Our Adoption Story, Chapter Five: A New Beginning

It may be over a year later, but there is more story to share!

About 40 hours after arriving at the hospital, we got the all clear that we could go home. We couldn’t believe it; we were prepared for a lengthier stay. However, as it turns out, CJ’s birth parents were also from Oregon, so we were allowed to leave. Since he was born in Washington we figured we would have to wait it out, since the paperwork to cross state lines with an adopted baby can take a while. Apparently what really matters is where the birth parents are from. It all played out very conveniently in terms of timing. After such a hellacious, agonizing wait it was hard to believe the placement was truly so simple! 

Our nurse came in to help us with final details and asked us if we had any questions. It was so embarrassing, but we had to ask how to feed the straps back through the lowest setting on the infant seat. Three years was enough for us to have forgotten how to do it properly! And of course, we didn’t want to wing it and just hope for the best! She technically wasn’t allowed to touch the car seat but she did anyway. That hospital and all the staff were just amazing. 

We successfully secured our little nugget after much ado.

The hospital chaplain had been visiting us regularly, and even brought in a second chaplain to share his experience as an adoptive father. It was really reassuring to hear someone else’s experience and to be given such encouragement. Shortly before we left, the first chaplain asked if she could bless baby CJ, and then she proceeded to anoint him with the most beautiful blessing I could imagine. It was all sort of surreal and magical. ​

Many couples find themselves in hospitals that aren’t adoption friendly, and they aren’t treated kindly by the staff. Our experience was the opposite; they did anything and everything they could to make us feel right at home and like we were part of something natural and really great. Perhaps because it was a Catholic hospital and they view adoption as a solution to abortion. That’s just my guess, but I think it’s a good one. 

When it was time to leave, we left our room with the Hubs toting our precious cargo in the infant car seat. As we entered the elevator a nurse joined us. She asked us if this was the baby born two days ago that was to be adopted. With big smiles, we told her he was and that we were the lucky parents. She started to choke up, and told us she was the first nurse that held CJ after his birth and did kangaroo care. She struggled to speak, finally saying, “He’s special. There’s something special about your baby.” Needless to say, we were pleased to hear this and touched at the nurse’s kind words. 

As we got off the elevator we felt like the luckiest people alive. Imagine finally having your dreams come true, and the circumstances surrounding them being next to perfect.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude at how everything had unfolded. It seemed too good to be true, but somehow it wasn’t. 

Walking down the hospital corridors with our baby was a funny feeling. We both felt like someone was going to stop us and ask for proof that he was our son. No one did of course; people just smiled at us as we passed by. Less than two days before we had met this tiny, perfect creature, and now we were taking him home to be ours forever. Our son. It’s difficult to explain how hard it was to wrap our brains around all that had happened in 40 hours! 

As we pulled out of the parking garage and made our way to the freeway, it began to rain. I was driving at a crawl so as to protect my baby, but the increasingly torrential rains caused me and all the other drivers to slow almost to a stop. Less than five minutes after leaving the hospital, we were caught in the hardest rain we had ever experienced. It was still summertime! That kind of rain was highly irregular for early September, but there we were. When the rain finally let up and the sun shone brightly through the clouds, I took it as yet another sign that this perfect baby and this adoption were meant to be. God was doing his best to let us know He was with us on this journey! 

Here is a current picture of my little bruiser. Our 5.5lb baby is now 24lbs!

His smile melts my heart.

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The Red Dragonfly

This story is as true as true can be, I swear it. In fact, some of you may even remember the first part.

Late last August, probably close to where we’re coming up now, I was outside working on my pond. This should be unremarkable, but it’s not…because I’m forever working on that damn pond. The previous owners of the house planted a pine tree/bush/foliage-like thing right next to it, so you can frequently find me on my knees in the rocks by the pond, fishing out the pump and emptying out the filter of pine needles so that the water will continue to flow instead of becoming stagnant and stale and replete with algae. I share this with you so you will realize that I have spent enough time kneeling by this pond in the past seven years to be intimately acquainted with its flora and fauna.

