Sorrow and Surprise – Our Adoption Story Part 5

We were interrupted around 1am when the nurse came in to tell us they got her test results back….

The nurse came in and informed us that Adalynn needed additional monitoring in their nursery based on the test results they ran. We reluctantly let them take her down hall and I tried very hard to fall asleep and not worry too much. I set my alarm for 4:30 am so I wouldn’t miss her next feeding. My only regret here is that I didn’t tell the nurse that I wanted to be notified immediately if Adalynn was fussing or having a difficult time. So, at 4:30 Phillip and I went down the hall to check on our beautiful baby-the nurses said she had a difficult few hours, which made me sad that I wasn’t there. But we fed her and changed her itty bitty diaper and off to sleep she went. Phillip had to run back home to get a few things for us – like new clothes and some toiletries. I stayed with Adalynn and was told it was likely that we would be transferred to another hospital because she needed monitoring and care that this small hospital couldn’t give her. The nurse also told me she thought that Adalynn could be in the NICU for 8 weeks! My poor young momma heart just dropped when she said that. Hours later the doctor came in and said that he spoke with the other hospital and we would be transferring to the other hospital to be admitted to the NICU. Adalynn required a special transport team that was much scarier looking than the situation warranted…but also made me pretty emotional. The transport team was wonderful and even offered to let me ride in the ambulance…but Phillip said I couldn’t ūüėČ

So off to the NICU we went. We were taught how to scrub in and then shown to Adalynn’s new shared room. We were greeted by her doctor, who was a very kind woman. She told us that she assessed Adalynn and said as of right now she didn’t think they needed to start any medication but they were going to monitor her closely and make sure she was comfortable and safe. The nurse showed us all the monitors and what they did and they made her a cute little name tag and personalized her bedding. We were told we could stay as long as we wanted or if we needed sleep we could feel free to go home and take a nap. We knew that we wanted to stay with her for the first 24 hours but that we would take turns so the other could nap. The NICU staff was great and I was able to stay until the early morning hours doing skin-to-skin and singing to my sweet baby. It was in the quiet, intimate moments that I began to weep over the reality of holding my daughter close to my skin, the missing piece of our family that we had been longing for the last 24 months. Over the next few days of monitoring many friends visited us, including my mom and sister! The staff at the NICU kept saying how surprised they were that Adalynn was doing so well and continued to just need monitoring because most babies in her similar state would need medical intervention and would be very unhappy – they attributed it to how much we loved her but we knew this was a direct result of prayer and a miracle of God. I reflect on all the times over the last 2 years that we prayed and ask God to protect our baby and now we were seeing the answer to those prayers and the prayers of many others. She continued to improve and we moved forward with going home after just 5 days! . ¬†Adalynn was still so small, we left the hospital with her weighing 5 pounds 5 ounces.

All we needed to do next was to wait for our finalization court date August 10th…

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Sorrow and Surprise- Our Adoption Story Part 4

We set our bags at the nurses station and headed down the hall. Halfway down the hall our nurse turns to us and says ‚ÄúYou know, we better hurry‚Ķ‚ÄĚ

So we picked up the pace and quickly skidded in to a room on the left. We stopped just a few feet inside the doorway. There were the doctors at the foot of the bed and nurses up near the head of the bed. The nurse asked us to move closer to the foot of the bed, we politely declined but took a few steps forward. Seconds later the doctor said, “Ok, just one more push…”

I am pretty sure I was holding my breathe. My hands over my mouth in awe and we waited…

As the doctor caught the baby he said, “It’s a……GIRL!”

Immediately the tears came. I was overwhelmed. Still crying, I made my way to the side of Debra’s bed. We introduced ourselves awkwardly and thanked her. She told us congratulations, which felt so weird because she had just given us the most precious, selfless gift. She told us she was so happy for us and that she was our daughter. It was so surreal. We were able to go in to the next room and immediately ¬†do skin to skin contact. We were able to spend hours with her, cuddling and crying.

We Facetimed my parents, who knew nothing about what had just happened. They were so surprised! I told my dad ¬†I got him a late birthday present, as his birthday was the day before. I pointed the camera only at my face. He asked me what I got him…I moved my phone camera and showed him the brand new baby in my arms. “I got you a granddaughter!”

