Norah and I when she was 4 days old. Photos by Lucky Red Hen.
Two years ago today I know exactly what I was doing. I had just come home from Africa two weeks before and we decided to start the paper work to adopt from Ethiopia. In the mean time, I called a few agencies and told them that we were home study ready and would be willing to take a newborn that was born BEFORE the end of August (when our dossier would go to Africa) and because of the recent trauma with Cubby's family and the "now we have him/now we don't" experience with JoJo, we weren't interested in having much contact BEFORE the birth but would love, love, love an open adoption AFTER the birth.
Check out that chicken skin on her arms. It still looks that way. These are also my favorite colors to put her in to this day. This was the smallest preemie dress I could find at Walmart the day we brought her home......
--Sidenote for new readers... Cubby's mom asked us to adopt her next baby, who was born 10 months after Jacob. She came to us TOTALLY unsolicited and we agreed. She ended up parenting the baby (a little boy that she named Jojo). She made this choice after we had had Jojo with us for about a week. This decision was fine with us (from the bottom of my heart I have no issues with women who end up parenting, that is wonderful as far as I am concerned...). But it still totally stinks. It hurts and it is hard. There was a lot of trauma involved in our relationship with her at that time. We were baby stepping our way into an open adoption and that is never easy. Other circumstances and choices made things very, very hard between us all this point and very little of it had to do with the fact that she parented..so no flames / Trolls please. Read the archives if you are curious, but I am not interested in your opinion on whether we did the right thing or not. I am over it..... Nevertheless, my heart was still a little tender....
Norah 4 days old, at Oh Judy's house for my impromptu baby shower in Utah with Blog friends...
Getting this kind of a situation is almost unheard of. After all, most expectant parents want to meet you, and if they want an open adoption, they want lots of contact before the birth. We knew that we were making a tall order, but decided to put it out there anyway. Shockingly, 4 days later we had it. The agency told us that a little girl from the Bahamas was due at the first part of September and that the family did not want to choose the parents. They wanted the agency to pick. They wanted a family that was religious, middle aged (ouch), and wanted to the baby to fall somewhere in the middle of the siblings. They preferred black parents, but if that wasn't possible, they wanted other black kids in the family. They wanted no contact at all. They didn't even want to know our names or see our picture or know anything about us. They wanted to have the baby and forget it ever happened. The ladies at the agency felt strongly that the family would change their mind later and want some sort of contact, so they wanted to match with a family that was OK with that. We were.
I love this picture because it shows the bracelet her mom gave her as well as how small she was. the bottle is bigger than her head...
After being matched with Norah's family for one week, her mom and grandparents decided that they wanted to look at profiles of other families after all. The agency called us to tell us that our match was "on hold" and that we should submit a file/letter/photos. I was a little bit sad about this, but I understood. I also strongly feel that it is the better in the end for the expectant mom to have a say in the decision, so I was happy to hear that they were being more realistic about the choice to place this child. I stayed up all night doing our file. That was two years ago tonight. The next morning I was awakened at 6:30 by a phone call from the agency and told to get on a plane because the baby was coming NOW.
We packed in a flurry and took the first plane to Utah (lucky us that Norah's family was in the US.. and my parents were available to help us out). By the time we had landed, tiny 5 pound Norah was already born. She was almost two months early. We took the kids to my parents and waited. According to the agency the family decided that since the baby was born before they could view other files, it must be God's way of telling them that WE were the family. They still seemed set on placing and we just waited. Norah's mom, T, is pretty young. She had her parents with her to help her make these huge decisions. T just wanted to have the baby, never hold her, never look at her and just go home and continue to be a teenager. Her parents (especially her mom, who is about our age) was very adamant about her bonding with her baby, and for this I am very thankful. She truly, truly had T's best interests at heart and it was very clear the she was letting T make the choice, but giving her all the info that she needed. T could have parented if she wanted to, but no illusions were made about how hard it would be. She also knew that "forgetting" it ever happened really wasn't an option. Even though it was the hardest thing she had ever done (we talked about it later), Grandma was willing to watch her daughter (force her, even) bond with her child knowing that it would be terribly painful to place her and go home. She felt it would be better in the end. That is a mother who loves her child.
We waited for two days and then got the call that the papers were going to be signed in a few hours. The agency wanted us to go to the hospital because they really wanted to encourage the family to meet us. If we were close by, it would make it easier to arrange. We checked into a hotel near the hospital and waited. T and her parents were very clear that they did not want to meet us before the papers were signed. Around dinner time, the social workers contacted us to tell us that we had another daughter (and at this point we still hadn't ever seen Norah). She filled us in how the paperwork meeting went and indicated that T's parents wanted to see our file. They might want to meet us. Would we bring our family scrapbook to the hospital and wait downstairs?
N pretty much lived in the sling for the first 6 months. She was so SMALL.
The social worker took our paperwork upstairs. We waited for a few more hours. Eventually they sent down word that they wanted to meet us and up we went. LONGEST ELEVATOR RIDE EVER. I'll never forget the sight of N's grandparents. She looks SO much like them. Grandma was rocking a leopard print muumuu. Yes she was. We visited with Grandma and Grandpa and swapped stories. We had a million questions about T and they were really good at answering them for us and telling us all about their family. I tried to memorize the facts, their accents, their faces. I can't remember how it happened, but at some point they went down to T's room and told her about us and asked if she wanted to meet us. She did.
Norah on her first birthday. She still has the cheeks, the afro and the yummy lips. She is the SPITTING image of her maternal grandmother in this picture.
I will also never forget the first sight of our daughter. T was in the hospital bed holding the SMALLEST human I had ever seen. Norah's tiny face peeked out of her white blanket. She had a full head of black hair and a sweet green bow tied in it. As we walked in, she made a little bit of a sour face, pursed her lips and let us out a yell (a look and sound I am now very, very familiar with) and I had a very strong impression come into my mind. The exact wording was "this girl is going to be sassy....".
These two are my very favorite pictures of her from around her first birthday. Especially the bottom one.
...to be continued.......