I don’t remember the exact date last August, but I know it was in the last week of the month. If I wanted to, I could go look back on Facebook and it would probably tell me the exact day. For our purposes, near the end of the month will do. I was out at the pond, sharp rocks digging into my knees and my arms up to the elbow in gross pond water, when I had a visitor. A large, bright red dragonfly showed up near the water and just hovered there.   I stopped my work to admire it; I had seen many small, bluish dragonflies in the past, but never a red one, and never so large. It was really shocking to see something so beautiful in a place as ordinary as my struggling pond. It transformed me momentarily, taking my mind off the constant daily disappointment of our dismal adoption journey. I felt that disappointment in my soul all day, every day, but for a short time I forgot all that as I stared at that dragonfly. After a couple of minutes, I realized this guy wasn’t leaving, so I went back to my task at hand, thinking it was pretty amusing I had a dragonfly companion for my pump work. But then, it started to fly around me, and the pond, and just sort of bobbed and weaved around for several more minutes, as though it had no place to go. Eventually this beautiful crimson dragonfly did disappear, but I didn’t see him go; he went away while I was looking down at the pump, fishing for pine needles.

This was at an especially dark time in our journey; in fact, I think we had all but given up. I wasn’t so far gone though, that I didn’t realize the significance of an event such as this one. How had I spent all that time by the pond all these years and never seen a red dragonfly? Surely it couldn’t be a coincidence. I’m not an exceptionally superstitious person, but I was superstitious enough to believe God had sent me a dragonfly for a reason. I didn’t think it meant the stork was arriving the following week, but I do recall thinking that dragonfly meant I should hold onto hope and not give up, after all.

I started thinking about it more and more and finally Googled “red dragonfly meaning” on my phone. I was certain it meant “hope” or “luck” or “faith” or something equally cool that would give me a reason to get excited about my lengthy visit from my dragonfly buddy. Here is what I learned:

  • Red dragonflies symbolize the transformation of death (someone who is visited by one may have just lost a loved one)
  • They are exceptionally rare
  • They do not dart away like other dragonflies, they tend to hang around their subject for a while, as if they are paying a visit

Don’t believe me? I bet you’re googling “red dragonflies” right now! Make sure to read more than one source for multiple interpretations!

I told a few people about the dragonfly visit, and I wrote a brief status update about it on my Facebook page, but I didn’t get too crazy about sharing what had happened. I wasn’t even sure myself. But then, on September 1st, the most wonderful thing happened: we got the call that our son was born, and to come pick him up at the hospital! Only one week after the visit from the dragonfly!

One dragonfly visit alone doesn’t prove much and it doesn’t even mean a lot…if it’s only one visit.

Last week, I was out working on the damn pump again (will those pine needles ever stop falling?) when I was visited by yet another dragonfly. Like last year, it was large, bright red, and it stuck around for quite a long time. It seemed curious what I was doing, and why a grown woman was covered in pond water and speaking unsavory words to a plastic pump piece. But it stayed a good while, and this time when I noticed it, I didn’t look away until it left. I felt like I owed him that. I do wonder if it was the same dragonfly as last year? Probably not, but maybe. Maybe. Stranger things have happened!

Sometimes there is meaning in something as simple as a visit from a dragonfly.

Present Day 

Nine months have passed since our beautiful baby was born. What once resembled a tiny little Sasquatch is now a strikingly handsome blue-eyed butterball. We love him so! 

So much chubbaroo goodness.