We also Facetimed Phillip’s parents which was also really special. We praised God as we held this precious baby. Bonding was instant. We named her. Adalynn Grace.

Adalynn means of nobility (read Princess) and Grace….because it was God’s grace that brought her to us. Nothing we could have done or planned. Just Grace. He brought to us His grace in the hardest moments of our lives. Adalynn was the grace we needed July 9th.

We were interrupted around 1am when the nurse came in to tell us they got her test results back….

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Sorrow and Surprise- Our Adoption Story Part 3

So he answered the phone…we didn’t know our lives were about to change forever…

It was the birthmother’s fianc√©. I heard Phillip ask him if he wanted information on adoption or if he wanted just to talk to us. Then I heard him say that he needed to call our agency and they could help him with what to do next and to mention our names. And then Phillip said…”So…she is in labor-right now? Wow. Ok. So, call our agency and they can help, tell them you want to work with Phillip and Casey…”

Honestly this whole sequence is a big blur. It felt so surreal. As soon as Phillip hung up the phone I made him recount the whole conversation with me. “Birth mom is in labor. He said they know for sure that they want to do the adoption…I am pretty sure he means with us…they are in a hard spot in life right now…I know there are other kids in the mix…boys I think…I told him to call our agency…so…now what should we do??? (insert his nervous laughter)

I told Phillip that I guess we better find our baby stuff and get in the carseat in the car while we wait for our agency to call us back. We then entered in to the longest 30 minutes of our lives. We prayed and then moved quickly to find the essentials. He frantically installed the carseat, while I texted a few people from my inner circle to pray about a last minute local opportunity. It was too soon to say anything to many people, everything was so up in the air and sudden.

I was a ball of emotions as I went to the nursery to find the baby bags packed in the closet. I hadn’t touched them since Arizona. Unpacking and inventorying them brought a flood of memories of T and the sting of reality of her recent passing. I couldn’t believe I was about to repack the bags once more. Since we thought birthmom already had boys, I packed gender neutral onesies that I acquired but they were pretty boyish and just for fun I through in two girly onesies. I tried to think of all that we could possibly need. Bottles, burp rags, onesies, diapers, wipes, blankets, hats. I packed Philip’s Dad shirts I got him for Father’s Day two years ago. I packed my big Mom mug. I quickly changed my clothes to look a little more presentable. I grabbed our adoption binder that had our home study in it. (Which we were needing to renew as it was supposed to expire July 23rd, I had been putting it off and still hadn’t done it.) And I sat on the bed. I paced the floor. I waited for what seemed like forever.

And then my phone rang…it was our agency. The woman on call was on the other end. She was confused.

She said “I just got a call from a man named Henry* and I can’t find him in our system. He sounded a bit panicked…”
I reassured her that he was a local contact and we were the ones that told him to call.
“So, you guys are wanting this opportunity?”
“Yes! Of course! We are getting our things right now.”
“Oh. Good!¬†Because they want to know when you will be at the hospital.”
“We will leave right now. Which hospital?”

She told me the name of the hospital that was just a quick 3o minute drive down the freeway. We loaded our bags and left. I was shaking as the adrenaline pumped through my body and my mind raced. Was this really happening?! We know nothing about the situation we are about to walk in to. Oh and we should probably call our attorney….

So while we are driving down the interstate we call our adoption attorney…he tells us he is out of state until August…but we should be fine until Monday. Our agency should have all the initial paperwork we need. He gave us references to call on Monday that would do a good job for us. Meanwhile, we hadn’t heard anything else from our agency who we assumed was talking to Henry. The drive was a blur. We confirmed the names we had already picked out. And tried to put in to words what we were feeling. Nervous. Scared. Shocked. Maybe even…excited? Phillip set the cruise control to be sure we didn’t excessively speed…

We arrived at the small hospital and it was very quiet. We called Henry but he didn’t answer. So we made our way up to Labor and Delivery. Down a very dark and empty hallway we tried not to look as scared and insecure as we felt…although I am sure it was evident. We came to the nurses station and tried to explain who we were…

“Hi. Um..we are Phillip and Casey Grant and we are an adopting couple- did Henry or Debra* tell you we were coming?”
“Oh yes! Debra told us, and she knows you are coming. But she is in active labor right now. So you will have to wait in the waiting room.”

