This is the continuation of our series and the special needs domestic adoption story of how our family came to be. You can read about Our Reasons for Adopting & our Homegrown Story, Our Russian Adoption, and our Jonah and the Big Fish Story if you wish……….
So where we left off before we were sad that our 2nd Eastern European adoption had hit a pretty big bump and we were debating whether or not that was an entirely shut door as far as that particular country was concerned. It was iffy at best if that would result in a successful adoption and we weren’t sure if we wanted to put any more eggs in that basket. But again, we just didn’t know what to do. We got all caught up in the ‘what ifs’ and started dodging all the different perfectly decent scenarios that several people offered us.
Until I got a PM on facebook from a lady I barely knew. I had recently connected virtually with a fellow adoptive mama. We were both in the process of an Intercountry adoption. As she saw our nightmare unfold she was also following a page for an Adoption Coordinator who just happened to post the following message.
“Special Family needed for baby girl due June 3, but expected any minute. Birth Mom recently had intensive ultra sound that shows baby appears physically normal other than having a cleft lip and palate……. (edited to protect our daughter)……. Caucasian/Hispanic ethnicity. Birth Mom lives in ….(edited also to protect our daughter)….., but can be matched with any Adoptive Family that is Home Study approved and ready to travel quickly. If you or someone you know might be interested in this situation, please post here or email…”
My virtual friend said “I am not sure if you are open to a newborn or domestic, I know you want to go international, and I don’t know if you are even considering anything right now, but I saw this and I thought of you. They need a family that has a completed homestudy and is open to special needs.”
The message that had been posted on Adoption Answers page was actually about a week old at this point, so the baby was likely already matched I thought. I should point out for “Whoa” factor – the above message was posted the day after we heard our referral was gone….. Birth Mom went into the hospital and was told she was pregnant THE EXACT SAME DAY our paperwork landed without a file to meet it. Mind blown right? It gets better……
Just for kicks I emailed, this is somewhat significant because I had deflected every other ‘what about this idea’ that well meaning friends had sent our way – I was surprised to find out Baby hadn’t been matched yet. It turns out it is really hard to match a kiddo with the amount of question marks this particular baby had. It’s even harder to place them on such short notice. I hung up the phone after getting some basic info, I told her I would talk with my husband and I would be in contact.
So I called Harry and asked him if he was open to adopting a newborn with (among other things) a cleft lip and some other anomalies that may or may not be a big deal. Basically the conversation went down like this;
“Hey Babe, want to adopt a medically fragile baby? Oh, and she is basically gonna be born tomorrow.”
Honestly all he heard was ‘newborn’ and he said “Yes! What do we need to do!?” Harry loves newborns. I like newborns….but Harry LOVES them. It’s kinda weird and endearing all at the same time. It was the first time I saw him pull out of his “Eastern Europe gave away my baby” funk and that was nice.
It was a whirlwind but our thoughts were ‘This kiddo is gonna be born any minute – let’s see if we can adopt her, if this is not meant to be we will still have time to go to Eastern Europe – our first set of paperwork did not start to expire until mid June.’ – the 18th to be exact.
So we rushed to make our international homestudy a domestic one – praying that bitty baby would stay inside long enough so that she would not need to go into emergency foster care when she was first born.
I think it is important to point out – this process did not replace the previous process. We worked toward this new little one, while simultaneously mourning the last. We felt we were abandoning “Claire” too quickly, even though waiting would not ever bring her to us. We worried that this Baby would not end up being adoptable either (would Birth Mama change her mind? She was medically fragile – would she even live? Can our hearts take that much loss in a month’s time?) It was a very conflicting, emotionally draining time to say the least.
Well she stayed in plenty long enough. The rest of May came and went. June 3rd (due date – came and went)….. June 16th came and the doctors decided to induce….. June 17th came and went. And on June 18 – our baby girl was born with a little medical intervention.
*First time I held Baby C – just minutes after she was born, it was just for a few minutes before they needed to take her to the NICU*
So for those of you still reading – Mama found out she was expecting the day our first EE door shut. Baby was finally born (two weeks after her due date) the day our paperwork started to expire in EE. I don’t know about you, and I am really not one of those people that thinks everything is a sign or that everything is predestined or whatever……….. but for real – what is all that about?
*Walking with the nurses from the delivery room to the NICU*
*Not completely “Out Of The Woods” yet, but the hospital social worker was kind enough to provide a meet & greet with C and her big Sister & big Brother once she was a couple days old*
*I think this is the 4th bottle we tried and probably the 3rd or 4th type of formula. We eventually switched her to donated breast milk*
And after nearly 4 weeks in the NICU, with lots of highs and lows, we brought home a very weak little baby. We had determined through dozens of tests that she had the very obvious cleft issues, but also a serious but (hopefully) correctable heart condition. What we learned is that babies with cleft anomalies have a really hard time feeding and often burn too many calories simply trying to eat. We also learned that babies with jacked up hearts have a really hard time feeding and often burn up too many calories simply trying to eat. She lost weight more days than not. She needed to have her heart fixed before she could have anything done to her lip. She needed to gain weight before she could have her heart fixed. But her heart and her lip were the reasons she couldn’t gain weight………….. and then we all went crazy.
Not like crazy crazy, but like ‘we live in a world that nobody else really understands and we genuinely don’t want to talk to anybody’ crazy.
* People sometimes ask “Which ones are yours?” When they find out some of our kids are adopted. The answer “All of them.”*
But for real – we would do it again. We understand why she was so hard to place, and we are SO thankful we decided to say “yes”. We didn’t fully understand what we were getting into, I would hope that if we did we would still go for it, but I don’t know if we knew we could handle it at the time.
As I write this – our C is two years old. The first year was hard. The second year, and now going into the third is easier. Other than a few more doctors appointments than the average kiddo, her life is pretty normal. She is physically stable, but we gotta watch her heart – she might need more surgeries when she is older. We will for sure have more surgeries on her little lip and jaw. A tiny tiny inconvenience when compared to the honor of being called “Mommy” by that precious face.
So the question many have is “Will you adopt again?” We have learned over the years that God laughs when we make plans, which is totally fine, because so far we have been far more keen on His plan better anyway. That being said, we have always talked about four kids. Right now our lives feel very full, so while we would like to adopt again, it likely won’t be for a while. If we were going to make a plan (which we really aren’t – we are open) we would say again that we only want to adopt a hard to place child. We would like to adopt an older child. Our priority right now is the kids we have already been intrusted with, as they grow up we will know better what our family as a whole would be open to. International or Domestic? I dunno. Honestly, I really want to go to the country that we started in this last time… we do really feel like a piece of us is there. We respect it won’t replace the kiddo we called Claire, but we feel like saddling up again and bringing home a child from that country will help us come full circle. But time will tell. We are open to other countries, including fost adopt here. It is really too early for us to say anything definitively. In the meantime, we do our best to raise our kiddies and also support others who are adopting or thinking of adopting.
So that is our Special Needs Domestic Adoption story in a nutshell…… a four part series nutshell!