Thursday, July 28, 2011

The raw emothions of Placement - an Adoptive Mom's perspective

Sarah emailed me recently to share her story and I just love it so much...I know you may think it is a little lengthy but it is sooooo good!  You will love her story as much as I do...Thank you so much Sarah for sharing this with all of my readers and me!  And on a personal note...thank you Sarah for your wonderful words of has helped me so much... -Deanna

My name is Sarah and my husband is Alex. Our adoption and placement story with Evan was very unique and came at just the right time in our lives. We had been on the adoption journey for 2 and 1/2 years before he came to us. It was a long wait but worth it. I still haven't written down our whole adoption story on our blog because I was under so much stress and disorder after placement that to process it would bring back some of those painful memories. Sometimes I wonder how I lived through those weeks following being placed with Evan. Reading the stories on here made me realize I need to tell our story and our situation.

My husband and I had been approved to adopt since fall 2008. For one full year we had no hits, no questions, and no interest. In fall 2009 we were finally contacted and a few weeks later we got the "call" that we would be parents. We had 4 months to go. At this time we felt strongly for the birthparents and truly loved them. S and J are wonderful people that we talked to and met several times. A few weeks before the birth we were told that they were reconsidering. It was a blindsided moment for us. We felt for them and knew that the decision had to be completely theirs. One day later, we were told they were parenting. We felt sorry and heartbroken for us but they are still together today and have a wonderful child. They are great parents and made the right decision. A month later we were chosen again and almost the same thing happened. We met, loved the birthmom, supported her, and then a week before birth she chose to parent. She too is doing well and is a great mother.

As you can tell we were so heartbroken and didn't know if we could go on or needed to take a break. When we went to the temple and prayed we were told to keep our profile up. We didn't have any other guidance. We just knew to trust it. Later on we found out that this is when Evan's birthmom found out she was pregnant. We hit our 2 year mark of "waiting" that fall in 2010 and it was extremely depressing. We had friends that started the adoption process with us now approved for a second placement. We wondered what seemed wrong with us. At this time we thought maybe we should try IVF again. Maybe this is a sign that adoption isn't meant for us. We prayed together again and we're told that adoption is where we need to be. This still was discouraging because we had no interest from anyone and felt burnt out from promoting ourselves. 

A week before Thanksgiving we received an email from a potential birthmom, Amanda.  It was short and sweet and asked a few questions. We sent one back and felt good about it but no more. We were preparing for the holiday and gearing ourselves up to make it through another childless Thanksgiving and Christmas. A day before Thanksgiving I saw that our caseworker was calling. I wasn't even excited because he called every month to see how we were doing, he is such a sweetie that way. I almost didn't answer it. Once I picked up the phone the first words out of his mouth were, "I have good news, you have been chosen." I feel guilty that I didn't have a "spiritual" moment telling me this was going to happen like other adoptive parents do. He told me the details, when she was due, and that she would contact us later. I called Alex and a few close friends and family, but kept low with the news. We had been un-chosen twice and it is hard to have hope that it would actually happen. Especially because we hadn't met her or knew anything except due date and it was a boy.

It took a whole week before Amanda contacted us again. At this point we were going crazy because we wanted to meet her and find out more. She told us that she didn't know how open she wanted the adoption to be. She also told us that she wanted to meet once to make sure. Between this time and when we met I lived in shock. I think this helped me to cope if it wasn't going to work out. I really hid my emotions from family and didn't talk about the baby. We had been waiting for this for so long that I was protecting myself.

On December 14 we met Amanda. When we met I immediately recognized her. She looked like she could have been Alex's sister! She had a familiar face and spirit. It was a wonderful experience. We went to her house and met some of her family. Everything was very comfortable and as we left Alex and I knew beyond a doubt that she was carrying our son. We also talked her into a more open adoption because we didn't want to lose contact with her ever. We loved her on first sight. Something we didn't experience with the last potential birthmoms who came into contact with us.

She wasn't due until the end of January but told us he might come a little early. On January 1st she called to say her water broke. I didn't know much about pregnancy, but thought this meant you were in labor. She said they are trying to stall labor for one week. At this time we thought we had one week. That night I went crazy and started cleaning everything and taking things out of closets. It resulted in a huge mess. I had one week to clean and prepare in my head that I started that night! A word of advice, DON'T every do that! She went into labor the next morning and Evan was born that afternoon. Her original birthplan was for us to come at 48 hours after when placement would happen. We thought this a great plan and respected her wishes. When she called that morning and told us she was getting an epidural she told us, "Get here ASAP! I changed my mind and want you here after he is born to hold him." At this time she asked us what name we had chosen. We said Evan. She was silent for awhile and it was later that she told us the Spirit was so strong at that point to her. That was the name she had secretly called him. It was the name she had chosen just for him from her. It was another confirmation that God was at work in putting us together.

