Sunday, September 10, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Conclusion

This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.

Conclusion

For Dominic.

We made the drive home slowly, going only a few hours each day. You did not enjoy the car seat very much and got fussy quite a bit. Your brothers were so excited to be heading back to Kentucky. This had been a hard journey for all of us, especially Joah. After a period of extreme behavior issues, he had broken down and started sobbing just a few days before, and finally confessed that he was broken-hearted because he didn’t think he’d ever see his Kentucky home or his Grandpa again. For your brothers, the fun had been over for a long time and it no longer felt like a vacation. Your father and I had under-estimated just how much anxiety all the activity surrounding the trip and the events around your birth had caused in your brothers. Knowing that they were finally going back home, after a month-long journey with no end in sight, brought their little hearts great comfort.

After traveling across 900 miles, we finally left the freeway and started winding our way up north through the hills of Tennessee and onto the Cumberland Plateau. I was amazed at how much the landscape had changed during our absence. Goldenrod and blooming asters now lined the roadsides, and I rolled down the window and let the scent of pine woods and countryside fill my head. It felt so good to be home again and to be introducing you to my favorite corner of the world, far from the pavement and smog and oppressive heat that we’d experienced in Houston.

The welcome home was wonderful. A few friends came by to see you and bring food and gifts. Cards and packages began to arrive in the mail. Church friends, in particular, were beyond excited to have us back and were enthusiastically planning your baby shower. Grandma and Grandpa couldn’t wait to hold you and our little dog jumped for joy.  We were home!

And you…you thrived. The first month flew by and on October 2nd, the Feast of the Angels, we had you baptized. It was not lost on me that it was in October that we had initially felt the call to adopt and four years later, in that same month, we had found completion of that calling. God had finally brought you to us, and we were now joyfully bringing you to God.

Those first few months with you were like one big happy dream-come-true. You and I cuddled often and we spent hours at night one-on-one. Your brothers couldn’t get enough of you and Joah was kissing you constantly.  One of them always wanted to play with you and sit next to you and hold you. Your daddy was always there to help me, even in the wee hours of the morning, with diaper changes and warming up food for you. You fit into our life perfectly, and all the years of waiting just melted away.

On May 22, 2017, we were able to finalize your adoption. Four years and seven months it took us from the time we decided we wanted to adopt again until the day it was finally all over. Many of the steps along the way were painful, frustrating, and discouraging. So many times during that long wait, we questioned if we were following God’s will in our desire and pursuit of adopting again. Even now, I feel a bit resentful that we had to wait for four years for an adoption, but I know that without the wait, we wouldn't have you.

And when the time finally did come, as I look back at the unfolding of events, I can see that God and his saints were helping us along our way. There are the little things that are too numerous to merely be coincidences. Such as the fact that your father and brother both share St. John the Baptist as their patron saints, and that it was on the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist that we were officially matched with your birthmother.  Fast forward two months later, to when you were overdue by nine days and it was anyone's guess at that point when you would be born. Had we realized it at the time, however, we should have known that St. John the Baptist would intercede for us yet again, for it was on the vigil of the feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist that you were born, and on that same feast day 24 hours later that your birthmother miraculously regained consciousness.  I have no doubt that this great saint interceded for us and saved her life and brought us to you.

And your name? Little did we realize when we chose it for you that the name Dominic has traditionally been given to boys who are born on a Sunday, and as if God had planned it that way, you were born on a Sunday. The day that belongs to our Lord. The day of the resurrection and a new beginning. The day that is meant to remind us each week that there is always hope, and that the culmination of pain and trial and waiting, when coupled with prayer and trust in God, is joy and rebirth. I believe it is a great honor to be born on a Sunday and I pray that, as your name suggests, you always belong to Him.




Sunday, September 3, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Pt. 5

This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.
Part 5 of 6

For Dominic.

The emptiness in the pit of my stomach hit hard. Your birthmother was in serious trouble, and we could do nothing about it. She’d failed to inform anyone at the hospital of her intentions to place you for adoption before she’d lost consciousness and now your fate was unknown. If the worst case scenario unfolded, you would most likely go directly into foster care and perhaps never get to come home with us. Our only hope was that she would regain consciousness, but the doctors could not assure us that would be the case. She had experienced multiple organ failures and was on a respirator. It was every fear I’d had a week earlier being realized. Meanwhile, you lay in the nursery and had yet to feel a mother’s arms, and my heart longed to be with you.

The next morning, we went straight to the ICU waiting room. Our social worker had managed to find the hospital social worker and gather a little more information about your birthmother's condition. The prognosis was not encouraging. Your birthmother was still on a respirator and unconscious. We were told that they would not begin weaning her off the respirator until 36 hours had passed.  Hopefully, at that point, she would regain consciousness. But even if all that went well, there was still a lot of uncertainty.

We were still not allowed to see you either, although we did sneak up to the nursery at one point and peered through the glass window at the babies, trying to guess which one might be you. We saw your birthmother's name on one of the bassinets and knew then that we had found you. You were sleeping peacefully and seeing you behind that glass made you feel so close but also, so very far away. I wanted to break through that glass window so badly and just wrap you up in my arms. With nothing left that we could do, we returned to our hotel.  It would be at least another day before we'd know if your birthmother was going to recover.

But God had other plans. That evening of August 29th, as I was calling a friend and asking her for prayers, a message from your birthmother suddenly appeared on my phone. It was in broken English and did not make very much sense. I wondered if it was a joke. Did someone steal her phone and start sending me messages? I contacted our social worker and he said that he had just received a message from her, too. It really was her! She wanted to know where we were and what had happened. Twenty-four hours after losing consciousness, to the surprise of even the doctors, your birthmother had awaken on her own and started asking for us. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the miracle we had been praying for and my heart soared!

