Monday, March 29, 2010

Packing our Bags

The time was drawing near for the big day. It was already April and we were beginning to pack our bags for the trip. We would need lots of stuff! We had to stay in the state of Texas for awhile after the baby was born to wait on the ICPC... the interstate compact on the placement of children. The paperwork had to be sent from our adoption agency in Texas to the capital in Texas...Austin to be signed off on. Then it had to be sent to our state capital Nashville to be signed off on and then sent back to Texas. Once they got it back in Texas we were free to travel back to Tennessee with the baby. They told us a normal wait time was around 2 weeks but it could be up to 4 weeks so we had to be packed and prepared for a long stay.

We talked with B about the plan for the delivery and she asked us to be in the delivery room with her. We were beside ourselves. What an incredible experience and an honor to be asked to share in her moment and her time with the baby. We were not going to be the baby's parents at that point so it was a privilege to be asked by her to be in the room during delivery. B was so very gracious. She wanted us to be the first to bond with the baby. She asked her doctor if after the birth we could go immediately to the nursery with the baby so we could be the first to hold her. We knew that although it was an exciting time for us...that day and the days to follow would be some of the hardest for B. What a roller coaster ride it was going to be. Our adoption agency was great about preparing us for those days and walking us through everything. We were in a lot of communication with them at this point as we talked about the plan for the delivery. It was only a couple of weeks away and we could hardly wait......yet we were also so scared of the "what ifs" as well. I remember just clinging to Jeremiah 29:11 during those final days leading up to the birth.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

To be continued...

Nesting and Showers

The next couple of months(February and March) were spent getting things ready for the baby. We finished up the nursery and I had a few baby showers. I was reluctant to have any because I didn't want to get a lot of pink girly things that might have to be taken back after all was said and done. We wouldn't know for sure that this baby girl was ours until after B delivered and signed the paperwork relinquishing her parental rights. The more I talked it over with friends and thought about it, we decided that it would be fun to go ahead and have showers. I mean I was "expecting" after all! We had 3 baby showers and of course got TONS of pink things which made me nervous but I did my best to enjoy it all. It was definitely weird to be finally having a baby shower after I had hosted so many for friends along the way. And it was weird to not have a pregnant belly in any of the pictures from the showers. But weird or not, I was so grateful to be having baby showers and planning for a baby.

I continued to talk with B and she was so sweet about calling us after every doctor’s appointment. She would update us and tell us about her visit. She told the doctor about her plan to place her baby for adoption and he was willing to induce her labor if the baby hadn’t arrived by April 18th…then he would induce. The countdown was on! 4 weeks until our baby girl would be here! It was all too much. I couldn’t let myself just let go and get totally excited. I mean, yes our birthmom was completely sure of her decision but she also hadn’t held her baby girl yet. We had to somewhat prepare for the fact that we could travel to Texas to get our baby yet return home without her. We kept asking ourselves how we prepare for that and the only thing we could come up with was by prayer. We just continually asked the Lord for peace and His strength in the end if this didn’t turn out the way we had hoped it would.

To be continued…

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Got All My Sisters and Me

The plan was to arrive in San Antonio on Friday night and check in to the hotel to unwind and rest up for the big day on Saturday. We were supposed to meet up with B on Saturday morning and she had the whole day planned out for us. However, she SURPRISED us at the airport when we got off the plane! We didn't know what she looked like but we knew it was her when we saw the pink flowers and pink balloons. I remember the first thing I noticed about her was her beautiful smile. It lit up the room....or the airport I should say. B's mom was with her and they asked if we wanted to go to dinner with them. We went to dinner and it went better than I expected. The conversation was great and it was a good start to the weekend.

On Saturday we went to lunch with B, her mom, and two of her sisters at this cool place. We had the best time and told them all about us and what our life was like back home in Tennessee. B's mom of course told lots of stories about her growing up through the years. B is one of five girls so there were lots and lots of stories to be told! We also learned that day that of the five sisters B was the only one who was not left handed. That went over well with Stephen who is a lefty and he immediately began saying that it must mean the baby will be left handed!

After lunch we went back to B's mom's house to hang out. We talked and and looked at pictures of all the girls but especially of B. We spent the whole afternoon just talking about our families and about the baby and how much this baby was loved already by so many. We(Stephen and I) shared how we felt like we were gaining new family members and B and her mom felt the same way. Such a sweet time. God was answering our prayers. And just when I didn't think it could get any did! I had just walked out of the bathroom and B jumped and said, "Jessica, come over here!" I walked over to her and she took my hand and placed it on her belly. My heart skipped a beat when I felt the baby move and kick inside of B. Talk about a moment you will never forget....that was definitely one of those moments!

