27 February 2012

She comes home...part 2

 Tuesday, August 30, 2011. Late evening.

The extra-large purple LL Bean duffel bag on wheels is sitting in the nursery where it has remained  (fully packed with all things newborn baby....diapers, onesies, swaddling blankets, pacifiers, car seat base, etc.) since early March. Since our other adoption fell through.

Chris and I never had the heart to unpack the carefully packed duffel bag once we found out that we would not be going to Arizona on March 11 to meet the little baby we thought and hoped would be joining our family.

So there it sat. Waiting for another chance to be used.

And now we arrive home after the madness of this evening: desperate calls from T at our adoption agency...learning that we might be parents to a baby born today in FL...being told that we'd have to get to Orlando tomorrow...telling T at the adoption agency that I'll be heading down to FL...the scramble at my mother-in-law's to get me plane tickets, a rental car and hotel reservations (and having to explain to the hotel that we have no idea how long we'll be there - possibly two weeks or three)...telling our families.

It's all a blur.

Now Chris is unpacking, checking the contents and re-packing the extra-large purple duffel bag.

"I just want to make sure that we didn't forget anything when we packed this back in February."

My husband is a very smart man.

My tired brain is spinning as I try to get my own bag packed. Florida in August. It's going to be hotter than hell. Tank tops. Lots of tank tops. And shorts. And a short black skirt. I try to pack neatly and hope that I've made sensible choices, but figure that I'm not going to a wilderness and can just buy everything I need when I'm down there.

"This is so crazy," I think to myself and apparently I say this out loud as well because I hear Chis pipe up from the nursery, "Yeah, it is."

Soon we're in bed. Staring at the ceiling. Holding hands. Little bursts of slightly hysterical giggling erupt out of us from time to time. And just as many bursts of fear and doubt. What if I get down there and this falls through? How can we go through that again?

Somehow we fall asleep.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chris drives me to the airport. I know it's killing him that he can't go with me right now. He's finishing the last two weeks at his long-time job and preparing to start his new job at a new company. There's no way he can come with me. Assuming that the papers are signed tomorrow and this little baby becomes ours, Chris will fly down on Friday to spend the weekend. And then, depending upon how long I'll have to be in FL (because this is an inter-state adoption there are papers that have to be filed in courts in both RI and FL...it takes time for the various judges to sign off on these things. The adoption agency tells us I could be there up to three weeks.) he'll come back down the next weekend.

We say our goodbyes curbside with a long intense hug.

I head to the counter to check in and check the extra-large purple duffel bag and my big suitcase. Then it's off to the gate. My heart is racing. I'm sweating.

Finally I'm sitting in a chair at the gate with the other passengers waiting to board. Can't read because I'm too keyed up (I usually pass the time in an airport reading) to focus. Can't watch the tv because it's some moronic morning show and I'm too keyed up to focus. Can't do anything except worry about what's going to happen when I get to FL.

Will this all fall apart again?

At last the flight is boarding.

Just as I'm getting near the front of the line my cell phone rings. It's a FL extension. I fumble quickly to answer. It's E from the Florida adoption agency. I hop out of line to take the call.

"Hi Jennifer," says E, "I just need to tell you to not get on the plane."

My heart drops to my feet.

Oh, God. Not again.

"It turns out that your BCI check is expired."

An all too brief sigh of relief is replaced by utter panic.

"What???" I gasp. "I don't understand, we just had our finger prints and everything re-done for our home study renewal. Our social worker told us that everything was all up-to-date. I mean...I'm supposed to be getting on the plane right now."

"I'm sorry, but it looks like your BCI just expired. Without a current BCI we can't move forward."

"So," I say, trying to collect myself, "what exactly does that mean?"

"Well, it means that you need to go get your BCI check done today and then you can come down."

"Oh, God. OK. Honestly, I don't even remember what that is or how to do that," I say, hearing the panic in my voice. "Can you help me with this? Let me know where I'm supposed to go and what I'm supposed to do?"

