Blog Title Vote

So last week I put a post requesting thoughts on the title of the blog.  The results were overwhelming, er, underwhelming.   We had one reply.  So, I thought about it, and came up with a few reasons why:

1. All my title options were terrible and you were sparing my feelings.

2. You dislike me.

3. You love the current name.

4. You dislike having to type out full comments.

I’m going to assume #4, because that’s how I usually am.  So, I’m going to simplify things.  A poll!  Just select and press a button.  Easy.

Let me explain my titles here.

God’s Child, Our Joy – This refers to a future post I will put up sometime.  An adoption theme that comes up a number of times is that while we may be adopting, all children are God’s children.

Life Itself – Since I blog about our life, and how I ended this post.

All Will Be Well – A quote we have told Eva many, many times.  A quote that applies to us as well.  And a great song by The Gabe Dixon Band.

Time Will Never Matter – The first of two Jars of Clay lyrics.  This is from the song Sunny Days, a particular chorus that applies to us :

So if you’re waitin’ for love
Well it’s a promise I’ll keep
If you don’t mind believing that it changes everything
Then time will never matter

Soon End In Joy – The second Jars of Clay lyric.  This one is from God Will Lift Up Your Head (one of my favorite three Jars songs).  I pared the title list down from an earlier list, and one word kept coming up in them : Joy.

Family++ – A little background for you non-programmers.  If you have a variable that you assign a value, say family = 2, to increase the value you write something like this : family = family + 1.  The shortcut for that is family++.

Now, the poll is non-binding, I haven’t checked if the names are available, but it will definately be helpful to me to narrow things down.

Thank you for you help.

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Eva Goes To Church

Everything is different with a baby in tow. I wrote about Eva’s day at work, and how she changed how I viewed my office. Would her presence at church be the same?

Eva has attended a number of services, but just in the last few weeks she’s way more cognizent of the proceedings. This particular Sunday is the first one where we bring her to church without her car seat.

We find our pew and sit down. Eva engages in her favorite past time: people watching. She marvels at the number of people that walk in and sit down. This is super cool.

The coolness ends when service starts, and nobody is walking anymore. She’s mildly entertained by the standing and sitting, but that’s just not as interesting. First the robed person says something, everyone says something back. She starts to lose interest…and patience.

For one of the songs, a duet meets in the back to sing it for the congregation. Eva, being a baby, is not being constricted by the social norms we adults have. She’s free to turn around to watch this duet…and join them. She sings a bar or two, and feels she’s accomplished what she set out to do. She’s tired now, and is starting to get figity. The tears may come at any second.

We sing a hymn, and Eva is happy again. Being surrounded in sound can be calming for a baby. This hymn is Halleluia Jesus Lives (why yes, it was post Easter), and the second verse speaks to Eva :

Jesus lives! Why do you weep?
Why that sad and mournful sigh?
He who died our Brother here
Lives our Brother still on high
Lives forever to bestow
Blessings on His church below

With this comfort in mind, she closes her eyes and takes a nap.

She missed out on the sermon, where she could have learned aliteration. We pondered Peter’s punchy preaching. Eva sleeps the rest of the service away. It’s hard for me to remember a time when this was all new, when the rhythms of a service were not predictable. Eva sleeps not out of boredom of repetition, rather out of learning too much. When was the last time I learned too much?

The next Sunday we are back at church, with the same rhythms. Robed person says something, the people respond. I wonder if she has noticed the pattern I noticed when I was young. If the priest says something long (like a prayer), the response is short (amen). If the priest says something short (“The next hymn is 248”), the response is long (the hymn).

This Sunday, Eva is more energetic. No longer content to sit, she wants to stand and look around. Look at all these people who have yet to tell me how cute I am!

One things does capture her attention. Mommy singing. She will stare and smile at mommy when she sings (as do many people). Mommy is singing to me.

The lyrics to the song are about God, but does Eva know that even though we are looking directly at her, the lyrics are not for her?

