Monday, October 10, 2011

Of birds and bees...

Things continue to go well in mommyland -- Lianne is becoming more and more fun every moment and I am doing better than I thought I would at juggling baby/daycare/work/life stuff. I'm pretty good at getting a tasty meal on the table and am getting a decent amount of sleep. The house is a disaster, and I wish it wasn't, but clean house is lower on the hierarchy of needs than sleeping and eating! I miss Bill, as we are constantly trading off duties in order to make life easier, but which means we rarely have moments of quiet together. And sometimes I get hit with pangs of nostalgia for little traditions (like Ping delivery on Friday nights) that are out of our lives for the forseeable future. But honestly, the challenges pale in comparison to the incredible love and radiance and joy of being a mom to this awesome girl.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the baby shower of a friend of mine whose baby is due later this month. It was a totally joyous occasion, with fantastic noshes and respectable activities (no "baby food tasting contests" or "who can make a diaper out of toilet paper the fastest" or other such hell) and a great group of women. Adding to the warmth of the event was knowing that this friend was a sister of mine in her journey to parenthood, having weathered struggles and bleak days. So the celebration felt extra special given how hard she and her spouse worked to get here.

Here's the funny thing, though. Somewhere in my travels from "desperate to be pregnant" to "desperate to stay pregnant" to "terrified to be pregnant" to "adoption is the best option" to "happy mommy," I completely disassociated pregnancy from babies. I realized at the shower that the concept of pregnancy seems completely foreign to me now. Honestly, it's pretty strange that babies grow in there like that. I mean, I flew to Lubbock and -- TA DA! -- there was my darling girl!

Don't get me wrong -- it is great to feel no remorse about having not been able to carry a baby to term. I carried that scar with me for a long time, battling the internal voices that told me that I was less of a woman for not being able to gestate successfully. In fact (TMI ALERT!) when I was recently seeing my gyn, we talked about birth control and when walking me through the options (am I 18 again?!), she asked me how I would feel if we had an accidental pregnancy. My answer was "no way, Jose." It's beyond feeling OK about not being able to stay pregnant -- I honestly don't want it to ever happen now.

But it's strange to look at other pregnant women -- including friends -- and feel like it is just the strangest thing in the world. Yeah, it is legitimately pretty odd. But we are all on this earth -- including my daughter -- because people get (and stay) pregnant. How strange is that, though?!

When thinking about this turn my brain has taken, I started to think about Lia. First, I realized that at a certain point, we will have to tell her about the birds and the bees. Second, given that I'm a girl and she's a girl, this is likely to fall to me, not Bill. But finally, and most importantly, I need to figure out how to share this with her in a way that respects her story and those of all children who were adopted. I would guess that most biological parents sit their kids down and start off with the classic, "when mommies and daddies love each other very much..." line. While I know in my heart that Lia's birth parents love her in the most giving and unselfish way, I know that the story is more complicated. And that this mommy and daddy did and do love each other very much, but that "magic" didn't create a baby -- other magic did. As Lia's forever mama, it's my job to figure out the best way to convey both the biological and the emotional in a way that supports her own story.

Good thing I have some time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


This post is inspired by a blog called 1001 Rules for my Unborn Son ( and when I Googled to get the website, come to find out there is also a 1001 Rules for my Unborn Daughter site ( Who knew? Anyway, this post is inspired by this idea and, of course, by my daughter. It is the first of what I hope to be a series of posts that she can read when she is old enough (and not yet embarrassed by everything I do and say).

I've got a few ideas for these posts but I will start with the one that I think is the most important. A smile is your most important tool in life - not just for getting ahead in the world but, more importantly, for making the world a better place if even for just a moment.

I was reminded of this on the way to work a couple of weeks ago. As you will notice, here in DC (and probably many other places) the morning commute is populated by some of the most dour faces you'll ever see. I won't deny that sometimes I am one of those dour faces. But more often than not, I am one of the few people that offers a smile. As much as I enjoy my work, my smile is not the result of unbridled joy of heading into the office (I'd much rather stay home to play with you). Rather, it is me trying to brighten the mood of people around me. I was on my way to work, sitting on the Metro reading my paper and I noticed someone looking at me or at least in my direction with the typical commuter face. Instead of simply reciprocating the look or going back to my paper, I smiled at this person. The transformation was amazing! This person's whole face lit up with a smile back. Smiling made me feel better and I hope (and think) that I made the world just a little bit better at that moment.

So Lia, give it a try sometime. Just offer a smile and make the world a better place.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Forever Mommy

It's official -- the adoption of our beloved Lianne Elizabeth Murray was finalized by Judge Drue Farmer in Lubbock County Court on Friday, August 26 around 8:45 AM! She is now forever our daughter and we are forever her parents. Wow.

So what was the finalization hearing like? I need to write it down before I forget -- and as the record is sealed and takes a major act to open it, I'd better get it down fast! Bill, Lia and I arrived to the courthouse around 8:15 AM, joining four other families who had worked with our agency who were finalizing that morning. Judge Farmer took her seat behind the bench and she swore in Merinda, the amazing founder and head of our agency, Adoption Covenant, and her colleague, John, who is the Director of Placement for the agency.

Bill, Lia and I were the first family called in front of the judge. Lia was fussy, so I was feeding her at the time, so I came to the bench holding her and had a bottle on hand just in case. Bill stood to my left, John to his left, and Merinda facing us. We raised our right hands and were sworn in by the Judget. Merinda, acting as both the agency head and as an adoption attorney representing the case, asked us a series of questions. She asked me my name and asked me for the name of the baby I was holding. I lost it right away, introducing Lia as my darling daughter, Lianne Elizabeth Murray. She asked when Lia was born and on what date Lia was placed with us. She asked how Lia was doing since she came to be placed with us. I shared that she was thriving physically and developmentally and that she was a very healthy girl and that her doctor was happy with her development. She asked Bill his name. She might have asked Bill another question, but I honestly don't remember. She asked her colleague John for his name, role and credentials. She asked him if he had reviewed our home study and post-placement documentation. He said he had. She asked him if we had met the requirements for a Texas home study and he said that we had. She asked if given our documentation he believed that it was in Lianne's best interest to be placed with us permanently and he said yes.

Merinda then asked if we understood that Lia's biological parents rights were terminated and we said yes. She then asked if we understood that by becoming Lia's adoptive parents that we would assume all the responsibilities for her as we would for any biological child and we responded yes. She then asked each of us if we believe it is in Lia's best interest to be placed with us. We each responded yes and I said that I thought it was in her best interest and in mine.

Judge Farmer then stated that in hearing our testimony and reviewing the documentation presented to her, she would sign into record the adoption of Lianne by me and Bill. We all hugged one another and Lia and had our photos taken with the Judge. The whole thing lasted about 7-10 minutes at most.

