June 14, 2014
As I sit here on my bed with my tiny little niblet of a son snuggled close against my side, listening to him breathe as I type, I am still ready to pinch myself to be sure that this amazing little person is here with me and not just a dream. Today is that cut-off day I’d previously mentioned — the day our home study documents began to expire and we were going to walk away from adoption all together and live a childless life. Now, knowing what I know, and having what I have, I can’t help but think what a fool’s choice that would have been.
Eighteen short and memorable days ago, my boy came into this world at 7:59am via a scheduled c-section. In true 21st century fashion, my first glances of my baby came just moments after he was born courtesy of a text message sent from the operating room, located on the other side of double doors and down a long hallway from where my husband and I stood. Through an outburst of tears that would give any waterproof mascara a run for its money, we stared at the picture of this new little life shining back at us on the screen of my iPhone. In an instant I felt disbelief that he was actually here, then an urge to charge through the doors and see him immediately, then anticipation for when they would finally bring him to us for our first real peek. Every single cell in my body felt like it was supercharged. It was a high like I’d never felt before. My heart pounded and my knees went weak, and I knew…I JUST KNEW…this was our son!! It happened that quickly. I fell into a state of complete and total adoration for a being who just minutes before didn’t even exist, and that for the moment, I only knew through a photo. We stood there frozen, holding each other in the early morning stillness of the curiously desolate labor and delivery wing of the hospital. Then, almost simultaneously, our 21st century sensibilities kicked in and we began to feverishly text the very small group of family who were privy to our adoption plans…
“OH, HAPPY DAY!”
“HE’S HERE!! HE’S HERE!!”
Our dearest friends and family who we had kept in the dark and had no earthly clue about what had just transpired, were treated to a pre-scripted email topped with a subject line that read, “So…This Just Happened!” (subtle, eh?)
A few moments later, the double doors from the operating room corridor swept open and two nurses wheeled a clear plastic bassinet out into the hall in front of us. I can only remember grabbing Frank’s arm and covering my mouth to muffle my sobs, and whimpering “Oh My God, Oh My God” over and over again. The truth is though, I couldn’t even see him as he lay there silently bundled in his little mobile unit because of the floodwaters swelling in my eyes. To see him would have been like trying to read street signs while driving through a monsoon. He was just a blurry little burrito of blankets nestled beneath a round little pile that I, using my awareness of human anatomy, ascertained was his itty-bitty head. We were made to follow a growing parade of nurses and others down the hall and into a hospital room. I was told to go into the bathroom and take off my shirt and put on a hospital gown. When I came out, they placed his wee 7.3 lb diapered body against my bare chest and wrapped us both in warm blankets. This little person curled right up against my pounding heart and fell fast asleep for the next hour. If I would have died right there, I would have been fine because I was already in heaven.
The hospital and nurses were so lovely. They were able to provide Frank and me with our own room, right next door to our son’s birthmother. Our room was complete with a civil war era hospital bed and some contraption that looked like a couch, but felt like a set of monkey bars disguised in a polyester/vinyl covering. It was perfect!! No really, it was…because at that moment I had ZERO intention of leaving the hospital unless it was with our son! The next three days were spent shuffling between our rooms, bonding, and co-parenting with our son’s biological mother while she recuperated from her c-section–a process that initially scared and worried me, but ultimately left me and my husband feeling grateful and filled with an abundance of compassion for her. The magnitude of her sacrifice, and the love in her eyes for her child will be something I carry around in my heart forever.
That Saturday was the big day! The moment of truth. The day we had longed for for years! After barely sleeping at all, Frank and I gave up any notion of rest around 5:30am. We began to watch the seconds tick by (seriously, the damn second hand on the wall clock in the room actually made a ticking sound!!!). I drank cup after cup of crappy hospital coffee. I cradled the baby and looked into his face and prayed to God that his will was for us to take this child home. I perused Facebook. I played stupid games on my iPad.
Finally, the adoption agency arrived at 10:00am to sign all the papers, which was none too soon because if I’d have had one more cup of coffee, I certainly would have vomited. First, they met privately with the birthmother. Then they came to our room. The surge of caffeine and adrenaline in my system was off the charts. I’m pretty sure I was making a buzzing sound! Frank and I sat on the monkey bars and the agency representative sat on the edge of the bed, while an agency social worker sat in a seat across the room. We used the hospital feeding tray on wheels as our “conference table” to sign the papers.
Document after document was placed in front of us for explanation, review, and signature. When the last document was explained to us, Frank signed his name and then slid the paper over to me and handed me the pen. I signed my name…
Now, this is where everything gets kind of weird and goes into slow motion. I feel like the 10 seconds that followed my signature took 20 minutes to unfold. I mean, I knew that this was THE paperwork. And that this was THE process we had longed for. But it just felt so surreal. I guess we’d gotten so used to the struggle, and this was just so easy that it didn’t feel like it could be real. Could we have actually made it to the finish line? Or, maybe this was the paperwork before you signed the paperwork before you signed the paperwork?? Except it wasn’t. This was it, and I’d just scribbled out my last required signature…
I had not even had a chance to look up to meet her glance–I was still lifting my hand to allow her to retrieve the document, when I heard words that at that moment, and now in this moment, and likely every time I will think about it for the rest of my life, reduced me to a limp, useless puddle of bawling flesh…
She so very simply and sweetly said…”That’s it. He’s all yours.”