday), but miraculously my house was clean thanks to my awesome friend Heather who offered to take Lila for the morning so I could pick stuff up without having the Human Destroyer following me around undoing all of my putting away.  I tell ya, that girl show no interest in a toy until I have taken the time to put it away where it belongs.  Anyway, my friend Heather picked Lila up and her sweet kiddos entertained my girl for a good chunk of the day.  Lila came home regaling me with stories of the "camel" that her boyfriend Jude was riding (turns out it was a deer statue) and playing "farm" (I'm still not quite sure if they were pretending to be farmers or animals).  Heather is the best.  Not only did she come to my rescue, but she brought me a Dr. Pepper when she picked Lila up.  Now that's friendship. Heather, you're the best.

The visit with Birth Mom went well.  She was happy to see our house and was very gracious.  She did have a few opinions about things we should be doing differently which I can't really blame her for even if I sort of wanted to defend my ability to make decisions for my daughter.  Right now it mostly feels like we share Faith.  I completely and totally feel like Faith is my baby.  The fact that I'm excited to see her in the middle of the night when she wakes up wanting to eat or that I didn't gag when I got her poop on my hand is proof of that.  But I am also painfully aware of the fact that she has spent eight days in our care and six months in her birth mom's.  I cannot wait for the day when the scales tip in the other direction.  In my mind something magical will happen and all of my hesitations and self doubt will vanish and I will no longer be her adoptive mom, I will just be her mom.

That may not make much sense, but it's the best I can articulate.  Mostly what I want to say is I love this girl:

And I'm so glad I'm her mommy.

Monday, April 1, 2013

How it's going


Miracle of miracles: both my girls are asleep!

Both my girlS!  I have two daughters!  I just still can't get over it!  Imagine not being able to take a pregnancy test (and not having any outward signs of a pregnancy) until 3 days before your due date and then driving 7 hours to the hospital and coming home with a 6 month old.  That's the best way I can describe what just happened in our life.  It's insane in the membrane.  (Remember when people used to say that?)  Also I might be a little bit loopy.

So, the question I keep getting..."How's it going?"

Here's how:

Faith
She's a dream baby.  No really.  Usually the extent of her grumpiness is a scrunched up face and a little squawk of protest and then she just looks at you expectantly like, "I'm sorry to inconvenience you, but would you please change my diaper?" or "I think I might be getting a little sleepy.  Would you bounce me just a bit and I'll just close my eyes and be asleep in two blinks."

To be honest, I'm kind of waiting for the excrement to hit the air circulating device.  If you know what I mean.

We are slowly learning her.  We have discovered she likes being swaddled and that she is particular to a certain bottle nipple.  She likes a bink but isn't all that adept at keeping it in her mouth which appears to frustrate her greatly.  She scowls at it after it has popped from her mouth and waves her hands frantically toward it.

Faith pretty much sleeps, then eats, then coos at us and stares wide-eyed at our ceiling fan, then gives her little "I'm-sorry-to-bother-you" squawk and then goes to sleep again.  We cycle through those steps 3-4 times a day and then she sleeps mostly through the night.  She's a little fitful some nights (3 out of our 5 nights so far she's ended up in bed with us because I got tired of walking the 15 inches to her pack-n-play.  Yep.  I'm lazy in the middle of the night.)

She sleeps an awful lot and I'm just not sure if she's a baby who needs a lot of sleep or if it's her way of coping with the stress of being whisked away to a new home with new parents, new smells, new language and a very enthusiastic 3-year-old sister whose idea of showing love is squishing cheeks and "handing" (throwing) her toys.  Only time will tell.  But even if it is her coping method, I'm just grateful she chose such a peaceful approach rather than - oh I don't know - screaming her brains out all day long.  Thank you, Sweet Baby.  You're very nice to your Mommy.

Gratuitous cute baby picture:
Leg rolls? Yes, please!