We then went with Merinda's mom (and colleague) Betty, down to the courthouse office to file the record. And we got to pick out a stuffed animal for Lia. There were shelves and shelves of stuffed bears and a few dogs. And one ostrich. Guess what we chose. :-)

We spent some time with our fabulous new friend and photographer, Tiffany Padilla, and got photos taken in front of the courthouse and at some Lubbock landmarks. We had lunch with our friends at Adoption Covenant, soaking up as much time with them as possible. Honestly, it was one of the best days of my life.

And now this darling girl is my daughter. Now and forever. I was talking with my dad the night of the hearing and, through tears, shared something that feels incredibly profound to me. That five years of pain, heartache and longing has all dissipated with the arrival of Lia into our lives. I thought I would carry around those feelings of disappointment and hurt and broken-ness forever, but somehow they are all gone. I think it's like childbirth, which I understand to be one of the most painful experiences, but one in which the pain is quickly forgotten.

So now that it's all official, I have taken the step of changing my blog name -- no longer "Future Mommy," I am now "Forever Mommy."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

There's a special place in hell...

Remember back in May when I wrote about my strange experience with the adoption and surrogacy attorney who had a "situation" for us with a surrogate whose intended parents had changed their minds? (You can refresh your memory here.)

Yeah, well that woman just pled guilty to being part of a baby-selling ring. Three women conspired to have gestational carriers impregnated abroad (because they would need proof of a surrogacy if they did it here in the US) and then told prospective parents that these women had "situations," exactly like the one told to me, in which the intended parents had decided against surrogacy, leaving this "poor pregnant woman" to figure out what to do. Turns out they were charging the adoptive parents (which is what they were since the connection between the carrier and the parents were made after both parties knew there was a baby) upwards of $100,000 and paying the carriers $30,000 and pocketing the rest. You can read about the case here.

The whole thing turns my stomach. According to Resolve, the national organization that supports those who are contending with infertility, 7.3 million people in the US are affected by infertility. While some percentage of those go on to have biological children, a significant number of people are faced with very hard decisions about how (or if) to build their families. I know as well as anyone that there are moments of pain and desperation on this journey. I think that it could be pretty easy to jump if a situation like this came your way -- a surrogate seemingly in the unthinkable position of being pregnant with no intended parents for the baby. For those who are naive, it might feel like a dream come true. For those who are not so naive, it might be tempting to turn the other cheek or rationalize your way around the situation.

But it's immoral, unethical, illegal and just plain wrong to buy and sell people, which is exactly what these three women were doing. And more than that, they were actually in the business of creating people for the purposes of selling them. Just sick.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Letter

I have been meaning to sit down and put some thoughts together for weeks now, but this new life is busy and exhausting, though in the most fantastic ways. I have started a few musings, but get pulled away either by Lianne's needs or my own (or the dishes or laundry that seem to pile up every time my back is turned). We had a fantastic visit this week from my sister-in-law, Heather, which was just fabulous.

The first big update is that we have a court date! We travel to Texas at the end of the month and will finalize Lia's adoption on August 26 at 8:30 AM. After that, I can finally change my blog post name from "Future Mommy" to just "Mommy!"

What a miracle this has all been. Sometimes in those quiet moments, as she falls asleep in my arms, I am overcome with gratitude and love and awe. Just when I thought we'd never be parents, we were swept away on a plane to Lubbock to unite with this amazing child, who makes us a family. There are still moments when I find it all hard to believe -- that she is here and I'm finally a parent.

And, yet, I am also often thinking in quiet moments about another mama out there who made this incredibly hard decision for this girl, who is out there wondering how she is and where she is and whether we are doing right by her.

I've been meaning for a month to sit down and write our first letter to Lia's birth mama and I just don't know where to start. I'm getting hung up in the details, feeling that I need to find just the right stationary on which to write this letter. A typed letter would be faster, but impersonal, and a letter on legal paper wouldn't feel important enough. Then I get stuck on how to start the letter -- Dear Lia's Mom? To our daughter's first mother? And then I have a hard time figuring out what to say and how. There is so much to share:
  • How we chose her name, including her middle name, which was that also chosen by her birth mom.
  • How much Lia has grown -- she was 9 lbs, 12.6 oz and 23 inches long as of Monday's two-month appointment!
  • How she is developing so quickly and in the most amazing ways, smiling, "talking" interacting with her toys and with us.
But, most of all, how do I tell this woman how profoundly grateful I am for the opportunity to raise this amazing girl? How her decision on behalf of her daughter has changed my life in incredible ways and gave me the the gift of motherhood that I longed for for so long? How Bill and I love her as deeply as we have ever loved anyone in our lives? How we will do everything we can to raise her in a way that she would be proud? It's all a lot to say and hard and emotional. But it's something I need to do for me, and for her, and for our daughter.

So if you know where I can get lovely writing paper, please let me know!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


We got the news today. There was no match for Lianne's biological father on the Texas registry. If you feel a warm breeze blowing by you, that's me, finally exhaling. Now we just await our court date (likely in August) to finalize the adoption and it will all become official -- we will be parents and Lia will be our daughter, forever and ever, amen.

The last month has been hard with this wait. While I have doted on Lia in every possible way -- giving her endless love and affection, reading her books, singing to her and dancing with her, holding her tight -- I'd be lying if I said I haven't had a curtain (albeit sheer) up while we awaited this news. After everything we've been through, it's impossible not to feel like we are cursed and that this path to parenthood might also be thwarted. So I know that I've operated on more reserve than I would ever want to, just to keep my heart from breaking if her biological father decided he wanted to be her parent.

And while I, of course, didn't want that to happen, I felt selfish even thinking it. Because while Lia's birth dad staying out of the picture is easier for us, it isn't necessarily easier for her. She loses a link to her biological story, and her origin story, and her family history. Sure, I know that we'll provide her with as wonderful a life as we can -- full of as many rich opportunities as we can make possible and as much love as two people (plus an enormous extended family of relatives and friends) could ever give to a person. But how do I know that her biological father couldn't have given her all that and more?

So while I'm relieved beyond words that we have gotten past this "hurdle," I simultaneously grieve for what my daughter won't have in knowing her birth father. And I pledge to always do my best to support her in finding out what she can about both of her first parents. A day doesn't go by that I am not grateful to them for making this profound decision for Lia and giving us the opportunity to be a mom and a dad.

I love you forever, Lia.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My little angel

I know I've long been absent from this blog. I haven't recently felt like I had anything to add to Julie's excellent posts and, true to form, I think she has done a great job telling the story of how Lianne came into out lives. But now I feel like writing a bit about how it feels to become a father. More than anything else I write this so Lianne can read this and know how much she means to me already.

In just three short weeks this little girl has brought me (and us) such joy and happiness. It is a little amazing to me that this little person could have such an effect - I find it hard to not hold her constantly even, or maybe especially, when she is sleeping (she looks like a little angel). But my absolute favorite times so far have been cradling her in the (very) early morning. It is during this time, post-feeding, when she is calm and will just look at me and smile. Yes, I know it is not really a smile but I'm gonna go ahead and take it as such because that is my prerogative as a father. I think I especially treasure these moments because I know that very soon she'll be constantly moving.

