Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Call - Sam's Adoption Story

After years and years of waiting for another baby, you'd think we'd be ready to have one sprung on us at any time.  And yet, when the call came last Sunday and we were told there was a baby waiting at the hospital for us, it was like we hadn't been waiting for that exact call for years.  A lot of excitement and a little bit of panic (we're not ready!!).  Yet, I feel like God must have delighted in springing one on us and making us a family of 4 in just a few hours.  (I realize many families expand in a matter of hours.  Mom goes into labor and has a baby, boom! Family bigger.  Except we didn't know we were imminently expecting.)

We were blessed beyond measure with another perfect son, Samuel Paul.  Sam because we liked it (and biblical like big brother Luke) and Paul after my dearly departed Grandpa

Matt and I always wanted multiple children.  We have huge families and we always planned on having a houseful ourselves (I guess that's a relative term, considering our family sizes but we always wished for many).  Before we even got Luke we were talking about how soon after we'd want to relist for another.  It was always part of the plan (which I've learned, doesn't mean much).

We started shortly after Luke's first birthday, contacting the same agency that helped us get him and starting the home study process.  But there was a waiting list for the waiting list and I was having foot surgery in the fall (that put me on crutches for 6 weeks) that would have kept us from being placed anyways.  So it was November 2014 before we were officially listed and waiting for a baby.

Almost 3½ years ago.

Adoption posts during wait #2:
Deja Vu to Two Years Ago (Sept. 2014)
Praying for the Next One (Nov. 2014)
November is Indiana Adoption Month (Nov. 2014)
The Interrelated Woes of my Foot & Adoption (May 2015)
The Adoption Struggle, It's Real (Sept. 2015)
Things I Tell Myself When the Adoption Wait Sucks (Dec. 2015 - it's a good thing that I didn't know we still had TWO YEARS to go when I wrote this.)
State of the Adoption - Year 4 (March 2016)
The Adoption Question I Wished We'd Be Asked (Feb. 2017)
State of the Adoption - Year 5 (Feb. 2017)
Dear Birth Mother... (March 2017)
Prepping for an Adoption Home Visit (Aug. 2017)
State of the Adoption - Year 6 (Feb. 2018)

Three and a half years is a long time to wait.  A long time to be thinking about every plan "Well if we have a baby by then this will change because..."  We prayed "Thy will be done" even on the hard days (and JUST that Sunday morning when I was getting ready for church I was thinking about how I should write a post about how hard "Thy will be done" can be to pray and accept.)  But there were a lot of benefits to having just one kid who was getting easier by the year (I wrote a whole post about it: The Things We Will Miss).

In 2017 we started looking for more agencies to list with after one of ours didn't place any babies in 2016 and another had shut down their adoption program.  We spent a lot of time last year on adoption related things.  We went to meetings, had another home study visit, made two profile books, filled out more paperwork, wrote checks, and stressed.  (You can read about our most invasive personal question asked here and small humor in filling out some paperwork here.)

By the fall we were listed at multiple agencies in multiple cities and we finally felt a bit at peace with the wait.  We felt we had done what we could to get our profile in front of many birth mothers and now we were going to let God do His work.

Life was continuing on.  We got infrequent updates from some of our agencies.  We registered Luke for kindergarten and I was asked many times what I would do once he's in school (Me: "Hopefully have a baby!  Train for a half marathon if we don't!")  We planned a trip to New York City for later this year.  (New thing to stress about: how we will handle a tiny baby in New York.)

Then everything changed in an afternoon.

Saturday, March 3rd
Normal Saturday at home.  I know we were sorting through garage sale Legos ($5 for a giant tub with Star Wars and Harry Potter sets, our best find ever) at 5pm.  We went to Matt's BIL's surprise 40th birthday party that evening.  My SIL asked me about running a half marathon and I said I would if we don't have a baby.  Matt and I watched The Avengers after getting Luke to bed and didn't get to bed until past midnight but I always take a nap on Sunday afternoons so it was fine.  I was really looking forward to that nap.