CJ, or Cam, or Campbell, is the happiest of babies. People often ask us, “Doesn’t he ever cry? He’s just so joyful!” Well yes, the truth is he is one joyful little bugaboo. During the daytime he is all smiles and sunshine and truly a happy-go-lucky little dude. It’s the nighttime where he unleashes the full power of his lung capacity to make sure the hubs and I understand his great displeasure with bedtime. The kid hates to sleep. He’s a wee social butterfly who loves to interact and suffers from some serious FOMO (fear of missing out, in case you were wondering). But we think that’s pretty typical, and he gets a free pass for screaming at us every night since he’s practically perfect in every way all the rest of the time. 

Big brother Ezra loves being big brother Ezra. He adores CJ and he is never happier than when his silly antics cause CJ to go into a giggling fit. This usually involves a dance of some kind followed by calling CJ “poopy Campbell.” For some reason, being called poopy is CJ’s favorite thing and he can’t laugh hard enough when he hears it. Unfortunately, this has led the Eldest Son to believe that everyone he talks to must find poopy talk equally hysterical, and has taken to greeting everyone with poopy in front of their name. I fear this is my reality now. I am a mama of boys, and I expect I have many years of “poopy” talk and bathroom humor ahead of me. Lord, have mercy on my poor mama soul. 

This is just a quick update to share how we are today. We are a blessed family, poopy talk and all! We don’t take anything for granted when it comes to our boys. I have many tales and anecdotes I can’t wait to share with you, as well as a couple more chapters of our adoption story. Stay tuned!

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Our Adoption Story, Part Four: A Baby By Any Other Name

We faced one ginormous problem after meeting our son, and that was the fact he did not have a name. We had nothing picked out. I mean, obviously we had been desperately trying to adopt so you might think we would have something as basic as A NAME ready to go. Somehow, and for reasons I can still not explain, we did not. 

Well, we had our girl name ready I guess, but that was pretty useless to us in this situation. See, we had picked out a boy name for the adoption that fell through back in May 2015. And we didn’t want to recycle that name like a pop can because everyone deserves a name picked out just for them. Honestly, the story of how someone gets their name should not be because it was originally picked out for someone else and it didn’t work out, am I right? A name should be special. A lot of thought should go into the perfect name. So, the hubs and I got down to business and started brainstorming as soon as we got to the hospital room. We looked at our perfect Sasquatch baby and asked him what he thought sounded best. We made lengthy lists that included veto power from both of us. We looked up meaningful names on our phones, standing on the window ledge (inside, duh) and angling the phone north, the only way one could receive cell service. We categorized our findings into the following: strong possibility, worth revisiting, and vetoed. 

What we wished we were doing was gazing adoringly at our new baby without distraction, calling him by the name we already had chosen just for him. (Yeah well, if wishes were fishes we would all live in the sea.) We had given this baby our hearts, but we couldn’t give him a stinking name. The name card on his bassinet read “Baby Boy Doe” and mocked me whenever I caught a glimpse of that impersonal and generic moniker. 

The next day around noon, we had narrowed our list down to 4 names: Asher, Elliot, Campbell, and Evan. Owen was also a favorite but I decided it was just too popular. I didn’t want my kid growing up with an initial after his name like I did. We were under the gun on time because my parents were bringing Ezra (may as well just use his full name!) to the hospital to visit his baby brother that afternoon. Baby brother needed a name we felt, by the time Ezra arrived. We wanted their first meeting to be special and heartwarming.  This baby needed a name that Ezra could start to get used to…he already had to get used to the idea that he was no longer an only! 

Scant moments before their arrival, one of the nurses who helped deliver our boy stopped by. Seeing how he was still nameless, she asked if we would like to hear what name popped into her head when he was born. Of course we said yes, we were so curious. Imagine our surprise when she said, “Elliot.” That settled it! She hadn’t even known the names on our list! It was destiny! I loved the name Elliot…the Hubs waffled a bit on it because of the many ways it could be spelled and because he thought a nickname could be “Ellie.” However, after the nurse’s input, he said we should do it. 

So we did! We wrote “Elliot Jackson” on the hospital whiteboard and patted ourselves on the back for the momentous victory that was eventually naming our baby. Then fate entered in the form of a three year old. 

