Saturday, August 22, 2009

Adoption Part 3: Finally!

I posted this series (three posts total) a few years ago on my old blog so if it sounds familiar you probably read it there. I have done some minor wordsmithing (mostly to be consistent with how I refer to certain people on this blog) on it but it is otherwise the same. Also, you can thank Desmond Jones for me posting these. He asked, and I am happy to oblige. You can find Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

We were introduced over the phone to Marie (names all changed here) through her adoption attorney when she was about 4 months pregnant. Marie was in her early 20's, already had given up other children for adoption, and was determined to give up this one also. Marie was a talker. She liked to talk to me on the phone. I think she was a pretty lonely young woman, kind of lost in the world, unsure of how to make her life better than what she had with her drug dealer, gang banger boyfriend. She is an intelligent woman and had attended college but just couldn't seem to break away from the wrong crowd. She explained to me that she had spent much of her childhood in foster care and did not want the same thing to happen to her baby.

When Marie got an ultrasound pic of the baby showing a little boy, she sent us a copy of the picture. She also sent us a couple of pictures of herself. She is a very petite person, very cute, looks like the all-american girl, but with a certain aura of sadness around her. As you can probably tell by now, I really feel for Marie. I think of her often, wondering about her, hoping that somehow she has found a way to make a better life for herself, but we don't continue to have contact with her so I don't know.

We spent the summer in anticipation of the arrival of our new baby boy. We struggled to select a name. We had lots of girls names we liked but not boys names. We finally settled on a biblical name along with a fairly random middle name just because it flowed well between the first and last names. That summer we moved from a fairly small mobile home to a good size house. We prepared the bedroom right next to the master bedroom as a nursery.I had to adjust to the idea of having a boy. I had so wanted my little girl that we had lost the winter before. It was probably good that I had a few months before he was born to wrap my mind around having a son rather than a daughter.

Unlike with the first two adoption attempts, we didn't tell anybody that all of this was happening. It had been so devastating to have to tell people about losing our other babies that I just didn't want it to happen again. Well, I shouldn't say we didn't tell anybody. I had to tell my boss at work to arrange for leave. We then also had to tell the person that was to cover for me during my leave as well as the HR department. That was the entire population that had any idea. I publicly scheduled a two week vacation at the time our son was due to be born. If the adoption fell through, I would return to work from vacation, and nobody but a select few would ever be the wiser.

We were scheduled to fly out on a Saturday close to Marie's due date. On the Thursday before this, we received a call from the attorney that Marie had given birth that day. It was a short labor, both the baby and Marie were doing well. The baby was small, just under 5 lbs, but appeared to be healthy. We changed our plans and flew out on Friday morning. By the time we arrived it was mid-afternoon on Friday. Someone from the attorney's office came to our hotel and took us to the hospital to meet our son. When we went up to the nursery, N was not there. He was in Marie's room with her. We went there and met N, Marie, and N's birthdad, Reggie. We sat in Marie's room and talked at length with her and Reggie. For much of the time that we were there I held N as he slept peacefully. He was tiny, but perfect. Reggie regaled us with tales of his life on the streets and showed us the scar on his abdomen from when he was shot, and nobody thought he would live and how many weeks he was in the hospital recuperating. I listened and feigned nonchalance over such tales. Finally, we said good evening and returned to our hotel.

There was nothing more for us to do according to the attorney until N was discharged from the hospital which might be the next day, Saturday, if everything was alright. On Saturday morning the attorney's assistant called to tell us the hospital had decided to keep N until Sunday as they wanted to make sure he was getting the hang of sucking. So here we were, 1500 miles from home with nothing to do but wait. We found a local museum to visit to kill time and try to take our minds away from the whole adoption thing, and this baby that might or might not be ours.

On Sunday morning, we decided that if we had heard nothing by 10:00 a.m. we would attend a local church for worship. We dressed for church and were close to leaving the hotel room when the phone rang. It was the attorney's assistant. N was being discharged that morning, and we should meet her at the hospital nursery. Plans immediately changed, and we went straight to the hospital. It took what felt like forever for the paperwork to be completed. Marie came to say goodbye to N. She held him in her arms and cried as she said goodbye. She told me it was the hardest thing to do to give up your child. I so feared that she would change her mind. W went to bring the car around to the entrance as directed. Marie came along with me and the attorney's assistant as I carried N down to the car. Marie helped me place N in his carseat, and she leaned in and kissed him on the forehead. She and I hugged as we said our goodbyes. W then drove us back to the hotel.

We had our baby, or did we? We couldn't feel sure, couldn't feel comfortable given past experience. Fortunately for us, a week later, per the state's laws, both birth parents signed away parental rights. Reggie threatened to back out and basically extorted money from us in order to get him to sign. I know such things are illegal, but when we talked to our attorney about it he told us that if we held firm and refused that we would lose N and Reggie and Marie would just find some couple willing to pay. They had us over a barrel, and they (much more Reggie than Marie, I think) knew it. With just a bit of ambivalence, we gave in and paid them a five figure settlement in order to get Reggie's signature on that paper. Although the adoption would not become final for more than a year, the attorney assured us that the birthparents could not legally change their minds once they signed.

Once the birthparents relinquished their parental rights, we celebrated by sharing the news via phonecalls to people back home. The first call was to our pastor, and she assured us that she would arrange for someone to pick us up at the airport when we returned. Other calls followed to family and friends who, though quite surprised, were very happy for us.

We had to wait to return home until all the proper paperwork was in order so we returned with N on the day he turned two weeks old. It was a Thursday. True to her word, our pastor had talked a member of the congregation into coming to the airport and driving us home. He was a Godsend and so kind and helpful to us that day, helping schlep baby stuff through the airport (of course, back then he could meet us at the gate rather than at baggage claim), driving us back to our car where we'd left it parked when we caught the airport shuttle into the city.

Friday was a busy day. We made the rounds. First stop was our family doctor. Somehow, no matter how good and competent the doctors had been at the hospital where N was born I couldn't believe he was truly okay until MY doctor saw him and pronounced him perfect, which he did. We then visited my workplace and our church, showing off this perfect, wonderful, special child of ours. He was the most beautiful baby ever, at least that's what I proclaimed to everyone, and nobody dared argue.

And so began a new life, a different life than I had ever had, a better life for it was filled with all the joys that a new baby brings to your life. I can't imagine life without N. He makes each day worth living. Thanks Marie and Reggie. You gave the most precious and generous gift you could ever give. I will forever be grateful.


Sailor said...

This is such a neat post... I can tell I'll be re-reading the whole set of three.. but I think it's great,that you're saying thank you to Marie and Reggie.

Val said...

A great story - but it is N who is ever so lucky to have "escaped", so to speak!
[This reminds me to post about my daughter who-could-have-been; just another old source of resentment/contention between P & I]

Desmond Jones said...

Gotta love the extortionary expediencies. . . I echo Val, that N is indeed fortunate to have 'escaped'. . .

1F's 'baby-daddy' is also a 'career criminal' (some of these young women really know how to pick 'em, don't they?). The adoption was the only way that she was ever gonna be free of that asshole. . .

Thanks, tho, for posting this, along with the others. And God bless you for giving N a family and a home. . .