Even knowing what to expect, I wasn't fully prepared for any of being a parent. The joy, the exhaustion, the moments of terror (is she breathing?)... As someone who is pretty dependent upon getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, I think I have adjusted pretty well to getting a lot less than that though it helps that I can sleep through just about anything (earthquake proof up to a 5.0). I also wasn't prepared for the emotional ups and downs - I mean as worried as her perceived lack of breathing or even her poop (sorry Lianne) can make me, I can't even begin to imagine how I'll feel the first time she drives off in a car alone or goes on a date. I think I need to start really developing good relationships with the folks in charge of the Reaper program (surveillance and strike capability - what more could you ask for?). And of course I am so looking forward to all the milestones - first word, first steps, etc. as well as being able to share things with her that I love to do like reading, music (already getting her listening to the greatest radio station in the country - KFOG), working in the garden (yeah I know this one is a long shot) and photography. So much to look forward to and more to come...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lianne's Story

Because inquiring minds want to know, and because there just isn't the space in a facebook post or email, Bill and I want to share more about Lianne and how she came to us. It is divine, really, in every sense of that word.

I don't have to go all the way back -- you've likely read this blog and know where we've been. So I'll set the stage from the end of May. It was Memorial Day weekend. I was working on feeling whole and happy, trying to practice better self-care and mindfulness after all that we've been through. Bill and I spent a day out at Antietam on a hot Sunday, spending much-needed time together and getting out of the fray of the city.

Still happy with our local agency, we were tiring of the long wait for a baby. We decided to get through June before exploring working with other agencies that might have shorter wait times. My 20th high school reunion was coming up (and still is -- June 25) and the July 4 weekend, along with numerous work-related deadlines and events. We also knew that our agency was working with a few potential birth mothers and we could be a match. So we decided to get through another month and see where things were before making a change.

The long weekend came to an end. I returned to work on Tuesday, May 31 ready to tackle things for the big work event on June 8. It was a busy, productive day and I headed out at the end of it for a session with my fabulous therapist, Ginny. We had a good session and I went home to wait for Bill to come home from his bocce league game. I picked up Bill around 10:00 PM, came home, logged onto email. And saw the following forwarded note from a friend of mine:

Adoption Covenant needs a HOMESTUDY READY family immediately for placement of a female child born May 30, 2011, 6 lbs 3 oz, Apgar 9/9, Hispanic, reportedly eating and pooping and healthy as can be. email xxx@xxx immediately.

Let's step back a minute. Who was this friend?! Well, Carrie and I knew each other in high school. We were friendly and, as I recall, both on the track team. We lost touch after high school, but reconnected thanks to the miracle that is facebook. She had recently adopted her first child (through the agency who sent the note above) and we had bonded over our struggles and joys on the road to be adoptive parents. I was grateful to be connected with her before she shared this information -- it meant so much to have her support and share in her joy with her son. And now, she has changed our lives forever!

So back to the story. Bill was outside, watering the veggies in his nice garden. Should I consult him before sending an email to the agency? Naaah. I'll just send a note. So I did. I shared that we were homestudy-approved, lived in DC, friends of Carrie and that we could be there in another day. I let Bill know that I sent the note. And I had some exchanges back/forth with the head of the agency that night. How soon could we get there? They wanted us there asap. While I could have figured out getting us there the very next day, that felt insane. There was work to wrap up, documents to collect, packing to do. So Bill and I agreed that we could be there on Thursday. I sent that response and went to bed, unable to sleep.

On Wednesday, I got up and contacted our local agency, asking them to send our completed homestudy documents to the agency in Texas, which they did immediately. Then, I went about my day, albeit distracted. I had a few morning meetings and had an off-site afternoon meeting. I arrived at that meeting and shared that I was awaiting some important news. Just as we got the meeting underway, the phone rang. It was the Texas agency's director, Merinda. She shared more about the situation, and asked how quickly we could get there. I said we could travel the next day. She said that the hospital had agreed to care for the baby one more night and that we were the couple chosen to parent this baby. I about fell over. I called Bill, who had more questions. He called Merinda so he could get a sense of her and the agency. And he called me back. It was an easy decision -- this baby had come into our lives for a reason. We had to go.

So we spent the afternoon and evening wrapping things up, buying plane tickets, booking our hotel, renting a car, and packing things for us and for baby. Our flight was scheduled for 7:00 AM the next morning.

Around 6:00 PM, we learned that baby's birth mom, in an act of love so profound it overwhelms me, terminated her parental rights. She is baby's first mom forever -- who cared for her and herself so she would be healthy and know love from the start and I am grateful for the rest of my life to her for her selfless love of this baby.

We were up at 4:00 AM on Thursday, showered and got ourselves out the door, car seat in hand, unsure of what awaited us in Lubbock, Texas. A city that I had heard of (go Texas Tech!) but had to find on a map to know exactly where it was. We spent the flight sleeping, daydreaming, and coming up with a list of names for this baby. We'd always had a boys name, but never had one for a girl. Amazingly, we both agreed on our top two first names and a set of possible middle names.

We arrived in Lubbock around 1:00 central time, picked up our car, and headed to the agency. We were prepared to get there and then go with the women from the agency to the hospital. But when we called the agency, they had already picked up the baby. We were just a short drive from uniting with her!

We arrived at the agency about 10 minutes later, walked in the door to almost the entire staff, just waiting for us. Merinda handed the baby to me. It was surreal. She was - and is - the most gorgeous baby I have ever laid eyes on.

We spent several hours at the agency, finding kindred spirits of these amazing women at Adoption Covenant in Lubbock. After so much research and challenge in finding an agency that we felt comfortable with, here was this incredible agency that came to us out of the clear blue sky. We felt right away that we shared a common bond with these women and incredibly grateful for their caring, compassion and kindness. They are now an extended family for us and for baby.

After a few hours, we signed paperwork, packed up the baby and headed to the hotel. The days at the hotel are already a blur; there were many sleepless nights (is she still breathing?! is that poop the right color?!) and just odd days. I can honestly say that I don't know how single parents do this; having two of us there to trade off time with baby so the other could nap, pick up lunch, run to Target, etc. was essential.

We spent a good two days figuring out her name. But, in the end, she chose it herself. She seemed so much a little Lianne Elizabeth. It suits her so well. We call her Lianne or Lia. Her name has roots in our families -- my maternal grandmother and my aunt are both named Leatha (or Lea for short), we have close friends (including my oldest friend who was also adopted) named Lea or Leah, my middle name is Anne and Bill's sister and Nana have the middle name Ann. Elizabeth is my mom's and sister's middle name, and is the middle name given to her by her birth mama. So Lianne Elizabeth. As soon as we decided, it just felt right and has ever since. And we have to give credit to Auntie Caroline, who suggested the name.

