Wednesday, August 23, 2006
A baby and a story...part two
Let's see...... when I left the story we had just met our daughter and her first family for the first time. It was pretty surreal. It is always a bit awkward to meet the family. On the one hand, you are so excited you want to just grab the baby and hold her and look at her and slobber all over her. On the other hand, we are aware that this is a sad and difficult time for her family and we want to be sensitive to their needs and feelings. They are dealing with lots of emotions and not many of them are happy ones. It was nice that it was a done deal by the time we met them. It put our mind at ease. It turned the meeting into a "get to know you" session rather then an audition.
Nori's family was very kind and they kept asking us if we wanted to hold the baby but we were very conscious of the fact that they had limited time with her and we didn't want them to feel that they didn't get the time they needed with her. T had to stay in the hospital an extra day so she and the baby were going to go home the next day. In many ways this was good too. We stayed w/ the family for about a half an hour and then we took off as well. We decided to stay at a hotel in Salt Lake City instead of going back to my parents house (about an hour away). It had been SUCH a long couple of days. It seemed like it went so fast...but it was so charged with emotion that we were both just exhausted. We grabbed dinner and made a few calls (mostly to tell people that we had a new baby...no one except our parents knew) and fell into bed. T and family got one more night with her and we arranged to pick the baby up in the morning after T had checked out.
I couldn't sleep that night which was hard because I KNEW that I wouldn't be sleeping much after that night. I was too worked up. We were supposed to meet the social worker at the hospital at 11:30 am the next morning. So, it was time to make the obligatory trip to Walmart. This is the best part of the adoption journey in our family...the trip to the store when you know you are bringing home a baby and you go buy all the sweet baby stuff that you hadn't let yourself think about until now. Onsies, bottles, blankets, formula, clothes, etc. It is so much fun. For me, the worst part of a failed adoption is taking everything back so we don't buy ANYTHING ahead of time. Once we were loaded to the gills w/ baby stuff we headed to the hospital. We even bought a baby book so we could start thinking about names.
We met our social worker in the hospital lobby and headed to the nursery. It was so easy. They had us sign a few papers and they just handed her to us. She was SO tiny. We started to dress her in the preemie outfit we had purchased and realized that it just drowned her. I was too nervous to dress her so Derek did it.
I also wanted to take pictures. We had tons of Jacob b/c we stayed w/ him in the hospital and we had tons of Lu because, well, she was our first. I wanted to be sure that we had pictures for Nori too. You know, Nori in her hospital bassinet, Nori w/ the nurses, etc. We dressed her and boom, that was it. We walked out the door with the baby. It was too easy. We just kept saying over and over that it seemed too easy. We headed home to have her meet the family. You can see the account of how she met Lauren in the previous post.
After we had been home for a few days, we called the agency to check in and to see how the family was doing. They were having a hard time (of course) and they were trying to decide if they wanted to see us again. Ultimately, they decided they did want to see us so we met them for dinner. It was so much fun. We had a great time just visiting w/ Nori's grandparents and finally got T to come out of her shell a bit. We handed off the baby when we walked in the door and let them have her as much as they wanted. It was so neat to see them hold her and coo over her. They are her FAMILY. They love her as much as we do, more even. I love that I got to see three generations of Nori's family all int he same room. It was a blessing for us to know them and that they opened their hearts and wanted to know us. I know it was scary and hard for them. We had such a good time that T's dad invited us to come hear him preach at a Baptist church in SLC (he is a Baptist minister).
We went and it was AWESOME. If you haven't been to a service before, you should go. I love a good Baptist service. I love the fact that in the joyous exuberance and electric guitar, I can feel the same calm and reassurance from the spirit that I feel in quite times of reflection. It is a very different type of service then the one that I attend, but it is God is there all the same. The church is the center of the African American community and going to a "black" church is a great way to understand a little bit more about the culture. As I listened to the sermon, I reflected on how similar it was to the way that they teach school in Africa. It is very interactive. The preacher asks and the congregation answers. I am sure we have all heard the stereotypes, but it is really true. There are lots of "amens" "praise the Lords", etc. Have you ever been to a movie in a predominantly black neighborhood? There is a lot of talking to the screen too. :-) In Africa, this is the same way they teach school--ask and answer. Not at all like our version where the children are silent and the teacher in the front talks.
After the service on Sunday, Derek and Jacob went home and we stuck around to wait for the legal approval to leave the state. I managed to visit w/ the family one more time before they left. It was so much fun to visit with them and just have a chance to be with them w/out being nervous or tired. I loved hearing stories about T as a little girl. I loved that we were able to build the relationship a little bit more. By the end of the trip..this family that thought they didn't want to know us at all had invited us to come and visit them in the Caribbean when ever we wanted. I am hopeful that little Norah will have the chance to know her other family. I have spoken to the family several times since we have all been home and they are doing well. There have been several bad storms that have hit their Island, but they are hanging in there. T started school last week and is working again. She is a trooper.
Derek and I remarked how grateful we are for the experience we had with this adoption. It was very calm and peaceful and serene and spiritual. It was very healing. I feel like we have given Jacob a black mark because we have only spoken about the hard/bad parts of our process with his brother. If we had used an agency, that experience would have been very different too. The agency would have buffered much of the stress and anxiety between both us and his family. With both of my adopted kids we felt a very strong, immediate connections to their families. With both of these kids, we felt a deep love for their birth family and a strong desire to have them stay a part of our lives. They are our family now. I feel very protective and tender for all of them. Even thought they are very different, they are ours and we want only good things for them. Even though you all have heard the hard things about Jacob's story, there were and will continue to be lots of very special and sweet things about his story as well. In retrospect, I can see I did a disservice to my son by making much of the story public (meaning to my friends and family) but since they were living it with us at the time and had to support me thought the aftermath, I don't know how I could have done it differently. I will say, however, that there are still many parts of that story that belong to just Jacob and were not made public. I am not a total failure as an adoptive parent. For the record, she is doing pretty well. Jacob's bmom is working, she just had another baby (a girl this time) and is married and his brothers are doing well in school. They live in a better area (actually they moved to Utah) and are being helped and supported by some wonderful people there who are helping them make some big changes. We pray all the time that it continues.
Blogger won't let me add pictures (and I have tried using Firefox and other browsers.....) so I will add those as soon as I can. I feel like I need to get this baby posted or it will never happen.
There you go..that is the "nuts and bolts" part of the story. There are some other "feelings" parts that I can add to this, but I am too tired to remember them right now. The baby is asleep...so I need to go sleep because we are going to be partying at my house at about 3:00 am. If you are ever up at 3:00 am, give me a call!!!!