Midnight (plane) to Georgia

On Wednesday, May 20th around 2:30 in the afternoon, I was feeding Samantha and the phone rang. It was the social worker from the adoption agency in Nevada and we were cleared to go home!! I called our social worker in Georgia just to double check and she said she was just about to call me – it was true! I finished feeding the baby while Chris and I jumped online to look at flights. We could leave at 10:40 that evening and get back to Georgia early Thursday morning, which gave us plenty of time to pack and get to the airport without having to rush. As soon as Sam finished her bottle, we packed, double- and triple- checked to make sure we weren’t leaving anything, showered and got dressed, dressed the baby and put her in the car seat. And she immediately projective spit all over her outfit and the seat LOL. So after a quick wardrobe change and seat-cleaning, we were ready to leave the condo before 6pm.

We got to the airport around 6:30, checked in and checked our bags – then Samantha and I sat at Starbucks while Chris went to return the rental car (we didn’t want to try to ride the shuttle from the rental car place with all our luggage and the baby LOL). When he got back, we grabbed a bite to eat around 7 and bought a little stuffed monkey that said Las Vegas (and a keychain and Christmas ornament) for the baby, and got to our gate around 8.

At almost boarding time, I put Samantha in her jammies and we got ready for the flight home. She slept the entire flight (I fed her while we were taking off and landing to keep her little ears from popping but she didn’t really wake up) – Chris and I did not sleep at all LOL. We landed a little after 5am (EST).

After a quick wardrobe change into her going home outfit, we were met by my parents with a sweet little sign, got our bags and headed home!! My cousin Jodi had put signs up, friend Kelly put a pink bow on the mailbox and our neighbor kids made welcome pictures 🙂

When we got home it was almost time for the house cleaner to get there so my mom stayed downstairs with the baby while Chris and I went upstairs (out of the cleaner’s way) and slept for a few hours while ganmommy and Samantha got to know one another. Later that afternoon my aunt, cousin, and cousin’s two kids came by shortly followed by Chris’s mom, aunt and uncle. Now we’ve been home a little over a week and have gotten into a nice routine of life with a new baby!

Home sweet temporary home

On May 14th, 2015 Samantha Jayne was discharged from the NICU and we got to bring her “home” to the condo that we are renting here in Nevada!!

No more tape!

Yesterday they took Samantha’s oxygen cannula out and today when I came in they had removed the tape! That means they don’t anticipate having to put her back on oxygen!

hen the day got even better! When the doctor came by, he said that as long as she gains weight overnight that she will get to go “home” tomorrow!! She still weighs 5 pounds 13 ounces so she’s not back up to her birth weight yet.

Since her pretty little face is finally fully visible I brought the good camera in and took a couple more pictures – she is so beautiful!!

We brought in her car seat so she could take the “car seat test” – babies in the NICU have to do this before they will let them go home. Basically they just strap them in the car seat for a set amount of time (an hour at this hospital, some hospitals apparently do it for however long the drive home is, some do 90 minutes) while they’re hooked up to all of the monitors to make sure their heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation stay up – that they can tolerate sitting in the upright-ish position and being strapped in, etc.

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More of the story

How do you cope with a failed adoption? When we miscarried, I found comfort in knowing that our baby was with God in a much better place. Our daughter (who wasn’t ever legally our daughter, but in our hearts she was) isn’t even with her mother now. She is in foster care for at least a year. So I have no idea who she is with or what kind of place she is in. I held this precious little girl in my arms, looked into her eyes, and promised her I was going to do everything within my power to make sure she was happy and taken care of for the rest of her life. Now I have no way to keep that promise.

We knew going into this that it was a risk. We signed the contract and initialed the part saying basically that we understand that a baby is not *ours* until all of the legalities are taken care of. We knew, intellectually, that the mother of the child held all of the cards and could change everything at any time up until finalization. We thought we were prepared for that possibility.