On Wednesday, June 8, after spending a long lunch with the whole Adoption Covenant team and enjoying time together, we got word that both Texas and DC had approved our paperwork to take Lianne out of state. We were allowed to bring her home! We got her in for a doctor's visit on Thursday, June 9, shipped a bunch of stuff back, and got ourselves packed up. She was an angel on the flight back -- not a peep, she slept through both flights. We got to our doorstep around 5:00 PM.

So now, here we are. A family of three. Is the adoption final? Not yet. There is one date we need to get through from here; Lianne's birth father (who is unknown to us) has 31 days from her birth to claim paternity. While this happens only rarely, we may not exhale until we have word that he has not done so. While I believe in my heart that he (and all birth fathers) are entitled to this right, I don't want her to have any more disruption in her life. I want to be her forever mama, and for Bill to be her forever daddy. I feel selfish saying it, but we've been through enough. And we love her with every grain of our being. And she is meant to be in our family.

So as if this post isn't long enough, it isn't complete if I don't tell you about the dream. About three and a half years ago, I had the most vivid, powerful dream of my life. It was October, and about eight months after I'd had a miscarriage. In the dream, I had had a baby and was in the hospital, but I couldn't get to the baby. I was in a hospital gown, and spent what felt like hours walking down long corridors, through the basement, past check-in desks. After what seemed an eternity, I finally got to my room and the baby. There were (as is so often the case in dreams) an odd assortment of friends and colleagues in the room. And there was the baby -- a girl with dark hair in a bassinet or car seat. She had a beautiful and sweet face. And it was only as I got closer that I saw that her little hands and feet were malformed. What was wrong with the baby? I began to cry in the dream and asked the nurse -- she'll get better, won't she? But the nurse said "no," that she was born this way and would not get better. Her hands and feet would never be normal. And I cried and cried in my dream and woke up at 3:00 AM bawling. Through my tears, though, I had a very profound feeling that this baby was sending me a message. "I'm coming, but I'm not ready," she was saying. I got up and wrote down every detail of the dream and it, and this baby's message, have stayed with me all this time.

When we had Stephen in January, I thought, "oh, well. I guess that was just a dream." And when things fell apart with that adoption, I thought that maybe it was because that baby wasn't the one from the dream. Our dark-haired girl hadn't come yet.

So imagine my response when on Wednesday, June 1, the agency sent me our first picture of Lianne (the picture you see above). She is sitting in a car seat (the hospital was doing her "car seat" test to make sure she can breathe okay sitting up) and has her perfectly-formed little hand under her chin, as if to say, "look, mommy! I am ready!"

Do I believe in fate? More now than ever. Stephen's role in our lives feels crystal clear -- had we not had him, and every possible thing we could ever need for a baby, we might not have been in a position to travel on a moment's notice for Lianne. This dream feels like prophecy. Dreams really do come true.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Bag.

No, not the purse. I never did get one. My fabulous sister-in-law got me a really fun satin leopard print bag which I love. So I can skip the splurge. For now. (Though this Tory Burch has me drooling!)

OK, back to topic.

I'm going to be honest here. I've been really struggling lately. The last few months have been really intense at work and life has been super busy. Not enough time for me. And I feel like my life is flying before my eyes and I'm not slowing down to enjoy it. But in processing how I'm feeling, I realized that much of my current angst comes from The Bag.

Envision that all those years back, when we started down the path of trying to start our family, I carried around The Bag. Every roadblock, hurdle, loss and frustration along the way has wound up in The Bag. All those fertility shots? Yeah, they're in The Bag. The doctors? Yup, they're in there -- and they aren't small. Stephen and his birth mom? You better believe it. The Bag keeps getting bigger and the load just gets heavier. Yeah, I mourned not having kids biologically and am completely committed to adoption. But that doesn't mean that all of what we've been through is forgotten.

What I recently realized is making The Bag extra heavy, though, is that at every turn, I add another smiley face button onto the outside of The Bag. So with our first miscarriage came the "Hey, this happens to lots of people! Let's try again!" smiley face button. And with the fertility treatments came the "Check out our home science experiment! I'm so lucky that my husband is good at administering shots!" smiley face button. And with the loss of Stephen from our lives came the "He wasn't meant to be ours and our baby is still coming!" smiley face button. These buttons are becoming as heavy as The Bag itself.

It's not that I should buck my nature; I'm always inclined toward the positive. And when it comes to the adoption process, on most days, hope is all I have, so I need to muster up some sunshine to get through. But I also have to allow myself to feel the full range of emotions related to this journey so far. It's been exhausting, sad, frustrating, heartbreaking. And I think I do myself a disservice by always pinning on another smiley face instead of feeling what I need to feel. I wonder if I'd really let myself grieve along the way if The Bag might be a bit lighter now.

So I'm going to try and honor my feelings and unload some of The Bag's contents. I probably won't stop adding smiley face buttons, but hopefully I can balance them out with really processing some of the emotional weight of the last several years.

I'm going to end this post on a happy note. I learned today that friends may be a bit closer to being parents on their adoption journey and may have a little one within the next six months. You know who you are -- know that we love you and can't wait for you to be a family. It's a beautiful thing!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Define "A Few"...

Is "a few" two? three? 'Cause it's been two months since this post and my phone is awfully quiet.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The (Maternal) Grandparents

After several months of work that had me at an all-new level of exhaustion, I took a long weekend up in Massachusetts (aka "The 413" or "No Ad") with my parents. As always, it was great to be with them and to spend time in the idyllic Berkshires, particularly now that it is finally all thawed out.

I'm lucky to live close enough to my parents that I get to see them with some regularity. It's about eight hours by car, or less than 90 minutes by plane. And we are conveniently located mid-way between them and my sister, so we get to see more of my parents and my sister than they see of one another. Despite the fact that I see them fairly often, I've been struck on the last few visits by the fact that, well, they are getting older.

My parents had me fashionably late for the era -- my mom was 33 and my dad 35 when they had me, putting them a good 8-10 years older than most of my friends' parents. And while we had planned to have bambinos long ago, I'm now 38 and Bill is 41. So we're even more "fashionable" than my folks were when they had me.

This year, my mom turns 71 and my dad turns 73. I'm grateful that they are in reasonably good health. They walk, they travel, they are active in the community. They are funny and fun to be around and it has been a joy to see them enjoy retirement. But they're definitely getting older. On this last visit, I was struck by how my dad got short of breath on walks. He has been such an avid walker for the last 20+ years that he's known around town for walking. But even a small hill had him puffing. He didn't seem overly winded and didn't stop talking, but it was hard not to notice that change from other walks we've taken in the past. My mom, on the other hand, had a hard time hearing. Again, nothing serious, but if she was in the next room and turned away, I could be talking in full voice and she might not hear me.

