Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A baby and a story...

Hey blogworld,

I finally have a few seconds when no one is crying and I have had a reasonable amount of rest. I think I can finally get all this down. I realize that the Africa stories are on hold...but I will get back to them, I promise. Blogger doesn't let me add pictures on a regular basis and I am getting ready to jump ship and go to one of the other hosts. I will post all the days and the pictures there....I am almost finished putting it all down....I appreciate your patience.

I have been home for about a week now and I am still trying to get caught up on laundry, sleep and get Lulu ready to go to school. I am feeling a little overwhelmed and I am cranky most of the time. Trust me, I am not a good person to know right now!! I am sorry for the delay in picture posting. I just managed to upload the pictures.....can you believe that? Me? Taking one whole week to upload pictures? Sheesh. I must be tired. My husband works as a research analyst for an investment bank and he works East Coast hours. He is out the door by 4:00 AM every morning and doesn't get home until about 6:30 PM. He goes to bed at around the same time the kids do. Because of the nature of his job (that being that he has to actually be able think and function during the day) he doesn't do baby night feeding duty too much. That is fine w/ me because he gets so little sleep in general, I don't want to add that to his plate, but about every third day he lets me sleep all night. The reason it is every third night is because by that third day I am ready to run away from home........he is keeping me sane. :-) Besides, I can lay on the couch and throw Cheetos at my kids all day if I need to. I just have to keep them alive and fed. I don't have to read things, process them and write reports on no sleep. It is a fair trade, trust me. He comes home and does all the kid bedtime duty. He has no life beside work and his kids and an occasional basketball game.

So, back to the baby story.

Ever since the drama last year we have known that at some point there would be another baby. I was ready around the first of the year, but Derek has been a little bit more hesitant. He has wanted to wait. In the meantime, I researched lots of agencies and started looking at international programs. I didn't think I could do a domestic situation again. After a few weeks of research, I decided that Ethiopia was the right program for us. The price was right, the program was really well run and orderly, and the kids were very healthy (physically and emotionally) even for US standards. We wanted another black child and this seemed like the right direction. At the time it only took a few months for a referral so we decided to start gathering papers and rethink the issue at the end of the summer. I was hoping that Derek and I would be on the same page by then. I set a mental deadline for myself to have the paper work done....the end of August. I continued to bug Derek about it and he continued to push back (I don't want you to think that he is a push over....not at all). Meanwhile, I put my energy into getting Africa charity stuff done.

The day after I got back from Africa was the 4th of July (remind me to tell you the story about going to his parents club for fireworks and all the members were treated to a special surprise concert by CAROL CHANNING. She is one thousand years old. It is that kind of club......) Derek mentioned in passing that he was ready to start on the paperwork for the next adoption. That was pretty much the opposite thing that he said THE DAY I left. Whatever......I went with it. I scheduled appointments for social workers, dr's and all the other stuff that needs to be done. Derek did mention in passing that he would miss not having a newborn. Just on a whim, I called an agency that I had talked to before. My friend Julie (aka Rarely Home Mom) had used them and had passed along a few situations where families were needed that already had black kids. I knew that there were very few domestic situations that we would consider. We wanted to know the family, but we didn't want to know them before...so we were looking at a closed adoption w/ potential to open it later. We didn't want to pay birth family expenses. It had to be in Utah...the laws are better for us and my parents lived there. That would save us time and energy and money when/if placement occurred. AND it had to be someone who was due soon, as in before we turned our papers in for Ethiopia. I figured or chances were slim, but you never know. In effect, we were saying "If we can have the 'perfect for us' adoption experience we will do it...if not, we are off to Africa". I called Yvonne and told her to keep her ear out for us if anything like that came up.

Three hours later we were matched.

