Sunday, December 27, 2015

Her name is Kylie

Kylie is not Gavin's birth mother.  But she knew our birth mother and without her Gavin wouldn't be our little boy.  Kylie is wonderful and faithful and kind and so many other things.  Please forgive me if I get any of the details wrong but this is how I remember it from the version Kylie shared with me last year.  Kylie lived in NYC and attended the deaf branch of the LDS church there.  Kylie is not deaf but is married to a deaf man.  They are two of the most faithful people I have ever known.  So here is how I remember Kylie's tale. 

In December 2013 she went to a church activity and ran into our birth mother.  It was at this meeting that our birth mother told Kylie that she was pregnant and didn't want the baby.  Kylie told her that she could have the baby adopted by a good Mormon couple that she could choose.  Our birth mother was excited by that idea and soon set up her first appointment with LDS Services in Manhattan.  At some point she put together a list of what she wanted in an adoptive couple and the social worker gave her a couple profiles to view, ours being one of them.  We skyped with her and the next day she picked us!!

Now Kylie's version of the story is incredibly faith filled and she believes that all of this happened because it was meant to happen and that we were destined to be Gavin's parents.  I often tell people who ask for the story of Gavin's adoption that if they believe in miracles they will see them all along our path.

Kylie has since left NYC.  She and her husband now live on the west coast and I hope that this means we get to see her more often, but as it stands we Facetime occasionally.  She and her husband had a baby nearly a year after Gavin was born.  If we ever have a daughter her name will be in the running because I feel like we owe her so much for helping our birth mother find and choose us.  But according to Kylie, who is humble beyond words, she deserves none of the credit.  She is just happy to have been a part of our miracle.   

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The First Meeting

We felt pretty good at this point, though still a little unsure because so much could derail our adoption.  We had some contact with our birth mother and we tried to prepare for this next step in our lives.

Our birth mother has had a rough life.  Like, very rough.  She's deaf and lives off of her social security disability.  She grew up in a foster home in Queens and from what I have pieced together, she was kicked out around the time she turned 18.  She had three kids, one born each winter/spring in the three years before Gavin was born.  I often think of all the things I take for granted and I appreciate all that I had to give me a head start on my own life.  She had  none of that.  And since we made ourselves (mostly myself) available to her, we started hearing from her a lot.  All day, into the evenings and sometimes in the night.

When she first came to LDS social services she told them that she was due February 22 and we had every reason to believe her because she had already had three babies, and recently too.  So when she texted on February 13 that she was in labor I knew I needed to get to NYC pronto.  I had a co worker drive me to the airport where Stewart met me with some luggage of what he thought I'd need for a few days until the baby was born and he could join me.  I bought a plane ticket at the counter and it was all very dramatic.  By the time I landed at JFK there was still no baby.  Our birth mother was not really in labor, but since I was there, I offered to meet up with her so we could get to know one another.

At this point my sign language skills consisted basically of the alphabet, and I was very slow at that.  We wrote a lot that weekend.  I admit that part of me was worried before I met her that she wasn't really pregnant but that she was scamming us and and LDS social services.  But she was in fact pregnant and quite so from what I could tell, with my no experience with a pregnancy beyond 8 weeks.

That Friday was Valentine's day and Stewart was home alone.  Poor guy.  That evening, after I had returned to my friends' apartment where I was staying until the baby was born and Stewart joined me, I got a series of texts from our birth mother that she was in labor and headed to the hospital.  I packed a few things and grabbed a cab to her hospital where I met her in an exam room.  I wasn't there long before I realized that she was not in fact due on February 22.  Not in February at all.  And most likely not in March either.  Probably April.  But I was ready to have a baby now!  But the doctor did confirm that the baby was in fact a boy.  I have no idea how she figured her due date or that it was a boy because this was the first pre natal visit she had.  With this pregnancy or her other three.  I don't know if she thought she didn't need it or if she thought she'd have to pay for it.  The doctor explained that with her medicaid she could get all the pre natal care she needs for the remainder of this pregnancy for free, and that the hospital would provide an interpreter.

I learned so much about this hospital and medicaid and the welfare system in general, as well as a lot about our birth mother over the next several weeks as I helped our birth mother make and keep appointments.  She usually gave her phone to a nurse or doctor to call me at these appointments so they could explain to me how she was doing.  Screw you, HIPAA.  But at each appointment, both birth mother and baby seemed healthy.  I started reading about survival rates of babies at various stages of a pregnancy.  I can only imagine how OCD and obsessed I would have been if I had to go through a full pregnancy.

