Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where to Begin???

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind.  We have had a TON of adoption stuff going on which leaves me kind of stumped as to where to begin and how many details to give.  I apologize a head of time if this post turns into a novel. I will try my best to keep it short.

Nic and I were contacted by another birth mother the evening of November 17th.  Nic was already dead asleep when the phone rang. It was our toll free number and I have to admit I was nervous at first that it was the SK birth mother.  I ran for it anyway and missed the call.  When I got back to bed I tried my best to wake Nic up (me - "THE ADOPTION PHONE RANG! THE ADOPTION PHONE RANG" Nic - ZZZZZZZZ.........).  I had no luck at all.  So I put the phone beside my bed and continued watching Private Practice.  It rang again two minutes later.  I tried to wake Nic up again (me - "THE ADOPTION PHONE IS RINGING! THE ADOPTION PHONE IS RINGING" Nic - ZZZZZzzzzzzz.........).  After staring at it for another second I answered and I guess that is where the story truly begins.

The women on the other end was actually a birth mother's, mother (got that).  I will call her the birth grandmother since that is what she is to the baby.  Her daughter (the birth mother) is very young and she had just found out she was pregnant a few weeks before.  Well I am sure her daughter obviously knew but she had just told her mom.  Her daughter was currently 28 weeks pregnant, due January 30th.

They had been in conversations with another adoptive family but things had not worked out because they did not have their homestudy and PRIDE training complete.  It was going to be very difficult for them to do so prior to the baby being born.  As soon as the birth grandmother found out the baby might have to be put in foster care if all the paper work was not in order she got nervous.  It ended up that the adoptive family also did not have the finances together to facilitate the adoption so they decided they could not get it together to make the adoption work.

The birth family hit the internet again, it sounds a bit bruised emotionally after the first match falling through.  They said they looked at about 60 couples and really liked us.  The birth grandmother is Italian which I think is part of the reason.  They are also a very animal friendly family and really like that we had two dogs.  Especially Jessie because the birth mother grew up with a big black lab.  The birth mother also thought Nic was cute and said that he reminded her of a reality tv star she watches all the time on some home improvement show. So funny :)

I talked with the birth grandmother for over an hour that night and also the birth mother for about 15 or 20 minutes.  She is very shy (and young) so I found it a bit hard to communicate with her over the phone.  But it was still nice to hear her voice and find out how she felt about adoption.  Since I could not wake Nic (I literally kicked him a number of times while I was on the phone and he did not even move, I must be working him too hard) we decided I would call them back the next day around noon so they could talk with both of us.

When I got off the phone I shook Nic like crazy and told him the entire story.  When I was done and finally stopped for a minute he said "Okay I am awake.  What happened?"  At that point I told him to go back to bed and I would talk to him in the morning.  I then proceeded to lay awake all night and listen to him snore.

In the morning he woke me at the crack of dawn and I told him all about what happened.  We called the birth family again that morning and we both had a great chat with the birth grandmother.  I spoke with the birth mother again briefly.  Nic was amazing on the phone.  I felt he expressed some things that coming from me might have come across differently, where he just seemed very genuine and excited.  It was really sweet.  I sometimes forget how charming he can be.  I left it with them that I would be in touch with our adoption practitioner and licensee and that one or both of them might be in touch with her that day.

My day was all over the place because it was my birthday and I had five million plans made with people.  I spent most of the day on the phone trying to work everything out.  Nic and I decided that we wanted to use Cheryl Appell as our licensee versus having Josie act as practitioner and licensee.  We liked Cheryl allot and felt she was wonderful with us during the SK birth mother situation.  She is also closer to where the birth mother lives (New Market) and has a bit more experience dealing with underage mothers.  There are a few more steps and departments involved because of this.  So that day Cheryl talked to the birth family and got some counselling set up.  She had a pretty good initial feeling about them and did not see any red flags. 

The main thing for us was to make sure the birth mother had the counselling she needed and got the social and medical history completed.  We knew that the birth father was out of the picture but next to that nothing else.  The social and medical history would answer any invasive questions we had and make sure there were no red flags.

Overall the meeting with the counsellor went well.  The counsellor (Lynn) felt that the birth mother genuinely like us and wanted us to raise her child.  She seemed like a young girl who just wanted to get back to being a teenager.  We read the partial social and medical history and everything looks good.  We still need to see the completed one but overall there were no red flags so we got the go ahead from Cheryl that we could meet with them in person. 

Last Friday we drove into downtown Toronto and met with Cheryl at her office.  She took us through the step by step process of how the adoption would move forward.  She also had us sign a bunch of consents and give her a retainer cheque.  It was nice to meet her in person.  Both Nic and I liked her allot and feel she will do a great job.  She essentially will act as a neutral party and put together all of the adoption pieces.  Josie will act as our advocate and Lynn (the counsellor) will act as the birth mother's advocate.

