First thing Thursday morning Buddy and I had parent-teacher conferences at school. Right after that, we drove home and picked G and Sambo up and immediately left for our first meeting with Rudy's birthmom, R. We had an hour-drive. We stopped en route to get her flowers, and arrived right on time. We were nervous but mostly calm. We have met with enough potential birthmoms to know they are in fact more nervous than we are. Which is a strange thing to experience, considering how nerve-wracking it is to try to impress someone enough that they would want you to be the parents of their beloved baby.
We arrived at her apartment. I left everyone in the car, and went to get her. I gave her a hug and handed her the flowers. She didn't say much, so I tried to engage her 2-year old -- who was one of the cutest little boys I'd ever seen. I had brought him a Thomas the Train, hoping that would break the ice. And it did.
We got in the car, made small talk, and drove to a McDonalds nearby. Once there, the kids played and we ate. Even though we had begged our kids to behave themselves and have excellent manners, they acted like themselves (which means their manners were mediocre at best). I didn't know if this was a good thing or a bad thing. When we met with the other recent expectant mother, our kids were the best behaved they had EVER been. Every time we hung out with her they were charming and adorable and awesome. I kept thinking, "Well at least R is getting to know the real us."
Our meeting was tense. Not because we didn't connect, but it was very apparent she was feeling a lot of stress and was very conflicted. Delivery was right around the corner and although she had prayed mightily to know if adoption was right -- and had received confirmation that it was -- she had the large task of convincing the birth father that her new plan was right. And that we were the right family to raise their baby. She had decided that it was all a matter of good, better, and best. She would be a good mom to her baby. The birth father would be a better parent. But she felt we would be best. We talked a lot about what the birth father was thinking. She shared some texts between the two of them. He wasn't being unreasonable in protesting her change in plans. After all, he had spent the last nine months planning to be his parent. But he didn't understand her prayers, he didn't understand adoption, he didn't know us, and he didn't understand her heart. The whole thing with him was complicated. A few of the things he said to her were cruel, but she was unshaken.
She said that since she had prayed about adoption and knew it was right, he could too and she had faith he would.
Our hearts broke for her. Her decisions were huge and her life was hard. She had a lot of convincing to do to get him on board. And she had no family to support her. But our hearts were also soaring. We were so proud of her already. We could see immediately she was a great mom. Her little boy was well behaved and although she was stressed, she was calm and good to him. She didn't have many questions for us besides discussing openness. We asked her a few things, but mostly we just sat together and told her she had our support no matter what. We made it clear that if she adopted us, we'd be good to her.
We left feeling "fine." We were worried for her, we felt good about our visit. We were mostly glad we had gotten all our Christmas shopping done early because no matter how this ended, we knew the next few days would be a ride.
That afternoon G had his partner's meeting. A coworker hit G's car in the parking lot. It did significant enough damage that we started stressing about how it would work to get it fixed, be down a car, and have a newborn. Luckily they gave him a loaner while it was getting fixed. That evening we went out and celebrated Sambo's birthday.
Celebrating Sambo's birthday. This evening was really fun. Just what we needed!
The next day, Friday, I had a million errands but it was mostly a regular day. Saturday G woke up with the stomach flu. Later that day Sambo got it. And Sunday Buddy got it. I was "this close" to losing it. I had so much to do and sanitizing the house from top to bottom and doing mounds of extra laundry just about put me over the edge. Plus our washing machine was on the fritz. It would seize up and stop working for hours at a time. I texted Rebecca back and forth over the weekend. Thankfully, no baby yet.
Saturday night I ordered a carseat online. It was really, really hard to do -- pure torture. I didn't want to jinx anything by preparing for a baby that was only a vague possibility, but the carseat I wanted (and that would fit in our car) was only available online. I figured I'd donate the carseat to someone who really needed it if things didn't work out. This probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but purchasing that carseat stirred up a lot of anxiety and grief that I didn't even realize I had.
Monday I volunteered at the school. When I went back to the car to wait for school to end and Buddy to come, I had a text from R telling us she would love for us to be the parents of her baby. I stared at my phone, my heart racing, for a few minutes. I had no idea how to respond. For one thing, it seemed surreal. I didn't think it would NOT happen, but it didn't seem realistic, if that makes sense.