Sunday, March 4th
We went to 9am Mass, talked with people after, went to breakfast downstairs.  Came home, changed, and went to my in-laws for weekly Sunday brunch.  Matt and I were sitting in the kitchen talking with other family members when I got a phone call from out of state at 11:59.  I ignored it because we've been getting a lot of spam calls lately and so I don't answer my phone unless I know the number or am expecting a call.

Fifteen minutes later Matt stepped out to take a call from his sister and then came to get me. "I want to see if you know who this number is." He said as we walked into another room.

As soon as we were alone he said the agency was trying to get a hold of us (and had tracked us down through his sister whose daughter is friends with the daughter of one of the employees).

Now, there is only ONE reason an adoption agency would be calling us over a weekend.  And we both knew what that was.

We went on the front porch and started freaking out a little and trying to figure out who to call back.  I listened to my voice mail and called that social worker.  Matt called the number from his sister (he's still not sure who he talked to).  We got the story.  There was a baby born the night before, at 5pm, completely healthy, he needs parents.  We were next on the list (it doesn't always work like that, Luke's birth mom picked us from profiles, but this mom didn't want to pick and we won since we had been on the list the longest).  Could we sign papers downtown and then head to the hospital?  The hospital wanted someone to stay with the baby that night and then he should be discharged on Monday.

That's a lot to take in in a few minutes.

My mind was going 100 miles a second and I said I wanted to talk to my husband and I'd call her right back.  Meanwhile Matt's talking to someone else and agreeing to go get a baby.  His phone call was much longer than mine and I couldn't get him to hang up and tell me what the heck was going on.  I went and got Luke, got our coats, and we just disappeared, didn't tell anyone what was going on.

As soon as we got in the car we told Luke we thought we were getting a baby that day.  He was finally getting his brother/sister he had been praying for since he could talk.  What he's wished for on every birthday candle, every eyelash.  He often asked why it was taking so long to find them.  He had been waiting basically his whole life.  And he was SO excited.

At 12:33pm, about 15 minutes after this all started, I called back the social worker I had talked to and told her we would take that baby and start to figure out how this would happen.

We had about 45 minutes at home to pack our bags and get things ready for a baby.  Most parents get 8 months.  With Luke we knew 8 days before we were bringing him home.  What I wouldn't have given for even 8 hours.

I spent a lot of that time walking around the house just saying "Oh my goodness.  Oh my goodness.  Praise the Lord.  Oh my goodness."  If it's possible to have an excited panic attack I think I had one.

We looked up roughly where this hospital was (about 90 minutes away).  We looked up if the infant carseat we used for Luke was expired (it would be in August).  We looked up if Target had any on the shelf we could buy immediately (they did, and even ON SALE.  THANK YOU TARGET.)  We all packed bags for overnight, grabbed the camera and GPS, I filled the diaper bag with at least 8 outfits many burb cloths and blankets.  There was no room in there for diapers.  We got the Big Brother button I had ordered for Luke over a year ago.  I'm really surprised at how well we packed considering the no time and minor freaking out.

(Luke, of course, packed a bunch of Star Wars books and toys.  Gotta teach this baby young.)

We left home before 1:30, got downtown to the agency at 1:37.  And then spent more than an hour going over the paperwork and signing.  Let me tell you, a good way to kill a "we are getting a baby!" high is by reading a bunch of legal documents.

But we signed away, wrote a check, got our packet of papers to take to the hospital and the social worker who would be meeting us there, and headed out about 2:40.

We stopped at Wendy's for lunch.  Went to Target for the car seat, diapers (forgot wipes), a toy for Luke (spent $14 and totally worth it for all the time he spent playing with it at the hospital!) and I randomly grabbed some onesies because, we were getting a baby.  I could buy baby clothes!

He "played" with those in the box for the entire drive.