We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory…

Now we sit for the homily. Those of you who’ve taken infants to church probably know this already, but I’ve noticed that I take in about a third of what I used to. This is because it is hard to hear and process the words when trying to quietly entertain an infant. Today’s homily is no different, but one thing catches my ear :

“we are all adopted into God’s kingdom”

As Eva sits the rest of the service, she notices a difference in this crowd of people. No one is smiling. Everywhere she goes, people are smiling, except at church. Is it because we can’t take something serious if we’re smiling? Regardless, Eva doesn’t care. She’s going to smile. After all, didn’t you hear, we’re ALL adopted into God’s kingdom. What’s better than that?

The man in the robe asks us to greet each other. Each congregant turns to their spouse, their family, and their pew neighbor to express their sentiments through word, with a kiss or hand shake, and with a smile. Smiles. There they are. Eva loves it.

There are things that you are good at in this world, and they change over time. I used to be a fantastic pots and pans guy at the retirement home I worked at in high school, and at one point in my life I could predict the coin toss in Madden. Eva is only months old, but already has many things she’s good at, including this one : if you smile and share your joy with her, she will return it back to you ten fold.

The service concludes and we gather up our things and go. Eva comes away from these two weekends with a growing sense of church. She loves the music, and she sees and experiences the power of community and shared experience at church. That, and she will look at me and say “People should smile more.”

Adoption in the News

When we took our adoption classes, we were told that 80% (or was it 90%) of people approve of adoption. I wondered why not 100%? Here’s the reasons I could think of :

1. Someone could equate adoption with foster care (similar, but not the same). They may have, or know someone who had their kids put into to foster care, which causes all sorts of hard feelings.

2. Stories like the man in Ohio who adopted a number of children only to abuse them, passes a bad light on adoption

3. Some people have strong feelings on bloodlines, that nothing is more important than blood.

4. Perhaps some pushback on the number of celebrity adoption stories, like Angelina Jolie and Madonna. Perhaps you might not approve because you’d hate to agree with Madonna? (a reach, I suppose)

Well, I have a fifth reason now. Forced adoptions. This story I found on Yahoo was a sad one to read. Children taken from mothers knowingly (and unknowingly) all because of how someone defines what a good family is. Anyone who’s been affected by this will almost definately have trepidation about adoption.

We feel strongly that our daughter was brought to us by God, albeit through unconventional means. What shocks me is how these trusted people played God themselves, determining the parents of a child against their own standards. It’s a slippery slope. One person may find a single mother unfit, the next may find that we’re unfit because we both work. It’s a terrible story, and I’m glad that it’s been brought to light.

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Openness is adoption is the new norm

This is not a surprise to us, as we are one of 55% of adoptive families that have a fully open relationship with their birth parents. In fact, only 5% of adoptions are considered fully closed, the other 40% sending pictures/letters through an intermitterary.

The thing that made me think a little bit is the inverse trends over time of wanting contact between the two parties. Especially for the adopted child, the older they get, the more contact they’d likely want to have. Yet, interest usually diminishes for the birth parents over time. It should be interesting how our relationship with our birth parents evolves over the years.

I know you’re adoptive, but what am I

I’m a sports fan, and I like to wear shirts and hats of my favorite teams, whether its the Minnesota Twins, or my alma mater, University of Northern Iowa. Sometimes I’ll be walking around and someone who happens to also be a fan will stop and say something. My favorite now is when someone stops and asks if Northern Iowa is the same team that beat Kansas in the NCAA tournament a few years ago (yep!). It’s refreshing to meet a fellow fan in this sea of scarlett and gray that is Ohio. (Although, here you’ll run into Bengals and Reds fans. In Nebraska is was all red. They gave you a Cornhusker Flag when you crossed the border, and told you the nearest place to buy a red truck.)

We ate at a Fazoli’s one day, and there was a family sitting a table. Mom, Dad, and their two daughters were eating their fast, fresh, italian. I looked at them, and wanted to go talk to them. I knew that this was an adoptive family, and I wanted to say, “Us Too! Isn’t this great!” I didn’t. We ordered, and let them eat in peace.