To be continued...

An Upcoming Trip

We made plans to go to San Antonio to meet B for late January and my emotions were all over the place as the trip grew near. I was of course overjoyed at the thought of giving this precious woman a great big hug and meeting her face to face. However, I was a nervous wreck as well. It was one thing to like us in pictures and over the phone but a totally different thing to like us in person! All of my insecurities were coming out now full force. I mean I can chat and carry on a normal conversation with someone but I'm not just totally extroverted. If there was ever a time in my life where I wish I was extroverted it was right then and there!

Those days leading up to the visit were spent much in prayer. I kept doubting and worrying that she wouldn't like us and we wouldn't be "fun enough" in her eyes. I worried that after the trip was over she would tell us she was going to chose someone else to parent her baby. I just kept laying it at the Lord's feet and asking for His peace. I tried to rest in Him and His plan for us but it He had asked me months ago to trust Him and I was trying my best to do that. I don't know why that was so hard to do. I guess because there was so much at stake.

So, it was a Thursday night and we packed our bags to head to San Antonio once again. We settled into bed and prayed for our trip...that God would just allow it to be a sweet beginning of a new life long relationship. And of course once again we found ourselves looking at each other and asking, "Now how are we supposed to get any sleep tonight?"

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Couldn't Believe My Eyes

We were trucking right along making our phone calls to fill everyone in on our news. I remember scheduling lunches with friends to tell them the news. Friends who had prayed for me...for us...for so long. It was also the Christmas season remember so we of course had such a great Christmas that year dreaming about what the next Christmas season would be like. We even got so many gifts from family members for the new baby!

A couple of weeks after Christmas I was at work one day and Stephen called me. Remember the part about Stephen's tears coming later....well this is later. He had been on call the day/night before so he was getting home from one of those hard 36 hour straight shifts. His call made my day for sure. As if I wasn't already in a current state of bliss...this just sealed the deal. He said, "I'm looking at a picture of our baby girl right now." He was all choked up so I wanted to make sure I heard him correctly. "You're doing what?" I asked. He said that B mailed us an ultrasound picture of the baby and he was staring at it. I of course raced home as soon as I could get out of the office because I had to get my eyes on that ultrasound picture! I couldn't believe me eyes. I didn't think I was ever going to look at an ultrasound picture of my baby. I don't think our sweet birthmom will ever realize what a that was to us. You see, every time a pregnant woman goes to the dr. for an ultrasound they give her pictures and she proudly shows them off to all her friends and family. We got to do that too. It made us feel normal. And for that we are so grateful.

To be continued...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tears of Joy

I guess I don't have to tell you what our answer was to B that night. I remember wanting to answer her so badly and yell at the top of my lungs...YES, of course we will! But I couldn't stop sobbing long enough to get any words out. So Stephen did all the talking that night. He was his usual calm, cool, and collected self! And in case you are wondering, his tears of joy are coming soon in this story. He said something so sweet to B. He said that we would be honored to raise this precious little girl and that we were overwhelmed with joy that she chose us. We didn't talk long that night with B because like I said...I just didn't have words...only tears of sheer joy. We ended the call and told her we would talk again soon.

We got off the phone and held each other for awhile and I kept telling Stephen he was going to be a Daddy and he kept telling me I was going to be a Mommy. Such a sweet memory! We of course couldn't keep the news to ourselves. We didn't have time(at least in that moment) to worry about the "what ifs" and wonder who all should we tell if anyone about our match. We were just so happy that our baby was on her way we had to tell our friends and family! My first phone call was to my sister. We had been through a lot in recent months...even more than I shared in this story....with losing mom...and we had just gotten news about our father being diagnosed with cancer. So, needless to say we could REALLY use some good news. I don't know how I managed to get any words out to tell her but somehow I told her that I was going to be a mommy....that God was giving us a baby! We had many more phone calls to make that night and we squeezed a surprise visit in to Stephen's mom to tell her the news as well that she was going to be a grandmother. We were on cloud nine that night and couldn't stop smiling....I was either smiling or crying.

We finally wrapped up the first round of phone calls to share our news and got ready for bed. Once again, we got in bed and looked at each and said, "Now how are we supposed to get any sleep tonight?" It wasn't the first time we said that to each other on this journey and certainly wouldn't be the last.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One More Question

Of course I thought about that phone call all day on Monday. Did she like us? Did we answer that question wrong? Did we sound "fun" enough but not "too fun" and irresponsible.....I kept asking myself all these questions and praying that God would give her wisdom as she made her choice. We had no idea how many other couples she was talking with or what days she had set up phone calls with any of them so we didn't know when we would hear any news.

