Sunday, February 21, 2016

When It Nearly Fell Apart

After our third visit to NYC to see Gavin's birth mother, and toward the end of March we had settled into somewhat of a routine.  We both had a lot of work to do in preparation of taking some time off in the near future; we were both running and working out a lot; I spent a great deal of time texting Gavin's birth mother each day, helping her sort things out; we had a house to get ready for a baby...but I wondered if she'd ever have this baby and assuming she did, she couldn't sign anything until the baby was born and we were there. 

About a week and a half before what became Gavin's birth day, and just a few days after our third visit, Gavin's birth mother texted, saying that we needed to come back to NYC very soon so we could discuss the adoption and new developments.  We replied that we didn't understand, we thought that we would be there when the baby was born and there wasn't a whole lot else to discuss until then.  She refused to give details so we began to get worried and called attorneys/social workers the next morning.  After she met with her social worker, we learned that she had signed something promising to give the baby up to her mother.  She wasn't pleased with this and she felt coerced, but this is where things were.  (I'm leaving more out of this section than of any other but if anyone wants details via phone or email I'll be happy to give them).  Her family wanted this baby to stay close to them.  We knew this was important and were willing to visit at least once a year so she and her family could see our child.  This was not enough for them. 

We offered to have a phone conversation with her family, which they agreed to.  After discussing the situation we found that we were at completely opposite ends of a taut rope at this point, and none of us were willing to move.  That phone call was one of the lowest points of my life.  Swears were said. Tears were shed.  it was bad.  But there was also nothing we could do until this baby was born.  We weren't willing to take her promises anymore until then. 

So we were in the uncomfortable position of needing to tell people that we might not actually be having a baby soon, but we might well still be.  It was a terrible limbo.  We kept it to ourselves pretty well, mainly because we didn't relish the idea of going over and over the situation with everyone.  I told only two close friends and I only told them because they asked how the waiting game was going.  They were heartbroken for us and I'm glad I had them to vent to.  Four days or so after the phone call with her family I was at work on a Saturday and while working with a woman I had met just the month before, she mentioned how I'd be soon taking time off with a new baby.  I was pretty numbed at this point to the idea of not getting the baby after all, but when I told her of the recent developments, Sandy just bent over in her chair and cried for me.  Sandy is, to this day and most likely forever, one of my dearest friends because of her good heart and what she did for me through this time.  In hindsight it was odd to comfort Sandy when we were the ones heartbroken. 

Thankfully, Sandy explained the situation to my boss so I didn't have to.  When I met with him the following Monday about work stuff I brought up the subject that I might not be taking some extended time off of work after all.  Like Sandy's reaction I will always remember and be grateful for Bill's sadness and understanding when I explained that we still hoped to bring this baby home.  Our plan now was to travel to NYC when this baby was born and either we'd come home with him or we'd catch a flight to somewhere we'd never been.  I started researching Iceland and Prague as my top choices.  I have never so much wanted to not go on vacation. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Third Visit

Again, two weeks after our second visit together, Stewart and I made plans to visit our birth mother in NYC.  This time we road tripped with one of my co-workers and her husband, and their puppy.  We left super early Saturday morning in their van.  Their reason for driving to NYC was to drop the puppy at the airport to travel to his new home in eastern Europe.  They breed puppies (Swiss Mountain Dogs) and they sold one to someone in some country that I can't think of right now. 

We got a bit lost but once we were in the city, we had them drop us off and we navigated our way to the hotel we booked down town.  Miracle of miracles, the room I booked online for $150 which is a steal for the neighborhood we were in, even for a tiny room, was upgraded to a two bedroom suite for the same price.  It was pretty sweet and probably the biggest room I've ever had in NYC for the least cost.

Hotel room aside, the trip was really good too.  One of the main reasons for us to make this third visit was so that we could meet her family who had some concerns about the adoption and while she was of age to place her baby without their permission, we were willing to stay in contact with her family so they could see updates on Gavin as he grows up.  But due to circumstances this visit didn't happen and in hindsight I'm glad to have avoided the awkwardness that would have been present.