While these small issues are just parts of getting older, and no cause for alarm, it reminds me of their mortality. And reminds me that whenever baby arrives, they won't have the same kind of spryness that younger grandparents have. They will love and dote and care about our little person, and they may be able to keep up until he or she is two, but then they'll be just too fast. I teased my mom that I'd have to train our child: "Speak up for grandma, honey!"

My sister and I often say that we got dealt the best parents out there. We are incredibly lucky to have been raised by parents who love us unconditionally, taught us to feel and experience life, and modeled how to give back to others. I know that I'm lucky to have them to lean on, and I hope I can do as well in raising my own children as they did in raising us.

What's the point of this post? I'm not sure. I guess I am sad that that while we feel deprived of parenthood, my own parents are in their own holding pattern, awaiting the arrival of their first grandchild. When Stephen arrived, it was hard to contain my parents' joy. And when he left our lives, the hole was there for all of us. I want to bring that joy back, and I want my parents to have as much time in their lives as possible to experience grandparenthood. Because I know how much I will enjoy seeing them in that role. And because I look forward to a time when we can revel together in what it means to be parents and grandparents. And because they're going to be amazing.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

How is he? How is she? Is her heart soaring from her first Mother's Day as a mom? Does she celebrate Mother's Day at all, or is that not something that the Thai community here does? Does she ever think about how close she came to deciding not to be a mother to him? Will he ever know? Does she look at him every day and feel grateful that she made this decision? Is she happy? Is he well cared for? Is it more comforting for him to smell the smells of Thai cooking and hear Thai spoken all around him, as he did in her womb? Is he spoiled? Is he healthy? Will he ever know that some white woman about 10 miles away thinks about him and loves him all the time? That she has stopped mourning his loss on the day to day, but that on THIS day, it's impossible not to have an ache in her heart so painful that she can't bring herself to even think of it.

She can only keep on living if she believes that there will be another and this other will be the one that was meant to be. Because if she loses all hope, what will be left of her?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I want to rise above. Really, I do.

Disclaimer: this blog post may sound like it's about you. It may actually BE about you. Please know that if it is about you, or you perceive it to be, I love you very much and I am very happy for you. If this is not yet about you, but there might be news to share, don't refrain from telling me because you don't want to make me feel bad -- I can take it, and I want to celebrate with you. And I'm gonna find out anyway.

I strive to be a good person. To give others the benefit of the doubt. To own my crap. And in this struggle to become a mom, I think I've been pretty damn graceful. Since I have a glass-half-full mentality of the world and since I try and gather a life lesson at every opportunity, I think that helps. But some days suck. And sometimes they suck because it feels like everyone has what I can't get.

Over the last two weeks, at least 87* people I know have announced that they or their partner/spouse is expecting a baby. Some were trying. Most weren't. Some have been married for 1/10 as long as Bill and I have been married. Some probably got pregnant on the first try. One announced a pregnancy pretty darn early, which is awesome for her, but a reminder that I was so jaded from our losses and terrified at each pregnancy that I would NEVER have announced until at least 12-15 weeks, had I ever made it that far along. One shared that his wife is expecting their third and while my lips said, "that is SO wonderful! congratulations!" my head said, "your third?! Don't you think you're being a bit greedy?!"

Babies are awesome and all of these people are pretty cool, so their kids will also be cool and it'll be really cool to have so many more cool people in the world. (Maybe we've just solved the global warming crisis by bringing all this cool to the earth. You're welcome, Al Gore.) And I know that logically all these pregnancies and babies isn't taking a child away from me. But it's hard to believe in some order to the universe, some greater karmic give and take, when I feel consistently denied parenthood at every turn on this journey while others have too much tequila to ring in the new year and are now sharing the good news about little Jose Cuervo** who they expect to arrive in the fall.

If you think I'm mad at you, read the disclaimer. No. I'm just pissed at the unfairness of the situation and I'm sick of waiting and I have a house full of baby stuff and a sweet nursery and I just want to be a mom before I'm 87***, dammit.

I'll hug you. I'll go to your baby shower. I'll get you a pretty fabulous gift, since I am probably the only non-parent expert on baby products. I'll bring you a great big casserole this fall or winter when little Jose is born. And I will do all of this out of love for you and your super cool baby, even if on the inside, sometimes I want to scream.

*numbers may be inflated for effect. I don't care.

** joke stolen from a friend who did once say she should name her son Jose Cuervo based on his conception story.

*** numbers better be WAAAAY f@$&ing inflated, or I'm going to kill something.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Things that get me through the day.

Work and life have been stressful lately, to say the least. I often wonder if staying incredibly busy is the way it has to be, or if it's a coping mechanism. If I'm too busy, I won't have time to stop and think about where we're at on this roller coaster ride. My fabulous therapist counseled me to try and think about what I want life to look like until the baby comes instead of constantly fretting about when the baby is coming. Since that part is out of our control, that makes sense. So in the "until" category are things like painting the nursery (DONE!), a trip to France with our fabulous wine club friends, and continuing to sleep in whenever possible. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sick of "enjoying my life sans kids" already, but since it is what it is, I'll try and make the best of it.

I also have been really sad to see some friends I love go through their own fertility struggle. I guess I always hope that if Bill and I have had to go through all this craparama, it should be to prevent my loved ones from experiencing the same heartache. I know that logically we can't prevent our friends from having this journey of their own, but I guess I had hoped that somewhere on the karma scale, we'd paid forward some sunshine onto others. While that isn't happening, I hope that knowing they have friends who have been through this can help at least a little bit.

So where are those rays of hope? They're out there. In the form of my dear friend T, who adopted her sweetie pie nearly four years ago -- her daughter is amazing and while we aren't geographically close, every photo and video warms me tremendously. In the form of my friend A, who had a years-long fertility struggle and welcomed her daughter into the world just a few weeks ago. Two completely unrelated friends, C and C, who also experienced infertility and loss and are both now pregnant -- I am sending up prayers for you both, girls!

Those are just a few of the many friends whose personal stories of struggle and ultimate triumph help me every day, whether they know it or not. Thanks, dear ones.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Not the birthday I expected

Today is my birthday. Not a momentous one this year -- good ol' #38. Definitely in my late thirties (I'm now in my mid-late-thirties, as my sister would say) but not quite to the next major milestone.
This was not the birthday I expected. I thought that this birthday would come and go almost unnoticed, given that we'd be so wrapped up in the joy of parenthood. That being with Stephen would be such an incredible gift that he would eclipse any gift or celebration. And I didn't get that birthday.

Then, I figured that this birthday would suck. Flat out, miserable horridness. Another birthday and I'm STILL not a parent? And no Stephen? The only present I want is a baby and no one can give me that. Dammit.

But that wasn't the birthday I had either.