I didn’t know them. I hadn’t met them before, but I knew they were adoptive. Why? Because both of their girls were oriental, and they weren’t. It’s an interesting situation. I wanted to connect to them on a level of similarity, and was making this connection because of their differences. Looking at it a different way, I wanted to say hey to them based off their looks.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, they probably wouldn’t want their meal disturbed, just like any other family wouldn’t, but isn’t this situation different? Maybe worse? “Hi, I noticed that you don’t all look the same, so you must be adopted. I’m an adoptive parent too.” Eek. Terrible introduction.

They will always be spottable as an adoptive family. We will not. Eva looks like us. Sure, she may have reddish hair, and her cute nose doesn’t match ours, but she looks like us. When random strangers tell you that her eyes look like yours, or she’s cute just like her mother, how do you respond? Thank them, because those statements are technically correct, or correct them on their likely misconception that the matches are due to biology?

We are not ashamed of our family. We’re actually rather proud of our adoptive family. (With this blog, I’ve written more about our adoption than I have anything else). We won’t hide it, but we won’t project it either. When a stranger makes a comment thats correct, but probably made on the assumption of biology, we tend to smile and say “Thank You”.

The main reason we say “Thank You” is that adoption is not a throwaway topic. If someone assumed that I grew up here in Ohio and I corrected them in saying I grew up in Iowa, I wouldn’t have to explain the differences between growing up in the two places. They’d say “OK”, and continue on with their day. When you mention adoption to someone, they typically can’t just say “OK” and walk away. All they wanted to do is complement our beautiful baby and now they are stuck having to make sure they didn’t offend us with the comment (which they didn’t), and then either show support for what we did, or pretend so. I’m not in the business of trapping people who only wanted to complement our baby.

So, with that in mind, I won’t trap that Fazolis family. There are better ways of connecting with adoptive families. We have bi-yearly meet ups with class members of our adoption class if I’m so inclined. Plus, you don’t have to be an adoptive family to be supportive or helpful. Besides, right now the things we need to talk about are not adoption related, just parenting related, and we know plenty of parents. Even if we didn’t meet them at a Fazolis.

When Two (Adoption Focus)

When writing the “When Two” post, I omitted some big elements of the decision. The fact that we are an adoptive family does add a few major elements to the decision process.

1. Money

First, we haven’t yet paid off the costs of the first adoption (I don’t mean to make this sound like waiting to buy a car after you’ve finished paying off the first, but it’s a reality). It’s a significant amount, so you can’t make the decision lightly. Plus, if the tax credit goes away, that makes it even more difficult.

2. Certification Expiration

If we submit our profile books within two years, all of our certifications will still be valid and won’t have to be redone. This is great because we wouldn’t have to pay for the home inspection, etc., and wouldn’t need to reattend the state parenting classes.

3. The Longer Wait

Let’s say you have tickets to Wicked, but can’t attend. You send an e-mail out to see who wants them and two people reply. First there is Adrian, who you know saw it last year. The other person is Toby, and he hasn’t seen it yet. Who are you more likely to give them to? Probably Toby, who hasn’t seen it yet. Same with adoption. Birthparents are more likely to make an adoption plan with a couple without children. Thus, the wait for parents with children is longer than for first time parents. It’s hard to resist the idea of “saving” a couple from a childless existence, easy to resist “saving” them from an only one child existence. I don’t know if this is true, but I would imagine the wait is even longer for families that have some biological children, as I imagine that birthparents would fear that their child would be treated differently.

Regardless the reasons, it is typical that parents with children will wait longer than childless couples. So, perhaps you submit your profile book early in anticipation of this? There’s risk there, as it still can happen at any moment.

4. The relationship with your child’s birthparents

You may be ready to add to your family, but this might make relations with your child’s birthparents different. Up until now, you’ve spent your entire focus on their child, but now you’ll be spliting your focus with another child. It also could become a problem if..

5. The time you have to visit with birthparents is split

With a second child, you’re visiting with twice the birthparents, sending out twice as many pictures, etc. This may strain those relationships, but you also have to account for the time it takes from your schedule.