On the Sunday following Valentine's day I attended church with our birth mother in the sign language congregation where she attended.  They "sing" hymns and my eyes were not the only ones open during prayers.  I met her branch president and the missionaries there and I'm so glad I did.  But I couldn't stay in NYC for two months so after church I took the train (I LOVE trains) home to Buffalo with a promise to return soon, and with Stewart.

Next up, the one woman who, more than anyone besides our birth mother herself, made our adoption possible. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Initial Phone Call

They way that the system works (or at least worked in our case) was that when an expectant mother decides to give her baby up and meets with an agency or attorney, she tells them what she has in mind as far as an adoptive couple/person.  The agency or attorney then helps her find people who meet these criteria.  When we fit our agency or attorney would share our profile and the link to the blog we created just for this purpose.  She looks through several and decides who she wants to meet.  We made it this far once in December 2013 but ultimately weren't chosen.  During the first week of February 2014 we got a call from LDS Social Services that we met the criteria for an expectant mother.  After a brief description of her we, without hesitation, allowed them to share our profile with her.  The following day she said that she wanted to skype with us. 

**side note here...For anyone who believes in miracles there are so many of them in the story of how Gavin became a Forbes.  For anyone who doesn't, there are some amazing coincidences.  Many of them begin about here. 

This expectant mother is deaf so our call was delayed a day while the social worker lined up an interpreter.  The week before we learned of her, a deaf man I worked with started offering a sign language class over lunch once a week.  I attended so I had a bit of a head start (not really but I did remember most of the alphabet) and it showed her that I had an interest in learning sign language.  It was a nerve wracking but really good call but we had no way to gauge how she felt about it.  The following morning while I was at work I got an email from the expectant mother that intimated that she had picked us after our call the previous night.  I showed a co worker and forwarded it to the social worker.  And yes, she had picked us!  Wow.  So many emotions and a fair amount of disbelief.

We made phone calls and told our families and tried unsuccessfully to keep from getting our hopes up.  And we put up the crib we'd had shoved in a corner of our third bedroom nursery.  Part of me had a hard time believing that we'd ever really become parents but here we were.  There was still a lot that could go wrong and some of it almost did but we made it this far and we were cautiously optimistic overjoyed at the prospect. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Not just any baby will do

One of the forms we had to fill out to help match us with a birthmother related to what we wanted and were willing to accept as far as the child goes.  Some questions were easy.  We said we'd accept either gender and any racial make up.  Beyond that it required a bit more soul searching. 

We had a list of diseases/possible birth defects/other things that we had to consider.  We talked to doctor friends and looked stuff up on the internet and talked about a lot of things we never thought we'd have to consider when having a child.  Ultimately we crossed several things off our list of what we would accept but we still left quite a bit that we'd consider.  At times this felt pretty crappy because it's hard to want a baby desperately but to have to admit that we don't want just ANY baby.  But, whether it's a rationalization or legitimate reasoning, we were ok with our choices because we gave up a whole lot of control by choosing this route and this was one way that we could reassert some control over the situation.  All of the information we got from birth mothers was self reported so we knew we'd never be 100% sure that the information we had would be accurate anyway. 

At one point we were given the chance to be considered by a pregnant woman who had an STD.  I got the information about the birthmother while I was at work and I remember looking up the disease and saying rather loudly in my very open work environment, "well, if you're going to have an STD, that's the one you want."  Fortunately my co workers all knew what we were going through and they assumed my comment was related to an adoption rather than marital problems at home. 

After all this was done and our wait officially began we tried to distract ourselves as best as we could.  One of my favorite distractions was a trip we made to NYC just after Thanksgiving in 2013.  We met up with some old friends and had a great time playing for a few days.  One of our friends is very tall and this is me wearing his coat and hat before we headed out for the day.   
 And a more serious picture of the two of us. We saw a couple of plays and  went to some museums and went to mass at St. Patrick's and walked all the way back to our hotel one night while Stewart and Dan sang loudly in the street and ate great steaks and pizza and laughed and just had a great time. 
Little did we know on that trip to NYC that our birth mother was there too, pregnant with our Gavin and trying to decide what to do. 