"Sure, let me get the information and address for you and I'll call you back. Actually, I can text it to you."

I dash to the guy taking the plane tickets and say, "I have to get off this flight immediately. Where should I do that?"

He directs me to the other gate agent a few feet away standing at the counter.

She is very petite with short whitish hair. If I had to guess, I'd say she's in her early fifties.

"I have to get off this flight," I gasp. I must look pretty panicky because she - Carol according to her name badge - asks me if I'm OK.

The whole story quickly comes tumbling out of me - adoption, expired form, having to get to Providence and back, and still make it to Orlando today otherwise we might not be able to adopt this baby. She makes numerous sympathetic noises as I'm talking and emits a number of "omigods", but I can see that she's sincere and obviously concerned for me. Carol kindly checks every available flight to Orlando. Luckily there are seats on every flight.

"I'm just going to put a great big alert about your situation on your reservation. When you get back from Providence just go right to the ticket counter and they'll get you on the next available flight with no hassle. Your luggage is already on this one so it should be there when you get down there."

I thank her profusely and run though the airport to the taxi stand.

"Where are we going?" says the taxi driver, a woman about my age.

"Oh, God," I say fumbling with my phone trying to retrieve the address, "I have to go get this BCI thing in Providence and - "

Before I can even finish my sentence the driver says, "Oh, sure, I know right where that is."


"Yep. Have to get that done myself every year t drive the cab."

"Oh, thank God something is going right today."

She gives me a questioning look in the rearview mirror. So, of course, in my agitated state the whole story comes tumbling out.

"Don't worry," says the driver, "I'll get you there, drop you off and if there's no parking I'll just drive around the block a few times while you're in there. We'll get you back to the airport lickety split."

She really says "lickety split."

The driver chats amiably with me. I hope that I'm actually answering her coherently because all I can think is that I hope this doesn't go horribly south if there's a massive line at the BCI check place and I can't get down to Florida in time.

Miraculously, there is no line. I rush to the window, thrust my driver's license through the little slot and say desperately to the guy behind the glass, "Do you know how long this will take?"

"Bout 5 minutes," and walks away with my i.d. before I can say anything else.

"Oh, thank God!" I say when he returns 3 minutes later with the completed form,  "would it be possible for you to fax it to this number?" I thrust a piece of paper through the little slot in the window.

"Um, we really don't do that, ma'am."

"Sir, please! The thing is - " and I launch into the whole story about having to have the form  faxed or not being able to potentially adopt the little newborn girl waiting for me in FL.

I must look either very desperate or very crazy because he says, "Come on back" and buzzes me through the door.

He hands me off to a lady who hasn't yet heard my tale of woe so I repeat it while she's doing the faxing on an antiquated looking fax machine. Seems like it's taking forever, but finally a beep and a receipt slowly prints out from the machine. She hands me the receipt and the original form. I thank her profusely and dash out of the building praying that the taxi hasn't been driven off by the parking police, but there she is right outside the building with her blinkers on.

"All set?" the driver asks me.

"All set," I say and lean back to try to get my breathing to normalize.

When we arrive back at the airport the driver says, "Not bad - 36 minutes door to door."

"You are awesome," I reply and give her a ridiculously big tip. "Thank you!"

I dash into the airport and rush to the ticket counter. Again, miraculously, no line. And true to Carol's word there's no hassle with me getting on a later flight to Orlando.

An hour later I'm finally sitting on a mostly full flight bound for Orlando taking deep breaths and trying to stop my hands from shaking. We're just about to take off.

"If there's a Jennifer W--- on the plane, please press your call button," a female flight attendant's voice calls out over the intercom. 'Jennifer W---- if you're on the plane please press your call button."

Oh, God. What now?

My hand still shaking I press the call button. And there running down the aisle is little Carol, the lovely gate agent who listened to my story and made sure that I'd have no problem getting on this later flight. She reaches my row and says with a concerned look, "Did you get the form you needed???"

