Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kennedy Elizabeth

When we arrived at the hospital, we went to the room where our birth mom was staying. She had some pain medication and was doing well. Her family was there with her and it was great to know that they were so supportive of her. What a special family they were!

Our room wasn't cleaned and ready yet, so they were nice enough to let us be in their room with them. We talked and chatted while we waited for it to be time for the baby to actually come. Everyone at the hospital was so nice and the nurses were great. They were all so respectful of us as the adoptive parents and I was really impressed with how the hospital was so sensitive with everything since they knew an adoption was taking place.

After several hours of waiting, it was time for the pushing to begin. We were not in the room when our baby was born, but we were right outside the door with some of the birth mom's family. We heard it when the baby came out screaming and everyone that was waiting in the hallway started crying. It was one big emotional mess out there!

Our baby girl Kennedy Elizabeth arrived at 3:48 PM on May 3. She was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen! We knew that our baby girl would be pretty since both of her birth parents were good looking people, but never thought she would be as beautiful as she was! What a blessing to have a healthy baby arrive and be able to experience it all with her birth family.

After a few days in the hospital, Kennedy was ready to go home with us. We had spent the entire hospital visit with the birth family and got to know them so much better. They got to meet some of our family as well and everyone seemed to really get along. There was nothing weird or uncomfortable about the situation. We wanted to be really respectful of our birth family and make sure that they got to have lots of private time with Kennedy. We exchanged special gifts with them and decided together that when we left the hospital, we would not say goodbye. We would just say "see you later" as we knew that we wanted to have visits with them in the future.

The day that Kennedy was being released from the hospital was an emotional day. I was so excited to take her home, but scared at the same time. I was also very emotional thinking about our birth family and knowing how hard it would be for them to watch us leave with Kennedy. It was a very smooth process and when we left the hospital and loaded Kennedy into our car, we all hugged and cried. We reminded each other that we would not be saying good bye. My heart broke for them as we were getting ready to leave, but I also knew that they were strong people and would be okay. Kennedy's birth mom had a look on her face that I will never forget and we asked her if she wanted to get in the car and give Kennedy one last kiss. She did and I'm so glad she did because I wouldn't have wanted our hospital stay to end any other way.

It's been 7 weeks since that day and our story in no way, shape, or form ends here. Over the past 7 weeks, we have formed such a great relationship with both birth parents and their families. Each are very different and special in their own way. Open adoptions often seem odd to people on the outside and until you have experienced one first hand, you really don't know what they are like.

We think that our situation is so special and when people ask us about visiting with our birth family and communicating with them often, they think it's odd that we are so open with them. People don't understand our relationship and that's okay. The relationship we have with them is private and our own to hold on to and we don't expect people to get what it's all about. They are like an extension of our own family and I'm sure the relationship will change and grow over the years.

We've always said that a child can't have too many people that love them, so to include Kennedy's two birth families in her life just seems like the right thing to do. She will never have to wonder where she came from or if her birth mom and dad loved her. She will always be able to get answers to questions about her adoption from us and that will make her a happier, healthier child as she grows up. We can't wait to share her with her birth parents as she grows because if it weren't for them, she wouldn't even be here. They have given us a gift that we couldn't give ourselves and for that, we will always be grateful.

I pray for Kennedy's birth parents each and every night. I pray that they someday know what a special thing they did for us. I pray that they will someday have families of their own and be able to reach all their goals and fulfill all of their dreams. I pray that they forever hold Kennedy Elizabeth in their hearts, as we hold them in ours. I thank God for bringing them & Kennedy into our lives for our lives are better now that they are all in it.

Anxiously Waiting

At the end of our dinner with our birth mom and her parents, they asked us if we would like to come to her next ultrasound. I personally was so excited to go because the only ultrasounds I had ever had were for things having to do with our IVF procedures and I really wanted to see the other side of things not dealing with infertility. We were very taken aback that they even wanted to include us in that experience and it just showed us once again what nice people they were.