When Two

There has been many times in the last three months that I have thought that many of you reading this blog are insane. Not because you’re reading this. Not because I’ve had mostly positive remarks. No, because you had a child and at somepoint thought “Hey, I’m going to have a second one”! (Unless you had one of those “Surprise!” babies).

During the first month of Eva’s life, I found myself saying “No more”, or “This is the last one, how could I do this with a two year old at home?” What sane person choses to put their sanity to the brink after they’ve been through it? Unless, of course, you forget about it.

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When we were at the hospital for Eva’s birth, just afterwards we took a picture of birthfather, birthmother and Eva together. The next day we printed out that picture to give to birthmother and she was surprised. She had no memory of that moment. Those precious moments after birth had been wiped from her hard drive. Some mothers forget the pain of childbirth and some of the moments afterwards. This could be because of Oxytocin, or whatever pain reduction meds she was on. I’m not a doctor, so I’m not going say what happened here.

We are adoptive parents, and were under no drugs that day (besides my dear friend caffeine), so our memories are intact. The brutal of not sleeping through one REM cycle is still fresh in the memory, and I don’t know how I could forget.

I read an interesting article last summer in Time Magazine called The Science of Optimism. Let me give you the quick version. Our memories stink. The reason being that we are not storing memories to recall like bookmarks in your browser. Rather, our memories of past event are stored and sometimes modified so that we can construct visions of our future. A person with a damaged hippocampus will have difficulty storing memories AND will have trouble describing future events.

Just as fears of child birth can be mitegated by forgetting, fears of a second child are lessoned by our optimism. When picturing a future with two children, your mind paints a rosy image of the two of them getting along, the whole family snuggled on the couch, the cute Christmas cards, etc. You don’t imagine trying too soothe an infant while the two year old is throwing a tantrum on the floor. Our optimism keeps the human race going.

If you’re still leery about this idea, just look at any professional sport. Any given year, there are 29-31 teams that will not win the championship that year. My team stands about a 97% chance of not winning, but I can still picture it happening. The Vikings have never won the Super Bowl, yet there has been at least 10 years that I was fairly sure they had a great chance at doing it.

I have to be careful here. I’m not saying that our minds trick us into having seconds (except for desserts, doctor I swear I wasn’t going to eat it until my mind tricked me). It just lessens the bluntness of those trying times which helps let you evaluate with more emphasis on the good.

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So our optimism allows us to picture a happy future with a larger family. How large is still a decision. How do decide when you’ve had the amount of children you want?

The church wants you to let God decide how many children you have, thus taking the decision out of your hands. This is an interesting topic of conversation, and should probably be handled by someone with more theologic knowledge than I, but here’s how I look at it. I don’t think that God has a plan of eight children for a couple, but is thwarted by a condom or a pill. Mankind can not defeat God so easily.

Lets look at it from our point of view. God has decided that we may not have any biological children. Am I to believe that God intended us not to have children, but we’ve thwarted his plan through our adoption? I don’t believe that to be true, but I do believe his hand has been present through the process. If God has plan for the size of our family, we will reach it through prayer and consultation with him. Shouldn’t every family be this way?

If you attend adoptive classes or read adoptive blogs, you’ve no doubt heard the story of a couple who tried, tried, tried to have kids but were not able to. They turned to adoption, and soon after a placement, BAM, they’re pregnant. (This does happen, but NEVER go into adoption hoping that will be the trick. Be an adoptive parent to be an adoptive parent.) What if this is God’s way of saying, “Hey, I know you want to start your own family, but there is this child that I want you to parent that I know you’ll love with all your heart. I know that you won’t see this path until I block the one you’re on now.”

We’ve talked adoption for years, her more so than I. A series of events starting late 2010/early 2011 resulted in Steph and me starting the adoption path, and I feel that through many prayers and moments that this was our correct path. While a second child seems insane at this moment, maybe it won’t in a year, and whether it’s because he’s lit the next path, or blessed me with an optimist mind, it’ll be a path that we forge together.

