1:47 p.m. - August 31, 2005
Liz and I got married on December 24, 1994, but we wanted to wait to have children until we could by a house. We got ourselves out of some insane credit card debt, and by May of 1997 we were able to buy a nice house in the suburbs of Indianapolis.
Soon after that, Liz was promoted to manager at her firm, with the caveat that she had to work the night shift. But it was more money and bigger bonuses, so she had no problem accepting. We then felt the time was right to try to have kids.
After a while, with no pregnancy in sight, we consulted a fertility specialist. We went through the ringer with him. Liz had surgery to relieve a condition, and that didn’t help. We tried Chlomed and Repronex. (Those are some nasty hormonal drugs that you have to inject and made her feel totally unstable and irrational. Her words.) Nothing.
(An aside: Never get into a car accident when your wife is on Chlomed. She said things to me that would make Cartman blush and run away. Yikes!)
So instead of pursuing the next course of action, which would have meant in vitro, we decided to try to adopt. It so happens that TC’s brother had adopted newborn children domestically through this law firm in Carmel, Indiana, that is run by brothers (who are national adoption experts) and so we were referred to them.
In the summer of 2001, we had our initial meeting at the firm, and had pretty much decided that this was the way we wanted to go. We attended some informational stories on foreign adoption, but Liz and I really wanted a newborn. We also decided that the race of the baby did not matter to us, so if we retained this firm they would also try to place us with birth mothers who came to them.
I drove to Alaska in July, 2001. I figured that was my last chance to get up there, and so I enjoyed every inch of that trip. When I returned, we decided that we were going to pull the trigger on this adoption. However, for some reason we delayed sending in all the information and the retainer until late September.
The process can be quite slow and tedious. After you sign the retainer, and fill out all of the forms involved, you then have to write a dear birth mother letter explaining who you are and why you would be the perfect parents for the birth mothers’ child. You also need to have a home study completed by an adoption agency, which can take three or four visits. For that home study, you need five references and you have to write a fairly detailed autobiography. And then, you wait.
Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.
In late October, we received a call from the attorneys’ office. There was a birth mother who wanted to choose someone soon and the firm needed some more birth mother letters. We hadn’t really thought much about it, but cobbled together a nice one on the kitchen table and sent it off.
That didn’t come through (the attorney said that the birth mother just wanted a few more options) but at least we had a birth mother letter in the system. We looked it over again, revised it, sent in a few pictures, and then proceeded to wait.
Liz and I took a trip to Kansas to visit her father and Snow White during Thanksgiving. It wasn’t the best visit – we were all stressy about work and other things (the market had really turned south, as you know, and there were layoff threats in the air at her company). There was tension. Liz was off nights, thankfully, otherwise we probably would have killed each other, as proven by the equation:
(12-hour car trip + squabbling spouses) X (In-law + (Best Friend of Spouse) ^2).
On Friday, December 7, I woke up in excruciating pain. I had strained my back playing basketball and it went all spasmy on me. I was put on some really good pain relievers and muscle relaxants. That Sunday we picked out a Christmas tree, and were going to decorate it the next weekend.
Tuesday night, December 11, Liz and I had a talk when were going to sleep. We were tired and stressy and the drugs were making me goofy. In that talk, I think I uttered the first ever triple negative ever said in the English language (and damn if I can’t remember what it was). We basically agreed that we needed to cut the crap and stop being so tense.
The next day, I played basketball at lunch for the first time since my injury. Then, I had a nice bowl of soup and was set to make year end plans for work when Liz called me.
“I have some news…” (Quite an understated way to start this conversation!)
Thirty seconds later, I called Liz back. Why in the hell would we need to think about it? So the whirlwind began.
Mind you, we had no nursery set up, no car seat, no baby clothes, nothing. Our house was the epitome of DINKS with a cat.
Liz called everyone she knew that had baby experience, and Snow White and her sisters in Arizona arranged to have baby stuff Fed-Exed in to us.
We both made arrangements with our employers regarding time off. Liz basically walked into her boss’s office and said, “You remember when you said that you’d give me three months of maternity leave with no problem when we had a baby to adopt. Well, I need to take it, starting Monday!”
The attorney stated that Birth Mother had three children at home already and couldn’t handle another one, being a single mother with a new career that looked promising. She basically wanted to give birth and then be sent home as soon as possible. She didn’t want to see the baby, nor did she want to meet us. She made her choice to select us as parents because we were honest and sincere and she believed we would be the best parents. The birth father was African – American and didn’t know that she was pregnant. She was Irish, and hadn’t even told her mother she was expecting either. This was to be as quick and discreet as possible.
