our first year as a family: part 1
I’m a consistent mess this week. My mind is full of the memories. A year ago, this week, things got real. These words don’t truly capture “our year as a family: part 1”. That all started long ago. Instead I’ll start the story of the week before our son came home.
On a Tuesday, we met our son’s birth mother, Mama K. I wore a bright blue sweater with a hedgehog on it. She said she liked it. We talked about all of our shared hopes and dreams for this baby.
We had met Papa N and his grandmother and Mama K’s parents a couple of weeks prior. I am not sure what the weeks between meeting them and meeting Mama K looked like. Our minds do a nice job of covering up some of the heartache of life. I would imagine that it looked like phone calls to our parents, baby proofing the house, dragging ourselves to work every day, and quietly imagining this new possible future.
Then we made it to the day to meet Mama K. We adored her. Why wouldn’t we? She was everything her parents had said she was: thoughtful, sweet, caring, intelligent, beautiful. We talked about education, religion, discipline, music, sports. We described our home, our yard, our town, our families, our lives. We laid everything out.
The meeting was reassuring and unnerving. We wanted a family. Mama K had a family. She was making decisions to permanently change her family and ours. Mama K carried a baby for nine months, delivered him beautifully on his due date, raised him lovingly for months, and now was deciding what future was best for him. A future that did not include her waking up in the same house as him. Forever.
Adoption is not a sweet, dainty process. I remember saying with excitement “how cool” when hearing that others had adopted. That is no longer my response. Adoption is brutal. I will never know all that went through Mama K’s heart and mind. I know that I am eternally grateful. I know that I can share parts of our story to normalize and honor adoption, birth parents, adoptive parents, and children of adoption. I know that I have been changed for good.
After meeting with our son’s family, my husband and I went out for dinner. We felt celebratory. We had felt a connection. But had Mama K felt a connection with the other family she was meeting? There wasn’t time to worry. We were out and celebrating.
We spent Wednesday casually (okay, very, very aggressively) cleaning and baby proofing the house. This red-headed, heavy-cheeked, goofy-grinned person (my best description of the initial pictures we saw of him) was mobile. He was crawling and cruising and looked ready to run. We would be prepared. But what if Mama K choose the other family? There wasn’t time to worry. We were preparing.
Mama K, Papa N, grandparents, and Claire (one of our fab social workers) were meeting on Wednesday, the morning after we met Mama K. So, we just acted normal (Right. If normal includes throwing away anything in the house that was the size of a nine month old’s esophagus). The house was cleaned by noon (Ha. I had been purging, organizing, and cleaning for weeks by then.). We ate a relaxing lunch (Doubtful. Did we even eat? How did we pass the time? What was taking so long?)
All the while, my heart and mind never left Mama K’s. During our adoption process, I decided I needed a mantra. I prayed, I attempted to exercise, I cleaned, I started a doctorate, I successfully gained excess weight, I worked, I went out. But, I needed something more. A mantra.
You are my wish.
I chanted this during moments of peace. I squeaked out these words through sobs of frustration and unease. My husband painted these words on wood from my grandfather’s garage. I looked for any inspiration that reflected this phrase.
What was Mama K’s mantra? What did she need? What did she do to get through? I may never know. Maybe someday she and I will have that conversation.
By Wednesday afternoon, we were quite antsy. I was ready to check in with our social worker, Megan. I did not know what to do with myself. I took this picture of us waiting and sent it to Megan. I turned on some music and we started dancing.
About an hour after I sent Megan our picture and about two minutes into our dance party, she called. She said that she really had wanted to come up with some sort of creative way to tell us, but all she could do was blurt out, “She picked you.”
We cried, we sobbed, we continued dancing. We made preliminary plans for meeting our son and for his homecoming.
Our parents knew about every step we were going through over the past few weeks. They were our first calls. I basked in my parents’ shrieks, laughter, and tears. Then I got to call my brothers. They did not know that our son even existed. Now I was able to tell them that not only was this precious human in the world, but he would be coming home in a few days. They would have a nephew!
Calls, texts, and emails were made all afternoon as we navigated details of our son’s arrival, my maternity leave, and my husband’s leave from work.
Then we had a super fun four days. :)