Dear God, though, I don’t see that path right now. You people be crazy.

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Post note: I wrote this post a month ago, and just got around to editing/posting it. In that amount of time I’ve moved from “Fight against having a second child” to “It’s going to happen, and I think I’m OK with it.”

Lawyer Up

Q. Why won’t sharks attack lawyers?
A. Professional courtesy.

Q. What do you have when a lawyer is buried up to his neck in sand?
A. Not enough sand.

Q. What do honest lawyers and UFOs have in common?
A. You always hear about them, but you never see them.

Lawyer jokes are a dime a dozen. Fact is that most of the time you need a lawyer, it’s a bad time. You’re being sued. You’ve been arrested. You’re going through divorce procedures. You don’t know how those steroids ended up in your body.

Luckily up to this point in my life, I’ve never needed a lawyer. However, just recently we met with and retained our first. The difference is that our situation is going to be a happy occasion. At least it should be.

We met with him after work. He had taken advantage of an unreasonably warm spring day to golf, but made it back for our appointment. In a few months, we will have our court date to legally adopt our daughter. This does not happen in a vacuum, and steps need to be taken to make sure this takes place.

First, here is the situation now. Three days after birth typically (four in our situation), the birth parents signed the paperwork surrendering their rights to the child. The rights transferred to the adoption agency at that point. The agency places the child with us, sort of contracting the parenting out to us. To ensure we are doing a good job, the agency sends a social worker to check in with us once a month (Which we pay for. Yes, we pay someone to judge us). This is the situation today.

After meeting with the lawyer, he (by he, I mean his secretary) will file paperwork with the court for us to become the legal guardian of the child. This form will make it’s way back to our adoption agency, and they will sign it if they agree with it. (They typically do, but they are the legal guardian so they are not obligated to. For instance, if we were to seperate during this period, the agency could (and probably would) decide not to approve of the adoption). Once the agency signs that paperwork (and here it gets complicated, but this is how I interpretted what our lawyer told us), the judge now becomes the say all on the desination of the child.

Our court date cannot occur before six months post adoption. Our birthparents signed their paperwork on December 26th, so our court date can not occur until June 27th. However, late June is typically judge vacation season (typically signalled by the blooming of the Azalia Ajudgia), and the next week is 4th of July. Those in conjunction make for a screwy court schedule, so we put in to have the court date after the 9th of July. We shall find out soon when the exact date is.

Between now (now being when our adoption agency signs the paperwork, hopefully soon) and the court date, the arrangement is the same. We are the caretakers, and the adoption agency is the legal guardian. At the court date, the judge will decide if we are fit to be the legal guardians. We will present our case on why we should be the guardians.

Sounds intense, right? Well, our case will mostly be made before we arrive. The report that our social worker creates will detail what kind of parents we are, and if she recommends us as guardians. This outlines a majority of the case. The adoption agency will be there, and the judge will ask their opinion. The judge may ask us a few questions, but it typically is not intense. Most of the time, this court session is a joyeous occasion, the matching of a child who needs a guardian, and a loving couple (or single parent) who wants to bring them home. This should be our case.

We’ve heard stories about our judge. Typically, after the judgement is made, the adoptee and the adopters will join the judge up front for pictures of the new “official” family. These cases are usually his favorite, as he is joining people instead of dividing.

As part of the judgement, the name change will then be executed, and about 6 weeks afterwards we will have her new birth certificate in hand…listing us as her parents!

So, you can see there is a ton of legal stuff going on throughout this process, so having our own lawyer is essential. He will defend us if anything strange pops up, and will guide us through all the filings and procedures. For once, hiring a lawyer can be a sign of good times.

Bond, Baby Bond

One thing that many parents worry about with a new baby is bonding. This is not exclusive to adoptive parents, but there lies an extra layer of worry. We wonder if the lack of DNA connection means a lack of human connection. What makes a child of this world connect to you when you have nothing in common?

Steph and I talked about this months ago while taking our adoption preparedness classes. We both said we didn’t think it was a problem, but how do you really know? I based my thinking on Quinton. We adopted him after he was eight weeks old, and despite not sharing family, or sharing breed, we’ve bonded over the years.

