Sunday, September 6, 2009

It's a Match!

Note: This post indulges those who've begged for details (yes, that's you, Mom). For others just hoping for a quick update, skip to the bottom.

Aug. 31 p.m.

M. and I go for a jog around the neighborhood. We return and he (fortunately) checks his email. He says, “Hon, come check this out. We got an email from a birth mother and it sounds good.” I’m skeptical. Truth is, we’ve received many messages from “birth mothers” over the months, and there has always been something off about them, such as the one that attached photos of “herself” that were obviously stolen from a maternity magazine. There are a lot of scammers out there…

But Matt was right. This email included some important details, including a full name (V.), a hometown (someplace a little more than two hours from us), and reference to things she liked about our profile. She also said that she was nervous, but knew open adoption was the right thing to give her daughter – who is expected in a few weeks – the life she deserves.

We hopped on line and hammered out this response:

Hi V.,

Thanks so much for your message! It is great to hear from you. We totally understand that you might be nervous. We are too! But it's great that you are reaching out and working to make a plan for you and your daughter.

We loved hearing that one of the things that attracts you to us is our traveling, because it is something we really look forward to sharing with our child someday.

What more can we tell you about ourselves now? Of course, we're really curious about you. How has this pregnancy been for you? Are you feeling okay? It's probably felt like a long, hot summer!

Feel free to email or call. We plan to be home for the rest of the evening tonight (we just got back from a run and now we're making dinner together), and after about 8 p.m. tomorrow night. We hope to hear from you soon.

Take care and best wishes,
M. and Kristin

We start to make dinner and the phone rings! We spend about 50 minutes chatting with V. At first it is a little stilted and awkward, but we all acknowledg that it is an unusual situation and laugh at ourselves.

We like the questions V. asks and we mostly ask her about herself – what she likes to do (photography, writing – sound familiar?), and her son, who will be two in December. Though she sees him often, her dad is “parenting” him, and she knows that it won’t be any easier for her with another baby.

We learn a little about the baby that she is carrying. She is quite active and already responding to music. V. indicates that she’s receiving regular prenatal care and that the doctors report her daughter is healthy. The mystery is due date: V. has been given two – one is Sept. 15 and the other is Oct. 28. (???!!!)

Before we go to bed (for a restless sleep), we send off another message:

Hello again,

We really enjoyed connecting with you by phone.

Of course, it is music to our ears that you are considering adoption and that you might want to get to know us better. We really do understand that this is an incredibly difficult and important decision for you. Know that whatever you decide - to parent or place your daughter, with us or with another family, we think you are a strong, brave, and compassionate person.

We'd love to continue to get to know you more. Would you like to plan another time to talk?

All the best,
M. and Kristin

Sept. 1.

In the morning, I call the birthparent intake counselor at our agency, as instructed, and let her know we've received "a contact." She says she knows V. has been in touch with another family. Uh oh! But she indicates that the situation seems to be "good" (implying to me that she thought it was legit.)

n the afternoon, another friendly email from V. arrives. Attached are four photos! She thanks us for helping her feel comfortable and not nervous any more. (So sweet!)

I send her back a message that says:

Hi V.,

Wow, [your son] is ADORABLE (and his momma is pretty cute too :) )! Thanks so much for sharing those photos.

You may have already checked out all the photos of us in the "gallery" on our adoption web site. We’ve also created an adoption video; its kinda goofy, but it might give you a better sense of who we are: [YouTube Video link]

How did your doctor’s appointment go today? Hope all is well. Were you able to get a clearer sense of the due date?

We’re glad you felt comfortable talking with us. We were nervous at first too. Lets face it, its a pretty unusual and awkward situation. So it was great that we seemed to connect about so many things. If you want to talk again... We don't want you to feel pressured to get in touch soon; we know you have a lot going on. On the other hand, if you are eager to keep things rolling, we want you to know wed be excited to chat some more.

Take good care,

She writes back that afternoon, saying she'd love to talk again soon and sending along some more photos. She says her doctor's appointment has been moved to Friday, so still no clarification about the due date. She tell us that she's been stressing for months, but that now she is feeling calm and relaxed. She's talked with some other families, but none of them make her feel how we do. She thinks we'd be a great family for her baby.

Whoa!! Deep breaths. This is all going so well..and so quickly! We exchange more messages and plan to talk about in the evening.

But the call doesn't come...I spend another near-sleepless night.

