It is important to realize that we adopt not because we are rescuers. No. We adopt because we are rescued.
Today I bring you part two of our adoption story. And it is truly a story of rescue. Sam saved our lives, my life, and I will forever be grateful to the woman who carried him for 9 months to bless us with him. Birth mothers may be some of the toughest women out there and today I get to share a small glimpse into more of the journey to our Samuel Noah.
Last week I set the foundation to our story in Our Adoption Story: Part I in case you need to catch up. Today we move into the big crazy ball of anxiety that adoption is but all so totally worth it. I would do it all over again all to have Sam as my own.
I have decided to call Sam's birth mother "Hope" here instead of her real name out of respect for her privacy. It took a while to decide on just the right name to call her, but she was our hope, so the name fits. If she ever happens to find this, I hope that she knows how special she is to us and that our happiness is thanks to her sacrifice and bravery.
So, let's get to it shall we?
I closed out part one with the concept that adoption is a "Hurry up and wait" process. And that's exactly what it is. We were lucky that our wait was not as long as others but the anxiety that comes with it is like nothing I have ever experienced.
The Home Study
Every adoption begins right here. Consider the home study your "certification" process to adopt. There is a long checklist you have to complete in order to even be considered to be placed. When you have spent years and years trying to conceive and birth a baby, there is a touch of cynicism that comes up here and there during the home study because you know you wouldn't be required to do any of these things if you got pregnant. And you see everyone else walking around with baby bumps knowing darn well they didn't have to get finger printed, have a fireman come inspect their house, take classes and so much more to do so, buuuuut, we treated it as the means to the ends.
This is what we had to do and we were going to do it as fast as humanly possible. And we did. 12 weeks is typically the soonest anyone completes their home study but we were able to crank it out in under 10 weeks. We got all the classes scheduled and even drove over an hour to attend one of the mandatory classes so we didn't have to delay anything.
The agency has a team of social workers and while Tonya was the only one that we met with, we know we got the best of the best. In the process, I would say your social worker is equal parts therapist, guide, and cheerleader. We had three visits from Tonya to our home during the home study. Before our first visit, there were plenty of nerves as I was concerned that a stranger would hold all the power to decide whether we were fit or not to be parents. However, once I met her, all of that faded immediately.
I will admit that some of the visits felt more like couples therapy but honestly in a good way. A lot of the questions and topics we discussed all pointed to one thing: Anthony and I could get through the toughest times together, and we already had done so many times. Our struggles had only made us stronger as a couple and the fact that we made it to this point in one piece was a testament to our strength as a couple.
There were also three books we had to read which we discussed with Tonya. Though some of them were dated, they had some really great insight as to raising an adopted child, the perspective of the birth mother and other real life situations around the topic of adoption. Cranking out three books in that time period was far from simple but like I said, we were getting things moving--and quick.
The hardest part of the home study was a class we had to take at the hospital that was designed for expecting parents, but it was technically designed for those physically pregnant and that is what the material was created for. We arrived a little early to the class and were supposed to meet in the lobby. It was simple to figure out who was in the class as several couples had noticed another pregnant couple and began to chat and huddle together. I started to feel a touch uneasy as I wasn't exactly sure how I would feel being the only one not 8 months pregnant but I held my head high and started to stand close to the group as I waited for Anthony to finish parking.
Right then, the instructor walked right past me and with her back to me, addressed the group noting that they were all clearly here for the class. That was the point that tears started to roll down my face and I stepped away for a few minutes, begging myself to pull it together. I wanted to be strong and make it through this. No one had done anything intentionally to hurt my feelings and yet the emotions just let loose.
Anthony came in and saw me walking away and asked what was going on as he kissed my forehead, knowingly. I explained what happened and he just assured me that I was doing the very best I could and it was okay. Since we were on the hospital's main floor, Anthony popped into the gift shop to grab much needed tissues and meanwhile one of the sweet ladies who worked there saw me hovering in a corner trying to hide the tears. She came up and gave me the biggest hug and just kept telling me, "It's gonna be okay, baby, it's gonna be okay." (And this time I made it this far without crying as I type. A new record I suppose.) She was a complete stranger, had no clue what I was crying for, but her hug meant the world to me that day. The little things you do for complete strangers can certainly have a lifelong impact. She was a beautiful interruption to a dreadful moment and I am grateful.
I wish I could say I had stopped crying after Anthony got me the tissues, but we had to take the elevator up to labor and delivery together as a group of about 10 couples and the small talk the instructor made was all along the lines of who was delivering where so I just continued to let my tear ducts run and run, with no sign of drying up. I wasn't able to stop crying until after the part of the class where she talked about why breast feeding is best (to be fair, she gave us a disclaimer that this is what she had to promote due to hospital policy.) And just my luck, I wasn't exactly able to be fully hidden since we were in a room the size of a box, but I made it til the end.
