Thursday, February 20, 2014

Our Adoption Story: Time to call the Families

Up to this point, none of our family members knew we were in Florida. Nor did they know we were holding our son, their grandson, nephew, cousin. They had no idea. A few key people knew, our bosses (we had to tell them we weren't showing up for a while), our pastor (one can never have too much prayer on your side), and one of my best friends (a girl needs sound, unbiased, support at a time like this). Other than that, Rich and I had decided not to tell anyone until papers were signed and we had our baby in our arms.

We made this decision, to keep quiet, after the failed adoption we experienced in November. I couldn't go through the heartache of telling people we were matched just to turn around and tell them it fell through. I wasn't strong enough to go through that. The decision was made. As hard as it was to not tell my mom, it had to be done.

When we finally filled the cart, paid for our loot and left Target, we were ready to begin making the phone calls.  Back at the hotel the first person we called was Rich's parents.  When Rich's mom answered he asked if his dad was around. His mom said yes, and with some prompting put the phone on speaker. Rich told her we were in Florida holding their newest grandson. She made us laugh. Her response was "oh that's just wonderful, you're going to have to say that again your father is in the bathroom". We still get a chuckle out of that one.

Next on the list was my mom. I called her and asked "what are you doing?" (typical first question when I call her, one that is followed with a response and the same question aimed at me). When she asked me what I was doing I told her I was in Florida holding her new grandson. TEARS and screams and excitement poured through the phone. Tears sprung to my eyes too. Her excitement was palpable and I was so happy to be sharing the news with her, finally.  She was at work and walked out of a room of 2-3 year olds (who were all staring in silence at her crying). She said she didn't care what they were doing. HAHA. She asked all kinds of questions about him, weight, coloring, hair/eye color etc. It was a great moment. I asked her not to call or tell anyone. I had not told Mitch and Natalie yet and I wanted to be the one to share this news. I didn't want anything about it on Facebook until we had called and emailed everyone we wanted to call and tell.

The next number I dialed was my brother. When he answered the phone I asked if the kids were around, I wanted to FaceTime with them. He said "Can we call you back? We are getting ready to eat dinner." I didn't know what to say so I said yes...we went on to call Rich's brothers and sisters. We couldn't get ahold of his sister Jen, she was ignoring our calls.  We did eventually get ahold of her that evening :). We did speak to the other siblings and they were all very excited for us and it was so nice to share the news with them, the news that our wait was over.

When my brother finally called back, it was just the kids on the phone. I asked where their parents were and Blythe said "They're upstairs". I told her to go get them, she took the phone with her and proceeded to show me the new floors that had been put in that week. I didn't have the heart to tell her I didn't care. Lol. When the whole Gumpl Gang was situated around the phone, we turned it so they could see me holding the newest member of the family. They were all shocked. Tears sprung to their eyes when I said "meet your newest nephew, Mitchell Anton Rupanovic". Mitch had no idea we were considering naming our son after him. Rich and I had known that was going to be the boy name we would use for a long time. I think the only person we had told was my mom, no one else knew the name so it was a shock when we told them.

More phone calls where made and the news was shared with those who we hold near and dear. We couldn't call everyone so we did send out emails to get the word out. It wasn't until after that, that we announced it on Facebook. It was an amazingly exciting time to share with everyone our news.

Here are some of our first pictures with him back at the hotel:



Our Adoption Story: Can we take him "home" now??

Papers had been signed, we were now the legal guardians of this little bundle of joy. We were ready to take him "home", to the hotel, and settle into being a family. Learn what this thing called parenting is. Just not yet, we had to wait...and wait...and wait. The hospital was waiting for the PICU tests to come back, until they had that we could not leave with our little guy.

The nurse, who was fabulous, told us that it was going to be awhile before the paperwork was done allowing us to be in the nursery with him. She told us "This is the last time you will get a certified nurse to babysit for FREE. Go enjoy the last lunch you two will have alone for a while. He is in good hands". So we did. We ran out to lunch, ate at Chili's (I forget why, I think we were trying to hit Babies R Us or something too...that didn't happen). Lunch took longer than we had hoped so we hurried back to the hospital.

