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.