Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Joseph's Story

In honor of the second anniversary of Joseph's Gotcha Day, I felt it was time I documented his story on the ol blog here.  Just so you know, I will be leaving out some details out of respect for Joseph's birth mom (who I will refer to as Miss T).

First, a little background
As you probably know, we originally thought we would be adopting through DHS.  We had completed all the classes and paperwork and were just in the waiting period.  We were told it wouldn't take long since we were "perfect candidates" (I had an early childhood background but would be a stay-at-home mom, Sam had a steady job, we didn't have children in our house already, we weren't specific about ethnicity or gender, etc.).  After months, I was tired of living my life waiting for a phone call.  I did some research and talked with some adoptive mommas I knew and decided to request a packet from Deaconess since I heard they were actually in need of adoptive families at the time.  I didn't really talk to Sam about this decision before I requested the packet, but I knew he was getting tired of waiting too.  We received this packet mid-January 2012.  Throughout this entire process, we were letting people (friends, doctors, etc.) know we were interested in adopting in case they heard of any opportunities for us. 

Mid-Late January 2012
We received a phone call that would change our lives!  Through a friend of a friend, my dad found out about a birth mom considering putting her unborn child (a boy!) up for adoption.  Some research was completed to find the top adoption lawyers in Lawton (where the baby was to be born), and we were happy to learn we actually knew one at the top of the list.  We arranged a dinner meeting with birth mom and scheduled an appointment with the lawyer for the same day.  A couple of days before the scheduled meeting day, our lawyer's secretary called because she was going to have to be in court during our scheduled meeting.  We changed our lawyer appointment, but kept the dinner with birth mom on the original day because we didn't want her to think we were flaky.  We were willing to drive the two and a half hours one way to Lawton as many times as it took to make this happen.

We met with Miss T at a restaurant in Lawton on a Monday night.  We met Miss T's two older children and her mom that night too.  By the end of dinner, she had begun referring to the baby as "your baby."  As we were leaving, the baby started moving and she put my hand on her stomach to feel it.  The baby's due date was May 26, the day after my last day of school for the year.

January 31, 2012
On our way home from yet another lawyer appointment, we stopped to eat dinner.  While there, I happened to check my email on my phone.  Miss T had sent us ultrasound pictures!  I immediately opened them and fell in love with this little boy!  For days, I would just open the pictures and look at them.  I knew in my head that I shouldn't let myself get attached yet, that there were still a lot of things that could happen, but in my heart I loved him. (Sorry, Sis.  I know you don't do ultrasound pictures, but it had to happen.)

February-April 2012
These three months were spent making sure everything was just right with the lawyer and texting with Miss T.  Thankfully, the judge who handles most adoptions in Lawton agreed to accept our home study from DHS, so we didn't have to complete another one.  Although we offered to hire a separate lawyer for Miss T, she said she would just use ours because she trusted us and didn't want the adoption to cost us any more than it had to.  Miss T offered to meet us for a 3D ultrasound if we wanted to do one since she wouldn't have any more ultrasounds during the pregnancy.  As much as we appreciated this offer, we declined instead opting to be surprised when he got here.  She also told us she was leaving the naming of the baby entirely up to us.  We had a name in mind, but were hesitant to say it at the time.

We worked on contacting birth dad in an effort to have him sign the paperwork to terminate his rights. 

Beginning of May 2012
Miss T moved to Texas.  We were super shocked when she called and told us and immediately called our lawyer to see what we needed to do.  Our lawyer said that if at all possible, she needed to have the baby in Oklahoma because it would require tons of extra paperwork (and time) to transfer rights across the state lines.  When we told her this, Miss T offered to drive to Durant, the closest Oklahoma hospital, to have the baby.  Our lawyer found a lawyer in Durant to help with paperwork at their county courthouse when the time came.

