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

Monday, May 27, 2013

Cupcakes and Meatballs?! Part 3

After Halloween 2012, and heading back to work, we were preparing for the holiday season. Most of my family decided to head our direction to celebrate Thanksgiving, mostly because they knew I could use some cheering up. The kind of cheering up that is impossible to come by, but your fantastic, goofy family of origin provides a pretty good distraction. Turns out, I wasn't able to quite shake the thoughts of the sweet baby girl born in Philly at the end of October. I might have been able to move on, but our caseworker called just before Thanksgiving to tell us that baby girl's momma had been loving on her daughter, but things were hard, and she was making moves to make an adoption plan. WHAT?!

Our caseworker explained that many steps needed to be completed, but if thew were completed, the only way her momma was going to go through with it is if we would agree to come back to Philly and take custody of baby girl to be her family. WHAT?! Agency personnel had gone back and forth about whether to let us know of the new developments because we had asked them not to give us updates on baby girl and her family until we were ready to ask for them. In the end, they decided it was in everyone's best interest to give us the information and process it, so that it didn't become a situation where they possibly needed to call us and we would have about 30 seconds to decide and pack. Ultimately, we said we would ABSOLUTELY agree to adopt baby girl if indeed her momma decided that an adoption plan was best for all of them. 

This information threw me into an absolute tail-spin. I had hope again, but I was afraid of getting my heart broken all over again over this little girl, because it hurt so bad the first time around, and it still wasn't really healing. We decided to keep the information to ourselves, because it was hard to watch my mom cry the first time around when things didn't work out, and it seemed senseless to trouble everyone with the 'non-news' news. The problem with that plan was that I couldn't act normal, because I didn't feel normal. I was totally distracted, and not sharing the news made me irritable, which was the opposite of how I wanted to handle the holiday with my family who traveled to be with us. I eventually had a silly meltdown, reminiscent of my teenage years, and made my husband tell everyone what was going on, and then tell them not to ask me about it, but I felt better knowing that they knew.

The holiday weekend was over, and everyone but my oldest brother was headed out of town. My bro was staying one more night and flying out the next day. My parents made it about 60 miles, and called us to say that my dad was in the ER. WHAT?! He had been feeling off, and it was reminding him of how he felt before he'd had a heart attack 15 years prior, so they stopped to get him checked out. We loaded up to get there, and he was released an hour or so after our arrival, because things had checked out, but he would need to see his cardiologist. A few months and an angiogram later and he is doing great! 

After we left the hospital, we stopped for a quick lunch before we made the hour drive back home. At lunch, our caseworker called. It was a Saturday, so I just braced myself for the news that baby girl was staying with her family and we would need to just become an active/waiting family. We had asked her to call us the second she knew anything.

The phone call went a little more like this: "Hi, I hope your holiday was lovely. I'm calling to tell you that parental rights have indeed been relinquished, baby girl is in cradle care, and has been all week. We didn't tell you this, because there was a lot of wavering on the part of baby girl's first momma," and they didn't want to put her or us through another ordeal until she was sure, and they felt like if she could get through the holiday and still feel confident moving forward with her decision, then we would most likely be set to go. "Can you be in Philadelphia by Tuesday?" WHAT?!

We said, ABSOLUTELY, and started making plans to go and calling all of our family to let them know what was going on. The two trickiest calls, the one I had to make to say, "So, remember how I thought I was going to need maternity leave, but in the end I really didn't? Well, I need maternity leave again, and I won't be back to school until after the Christmas break." Thankfully, I have top notch co-workers, and it was all taken care of for me. I love those people. The other call was to my sister-in-law who was laying in a hospital bed pregnant with twins, on strict bedrest. I was irrationally picturing that I would call and tell her the news and it would be such a weird shock that she would go into early labor. That didn't actually happen... THANK GOD.

In the midst of all of this crazy, we were just about finished refinancing our home for a lower mortgage interest rate. We were to close  on Monday afternoon. We knew once we got to Philly it would be likely that we wouldn't return home for 7-10 days. We were driving again, because we are nuts, and it just seemed easier to have our car instead of plane tickets when we didn't know our return date, and paying for a rental car. So, we got the bank to change our appointment for late afternoon to first thing in the morning. We took care of that, finished packing and a few other odds and ends, and we hit the road. Cupcake had a horrible cough, so we were again banking on her sleeping in the car. That didn't really go as planned. We had been on the road for about 2 hours when she coughed so hard that she, um, regurgitated her dinner all over herself, her carseat and parts of the car. It scared her, and we had to do our best to clean her and the car up at a gas station, in the dark. A few more hours down the road and she was lethargic, but couldn't get to sleep, so we ended up getting a hotel room for about 5.5 hours for her to sleep. We got up and hit the road. We still had about 10 hours to go to Philly. We had to make more stops than before so Cupcake could get out, etc. I'm still amazed how well she did overall and considering how she was feeling. 

We pulled into the outskirts of Philly at about 4pm EST, checked into the same hotel as a month before, showered and put in the infant carseat. We drove to the home where baby girl was at, and had custody at about 6pm. We talked to the people that had loved on her. She had been in 2 homes (there was much difficulty finding a cradle care space for her because of the holiday. We got the chance to spend time with both families, and what amazed me was how each family just ADORED her. They were so loving to her and to us, and were giving us all the tips and tricks on her likes and dislikes. Had I been paying closer attention, I would have realized that these wonderful people were actually trying in a nice way to tell us that she while SUPER cute was also a super fussy, gassy, spitty baby. No matter, I was leaving with her anyway, it just makes me laugh when I think back on our conversations, but didn't pick up on any of that because my brain was in fantasy land. 

Baby girl is known as Meatball. Yes, it's not quite as 'cute' as Cupcake, but she certainly is adorable. It stemmed from the fact that she was just this little thing that would just curl up in a little ball, and this is probably because she always had a tummy ache, but it was pretty precious how she just snuggled into us like a little ball of baby fat... Meatball.

Pennsylvania law gives first families 30 days to change their minds once they have relinquished their rights for adoption purposes. In a normal case, the 30 day clock would have started the day that Meatball went to cradle care, because that was when the paperwork was signed. We were already far outside the bounds of 'normal case,' so the clock didn't start until the day after we took custody. It had nothing to do with us taking custody, but Meatball is part Caucasian, part African American and Native American. Ever heard of the Indian Child Welfare Act? Yeah, I hadn't either. To 'people in the know' they call it ICWA. It basically is a federal act that is in place to prevent the removal of Native American children from  their birth families. If you know about the history of our country and the poor, no horrendous treatment of Native Americans, it really was and is necessary to have in place. It also gives the tribe a voice in saying what happens to it's children. More academically, ICWA is put this way. Meatball didn't live with the tribe, but there was still court proceedings and red tape to cut through. So, the 30 day clock started ticking when her very brave first mother and first father went to court the day after we took custody.

I told a friend who is a social worker that we were dealing with ICWA. Her response was, "Oh, you can expect to blow right through the 30 day waiting period and have a couple of roadblocks before all is said and done." Grrrrreeeeeeeaaaaaaaaat. The way things were explained to us, we really didn't foresee any issues. We were wrong...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love hearing about your adventures and the wonderfulness of your growing family! Can't wait to hear "the rest of the story"! Hope you are all well. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way as well as to your precious daughters' first families.

Emily Ament-Urdaneta


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