The One Thing We Always Wanted – Part Two

18 Nov

In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, our guest blogger Richelle shares the moving story of her experience with the adoption process, and how she finally became a mom.  Here is Part Two of her three-part story.  Click here for Part One.

Almost nine months to the day after our first meeting with Hope Cottage, I got a call that a birth mother in El Paso had chosen us to adopt her yet-to-be-born baby girl.  I can pinpoint this date as the beginning of the “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” period.

She was due in a month and had made her decision based on our profile book shown to her by the agency.  (A profile book is essentially a huge ad composed by the adoptive parents letting the prospective birth parents know what kind of people they are.)  Russell and I decided we really wanted to meet the birth mother, Kelly*, as soon as we could–this was a woman who was going to single-handedly change our lives and we were already in love with her.

We flew down to El Paso two weeks later to meet Kelly and her caseworker, Paola.  Nervous doesn’t even describe it.  Sure, she loved our profile book, but what if she changed her mind after meeting us?  Russell and I sat waiting in the agency office, all sweaty palms and tapping feet, when this tiny, beautiful woman walked in with the biggest pregnant belly I had ever seen.

The first few minutes were a little awkward, but we quickly warmed to each other and before long we were gabbing away like old friends.  The day was really lovely, full of easy conversation.  That evening at the airport, we exchanged hugs, saying we’d see each other again in just two weeks when our baby girl was due to arrive.

Four days later, our phone rang at 10:30 pm.  Kelly was in labor.  The baby was on her way.  Early.  There were no more flights to El Paso until 6 the next morning.  Russell and I made a few frantic, happy phone calls to family and friends, threw things in a bag and settled in to wait.  We received updates via text from Paola, who was helping Kelly through the labor.

Our daughter, Dahlia Leigh, came into this world healthy and gorgeous and perfect at 1:18 in the morning.  We made it to the hospital in El Paso seven hours later.  The nurses wheeled Dahlia in and we couldn’t believe our eyes.  She was about the size of a bag of sugar and objectively, of course, the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.  Russell and I couldn’t stop crying.

We spent the next two days hanging out with Kelly and the baby in the hospital room.  In the state of Texas, a mother cannot sign over her parental rights until at least 48 hours after giving birth.  This meant, for us, two rather anxious days waiting to be sure Kelly still in fact wanted to place Dahlia with us.

Kelly wanted as much time as possible with her baby during these two days, which we completely understood.  Dahlia had some jaundice and we were informed she had to stay in the hospital longer, while Kelly would be discharged–a scenario none of us wanted.  The plan had been that we would all leave the hospital together when they were both discharged, and go to lunch before we left El Paso.

It was extremely important to Kelly that the hospital was not the last place she saw her daughter.  I promised her that would not be the case.  She could go home and rest and whenever Dahlia got the ok to be discharged, Kelly would come back up to the hospital and we would all walk out together as planned.

The moment when Kelly handed Dahlia to me as she was leaving was one of the most gut-wrenching experiences of my life.  We were both sobbing uncontrollably in the hospital room, surrounded by nurses, a caseworker and my family.  My heart was broken for her.  I had never before witnessed such raw grief and I was feeling something akin to survivor’s guilt.  This woman was handing her baby girl to me because she trusted me to give her a better life than she could.

The next morning was when the Signing of the Documents (as we called it) was to take place.  Paola gave us the run-through–Kelly would have to sign four copies each of five different documents.  That’s twenty times to think long and hard and as I saw it, change her mind.  Paola also told us that the signing usually took around thirty minutes, sometimes an hour and she would discreetly text us when it was over.  They were to meet in the hospital cafeteria at 10 am.

Russell and I were just four floors up in a waiting room on pins and needles.  Dahlia was under the UV lamp for her jaundice, blissfully ignorant of the turmoil and angst all her parents were going through at that moment.  I played calm, cool and collected until 11:30 am, when the doubt didn’t just creep in, it crashed.

*name changed

Stay tuned for Part Three!

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3 Responses to “The One Thing We Always Wanted – Part Two”

  1. Kari Voss November 18, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    Can’t wait for part three. (wiping tears)

  2. Lisa Martin November 19, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    Richelle:

    MY palms were sweating just reading your account of meeting the prospective birth mother. What a journey–and what a happy ending to it all!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The One Thing We Always Wanted – Part Three « More than Mothers - November 29, 2010

    […] adoption process, and how she finally became a mom.  Here is Part Three of her three-part story.  Click here for Part […]

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