The night before: During a quick phone call to tell Ezra good night and to tell him some details about the new baby, he asked what baby’s name was. I told him we were considering a few and told him what they were. When I got to “Campbell” he perked up and said “Ooh, good one!” What I should have heard was, “Okay, that will be the baby’s name because it’s my favorite.”

The arrival: Ezra entered the room and the Hubs picked him up to show him his new baby brother. “Meet your little brother, Elliot!” I said enthusiastically, expecting Ezra to respond in kind. 

Ezra turned to me and gazed into my eyes in a way that seemed very familiar. “His name is Campbell, mama,” he declared definitively, sticking his little jaw out. He continued to stare, daring me to contradict him. I stared helplessly at John. John gaped back at me. 

“Well,” I thought aloud, “Campbell is a great name!” How had this tiny child retained that from our conversation? Did I even say Campbell on the phone? Was this real life? 

So maybe it sounds like we were bullied by our toddler, but I couldn’t think of a more beautiful way for these two boys to begin life together than to have our oldest name our youngest. I nodded at John, and he headed for the white board to erase Elliot and replace it with Campbell. Beautiful. 

If you Google the meaning of the name Campbell, you will find that it is Scottish in origin and means crooked mouth. Lame. If you were to ask me personally, I would tell you the meaning of the name Campbell is…named by my big brother. 

 

Feel the love! Feel it!

 

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What a Wonderful World

Good morning friends!

I said I wouldn’t write another post until we had adopted. 

It was just too hard on my heart. 

But today, I’m bursting at the seams with joy, love, and gratitude as I share with you that The Hubs and I (and big brother E!) welcomed our sweet baby boy, our second son, into our lives, our hearts, and our family two days ago! His adoption was a “stork drop” and we met our son only four hours after hearing of his existence…such a magical, whirlwind experience. More details to follow very soon, including his remarkable story and his journey to our arms. We are richly blessed, indeed.  

About five minutes after the tearfest of first meeting our son. After drying our eyes, we began to realize it was for real! We haven’t stopped smiling yet. 😊

Perhaps I Didn’t Make This Clear: My Family is Awesome

Nine years ago today I made the single best choice of my life and married The Hubs. We had an amazing anniversary and just marveled at everything we have been through, good and bad. Nine years seems like forever, but we both remembered our wedding like it was yesterday. As we walked along the river after brunch today, I started having some Very Deep Thoughts. We were discussing our sweet little E, each other, funny memories, and of course, adoption. Talking or thinking about adoption is a pleasant thing, lately. For a while it wasn’t. But there is one adoption aspect that is bothering me. 

Everyone from our adoption education class (cohort) and the two classes after us have adopted already. In fact, so many people have adopted that there are only 8 home-study ready families, including us, even left remaining in the waiting pool! I’m not wallowing in self-pity, but it does make me feel a bit sad. Also, I stumbled upon another surprising emotion while reflecting on why this bothered me: indignation. 

Here’s why. Getting passed over and being second choice again and again makes me feel very defensive of my family. It isn’t only because we haven’t adopted yet, but because not being picked feels a lot like being the last kid standing alone after all the cooler students have been chosen for teams in gym class. It feels worse than that, because this is my family. I’m not saying I’m anything special; however, I’m sure married to someone who deserves that title. And I will take credit for birthing the other member of this family who is absolutely something wonderful. Not just because he’s my son. Because he’s good, and kind, and generous, and loving. 

