Adoption Adventures

Follow Cory and Rebecca on their quest to adopt!

The Big Update Part II

And now for the thrilling Part II of our adoption tale!

When we left off, Katherine’s birth mom-to-be was in labor, and the plan was for Cory, me, and the adoption coordinator to visit her in the hospital once the baby was born. I got a call while we were having lunch from the adoption coordinator. She said that Katherine’s birth mom was requesting that I be in the delivery room with her and her mother. This was definitely a change of plans since for the weeks we had been communicating, she stated that she really just wanted her mom with her. And who could blame her? But she said that she thought it was important that I be with Katherine from the very beginning, so of course I accepted the invitation. I told the adoption coordinator that I would be honored to be there, and that I would also be completely open to leaving if Katherine’s birth mom wanted to kick me out at any point. Although we were part of the adoption plan she created, first and foremost this was a young woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and facing a situation that was both emotionally and physically difficult. Anything she wanted me to do was fine with me.

A scenic view from our trip (rather than photos of needles)

A scenic view from our trip (rather than photos of needles)

Now, those who know me understand that I don’t do so well with needles, blood, thinking about the fact that there are skeletons within all of us, etc. When completing our adoption home study and updates, I drove all around the county and ended up getting our mandatory HIV tests at methadone clinics because they were the only places that offered the cheek swab test rather than one that requires a blood draw. (That was actually pretty great because I got to spend half an hour each time talking with nurses so passionate about their jobs helping folks through addiction.) And now I had just a few hours to prepare for being in a real, live delivery room. The up-side about this particular type of medical situation is that I’ve worked for several reproductive health and rights organizations, so I was much better prepared for witnessing childbirth than, say, open heart surgery. I texted a former labor and delivery nurse friend for tips on not vomiting or passing out and was told “don’t lock your knees.”

We headed to the hospital around 4pm and got to spend time with Katherine’s birth mom-to-be, her mother, and her grandmother. Cory stayed with us until the contractions got strong and nurses began checking on Katherine’s birth mom more frequently. I won’t go into all the details, but will say that Katherine’s birth mom was AMAZING as she went through the tough process of giving birth to a surprisingly large baby. I got to be part of her support team and was right in the middle of things–not just standing on the sidelines. It wasn’t until she was pushing that we all found out she had only seen people give birth on TV, where an actress pushes once or twice and then her doctor holds up a magically clean and alert baby. Things got even more dramatic once the doctor could see that Katherine was larger than expected and NICU nurses were called in just in case the baby sustained any injuries (like a dislocated shoulder) while making her way into the world. Katherine’s birth mom powered through the pain and Katherine was born–shoulders intact–just before 10:00 that night. I managed not to lock my knees (thanks, Sarah!) and the only time I thought I might pass out was when the doctor asked who was cutting the cord and I heard Katherine’s birth mom say, “Rebecca is!” And then the doctor handed me blood-covered scissors, and then this vegetarian was cutting through an umbilical cord. (It seems odd that that particular medical procedure is an “honor” given to the untrained.)

Things moved pretty quickly after that point. Nurses whisked Katherine away to check her vital signs. They called me over to the baby warmer and handed Katherine to me. Aside from the medical staff, I was the first person to hold her. The adoption coordinator called Cory in soon after Katherine was born and he got to hold her, as well. Although I’d like to say it was the most beautiful, tear-filled moment of my life, the truth is there was so much going on that it was hard to get too emotional at that point. Our concern for Katherine’s birth mother was equal to our love for this new baby. How could we shift our focus so quickly to Katherine when the doctor and nurses were still working on her birth mom across the room? It was surreal to her, as well. Soon after the doctor left, Katherine’s birth mom was already saying, “Did all of that really happen???” Additionally, at this point Cory and I were legally nothing more than family friends to Katherine. The earliest her birth mom could sign relinquishment paperwork was 48 hours after her birth, or once she got a discharge order from her doctor. All births are emotional, but these circumstances added a few more layers. Cory and I stayed with Katherine and her birth mom for another hour or so, then stumbled out to the parking garage and headed back to our rental home.

Day 2 of air breathing

Day 2 of air breathing

We headed back to the hospital the next day. After a few hours’ sleep, we were all in a better position to enjoy spending time together and learn more about this new baby! The highlight of that day was when Cory and I got to spend time with just Katherine and her birth mom. Katherine’s birth grandmother had to work that evening, so it was just the four of us. While Katherine slept, the “grownups” talked about favorite books, movies, holidays, and just generally got to know one another better. Katherine’s birth mom told us more about how she came to make an adoption plan. She approached it with such maturity and selflessness. She looked into all of her options and found that adoption was the best choice for her and for her baby-to-be. Seriously, people with ten and twenty years more life experience than this young woman don’t possess the same amount of self-awareness and goal-setting abilities for themselves as she does. Katherine is so lucky to have the birth mom and adoption story that she does, and we’re so looking forward to telling her about the conversations we all had that evening.

The following day, Katherine’s birth mom signed all the necessary paperwork to move her from a “mom” to a “birth mom” and Katherine came into the care of the adoption agency. Later that day, Cory and I went to the adoption agency office and signed our own paperwork to have her placed with us. In the coming months the Florida courts will formally terminate the rights of Katherine’s birth parents, and then finalize our adoption. Until then, we operate pretty much as any other parents do. We had to stay an extra couple of weeks in Florida while FL and NC okayed Katherine’s placement with us, then were free to come home near the end of July.