This was one of a number of things that I would translate from dog ownership to being a parent. Yes, there are many similarities, but having a dog in preparation for a baby is like playing Mario Kart to learn how to drive.

There’s a bathroom at the top of our staircase. It’s my bathroom (until further notice), but as with many things in this house, there are slight flaws. Our house was built during the boom, so it was built fast and hid its flaws well. The flaw with the bathroom is that the door will not stay open. If you open it, it will fall back to a 45 degree angle from the door frame. Not devastating, but something that drives my better half crazy.

To alleviate this issue, we have a duck. Obviously. It’s one of those “massage ducks” that you press a button and it vibrates and you hold it on your back. We use it as a door stop. I may have found it silly at first, but now it’s just second nature to use it to hold the door open.

Why have I spent two paragraphs talking about our door duck? Well, now with the door open fully, when you come up our stairs you can see yourself in the mirror. For two months now, I’ve come up those stairs with a baby in tow. For a while, it was me and a beautiful baby. I knew she was mine, but there’s a difference between knowing and feeling.

I’m not sure when it happened, but one day I came up those stairs. She was no longer a beautiful baby, but my daughter. It was no longer just a statistic that was written somewhere, but a fact of my heart.

I don’t know when Steph had her bonding moment, but I know that she has. The evidence from Hell Week was abundant. What was Hell Week? Just everything happening at once. The week started off with a visit from my parents, my brother and his girlfriend. She loves them all, but she’s got to be a good host, which can be stressful on it’s own. Throw on top of that the fact it was her last weekend before going back to work makes it just that much more stressful.

Going back to work means working on her spring show, reaquainting with her students, and worrying that maybe they don’t want her back. It also means meetings, grades, and early morning choir. At the end of the week, it’s also immunization time for baby. Worrying about what will happen afterwards, not to mention the initial pain that getting stabbed will be.

What’s most telling though, is the thing she worried most about was daycare. Going back to work also meant the start of daycare. The start of someone else caring for her every need. Someone else experiencing all the cuteness. Someone else there when she does something for the first time.

Tuesday morning came, and I got Eva ready for the day. I changed her, fed her, and gathered her things for the day. Steph got ready for work, and was doing fine….until I placed Eva in her car seat, the straw that broke the camels back. Steph started to cry. It was sad that she wouldn’t be there for Eva today. She gathered herself and took her to daycare.

I told Steph I would stop by at lunch to check on her. The teachers at daycare were very sweet and understanding. They told me they felt so bad for Steph that morning. While she had gathered herself at home, once she handed Eva over to them, it was more than she was ready to bear.

Every emotion is running through her. How can I be so selfish to drop my baby off with these strangers? Am I a terrible parent for leaving my baby here? How will they know how to raise my baby?

She made it out of there, tears in hand. She was comforted by a friend on the way out, but that could not contend with the rampart of emotions. She cried all the way to work, and gathered herself with her children, only to nearly fall of the cliff again when a co-worker would ask how it was to be back.

Perhaps lost in all this saddness is a shining light. Each of those questions she asked of herself, she always referred to Eva as “My Baby”. When I tried comforting her that morning, there was one thing I told her that was most true. We don’t have to worry about her bonding with Eva.

Monday, Dec 26th : Signing Day

During one of my two hour sleeping sessions, I have a weird dream. (A bit of a misnomer. When have you had a normal dream?) There are two rival companies that make basketball cards that are competing to get the top two players to sign contracts with them. If they don’t get the signed contract, it would be devastating to them.

I wake up and think about this dream. My dreams are usually snippets of my life pieced together. Just yesterday, the NBA started their season, so that explains the basketball card companies. My anticipation (and fear) of our signing day today explains the contracts. Just as those companies needed those signatures from the two players, I needed those signatures from our birthparents today.

