Barbara, Like Sadie, I feel like an ambassador for open adoption. My husband Jeff was adopted in 1963 and we adopted a domestic newborn in…...
Adoption Blog: My Paperwork Pregnancies
An Adoption in Just 24 Hours?
This time of year, I like to reminisce about my favorite Valentine's Day, the memory of which is special not because of any amazing store-bought gifts or romantic meals, but because it was the day that brought my daughter into my life.
A Valentine's Day Surprise
On February 14, 2005, my husband, Paul, and I had been waiting 13 months to be selected by a potential birthmother. This had been a very difficult wait for us, not only because our last good adoption news had come fast—when we had adopted our son, Keith, two and a half years earlier, we had a successful match after a quick and painless three weeks—but also because we were still recovering from an adoption loss we'd had in November. After working with potential birth parents for two months, the adoption fell apart at the last moment. We had never expected to wait so long or to have a failed adoption. Our spirits were not high and I was not in a celebrating-Valentine’s-Day sort of mood.
On the morning of the 14th, I was at a doctor's appointment when my cell phone kept ringing. It was Paul, who rarely calls me. I was so annoyed with him for disturbing my appointment. The doctor, who was also annoyed by the interruption, excused himself so I could return Paul's calls.
Quickly, I could tell Paul was not himself. He said in one breath, “Our adoption agency just called. A baby girl was born yesterday and our profile was sent to the birthmother at the hospital. There was only one other profile to be shown and ours was closer to what the birthmother was looking for. They said we should start preparing to travel to Texas.”
I was in shock. This is not the way I pictured all of this to happen. I was supposed to have time to talk with the potential birth parents. I was supposed to have time to wash clothes and prepare a nursery. I was supposed to have time to set up a dog-sitter and find someone to collect our mail. I hadn't planned for this!
Off We Go!
After driving home from the appointment in a daze, my husband and I began looking up airplane ticket prices. Two hours later, we officially received the "call"—we had been selected to be the parents. Moving in hyper-speed, like from an episode straight from the TV show The Amazing Race, we managed to secure tickets for ourselves, Keith, and my mom, as well as get packed, get the house in order, cancel any appointments, and, within five hours of getting the call, board a plane to meet our newest family member.
After checking into our hotel on Valentine’s night
, all that was left to do was wait—anxiously—until the next morning. We were going to go meet our new daughter! On the way to the hospital, we stopped at Target to pick up gifts for the birthmother, toys (to help pass the time) for our son, and a few baby essentials.
She's Really Ours?
We arrived in the hospital’s lobby at 10 a.m. and called our social worker, who was upstairs with the birthmother.
"The paperwork for the termination of parental rights has been signed," she told us. "She's officially your daughter."
Everything had happened so fast, her words were just words at this point—not the realization that we were now a family of four. My mother was crying with joy, but I was calm and collected. Paul and I quietly headed up to the birthmother’s hospital room to meet our daughter.
I somehow kept my cool through first laying eyes on our baby girl and a brief introduction with the birthmother, but when the birthmother had to rest and we had to leave the room, I grew anxious to hold my daughter. A nurse came to take the baby to the nursery and invited my husband and me to follow. She showed us to what she called our "special place" to be with our daughter—a rocking chair sitting alongside our baby's bassinet. We were so touched by her unexpected kindness, we didn't care that the space happened to be situated inside a supply closet!
I was able to sit and hold my daughter at last, and my emotions surfaced. It’s official, I thought. I don’t have to worry about the birthmother deciding to parent. No more waiting. I’m bonding with my child in a supply closet. I cried like a baby. I had no idea how I ended up in this situation in less than 24 hours but I was so happy to be there. Since we had left so quickly on Valentine's Day and hadn't had time to share the good news with many friends and family, we made phone calls from that supply closet to loved ones who were shocked to hear we had a new family member.
Officially a Family of Four
Two hours later, Paul, my mother, Keith, and I met our agency's social worker in the hospital’s loud and busy cafeteria. We ate lunch as we signed our portion of the adoption paperwork and handed over the big adoption check, all while trying to prevent sticky toddler fingers from touching any of the papers. The chaos of it all—so counter to a more official-seeming image I had in my head of us signing the documents at a big desk—seemed appropriate considering the craziness that led to this adoption.
Soon after lunch, we were able to leave the hospital with our two-day-old daughter, Irena, in our arms. Once we reached our hotel, we finally got to take a breath and appreciate how grand the past 24 hours had been. All of our waiting, stress, worry, anger, and sadness had brought us to this wonderful moment. We were meant to go through those 13 months in order to adopt this beautiful little girl.
This all began on Valentine's Day 2005 and I doubt anything will top it in my mind as the best holiday ever.
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