May 9, 2012
Sam hurt his finger pretty severely, so we were at an urgent care clinic getting it checked out when I received a phone call from Miss T.  She said she thought she was in labor and we should head to Durant before too long.  I left Sam at the clinic and ran home to pack real quick.  As I was driving home and then back to get Sam, I called my co-teacher and director to let them know that I probably wouldn't be coming into work the next day.  Luckily, I had already completed all of the paperwork for the fairly easy end of the year parent-teacher conference I was supposed to lead the next day and my co-teacher was awesome and covered for me.  As soon as they finished with Sam, we headed to Durant.  The drive seemed to take forever, mostly because we had never driven to Durant, so we really didn't have any landmarks to go by letting us know how much further we had.  On the way down, I kept saying, "We don't even have a car seat!"  Sam assured me he would go buy a car seat so we could take the baby home.  We arrived at the hospital fairly late in the evening and were escorted into Miss T's room.  Miss T's boyfriend left to go take care of her other children sometime after we got there.  They told us they thought it was a false alarm, but they wanted to keep her a little longer to be sure.  This was the first time I heard Joseph's heartbeat. 

May 10, 2012
Around 2 am, they discharged Miss T.  Since she didn't have a car or anybody to take her home, we offered to get her a hotel room for the night and take her home the next morning.  All night, I worried that we would get in trouble from the State for paying for her hotel room since you can't pay for anything for birth parents that isn't pre-approved (it's viewed as buying the baby).  I talked with our lawyer first thing the next morning and she assured me it would be ok. 

We drove Miss T home mid-morning.  It was actually nice to have some time to talk, just us and her.  We talked about everything from music to disciplining children.  We were able to tell her a little more of our story and she told us it felt good to help provide us with an opportunity to be parents.

After we dropped Miss T off, we went to Target and bought everything we needed to bring a baby home from the hospital.  Since my sister had had a baby two months prior, I asked her what you absolutely have to have for the first two months and she supplied me a list.  This day is when it started to feel real. 

We arrived back in Stillwater shortly after school had dismissed for the day.  Even though most of the children had gone home, we went up there anyway since some of my co-teachers and parents had decided we needed a baby shower (they had told me about it the previous week).  Since we weren't registered anywhere, they all brought newborn necessities or some of their favorite baby items.  It was awesome to get items I never would have thought of!  I have since gifted similar items to expecting friends. 

May 17, 2012
I stayed up late working on student assessment portfolios.  I told Sam I was staying up until they were finished so I could take them to school on Friday in case Joseph was born over the weekend.  I finally finished and went to bed around 12:30 am.

May 18, 2012
Around 1:30  am, my cell phone rang.  It was birth mom telling me we needed to head to Lawton because she was in labor.  I hung up and woke Sam up.  It then dawned on me that she said Lawton, not Durant.  Not wanting to drive to the wrong place, I called her back and found out that she had been in Wichita Falls for a little getaway, so she was headed to Lawton to have the baby.  We quickly threw our things in a bag.  I had finally washed some of the baby clothes and blankets and the car seat was installed, so we were ready to go in no time.  On our way, I emailed both my co-teacher and director to let them know that, once again, I wouldn't be at school the next morning (and asked my director to stop by my house and pick up my student files on her way to work the next morning).

At 2:40 am, my cell phone rang again.  It was birth mom.  She simply said (over his crying in the background), "Courtney, you have a baby boy."  Talk about turning on the floodworks.  Soon after, she texted me a picture of our little guy (that I am heartbroken to say I can't find anywhere).  I gazed at that picture the rest of the way down. 

Around 4:15 am, we arrived at Comanche County Memorial Hospital (which just happens to be the hospital I was born at too).  We entered through the emergency room (as you do when you arrive at a hospital in the middle of the night) and made our way up to labor and delivery.  On our way to the front desk, we passed the nursery.  There was one baby in the nursery laying under the heat light.  Sam said, "I think that's him.  That's our boy."  I told him there was a possibility he was in the room with Miss T so he shouldn't get his hopes up.

We went to the front desk and asked for Miss T's room.  When we got to her room, we realized that Joseph wasn't in there with him.  We talked with Miss T and her mom for a few minutes before a nurse walked in and asked if we were the adoptive parents.  We said yes and she gave me a hospital bracelet to match his (Sam didn't get one because they are only allowed to assign two per baby and Miss T had the other one).  We then went to the nursery and marveled at this precious little miracle.