When we got back to the hospital we were put in a private room right next to the nursery. It was a room with 2 chairs, a side table and a TV. Not much, but was enough for us to enjoy time with our precious little man and each other.

After the tests came back, the law office was called. One of their representatives had to be present at discharge. Once she arrived, we were able to sign the discharge paperwork and break free from the hospital. Rich and I had a good laugh, the hospital policy is that the mom and baby have to be wheeled out in a wheel chair, baby in arms. We had a good laugh because here I was with my hair done, make up on, and looking refreshed and people were passing by giving me looks like "she looks GOOD for having just had a baby".

We were so glad to have our little guy in our arms and be heading to, what would be home for 3 weeks, the hotel. First stop on the way, Target. We needed diapers, formula, and who knows what else we put in that cart (it was full for sure), but we needed it!



 
 
Breaking FREE. First car ride. 

Our Adoption Story: Placement Day

Rich and I stayed at the hospital most of the day on Feb 9, 2013. We left long enough to get dinner and to check into our hotel.

There was a lot of talking with Dana, being her emotional support. There were feedings, and spit ups, dirty diapers and cuddling of the baby. I asked Dana if she wanted me to stay in the room with her. She said she was going to send the baby to the nursery for the night so she could get some rest, but I could stay if I wanted to. As hard as it was, I decided to go to the hotel. I wanted to make sure she had the time and space she needed without feeling pressure from us. So we left around 10:00p telling Dana we would be back around 8:00a the next morning.

We got to the hotel and off loaded our luggage and pretty much CRASHED into bed. To say it had been a long day was an understatement. We set the alarm for 7:00a and quickly fell asleep.

I woke in a PANIC when I looked at the clock and saw it was after 8:00a.  Our alarm hadn't gone off (later we realized it was set wrong, it was reading 8p, not 8a).  I flew out of bed yelling at Rich. I have never showered so fast in my life. I called Dana to tell her we had over slept but were on our way.

We stopped to get her breakfast, and us too, on the way in. Gotta love McD's breakfast...its one of champions! :)  We got to the hospital a little after 9:00a and went straight to her room.  She was itching to get out, had already called her lawyer to see when he would be there so she could sign the papers and leave. Again, my job was to be there for her. There were special moments for us. Moments where it was just her and I outside under a tree talking. Moments with her and I and the baby. Moments of tears, hugs and back rubs. Moments of heart ache, from both of us.  There is no way to express the selfless act of love this woman was able to show us and her son, now our son. The unwavering courage to give us the child we had longed for. I cannot express my thanks to her enough.

Soon enough her lawyer arrived. He introduced himself to Rich and I, Dana had stepped outside. I explained some of the things Dana had stated to me, just so he would get a sense of what she was feeling in that moment. When she came back into the room, we were asked to leave. Before we left, we got a few pictures of Dana with the baby, and some of all 4 of us together. We were then shown to the waiting room and told the lawyer would join us soon.

As we passed the nurses station, we were given a moment with our son. Since we were not given hospital bands, we could not be alone with him. We talked with the nurse for a little while and then headed to the waiting room.

So we waited. As the court reporter, witness and lawyer were with Dana, we waited. While Rich and I were talking, he looked up and said "there she goes". WHAT? What was he talking about? "Dana, she just got wheeled by". And just like that she was gone. We didn't know, we didn't know that we wouldn't see her again. We didn't know that we wouldn't be able to tell her face to face THANK YOU, thank you for making our dream of being parents become a reality. We didn't know we wouldn't see her after we left the room. Things we wanted to say, didn't get said. No one told us this is how it was going to happen.  I didn't know what to make of it, or how to feel about it. But I do know we were both very sad we didn't get a proper good bye with her!

Not long after, the lawyer came in and we signed the paper work. It was official. We were now the legal guardians of Baby Boy _____, aka Mitchell Anton Rupanovic. In Florida the paperwork is irrevocable upon signing, meaning the birth family could not change their mind, so he was OURS. What a bitter sweet moment! 

Our Adoption Story: Preparing to meet our son

What a wild night it was.  After dinner, Rich and I sped home to finish packing, cleaning the house and making sure everything was in order to leave and be gone for a while. We had to split kitty sitting between 3 amazing friends who stepped in, not even knowing the real story of why we were leaving on such short notice.