Today was just a really happy day. First of all, it was an unbelievable 85-degrees and just gorgeously sunny outside. Then, I had a baby dream and a friend had a baby dream about Bill and I. I did some great work on our annual report with our graphic designer, who is super fun. I had a delicious lunch outside. I was celebrated by my dear, amazing colleagues. I got about 100 facebook posts from friends near and far. I talked to my family. I had a delicious dinner with Bill.

It wasn't the Stephen-filled joy fest, but it wasn't despair. It was a day of gratefulness and happiness and sunshine and love. It made me optimistic that things are shifting. That life is going forward. That today I have a chance to start this year over again. So I'll do so with a renewed sense of energy for the year ahead. Bring on the joy, 38!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just putting it out there.

On the advice of a friend, who is a fabulous earth mother goddess type, I'm just putting this out into the universe:

I hope that Bill and I will be parents in the next few months.

I know. Duh. I hoped to be a parent about five years ago. I thought I was a parent about two months ago. But somehow we aren't parents yet. So we're just waiting for that little baby that was meant for us. We're here and we're ready for you, sweet one! All we need to do is paint the nursery! (Who wants to come help?!)

So now that I've put that out there, I'll share the latest strange escapade in our journey to parenthood. Some dear friends put us in touch with a lawyer who specializes in adoption and surrogacy, because the lawyer had a situation of a failed surrogacy, which meant a pregnant mom in need of adoptive parents for the baby, due in July. You know the old saying: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The surrogate was supposedly abandoned by the intended parent (supposedly a single father) and the surrogate was now carrying the baby, needing to change from surrogacy to adoption, but still wanting to be compensated for the surrogacy. Long and short of it is that what the lawyer is trying to do is completely illegal. In an adoption, the birth mother cannot be compensated. That's called baby selling and it's totally against the law. We consulted with a well-respected adoption attorney in the area, who basically told us to run, not walk, away from the situation. Oy vey.

A friend recently told me that I could write a book with all we've been through. Possibly so. But for now, I'll just blog!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The dirty little adoption secret no one ever talks about.

As Bill and I are reflecting on where we are and what comes next, we are running into what I am calling "the dirty little secret" of adoption.

Let's start off being clear: in adoption, the adoptive parents aren't "buying" a baby. Yes, fees are paid, but those fees cover the many expenses of an adoption. A myriad of legal fees, services provided to the birth mom and all prospective birth families that the agency supports, services provided to us and other adoptive parents, fees to pay for home studies. It's expensive. I've had a few people ask me recently if the birth mom receives compensation -- absolutely not. In fact, international adoptions must meet conditions set by the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children, which ensures that there is no child-trafficking going on in an adoption situation. In recent years, the US has ceased to have adoption programs with Vietnam, Guatemala and other countries because there is concern that birth parents are being coerced into giving up their children for adoption for compensation. Unethical, wrong and horrible.

But while the fees paid for an adoption don't "pay" for a baby, that doesn't mean that the cost to adopt some children is more expensive than it is to adopt others. Internationally, the costs are highest to adopt children from Russia, followed by China and Korea. It is generally less expensive to adopt from Ethiopia. I would really like to think that this has something to do with government fees specific to each country and not that it is related to the race of those children. But I'm not naive.

In light of our failed adoption, Bill and I have been thinking about whether we should explore adopting through a different agency. We chose our agency because it was highly-recommended, extremely ethical, reputed to provide excellent support to birth parents and local. The fees we pay our agency for the adoption are on a sliding scale, based on income. Those of us fortunate to be on the higher end of the scale pay more, which I assume helps to offset the expenses for other adoptive parents with smaller household incomes, or from single-parent households. This makes complete sense to us.

There are two agencies out of the area that have also been highly recommended. One, based in New York, cites having closed more than 28,000 adoptions in its 120-year history. The other, based in Texas, provides truly exceptional services, grouping adoptive families into cohorts to support one another and holding annual events to connect adoptive families and their children's birth families. But we just can't see ourselves adopting from either agency for one big reason:

The fees to adopt children are different based on the race of the child.

Yes, go back and read that again. At both agencies, there is one fee to adopt a caucasian, asian, latino or bi-racial baby and a different, lower, fee to adopt an african-american baby. This makes me sick to my stomach.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that these agencies do so because they feel that african-american babies harder to place. There may be fewer african-american parents adopting, or fewer non-black families willing to adopt an african-american baby. We still live in a racist society, after all.

But incentivizing adoptive parents with a different fee structure is wrong on so many levels, I struggle with words to express myself. Quite frankly, if adoptive parents aren't open to adopting an african-american baby, they shouldn't. Cost shouldn't cause them to consider it. You're either open on race or you aren't and if you aren't, you shouldn't raise a child of color.

The whole thing makes us disgusted. I will admit with much guilt that I considered the Texas agency pretty long and hard. And to be honest, after this experience, thought that maybe the fact that we're open on race would mean we wouldn't wait long for a baby if we went with them. But Bill posed the question that pushed any thoughts of using this agency out of my mind -- what do we tell our child when s/he finds out and wants to know why the fees are different. We can't be naive enough to think that someday our child won't want to know more about their adoption and the agency we used. And how horrific would it be, should we have had an african-american baby placed with us through such an agency, for our beloved child to find out that we paid less to adopt him/her than we would have if we had adopted a white baby, or a latino baby, or an asian baby.

We cannot endorse this practice that so clearly ties a value to the race of a person. So we stay put at our agency, where may wait longer, but we'll know that the fees we pay are linked to services provided and not to color.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

And now?

After months and months of writing nothing on our blog, I'm finding this to be an invaluable place to store my thoughts and to process through my thoughts and feelings. Some blogs are entertainment and some are storytelling. I guess mine is therapy.

The big question on everyone's mind -- including my own -- is "now what?" The first and easiest answer is that we go back to the work of trying to become parents. I realized yesterday that part of what makes this experience so hard is that I now know what I'm missing. Before Stephen, I had a vision of what parenthood might feel like and it looked like something we'd want to do. Now that I've had that brief opportunity to be a mom and to see Bill as a dad, I have absolutely no doubt that it's what I want and what we MUST do. So it's really hard to go back to waiting when we've had that emotional and physical connection with a baby.

We didn't spend much time talking about alternatives to adoption. A few well-meaning folks suggested that we might get a *surprise* pregnancy out of this experience and wouldn't that be swell. OK, folks. I hate to be a total ass, but after three years of fertility bull$%*t, there is no such thing as forgetting my cycle or having any kind of relaxed month of fun. Suffice it to say that I lived that life for a long time and every month was agony (whether or not I was pregnant) and there's no way you can make me go back there. What I learned, though, is that I can't expect anyone else to understand this, unless they've been through it. So if you've said something like this to me, please know that I don't hold it against you. We just need to do this our way.