We’re so grateful for open adoption because it alleviates much of the fear that parents in closed adoptions may feel during this legal waiting period. We’re in ongoing contact with Katherine’s birth mom and can continually assure her–through photos and answering questions about the baby–that she made a great choice. We also get to hear how she is doing (currently excited that she can once again fit into her “skinny jeans” and looking forward to starting back at a new school!). We’re so honored that she chose us for Katherine, and thrilled that our relationship with her gets to continue into the future.

First family selfie

First family selfie

So that’s the short version, folks! We’re back home, our family and friends have been so excited to welcome Katherine with open arms, and even the cats seem happy to have her. (Until she gets to the tail-pulling phase, at least.)

 

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Gearing up!

Families waiting to adopt have different opinions on whether or not to buy baby things before they are matched with a potential birthmother or otherwise have a good idea that a baby is on the way. Some are superstitious about purchasing anything baby-related at all until they have a little one in their arms. Others jump right into decorating a nursery so that whenever they and their baby find each other, their home will already be ready and waiting.

We're not here yet

We’re not here yet

For the most part, we’ve walked the line between the two by not getting too caught up in the world of baby buys, while also taking advantage of good deals when we see them. I’ve shopped for end-of-season baby and kids’ clothes when they hit 80% off at Kohl’s for years. At first I would donate everything to a local nonprofit organization where social workers can “shop” for their young clients. These days, I tend to hold a few outfits aside for our future child and donate the rest.  If the items I’ve kept turn out to be the wrong size or season for our child, someone else will surely be able to use them. We’ve largely stayed away from larger purchases up to this point. We ordered a crib that was on sale around the time our new homestudy was finalized with our agency because it matches the twin bed set that I inherited from my grandmother. Again, if we end up not needing it, someone will. Nonprofit groups tend to not take used cribs because of safety issues, and it’s very rare for people to donate brand new ones–even though they’re always needed.

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Well of COURSE it’s the top-rated car seat! What do you think we’ve been doing all this time if not researching?

Speaking of safety issues, waiting to be chosen for adoption has given us plenty of time to do a lot of baby item research. Consumer Reports? Online reviews? “Best-of” product lists? Yeah–we’ve read ’em, compiled the data, and determined the best of the best. Pushing past the super cute patterns or mod designs to get to the most solid and safe baby products around will not be a problem for us. I’ve even been able to help out with product research and advice for some of our pregnant and newly parenting friends! Most of the research has merely resulted in a lot of Pinterest pins for us.

However, our thinking on buying other big items has shifted a bit recently, because early next year we get to go on our adoption agency’s “Last-Minute Hospital List.” That means that we’re eligible to get a call when a woman contacts our agency from the hospital, where she is about to or has already given birth and wants to make an adoption plan. If we get a last-minute call from our agency, it means we’ll only have a few minutes to decide if we’re ready to possibly become instant parents! (This concept kind of terrifies Cory, but I’m all for it.) A combination of our going on that list, some great Cyber Monday sales, and the power of positive thinking led to a big ol’ box containing a carseat and stroller being delivered to our driveway just now.

We’ll most likely remain in a state of prepared-but-not-overly-so readiness for the foreseeable future. Don’t come to our house looking for an immaculate nursery. But if you want, I can show you our hidden stash of baby goods.

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Book It!

A friend posted about her favorite Easter picture book this weekend (The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes), which took me down the rabbit-hole (tee hee) looking for it online. Amazon is so “helpful” to suggest other similar items to the one you’re seeking, so I wound up ordering The Country Bunny and two other classics before putting a stop to the spending. Some adoptive-parents-to-be stock up on baby clothes and toys. We’re more book people.

Cory’s fondest children’s book memories involve Bunnicula, the rabbit who sucks the juice out of vegetables, vampire-style. Bunnicula has a whole series. The books are told from the point of view of a family’s dog and have excellent titles like The Celery Stalks at Midnight and Howliday Inn.

Alexander

Bunnicula, Chester, and Harold

Growing up, I loved Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It’s the story of a day in the life of Alexander in which everything goes awry. He wakes up with gum in his hair, there’s nothing but breakfast cereal in his cereal box (no toy), his dentist finds a cavity in Alexander’s mouth, and the shoe store doesn’t have the shoes he wants in his size. Alexander manages despite these atrocities and resists the urge to move to Australia. The line drawing illustrations in the book tell the story as well as the words do, keeping young readers and listeners doubly engaged.

It wasn’t until later that I discovered what may be my favorite children’s book these days: Corduroy. Young Lisa saves up her money to buy a little bear in green overalls. Her mother doesn’t understand Lisa’s interest since the bear’s overalls are missing a button and he doesn’t look new. But Lisa sees something special in him and knows that Corduroy will be a good friend. My favorite part of the book is when Lisa sews a new button onto Corduroy’s overalls, telling him, “I like you the way you are, but you’ll be more comfortable with your shoulder strap fastened.”

We don’t know much about our future child, but we do know that she or he will be well-read!

How about you? What’s your favorite children’s book?

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