For those who haven’t followed this blog before, let me explain the signatures. Once birthmother gives birth, she cannot sign away her rights until 72 hours after birth in the state of Ohio. (since 72 hours hit on Christmas, it was 96 for us). Once the birthparents (since birthfather is in the picture, not always the case) sign the papers, the agency takes custody of the child. The agency has vetted us thoroughly beforehand, and places the child with us. After six months, we can go to court to petition the court for full custody of the child, and assuming we haven’t done anything wrong we will be granted custody making the adoption official.

If the birthparents do not sign the paperwork, we have no recourse. She would go back to them and we would be devastated. So, nothing less than the state of our family is at stake today. This is the reason we decided not to announce anything until afterwards.

The meeting is at 11 am, so Steph and I will anticipate a phone call around noon to let us know. We aren’t concerned, as we’ve had no indication that things would go bad. You can never be 100% sure though. To distract myself, I make a run to the mall to get a Baby’s First Christmas ornament half off at Hallmark, and get a couple of half-price calendars before picking up breakfast.

Eleven hits, and we wait. Eleven thirty, no call. Noon….no call. OK, that’s fine, our agent is probably hanging out afterwards to make sure they are doing well. Noon thirty, still no call. Tensions rising. Do we call? Did seeing family over Christmas change their mind?!

Quarter to one, still no call. 1:45 has elapsed. No way it took this long to happen. They would have let us know they rescheduled. Oh my God, she’s probably thinking of the best way to break the news. No, she’s on her way over to take our baby girl! Ring Dammit! (sorry for the curse, it’s the only way to express the true feeling of the moment)

I should probably mention that the previous paragraph all went on inside of my head. I could see the gears grinding in Steph’s head across the room, with what I imagine were the same thoughts. No way I was going to create a panic filled house on Eva’s third day here.

Five minutes until one, the phone rings. Steph picks up the phone. She’s listening, and there’s that moment. The moment that the face went from fear-filled to relief and joy. She didn’t need to tell me, I could tell at that instant that she was ours.

Why did it take so long, you ask? Our agent had driven back home and forgotten to call us right away. This was only the second time that it has happened to her.

Now, since I was feeding Eva at the time, I was robbed of the opportunity to dance around like an idiot in celebration (don’t worry, I have made up for it in the meantime, much to Steph’s chagrin). It was official. Sweet relief. I realized while writing this that on the 21st at just before 1pm our birthmother told Steph she was heading to the hospital, and on the 26th at just before 1pm the process was complete. The five days that changed our lives forever had just finished. Now what?

Now we start on the next phase of our adoption story. Phase one was making the decision, phase two was the approval process, phase three is the wait, phase four for us started when we were matched and just completed. The next phase is the phase that takes us the rest of the way. Maintaining a relationship with the birthparents and reminding Eva of her blessed state where she has four parents that love and care for her. Things will be rocky at times, but with prayer and help from friends and family we believe that we will succeed in this phase here on out.

Sunday, Dec 25th : A Moldy Christmas

Now it’s just past midnight and time to put Eva to bed.  We get to sleep in our own bed!! Well, maybe…

We have the nursery all set up, and once she’s changed and rocked to sleep, we place her in the crib and turn on the monitor.  We climb into our bed, and not but a minute later she begins to make little noises.  Now, being veterans of two nights now, we know what noises we can ignore.  Quinton doesn’t.  Each and every noise he shoots out of the covers and is ready to run into the nursery.  Of course, I don’t know what he’s thinking.  Maybe I can help?  Maybe he’s wondering what sort of person we’ve brought into his home who can project their voice from two rooms over. Either way, we’re not going to sleep this way, and we really, REALLY want to sleep.

A compromise, an option that we had discussed is available.  In the nursery, there is a twin bed.  You could say good planning on our part, or I can say I had no idea where we’d move it to, but either way it’s there.  One of us sleeps in the nursery with Eva and we’d switch off in the middle of the night.  This has the benefit of allowing one person to completely relax and sleep, while the other has the half asleep, half awake duty.  This may work for a while, only time will tell.