Rich and I finally crawled into bed at 1:00a. Neither of us got much sleep, how could we? We were both so wound up with emotions, excitement, nerves and fear of forgetting to pack or to do something. At 3a, after I had finally dozed off, I woke to Rich being sick. He was perched and praying to the porcelain god that we all hate so much. Food poisoning at the worst possible moment. We had to leave the house at 4:30a to get to the airport, park the car in long term parking and get checked in for our 7a flight. It couldn't have been any worse time for him to get sick. All I kept thinking was "I don't care how sick he is, he IS going with me. this is NOT an option". Little did I know, it was his same thought. We were finally going to be a family, food poisoning or not.

Fortunately the sickness passed fairly quickly. Poor Rich looked like death, and didn't feel much better, but he wasn't needing a plastic bag or trash can so we were doing good.  I got him some water and let him sleep on the flight to Dallas. I couldn't sleep, shocker, because I was so worried about what our birth mom was going through and feeling, how she was doing after having a C-section. I had tried texting her and had not yet heard back.  When we arrived in Dallas I immediately turned on my phone. There was a text from Dana. I text her back to check in on her and tell her where we were and what time our flight would be landing.

As we waited for our flight, I sat with my phone charging and Dana called. I asked how she was doing, sore of course, and asked if there was anything we could bring her. She initially said no but when I asked again about bringing lunch she requested a pizza (pepperoni thin crust from Domino's). I didn't want to hang up with her. I was so afraid she would change her mind or not like us. But, hanging up meant getting on our flight and being just a few short hours away from meeting and holding our son.

We landed in Florida, FINALLY.  I was so anxious to get on with it, get out of the airport and get to the hospital. As we checked in to get our rental car, I called and ordered Dana's lunch so it was ready when we got there. I also called Dana to tell her we had landed and would be there as quick as we could. It took FOREVERRRRRRR to get the rental car. I mean, at least an hour. I was LIVID and had no patience for the wait. NONE. If you know me at all, you know I have little patience when it comes to certain things and you can imagine how I was in this moment...HOT. As a dear friend, Missie, calls me...my "Texas firecracker" side was wanting to rear its ugly head! While waiting we received a text from Dana saying "waiting on Mom and Dad" with this picture attached :
made my heart melt!


Landed in Florida, check. Rental car acquired, check. Pizza, in hand. Anxiety at an all time high, YOU BET!

When we walked into the hospital, and found our way to the post partum wing, you could cut the nerves with a chain saw. We had already had the call to "prepare" for this moment. Let's be real, NOTHING can prepare you for this moment. NOTHING AT ALL.  I was so full of emotions and was trying to keep them in check. Trying not to burst into tears. We signed in at the desk and were allowed into the wing of the hospital where our son was waiting. The little one that would forever change our lives and our hearts.

The door to her room was open. I knocked and walked in. She was standing there holding our son. My breath caught in my throat as emotion overwhelmed me. I didn't know how I was going to hold it together. The moment that we had waited for, what felt like forever, was finally here. We were in the same room, breathing the same air as our son. After the first "hello" and "how are you" Dana asked if I wanted to hold him. OF COURSE, that's what I wanted to shout. Instead I just walked towards her as she placed him into my arms. In that moment my heart was bursting with love I never knew was possible. Love that came instantly and so naturally. Love I never want to be without.

I didn't, as much as I wanted to, hog all the time holding him. I let daddy hold his little man too. One thing I wanted to make sure I did was to be there for Dana. I didn't want her to walk away thinking we didn't support her, or that we just saw her as our baby momma. I wanted her to know how much we care for her and support her and what a blessing she is to us. She had virtually NO support. Her family didn't want her to make an adoption plan, they wanted her to keep him. Dana never once waivered. From the moment we walked in, and from the instant she stepped into the hospital, she made it known we were on our way and that we were the parents and to make all the medical decisions. So my job was to be there for her, build a relationship with her and to be the shoulder she could lean on during this very difficult, and selfless, time in her life.

At one point Dana walked down stairs. We believe, and who can fault her, she needed a breather. She needed  a moment to herself without us or the baby. During that time, we very quickly (not knowing how long she would be gone) took our first family photos.



