There aren’t many moments that are as magical and take your breath away as much as the one where you meet your first-born child. Biologically, through adoption, or through any other method, there is this point where this little being is passed over into your arms and you think “Oh my gosh… this child is mine! What next?!”. The thrill and happiness and complete feeling of being content wash over you as you finally have realized your greatest ambition.
All of these emotions and thoughts ran through my head as our adoption journey finally reached it’s climax and our son was born! As you read in my first two excerpts on our Domestic Adoption journey here (Part 1 and Part 2), it truly was something that we had been working towards for YEARS. And when the nurse handed our son over to us, I was in such a state of shock and complete bliss that I’ll never be able to fully put it into words. Before I held our son, though, I headed straight to our birthmother and gave her the biggest hug and we both just started crying. After all of our emails and conversations, it felt as if we already knew each other and it was so great to finally put a face to all of these images, hopes, and dreams that she made into a reality!
As mentioned in my previous blog, in her birth plan, she did ask for some time with the baby after he was born. She spent about 20 minutes with him before we were allowed in and he had yet to get his first bath or first bottle. Our birth mom was truly an angel. Also in her birth plan was the desire to have us be a part of EVERYTHING when it came to the hospital experience. Our Adoption Agency told us that it varied among hospitals if we’d be able to actually spend the night, so while I tried not to get my hopes up, I would have been absolutely devastated if we would have had to go back to the hotel overnight.
Luckily, we couldn’t have asked for a better hospital experience. The hospital and all of the doctors and nurses were about as wonderful as I could have imagined! We were told right away that they had more than enough room for us to stay until our son would be able to be discharged, so we were officially hospital guests for the foreseeable future. They hooked us up with the necessary wristbands, paperwork, room information, and everything we’d need for a newborn and I was on cloud 9! One thing about adoption… you ALWAYS have to be ready to roll with the punches. You can pray and hope and dream that it’s going to go a certain way, but if we would have walked in that day and they said that there was absolutely no way we would get to stay overnight, we had to be prepared for that. And as happy as we were, our birthmother was happy, as well. She was relieved and excited that we were going to be the ones caring for him right away.
So once we got into the labor and delivery room, everything just fell into place. Legally, she still had all of the rights and could make all of the decisions until she signed away her parental rights (which was 48 hours after birth in Texas), but she immediately wanted us to be in charge. There were different forms she had to sign in order to give consent on different things, such as shots, newborn tests, circumcision, etc., but she didn’t sign a thing until we talked about it together and she knew what our wishes were. She was amazing.
I was able to help the nurse with our son’s first bath and I also was able to give him his first bottle! It was absolutely amazing to be able to be a part of all of these firsts and I love that we have those memories, videos, and pictures of all of us together in the hospital for my son to look on someday in the future. The nurses were awesome and treated us like gold. They were so helpful and loving and treated us like any other newborn parent in the hospital. After a few hours of spending time together, getting to know one another, and passing our son back and forth, we finally transitioned into separate rooms so she could rest up and we could start bonding with our son on our own. I know they say to sleep when the baby sleeps, but trust me… that little bassinet of his didn’t move out our room until we were all discharged. I absolutely wasn’t going to send him to the nursery at night after how long I had waited to meet him!
That time in the hospital was truly one of the best times of my life. Getting familiar with this little guy, getting my motherly sea legs under me, and staring into his scrunchy little face 24/7… it was indescribable. The three of us walked back and forth to our birthmother’s room a couple times to spend some additional time with her and she was absolutely amazing. I’ll never forget how strong she was.
The following morning, the doctors told us that they saw no reason why we all couldn’t get discharged after our son was 24 hours old. He looked great and was doing well and there wasn’t a medical reason why he would need to stay until the usual 48 hours after birth. I definitely wasn’t expecting that, but was fully onboard to start our new adventure together! Since the birth mom technically wouldn’t be signing her parental rights away until he was 48 hours old, she had to sign off on it, which she was more than gracious in doing, and before we knew it, the 24 hour mark hit, release papers were signed, bags were packed, and we were on our way back to the hotel! Our little family of three!
We made plans through the Adoption Agency and our birth mom to meet the following day to officially have her sign the documents relinquishing parental rights, which we did. We stayed together with her for a few hours after the official meeting to spend a little bit more time with each other before going our separate ways. It all seemed so surreal. We had been waiting for this forever, and within a matter of 48 hours, we met this amazing woman, met our son, we were parents, and everything was winding down!
Once the papers were signed, the Adoption Agency and lawyers did their magic to file the necessary paperwork within the state we adopted in, as well as in Wisconsin. When you adopt domestically, you have to wait until this paperwork is filed, looked over, and approved in BOTH states before you can cross the state line, so we knew we were going to be in Texas for awhile. Our agency prepared us that this process generally took between 3-14 days, so we really had no idea when we would be heading back to Wisconsin with our little bundle of joy. Luckily, we have family in Texas that lived about 2 hours away from where our son was born, so once all of the paperwork was filed and signed, we were free to go anywhere in Texas we wanted. Just not across the state line! So we headed over to our family’s house for a few days, which was so great! Home cooked meals, family, and being in a nice house instead of more hotel time was exactly what we needed!
