November is National Adoption Month, but more importantly it is the month that sweet Peacock joined our family. There probably hasn't been a single day go by in the last four years that I haven't thought of Peacock's birthmother/family. Around this time each year, and this year was no exception, my thoughts wander to her birthmother more frequently ... almost a bit obsessive at times. (I've been to her Facebook page numerous times this past week ....) My mind races with questions like: Where are they (the birthfamily) now? What are they up to? Have they been receiving the letters and photos I send them? Does it break their hearts to open those letters and photos or is it something they're OK with now? What are their lives like now? How can someone be so selfless to give their baby to someone else to raise? Now that I've been through pregnancy, labor, delivery and recovery, my respect for birth mothers is even greater. I remember sitting with Turkey when he was a newborn and, in quiet moments, I often wondered what it would be like to be sitting there without a baby to hold and knowing that someone else was holding my baby. I can not imagine a greater sacrifice except the sacrifice made for us by Jesus Christ.
When we left Arizona to attend dental school in Pittsburgh, Hubby & I were under the impression that we would not be able to adopt another child until after graduation. I guess I just figured that Penguin would be 6 years old (or older) before she got a sibling or I'd have to pursue infertility treatments ... neither idea sounded very appealing.
After we were in PA for about six months and somewhat settled, the local social worker for our agency came to do a post-placement visit for Penguin to be sent to Russia. When she met with us, she asked if we'd like to adopt again. She told us that laws were different in PA, that she could approve us to adopt again, & that all the medical, dental, & law students have gotten babies while attending school there.
After we were approved to adopt in PA, we started getting some interest from birth mothers and we were almost chosen several times, but it just wasn't happening. We put our profile online in a few places. We were involved in an adoption scam ... a woman was looking for money who said she worked with birth mothers. This turned into a huge mess involving families all over the country and the FBI even got involved ... I believe this woman is now in jail. She got our hopes up and we were let down and angered that someone would try to take advantage of us. How cruel! Finally one day in July, our social worker called and said she was on her way to visit a birth mom and was wondering if it would be OK with us if she showed our profile to this birth mom, "M". Later that day we got a call from our social worker saying we were the family that M picked & that M was having an African-American boy on November 17th. We were so excited!! A boy!!
Hubby spent his summer break studying for and taking the board exams cause we knew we didn't want to save that for after a baby came. I painted our extra bedroom, bought a dresser, set up the crib, shopped for boy clothes and started thinking about names for this little boy ... I liked Spencer. We were thrilled and couldn't wait until November to bring home our sweet baby.
On September 11th, I was getting ready to go pick-up a friend cause we were going to go to the farmers market together. The phone rang; it was our social worker. She asked if Hubby was at home ... my mind started spinning & wondering what she could want ... no, Hubby wasn't home. She broke the news to me that "M" (the birth mom) had been offered about $10K to place her baby with an agency in Utah ... totally illegal for the agency and "M" to do this! It took a few minutes for this to process in my mind and then I lost it. My heart literally hurt & felt like it was breaking. I can't think of anything in my life that was more emotionally painful to me than this experience of losing the baby boy that I had hoped and planned for. Poor Penguin was left to try and comfort me that afternoon. She brought me tissues and told me everything was going to be OK.
After taking a break from all the adoption stuff for a few weeks, we were again ready to move forward. By this time, I started having strong feelings that my child was out there somewhere and I needed to be more proactive in finding my child. I started visiting websites everyday that had photo listings of available children, sending our profile to every agency that would accept it, and spending countless hours a day looking for our child. A girl I went to church with is a social worker for Adoption Advertising, so we registered with that agency as well.
Around the beginning of October, Adoption Advertising called us with a situation...a 3 week old girl named "A" in Eastern PA. They told us up front that it was a "risky" situation because the birth mother, "C", had been caring for the baby for 3 weeks and had created a bond with baby "A". Also, in the state of PA, the birth parents have 30 days to come back for the child, so we could have "A" in our home for a month and then have to give "A" back to the birth parents. We thought about this situation and felt really good about moving forward. We had several phone conversations with "C" & "J" (birth father), exchanged email addresses, received photos of "A" and set up a time with "C" & "J" to go to their city to meet them and baby "A".