The next morning, we rushed to the ICU and counted down the minutes until visiting hours so that we could see her. At last, we were able to give her a much anticipated hug and being with her felt like the biggest blessing. She had the sweetest smile in spite of all the trauma she'd just been through, and she asked me if I had been with you. When I sadly told her that I had not been allowed, she was visibly disappointed. Soon after, she signed papers that allowed me to be with you, although, due to hospital regulations, I was only allowed to do so under direct supervision of the hospital security guards. Tears welled up in my eyes when I first held you in my arms. The thought of you not being with a mother during your first day and a half of life broke my heart, and I was determined to make up for the lost time.  I put your skin against mine and rocked you for as long as the nurses would allow.

The next couple of days were spent alternating between spending time with you and with your birthmother. As we all got to know each other, she seemed genuinely happy that we would be your family. Four days after you were born, she signed consent giving us permission to be your guardians and bring you home with us. Soon after, she was discharged and went home. We said our farewells to her, and she held you and kissed you goodbye. Little did we know that we would be seeing her again soon.

You and your brothers and your father and I, along with Grandma and Grandpa, who’d driven to Houston from Missouri a few days before your birth, spent time in the hotel, bonding and getting to know you. I began breastfeeding you and supplementing with formula. Your grandparents visited for a day with you before heading back home. Your brothers adored you! We slowly adjusted to having a new baby in our midst.

Unfortunately, just a few days after your birthmother got home, she began experiencing health issues again related to the birth. She returned to the hospital and I went quickly to be with her, arriving just before she was taken to emergency surgery. She was in terrible pain and her eyes looked up at me in the most pitiful way. I will never forget that look, and I still see it every time I see you looking up at me when you are hurting. I see her in you so much. She made enormous sacrifices to bring you into this world and into our family.

The next day, I visited her and she was doing much better. No longer in pain, she seemed to be stronger. She was sad over the events that had transpired over the previous few days, yet she still spoke to me as a friend. I shared stories with her about you, and we chuckled over how much you liked to eat!  A couple of days later, we said goodbye to her again. Ironically, the day that she left the hospital was the same day that the state of Texas gave us permission to take you back to Kentucky. We felt that there was no coincidence in the fact that the amount of time that it had taken for us to be granted clearance by the courts was exactly the same amount of time it took for your birthmother to recover and be released from the hospital, and we saw God’s hand in that. That timing had allowed us to be there with her when she needed us and now, eleven days after you had been born, she and we were ready to start the next chapter of our lives.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Pt. 4

This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.
Part 4 of 6

For Dominic.


It was in the late afternoon of August 28 when your birthmother contacted me and said she was going to the hospital because she had been having labor pains. Your father and brothers and I grabbed our luggage that we’d only partially unpacked, said a quick good-bye to the B family, and drove into downtown Houston. We went directly to the hospital that she’d told us weeks earlier was where she planned to give birth. But, upon our arrival, we could not find her anywhere! The hospital staff had no record of her, and she was not answering my messages as I tried to contact and find her. For an hour, we sat in that hospital lobby, wondering where she was and what had happened.

Finally, our adoption social worker called us and told us that we were at the wrong hospital.  He had found out only a few minutes earlier that in her desperation, your birthmother had gone to a different hospital, one closer to her home, knowing that the birth was imminent. By now, over two hours had passed since I’d heard from her and I was heartbroken that I was not with her, helping her through the ordeal of your birth. We also knew that it was likely that we would now miss that most special moment…the moment of your arrival. Leaving home two weeks early in order to be present for that moment in time, only to be denied it, left a painful sting. We loaded back into our vehicle and drove north through the busy downtown area as the sun began to set.

As we drove to the correct hospital, my phone rang. It was a friend of your birthmother. She said that your birthmother had asked her to call me to tell me that you had been born. Then she said that your birthmother was having some kind of emergency and that the doctors were with her. Due to the bad cell phone connection, I could barely understand what she was saying, but I could tell that it was serious. Your birthmother’s friend said that she could not stay at the hospital with your birthmother because she had to go to work. This meant that your birthmother would be left at the hospital alone until we arrived, and it made me feel so sad to know that she had no one else there with her.

Soon after, we arrived at the hospital and ran straight to labor and delivery. We were greeted by locked double doors and a phone on the wall. I picked up the phone and a nurse answered. I explained to the nurse who we were and why we were there. In turn, the nurse briefly and abruptly told me that your birthmother had experienced life-threatening complications and was no longer responding. The nurse said that the doctors were still working on her, and that when they were finished, she would be moved directly to ICU. Because your birthmother had not had the chance to inform the hospital staff of her intentions and who we were before her medical emergency, we were told that neither we nor our social worker could have any contact with her or with you.  We were not even allowed to look at you through the nursery window. Our only hope was that your birthmother would regain consciousness and be able to set the record straight. 

And so, this is how the night that you were born ended. We were all left alone with only God’s angels to surround us. You were alone in the nursery, under the care of the nurses; your birthmother was alone in ICU fighting for her life; and your father and I, your brothers, and our social worker were left sitting alone in an empty hallway, looking out the window at a dark night.  Everything was completely out of our control now and we had to surrender it all to God’s holy will. My heart sank as I tried to hold back the tears. This was not the birth story that I had imagined. Feeling completely helpless, we turned around and went to our hotel, heartbroken.