Friday, October 23, 2009

Placement Day...Six Months Later

Wednesday marked the sixth month anniversary of Baby Jo's placement. Motherhood has been a transforming experience for me. Somedays I feel like a beautiful butterfly of a mother...other days I'm still a larvae in a cacoon.

I wanted to share our placement day experience.

We were highly anticipating placement day. While it was thrilling beyond words to get the phone call from the agency about an unborn baby in Boise, Idaho, and while it was intimidating to meet her and birth family in the hospital, and so special to hold her and bathe her, we knew all that could fall through. We looked forward to placement day with anxiety and hope. We had been holding our figurative breath for three weeks - and our friends and families were too.

Initially, we thought we'd be able to take our baby home on Monday, April 20th. But Jo's birthmother had some complications from her epidural and needed to stay one more day. So Monday morning, we knew we wouldn't be going home. (Blessing in disguise - I accidentally booked the hotel room for an extra night and they wouldn't refund us. I was mad at first, but we ended up using that extra night and we got a great price for it.) So Monday we made only brief visits to the hospital so the birth mom could have this extra day to herself. It was the least we could give her. The very least.

Tuesday was a gorgeous April day. Blue sunny sky. The entire city seemed to be surrounded by cherry trees in full bloom. What bedazzling splendor. We met with Jocelyn's pediatrician for the first time and we were able to speak with him. He gave us some instructions. He is the pediatrician for the birth mom's three other children. He told us that they are good people and do the best they can, but that this little baby was very lucky to have us for her family. Next we met with a nurse who briefly gave us instructions - verbal and printed - on how to care for the baby (and they say babies don't come with  manuals).

Back in the hospital room, we had a full crowd - the birth mom's therapist and two caseworkers from the agency, the birth parents, their three children, a family friend, a nurse, baby Jocelyn, Justin, and myself. This was the first time Jocelyn's biological half-brothers met her. They looked at her curiously and both kissed her on the head. Then they left with the family friend.

We picked out an outfit for the baby and her birth mother lovingly dressed her in it. We took some pictures of everyone. And then it was time. The birth father had decided to not hold the baby at all, so he said goodbye with gentle touch. The birth mother held Jocelyn so close, telling her how she loved her and that would never change, that her love was exactly why she chose adoption. The birth mother whispered things in her baby's ear that we will never know, crossed the room and placed her in my arms.

Being dressed for her big day.

And I lost it. I was a sobbing mess. Justin was bleary eyed too. But the birth parents kept their emotions inside. I put Jocelyn in her car seat. I hugged both birth parents, crying on their shoulders and expressing love and thankfulness. With our arms full of diapers bags and full car seat, we left the nursery floor. Many of the nurses had gathered at their station to see us out. Crossing the threshold of the nursery ward was a huge relief. Going through those locked doors where the day before we would not have been allowed to pass with a baby now felt like a significant milestone.

Bawling all the way, we made it to the car and as we were driving away from the parking lot, I called my mother. I was sobbing and I could barely get the words out. "We have her." Then my dad jumped on the other end of the line and just heard me crying so hard. He said something to the effect of, "Oh, no. I was so afraid this would happen." And my mom corrected him, "No, they have her." I found humor in that moment, because we were all so afraid that in the end, we would come home without a baby. And if I were my dad and just heard the crying on the phone, I would assume the same thing.

Next stop was the agency. They had bought Quizno's sandwiches for their staff and had an extra one which they offered to us. We gladly accepted. We didn't have breakfast and emotions make you hungry. We signed a bunch of paperwork and we wrote the biggest check of our lives without even blinking.

At the agency. An official family at last.
And then...we were free.

I climbed in the back next to the baby and as Justin drove us out of Boise, I heard his tear-filled voice gently proclaim, "Thank you, Heavenly Father."

Every squeak, every movement from the baby was as exciting as riding the Matterhorn at Disneyland. We drove the five hours home and when we arrived, my brother and his family were there waiting for us. Our house had been decorated with balloons, streamers, and window paint. Jordan was the first one in our family to hold the baby. It was very fitting because I was in the hospital when their daughter was born - the only family there - and got to hold her first. So it felt like a completed circle having him be the first one to greet us and Jocelyn.

Uncle Jordan (and cousin Afton)

We had a joyous dinner and were showered with gifts. And finally, we were alone. Daddy. Mommy. And daughter. People talk about the first night home with their babies. How its suddenly terrifying and overwhelming. No nurses to rely on. Everything knew and unknown. I didn't feel that way. We just held her and watched her and held her some more. Our hearts were constantly rejoicing and overflowing. I don't think we had time for a single negative emotion for weeks. (It didn't hurt that she's such a dang good baby.)

We checked on her incessantly, and she was always fine. And then we all went to sleep. A whole family. At last.


Liz Smith said...

there should have been a disclaimer at the beginning of this post: "warning, the following will make you cry...hope you have your waterproof mascara on." this is such a lovely story. I can't even imagine the emotions that everyone was feeling on that day. I'm so happy everything is going so well for you and your family. *hugs*

Jessica said...

Wow. There are simply no words to describe the pure joy. I'm incredibly happy for you...and couldn't think of better parents for a little girl. Yay!

Lara said...

I should've read a similar warning before typing it, Liz. Just remembering that day and putting it into words made me cry.

The Gotch Family said...

This story fills my eyes with tears even six months later. What an amazing blessing. I can't fathom the selflessness the birthparents have, and the gratefulness you and Justin must feel. It is such a gigantic emotional risk, with the best payoff in the entire world.

Whitney said...

Sniffle, sniffle... What a great story!:-)

Amy said...

Such a sweet story. Thank you so much for sharing it! I am so happy for you guys, and Jocelyn is such a lucky girl to be part of your family. :)

Alexis Belcher said...

It is simply amazing. I am so happy for you. I loved your story. thanks so much for sharing.


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