A kind nurse ushered us back down the hall to the very dark waiting room. We have about a minute to breathe and plug our phones in, when another nurse enters the room. She was instantly kind and friendly.
“So, you guys are the adoptive¬†family? Great. Well what’s the birth plan?”
“Um….we don’t have one-what can we do?”
“Do you guys want to be in their for the¬†
delivery? Do you¬†want to hold the baby after? We were going to just put the baby in the nursery if you weren’t here yet…”
“Can we be in there? Is Debra ok with that? And can we do skin to skin with the baby after?”
“Well..we didn’t ask her about being in there…and there are quite a few people in there already…but you know what, I think it will be fine. Let’s go in and you can do skin to skin after.”

We set our bags at the nurses station and headed down the hall. Halfway down the hall our nurse turns to us and says “You know, we better hurry…”

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*Names changed to protect privacy

Sorrow and Surprise- Our Adoption Story Part 2

If you missed Part 1¬†…go read that first!

Pastor Gail Graves called Phillip July 8th. Gail and Joyce have been very influential in our life. He was the reason Phillip moved to the potato state, and they housed Phillip his first year here. I even lived with them after Phillip moved out! Joyce prayed that Phillip would find a wife and stay in the potato state….I was the answer to that prayer! So when Gail called the evening of July 8th it wasn’t abnormal for him to call occasionally. But when I began to hear Phillip ask questions about a birth mom and adoption I knew that this was not a typical phone call. Then Phillip handed the phone to me.

Gail began to tell me of a young woman he knew of (through a few degrees of separation) that was due very soon and was needing information on making an adoption plan. There were many unknowns including information about the baby and what the birthparents wanted. We were unsure if they wanted to pick us or just needed information about adoption. It is a fine line as an adopting parent, to offer yourself as both an option or a resource for additional information. Gail asked us to call them that evening, birth mom didn’t have her phone with her at the time so we were given her fiance’s phone number. He told us that they were expecting our call. So when we got off the phone with Gail, Phillip called the number. No one answered so he left a message and sent a text. We prayed together in the car and I uttered a blunt prayer: “God I don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with this. So, do whatever You want whether it is us or someone else or if this never turns in to anything. I just can’t deal with it.”

So we went to Rachelle and Jared’s and we told them about it but I again said I didn’t have any feelings about it. I was ¬†very apathetic. I couldn’t invest any emotions in hoping this was something.

Saturday, Juy 9th Phillip and I woke up and went on a date to our favorite coffee shop. We spent hours talking about the Word and about life. IMG_5625But we didn’t talk about the adoption phone call the previous night. I had hardly given it a second thought. I met with my mentor Kristen for a few hours in the late morning while Phillip worked on things at home. When I returned from my meeting around 1:30 we¬†decided to take a nap since we were up early on a Saturday.

As we were waking up around 3pm, Phillip’s phone rang. It was a number we didn’t recognize, then I remembered. It was the number that he called last night. He asked me if he should answer it… YES you should answer it! So he answered the phone…we didn’t know our lives were about to change forever…

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How to Survive Mother’s Day: A Barren Woman’s Guide

The second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day.

“I don’t even want to get out of bed.”

“I don’t want to face people, I don’t want to deal with their well-meaning looks and words.”

“Do we have to go to church today? Is the sermon on mother’s?”

These are just a few of the thoughts that run through my head on Mother’s Day…or anytime I think about Mother’s Day.

I don’t have the pleasure of having my family close to me, so Mother’s Day is hard. I can’t celebrate my mom or mother in-law or focus my attention on celebrating them.

My womb is empty and beyond that I am barren or infertile. Maybe you can relate? Maybe you have suffered loss as a mother and have no babies to hold or to celebrate you? Mother’s Day is difficult for many women in many circumstances.