The day of the ultrasound I left work early and Eric skipped out on track practice to be there. It was really important to us that we be there to support the birth family because we knew that it was just as hard for them to be in this situation as it was for us. They too had been on a difficult journey to get to this point...a very different journey then us, but a difficult one no less.

The ultra sound went really well. It was fun to see our baby on the screen, but I teared up a bit just out of wanting it to be me on the table, not our birth mom. It was just one more thing that I wasn't going to be able to do. I wanted more than anything to be at an ultrasound because I was carrying our own child and I was surprised at the emotions that came up again being in those offices. I felt guilty having tears rolling down my face knowing that I should be really excited and happy that our birth family was even allowing us to be at the appointment with them.

At the end of the appointment, the birth family let us have the ultra sound pictures to keep. I felt bad taking them because it all still felt surreal and didn't quite feel like our baby yet. It was like taking something important away from them and I didn't want to do that at all! We did end up taking the pictures and now I am glad we did because we will have them forever and can share them in the future with our baby.

As we were talking and getting ready to leave, we decided that we wanted to tell them the name we had chosen. They told us at our initial meeting what the sex of the baby was, but we had decided to keep it a secret from our family and friends. We wanted to surprise them at the birth and wanted to have something to hang on to as our own until the baby was born. I remember telling our birth family the baby's name and seeing the smile on our birthmom's face made me know that we had chosen a good one! They really liked the name and that made us feel good. We felt like we were all on the same page and could continue to move forward with the process.

Sometime between the ultrasound and the birth, we again met for dinner. This time we met our birthmom's aunt and uncle. It was great to meet more of their family and know that she had such a support system behind her. Every time we were around them, I was reminded that she was only 17. I kept thinking about what I was doing when I was her age and I'm not sure I could have handled this type of situation as well as she was. She seemed to be doing really well, but I know that going to school each day and being around her friends while pregnant could not have been easy. I wanted to reassure her that everything would be okay and we would be there to support her, but we didn't know her that well yet and I didn't want to overstep our boundaries. I so wanted to just hug her tight and tell her how proud I was of her for the decision she was making. I did finally hug her at one point (can't remember when) and told her some of the things I had been wanting to say for a long time.

There was only about a month or so between the time that we met the family and when the baby was due. We had just enough time to finish our nursery and begin to gather the things we would need to have for the baby when we came home from the hospital. At first I thought we wouldn't have enough time to get ready, but now looking back, it was the perfect amount of time. I don't think I could have waited much longer, so it worked out well!

With a social worker from our agency, the birth family made a hospital plan. They were kind enough to include us on the plan and we would be able to have our own room and be notified by a nurse when she went into labor. When the due date got close, we started taking our phones to bed with us and I kept my phone out on my desk at school. I always had it on vibrate so that it wouldn't disrupt my classroom. It was SO hard to not look at it every second to see if we had a message!

Then one day I was just teaching and going about my everyday classroom business when for some reason I decided to look at my phone. It had buzzed but I didn't hear it because my kindergarteners were loud and busy working. I didn't recognize the number, but there was a message so I checked it. It was a nurse from the hospital calling to say that our birthmom had gone into labor and that we could come to the hospital now. The birth was not imminent, but we needed to come as soon as we could.

I quickly tried to get a hold of my husband at his school, but didn't get an answer on his cell phone. I left my class with another teacher and ran down to my principal's office to see who could cover my class. She said she would call over to my husband's school for me. She called and we finally got a hold of him after several minutes of waiting. My principal told me not to worry about my class and to go ahead and leave. I was shaking, shaking, shaking. Here was the moment we had been waiting for and I was scared out of my mind! I met my husband at home, we quick threw some things in a bag, and headed up to the hospital. We tried to hurry, but also didn't want to get a speeding ticket! It seemed like the longest drive ever. I just wanted to get there before our baby was born.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Answering the Call

My last post was in mid March and since then so very much has happened. I have been asked soooo many times when I was going to update my blog and I have an extremely good reason why it's taken me so long. Read on and you will learn why...