Sept. 2

Then I get to work and log on! She's emailed apologizing for having phone trouble. She asks if we are excited about becoming parents. I respond:

Hi V.,

Thanks for your message. (I wish I'd thought to check my email last night!)....

M. and I are excited and ready to become parents. We've waited a long time, and have so many hopes and dreams for our little one. We've enjoyed our connection with you and are hoping that this might be a great match for everyone...especially your daughter.

Take care,

Kristin (and M.)

We suggest that she get in touch with a counselor at out agency who can "tell [her] more about the open adoption process and give [her] an idea about counseling and support available with no pressure involved." We encourage her to email or call us with more questions in the meantime, if she'd like.

In the afternoon the counselor tries to reach both of us but has to leave a message. She indicates that she's talked with V. (yeah! Follow through!) and done an "intake," which means she's asked her some of the sensitive questions it hasn't been appropriate for us to. We are delighted by the scant info we receive: no history of drugs or physical or mental health issues. We get just a little info about the birth father.

V. does email again, and asks some more good questions, such as why we want an open adoption. M. responds. Then later in the evening she calls and we both talk to her, this time for almost 70 minutes. It is an easy, interesting conversation. Except for...

She asks if we have any names in mind. I start to go into a spiel about having a long list, but wanting to narrow it down with our eventual birth family. At that point, I pass M. the phone and she tells him that she has a name she loves. Well, folks, it was, how shall I say...a name we would classify as "a made up Irish name." M. jots it down and it's so far from anything we've imagined, I can't help but laugh! He stammers, "Well, eh, what do you think of XXX?" Think of her contributing Madisonia and us suggesting Sarah. We all kinda giggle at how far apart we appear to be and move on to more compatible subjects.

V. promises to let us know how her doctor's appointment on Friday afternoon goes.

Sept. 3

I am able to reach the adoption counselor. She relates more details of what V's reported. What's cool as that we already know almost all of it, because we've already talked with her about it directly. This is feeling like what I hoped an open adoption would feel like: open and honest.

M. and I talk about wanting to meet with her soon, so that we can really determine if we'd like to match with her. We're getting excited. We call her that evening and SHE asks tentatively if we'd like to meet her. We respond enthusiastically! We agree to meet her at a restaurant in her hometown for lunch on Saturday - two days away!! I let her know that if she'd like to invite a friend along, we'd welcome that. (She's spoken fondly of her friend who encouraged her to stay with him when things weren't going well with her roommates. V. says that D. is the first person she talked with about adoption, and that he's been a wonderful support.)

Sept. 4

M. picks up a phone call from V. She says, "I hope you haven't bought anything pink!!" She's in shock. Having been told previously that she's having a girl, she been envisioning the little one she's carrying that way. But this afternoon her doctor found strong evidence to the contrary. She emails us an ultrasound photo, and sure enough, even we amateurs can make out some pretty strong clues of maleness!

She relates a little to M. about other news from the appointment, but she asks him for me to call. I'm delighted to do so when I get home from work. It's funny. M. and I only allowed ourselves to think we might be having a daughter for four days, and when we learned we weren't, I think we both felt some loss. But it was very easy to shift gears and get excited about the prospect of a son, especially for me, who's been fantasizing about a little guy in rocketship jammies for years.

V. and I have another nice, long conservation. She reports that the doctor again indicated that the baby is doing well. According to the measurements, he's due date is Oct. 28th. However, according to his positioning, he could come much earlier. I am somewhat relieved to learn that the doc scheduled the next ultrasound for September 18th, suggesting that he doesn't think the baby will show up before then. Regardless, I can't help Googling "delivery at 32 weeks" and learning some scary things. I hope that kid can stay put for several more weeks! (V. thinks it will be earlier and told us we're now on her friend's speed dial!)

We also know now that he'll be born at an Adventist medical center. M. and I immediately think, "Yummy veggie food in the cafeteria!" V. is happy about this too, since her other son was born there and she is already familiar with it.

I bake cookies for V. that evening, which is a nice way to keep somewhat distracted. Never-the-less, I fall into bed exhausted but have trouble sleeping. I am too excited.

Sept. 5

Is this the day? Will we actually meet the woman who will make it possible for us to become parents? Will we get to see our son, snuggled safely inside her belly?

What will it be like? What will SHE be like? What if she takes one look at us and decides we're too old/fat/ugly/whatever to parent her beloved child?M. and I both wake up earlier than we would on a typical Saturday morning. We laze about a bit and marvel at the strangeness of our situation. It is nice just being in bed with my sweetie.