After a few days, we were starting to get more and more anxious to start heading home. This time, we’d be driving home with a newborn, so we didn’t have any expectations on breaking any travel records. We did want to give ourselves a bit of a head start, however, and since we were about 3 hours from the Texas state line and knew the call would be coming any day for approval to head home, we decided we’d start the trek back and stay at the state line, just to be a few hours closer to home. So imagine our surprise when we did just that, checked into a hotel, got everything unpacked, and got a call from the agency saying we were free to head back to Wisconsin! Luckily, the hotel completely understood (having an absolutely adorable newborn didn’t hurt!) and let us check out right away without charges. And off to Wisconsin we went!
Changing diapers in rest stops was quite the experience. Talk about being thrown into the fire! 🙂
Many people always commented about how hard it must have been to not be home. To not have a lot of family around for all of the hospital time or to help out that first week. And while we did get to spend a little time with our Texas family, we were on our own for a majority of the time. And truth be told… it was one of the best weeks of my life. I LOVED the alone time we got as a family of 3 that first week. We got to establish patterns and figure out what worked best for us and our little guy right away. We were hands on, which is exactly what we wanted, and we didn’t have the revolving door of visitors that many new parents get, which lets face it… can be a bit overwhelming! So, we relished every second of our time alone together. We knew that would change quick once we got back to Wisconsin!
Once we got home, our friends and family threw us baby showers and our little guy got to meet everyone. It was such a great time and I was absolutely over the moon in love with our son. Getting up in the night and changing diapers was nothing compared to everything we had been through. We finally were on the other side of that dark tunnel and the rays of sunshine were everywhere!
Over the next couple of months, we kept in contact quite often with the birthmother through email. We would share pictures and let her know how everything was going and she also kept us in the loop with what was going on with her and things she was up to. We also shared phone numbers when we met for her to sign the papers of relinquishing parental rights because we all felt super comfortable with our situation. Over the next couple of years we would text her a handful of times if we ever had any family history questions and she was always quick to respond with any questions we had.
However, the emails started to take longer for her to answer and eventually it appeared that she was moving on and taking the space she needed to heal. We were warned from our social workers that this was completely normal and was a part of the process that many birthmothers went through. That once they felt comfortable with their decision and knew everything was going as well as they had hoped, it was time for them to get on with their life and put some distance between that painful decision and us. I was actually surprised how hard it was for me to not have her in our lives as much anymore. I had grown a one-of-a-kind bond with this woman and when the contact got few and far between, it actually was hard for me. For all of those times early on in our adoption process when I never thought I’d be comfortable with a more “open” adoption, the tables turned and it was something that I enjoyed quite a bit. But, my first priority was making sure that the birthmother was comfortable and content with her decision. While it was such a joyful time for us, that joy came with pain for someone else.
We eventually headed back to Texas a couple of months after our son was born (this time we flew!) in order to get his adoption finalized at the courthouse. We offered to try to meet the birth mom in order to spend a little bit of time together again, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out with schedules and we were actually finalizing the adoption in a different city than where our son was born. Finalizing the adoption was so much more emotional that I imagined it would be. The judge was amazing and gave our son a sweet teddy bear for his big day. We took pictures of our new family with the judge and she had many kind words to say. It was a great day to be in court!
Time with our son passed quickly. Before we knew it, he was turning 1 year-old. And than 2 years-old. I couldn’t have loved being a mom anymore! He was perfect and was an absolute dream come true. I loved being hands-on, making his baby food, and being involved as much as I could. I quickly realized that adding to our family once again was becoming more and more important to me, and it took minimal prodding to convince my husband. He was in right away!
So before we knew it, we were heading back for more home studies, document gathering, and starting the adoption process again for Baby #2! We planned on going through the same Adoption Agency and started working with them, as well as a local social worker for our home studies in April, 2012. We knew we would never strike gold twice with how great, easy, and quick our son’s adoption was, and we understood that we might be in the mix a bit longer this time around. Our agency also reminded us of this, so we were prepared to go through the steps and play the waiting game once we were active. We didn’t clue in many family and friends, simply because we were taking our time and didn’t want to be asked the inevitable questions upon every phone call or get-together.
And wouldn’t you know it… a friend contacted me in early June, 2012 out of the blue. She had no idea we were already mid-way through the process, so it was a complete coincidence! She had a friend of a friend who was pregnant, not in an ideal situation, and was considering placing the baby for adoption. Were we interested?!?!
Yup… it seems like lightening was about to strike twice…
Stay Tuned for Part 4 in June!