What we knew was that the potential birth mom (referred to as T from here on out) was pretty young and was on her way to university. She is from the Caribbean and wanted the adoption closed. She didn't want to meet us, talk to us on the phone or even choose the family. This was an agency choice adoption. Her parents came to Utah with her from the Caribbean to support her while she was there to have the baby. The reason she came to the US is because it is very hard to adopt from the Bahamas. She also wanted to have some privacy and better health coverage. She chose the agency because it had the word "angel" in the name. She is very religious. Her dad is a Baptist preacher (and a very good one I might add..... we saw him in action). That was it. After all the drama and work w/ Cubby and Joey's situation, this seemed too easy. We were just told to wait for the phone call and bring a check. The reason the agency choose us was because we fit some of the biggest issues that they had. They wanted a family that was Christian, felt strongly about education and one were in the middle of their child raising years. Not a really young couple and not one that was in their 40's. The family kept saying that they wanted to come to town, have the baby and then go home and pretend it never happened. The case workers really felt strongly that at some point family would realize that they wanted to have pictures, letters and maybe even meet us. They wanted to choose a family that would embrace the idea of an open or semi open adoption. That was us. In fact, it was exactly what we wanted. They are good because that is exactly what happened.

A week after we were matched the caseworker called me and said the family wanted to see pictures of us in a profile and to see a letter. This is very common w/ domestic adoption. Usually families want to choose the adoptive family. On the one hand, I was really glad to see this b/c it meant that T was starting to take an active role in the process. Since we know that at first she wanted to come to Utah, have the baby, leave and pretend like it never happened. I don't personally think that is the most healthy way to do it. I have met and known enough birth mothers to know that isn't the best way to process something as huge and devastating an monumental as placing a child. I also knew that it meant that they might not like what they see and want to choose another family. That made me a little bit sad, but ultimately, I was happy to see T taking an active role in this. The ladies at the agency kept telling us how much they loved this family, how supportive the parents were being of her making a choice either way. They were there to support and protect their girl. She did not want to parent and she wanted to go to school. There were a few other complications that made T's parents raising the baby difficult, but they told her they would do it if she wanted them to. T seemed really set on it, but she seemed to have a fairly realistic vision of what both parenting and placing were (as much as you can). So, late Thursday night I set about making a profile and felt profoundly sad. I was prepping myself for not being chosen and was a little bit frustrated at myself for already being excited and even buying an outfit (that is the sure fire way to jinx a domestic adoption in our case). At 6:00 am Friday morning the case worker called me and said "Today is the day!". I have never been so surprised in my life. "What? She is in labor?". We were told to get on a plane and get out there. I asked if we still needed to bring a profile and they told us that the family figured that this was God's way of saying they had the right family............That was the answer I needed to hear before I got on a plane that if they decided to place, they were pretty sure they wanted to place with us.

We got on the plane...kids in tow and just worried the whole way out. We were worried about going to the hospital and meeting the baby and the family and still having it be up in the air. We just didn't want to bond w/ anyone until it was all said and done. This actually goes against what I believe is the best way to do an adoption, but our hearts were still too fragile. We didn't buy a ticket for Cubby. We thought that between the three of us, we would have enough room for him. The one hour and 20 minute ride was a treat. It was like having a very tired and cranky wild goat jump from lap to lap the entire time. We made a mental note that next time, the wild goat needed to be medicated and strapped into a straight jacket AND THEN a car seat. I wouldn't have cared if a seat cost 10,000$. I would have bought him one right then and there if I could have!! We got off the plane in Salt Lake and had a message on the phone that the baby was born and everyone was ok. She is tiny (5 lbs) but healthy and fine. The family wanted to have the time to themselves and not meet us that night. Again, it was one of those moment that was sad and happy at the same time. I was happy that I wouldn't be emotionally invested in this until it was done, but sad because they still had a lot of things to think about and knew she might parent (which is truly ok with us, just emotionally charged). We took the kids to Grandma's and waited.
Norah at 2 days old..leaving the hospital

Derek dressing the little one before taking her home. This isn't a great picture
but I like that it shows how tiny she is compared to his hand. Her whole are
was the same width as his finger...her head the size of his palm...

By the way, we didn't tell Lauren why we were going out of town. We didn't want her to get excited or worried, etc. It is too hard. She kept saying "why didn't you tell me we were going to see Grandma?" "Why didn't you pack before this morning? Mom, you are silly!!" :-) It was funny. On the way to the airport we asked her what she wanted for her birthday and we got the standard answer "a locket or a sister". We figured we could make sure she came home with one or the other......