We were back on the road about 3:20 and started our drive.  We called the social worker to let her know when we were due to arrive.  I called my Mom and asked if she could watch my niece who we normally watch on Mondays.  She asked if there was anything I wanted to tell her.  NO MOM.  (She knew something was up.)

At 4:48 we arrived at the hospital.  We grabbed the camera, my purse and water bottle and met the social worker at 4:50.  Then set off to meet our son.  They took us to the OB unit and to the room that would be ours and right at 5:00, when he was 24 hours old, they wheeled him in.  And there he was.  Perfect.  Less than 5 hours after we knew he existed, we had signed papers and had our lives completely and forever changed.

The first picture we have of him is at 5:03pm, me holding him and Luke next to me.  It was completely surreal.  We woke up that morning thinking it was a normal Sunday (and I was really looking forward to that nap, before I was even out of bed).  Then less than 9 hours later we had two beautiful boys.

By 5:10 we were alone in the hospital room as a family of 4.  (The nurses and social worker: "Let us know if you need anything! Bye!") At 5:11 we took our first family of 4 picture.  It was so completely different from how Luke's meet and greet went (where we had to meet and impress his birth mother and her parents before we got to meet him).  We had signed all the papers and now this was it!  We were new parents again.

By 5:13 we were back on the phone, each calling our parents.  Then all our siblings.  Everyone was pretty shocked (can't say it had settled in for us yet either!).

Most of the people we talked to: "Did you know this was coming??"

Us: "Nope.  Not at all."

After years of waiting, years of praying, years of wondering when we would get that baby, it all happened in an afternoon.  I like to think God was up there gleefully laughing at giving us this blessing, all those times we prayed knowing this was coming and that it would come so fast.  An answer to so many prayers.

I stayed that night in the hospital with Sam.  Matt and Luke got a hotel and came back in the morning.  Luke and I ran to Wal-Mart in the afternoon for formula (and wipes) but otherwise we stuck around the hospital all day.  We were discharged at 5:30 and headed home with a full car, still a little in shock.

You know how most parents do the whole nesting and getting ready for baby thing?  Like washing the clothes, getting furniture rearranged and set-up, etc.?  Yeah...we didn't get that.  People kept texting and asking what we needed. Someone to break into our house to sanitize bottles and wash the baby clothes.  Please and thank you!

We got both sets of Grandparents over within an hour after getting home.  I threw in all the newborn - 3 months clothes in the washer, almost before I had my coat off.  We got the pack n play set up (super important because it's where we store all the baby stuff downstairs - diapers, wipes, burb cloths, clean clothes, etc.).  The next morning we washed bottles, started (another) shopping list, and got things knocked off the to-do list (call about baptism class, let other agencies know we were placed, work on insurance, get attorney, etc.)

The first night was rough but every one since had gotten a little easier.  Matt and I getting at least 7 hours of sleep (even if not consecutively) makes a world of difference in how the day goes.    We've had a steady stream of visitors and Luke is especially delighted when cousins come to meet his new baby (but then run off to play with him).

We still have to wait for the putative father registry to clear (not that I'm completely stressing about it or anything (I am.)), have post placement visits, and eventually go to court to finalize.  Our adoption journey for this baby isn't over yet.  But the years of waiting are.  It's still a little mind boggling.  But, also, crazy how quick it became weird not to have Sam with us, how quickly he became an integral part of our family.

It still blows my mind at how quickly life changed.  It's been a little over a week and still feeling so so blessed.  There are so many people who have said so many prayers for us over the years.  We are so grateful for every one.  Getting to tell everyone is so exciting.

Things might be a little sparse over here for a few weeks (everything that published last week I had written and scheduled before our lives blew up) as we adjust and figure out our new routines. But this is the life disruption we've been wanting.  It's exhausting but so exciting.  We are so blessed by this baby, his birth mother, and all the people who helped pray Sam into our family.  Praise the Lord.


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