So instead we took her shopping and just spent more time with our birth mother.  She was very pregnant and uncomfortable and it was weird to see the baby inside her move.  She asked us what we wanted to name the baby because she wanted that to be the name she would give him in the hospital so that he wouldn't have two names.  I think she also asked us to have him baptized in the Catholic Church.

We all went to church again together on Sunday before Stewart and I took the train home to Buffalo again.  At this point I started to worry that she would be the first woman to be forever pregnant.  Would she ever have this baby?  Would something go wrong to keep us from bringing this baby home?

At this point, and SPOILER, it's weird to think that there was a time when Gavin was anything but 100% ours.  He now will reply to my "Love you, Gavin" with an "I love you too, Mama" and that's pretty much the best thing ever.

Next up, he almost wasn't ours.  I still get worked up when I think about the two weeks that followed our third and final visit with Gavin's pregnant birth mother.   

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Second Meeting--this time with Stewart

When I returned from my first NYC trip with Gavin's birth mother I had to first explain to everyone how while we thought we'd be having a baby that weekend, it would actually most probably still be several weeks.  On one hand it gave us more time to prepare and to get things in order.  On the other hand it gave us more time for things to derail this adoption and for us to go stir crazy waiting.  But our lives took on a form or normalcy that seems like a dream when I think of those days now.  Work for me was crazy busy, especially with the understanding that I'd soon be taking some serious time off.  We had lots of friends who wanted to throw us baby showers there were several people (i.e. our mothers) who were almost as excited as we were, just without the concerns we had that things wouldn't work out. 

I received so much advice from co workers, as well as so much baby stuff.  I think people took it as an opportunity to clean out their old baby stuff and we were the recipients.  I still smile when Gavin pulls out a toy from one of my Synacor family members.  One of my coworkers adopted both of his kids from Korea so he and I had many conversations about what may lie ahead for our little family.  Neither he nor his wife look at all like their Korean kids, but Andy said he still is awed when he looks at his son and sees himself, or when others mention how much his son looks like him.  He means in facial expressions and how he holds himself.  But we had discussions about identity and how he and his wife have handled some of the issues that have come us.  When people find out you're in the process of adopting, they are also more likely to talk about the experiences with adoption.  This is how we found out that some of our friends were adopted, and so many of them were gracious enough to answer and bear any questions we (mostly I) threw at them.  I will forever be grateful that we live in a time when adoption is an open topic and something that most people are not afraid to embrace.

Two weeks after my initial visit with Gavin's birth mother, Stewart and I went back together.  We have a good friend from college days who works for Jetblue and she was kind enough to let us use some of her buddy passes to fly to NYC for a weekend.  We took the train home again on Sunday afternoon.

I'm so glad that Stewart got to meet her and that we got to have a really good weekend together.  I honestly think that it's because of our visits that things worked out.  We took Gavin's birth mother shopping for food and some other necessities and we took her out to eat.  On Saturday we took her to the Natural History Museum which happens to be Stewart's favorite place in NYC.  It was really fun to do touristy things in a great city.  At her request we took Gavin's birth mother on a horse driven carriage ride around Central Park.  This is something I never would have done otherwise.  It's kind of expensive and I like a good walk around the park anyway, but for her it was a pleasure.  And now I'm so glad to have done it.  All this time we're communicating with her using our very limited sign language and by writing notes.  But we made it work. 

We attended church with her again on Sunday, her request being that we pick her up in a cab and all go together as a family.  Attending a deaf congregation is interesting in so many ways.  No one closes their eyes for the prayer because they can't know what is being said if their eyes are closed.  Hymns are signed except by any one in the congregation who is hearing and chooses to sing.  After church, Stewart and I headed off to Penn Station to catch our train home. 

**side note from today: We still use a video monitor to see into Gavin's room at night.  The camera is currently stationed on a shelf above the shelf that holds his humidifier.  Every now and again a puff of humidifier air will float in the camera's view and when I see it out of the corner of my eye it looks like a ghost.  It totally freaked me out the first time I saw it.  But here's one of my favorite shots from the end of the summer.  This kid.  He's it.