We started letting ourselves get our hopes up when our particular situation looked so promising. The estimated date of conception listed on the first page of medical records we received was listed as 8/20 – my birthday. We were told that the agency affiliated with the pregnant mother (let’s call her “Ann” for the sake of brevity) had the highest success rate of anyone. “Ann” is incarcerated and has no family, neither of the potential fathers wanted to raise the baby, so we were told the risk was extremely low that she would change her mind because she didn’t really have any other choice. She told us how she grew up in the foster care system and was abused, and that her experience was so horrible she could NEVER put a baby into the system. She had already placed one child for adoption a few years ago and felt wonderful about that decision – she told us many, many times how happy she was that she was able to bless someone who was unable to conceive with a child. Ann seemed firm in her decision. She even insisted that we be contacted and allowed to bond with the baby when she was born on Monday night. We allowed ourselves to call this baby our daughter when we met her because we truly believed, without a doubt, that she was.

We found out Tuesday morning that the baby had been born Monday night and we immediately hit the road. It was about a 9 hour drive. When we got to the hospital, they brought the baby out to us. Told us we had a room and were going to be able to have the baby with us whenever the Ann allowed. We spent over an hour holding her, taking pictures, and falling in love. Then the nurse came in and sheepishly said that Ann wanted the baby back. She told the nurse that she would let the baby spend the night with us while she slept (it was a a little after 6pm at that point). Around 10pm we thought maybe the nurse had forgotten – so we asked if Ann was asleep yet, or if she knew when we would be getting to see the baby again. About an hour later they brought the baby to us again. Less than an hour after that the nurse was back – Ann wanted the baby with her again – told us we could see her in the morning.  We said we completely understood!Red flag? Maybe in hindsight – but at the time we still had zero doubt. She was going to be transferred back to the jail in less than 48 hours … she had three days to spend with the baby, we had 18 years to look forward to – of course she wanted to spend as much time as she could with the baby now. All told we spent 2 hours on Tuesday with the baby who was, in our hearts, our daughter already. The baby we had named and spent the last two months falling in love with.

That was the last time we saw her, we didn’t get to say goodbye or anything. The next morning, the social worker called and said that Ann wanted the doctors to talk to us – that when they came in for rounds she told them that the adoptive family were the ones who needed the information. So we went to the hospital and talked to the doctors – found out that the baby was perfect, healthy as could be. We waited a few hours and then asked the nurse if they had any idea when we would get to see the baby again (it was incredibly boring in that tiny little room and torture knowing we were so physically close but unable to see or hold our daughter). They came back after a little while and said she wanted the baby to stay with her that day, for us to come back that night and we could see her then. Again – hindsight is 20/20, we should have been concerned. My mom even asked me later that day if I was worried and I said nope – not at all. And I wasn’t! Then around 4:30 the social worker called and said she needed to meet us somewhere to talk, where were we staying. I said “uhoh that doesn’t sound good” and she said “no, it’s not”. I begged her to just tell us over the phone, and she delivered the most heartbreaking, soul crushing news I’d ever gotten. “Ann has already signed papers placing the baby in CPS custody and agreed to go into rehab when she gets released from jail. The baby will be in foster care for now but Ann wants to try to parent the baby when she is able. She is not going to place the baby for adoption. I am so sorry, I did not see this coming. Ann wants me to tell you she is very sorry.”

I think I said thank you, then I hung up and my entire world fell apart around me. We called family, our pastor, friends … we cried and screamed … we prayed … I’m not sure exactly what else we did. We decided none of us (my mom was with us) was in any shape to drive home, so we packed up and decided to leave early the next morning to go back home. My mom, bless her heart, packed up all the baby stuff and loaded it into the car while Chris and I just stared at each other trying to figure out what to do next.

The next day (Thursday) we drove home. My dad had the handyman come take the screen door down and replace it with the original door. He and my friend Ginny moved everything baby related into the nursery and closed the door. We got home and my mom put all the baby stuff we had taken with us in the nursery, too.

Friday through Sunday are a blur. I remember my cousin coming to visit. I remember me and Chris taking the dogs to the park to get some fresh air and get out of the house. I don’t know what else we did. Monday I went back to work for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Tuesday was really rough because it was the one week anniversary of the best day of our lives and now we were well below rock bottom. That night I finally went into the nursery, curled up with a baby blanket in the rocking chair/glider and sobbed for hours. Wednesday we emailed the social worker and found out that the social worker hadn’t heard from her since the previous Wednesday in the hospital – and she said that if Ann decided now to place the baby for adoption it would go through CPS and not through her. So that door was slammed shut – and I fell apart. I had been holding out a little bit of hope that Ann would change her mind again and when that hope was taken away I had nothing left to stop me from drowning.