*side story...last night after we put Gavin to bed he didn't fall asleep.  He wasn't fussy but he wasn't falling asleep so I went up to cuddle him a bit.  Usually when I have to do this he pushes away from me after a minute and asks to be put down and then he falls asleep.  But this time he put his head on my shoulder and we just snuggled.  Then he asked for his beanbag so we laid down there.  He asked for a blanket and had brought his stuffed lynx.  Then we smiled at each other and had kisses and talked for a few minutes and then he fell asleep blowing me kisses.  It was maybe the greatest thing ever.  I think I promised him a pony but fortunately he forgot about it this morning. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Paperwork and Meetings

Back to the story of Gavin...

Once we'd decided to move forward with adoption and chosen a local agency in Buffalo to do our homestudy we paid them a load of money for the pleasure of doing a bunch of paperwork.  We had to be fingerprinted, supply 20+ years of addresses (big thanks here to my dad who remembered the address we lived at for 6 months when I was 8 and to Stewart for keeping a record of his addresses while he was a missionary in France for 2 years), find people to write recommendation letters for us, and take classes on how to not be sucky parents. 

We chose my brother and his wife to write our family recommendation letter, and three couples who are long time family friends to write the non family letters.  We never saw the letters but from what our social worker said, they were all very positive. 

After all the paperwork was done and our background checks came back (clean, I might add!) we were assigned a social worker who was with us the rest of the way until we matched with our birth mother.  I met with individually one evening, Stewart met with her individually the next evening and she came to our home to meet with us together the following Saturday.  She said it was always interesting to meet couples alone and then to see how they interact together.  She said that it's especially interesting to see who was the alpha in a relationship, but that she could always tell.  At the end of our meeting I asked her who was the more strong one in our marriage and she thought for a minute and then admitted that she couldn't tell.  I take that as a compliment. 

Another high point to the meeting with the social worker was when she asked us about our hopes for our child.  I told her that I'm sure that everyone she meets with gave her an answer like wanting their child to go to a good college, have a career they love, and someday have a family of their own.  So instead I told her that I wanted my child, boy or girl, to throw a baseball well.  She said she had never gotten that answer before.  Before she came over, she told us not to stress out about the meeting.  She said she had a morning meeting once where the couple had baked a ham so their house smelled good.  She told us that was not necessary but I still thought about making cookies.  In the end I decided against it in favor or going for a run to reduce my stress.  And the meeting went really well. 

At this point all we had to do was to take the classes required by the agency.  We had class on Friday night for four hours or so and then all day on Saturday.  Some of it was kind of absurd but I left the first night feeling like our fertility issues were fairly small.  It's amazing how personal you can get when you know you're coming from a similar starting point.  With other women I met that night I discussed  miscarriages, missing ovaries, drugs, surgeries, etc.  Stewart and other husbands discussed almost losing their wives to these things.  It felt kind of like a sick support group.  One social worker started her presentation by asking how many of us had seen the movie Juno (all of us).  She then told us to throw that idea out of our minds because that never happens. 

At one point we did some role playing in groups of three or four couples.  One of the situations our group had was to show how we would deal with our parents treating our adopted child different from their other non-adopted grandchildren.  The other couples were very diplomatic and said that they would sit their parents down and explain how that hurts them.  For us that didn't really feel right.  Our families already knew that we expected them to treat our child just as well as they treat their other grandkids and if they ever didn't we would sever our relationship with the offending parent.  We wouldn't let our kid be around someone who would treat them poorly just because he's adopted.  Fortunately this isn't something that is an issue in our family at all.  I actually kind of feel like Gavin is especially special to all of his grandparents and I feel kind of bad for his cousins.  But they get to hang out with him so it's still a win for them. 

Anyway, after the classes and the paperwork and the meetings with the social worker we were set.  Stewart graduated from law school on May 18, 2013 and when I stopped at home between lunch and the ceremony I found a letter in our mailbox saying that we were approved by the state of New York to bring a baby home.  It made a great day even greater.  But then began the looking and the waiting.  More on that later. 

(I couldn't find a photo of me with Stewart at his graduation but this is him with four of his closest law school classmates.  I will forever love these guys and their families.  And now I miss them all over again) 

Saturday, June 27, 2015


This is kind of an intermission in the story of how Gavin came to be ours but it's been on my mind a lot lately and I feel like I need to get it out. 

Throughout all of the infertility and adoption stuff we went through there were some really rough moments.  Most of those came after the second ectopic pregnancy though when the fertility procedures early on didn't work I hit some low moments as well.  I remember going to bed early after a failed IUI a time or two.  I was bummed after I had surgery to find and correct a problem because the doctor didn't find anything wrong. 