We had a follow up meeting with the agency last week. It was okay. They really heard us on the issues that we raised, which was good. I won't get into all of them here. Do I still believe that our agency is one of the most ethical and best in the country? Yes. Do I think there is still room for improvement? Definitely. And if you all know me, I had a lot to say about how improvements can be made. I don't know if they'll take our advice, but we'll monitor things and just see what happens.

So, for now, we're back in the pool. Waiting again. It feels incredibly depressing. I'm feeling really sad about milestones this year. I was so excited to celebrate our birthdays in April as new parents. I couldn't wait to show off our son at my 20th high school reunion in June. Christmas was going to be amazing with our nearly one-year-old. And now it's just back to some sort of normal life, with no baby.

Those that know me well, have seen that for each year of not having a baby, I seem to get a purse. It's not a baby, but there is comfort in carrying around a nice, soft, leather bag... It started with a black leather number from Coach. Then the ante moved up to a Michael Kors, then onto Tory Burch. I got a summery Kate Spade last year. Then, in January, I got the bag I was really hoping for -- a diaper bag. Sassy and fun and practical. No frills. Nothing fancy. But this was the purse of my dreams. So now, while the diaper bag waits for me in the nursery, I have to decide if I'm going to give into my indulgence again... Please, God, let me have a baby before I drop $1K on a Louis Vuitton...

Thursday, February 10, 2011


'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

So sang my dear friend Mimi, accompanied by my dear friend Premila at our wedding: November 9, 2002. Despite the heartache of the last week, I am trying to spending some time thinking about the many gifts I have.

I know that I live a very lucky and blessed life. I have a supportive and loving family, there for good times and bad and who raised me to love deeply and to approach life with an open heart and mind. I have an amazing husband and a strong marriage, built on a foundation of honesty and complete trust, and that sustains me and brings me incredible joy. I have the best friends anyone could ever want who have come out for me in a hundred ways over the last week: calling, emailing, texting, bringing by food, sending flowers and plants, giving me shoulders to cry on and ears to listen and crying with us, for our sorrow is their sorrow… I have the gift of good health and the insurance to keep it so. I have a great job with amazing and compassionate people and the flexibility to take the time to get through this grief. Yes, despite the hell of the last week, I know that in the grand scheme of the world, I am a very lucky person and I have far more than many, many people.

I also feel so fortunate to have received many gifts from Stephen in the two weeks I had with him. Quite frankly, I don’t know that what I gave him can measure up to all that he gave us. And these gifts will impact my life and the life of our forever child. Among them:

1) He brought us joy. In the two short weeks we had with Stephen, he made us incredibly happy. It was just pure joy to hold him and to feed him, to change him and to burp him, to see him smile (yes, I know that was gas, but I’ll take it as a real smile) and to hear him coo. To see how much a tiny person changes in just two weeks was nothing short of a miracle.

2) He proved that love is stronger than genetics. When we decided to pursue adoption to create our family, we had to look at some very hard issues. What it would mean to raise a child that we did not bear? Would it take a long time for us to grow to love our child? Would a child, particularly one not of our race, feel like “ours?” And we learned with Stephen that we could love fiercely from the earliest of days and that a child from adoption could feel as deeply ours as if I birthed him myself. That it was for us, quite frankly, impossible to resist loving a baby.

3) He showed me that I am ready. The night that we found out that Ying had chosen us as adoptive parents, I had a complete meltdown, terrified that we weren’t ready to be parents. After all, we had a pretty great life already -- enjoying good dinners, flexible schedules, carefree lives, fun with friends (and wine), disposable income and plenty of sleep. Was I really ready for all that to end? Was this really what I wanted all along?! Thank you, Stephen, for showing us that the answer is yes, yes, yes. We were (and are) ready to jump, head first, into parenthood.

4) He gave me a fierce determination to be a parent. He showed me that Bill is going to be an incredible father – loving and engaged and joyful. He showed me that I am going to be a great mother and that I can learn to put aside my micro-managing of all situations so that Bill can have his own relationship with our child. He showed us that Bill and I are great as a team – we each fed, burped, changed and held him and passed him back and forth seamlessly in our time with him. He showed me that being a parent is as incredible as I could ever hope it to be and he left me knowing that it is what I am meant to do.

Thank you, Stephen, for all that you gave us in our short time together. You have given us the strength to continue our journey and whether it be one month, one year or five years, we WILL be parents.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Goodbye, Stephen.

While Bill tells our story so eloquently, I wanted to express our experiences in my own words as part of my own healing process.

On January 5, we were matched with a local birthmom. On January 13, we met her. On January 19, her son was born. I held birthmom's hand for the c-section. I was the first to hold him. I was the first to feed him. We named him together: Stephen Chanon Walker Murray. Stephen is my father's name, Bill's middle name, and the middle name of two preceding generations of Murrays. Chanon is the name that birthmom chose. She is Thai and it means "thirst for knowledge" in Thai. Walker is my mom's maiden name. He was born at a healthy 8 lbs. and 20.5 inches.

We spent every day, all day, at the hospital with birthmom and Stephen. While her friends and family came and went, we were there to care for her and to care for baby. To get her water when she was thirsty. To make a McDonald's run when she was hungry for non-hospital food. To comfort her when she was in pain or feeling sad. She was reassuring, wanting us to know that she wasn't changing her mind. She had been working with the agency for about seven months, and was confident in her decision to make an adoption plan.

She chose us because she wanted an open adoption. She wanted to visit Stephen and we wanted that, too. We wanted an involved birthmom. One who would help our child to understand the unique story that brought him to us. One who would help connect our child to his cultural heritage and biological family history. One who would be an extended part of our family -- "the new American family" as I joked in the hospital. We all laughed.

Because of DC paperwork, Stephen had to go with one of our agency's foster families before he could be in our custody. Marilyn and Chris and their niece Colleen took exceptional care of Stephen. He was loved, held, fed, washed and kissed. And we visited him nearly every day. It was more than an hour for us to go to the Virginia town where they live (and much more in traffic), but no distance was too far. When we were there, we fed and diapered him. We held him while he slept. We played with him and cooed with him when he was awake. We fell madly, wildly, head-over-heels in love with him. We may have been separated by genes, but we he was as much our child as if I had given birth to him myself.

I sent photos of him to birthmom and we exchanged texts often. We were setting up her first visit to see him since his birth. She was preparing to go back to work.

My friends threw me the most amazing, joyous baby shower. Friends sent boxes of their own children's clothing. We set up Stephen's nursery: crib, changing table, book cases. We renewed our Costco membership and bought wipes and formula. Bill installed the car seat. We reorganized our kitchen cabinets for all the bottles. We were ready to bring Stephen home.

And then, the call.

Birthmom changed her mind. She wants to parent the baby. An outcome that was so wildly beyond our imaginations, given the "perfect" situation and relationship that we had with her. With assurance from the agency that she was "doing well" and "looking forward to going back to work." Which may have been exactly what she was telling them, but clearly what wasn't going on in her mind.