We hurried and packed and left for the hospital which was about 4 hours away. We stopped at Target to get a few things to pack in a diaper bag. When we got there we went to see her and the baby. No one can adequately describe the love we had for her at the moment. We loved her. We loved that little boy and we're so happy to see him. He was hooked up to an IV because of low blood sugar but otherwise was doing great. We stayed an hour and then left to stay at her parent's house for the night.

This is where the story turns. The next day was Amanda's day with him. We planned on going to IKEA and hanging out with extended family. We weren't nervous, just happy that they both were OK and healthy. When we were at the store we received a call from Amanda's mom. She said that the doctors wanted to check out Evan for malnutrition because he was refusing to eat and threw up green bile. They did an x-ray and we waited for results. I can't tell you how terrified we were at this point. When we got to our extended family's house I went to the bathroom to cry and pray. I was reassured he would be fine and healthy. A peace came over me at this time. I'm so thankful for that because the next 30 minutes were the scariest of my life and I had to keep remembering that peace. Amanda's mom called again and said he was being lifeflighted to Primary Children's Hospital. They didn't know what was wrong, but it was beyond the scope of the doctor and he needed to see a specialist.

We weren't the official parent's of Evan yet. We couldn't make medical decisions for him or get updates straight from the doctor. Amanda's mom and her kept us updated and always told what was going on. We were so grateful for this. It was passed 11:00 that night when we got to Primary Children's. We went in to see him. He looked so little and scary hooked up to the IVs. It is such a helpless feeling to see your child in this situation. At this time we couldn't even call him "our" child either.

The next day was placement day. The strength that Amanda showed placing a child that was in the NICU will always amaze me. We didn't know what was wrong or if things would get worse. The specialists were still looking for what was wrong. This amazing woman came into the NICU to say goodbye. She did this in a room full of other sick babies and nurses. A curtain was the only privacy she had. She was only allowed to bring one person in at a time, so not all of her family could be there to support her and say goodbye together. We signed the papers in the hallway of Primary Children's NICU. This wasn't what we planned. This wasn't a hand over ceremony that was envisioned. It was heartbreaking and inadequate to what she meant to us. After signing, when we met together tears were everywhere. Nurses in the hallway were crying. Strangers started crying because they thought we just had "bad" news. Amanda's face spoke volumes to me. Her love for her little boy was written on it and I will never forget the love in her eyes or the extreme heartbreak. I struggled to speak. When I hugged Amanda's mom I remember telling her, "To take care of Amanda, we love her so much and she is so special."
That night we were at Ronald McDonald house and hoping we could leave soon. Our little boy still wouldn't eat and had bad jaundice. For two days we couldn't hold him for very long because he needed to be under lights. We texted Amanda and sent her pictures throughout the day and days that followed. We also stated updating our blog and facebook with what was happening. Evan had lots of people praying for him and the blessings we received from this were felt. He slowly started to gain strength and eat on his own. He still needed a feeding tube and at two weeks old we had hoped that we would be released soon. We let Amanda have access to come and see him whenever she wanted and she came during this time. We left her with him because we knew she didn't have as much time to hold and kiss him as she had wanted previously. The next couple of days Evan started coughing. It turned into RSV. We were devastated. My worst nightmare of calling Amanda and telling her that something else was wrong with Evan had happened. I had so much guilt over this because I was sick too with RSV. We don't know who got it first and gave it to each other. In a few days Evan was put on oxygen but eating on his own finally. After a week he got better and we had the go ahead to go home with an oxygen tank. At this time Amanda came for one more chance to see him. She had some precious time with him before we left. We were under strict orders that when we got home, that he couldn't leave the house for 4 months.
We spent 3 weeks at Primary Children's and the Ronald McDonald House. We are so grateful for the wonderful people that helped out during this time. That hospital will always be special to us and is truly one of the few places where you can feel the presence of angels. To us it is as sacred as a temple. NICU babies have a certain spirit and the love of the nurses and doctors that care for them are truly inspiring.

Coming home and bonding with Evan over what had happened was difficult for me. I still feel guilty for not being able to hold him or feed him as much as he needed during that time. Especially when we were both sick. When we were at home and taking care of him is when the "true" bonding happened for me. I remember him looking into my eyes and I saw Amanda's eyes. He looked so much like her at that moment that my heart was filled with overwhelming love. I knew I was his mother. Those eyes will always remind me that he was loved and taken care of by her first. I'm grateful that she trusted us to care and love him as much as she would. Everyday I wake up to him and marvel that I get to care for him. He truly is a joy of a child. 

Every adoption story is different and I wouldn't trade mine. It was full of heartbreak, sacredness, sadness, guilt, shock, sickness, and overwhelming bittersweet joy. Now we have a strong 6 month old who is loved by many people, he is our miracle and blessing. He is who we waited for for 7 years. He came at a low point in our life when we had lost hope. He brought joy and the knowledge that "god is good", which the name Evan means. 

1 comment:

LeMira said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. We have been waiting for over four years now with many ups and downs. Your story has helped me renew my faith and reminded me that I need to trust in my Heavenly Father's plan. Thank you.

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