Feature photo credit: BSA photography
The past year and half have been some of the best moments Douglas and I have ever shared together. We have learned so much more about each other than we thought we could after sharing over a decade with each other. We have learned how to calm each other down after a rough night, to laugh at each other when we take things too seriously... but most of all- to love everything each of us brings to this dynamic family unit.
Last October of 2016, Douglas and I started our deep discussions again. We talked about what we have learned so far with fatherhood and how we felt about everything up to that point. Alli Mae has helped us grow smarter, faster and allowed us to easily see what matters most in our lives.
We both know that we are in our mid 30's. I am almost 36 and Douglas will be 38 in September. We have said in the past that we want to raise a multiple child family. In order for this to happen we would really need to make some quick decisions about our future. One huge factor came into play.
Douglas is about to finish his 3rd year of medical school.
In his 4th year, he will have a significant amount of time to help me with Alli Mae and the new baby if we were to match with another birthmother soon. In order for that to happen we would need to start the adoption process as soon as possible because-
what if it took longer to find a baby this time?
After his 4th and final year of medical school he would then be accepted into a residency program into a hospital that he applies to. His schedule would then be dominated by his new job there. He would then be able to help me with any time he would have left over after such a grueling schedule.
So, after having our deep discussion, we decided to jump back on the adoption train again! WOO-WOO!! 🚂🌈👨👨👧👧
In mid October we got our federal and state background checks in order. Then we renewed our home study. Then, we waited.
We waited, and waited and then we waited some more. Then we got a call. It looked like there was a birthmother in Mississippi! Our hearts jumped out of our chest. We quickly typed out a portfolio with pictures talking about our life and sent it over. We were quickly informed that the birthmother had chosen family members to adopt her baby. I have to admit that stung, but we were just happy that the baby would be going to a home that was family and a home that would love and care for her.
About a month later we were told to make a really nice, hard back portfolio album telling about our lives. Like, where we live, about our daughter, our church, our families, etc. We were pretty excited about this. We worked really hard on it and the finished product came out wonderfully! About 2 weeks after that we recieved a call that our portfolio was being shown to a birthmother. We felt really positive about this. From the feedback we were getting it seemed like everything was moving in a positive direction. About 2 weeks went by and we were still feeling good about everything until we got the call. The birthmother actually chose another family. Now, to be perfectly honest, this frightened me. The birthmother declined on us because we already had a daughter. She ended up going with a family that didn't have any children at all. This was alarming for me. This whole time, I thought putting our family on the cover of our portfolio would be a strong visual and would show just how happy we are. I completely understand why the birthmother chose the other family, and this, I suppose is why it scared me. Some birthmothers want their baby's to go to a family that is desperately seeking to find a child. They want to know that their child will not be loved more than a sibling. To us that is impossible and would never happen, but we respect different birthmother's decision processes.
So there we were. I was pitiful. And Douglas again, my coach and rock was able to get me to see the beauty in how the situation unfolded. That family that matched now will have their first child. We read their portfolio and it was so charming and it really made my heart happy to know that they finally would be able to welcome their first baby home.
It was time to get up, and dust our shoulders off and keep marching forward. Each situation seemed to get us more and more in tune with the process. All we knew before with Alli Mae was how she basically fell from Heaven into our lap. Our 3-5 year wait we were told in the beginning turned out to be a 3.5 week wait. We knew going into this again that scenario is VERY uncommon and to not allow our minds and hearts to think it could happen again. We were already 3 months into waiting for our second baby. We knew that our 'Alli Mae situation' would indeed not be playing out like it did before.
Mid January rolled around and there I was. Me, the television and the inauguration of Donald Trump. 😝 Ugh! The morning was already going south. Why am I watching this horse sh*t?
And then the phone rang, so I proudly muted the tv.
This was the call we had been praying for. This was it! I started shaking as I was talking with our agency. She was going over the details and what we would be expecting and if we were interested.
I hung up with her so I could frantically call Douglas at school- and he didn't answer. So, I called his mom. After talking with her, I really felt like I could make the executive decision. YES! We are intersted. We are DEFINITELY interested!
So, on what seemed to be that sour and dreary inauguration Friday of Donald Trump turned into a beautiful day for our family. Out of the blue, like a shooting star in a thunderstorm, we matched with our birthmother.
Time to get moving
After we got confirmation that we were indeed matched, we started our planning process. In a way, we planned like we did when we first found out that we were going to bring home Alli Mae. We read that when you first bring your new baby home, your first born will be jealous and resentful. There were things we could prepare for before we brought the new baby home. The first thing was to move Alli Mae into her new room before the baby comes. In doing this, she will feel like she isn't being "kicked out" of her nursery. There was about 3 or 4 weeks in between that she could get use to her new "toddler" room.