But then I can't take it any longer. I get up and start doing "things." So does M. He prints out some nice pictures that V. hasn't seen before, to give to her. I print out my earlier post about my Open Adoption Wish List. From the conversations we've had, I think V. will appreciate it.With a little more last-minute rushing than I'd prefer (which I will attribute to M.'s butterflies), we're out the door and on the road by 10:15 a.m. It's a nice ride. We talk about other stuff. But we never stray for long. We ask each other several times how we're doing. We both always say something like, "Good. A little nervous, but mostly excited."V. has suggested we meet between noon and 12:30 p.m. at a place she loves.

We're starting to get stressed because it seems like we'll be a few minutes late. So I give her a call and let her know. Unfortunately, I have to leave a message, so I worry that she's sitting there, wondering if we've abandoned her.We pull up to the restaurant. She's not there. In fact, NO one is there. Uh oh! The place is closed for lunch on the weekends. We wait awhile. M. and I make jokes that she's seen us and made a U-turn. I feel just a little bit anxious.

Then they pull up. Hugs are exchanged. Laughter is nervous. V. is very cute, with a nice round belly and a little penguin waddle. D. is a big guy whose looks could be intimidating, but his welcome is warm, and I can tell that he is protective of V., which endears him to us. She is embarrassed about the restaurant being closed. We assure her that the Carrows down the road will do just fine. We precede over there.

...And we spend a couple of hours together. Conversation is easy. We discover similarities and many differences, but there don't feel to be judgments involved. V. seems delighted with the cookies and genuinely interested in all of the photos. She talks more about what it's like to be pregnant, and has us both put our hands on her belly to feel the little guy move about. (A Juno moment!) It gives me goosebumps and a lump in my throat. She talks about wanting to make good of her difficult situation, and that maybe this was all meant to be. (Remember, I am not a faithful person, but I definitely get chills then!)

We talk about her doctor, and the hospital, and that she wants D. to be in the operating room with her (her previous birth was a c-section, and this will be too), but she wants us to be there to give the baby his first bath. Oh, my!We tell her that we hoped timing would work out for her to come visit our home before the baby is born. She said she'd love to.

Finally, dessert course eaten and dishes long cleared, server shift over and other guests out, we wrap things up by lingering in the parking lot. M. has the presence of mind to ask to take a few photos, and he does. They are cute and I'm already picturing them in our son's life book.We drive away wondering if the next time we see each other, there would be a little baby to welcome.

Sept. 8

And today, V. calls the agency and so do I. Independently, we report that we are so happy and excited. It's official: WE HAVE A MATCH!


Kristin said...

Did some of you receive this twice as an email? If so, I'm sorry about that. Somehow, I "published" prematurely.

Now I've rushed to try to fix some of the formatting and other stuff, but its still a mess!!

Sigh...We'll at least the pertinent info is still here!

Bobby said...

How exciting and I'm so happy for you guys! I know what it feels like to wait for that due date! Originally, Sabrina's due date was March 30th. My grandmother passed away the week before, and I was so torn about going back to NY for the funeral but I knew I could not miss it. I was nail biting the whole time. When I got back, March 30 came and went and no baby. Then on April 1st, in what K, our birthmother thought was a cruel April fools joke, she went to the doctor and got her correct due date...April 20th. Three more weeks! We all thought we'd never make it, and she ended up being born on the 18th. I'm really glad this is working and I'm keeping fingers crossed for all of you!

Sarah said...

Kristin, I have tears in my eyes! I am so excited for you, and especially for V, who has chosen such good people to raise her son. What wonderful news.

Leigh said...

Kristin, I am so happy for you!! You must be feeling so excited and nervous and anxious - but in a good way, like let's get this show on the road! This is such wonderful news and I'm truly so happy to read about it and can't wait to learn more.

Congratulations again!

Amy said...

It's so exciting to read a story like yours! I'm so happy for all of you.

Thanksgivingmom said...

I am SOOOO wonderfully excited for you! It's funny - you only had four days to get excited about a baby girl? I only had a few minutes of reading and I was already picturing a baby girl for you both! haha! But boy or girl - you're going to be such amazing parents!!!

I'm just so thrilled for you that this is coming together like this!!! I can't wait to read more about your open adoption journey :)

Ginger said...

Congrats on the match! I hope things go well.

Thanksgivingmom said...

I'm sure you know from your stats counter that I'm here every day waiting for new updates! haha

Thinking of you guys!!! (((hugs)))