I was driving home from work that afternoon and my cell phone rang. It read "private caller" on the screen again and I knew it was the agency. I figured if they were calling then they would have news and were probably calling to say that B didn't choose us. I was bracing myself for bad news. The woman from the agency said that B had another question she wanted to ask us and could B call us again that evening to talk. I said of course and told her that Stephen would be home within the next hour so B could call then. I began thinking about what that question would be. The night before we hadn't really discussed how open our relationship would be during the pregnancy and after the baby arrived so I figured that is what she wanted to talk about. Yeah, that must be it. I called Stephen and told him to hurry home because B wanted to talk with us again.

Our phone rang and my heart started racing. B said hello and told us that she really didn't want to keep us on the phone too long but she really just had one more question for us. She said, "I just wanted to ask you both if you would.............. raise my baby girl?"

To be continued...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Phone Call

So Sunday night came and of course our nerves were on edge. We wanted to show this birthmom that we indeed had what it takes to be parents. The phone rang and I grabbed one of the phones and Stephen went to the bedroom to get on the other phone. I'll call the birthmom "B" for now while referring to her. B told us a little about herself and her situation and I immediately fell in love with this strong woman. She shared that she was a single mom to a son and wanted to be the best mom she could be to him. She was five months along in her pregnancy at this point and said that early on in her pregnancy she knew God had a plan for this baby and He had a special couple to parent this baby. She didn't feel like she could take that on....her life was hard enough raising a son on her own. I began admiring B for her strength to realize this and make an adoption plan...even though there would be such hard days to come for her. I couldn't believe how brave this woman was. She chose life for this baby knowing good and well she may never be the parent. She had a choice to make and she chose the hard road.

After B told us about herself she then began asking us questions. And there were more questions. And then more questions. She had just recently learned the gender of the baby but wanted to keep it a secret until she chose a couple. We definitely had a guess as to what gender the baby was based on the questions B asked us. We talked for about an hour and a half that night and we told her that if she thought of anything else she wanted to ask us to give us a call. We told her we knew she had to talk to other couples and that we would pray for her as she would be making a decision.

We prayed that night before bed for B and for her decision and we prayed for us. Selfishly, we wanted her to choose us so we asked God that she would do just that. We crawled into bed and once again asked each other, "Now how are we supposed to get any sleep tonight?"

To be continued...


That same day that the agency had called, I was talking to Stephen on the phone that afternoon and told him we needed to go out to dinner to celebrate. We finished the scrapbook and finally had ALL the paperwork behind us. Now all we had to do was wait....and get the nursery ready! I told him we could even go crazy after dinner and go to Target to register for some baby things. He liked the idea so we went to J. Alexander's for dinner and celebrated. We talked about all the things that we needed to do to get the nursery ready. We already had our crib and rocker and had painted the room so we were well on our way. I needed to paint a dresser we had that would be the changing table. We also wanted to start looking for a bookcase and needed to pick out some gender neutral bedding.

So we ate dinner and headed to Target to do some registering. We didn't have a clue about what we were doing but it was fun and I remember thinking how surreal it was. And it was also weird because they ask you the date the baby was due and we just looked at each other and laughed! We were on the diaper aisle registering for some diapers and my cell phone rang. The screen said "private caller" which was the same thing it said earlier when the adoption agency had called. I answered and it was the agency again. She said that a birthmom had come in that afternoon (remember, it's the same day here people! THE SAME DAY our scrapbook arrived) to look at some scrapbooks and to talk about an adoption plan and she wants to talk with us. I remember just blurting out, "SERIOUSLY?!?" I guess I thought it was a joke because we had just turned in our scrapbook and knew it would take some time. We had prepared ourselves for months of waiting. She said, "yes, I am serious and here is her information." We took down her (the birthmom) phone number and she said that we should call her on Sunday night. She said, "Don't be nervous. Just be yourselves so she can get to know you a little." I remember thinking to myself, "Don't be nervous. Who is she kidding?"

Needless to say we didn't spend a lot more time there at Target that night. We registered for a few more things and headed home. Remember it was Wednesday night. We got home and got ready for bed. Then we looked at each other and said, "Now how are we supposed to sleep or function or do anything at all between now and Sunday night?"

To be continued...