Sunday will mark my 3rd Mother’s Day in my adoption journey. And my 5th Mother’s Day as a woman trying to become a mother. Mother’s Day is really hard but I think I have some tips to share with you that will help…

  1. Make a plan for Mother’s Day.
    • What will Sunday look like for you? Will you go to church? Brunch with your family? What will you do or where will you go?
    • Who will you see? Who will you talk to?
      • This is important. When we anticipate our conversations-especially those that involve hard topics, we can¬†plan our¬†responses.
      • Ex: “You will be a mom someday, maybe next Mother’s Day”
        • Response to practice: “Thank you.” (smile?)
          • Why a short response? Because I will have this or something similar said to me more than once. I don’t want to spend the emotional energy explaining or justifying. The persons saying these things have good intentions, so I will thank them.
      • Ex: “Why aren’t you happy or focused on celebrating your mom/mother-in law?”
        • Response: “I am very thankful for my mom and mother-in-law unfortunately they don’t live in the area, so I don’t get to celebrate with them in person.” (Obviously, if that is not true, don’t say it!)
        • Response: “I am so thankful for my mom/mother-in-law today is a special day for her too.” (Or something like that…)
  2. Say No.
    • There are somethings that are too emotionally draining or difficult about Mother’s Day. If there is a special mother’s breakfast or an activity for mainly moms and a well meaning person invites you…don’t go if it will increase your grief. It is ok to say no. Now, I am not saying to alienate yourself or ignore your family. But know yourself well enough to say no to something that will magnify your pain.
    • If you go to an event that turns out to be very emotionally difficult, it’s ok to leave early. Set a time limit or establish a code word/phrase with your spouse or friend. This is something we do in our family. I usually gently squeeze my husbands arm and give him a few light taps and he knows I am ready to leave. Again, know yourself and know what you need.
  3. Grieve
    • This may seem like a weird item on the survival list. But, I find that when I let myself grieve with time and space that I need, I actually feel better. Take time to grieve. Sit outside alone to pray or process how you are feeling. Write in a journal, talk to a trusted and understanding friend. Cry as you sit in the empty nursery and look at the baby clothes you bought last year. Take time to experience these moments. Sometimes its in the morning while taking a hot shower, preparing yourself for Mother’s Day.
    • Don’t be afraid to cry. The first Mother’s Day of our adoption journey I sobbed through the whole service. If we hadn’t been sitting in the front, I probably would have left. If you are at a party or Mother’s Day event, excuse yourself to the ladies room or outside to take a few deep breathes and shed a few tears.
  4. Don’t be bitter.
    • One of the worst things we can do on Mother’s Day is to look around us at many women that are moms and be bitter or angry. Remember that motherhood is not earned. Some never wanted it but got it anyway. Other’s struggled to be a mother and never saw it come to fruition. And some have absolutely no idea what its like to struggle with motherhood or the pursuit of it.
    • Try not to be upset when others try and comfort you. They mean well and they are trying to show you that they care. Even if their remarks seem insensitive and rude, they really are just trying to comfort you. Try remind yourself to be thankful they care enough to say something to you.
  5. Do something that makes you happy. Celebrate yourself.
    • I know some will think this last step is inappropriate. And you are entitled to your opinion…but you are wrong. (Sorry, not sorry) As a woman that is grieving loss, which includes infertility or barrenness, it is vital that you do something to remember that you matter and that you can enjoy life. Take some time on Mother’s Day to honor and care for yourself. Take a bath, go on a hike, eat your favorite dessert, listen to your favorite music or watch your favorite movie. Do something that you love. Take care of your heart and remember that God sees your pain, you aren’t alone. God has given us many things to enjoy and those things can bring us some comfort.
  6. Reach out to other women.
    • Give another woman a great big hug, or a kind card. If you know another woman that struggles on Mother’s Day, reach out to her and remind her you are thinking of her and praying for her.

I’m sure I have missed some other great suggestions, so feel free to comment your Mother’s Day Survival Tips! Praying for all you women that suffer silently and grieve privately. Praying that the God of all Comfort will hold you close and remind you that you aren’t alone.

As always, feel free to reach out to me. Love you girls.

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Grief Doesn’t Care About Your To-Do List

Grief. It doesn’t follow your timeline. It doesn’t care about your to do list either.

Since our failed adoption match last month life has been a whirlwind. I was shocked by my own lack of emotion. Sure, I cried, but I was mostly numb.

