Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tears, Miracles, and Unspeakable Joy

Well today I made my first calls to start the adoption process over again. We aren't officially starting again until November (that's when we are allowed to.) It doesn't sound like much has changed in the process from when we started out two years ago. Making those calls really made me think about the whole journey we have made since we decided on adoption. I was snuggling with Red Fish today and playing with her and it just hit me over and over what a miracle she is in our lives. The joy of motherhood cannot be put down in words but every day I am grateful for it. Today as I looked at those chubby hands waving at me as she slowly destructed most of the rooms in our house and I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with gratitude and reflect on the tears, miracles, and unspeakable joy I have experienced in this journey so far.

The decision to adopt wasn't really a hard one for us. Our family has been blessed by adoption so many times that it just seemed natural. It was something Two Fish and I had even discussed before we got married. In fact as a small child through most of my teens, I used to claim that all of my kids were going to be adopted. I think in some ways I was always prepared for my kids to be a gift from angels. I was so so ready for kids too. In fact I was a bit obsessed.

I remember the day we decided that we wanted off the whole pregnant/not pregnant roller coaster. We collected information off the internet and then I called my sister in law L. She has two beautiful kids through the adoption miracle. In a very tearful conversation I expressed all of my frustrations and pain that had accrued from repeatedly trying to stay pregnant. L was very sympathetic and offered to let us come over and talk to her and her hubby about their experiences with adoption. It was so encouraging to hear their stories. I also called my grandparents and heard their stories as well. We read books and talked incessantly about adoption. We felt pretty armed with information and were anxious to start the process.

Unfortunately we ran into many many obstacles. I couldn't seem to get a background check because I had lived in London almost five years before and needed an international background check. It was almost impossible to get. I felt all of this pressure to hurry the process because I just knew our baby was coming and SOON. In fact, I was totally convinced there were two babies on the way which made absolutely no sense.

Five and a half months later we were no closer to getting on the waiting list. Nobody could help us. None of questions could be answered and I was getting seriously upset. Then our lives got very movie of the week. My parents were traveling and my Dad was involved in a freak accident. (It's pretty distinctive and would probably blow whatever semblance of privacy I try to maintain on my blog- but needless to say he was attacked by a wild animal.) He sustained a broken femur and was in a hospital in the rain forest. For a very dramatic week he teetered on the brink of death. Third world health care and disease became a reality for our family. I think I felt the full weight of my adulthood for the first time. Trying to help coordinate his rescue and the family phone tree was daunting. For the first time in my life I didn't have my parents to lean on in crisis. His survival and the outpouring of love we received from friends, family, neighbors, and the LDS church around the world was the first miracle we experienced in 2007. It is when I truly realized how intimately involved in our lives our Heavenly Father is. There is no logical reason why my Dad survived.

The day after we got my Dad back into the US I called my sister in law L again. She encouraged me to take some drastic action with our adoption because I felt so strongly that our baby was coming. I called the new branch and they were having their adoption education classes that very night (they are only available every 6 months and are a requirement to adopt.) I assured them we would be there no matter what we had to do to get there. The education classes were wonderful. I loved hearing the stories of people from all sides of adoption.

Then my grandmother had a terrible fall and broke many of the bones on one side of her face. It was back to hospital visits for my family. Many of my memories from the first half of 2007 are not exactly fond ones.

The adoption process sped up dramatically after our switch. The day we found out we were approved and our adoption profile had gone live I found out I was pregnant- AGAIN. This was very confusing for me. Obviously the pregnancy didn't work out but it did make me rely on the Lord again. Also within days of our profile going live we were contacted by Red Fish's birth mom. She was looking for the right couple to place Red Fish with. We began emailing back and forth with her.

We also made our first adoption- our dog Blue Fish. His role as our first little baby has been an important one in our family. He has provided love, comfort, and entertainment for all of us during a very crazy time in our lives. Two Fish bought him for me as a mother's day present in May of 2007.

Shortly after we were approved for adoption we had an opportunity come up rather suddenly to go on a life changing trip to Bikini Atoll. It might sound strange but seeing an touching this piece of history really was a miracle for me. The insights it gave me into myself really touched my life in ways I can't totally explain. When we came home I made some major career decisions that left me self employed entirely for the first time in years.

When we returned from Bikini Atoll we received an email notifying us that a birth mother had picked us for adoption. It was proceeded in a flurry of emails to a new birth mother who we hadn't had any previous contact with. For the next two months we wrote back and forth with her and flew to Texas to meet her. We were encouraged to cut off contact with the other birth mothers who were emailing us because we had been selected for adoption. I just never felt right about cutting off contact with one really special woman who turned out to be Red Fish's birth mother. We told her about the upcoming adoption but we all agreed to keep up our emails in order to support her in the process of choosing a family.

In August we got a call that our son had been born. Unfortunately this quick joy was to be followed by many other emotions. Ultimately we went to Texas but came home empty handed and heart broken. To be honest I'm not sure I will ever totally get over this. It was the lowest point I have ever reached. The happy part of the story is that we sent an email to Red Fish's birth mom and told her our adoption had failed. She had never picked another couple because she always felt like we were the ones she was looking for. She officially "picked us" a couple weeks later and we drove to Idaho to meet her. She was a miracle in our lives. The respect I have for birth mothers cannot be described. I think people who haven't been deeply affected by adoption don't realize the love it takes for a birth mother to place. The true miracle of adoption is the love on all sides that embrace a child. I have never experienced anything more Christlike.

Red Fish's entry into our lives has been a miracle. The day she was placed in our arms I knew she was a gift. It was like I had been experiencing all of this pressure that a baby was coming.  A specific baby.  When I held her that first time I recognized her immediately as the exact baby I had been waiting for.  She was immediately mine, our hearts already bound together.  Love at first sight. Taking her to our little hotel room was overwhelming and beautiful and scary and wonderful. That first week that the three of us spent together was one of the sweetest of my life. We sat in a little hotel, just the three of us for a whole week until Two Fish had to go back to work. I spent her second week waiting for a call that I could go home and sitting on my Mom's college roommate's couch holding my precious baby and admiring her tiny parts. The next couple of months I think I spent most of my time sitting on my couch and holding her like she might disappear if I let go. My ward threw me an incredible shower and the amount of encouragement, love, gifts, etc. that we received was nothing short of overwhelming. The kindness of our friends and family has been yet another miracle. (Are you getting tired of that word? I can't think of another suitable to describe our experience.)

Our temple sealing was the culminating miracle of our adoption journey (although I know we will see many more in our journey as a family.)

Entering the adoption process again is overwhelming, terrifying sometimes, but I have to concentrate on the miracles it opens us up to. Everyday is a step towards bringing that baby into our family. We rely on the love and kindness of others. We embrace other people's freedom of choice and we surrender our ability to control the situation. Thank you to those who have supported us and carried us through these last couple years. We love you.


Blogful said...

A really good friend of mine adopted as well after a long medical roller coaster. Hearing her and now your stories has really made me realize that God has children destined for certain families and that it takes a special route sometimes. Motherhood is awesome and you are great at it. Congratulations and good luck!

Joanna said...

K- this is beautiful. From an out-of-state friends point of view, I heard your struggle but also your strength. I got off of our phone calls in AWE of you and your amazing attitude and perspective. I'm blessed to have your example and friendship. I am excited you are starting the process again. Good luck.

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