Lila
Lila has done 80% awesome.  She loves to hold Faith and help feed her.  She strokes her cheeks and says, "Hi, Beautiful Girl!"  She brings her toys and is distressed when Faith is upset.  We've had a few "moments" when she's dissolved into tears, but because Faith has been so easy, I have been able - for the most part - to be attentive to my big girl's needs.  If Faith was crying non-stop, I'm sure I would be having a much harder time staying calm and patient for Lila.  I have tried to be intentional with my time with Lila - going on a walk just the two of us - and verbally praising and encouraging her.  I try to give her words for the big emotions she's feeling, "It's hard to share Mommy.  You've had me just to yourself for a long time and now you have to wait sometimes while I help Faith and that's frustrating isn't it?"  And I have several play dates set up for her so she can get out of the house.
On our walk.
On a bike ride with Pop.  Tights, sparkly shoes, a jean jacket and Pop's hat.  Who needs pants?

I think it's starting to sink in that this baby is here for good.  The other day she asked, "Soooo, where is she going after this?"  As though we were taking our turn with her and then someone else would get to play family with her.  I had been expecting a question like that because no amount of talking about the baby that we may or may not be able to adopt would really solidify the finality of having a sister in a pre-schooler's mind until it actually happened.  She seemed to take the news that Faith was not moving on to another house pretty well.  She moved on rather quickly so I'm taking that as a good sign!
Faith's face is priceless - total ambivalence.  I think she's thinking, "I guess this is happening."

The Husband and Me
We are doing great.  Our crazy week last week also happened to coincide with an equally crazy week for the Husband's job so he wasn't able to take off as much time as we were hoping.  He went back to work today which was hard on all of us, but we are grateful that we had a whole week together last week and four days just the four of us.  I think having him home made it much easier on Lila.  She loves it when we are all home together.

Because Faith is sleeping so well, I think we have both been surprised by how well we are functioning.  I'm not gonna lie, it's really nice to be able to add a baby to the family and not have to go through the really exhausting weeks of no sleep.  It takes a LONG time to catch up from that - I remember that vividly from Lila's infancy.  Faith is sleeping in our room for awhile so that does limit our ability to have any kind of adult conversation or even to watch a movie together so I kind of miss him.  But we know it's for a season and, like I said, we're so glad she's sleeping well and we are taking advantage of getting good sleep while we can, knowing that Faith may decide that she'd rather not sleep through the night at any point.

In other news, our credit card number was stolen so we've had that helpful little issue to deal with.  And Franny (Wha? We have a dog?!) is depressed because she's realized she just got bumped another notch down on the totem pole of importance around here.  Aaaannnd my house looks like a tornado hit it.  Or that we've been robbed.  Or that our dressers and closets and Lila's toy boxes vomited all over.  It's a mess.  And Faith's birth mom is coming to visit on Friday so I have to get everything cleaned up by then! Eek!

Also, I have about 6 posts started that keep getting interrupted, so I'm hoping to be able to fill you all in on the details of last week and to talk a little bit about our "attachment" plan for our first few weeks as a family.  Here's a great explanation of what attachment is and why it's important in adoption:

Attachment, which is a big buzz word in the adoption community, is the connection that the child has with the parent- in which the child completely trusts the parents and allows the parents to meet the needs of the child. This is typically a natural process for biological children, but adopted children (even a child adopted at day 1 in the hospital) have already experienced some major losses that can interfere with the attachment process.

That quote is from the blog "Saying Yes to Adoption" and Rebekah wrote a great post about attachment that I encourage you to read it if you are curious to understand a bit more.  I will write a bit about our plan soon.  

Gotta go!  My girls (TWO!) are up!

P.S. Faith's adoption will be finalized at the end of the month (!) and we think we still need about $2000 to cover all of our expenses.  Check out our Etsy store, our t-shirts, our puzzle pieces and spread the word!  We believe God will tie everything together and we are so grateful for your help.  Thank you!