|These images were captured by Paige French who I knew I wanted to come and take pictures of us as soon as I met her.|
So on August 15 there I am, minding my own business, basking in the glory of three commissions coming in a row...aw sweet innocence. I get an email from AIS the company we have been using to guide us in our adoption process and it states: Birth mother is due in four weeks, and wants to place her baby for adoption, and she is Spanish speaking and only couples who have at least one Spanish speaking member can apply. So naturally (y'all know that I speak Spanish right? It was my first language, my family is from Argentina, and Cuba?) Ok. Anyway, I called right away and was all like, hey, I don't have any paperwork done, don't have our book ready, nothing. But, like can we still apply? She said yes, but she was skeptical that we were as committed as we needed to be, seeing as how we had pushed out our appointments with them for months...lallygagging around. You see, I wanted to make theperfect adoption book. It was going to be designed just right....hahahhaha.
So August 15th was a Friday, and the book needed to be to our lawyer by Monday (for a Tuesday visit with the mother). So I scrambled and spent like 16 hours (we counted them up, that is not an exaggeration!) hours on the computer that weekend making and finishing this book). Not to mention translating it all into Spanish, that my wonderful cousin in Argentina, who was working in Spain at the time helped me with at a moment's notice. I totally am still trying to get my right wrist back to normal after all that computing! Next we print it out at Fedex (the graphic designer in me is sighing dramatically) and I use my trusty courier service to send it to the lawyer's office for her meeting with the birthmother.
|Page of our Adoption Book: This is our "Enjoy Life" page. Its so hard for me to look at that type. I didn't have time to typeset this, so the graphic designer in me is like, fainted dead away.|
We wait. The meeting is happing that day, and I know it in the back of my mind, but I am distracted and not really thinking about it and then my phone rings. Leigh from AIS says to me "You are going to have a little girl in four weeks!"
I say "Holy Fucking Shit." I think I just kept saying that again and again while Leigh chuckles uncomfortably. O comes home from work like one minute after I hang up the phone and we jump up and down and scare the dogs and cry a little bit. Then it hits us that we have to complete our home study before our girl is born! WHAT? This process of meetings, paperwork and tedious bull honkey usually takes 12 weeks, that is what we are told anyway. Well, since I made the book, it was O's responsibility to do the home study. He rocked it, and it was finished in a week, less actually. You basically have to hand your entire life over, I am honestly surprised they didn't want DNA samples, I bet soon it will be a requirement. We worked on it every day, all day, I think we proved our dedication to this process!
Meeting the Birth Mother. Wow. Let me just say that I haven't slept well since we got chosen. I just wake up at like five am every day, and can't fall asleep until very late, bc/ there is so much to do and I am adrenalized. So I had butterflies, we arrived an hour early for our meeting, I still get a tingly chin when I think about it. (does your chin tingle when you are nervous?). We met, she is an adorable 25 year old woman from Guatemala. I love her. I really do love her. About two minutes into the meeting I start crying. Just listening to her story, listening to her talk about her choice. I couldn't help but empathize with her and all I could think of was "how do I help this woman!" Legally I can't do much, because its very tightly controlled so that you don't get into a situation where you bribe someone for their baby. Makes total sense, of course, but I fell in love with her right then and O and I just wanted to help her. Our wonderful lawyer helped me calm down, and she reminded me that we are giving her the gift of taking, and loving her child, while she is giving us the gift of her child. Its such a powerful relationship you have with this complete stranger. I was just so moved meeting her and looking into her eyes. She is a thoughtful person, quiet and introverted. But she smiles through her eyes and is so sweet and gentle. We have spent more time with her since that first meeting, yesterday we spent the entire day with her because at her routine pre-natal appointment they told us we had to go to the hospital and so we did, but everything was just fine. I like to make sure not to leave her alone because she doesn't speak English. I remember being my grandmother's translator when I was a child and I know how helpless you can feel when you need something but you can't communicate.
|This is the part where O talks about me, about what kind of person I am. Pretty much fluffing me up :)|
It could still totally fall apart. This is the reason that so many people don't talk publicly about going through the adoption process, at any moment it could all fall apart. In Georgia there is a 10 day revocation period, meaning the birth mother could change her mind and we have to give the baby back. About 20% of adoptions fail, and yes you loose most of your money. How have we dealt with this reality? I will be honest there: I believe that if this is our baby, then it will work itself out. So I haven't thought about it at all. mostly. This whole process has really forced me to be present, and to focus my energy on goals and not let my mind wander too much. I am doing ok, I never think about the baby part of it actually, I just am taking it one day at a time. Sometimes I see a picture of a baby and my stomach flips, but then I just move on and even little baby clothes don't really make me think of babies. I will be so pleasantly surprised by having a little baby I think, because I am not projecting expectations about it at all. That is one thing that I think is a plus from having this thing go down so fast.
Expense: Adoptions are crazy expensive, about double what it costs to have a pregnancy and delivery without insurance.** Which is hilarious to me because I was so worried about not having maternity insurance before I knew I wouldn't have an easy time conceiving. I was like, I can't pay for a delivery in a hospital with out insurance!! Oh sweet silly younger Michelle. This particular adoption is coming in much under budget due to many factors but it seems rude to spell them out here. I am happy to answer personal questions about this kind of thing if you email me, and I know you will :)
What is happening next: Our baby is due next week. But thats really just an estimate. We could get a call at any moment, or she could come as many as three weeks later than her due date. We will be in the delivery room, actually I will, only one person is allowed in there from what I understand. She will be born, and placed directly into my arms. That is surreal to even write, but thats how it works. Then 24 to 48 hours later she comes home with us. Then 10 days later we have a party b/c we get to keep her, or I update you that it didn't work out and O and I go to Acapulco and party for a week simply because we can. Either way, there will be lots of late nights involved.
I will update you when she is born, if we get to take her home, and I will let you know when our 10 day period is up, and what happened! I figure that if I have a new baby then I want your support dear friends, and if I am giving her back, then of course I will still need your support.
|The Our Home page. There are lots of pages in this book that have many family photos, but for my and O's families sake, I wont post them, I am pretty sure they wouldn't mind, but just in case.|
**Of course that is assuming you adopt a white baby, different race babies cost different sums. Its gross, but true. We had already decided to take the child that was the best fit for us, no matter the race or gender. So most likely it would have been a non-white child, because not many adoptive parents are willing to take a child that is a different race from them. Note, O and I are in a great position to take any child, and I certainly don't judge anyone who chooses not to do the same. I also don't share this so that you just gasp at how amazing a person I am, because you should know that I never donate to NPR, so basically I steal.
|Thats "Thank You" in Spanish.|
Adoption book: A book full of photos of your life and descriptions of your life together with your partner, your families, hobbies and parental aspirations.
Home Study: A compilation of legal documents confirming your identity and criminal background. Personal statements about your childhood, family, life, goals and everything in between. Three sessions with a councilor, a "home study" where they make sure you have fire extinguishers and stuff like that.
Adoption Lawyer: A person who does all the legal work, way to complex to relate here, but there are many things to consider. And if you are adopting and need a good lawyer, then you can't go wrong with ours. Email me.
AIS: We were referred to them by the lawyer. We went to a seminar. I liked them. Yes it is a business.
Revocation Period: State mandated period of time that a birth mother has to revoke the placement of her baby with an adoptive family. Some states its 48 hours, some its 30 days.
Birth Mother: Biological mother of the child. "real mother" is not the correct term.
Adoptive Mother: Mother of the child. "real mother" is not the correct term.