So that was the assumption we had. Liz and I spent Thursday and Friday wrapping up work projects. It was my busiest time but I could take off until after Christmas, no problem. Liz, of course, had to get all of her personnel files and other things wrapped up and handed off in two days. We also contacted five friends and they had to fax in references by Friday to the adoption agency so we could get temporary custody. It was all a blur.
Friday, we got a call from the attorney stating that Birth Mother was going to the hospital. No one knew the sex of the baby, but he wanted to be sure we had names picked out. We did: Katherine Ann (Katie) and Alexander Scott (Alex).
When I got home from work, within five minutes I got a call. Katherine Ann was born on December 14, 2001, and we were to go to the hospital on Saturday morning to meet her and start the process to bring her home. I called Liz at work and for the next two hours Liz and I were on the phone to everyone in the western world. (Sorry, did I not call you? My bad…)
Liz got home from work around 8 and was on the phone. We were going through the stuff that was sent to us and generally in a state of euphoria. Then the phone rang, and it was the attorney.
“There is a change of plans. The Birth Mother wants to meet you.”
Being very attorney like, he basically didn’t tell us that there was nothing to worry about, but didn’t tell us that we were in danger of losing Katie either. Indiana law states that once the birth mother signs the paperwork, she cannot change her mind without going to court. But she had to sign the paperwork, and we were meeting him at the hospital at 8 in the morning.
Our euphoria changed to nervousness and trepidation. We barely slept that night. It was a 30-minute drive to the Southside of Indianapolis and we left an hour early. The wait in the lobby was unbearable. I walked a mile pacing around.
Finally, the attorney came and got us and brought us up to the maternity ward. He then made us wait longer as he and the hospital social worker went down to the room. He then motioned us in. We had no idea – we knew she could change her mind. But why bring us down here just to yank this child away from us? No one is that cruel.
The first thing I saw was Katie, in her little baby bed, with a Santa cap on and her head full of hair. I started to shake and quiver. Liz saw Katie and started to cry. Birth Mother started to cry. Her friend started to cry. It was an ocean of tears.
The first thing Birth Mother said to Liz was, “Do you want to hold her?”
We knew right then that Katie was going to be our Katie.
We visited for a while, and then some paperwork had to be signed. We were escorted into an empty room and watched videos on how to do simple things like feeding, burping, changing a diaper, giving baths, etc. Hey, give us a break. We woke up on Wednesday wrapped up in our own crap and just trying to have a less stressful holiday season, and on Saturday we held our baby girl in our arms!
We then were brought into a special room the hospital has set aside for adoptive parents, and Katie was brought in. Immediately, of course, she had to be changed, and our first effort at changing a diaper was…well….comical would only mildly describe it. But it was secured, finally, so we convinced ourselves we could do this.
When Birth Mother was discharged, she came by to say goodbye to us. More tears, of course. Then I was sent off on my first mission – to drive back to Zionsville and pack up a suitcase for us. We were going to stay at the hospital until Monday, as that was when the court date for the order of temporary custody was going to take place.
Later that night, Niece Nurse and her daughter met me at a Super Target for some mega baby-shopping. I was going to buy a nursery and all of the requisite supplies (except for a crib) in one trip, and she was going to help. $600 later, I stumbled out with a CR-V full of items and products I didn’t even know existed. I spent all day Sunday putting together bassinettes, changing tables, and other such fun stuff. (And I was stunned and shocked at the lack of directions. I mean, all they had was some cheap looking line drawings and arrows and squiggles going everywhere. Gracious!)
(You know you have a weird family, age wise, when your niece is telling you exactly what you should buy for a baby’s room.)
Monday, we got the court order, and brought Katie home. Foggy, our cat at the time, had decided to knock over the Christmas tree Sunday night, but we didn’t care. We were just so happy that our little girl was home.
A couple of weeks later, we got a nice letter from the Birth Mother. It seems that she needed a replacement at the last minute – of course, since it was just 48 hours notice - as the original parents she had chosen had found another baby, so she found our letter and selected us. But then she said the minute we walked in she knew that she made the right choice, and that we were the parents that God had chosen for Katie.
Thus began a nice relationship with the Birth Mother. We send updates often, and she sends nice letters back. Obviously, she trusts us greatly as she allowed us to adopted Kristin as well.
We sailed through the home study, and on May 1 Katie was officially adopted into our family. For keeps.
There is some magical force behind this all, I think. You don’t just go from zero to parenthood in 48 hours if there wasn’t some reason behind it all. We believe that Katie and Kristin were supposed to be our children, and we can’t let them down. And we can’t let Birth Mother down, either. There’s too much at stake.