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Meltdown

We got home from orientation and began looking at our next round of paperwork to fill out. We had 10 days to get all of this paperwork turned back in and to complete our scrapbook and turn in our first big payment. I saw the amount of money we needed and immediately began to panic. But then I remembered that my sister had mentioned about a month prior to this that I would have some inheritance money from mom when she settled all of her medical bills, etc. I hadn't really thought much more about it because I knew as a single mom she just didn't have much. She lived paycheck to paycheck. So, we began praying that God would provide the money we needed to turn in to the agency and soon. My sister called and said she had the check for me and I couldn't believe was just a few hundred dollars shy of what we needed to turn into the agency! You see, my mom was playing a role in our adoption and she wasn't even with us on earth. Only God could pull that off!

We were given pointers on making our scrapbook while we were at orientation so that was the BIG project we had to complete after we got home. Basically, birthmoms come into the agency to make an adoption plan for their child and they look through these scrapbooks to pick out some couples they think they would choose to adopt their baby. The birthmoms are encouraged to take a few scrapbooks with them to think about it and then to set up phone calls with the couples to interview them and ask them questions. Then you(adoptive parents) are "matched" with a birthmom if she chooses you to adopt her baby. That is how the process works. So, needless to say we were very nervous about this scrapbook seeing as how it was the first impression that birthmoms were going to get of us. I had gotten together often with girlfriends and done scrapbooking while our husbands were studying. So, I felt pretty confident that I could put together something great.....that is until I walked into the scrapbooking store that cold day in December. I had a meltdown. I mean the kind of meltdown you DO NOT want to have in public with snot flying everywhere and crying so hard I was shaking kind of meltdown. It's funny now to look back on that day but it was in NO way funny then. I think everything came crashing down at that moment and the pressure was too much.....we had just undergone so much to get to that point. And then to think that us becoming parents was dependent on what kind of scrapbook paper I picked out! Well, no of course not....I was taking God out of the picture and doubting that HE had a plan and it didn't matter what our scrapbook looked like!

I managed to pull myself together after no less than five people asked me if I needed something or if they could call someone for me. I finally gathered my supplies and checked out....I gave myself a pep talk on the way home. "You can do this Jess! It's not about how good your scrapbook is! God has a baby for us!" I spent all my free time over the next couple of weeks working on the scrapbook and we mailed in about a dozen copies to the adoption agency. It was a Wednesday and I was at work that morning. Someone from the agency called to say they received our package with the rest of the paperwork, our first big payment, and our scrapbooks. She said that everyone at the agency commented on what a good job we had done on our scrapbook.....I sighed and smiled. She also said that they would begin showing it to birthmoms right away and hopefully we would hear from her again soon. Little did I know she would call again later that night!

To be continued...


We were so excited about going to San Antonio for the weekend. We flew in on Friday afternoon and thought we might squeeze a nap in before orientation started that evening. No such luck as we jumped on the shuttle for the wrong Holiday Inn! Who knew there were like a million Holiday Inn's in San Antonio? We finally made it to the right hotel just in time to begin! There were 11 other couples there and that night we all sat in a circle and shared about our journeys. Each couple took a turn sharing and there wasn't a dry eye in the room. We also met the staff of the adoption agency as they introduced themselves that night. One story was particularly touching to us. There was a couple who had placed a baby for adoption while they were teenagers and that couple was still together all these years later trying to conceive a child. I think it was about 18-20 years later so the child would have been in college if I am remembering correctly. Seeing the heartache they were suffering not knowing anything about the child they placed so long ago made me realize the importance of open adoption. All they wanted was to know what he was up to and see some pictures but because their adoption was closed at the time they couldn't get any information.

The next day the staff girls of the agency basically overloaded us with information about our paperwork, the financial issues, our scrapbook, the issue of open adoption, etc. The moment that stood out to me on that day was hearing from a birthmom about her journey. There was a panel of birthparents and adoptive parents to talk with us and answer questions. This birthmom said that the only way she was strong enough to place her child with the adoptive parents she chose was because she would always know how that child was doing. She would get pictures and updates and visits along the way and that gave her peace. Her story was so touching.

We finished the day with dinner on the River Walk and had a great time! Our brains were all on overload and we needed some time to just hang out and get to know everyone better. The agency left us with the thought that from that point on we were "expecting." They said you are waiting for your baby just like other couples who are pregnant and waiting for their babies. We were told to go home and get to work on our nurseries and go register for baby items and do all the things you would do if you were birthing this child yourselves. We flew out that next morning on Sunday and we left with such.....hope. Something we had been without for so long but it was nice to finally have it back.

To be continued...