The instructor approached us as we were about to leave to make sure everything was okay and we were able to explain the situation. Mind you, this was only a month after our final fertility treatment had failed so there were still some open wounds I had to tend to and I was still grieving the fact that I would most likely not give birth to my own child. The whole concept was still so new and so far from what I had expected so to have to sit through a two hour class with 9 other couples who were all about to give birth was not my idea of a fun night out.
But I survived. We survived. And we left reminding ourselves it was a means to an end. And the end that was in sight was closer than we had ever been.
After that class was in the books, there was another that was full of adoptive and foster parents so it was a much more comfortable atmosphere.
The paperwork that you have to complete as part of the home study is a load, but the biggest piece of it is the one that really tugs at your heart the most. There is one form that as I remember was about 100 pages long, but in reality only about 10 sides maybe, but each side had at least 75 or so questions. This form was the survey of all the different things you would consider in your adoption. We are talking every race, every health complication, everything. I remember one question asking something along the lines of, "Would you consider a child who has schizophrenia on the father's side of the family?" Seriously, every question you didn't even know was an option was on this survey. This form stirs up a lot because of course you want to be open to absolutely any and all children but you also have to be realistic in what you can handle as a couple.
The paperwork, the finger prints, the fire inspection by the fire department, emergency numbers posted in the house, fire escape plan hanging, safety walk-through by the social worker, background checks, books read, classes and visits complete. Home study done. Time to relax, right?!
Not so fast.
The hardest part of all for me came just after the home study.
Before we could be considered, we had to put together "our book." This was a book that the agency could use to market us to birth mothers. Do you know how difficult it is to write a book all about yourself to try to convince someone that you are the right person to raise the child they are carrying??? It's excruciatingly difficult.
I am a writer, like I enjoy doing it, but having to put together a piece of writing that could have such a huge impact was a daunting task. I sat many times frozen in front of the computer with the most wicked case of writer's block. I over analyzed every photo I selected, every word I wrote. This task was a tricky one for the perfectionist in me. But after hours upon hours, we finally had a finished product that we were so proud of and it was ready to go. We also had already sent in a profile to be displayed on the web site which was a much shorter version of the book.
I am including a few screenshots of the book just to get an idea of some of the things that went into it. Hope you enjoy!
The rest of the book included our friends, our hobbies, our home, a little about each of us as individuals and a few other things. This was blood, sweat and tears, but we have it forever to show Sam and it is what connected us to Hope so it is a very special keepsake.
The book was completed and several copies were ordered, the home study was complete. There was a cover in each and every outlet in the house, several other baby proofing needs were in place and we were ready... to wait.
Immediately after I ordered the copies of our books, I got a call from the agency. There was an interested couple. They wanted our book immediately. I got hot, my heart pounded. The books were arriving in the mail in two days but I suddenly wanted to figure a way to intervene and scoop them up from wherever they were en route. Not a possibility, so I had to wait, a very long two days and then run everything to the agency the second they arrived.
The flutter of emotions was unreal. Was this happening? Was this our big break? Surely we deserved this, we had already waited so long and now we were going to get a nice and easy road to adoption, we just had to. We waited to hear news from the agency later that week as to whether the couple was interested in us.
We got the call. But not the call we were hoping for. The family of the couple got wind of the adoption and was in an uproar. We were told to wait it out for a few weeks, that sometimes it just takes a little bit of time. Ugh. More waiting, the last thing I wanted to hear.
So we waited. And waited. We tried to busy ourselves and do things to help keep ourselves distracted but that was easier said than done. But there was no ring, there was no call. They did not come around. And so our first potential child slipped right through our fingers, just like that. We were powerless in the situation and there was nothing we could do but go back to what we had been doing, you guessed it, waiting.
About a month or so went by and we heard nothing, which is what we were told would be the case--like I said no news was no news. The wait was torture. We had been warned it would be, but it was so much worse than I had imagined. People who know your situation ask for updates and you have nothing. Life goes on around you, but all you can think is WHEN???? Just tell me, when please!!!!!!!
And then we got the call. It was a horribly rainy day in June. I was at work and saw the agency's number pop up on my phone while on a break. I walked out to the small living area in the front of our store and sat on the couch waiting to hear the director's voice. Again I was hot, my heart was pounding louder than before. And when I finally got through, I heard her voice and she said:
"Lorie, I just met the most lovely girl. And she wants to meet you and Anthony. Her name is Hope"
While I thought today's portion would include the day we met Sam, I underestimated how much went into just the prep work and the initial wait.
So I guess now you will have to wait, but just until next week, when I bring you part three. I promise it will be worth the wait. xoxo
Thank you again and again for reading and for allowing me to share. Getting to share this as we move into Mother's Day weekend gives me the chills. Can't wait to bring you part three.
Check out Part III of our story.