I wanted to take this naptime to write down Claire’s story…or at least the parts I know. Word is leaking out about her adoption. It’s a lovely phenomenon. It’s a relief to know that in this world of email – texting – Facebook – blogging – Skype – etc that a person can still have a private life. Our adoption journey has been in the works since we got married and is very personal. We are happy to talk about it to anyone, but neither of us felt it was something that belonged in flippant status posts or venting blogs. Our adoption is not just about us, after all. It’s about Claire and Evelyn, too.
About a year ago – almost exactly, in fact – Andrew and I flew out to Seattle to attend a workshop at Open Adoption & Family Services. They are based in Portland, but we have been working through the Seattle office. I heard about them through a family portrait session – Jason & Jeff, I cannot thank you enough for your candor to my nosy questions. It’s an incredible agency – we had sat through a few different agency presentations and all left me with a sick feeling in my stomach, knowing that these were NOT people who held the same values as me. OAFS dispelled tons of my fears and advocated on the bits that really mattered to me (which I may or
After an intense weekend learning about open adoption, the process ahead, and starting on our home study, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We got reference letters (Thank you – each and every one of you – for your willingness to fabricate – er, I mean come up with – such nice things to say about us). We updated our physicals, faxed in documentation of financials, insurance, health histories – you name it. We even had to write autobiographies to help birth families “get to know us.” It may not sound difficult, but just try it sometime… And, the kicker, I had to put together a photo collage that depicted our lives (I cannot tell you how agonizing the selection process was!). In May we were officially in The Pool. We expected it to take a few years to be selected, so we relaxed.
Just a month later, we got distracted. When starting this process, we agreed that Andrew wouldn’t entertain any job offers unless we could either keep working with our same local Wisconsin agency or if it involved a move to Seattle. Lo and behold, a cold call to Seattle landed on his desk. How strange. We couldn’t help but laugh.
In August or September, I forget which, we put ourselves on hold with the agency and prepared to move. Since the cold call came in, I hadn’t really thought about adoption at all.
After we got settled into our new home, we started updating our files. It took forever. Mostly we hit a snag getting records from our WI agency to Seattle, which was unbelievably frustrating. I got to pull out my “nasty lady on the phone who earns sticky notes on someone’s desk” persona. But, last Thursday, we got an email from our AMAZING counselor asking if we were ready to be presented to families, as our file was now complete. We said yes.
Less than five hours later, after dropping off some paperwork at the Mazda dealership on our new car, I got a message from Maria asking me to call when I got a chance. I racked my brain with what could possibly still be missing from our file and was shocked to find Andrew already on the line and Maria telling us that we’d been Selected. Already.
As this is not just my story to tell, there will always be pieces missing from the internet. We do try to keep it polite, you know – eventually these little girls of ours are going to grow up and I don’t want to give them another reason for therapy! I can say that we met Claire’s birth parents and they are really nice people. We are looking forward to building a relationship with them in the future and hope that Claire will always have access to her biological roots. But, at the time of the call, we learned that a little girl had been born at 10:40am on Wednesday, 2/20, and her parents had decided that adoption was the best plan for her. We got to the hospital as soon as we could, doing our best to explain “adoption” to Evelyn on the way. We’d managed to keep her attention through exactly one conversation about it to that point. Turns out she was totally on board. (Whew!) We spoke with Claire’s birth parents for a few hours, then we agreed to move ahead.
The birth parents left the hospital shortly after our meeting, but I didn’t emerge for a few days. Baby Girl (still unnamed) needed some TLC, so I started rooming in immediately. The nursing staff was incredibly helpful and supportive as I tried to wrap my brain around what was going on. It’s so hazy – I only had the clothes on my back and Andrew’s clean workout clothes that he’d through to bring. Smelling like Old Spice and wearing an odd combination of leggings, Christmas socks, and Andrew’s undershirt, I started bonding with this amazing little girl. Evelyn, thrilled beyond measure to have “her own baby”, threw a gigantic tantrum at the prospect of leaving without her sister. In the end, we made it work, and it continued like that until Saturday evening.
At that point, Baby Girl showed some signs that she needed a step-down NICU center, so we were transferred to a new hospital. She was never life threatening, just in need of some continued TLC. Thankfully I was warned ahead of time, as I watched this precious creature loaded into an incubator for her ambulance ride. Andrew, Evelyn, and I went home for a solid night’s sleep.
We have been taking turns at her bedside ever since. She is doing amazingly well, with a quicker turnaround than many expected. She still has a ways to go, but we continue to celebrate her “baby steps.” While I am so sad that she has to go through some of this, it does give me time to concentrate just on her, rather than going home almost immediately and balancing both girls’ needs. Also, it gives us a minute to assess the house and pull together the needed baby things. We saved some of Evelyn’s things….but one forgets how much *stuff* is involved with a newborn!
On Monday the paperwork was filed with the courts giving us legal custody of our sweet baby girl. While our adoption will not finalize for a few months, we already function fully as her parents. It’s an amazing and beautiful feeling. I have no idea who she is or what she’s about yet, but that’s fine by me. It was the same with Evelyn, really. I didn’t recognize my eyes or nose or cheeks in her – I just saw her as herself. She’s not part of Andrew, part of me…. she’s Evelyn. This is Claire. I’m so excited to see who this little person will become.
Life changes in instants and usually happens while we’re making plans. Honestly, I am so thankful for the craziness. When Andrew and I are old and sitting on our front porch, we won’t ever have to say, “I wish we’d done a little more with our lives.” No sir – not us. While her entrance into our family was a bit shocking, she is fiercely loved and our family is finally complete.