Joy, Sheer joy!!
 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our Adoption Story: THE call


Rich and I went about our week and were very much anticipating our upcoming travel to Florida to meet our son. All day on Friday I had butterflies in my stomach. I can't explain it but I KNEW our birth mom was going to deliver early. My fear with this was that we wouldn't be able to make it in time for delivery and she would change her mind and decide to parent. I had many nightmares where this happened and it was my biggest fear. We were so close this time but still, anything could happen.

I worked all day, butterflies and all. After I got home I immediately walked upstairs and into our closet. I was pulling down a shirt I wanted to pack when my phone rang. It was her. Dana, our birth mom, was calling to tell me that she was in labor and was on her way to the hospital. I explained that we would call the airlines and see what the earliest flight we could take was and that I would keep her posted.

After hanging up I called Kathie, our social worker with the adoption agency, and had a moment of freak out. She didn't answer her phone so I left a message. I told her that we received the call and that I was freaking out and afraid we wouldn't be able to get there. I then called Rich to tell him, he was just moments from the house.

When he came in he jumped on the phone with the airlines to see what could be done and if there were any other flight possibilities. I freaked. I mean, I FREAKED when they said they couldn't get us out that night. Well, they could have gotten us out of Albuquerque and into Chicago but Chicago was experiencing a snow storm and the chances of us getting out of Chicago were grim. They could have flown us to California but we would have had to be at the airport in 30 mins, travel all night and still not arrive in Florida until the next afternoon. The flight they could get us on left the next morning at 7a and got us to Florida at 2p, and hour before the flight that routed us through California. So we booked those tickets, told our birth mom and hit the ground running. 

The next couple of hours were a blur. We went to Carter's, Target, Babies-r-Us, the mall and finally sat down to eat at Red Robin around 8:30p.  While we were eating my phone buzzed. the very first picture of our son came in. Tears immediately sprung to our eyes. He was the most beautiful baby we had ever seen, even still being all slimy. It took us a moment to catch our breath. This was really happening, we were finally going to be parents and would be holding our baby in less than 24 hours. It was all so unreal.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Our Adoption Story: IT'S A MATCH

On Wednesday morning I was sitting at work and going about my day when my phone rang. It was Kathie telling us it was a match, we were officially selected by Dana, our birth mom, she had made it official that morning and we were clear to start making travel arrangements.

So much emotion, excitement and nervousness. I couldn't get the fear of  'what if she changes her mind' out of my head. I think this is a natural fear of all adoptive parents but after a failed adoption just a couple months ago, my fear was very much burning a hole in my stomach.

I was so excited to call Rich and tell him. This was it, we would soon be holding our little guy and our lives would be forever changed. I could not believe this was finally happening. After all this time and after all we had been through we were finally going to be a family, our dream was finally becoming a reality.

Later that night Rich and I began to book everything for our trip to Jacksonville. We booked our airline tickets, thankfully we had enough airline miles that we only had to pay $20 for the round trip airfare. We booked our hotel, an extended stay place so that we would have a stove top to be able to cook some of our meals and save on eating out. We then booked our rental car. Things were booked, confirmation numbers saved and anxieties at an all time high.

After work, Rich and I made a list of all the things we needed to get and do before we left on Monday. We needed blankets, clothes, something for the baby to sleep in, bottles etc. WE HAD NOTHING. We had the whole weekend to get this all done but the list was made and ready to be tackled on Saturday.  Rich and I were just a few days away from being a family!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Our Adoption Story: Phone call day = Crazy day take 2

As predicted, I didn't sleep much that Monday night. Tuesday morning I was excited but nervous all at the same time. We were set to have our call with Kathie at lunch time, she would explain what the phone call would look like with the birthmother. What things to talk about with her and what topics to stay away from.