On Saturday, the social worker told us that the family was still very sure about signing and we should meet them at the hospital at 4:00 pm but that we should bring our profile anyway. At this point they didn't want to meet us, but they wanted to see pictures and learn a little bit about us. We were late b/c we had to go to 2 different places to get our file printed in color (I had no original pictures...bad mommy). So, when we showed up, the case worker was already upstairs w/ the family. We know that signing usually take abou 20 minutes. Two hours later we were still sitting in the lobby wondering what was going on. It was worse then labor. It was torture. I just wanted to know what was going on.

We heard the elevator ding and out came two cute ladies. We hadn't met either of them before in person, but one was Yvonne, our caseworker and the other was Jen, the notary public. They came over and sat down and said "are you the Bingham's?". We said yes and they handed us a bag and said "this is for you". In it was a fuzzy pink blanket and a little onsie w/ the name of the adoption agency on it. They sat down and pulled out some papers and started organizing things...finally Derek asked "does that mean it is done? Did it happen?" We just kept waiting for it to all go wrong somehow. They both laughed at us and told us that when the birth mom chooses to parent they give HER the baby gift not the adoptive parents. We couldn't believe it. It was done. We had a daughter. We hadn't even seen her. We spent about 20 minutes filling out paperwork and then gave our profile and letter to Yvonne who said the family wanted to see it right away. More waiting. An hour or so later they came back and told us that the family loved reading the letter and that the LOVED the pictures and that the Grandparents wanted to meet us. Did we want to meet them? YES!!!!!!!

We headed up stairs and met with the grandparents. They were very sweet and cute people. They were not much older then us. We just hugged them for a while and everyone cried and then they dug in with tons of questions for us. We were so nervous, but eventually we all loosened up. They asked a lot about our family and we asked a lot about T. After about 30 minutes they asked if we wanted to see the baby. Um, yeah we did. The went to T's room to "get the baby" but we know that they went to give T the lowdown on us. It must have been a good report because when they returned a few minutes later they told us that T wanted to meet us and she wanted to be the one who gave us the baby...was that ok? Again, YEAH. We headed back to the room (ironically, it was the same room that Jacob's birth mom had been in) and peeked in. We saw a beautiful young girl sitting on the bed. She had giant, wide set eyes, beautiful dark skin and a very calm demeanor. In her arms was the smallest baby I had ever seen. She had a green bow in her hair and big old scowl on her face. My first thought was "this kid has sass". We sat at the end of the bed and talked to T for a few minutes, and then grandma asked if I wanted to hold her.

As I took this tiny little person, this child that was now my daughter, but didn't FEEL like my daughter yet, she opened one eye, scrunched up her face and scowled again. That sassy attitude coming through. Heaven help us when she is 3. Derek and I each took turns holding her and answering T's questions. T is very tiny and a very quiet person. As we got to know her better we saw that our initial impression of her was pretty correct. She is soft and gentle, intelligent and kind. Nori looks EXACTLY like her.

I am going to stop and publish this so that I have something new to put up, I will do the second part in a few days (I promise...I need to get it down or I will forget). The second part will be about taking her home, telling the kids and the time we got to spend with the birth family before we all went home.

This baby doesn't sleep at night so I better go rest while she is cat napping.

The car seat just dwarfed her......

Derek and the baby as we were leaving the hospital

New big sister Lauren w/ Nori at three days old

I would like to say this was a time of familial bliss, but really Lu is shouting at
Jacob for trying to poke the babies eyes out. Welcome to my life.


Check out how Lu is blocking Jacob WITH the baby on her arm. That is my girl!

21 comments:

LuckyRedHen said...

I heart this story. I teared up reading about Lulu wanting "a locket or a sister." I giggled about Cubby and the plane ride. So true about holding your new infant and not feeling like they're yours yet (the children from my own loins didn't feel like they were mine for weeks, maybe months). I heart your honesty too - the world needs more of it.

sarah said...

Bek- I am SO happy for you guys! What an amazing story. Wow! I can't wait to read the kid's reaction to the big 'reveal.'

Syd said...

Sooooo so exciting!! What a great story!! Nori is so lucky, and so is your family!! She is adorable, such a tiny little thing!! Congratulations again!! Can't wait to hear more. Take your time, I remember the sleepless nights!!

Hugs - Syd

Tracy M said...

Oh Bek!! I'm so happy for your entire family! Thank you for sharing the story thus far... I can't beleive how tiny she is!!