It’s just one of a million audibles we’ll have to call in the next few days.  The rocker that was passed down to me from my mother slips on the carpet in the nursery, and Steph’s legs are too short for it so we end up feeding on the bed instead.  The number of bottles we have would require 2-3 washings a day.  Eva hates the pacifiers we bought.  She’s small enough for newborn clothes, but we have very few newborn because we were concerned she’d be too large for them. Etc. I’m glad we had things planned out, otherwise it would have been mass chaos, but even the best laid plans go astray when reality hits.

After the 2 am feeding, Eva is wide awake.  I find this adorable, and awesome.  She’s gazing at me in what I call her “Wonderment Phase”, where she just looks around at everything wide-eyed and amazed at all these new things.  My enthusiasm for this will dwindle fast over the next few days, but I’m still googly-eyed now.

That morning, we are downstairs after feeding/changing her when we decided to work on our breakfast.  A trip to the fridge reflects our absence from home in the last few days.  The milk has gone bad.  There are no eggs, no frozen meals, but there is a couple of old doggie bags of leftovers from places I don’t remember going to, as if they’ve happened in a previous lifetime.  The fruit has a beard that competes with my own.  There’s no oatmeal in the cupboard, and the bread is moldy.

The calendar says Merry Christmas, which tells me two things. Moldy bread is not an appropriate breakfast, and there is no place open today to remedy this tragedy.  We do a quick Google search to see if maybe there is something open today.  Burger King and McDonalds MAY be open. It’s apparently up to each store to decide.  Since we live in 2011, there are 3 McDonalds and 2 Burger Kings within 10 minutes of us.  Depending on lights, two of the McDonalds are a minute apart.  I jump in the car and make the loop.  Not open, any of them.  No Christmas breakfast miracle for us.

On the way back, there was a parking lot with cars in it.  Walgreens.  I enter, and head to the food section.  Orange Juice.  Cinnamon Rolls. Powdered donuts.  Coffee.  Breakfast.  I was not the only poor sap there.  I was among four other people who also needed breakfast food.  I ignored the nutritional facts on the back of the packages, no need to bring down the holiday spirit, paid and went home with today’s catch.  So, thank you Walgreens for helping out the new parents who needed a little help.

Now, we did have a ham in the fridge for dinner, but lunch was still an issue. It was Christmas, and even though we had opened our gifts the previous weekend, we did have gifts from Santa to open.  Steph’s mom had sent the gifts that Santa left at their house, and we saved them for Christmas day.  Lo and behold, one of the gifts was a box of Mac & cheese.  Lunch!

The rest of the day was pretty low key.  We watched A Christmas Story, drank hot cocoa, and spent our first Christmas with Eva.  She celebrated the occasion by doing her normal trifecta; eating, sleeping,and filling her diaper.  Here she is in her Christmas outfit, so exciting she can barely keep her eyes open.

We spend the day getting acquainted.  We sing to her, talk to her, and rock her back and forth.  Once, she smiles when I talk to her, which makes me a proud papa.  Three days and she already recognized and is happy I’m there.  Then she lets out some gas and gets a content look.  Ok, so she isn’t happy to see me yet, but I’m still a proud papa.  You show that toot who’s boss!

One other cute thing she does is wake up.  Not the actual waking up, but the 10 minutes of stretching she does during it.  Is this a normal baby thing?  Regardless, it’s super cute.  She’ll do the Heisman, jazz hands, the Statue of Liberty and the woe is me poses during her routine.  What we’ll learn over the next few days is that this is her elaborate way of saying “I’m waking up now, there better be a bottle at the end of this routine or else I’ll let you know how tragic this injustice is”.

Today is Christmas, and oddly it has been the most normal day in a while.  Which is weird because we’ve had breakfast provided by Walgreens, lunch by Santa, and Quinton thinks that Eva is a squeaky toy.  Before today we had Anticipation Day, Birth Day, Getting to Know You Day, and Homecoming Day. Looming over today is the fact that tomorrow is Signing Day.  We may have celebrated Christmas completely different this year, but it was peaceful.  How more appropriate to celebrate the birth of Jesus than to enjoy peace.