  And while initially it irritates me that my amazing husband and kind little boy (and myself) aren’t being chosen to adopt, my emotions after irritation are quite different. I feel very sorry for those who have reviewed/will review our profile but moved on. They missed out on the best father any kid could ever have. I can state without hyperbole that I don’t think I could find one fault with the Hubs and his role as Dada. He’s just a great guy who fulfills every aspect (playing, learning, nurturing discipline) of fatherhood effortlessly. It just comes naturally. And E has all the makings of a great big brother. He’s sensitive, empathetic, and loving. He loves being a helper. E will be one of those older siblings who looks out for his little brother/sister. He asked for a long time when his baby was coming; he would ask God every night during bedtime prayers. He hasn’t done that in a while, and I feel scared that maybe he “gave up.”  I hate the idea of my little boy losing faith in his prayer. After all, he’s 3; he’s not sure how the whole faith thing works just yet!

I ache for any expectant mother (or father) who is on the heartbreaking, emotional journey of placing their baby for adoption. I have read that many birthmothers say a great deal of stress was lifted after they found the “perfect family.”  I’m not even going to entertain the idea that we are perfect. That’s pure silliness. But we are most assuredly a family that could put some of an expectant mother’s stress at ease if she met us and saw what we are: a genuinely joyful, imperfect, adoring couple who choose to lead very kid-centered lives devoted to parenting, with a bottomless-soda glass amount of love to shower upon a new member of the family. The thing I wonder is, why isn’t it enough? 

I just had an interesting thought: I think if I was an expectant mother and I was interested in choosing an adoptive couple that had a child already, I would want to meet the kid. You could tell a lot about the hopeful adoptive parents just from sizing up their child, I bet. You could also see the parents interacting with their son or daughter and decide if that’s how you would want your baby to be treated (or not). It’s a good idea, right? 

Just to drive this point home once more, I don’t dwell on the above very often. Usually only after I hear someone else has just adopted, or after we hear we were second choice again. I’m doing a great job of enjoying the blessings in front of me and not obsessing about the ones we hopefully we have one day. But as anyone who has adopted would certainly agree, there are inevitably going to be moments where you question yourself as well as the process. Mostly the process. 

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Are You Kidding Me?

I wish I could have ended on a high note with that last post! I wish that for all of us. 

It would be hard to forget our first adoption situation. It was the one where we were chosen by the birth parents, had a three hour long “get to know you meeting,” and then got dragged along ever so agonizingly slowly by both our agency and the couple for five weeks. 

This is the one where I found the baby registries online. And where the infamous paternity test became its own character in the Adoption Shell Game that the hubs and I suffered through as helpless spectators. The one where the social worker told the agency the couple did not intend to place their baby for adoption, so our agency told us it was over. The whole sordid, yucky, so-not-okay situation that threw me for a loop and made me wonder if I could stick with this if this was how the process actually worked. 

Guess what?  It wasn’t over!  Because that couple indeed placed their baby, through our adoption agency, with a family that was not us this week.  I found this out not through the agency in an aboveboard, professional manner, but through my adoption network support group as well as social media sources. 

Okay then. Between the hubs and I, we aren’t even sure what to make of this. I think we can all agree that at the very least, it’s a head scratcher.  Maybe in our case, it’s fair to say this latest development is simply a par-for-the-course-yet-jaw-dropping turn of events, the very thing we should really be expecting on this strange journey through the looking glass.  

Adoption is agreeing to leap through the looking glass with no guarantee what you might find. This is why anyone who even considers adopting has at least a little spark of badass inside them.

 For Carrie, who reads my blog (thanks Google Analytics),
The truth of what really happened, what was fact and what was fiction, may never be known between us. I think communicating through the agency instead of directly to one another was likely a giant mistake. Know this: you made a selfless choice choosing to place your baby when you knew you just couldn’t give him the life you wanted for him now. That is admirable. I’m sorry you chose to seek another couple rather than us. It breaks my heart, but my feelings are not paramount in this situation. I know you have blessed the other family enormously and given them the greatest gift of their lives, and have also given the same gift to your son. I pray that it gives you some peace to remember that as you grieve in the days and weeks to come. The hubs and I only wish for you to experience calm and fortitude moving forward, and a life filled with good things. 


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