We were eager to transorm our guest room into her new jungle. This room is much bigger than her nursery and it is absolutely perfect for a child her age. We went back to the drawing board to come up with fun themes that would be perfect for her.
The theme that we settled on was a tropical jungle setting filled with palm trees, monkeys, parrots, butterflies and other fun pictures on the walls. I wanted a vibrant color in this room that matched her personality. We picked out a sunset orange color. It is technically called "Tiger Lilly Orange."
After we got her settled into her new room we started preparing for life when the new baby comes.
I have ran a restaurant in the French Quarter for 10 years now. Being the general manager, I really didn't have too much time to be able to spend away from the restaurant. When I was at home, I usually had to do something that pertained to work and I couldn't have my full attention on my family. I knew things would have to change once we brought the new baby home. So, with the help of my dear friend and owner of the restaurant, who happens to also be my daughter's godfather, we came up with an exit strategy. As hard as it was for me to leave this part of my life, it was equally exciting to begin this new book. I would say chapter, but this is a brand new book. I would be able to stay at home while Douglas finishes out his last year in medical school. The feeling of being a stay-at-home papa was so empowering. I knew my children would be perfectly fine and I would not have to have a sitter or daycare.
The plan was to end my time there about 2 weeks before the baby came. When my time came to leave, it was emotional. It almost felt like I was jumping off of a cliff not knowing how deep the water was below me. It was exciting yet absolutely terrifying.
The closer we got to the date, the more anxiously happy we both were. We tried not to tell too many people. I had to tell more people because of me leaving my job, I felt obligated to give an explanation in why. The day we got the sonogram picture of the baby was when it really felt real. To see this tiny treasure inside of a tummy was so surreal.
We were in contact with the birthmother weekly it seemed. We knew that she had an obligation at the end of the month and once that was seen to, she would be ready move into the agency's apartment in New Orleans in preparation for the baby's birth which was absolutely fine with us, it just seemed like that was very close to her delivery date. So, once the end of the month came we axiously awaited the phone call for our birthmother to relocate. One day led to two days, that then led to three days. By the fourth day after her obligatory date, my heart really started pounding.
We called the agency and it was like someone punched me in my stomach ten times. Our birthmother had disappeared.
I didn't know what to do. I was in complete shock. We had invested so much into preparing for this adoption. All the planning with my job, the money we paid up front, and moving our daughter into a new and unfamiliar room just seemed SO unfair. I just felt sick. I am telling you, I was a complete and soggy mess for days. I have 3 huge bags of retired clothes from Alli Mae that I had separated into different sizes in the middle of the floor of the nursery for our new baby girl.
To this day, all the piles of clothes are still in the middle of the floor in their respected sizes. I just can't bring myself to opening that door. Each day that goes by, I get a little stronger. Douglas is my rock and Alli Mae is my angel, my ray of sunshine. She helps pull her papa out of any depression that comes along. Her laughter and curiosity just warms my heart and definitely keeps me busy. Douglas and I are so blessed to have her in our lives and to let sadness and depression overshadow her light would just be wrong. Yes, this hurts. BAD. We knew in the beginning, ANYTHING can happen. I didn't expect it, and that might be where I went wrong. Adoption is not for the faint of heart, that is for sure- but it is absolutely worth it once it is completed.
Now that I can look back on things, there are some red flags that I wish we would have caught. As I said earlier, even though we have Alli Mae, we are still pretty green to this process. The "ins and outs" were not really clear for us. Now that we have officially seen something fall through, especially the way this one did, we now can pick out a few of the warning signs.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to ask the right questions. You may shy away from asking differernt ones because of different circumstances, but at the end of the day, you want to make the best decision you possibly can on the information that you are given.
Make sure you and your spouse write down a list of different personal questions that you feel will better help you understand what is going on.
Adoptions still fail even when the hard questions are asked. People love to hear the beautiful side to adoption. But there are definitely other dark and stormy sides to it as well.
It is a wonderful thing to experience. It is a much different story when your adoption fails and sadness takes the place of joy.
But please, if your adoption does end in a way you wish it hadn't- learn from it.
Walk away a smarter person and apply this to your next experience. Life is about learning and growing and seeing the beauty inside of the darkness.
Find the silver linings and go from there. Don't let a failed adoption dictate your future. I know it will not dictate ours. Alli Mae WILL HAVE a little brother or sister. We must take solace in knowing that everything happens for a reason and this adoption was not in our plan. I will hold on tight to those words and know that our plan is being written as we speak, I just don't know how the map will get us there, but I do know where the map will lead. We WILL bring our second child home, and I am looking forward to the day I can announce to the world.
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