I went to work as per usual and tried to not let on that anything big was going down later that day. When I walked into the building, everything was hunky dory and normal, until the elevator door opened on my floor. My first thought was "that wasn't me!". This disgusting, stomach turning smell hit me smack in the face. I walked through the front door and our agency administrative assistant looked at me, and my scrunched up face, and said "I know, it wasn't me". So GROSS. Turns out that, despite pleads from our building asking for notice, that Chipotle next door had cleaned out their grease traps and it had polluted our building air intake. It was so bad our boss sent us to work from anywhere that had wifi. Corina and I packed up our laptops and headed for Satellite coffee to take advantage of their wifi and enjoy a tasty beverage at the same time. It was supposed to be a low key day for me, time to get caught up on board report numbers and interpreter requests.

As we were sitting in Satellite my boss emails me, she had stayed in Santa Fe over night because there were more legislative events happening on Tuesday but there were supposed to be interpreters provided for it so I wasn't needed down there. The email says that she needs me in Santa Fe by 1:00, it was 11. I was not dressed for legislation events. I had to RUSH home, 25 minutes away, and change clothes and hit the road. I was angry because I was afraid I would miss my call with Kathie or that I would lose cell service being on the road on my way to Santa Fe.

I made it home, changed clothes and hit the road. I had spoken with my boss and let her know I was on my way but that I MUST be back in Albuquerque by 4:30, no exceptions.  She didn't see this as being a problem at all so off I went.

As I hit the highway my phone rang, it was Kathie. Once I was on the phone she got Rich on the phone and began explaining everything to us. With each passing "do" and "don't" the butterflies in my stomach fluttered more and multiplied in number. I was so nervous when Kathie told us she would not be on the phone call with us. UMM WHAT? Rich and I have to go this alone? Holy Cannoli. I needed a safety net, cuz I was bound to screw this up on my own.

We made it through the call, without losing cell service, and were all set for the phone call. Kathie was emailing me the phone number to call that evening. How was I going to make it through the day?

I arrived in Santa Fe, there was a lot of hurry up and wait. I was growing more and more frustrated as all I wanted to do was be in Albuquerque to ensure that Rich and I were home in time to make this call, a call that had great potential to change our lives. As the afternoon ticked by, I was getting more and more anxious and increasingly frustrated as we were waiting and waiting and waiting for the Senator that requested the meeting to arrive. She eventually did and then we went into the session. Despite their being 7 interpreters, my boss wanted me to stay and interpret the legislative session, so I did. All went well and was over and I was in my car and back on the road to Albuquerque buy 3:30. I FLEW home.

Shortly after I arrived home, so did Rich. We were nervously "ready" for our call.  As time ticked by, I thought I was going to pass out with nerves. I didn't know how we were going to get through this call. I don't recall ever being THAT nervous in my life. This was it, the moment we had been waiting almost 3 years for.

A few minutes after 5:00, I dialed the number Kathie had given us. The phone rang and rang, no one answered. This made me even more nervous, had she changed her mind? Rich said to wait a few minutes and try again. I didn't have to try again because my phone rang and it was her.

The phone call didn't last long, about 20 minutes (which Kathie had said was average and to be expected). There were a few awkward silence moments but it wasn't too bad. I think we were all nervous. Questions were asked about if we wanted to be there for the birth, since it was a scheduled c-section. Of course we wanted to be there, if she wanted us to be there. The birthmothers mom got on the phone, she had some questions for us too. She wanted to make sure that we were going to love this little baby, a baby boy, and protect him. We tried to reassure her as best we could and tried to be open and honest as much as we could.  I explained that we would not only love and protect this little boy but that he would know how amazing and selfless his birth mom was, how she loved him so much that she wanted a better life for him than she could provide and so she picked us to raise him.

When we hung up the phone we had made arrangements. We were going to fly into Jacksonville on Monday afternoon and meet her and her mom for dinner. We would then be with her on Tuesday morning as she went in for her C-section. All was looking good. Almost too good. After the phone call ended, Rich and I just held each other and cried. This was it, this felt so different than the situation in November. We were going to have our baby, and we were going to meet him in less than a week. We were in shock, we were thrilled, we were scared.

We called Kathie to let her know how the phone call went. She asked "Well, how'd it go?" I said "we made plans to meet for dinner on Monday." We all laughed as Kathie said "I'd say it went pretty well then!"  It was all so surreal, so exciting and so nerve racking because we were not yet in an "official" match. This birthmother still had to make it official and say that she picked us as the adoptive family.

Another sleepless night was ahead for sure!