"Yes. Thank you so much!"

"And is it a little boy or girl that you're going to get?"


She gives me a huge hug. I hug her right back and give her a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you again."

"Good luck!!!" she says with a huge grin and then hustles off of the plane. The door closes immediately behind her.

We start for the runway. We head to Orlando.

25 February 2012

She comes home...part 1

It's 2:37 a.m. and before our 5 week-old daughter can wake up her daddy with more "I'm hungry!" cries, I scoop her up out of her bed-top co-sleeper and whisk her off to the nursery for a bottle.

Later, after I've laid my sleeping daughter back in her co-sleeper and I'm settling myself back to sleep next to her, it hits me that I am really a mom. This is the first time in these crazy first weeks of parenting that I scoop her teeny-tiny-not-quite-6-pounds-body out her co-sleeper without worrying about dropping her. Or worrying if I'm doing it "right." Or jostling her too much. Or thinking about how to cradle her head just right against my arm. I do it with absolutely no worries. Automatically. Effortlessly. It's like I've been doing this all of my life...scooping, holding, feeding, rocking, putting her back to bed - all just one continuous series of fluid, practiced, confident motions.

I am a mom.

And now here we are and she's almost 6 months old. She is no longer the tiny, fragile newborn who came to be part of our family right on the heels of Hurricane Irene. Instead, she is a sturdy little person who loves to stand up (still with assistance), bounce like crazy, blow exceedingly spitty raspberries, meet new people (our little girl is a social butterfly), look at everything, gnaw on my face, chew on her dad's fingers, smile, show off the one beautiful dimple she has on her right cheek, and laugh. Oh, how our little Munchie loves to laugh.

"Enjoy every minute. It goes SO fast," is what I heard from every mom I every met when we started the adoption process.

I didn't believe it.

But it's true.

So many times during these six months I think about writing this post. Telling the story of how Chris and I finally came to be parents to our remarkable, beautiful little girl, but somehow never get around to it...not wanting to miss any of my daughter's life.

And in just 5 days she'll be 6 months-old. Where did the time go?

* * *

Hurricane Irene.

We have no electricity. No phones. No hot water. And even our cell phones don't work well enough to place or receive calls because of damage to our town's lone cell tower. Occasional text messages make it through, but even this isn't reliable. Our neighbor has a big honkin' generator, use of which he kindly offers us because he has one extra line available. At least the stuff of the fridge and freezer might make it.

Despite the lack of electricity, phones, hot water and the like, Chris and I feel truly lucky that we did not experience any flooding (been there and done that...don't need to ever go through that again) nor did our house or neighborhood suffer much by way of physical damage. It is hard to get around the first day after the storm because of downed branches, but otherwise we are all safe and unharmed.

So life is inconvenient, but good.

August 30, 2011...Day 3 of no electricity/phones/hot water. Chris texts me with the brilliant suggestion of dinner at a favorite restaurant in the next town over, which has had power restored. I am overjoyed to be getting out of the house.

I arrive early at the restaurant and decide to take advantage of cell availability to check Facebook on my phone. When I turn on the phone I am startled to see multiple voice mail notifications on the screen. No one ever calls me on my phone (I'm a text junkie, but can't stand actually talking on my cell phone. Makes no sense, I know...) Checking my messages I am shocked to hear T from our adoption agency.

My brain goes into overdrive. The words wash over me..."been trying to reach you all day"...."need to speak with you"..."urgent"..."right away"

For a moment I am frozen.

I haven't thought much about the adoption in close to two months. My last blog post was in early July. In truth, I had just put thoughts of adoption away in the far recesses of my brain. After everything that happened in the spring and all of the sadness and doubt I just shut down that part of me...figuring that it was probably never going to happen.

I had given up.

And now T is leaving me desperate messages.

And I'm sitting in my car not calling her because I am stunned.