I remember it was a Wednesday and the same day my sister entered the MTC (Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT). We drove to "C" & "J's" city, met them at a mall and got to meet "A". We took them all out to lunch and "C" & "J" seemed to love us and said we were exactly what they dreamed of finding for their daughter. "J" had a book and letter that he wanted us to give to baby "A" someday. "C" sobbed uncontrollably as she knew her time with "A" was coming to an end. We called the lawyer to meet with "C" & "J" so they could go sign the adoption paperwork. We waited at a park nearby for the lawyer to bring the baby to us. I felt like I was going to puke ... I was so nervous. After a while we started to realize that too much time had passed & that something wasn't right. The lawyer finally showed up with no baby. I didn't know what to think. How many times was I expected to endure this pain? We drove home in complete silence for the entire 4 hour ride. We arrived home to voice mails from family members congratulating us on our new addition & Hubby had to go back to school the next day and face every one's questions.
By this time we were getting phone calls & emails several times a day about potential situations. Some interested us & we pursued them a little bit. We talked to a birth mom on the phone who was due to give birth any day with twin boys. Nothing felt right & nothing was working out.
I remember Halloween of 2006. Penguin & I had spent a lot of time on her cowgirl costume & I was upset that it was raining & that we couldn't go trick-or-treating. I also remember feeling somewhat depressed about not having two kids to dress up that evening. The next evening (Nov. 1), we received a phone call from Adoption Advertising & they offered us another situation that was considered "no risk" and that they were only offering to families who had previously experienced a failed adoption with their agency...a healthy baby girl born on Halloween somewhere in South Carolina & if this worked out, we'd have to leave the next morning to pick up this baby. That's all the info the agency had at that point and they could only give Hubby & I about 20 minutes to think about it because lawyers were already on their way to meet the birth parents and have them, "C" & "M", sign paperwork and pick up the baby. Hubby & I talked quickly and decided we felt good about moving forward. "C" & "M" were presented with three adoptive families to pick from and about 30 minutes later we received a phone call informing us that we were the chosen family for their baby. We were given a few minutes to gather our thoughts and then we talked on the phone with "C" & "M" for about 30 minutes. We wanted to talk longer, but the agency wanted to give "C" & "M" time to talk and make sure they felt good about everything before the lawyer showed up at their hotel to get the baby. For hours we paced the floors ... do we get our hopes up and pack the car? or just sit and wait? Around 10:30pm another phone call came saying everything went perfectly, all paperwork had been signed, and OUR baby was in the care & custody of the lawyer.
The morning of November 2nd was a whirlwind. Hubby had to attend a couple classes that morning, so Penguin & I ran around like crazy people, got everything packed, and I think we finally got out of the house around 11am without a single newborn diaper or outfit (cause we didn't have any) for our new daughter. After a long day's drive, we made it to the lawyer's office around 8:30pm and there was our baby - so small and sweet. We held her and took a few photos, but we were anxious to get out of there cause we were tired, hungry and Penguin didn't even have a shirt on under her coat cause she had gotten sick on the way down. And what a weird feeling to walk into a lawyer's office with one child and walk out with two. Thank goodness the secretaries had gone to Wal-Mart that day and bought Peacock some diapers and a pair of jammies. After signing a couple papers, we put Peacock into the car and set out to find a hotel. As soon as we got settled in the hotel, we started emailing photos of this little girl we had just met and were already growing to love so much.
When we left Pittsburgh, we expected to stay in South Carolina for a long weekend and that we'd be able to return home with Peacock quickly. On Sunday, November 5th, we realized Peacock wouldn't be allowed to go anywhere, so Hubby rented a car and returned to Pittsburgh for school while I waited for word that it was OK to return home. After much frustration, being stuck in a hotel room with a 3 year old & newborn for a couple weeks, Hubby renting cars & driving back & forth a few times, we finally got a court date of November 17th ... on the other side of the state! So, I packed up all our stuff and the girls into my car, drove across the state and found a new hotel to stay in until we could go to court. Thank goodness Hubby was able to get out of school and join us for court. "M", the birth mom, also came to court so we were able to meet her. Of course we were nervous about meeting her, but once we met and started talking, we relaxed and were thankful for the opportunity we had to spend time with her and get to know her a little bit. I'm sure it will be a story that Peacock will want to hear many times as she grows up.
A couple days after court, we were finally able to return to PA with Peacock! It was wonderful to be able to return home and eat real food ... eating out every day for all 3 meals for several weeks quickly loses it's flare! We got home just a few days before Thanksgiving and thankfully some other dental students invited us to join them for their Thanksgiving get together.