"Every child deserves a home." --Harry Holt

Thursday, February 17, 2011

From Ethiopia With Love (The long description of our Referral Day)

February 11, 2011..the day our lives changed forever. It may sound cliche', but it was a day that started out like any other. I hit snooze on my alarm about 6 times before finally groaning and whining my way out of bed. K has been working loooooong hours lately, so he was already out the door by the time I hobbled my way to the shower. I was running late (as usual...so maybe I should just consider that on time?) I made it to school, and the day was semi-calm (not normal). I was actually able to stick to a somewhat normal schedule with my "regular" kiddos. I had finished up with a student, and had about 10 minutes before my next one. I sat down at my desk to check my e-mail, and my cell phone began to ring. 

I had assigned a special ring tone for both our social worker and adoption agency, and it wasn't either of those numbers, so I didn't get particularly excited. I was actually staring at it thinking I would just screen the call because I didn't recognize the number, and if it was important they would leave a message. Well, for some reason (God), I decided to answer anyway. I didn't recognize the caller's voice right away, but as soon as she announced herself as our social worker...my heart definitely started to pound. Things get a little fuzzy from here on out...
I'm fairly certain that my volume rose to an uncomfortably elevated level, and I asked, "Why are you calling me right now?!" She explained that she was currently staring at pictures of the most gorgeous little GIRL and she was meant for us. ( I questioned her a few times about whether she was sure it was a girl, because I was certain there was a boy at the end of this journey...I must be picturing the 2nd journey? :)) I was instantly hysterical with tears, and started to wonder if I was having a heart attack. She shared that the paperwork pointed to her being healthy, and she was 4.5 months old. My ears were buzzing. She said she was going to send me all of the information to my e-mail, and after I reviewed it to give her a call back to talk about it. 

Hmmmmm, I'm at work (and if you work in a school, it just isn't the type of job you buzz out on in the middle of the day). K is at work, and is perpetually in meetings, and is extremely difficult to get a hold of. We had promised each other that we would look at referral pictures together for the first time. I called him as soon as I  hung up with our social worker, and he answered right away (God). He was immediately alarmed, and asked why I was calling him in the middle of the day. I have no idea how I answered, but I think it was something to the effect of, "We are having a GIRL (in a shout-y and crying voice)!"  K was in immediate excited/panic mode. He kept saying, "Oh my, oh my...ummmmm, I have to leave here...I'll meet you at home, wait, I can't meet you at home...I have a huge presentation in an hour. Oh forget it, I'll go see if I can cancel it." I immediately decided it would be easier for me to leave school than for him to leave work, so I told him to stay put and I would call him back. I went running from my office on 3rd floor to the main office on 2nd floor. I was still crying, and when I burst through the door, they thought I was sick. Co-worker said, "Oh dear, don't puke on me!" (When I go back and think about this, does she think I would come to the office to vomit and not the bathroom???? Hmmmm, I still love you, C!) -- So, I explained to the ladies in the office that we got THE CALL and it's A GIRL! There were instant hugs and jumping! Our principal wasn't in the office, and I was explaining that I needed to leave so K and I could look at her pictures for the first time, together. B told me to just leave, and S explained that everyone leaves work when they are in the middle of having a baby! Ha! Have I mentioned I love my co-workers? Thankfully, our principal walked in and the second I explained to him what was going on he told me to leave. Yay!!!!

I ran back upstairs to lock my office and get my car keys. I stopped into the classroom next door to my office, because R is a huge cheerleader in this process as she has been through it over 2 decades ago! She always has such a sense of clarity when I seem unable to think a thought. She saw my face and knew immediately what it was. I think the only words amidst a huge hug were, "It's a girl!" Lots of tears, and me then tearing myself away so I could quickly drive the 30 min to K's office. 
On the drive, I argued with myself about calling my mother. I knew she was at school (also a teacher), and probably wouldn't answer, and K has consistently accused me of the possibility that I would call her before him (to be clear, I would never do this, but I think after 10+ years of being together, he has realized that while I live hours and hours from my mother, that hasn't stopped me from talking to her 4+ times a week, and when I don't actually talk to her, I text!) I decided to stick with our original plan, and not call my mom, but called my little sister instead. I asked her if she could do me a favor and go purchase balloons that said, "It's a Girl!" and take them to our parents house. She immediately started screaming, and told me she knew all along it was a girl (why didn't she tell me this before?!). 

The drive to K didn't take as long as I thought it would (I was possibly speeding, and on the phone which made it faster...my apologies to everyone I passed on the interstate on 2/11/11). What did take FOREVER, was finding a parking spot! I could only park in the white spaces (even though I came very close to giving up and taking one of the coveted green spaces really, really close to the door, but I thought having my car booted might put a damper on my great mood...) I finally found a white space (REALLY FAR AWAY), and I sprinted through the parking lot (yes, sometimes I sprint...) K met me at the door so he could sign me in at security. We hugged and kissed and probably annoyed the security guard who seemed to move in SLOW motion. 