Before too long, they assigned us a room (Since the recovery wing wasn't full, they offered us (well, Joseph) a room free of charge.  Had they been busier, we would have had to stay somewhere else and leave Joseph there.) 

Sam was afraid that he might have poison ivy on his hands, so he wore gloves the first time he held Joseph.  When he learned it was ok to take the gloves off, he did.
The next couple of days are a blur of paperwork, visitors, and very little sleep.  At one point I realized that I had only had one and a half hours of sleep in a 48+ hour period.  I was going off of pure adrenaline.

A few times, nurses would come in and be caught off guard by the fact that Sam was in the bed instead of me.  Our rule was whoever was in charge of Joseph got the good bed with the view of the TV.

Joseph had some tummy issues, and wanted to be held all the time.  We were happy to do this for him as were our visitors.

We even walked down the hall to visit Miss T a few times who was also happy to hold him.  At one point, Joseph made a dirty diaper while Miss T was holding him.  I immediately offered to change it, but she laughed as she began changing it and said, "I'll do it, just put it in his baby book." (we had been taking lots of pictures including some of her with him and she knew we were trying to document everything).

We were so happy to finally have a child yet fully aware of how quickly things could change. 

May 20, 2012
Joseph was discharged from the hospital mid-afternoon.  We went to my dad's house (he happens to live in Lawton) to stay the night since Miss T had a court date to assign us temporary custody the next morning and we technically weren't supposed to leave the county with him yet. 

May 21, 2012
Even though we didn't have to, Sam and I went to Miss T's court date to show our support for her (Joseph stayed at my dad's house with my grandma).  We didn't go inside with her, instead waiting in the hall.  As she walked out, she looked at us and said (with tears in her eyes), "Congratulations, he's yours."  We went to Dad's house, loaded our stuff, and headed home with our baby.  You can read about his homecoming here.

June 25, 2012 - Gotcha Day
We went back to Lawton for our final court date.  You can read my post about Joseph's Gotcha Day here.  On this day, we heard one of the best phrases in the English language "final decree of adoption."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sarah is 8 Months Old!

Since Sarah will be turning 9 months old next week, I guess it's time I finally sat down and wrote her 8 month post.  Good thing I've been making notes on my phone about what she's doing each month and took her picture when it was time.  Not a whole lot changed during her 8th month, so I don't have a lot to write.  One big thing that changed is that Sarah got her first tooth!  Her second one wasn't too far behind, but I think it technically broke through after she was 8 months old.  This development made her a happy, content little girl again.  When she turned 8 months, she was still inchworm crawling like crazy and showing a lot of interest in real crawling.  Sarah still eats pretty much anything you put in front of her and is getting much better about manipulating puffs and cheerios to her mouth. 

Sarah Month 8
She did not want to lay down for pictures this month, so I gave in an let her sit up.  Luckily, I learned from my monthly picture taking experience with Joseph and bought two yards of fabric this time instead of one so sitting up is more of an option.  Although she still wanted to "crawl" away, so I gave in yet again and let her have a toy to chew on.

She finally sat still, but was a little too busy to look at me for a picture.

This is what she was looking at.  The toddler managed to climb into her crib, but couldn't get out and was instantly rather upset about it.  I had warned him that I would not be getting him out until I was finished and he chose to climb in anyway.  Momma doesn't make blank threats (yup, I'm mean like that).  *Sarah's crib has since been lowered so he can no longer climb in.*

Miss Sarah LOVES being outside which is great because so does the rest of the family!

For now, she is still content to sit and play with her toys and watch Joseph play.  I'm sure this will change soon.

Sarah also went swimming for the first time this month (although the water was a little cold for her liking).

And there you have it, Sarah's 8 month blog post.  See ya in a few days for her 9 month post (maybe).

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Joseph is TWO!!!

It's so hard to believe that our sweet little boy is already two years old!  I had planned on writing this prior to his birthday so I could post it on the actual day, but I've been at a loss of words as to what to say.  Nothing I can think of to write seems sufficient for this marvelous boy, so I guess I'll just do my best.  He has truly put a Band-Aid on my heart.  I couldn't imagine life without him.