  • We left Arizona on a Saturday and by Sunday evening we were on our way to Haiti with our college students (we had paid for the trip and planned on going before the match, and since it fell through we kept our commitment). I am thankful for the trip to Haiti and am glad we went.
  • After we got back from Haiti I was instantly busy with massive amounts of laundry and closing a time sensitive real estate deal. More numbness mixed with depression, but few tears. I didn’t know how to grieve and my husband was processing his own grief and I felt like I was no help to either of us.
  • The first weekend we were back, I spoke at our women’s retreat. Again, another commitment I made pre-match and kept after it fell apart.
  • The following week was more normal but full of focus on work and house duties. I was able to meet with a few people in my life to help me process my grief, but still it all felt tempered.
  • Then this week happened:
    • We had two adoption related conversations with our agency-no real news to report there.
    • I was reminded that Mother’s Day is weeks away
    • More conversations about the failed match, most of which were good but the grief started to show through
    • I went to our home church for the first time since the match. I was met with condolences and hugs and again my grief was real. During worship I almost lost my composure, as I finally was getting real with God about my feelings.
    • The sobering reality of the failed match was realized has sunk deep into my heart and out of my eyes through my tears.

I have so much to do this week-but my grief doesn’t care. I can’t keep ignoring it and pretend that I am ok. My grief won’t let me keep so busy that I downplay what happened. My grief doesn’t care that I have meetings and trainings this week, it is literally staring me in the face. I can’t ignore it anymore.

I have been trying to a be a mother my whole life-just ask my little sister or any of my family. Add to that my four years of marriage of actively pursuing motherhood and enduring infertility and now adoption. (Adoption was a always a plan, we ¬†just didn’t know it would be how ¬†we would start our family). This journey hasn’t been isolated to the last weeks, months, or recent years. It has been my life.

The relationship I had with our birth mom was filled with love. I made a connection with her, cared deeply for her and gave her the blanket I’d made for her over the last two years. I loved her and it was unconditional-it still is. She is often on my mind and I pray for her and the babies often. My heart loved them deeply and was deeply broken when we left Arizona with no reassurance and with some hurtful words ringing in my ears. I’m not angry with her, in fact, I almost understand.

But this grief, it is a whole different experience. It has less to do with the details of what happened and more to do with the loss of what I thought was meant for me. This grief is deep-it isn’t just about the failed match, it’s about motherhood, infertility, and the harsh reality that none of this is up to me. It is all out of my control.

Birthparents choose adoptive parents. My body doesn’t allow me to conceive-in fact it doesn’t event give me a chance. There is no due date, no signs of life, no reassurances. There is nothing I can do about it. I am weary, tired and uncertain. I don’t know if I can have hope. I have so many questions. Will I be excited or happy about the next match? Will my dream of being a mom ever be a reality? Will I be able to have more than one child-the big family I have always dreamed of? Will I be able to survive the Mother’s Day church service in a few weeks? I resonate with the Psalmist:

Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will¬†say, ‚ÄúI have overcome him,‚ÄĚ
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

“The Lord has dealt bountifully with me…”

Even in this, I want to say that God is good. He is. I believe that. But grief doesn’t care if you believe that. Grief still shows up and makes you deal with it. This is the tension between heaven and earth.

Finding Normal…Again

So, some of you may be wondering how we are doing. Well, I think we are finding a new normal. It is still difficult to even think about an adoption match or that being a reality for us anytime soon. We don’t talk about it much. We don’t go in to the nursery, although the door is now open again. The chalkboard is still empty, I can’t find any words to put on it since erasing the last message.

I have been busy working on my real estate business and the husband has been busy with ministry. We are working on our budget goals and our fitness, both require discipline. And we thankfully have been consistent the past two weeks of ‘normal’ life. We have been thankful for the cards, texts and phone calls we have received from so many as we grieve the failed match.

Normal feels like a rainy spring day, sitting down at the kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee. The kitchen table is full of papers that need sorted and put in order-you have¬†a deep desire to sort them all out but lack the energy to complete the task. So, one by one you begin the process of sorting the papers, occasionally stopping to refill the coffee or go lay down for a bit. Only to come back and see that there is still work to be done and you have made a small amount of progress. But slowly, steadily things get done and progress is made.¬†That is how life feels. And it’s ok. We are going to be ok. God is using this to draw us closer to Him and each other. He is getting glory even in this and He is good.

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