After the first ectopic pregnancy I actually felt pretty good, emotionally.  It gave me hope that I could get pregnant and maybe it was just  fluke that it was ectopic.  But the second one just about did me in.  I woke up in the night to some pretty bad pain, thinking this one had ruptured too.  I thought for a few minutes about just letting it kill me.  Like I said, just about did me in, literally.  Ultimately it was the thought of Stewart being widowed that got me out of bed and to the hospital.  It turned out to not have ruptured and to just have been the ectopic dissolving so it wouldn't have killed me, but I couldn't promise that I would make the same choice if I found myself in the same situation again.  Quite honestly, if we hadn't found Gavin I probably would have tried to get pregnant again and either it would have been a healthy pregnancy or I would have let it kill me.  Like I said, just about did me in, literally. 

So my downward spiral really got started toward the end of August 2012.  Maybe it was because the second miscarriage happened right when the first pregnancy would have been due.  Maybe it was because I was just worn down from all of it.  Maybe it was extra hard because Stewart was still in law school and I tried to not demand too much of his time.  Either way, this is pretty much when things go real for me.  I spent the next year and a half trying to keep myself going so as not to lose myself entirely.  Below are some of the things that helped me get through it until Gavin was born and placed in my arms. 

Do something to move the process forward.  Even though you may not be able or ready for in vitro or adoption, do something so that you don't feel helpless.  I researched adoption agencies and grants and ultimately pressured Stewart into starting the process sooner than he would have liked.  (I'm normally pretty high maintenance but I image that I took it to exponential levels at this time).  Once we were approved I worked on the blog we used for pr.  I took some solo trips to Palmyra and Niagara Falls and around town to put together a post here and there. 

Throw yourself into something, hopefully something healthy or otherwise productive.  This worked kind of as a diversion for me.  I turned to two things to take up my extra time and attentions.  The first was my job.  I was fortunate to have a job that could be very demanding and time consuming.  And I loved what I did and the people I worked with.  And it paid off in the form of raises and promotions and even more career satisfaction.  Things were especially stressful between the time our birth mother picked us and the day Gavin was born.  Which worked out well in that work got crazy busy about a week before we met her.  I worked late and weekends and found a lot of solace at Synacor.  My coworkers were some of my best sounding boards. 
The second thing I turned to was running and exercising.  I logged a lot of miles on the streets of Buffalo and watched a lot of netflix while lifting weights in the morning.  It was  great way to use up extra energy and it gave me something with real, tangible results.  I lost about 20 pounds in the nine months that Gavin gestated.  Not many women can say that about their baby. 

Give up things that make your life more difficult or cause undue pain.  This has probably had the longest lasting effects for me.  A few months after the second ectopic my little sister got pregnant.  I spoke to her in January when she told me she was pregnant.  After that I don't think I spoke to her until Gavin was born, 14 months later.  Stewart suggested a few times that I call her but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I couldn't ask her about her pregnancy without saying something awful.  In the midst of this my little brother got married and Stewart wasn't able to go to the wedding.  I seriously thought about not going and I still kind of wish I hadn't.  Even still, I only saw my family for the actual wedding and I got out of there as quickly as possible.  It was especially hard to have my mom make such a big deal about the baby.  I think my other sister seriously thought that I was in the process of divorcing myself from the family for good and for all I know I would have severed all ties by now if we were still childless. 
The other big thing I gave up was church and church related worship.  Mormon church can be very family oriented and members can be kind of tone deaf with questions or comments or lessons.  I don't know how many times I left a talk or a lesson because I couldn't take one more comment about how motherhood was the most wonderful thing ever (which it is, for me now!) or how our pain can be lessened by believing or worshiping or praying because it didn't work for me.  I came to the point where it only caused pain so I cut it out.  We still went to church some and to Stewart's credit he kept us reading scriptures (though we threw out the Old Testament) and praying though my participation waned.  But I had no heart in it.  I know that there are some who will disagree with this but it is my experience. 

And the final thing that saved me through all this was Stewart.  He is forever my rock and a great source of strength and reason.  He deserves far better than me but I hope he never realizes it.  In the end I decided that I needed to do what I had to in order to keep myself alive and (kind of) sane so that I could come out on the other side.  And I did.  And I have the greatest little guy because of it.  See, amazing.  And he climbs in  my lap with a book and runs to me at the end of the day.