But finally I pull myself together enough to search the car for pen and paper. Then with shaking hands and a stomach that's doing uncomfortable flip flops I dial T's number. She answers right away.

These are the bits of the conversation I am able to grasp..."have a situation"...."young woman"..."far along in her pregnancy"..."due date September 10"..."no drugs or alcohol"..."she gave birth today"..."healthy baby girl"..."you need to be in Florida tomorrow."


My brain-in-overdrive stops momentarily.

"Omigod," I finally say with an hysterical laugh, "we just got hit by Hurricane Irene. Our house has no power, Internet or phones. We don't even have cell service! The only reason I'm talking to you is because I'm in the next town over and there's cell service here. I'm meeting Chris for dinner. He'll be here in a few minutes. Can we call you back?"

"Of course, but we do need to make a decision about this ASAP because we've showed the mother your profile and two others. If you guys want this then I really want to let her know more about you and everything that you went through this year and how gracefully you handled it."

"Yes, yes. Of course, thank you. Omigod. Ummm...we'll call you back in like twenty minutes."

Chris arrives and I can see by the look on his face that he has also talked to T.

"I couldn't reach you," he says with a slightly wild look in his eyes. I'm sure that I must look much the same.

We both stand outside the restaurant looking stunned. 

"Should we talk about this over dinner?"


And so we sit down in our favorite Mexican restaurant trying to grasp the reality of the situation. 

The timing just couldn't be worse. Aside from the fact that we currently have no power, phones, Internet or hot water, Chris is also just beginning the final two weeks at his long-time job. He's accepted a new position at a different company. There's no way he can go to Florida. Not tomorrow anyway.

We laugh a little hysterically about how awful the timing is.

And then we look at each other.

And we know that we have to do this. 

"We'd be crazy not to do this, right?" I ask Chris.

He nods. "Yeah. We'd be crazy...wouldn't we?"

A few seconds or maybe it's a few minutes pass by. Finally, Chris gets up to go outside to make the call to T. When he returns we somehow manage to get through dinner, although neither of us eats very much as we wait to hear back from T to learn our fate and the fate of the baby born this day. 

Will we be chosen?

We don't have to wait long before T calls with the news that one or both of us need to get on a plane to Orlando tomorrow.

Neither of us cry. We hug. We sit down again in stunned, happy silence. We laugh again at the awful, awful timing and keep saying things like, "This is exactly the way we DIDN'T want this to happen" and "Omigod" and "we don't even have any power at home!"

Then dinner is over and we're outside heading to our cars so we can race to my mother-in-law's house to utilize their Internet (although we haven't told her why) to get me plane tickets and a hotel room in Orlando. But as we make our way to our cars it all gets to be too much and my knees start to buckle.

"I need to sit down," I say to Chris who helps me to the curb. I lean into him and finally sob. The tears that I have been holding inside me for months. "I don't think I can go through it again if this falls through," I say through my sobs. "I can't do it again."

"I can't either."

After a few minutes we manage to pull ourselves together. The rest of the evening is a blur of making arrangements to get me to Florida. (Chris will fly down a few days later for the weekend assuming that everything goes through.) Chris is on his computer dealing with plane and hotel reservations. I'm on the phone with my bank notifying them of potential large charges on my credit cards because I'll be traveling and potentially adopting a baby. Then I call my immediate family to share our news. Needless to say, my family is surprised and delighted (and although they don't say it, I'm sure scared for us knowing what we went through earlier in the year.)

My dad says, "Anything you need. You just call us. Anything and anytime. OK? We love you."

Chris' mom and step-dad arrive home from doing work on their boat to find us ensconced in their kitchen. After a "what's going on?" from his mom Chris explains what's happening.

"What?" says my mother-in-law looking completely stunned, "say that again."

"Jenn is going down to Florida to meet our daughter."

"What?" is all my mother-in-law can say.

At this point...that's kind of how we feel.