We finally got to K's office, and he had my e-mail account already loaded. We opened it up, and the second he scrolled down and her face came into view, I began sobbing uncontrollably. For 6 months, I wondered what the moment would feel like when we laid eyes on the child meant for our family for the first time. Part of me worried that I would feel fear. I have heard/read so many families say, "We knew he/she was meant to be part of our family the moment we laid eyes on him/her." I kind of always questioned that. Like, really? You've never met this child, and have only seen pictures...and you just automatically knew, without any question???? A huge part of me has had faith that every bump in the process, as well as every piece that has done smooth because we and the child meant for our family has needed to come together at the EXACT right time, but honestly, there has been a little piece of niggling fear that I wouldn't have that immediate connection to the face of our child. Well, if I could tell myself 6 months ago what I know now, I would tell myself to, "have no fear." It really was that magical moment. It was LOVE at first sight. I would take a bullet for this little girl. There were 6 pictures and she is SMILING to some degree in all of the pictures. She has beautiful eyes that look like hershey kisses. She has smooch-i-licious lips, and WAY more hair than I thought possible. Her curls almost look heavy and kind of wild. (Note to self...when I was certain that we would have a boy, I thought that hair care would be relatively simple to learn...it is a GIRL and she has lots of fun hair...must buy hair books and read hair blogs IMMEDIATELY).
In the midst of my hysterical crying, I noticed K. He was silently staring at the computer screen. I quickly worried that he was the one living out my fear of not being, "sure" this was absolutely right. I asked him what he was thinking, and he said he was in shock that this was, "really happening." Fair enough... it was incredibly surreal. (Any doubts I would have about his feelings have quickly dissolved as I have "caught" him standing in the hallway where I hung one of the many collages of her pictures, just staring with a grin on his face. He was also the paperwork nazi when it came to pouring over all of her reports, and filling out our referral acceptance paperwork. 

We called our social worker back after looking things over and falling in love with her via her photos. We verbally accepted at that time, and commenced printing out her pictures. K still had to go to his presentation, and practically everyone I knew was still at work and unreachable by phone. He went to his meeting, and I drove back to school so I could show off the pictures of our DAUGHTER (man, it is fun to say that). I commenced calling all of our family and friends to share the good news that eveing. 

In the week since our referral day, we have enjoyed gazing at her pictures and memorizing every inch of her... I really wish one of the pictures had her feet in them! They are the only part of her that I haven't been able to obsess about...

We have prayed for her, the continued loving care by the nannies at the care center, and for our next (hopefully swift) steps of this process. We are waiting to hear that our paperwork has been submitted for a court date assignment. We are hoping to hear of the submission by the middle of March. We thank you for praying for us and our daughter in this journey. We also ask for prayers for her birth family. It is difficult to think about our extreme elation and joy, while there are birth family members going through the loss process. We don't know how to find the words to adequately express our sincere gratitude. We know that all of our family and friends are loving and curious about how our little girl came into care, but we think it is important to let you know that we will be keeping her history as her history. We will share with her everything we know, and leave the decision to her about who and how she wants to share those details. We appreciate your respecting and loving her enough to allow us this. We are extremely open and transparent about this process, and we love sharing the many facets, but this piece of privacy is for her benefit. 

1 week down waiting for a court date! We have been gliding around, and hope that feeling continues as long as possible! There is a definite sense of urgency to get through the next part of this journey as we have now fallen in love with a little girl on the other side of the world.


Lori and Eric Stark said...

So, so happy for you! :-) And now, the waiting gets REALLY hard! Prayers for speed with the rest of the process!

momintraining said...

Tears!! What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing! She is the same age as our son, so they are probably roomies! I will do my best to hug, squeeze, kiss, lay eyes upon her when we are there in three weeks!

Becky Nakashima Brooke said...

So sweet! She does have so much beautiful hair!! I love it!

SaraLyons said...

What a beautiful day! I felt the emotion from your words. Side note, the comment about you and your mom, is so like me and my mom. She lives 30 mins away but we talk almost everyday and I often get accused of calling her first...ha!

Jennifer said...

Such an amazing day...congratulations on your baby girl!

Erin said...

LOVE that you posted the whole story! Thanks for sharing it with us. So excited for you guys. Can't wait to meet her someday in an Iowa group. :)

Brandi said...

I am new to your blog... we do have mutual friends, Lyons, and a mutual journey to bring home a baby from ET! But first I have to tell you... WOW!! Every moment of your referral moment had me in tears! My favorite part was you yelling at your SW "Why are you calling me right now??" !!! HAHAHAHA! Seriously, that cracked me up!

Congrats on your sweet baby girl! Praying for a swift court date!


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