We met with the birth family at their house in the afternoon.  I was insanely nervous going there but relaxed almost right away.  They have three dogs which broke the ice a bit.  I think they were worried about the dogs but Nic and I playing with them and insisting our house had two big dogs and we always have extra ones coming in and out.  I think that put them at ease.  Right away we met the birth mother and her identical twin sister.  They are REALLY identical.  I am glad that obviously one was very pregnant or we would have had a hard time telling them apart.  We sat down at the kitchen table with the birth grandmother while the girls got a ton of food ready.  I swear we eat the entire time we were there.

Overall we REALLY like them.  We also met the birth grandmother's fiancee (she split with her husband when the girls were 5) and the girls older brother who is 18.  They are a great family and have a warm, loving home.  We had allot in common with them which I kept being surprised about but I suppose that is why they picked us.  I think four girls was allot for Nic at once. He was relieved when the fiancee got home from work.  They talked a ton and seemed to really get along.

It was a great visit and I feel like we really clicked.  The girls are for sure quiet but very sweet.  If you ask them anything they answer but just don't chime into the conversation very often.  We were all talking a mile a minute which I am sure did not help.  I feel that as we get to know each other they will open up more.

When we were there the social worker called from the hospital where the birth mother will be delivering.  Nic and I had talked to Cheryl about knowing that the birth grandmother wanted to set up a tour of the maternity ward.  Cheryl said that there was a wonderful social worker at the hospital (Southlake) that could help us with that.  So we are heading back up to New Market tomorrow to tour the hospital with them and meet the social worker. 

Nic and I are excited to see them again and to see the hospital.  The birth family is wonderful and when they were at the OBGYN earlier in the week had gotten us a copy of the booklet given out by the hospital.  They had also gathered a bunch of information on new babies from their family doctor and OB.  How nice was that?  I read through the information on the hospital and hope Nic will as well tonight so we can write down any questions we have and ask them tomorrow.

There is still a ton of paper work and meetings that have to happen but overall Nic and I think this adoption is going to proceed.  Not only do we really like the birth family and think they like us but Cheryl and Lynn both think we are a good match and that things should work out.  Everything is a bit surreal since she is due January 30th.  We are just trying to keep everything in perspective and work one step at a time. 

The next big thing is for us to set up a "vision meeting".  In this meeting we discuss with the birth family exactly what will happen at the hospital and lay out a openness agreement for after the baby is born.  Cheryl and Lynn will both attend this meeting as well.  We have discussed allot of this with the family already but it all needs to be on paper and official.  They would like us to be at the hospital for sure.  I think that the birth mother would just like her mom in the delivery room with her.  The birth grandmother seems okay with this but would like us near by encase she needs help (I guess she is not great with blood).  We said we would be there the entire time and could help if the birth mother felt comfortable.  In the hospital the birth mother would like us to care for the baby.  If the hospital has enough room I will be admitted and they will give us our own room.  Worst case the baby will have to say in the birth mother's room and Nic and I will care for him/her there (she does not know what she is having).

As far as openness the family is saying right now that they don't want any.  I know that this will change to at least letters and pictures (at a minimum).  Cheryl says that in the agreement we just acknowledge that they don't want anything now but layout what we are willing to do if they change their mind.  We have talked about letters and pictures and three visits a year.  We also are going to allow them to contact us directly by phone or email, instead of going through a third party.  We think it will more than likely be the birth grandmother who keeps in touch versus the birth mother.

Once we get the vision meeting done Josie needs to come to the house and take a look around again.  She will also have a copy of the completed social and medical history for us to look at and a couple other things to sign.  She then needs to do a write up which will be included with one from Cheryl and Lynn and sent to the ministry for approval.  It sounds like the ministry is usually pretty efficient once you get the paper work in but it can still take a week or two.  We would really like for ministry approval to be granted before the baby is born because if it is not the baby could end up having to be placed in foster care until the approval is granted.  This is something the birth family really does not want and we do not either.

So the short of it is, we are having a baby.... We don't know what sex yet but we still need to pick out names and get ready.  We already talked about some names on Friday with the birth family and think we have a couple for a girl but none for a boy yet.  We are including them in choosing a name because we would love to pick one we both like.  If we can't decided on one then the birth mother will name the baby her name of choice on the first birth certificate and when we are issued ours we will put our name on it and use her name as a middle name.  We would like the baby to keep that connection to the birth family.

I will try my best to post an update later in the week about how tomorrow goes.  We are both really excited to see them again and to check out the hospital. :)

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