I love you more than I can ever express.  When I tell you that I love you, you usually respond one of two ways.  Most of the time, you reply, "I wuv you, Mommy."  Sometimes, you simply say, "I know."  I want you to always know that I love you and there is nothing you can ever do to change that, that's why I tell you so often. 

You give hugs and kisses freely to all family members.  Sometimes you declare "famwy hug" and reach out for all of us.  Family hugs are now one of my favorite things.

The phrase I hear out of your mouth more often than any other these days is "Momma, wook at me!"  This is usually followed by you doing something you think is really cool.  You have an amazing attitude about everything and celebrate even the smallest accomplishments, both for you and your sister.

You have a very inquisitive mind.  You will manipulate an object until you figure out how and why it works.  There have been a few casualties due to this curiosity.  Your daddy loves that you want to figure stuff out and encourages you when you get frustrated.  You often say, "Oh no, it bwoke." and "I fix it."

Speaking of daddy, you love him and want to do everything he does!  You mimic daddy all the way from wanting to drink tea with dinner like him (you usually settle for milk) to using the exact tool he is using at the moment when working in the garage.  The other day, you opened the front door, pretended to walk in, said, "I'm home," then came over and gave me a kiss, just like you see your daddy do every night.

You are a funny kid which is great because you love to make people laugh.  Even friends of mine with kids your age are amazed at some of the funny things you say.  If you don't have anything funny to say, you make a face at me.  This often happens when I look in the rearview mirror to check on you guys at stop lights.

One of your funny faces is an exaggerated smile.  It makes me laugh every time!

You have two speeds: sleeping and running.  In fact, you often say, "Momma, run!" even when we are just walking through the house to your bedroom to change your diaper.  You seriously run any time you can.  It's an adorable run, too, with your little fists pumping the air as you go.

I think it's safe to say cousin Bryar is your best friend right now.  You're always excited to facetime with him!  There have also been times when I've told you we need to get ready to go to a playdate with someone and you've responded with, "No.  Pway Bryar."

This is when Bryar called and sang you "Happy Birthday" on, well, your birthday.

You also love your sister.  Even though we refer to her as Sarah most of the time, you have taken to calling her Sissy (although you have recently started calling her Sarah which makes me a tiny bit sad).  You are very protective of her and always make sure she has what she needs.  I've joked that she will never need to talk or walk because you bring her everything she could possibly want/need.  I really think you do this because you don't like listening to her cry.

I often dress you and your sister in coordinating clothes.  Some day I will stop, but for now you don't mind.  

You even ask for a matching shirt sometimes (especially if she is wearing a "Funder" or Pete shirt).

Every night and at nap time, you want tucked in with your feet sticking out the bottom of your blanket, bear under one arm, frog under the other.  This happens after we brush your teeth, read books, and say a prayer.  You love your routines, yet you are still able to go with the flow when we need you to.  I love this about you.  When you wake up, you stand in your crib (yes, you still sleep in a crib) and announce, "I weady get up now." repeatedly until we get you. 

I hope and pray you always stay as sweet and considerate as you are now.  You use good manners most of the time including saying please and thank you and holding the door open for people.  You share your toys without hesitation (most of the time) and use gentle touches with your friends.  You have an ornery streak, but it's all in good fun and not at other people's expense.  You are so loved by everyone in your family!
I can't wait to see how you grow this year!  They say the twos are difficult, but I have a feeling they will be just as much fun as the last two years have been.  

I love you more than you'll ever know!

For Joseph's birthday this year, all he asked for was cake and ice cream.  Sam came up with a shirt idea for him to wear on his special day based on his requests (it says cake and ice cream day). 

Since we were out of town on his actual birthday, we didn't get to have a party that day.  We did make sure we ate some cake and ice cream, though.

We celebrated at home a couple of weeks later.  It was a simple event with minimal decorations.  We grilled steaks and hamburgers and had an ice cream cake.  Joseph even wore the same cake and ice cream day shirt.  Sometimes even crafty (or so they think) mommas desire a laid back party.