Now it’s Sunday and I’m starting to heal. We have been presented with three additional opportunities but sadly, right now we can’t afford to go forward with them – even if we were emotionally ready to do so, which we aren’t sure if we are. I don’t want to let this derail us because I truly believe that we will be parents one day soon. However, I want to grieve this loss first. There is an important distinction between grieving the fact that we aren’t parents yet and grieving the loss of this particular, individual child that we held in our arms. She is irreplaceable. Yes, we will adopt a child but we will not miss this little girl any less – nor will we miss the baby we lost to miscarriage any less.

Timeline – aka “buckle up and hold on tight! Things are about to get real!”

Around Christmastime in 2014 Chris and I decided to pursue adoption again. We didn’t want to go through one agency this time, so we looked into Adoption Information Services, a consulting company. We sent in the questionnaire/application on December 28th and registered for the seminar that they were having on Janary 24. Unfortunately I put the seminar time in my calendar for 11:00 – turns out it was at 10:00 (oops)! The morning of the 24th I was looking at their website for directions to the seminar – noticed my mistake and realized there was no way we could get there in time. January 27th I called, had them send us a DVD of the seminar and made an appointment with AIS. February 4th we sent in our fee agreement and deposit.

us, at our first meeting with Leigh at AIS

February 13th was our first meeting with AIS – after the meeting, we went home with our “homework” and started planning out a hopeful timeline. Our second meeting was scheduled for March 6th – I printed out calendars and marked them all up, thinking we could probably get our home study finished by the middle of April and start sending out profiles. The average wait time for AIS clients is 3-6 months so my best case scenario was that hopefully we’d get matched by mid July and have a baby around November. Well … God had a different plan!

before our photo shoot to get a few professional pics for the cover of our profile book

We finished our profile book the weekend after our first meeting with AIS, it was approved on the 20th and we ordered one copy to proof in real life before ordering 15 copies to send to agencies. On Feb 21st we mailed out home study application packet to Options 4 Adoption (since AIS is just a consulting company, not an agency, they don’t do home studies – O4A only does home studies). We started working on the paperwork that we knew would be required for the home study also (thankfully they had a checklist on their website).

February 24th we got an email from AIS about a birthmother opportunity in Kentucky. I assumed the email was sent to active (home study ready) AIS clients and our name got put on the list accidentally. I actually forwarded the email to Chris and said “Too bad we don’t have a profile book and home study yet!” because I didn’t think that we were allowed to act on the opportunity (the instructions were that if you were interested in being considered by the birthmother to send your profile and home study – we had neither). The next day, AIS sent a follow up email asking if we had decided whether or not to send our information to KY – and after a few emails and phone calls the lovely ladies at AIS had sent some information and a digital version of our profile to the agency. Our proof version of the profile book came in and I immediately FedExed it to the agency *just in case*.

the 20 copies of our profile book that arrived the day after we found out we’d been matched LOL

Two days later (February 26th), before they even received the hard copy of our profile book, the agency called and said we were one of two being considered to parent the baby due in Kentucky. A couple of hours later she called me back and said she had gotten our book and they were ready to consider us “officially matched”. Oh and by the way, the baby that was listed on all the information as due May 1st was actually scheduled to be delivered via C-section the week of April 21st.

And that’s how our dream of being parents maybe, hopefully, possibly by November became the reality of OHMYGOSH we’re gonna be parents in less than TWO MONTHS!! And thus began the frenzied nesting as well as the hurried attempts at getting all of my students’ IEP annual reviews done as well as substitute lesson plans written before my maternity leave. As far as my job goes, the timing couldn’t be more perfect – my last day would be April 10th because the 13th-18th was Spring Break, then the 21st we leave for Kentucky. And there are only 24 school days that I will be out before summer break! Which is nice because I’m a bit of a control freak at work too (yeah – I left 50 pages of “information” for the substitute in addition to the class schedule and lesson plans).