(My kids are like wild goats on plane trips too- really looking forward to Wednesday, me flying with all three, sans husband. Oh JOY!)

lisa v. clark said...

Sharkey II: plan ride/wild goat! Reminds me of "the day that shall never be spoken of again" with Sharkey. I love your kids. Glad you could post all of that--I'm anxious for the second chapter. It's priceless.

Bek said...

Let me get LVC some sympathy....they took Sharky to ENGLAND.....a wild goat on a plane for 13 hours...... shudder.....

I am off to host lulu's b-day party today. It is a family bbq..we invited everyone (why not, right? ) but also because it is summer and half the people don't make it. They are all coming. I will have 75 ppl there....gulp....at least someone can chase the wild goat and hold the baby........

Julie said...

Chills! What a story! She is beautiful. God bless T and her parents for making such a difficult decision. I can't even imagine the emotions they experienced. You give great insight to the whole adoption process. What an amazing woman you are, my friend!

Hope the b-day bbq goes well.

wendysue said...

Oh Bek, she is so beautiful. And I can totally see Lulu is the ultimate protector in those pictures. She likes being a big sis, just a little bit huh? What a wonderful story. . .keep going!!

Queen Scarlett said...

This is a beautiful miracle. I love this story - Norah will love hearing it. You made me cry happy tears. Thanks so much for sharing your family and yourself with us bloggers - you make it richer.

CHEERS!!!

...and Kudos to having a GREAT hubbie and even more to you - for being AMAZING.

compulsive writer said...

That is so beautiful! And the look on the face of darling little girl who got a sister for her birthday is priceless!

Hugs to all of you and may God bless you with some sweet sleep!

Jill said...

Bek,
Beautiful story! What an awesome first family Nori has! Lauren is beaming!!!! Where's the pic with mommy? :p

Can't wait to read the rest...

Hugs,
Jill (Momofmykids)
Teatime

~j. said...

Thanks for sharing these memories with us all, bek. What a wonderful story. You deserve the best. Can't wait to read the next installment.

Anne said...

I finally got a fake blog so I can post a comment! I've read your blog for a long time, but couldn't comment.

Your story is beautiful...Norah is precious!, and I'm overjoyed for your entire family. I'm so glad you had a good experience with the birth family -- I can only imagine how emotional those meetings were.

Wishing you lots of sleep and many joyful moments! Congratulaions!!!

wendysue said...

I forgot to say how much I love her dainty little bracelet!!

Bek said...

Her mamma gave her that bracelet. I am afraid she will loose it so I took a bunch of pictures of her wearing it and then I put it in her "special things" box. :-) Her first mom has a matching one....sweet huh?
R

Betina said...

Thanks Bek! I love this story. I will email the URL to several friends.

Congratulations again.

5KidMom said...

Hi Bek! I just followed your link over from Wendy's blog. Huge CONGRATS on your new little person!! The story is wonderful so far, and I am really looking forward to the next installment. We just brought our daughter home form Ethiopia in April, so adoption stories fill me with joy. Yeah for your new baby girl!!!

La Yen said...

delicious. delicious. delicious.

wendy said...

I loved this story. It brought back fond memories of our one and only domestic adoption (which was our easiest adoption ever). Nori is beautiful! Just like her big sister and big brother.

When our daughter was brand new, she didn't sleep well at all, either. I was a walking zombie. My husband was also unable to do nighttime duty and even slept in a different room. I was on my own entertaining a wide awake baby most nights. Getting up with about one or two hours of sleep to care for my other two children just about did me in. I didn't think I'd make it and if I did, I felt I'd never fully recover. Our daughter slept in a swing for a long time. We went through two swings in her first few months. I just tried to sleep whenever she did. We ate a lot of crappy meals (fast food and frozen stuff). My house only got cleaned and laundry done when my mom could come over. It was horrible. I feel your pain.

It will get better.

Congratulations again and again Bek! Norah is gorgeous!

AzĂșcar said...

LOVE this story!


I think that the pictures of the three kids on the couch are a crack up. First of all, Cubby looks HUGE when you compare to Norah, which is really funny.

Trace said...

What a beautiful story. My husband and I are in the waiting period of domestic adoption and your situation is a tear jerker.