Eventually, I texted her back, telling her we were ecstatic and were honored. I felt really unemotional still. I think it was my only way to cope with all that we had already experienced in our 10+ years of pursuing adoption -- and what I knew lay ahead for us.
That day we also learned there were a few more complications. R has some tribal blood which threatened to really complicate matters. A birthmom with tribal blood can't place a baby for adoption without the tribe's permission and they don't give permission easily or quickly. We hired an attorney that day. The agency had already consulted him about some of the complications, so he was already in the loop.
We still hadn't talked any logistics with R. We had no plan for the hospital, we had discussed openness, but not specifics of what she wanted and needed.
Our boys were overjoyed and very hopeful. The smiles that spread across their face anytime they learned of any good news helped keep G and I going. We were so glad we had involved them every step of the way. They were a comfort to R -- a major factor in her considering us in the first place. And they were a huge comfort to us when we had doubts or worries about what would happen. They were so incredibly excited!
Tuesday was a rollercoaster. Our caseworker informed us that the agency director "wasn't hopeful" placement could or would happen because of the birth father, the tribal blood, and the fact that we had no plan for how placement would go if we even got to that point. A few key people spoke with R that day and by the end of the day, she was more resolved and we were feeling better. All along her communication with us was positive, but it became more so. I was starting to feel really overwhelmed, though. Overwhelmed by the stress of the ups and downs. Overwhelmed by the fact that we were 2 weeks from Christmas and still had two birthdays to celebrate. And Overwhelmed by the idea of a new baby. Besides buying the carseat we hadn't done one single thing to prepare for a baby. I started making a list of things that were required to bring a baby home. And I made a list of things that would be nice to do before bringing a baby home. The lists were really long.
That night we fed the missionaries. It turns out that one of the sisters was adopted and has an open adoption. We had such a great talk with her and instantly felt a boost of confidence and hope. I am so thankful for her encouragement that all the stress would be worth it. And that all that stress and prayers were for a baby that would one day be a missionary too. She really put things into proper perspective for us. Plus Buddy participated in our conversation with her, offering his experience with his own adoption. I think it really helped him to feel connected to another adoptee who was confident about her story, and I think it really helped him to be fully educated about the latest with R.
R texted me that evening and said she would be induced Friday morning if nothing happened before then.
Wednesday was a hard day. The reality of the situation really sunk in when we had to fill out some paperwork for placement -- which was tentatively planned for Sunday. We also paid our adoption fee. My stomach hurt all day and I was terribly stressed. It was still surreal. We were going through all the legal steps for placement but my head couldn't wrap itself around the idea. I think I was just really afraid of letting myself go there. Especially since we had not worked out any details about how things would go while R was in the hospital, or how our relationship would work after placement.
That day the boys got tired of begging me to decorate for Christmas, so they took matters into their own hands. Buddy pulled the Christmas bins in from the garage and started decorating himself.
Nobody ate this cake. We didn't even cut it. We were all too nervous. And I just wanted to get the kids to bed so I could collapse.
Thursday was G's birthday. I was really hoping the baby wouldn't come that day. I have never in my life been so overwhelmed. It was all I could do to face the day. If I hadn't been so busy, I would have spent the day in the fetal position. My stomach was in knots, but I did my best to try to make the day good for G. Sambo and I took him treats at work. I baked him a fancy cake. That day I made time to shop for some gifts for R. I got her a scrapbook and gift card to get some supplies to put together the scrapbook, a stuffed dinosaur for her and a matching one for the baby, a beautiful picture of two angels holding a newborn baby, and another train for her son.
Then that night we went out for dinner. I was too sick to my stomach to eat. That night I fell asleep super early in the fetal position on the couch. The next day -- Dec 14 -- was going to be a doozy. And I could hardly face it. There was a baby coming in a few hours. We had a dinner party to pull off that night to celebrate Sambo's birthday with his birth family. My house was a mess. A couple other things were happening that on top of everything else were terribly intense. It was a lot.