After all we'd been through over the winter, Eric and I decided that over our spring break in March we would take a little trip to Chicago just to get away and have some quality time together. At the advice of a social worker from our adoption agency, we decided to take a weekend trip and do some things that wouldn't be as easy to do once we received a placement. It really gave us something to look forward to as well, so we booked a hotel right off of Michigan Ave. and planned to go see some of the things we didn't get to see on our last trip there like Navy Pier, the Hancock Building, and eating REAL deep dish pizza at Gino's East.

A few days before spring break, the phone rang and it was again our adoption agency. Every time I would see their number come up on my phone, I was nervous to answer because you just never knew what they were going to say or ask. This time it was a good thing I answered the phone because another expectant mother had looked at our book and wanted to meet us.

We were so excited to get another call, but knew that things may not work out like we wanted to like our last experience. The social worker gave us a little bit of information about the situation and then let us decide if we wanted to come to the offices to meet. We didn't really have to think long because we already knew that we did not want to throw away any opportunities.

We agreed on a day and time to meet at the agency and had a few days from the call until the meeting would occur. We again told our family what was happening and everyone started praying and hoping just like they always did for us. We were reluctant to tell too many people that someone had asked to meet us, so we did keep it pretty quiet. I didn't even tell my closest coworkers or friends for fear that I would jinx it!

The day finally came for us to meet the expectant mother, her parents, the birth father, and his parents. Because of their young age, their families were very involved in the process. We were nervous to meet so many people for the first time. We knew that they had read our book and obviously liked us enough to want to meet with us, but we knew very little about them. It was almost like a blind date. We really didn't know what to expect, but walked into the meeting with confidence. We talked on the way up to the offices that we were going to just be ourselves and show them what we are really about. We wanted to make sure they knew how down to earth we are and how much we were looking forward to being parents someday.

I will never forget walking in to the room and they were all sitting around one big table. Eric and I sat at one end of the table where everyone could just stare at us if they wanted to. I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest, but then we all just starting talking. The expectant mom's parents had questions they had prepared to ask us and we answered all of them as best we could. As they were asking questions and we were answering, we felt the conversation turn from being sort of like an interview, to just talking to each other and getting to know more about everyone in the room.

The meeting lasted quite awhile and we were super impressed by both of the teenagers and their parents. It was quite evident that they came from good homes, were active in school and sports, and had plans and goals for their futures. Their families had thought through the option of adoption and knew that was the choice they wanted to make.

When the meeting was done and it was time to say goodbye, we all hugged each other. We had talked about so many things while in that room together and it felt almost like talking with our own families. I was so impressed by everyone that my heart was filled to the brim with hope that they would choose us. I will never ever forget walking out of the building to our jeep and looking at Eric. The smile on his face was unforgettable and he looked right at me and said, "This is it. I have a good feeling about this and this is meant to be."

All we could talk about on the ride home was the families and how much we had in common with them and what an ideal situation it was. It was almost too good to be true. We were crossing our fingers already that they would officially choose us to adopt their baby. We weren't even halfway home on the interstate when the social worker called to see how we thought it went. She told us that the families really liked us and asked how we felt about potentially moving forward with them. Of course we wanted to and we were thrilled that they liked us as much as we liked them!

Emails were exchanged and soon after the meeting we began communicating with them. The birth mother's parents wanted to meet with us for dinner so we could get to know each other better and we agreed that we would like to do the same. We set up a time to meet before we left for our trip to Chicago. When we did meet them for dinner, it was like we had known them forever. We talked for so long that our dinner lasted about 4 or 5 hours I think! When it was time to go, we again all hugged and talked about how this situation was working out well and how much we were glad to have found each other.

I could hardly believe that we were going to get a baby and I REALLY couldn't believe how nice the birth family was. It was like God made us wait because he knew all along that there was a family out there that would be perfect for us. He really couldn't have picked a better family to help us become our own little family as well.