Having never been able to make it beyond seven weeks of pregnancy myself, I can't imagine the onslaught of post-pregnancy hormones. And as someone who has done everything in her power to try and become a mother for the better part of the last five years, I can't imagine having to make the decision that the best option is for another person to raise your child. So I can only pretend to know birthmom's anguish. Her vulnerability. Her emotional pain, resonated in the physical pain from her c-section.

That pain was powerful. And timely. At her most vulnerable moment, she was influenced by family that it was best to keep him in the family. A changed financial situation gave her options that she hadn't had before.

I have a million questions. What happens to us? How will I ever move beyond this grief? Will he be okay? Will his mother, who shares an apartment with two other women, make sure that he has male role models? Will she end up raising him or will she feel (as she originally felt) that being a parent is too much? How long will it be before her financial support dries up? What will become of him then? Will any other child ever be so beautiful to us? Will we be able to keep our hearts open for another child after all we have been through? Why does the world hate us so much, preventing us from being parents at every turn? How do I forgive her for stealing our family name – the only boy’s name we ever chose, with connections to my family and to Bill’s?

Last Wednesday, at 12:00 noon, we said goodbye to Stephen Chanon Walker Murray. Our almost son, who will be in our hearts forever. I wish for you a life of joy, opportunity and meaning. Wherever you are, know that you are deeply loved.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Adoption Fail

How to even start this. I apologize because this is going to be crappy, choppy writing. It is totally stream of consciousness and I don’t have the inclination to edit. This will be repetitive for some of you but I’ll start at the beginning of this story. As many of you know, we were approved (in Virginia) to adopt a little less than a year ago. We have been planning on an open domestic adoption. On January 5th we received a call from our Agency that a birth mother had picked us and that her due date was January 17th. So we scrambled to get things together, which we managed to do mostly because of the generosity of you all and many others. We met the birth mother (Ying) on the 13th and had, by all accounts, a wonderful meeting with her.

On paper this whole match was about as good a situation as one could ask for. The birth mom had been getting pre-natal care for most of her pregnancy, had been working with the Agency for most of her pregnancy and, we assumed, had really thought through her decision to make an adoption plan for her baby.

At our meeting we expressed to her what we hoped to name the baby and said we would like to have one of his names incorporate Ying’s Thai heritage. We walked away from that meeting so confident as did the Agency personnel.

So on the 19th we get a call from that Agency that Ying is at the hospital and would like us to be there. We arrive at the hospital and spend time with Ying in her room as she is in labor. Fast forward to that evening, and the doctor has decided that Ying needs to have a C-section to deliver. Ying tells the Agency social worker that she would like Julie to be in the OR with her while the C-section is performed. Julie suits up and is there, holding Ying’s hand through the whole thing and is actually the first person to hold little Stephen.

Because of the C-section Ying has to stay in the hospital until Saturday and the baby stays with her. We visit every day (making sure that it is OK with her) and get to spend quality time with Stephen and with Ying who was going to be part of our extended family. This was, after all, a completely open adoption and we had agreed there would be regular visits.

During this time we’re also racing to finish up some outstanding paperwork. Because we had moved to a new home in DC from Virginia, the Agency needed to update our homestudy with a visit from the social worker and we needed to get our FBI background check redone and get a DC Child Abuse database check. Now indulge me for a moment as I rant about the FBI background check. I see the purpose in this background check – no question. Here’s what I don’t understand. We had the same check done to be approved in Virginia – fingerprints are sent to the FBI to be run through their NCIC to make sure we aren’t criminals. If we had still been in Virginia this check was still valid – not like a lot of time had passed BUT states (or in this case a state and DC but it would be the same if we had moved anywhere) don’t have reciprocity. So it wouldn’t have mattered if the check had been done the week before, DC wouldn’t recognize it. Luckily we had started this process before Christmas and before we knew there was a match. So this check came back (negative of course) during the course of events. /rant. So what all this means is that until the paperwork comes through, we can’t take Stephen home – he has to be with a foster family (I suppose in retrospect this was a bit of a blessing). Now he was placed with a truly wonderful foster family who took fantastic care of him but they were in fucking Haymarket, Virginia (yes fucking needs to be part of the name). This, with no traffic (rare) is over an hour each way. Maybe the Agency didn’t have anyone closer who was ready to take a baby but maybe they just didn’t look hard enough – I don’t know and my anger is probably getting in the way here. So after Stephen was discharged we would trek out to see him in fucking Haymarket. At first every day but we realized that the foster family had a life too and so cut back our visits to maybe every other day. I was managing to still work part time and eventually went back full time so as not to blow through all my leave before we even got him home. By the way (I warned you I would ramble), once our paperwork came through we still couldn’t take him home because we had to wait for ICPC (Interstate Compact for the Protection of Children) approval, which needed to be signed off by Virginia and DC. That would only take 7-10 days, during which we would be with Stephen but couldn’t leave Virginia. Of course through all this we were also waiting for the revocation period to end. Every state has a different period of time during which a birth parent can change their mind after signing a document giving up custody of their child. In Virginia that time period is 7 days.

So here we are, visiting Stephen (Julie more than me since I am working now) as often as possible, hoping the DC child abuse database check comes in soon when I get a call from the Agency telling me the birth mother has changed her mind. I am glad she called me instead of Julie because I can’t imagine her alone while I try to race home via public transportation.

That was yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon.

This morning (Wednesday) we had to wake up, get ourselves out the door, drive to Falls Church, Virginia (at least it wasn’t fucking Haymarket) to see Stephen for the last time and say goodbye. As far as goodbye visits go, it was perfect. He was awake, happy and active. We got to feed him and change his diaper. We had him for about an hour. Then we had to hand him over, walk out the door, collect the things we had given the foster family to use like the bassinet and drive away – family sans Stephen.

Now Ying has every right to make this decision and who knows, maybe it is the right decision. But from my position it can’t be. While her circumstances have changed a little I don’t believe they’ve changed enough to make that much of a difference. Yes I’m sure I am biased but I’m also sure that I’m right. So as my brain hurts itself trying to apply logic where none exists, I am left with nothing. No good reason for any of this other than to have Stephen in our lives if only for a short time. While it is so painful now, somewhere deep down I know that this brief time makes it worthwhile.

I still believe in the Agency we’re using and wouldn’t change them but I do have questions about this situation and, at the moment, believe there were dots not connected that should have been. Topics not delved into deep enough. You can be sure my questions will be more probing and more precise next time and if I have even a hint of something that doesn’t feel right, I will run that issue to ground and to hell with anyone who gets annoyed or pissed off with me. If given any choice at all, I cannot, will not and should not trust my situation to anyone else but my family.

I don’t know anything about Stephen’s future anymore – I don’t know who exactly will raise him, what country he will be raised in, whether he will have a father figure or even if his name will remain as Stephen. All I have is my love for him and my deepest desire and fondest wishes for all the love and joy he needs for a wonderful life.