family

The Journey to Adopting our Sweet Zachary

Our sweet Zachary is now 12 weeks old so I figured it’s about time to share the story of how we were lucky enough to be chosen to be parents for a 2nd time through adoption.  I always find writing about our adoption stories tough because although we are over the moon to welcome another son into our lives, for Zachary’s birth parents comes pain and sorrow over this loss.  We will be eternally grateful to them and admire them so much for putting Zachary first.

Without talking much about Zachary’s birth parents (that’s Zachary’s story to share if he wants down the road), here is the amazing journey that brought our sweet, sweet boy into our lives.  This story was definitely a rollercoaster ride filled with highs and lows.

We were told it was harder to adopt a second time since a lot of birth parents choose couples without kids and while Chris was anxious to put our names into the ring in the fall of 2014, I was a bit hesitant.  I was in a great place at work, I’d wanted to put savings aside for the process and life was great.  I did agree to start the adoption process with Chris in December as the paperwork takes a while.  By February we were adopt ready and I was getting the ‘itch’ to have a baby again – it amazes me how fast it can come on.  Too bad we were told it would take longer this time around.

At the end of February I received a phone call through our Canada Adopts online profile from a birth mother due in 2 weeks.  She lived in another province so I needed to call an adoption practitioner with experience adopting out of province.  To make a long story short, this adoption didn’t work out and while on the phone with the adoption practitioner to discuss it she asked if we had one of our adoption profiles we could send her.  She wanted to present us to a couple the next day.  We felt like it was a long shot and perhaps her just wanting us to feel hopeful again.  Normally birth couples pick an adoptive couple within a couple of days so after 2 weeks of not hearing anything we figured they had either changed their minds or chosen someone else.

The Highs

Fast forward to March 24th – I’m at a pub with my best friend enjoying a nice big glass of wine when at 10:00pm my phone rings.  It’s the adoption practitioner.  She asks if we’re really adopt ready and when we leave for Florida.  We were leaving that Friday (3 days away) to have one last trip before Jackson turned two.   The bizarre thing about it was that was exactly what had happened with Jackson’s adoption – we had a trip booked to Florida when we heard the news we’d been chosen.  She said the birth mom of the couple we were presented to was in labour and while we hadn’t been chosen officially, she was pretty sure we were the top choice.

I run home and wake Chris up to tell him.  Chris is pretty out of it when he’s woken up and didn’t really understand haha.  He had thought the birth couple had chosen a different route.  It wasn’t until the next morning that he started asking questions.

The official phone call came at 2pm on the 25th.  Zachary had been born on the 24th and we were officially chosen [insert happy dance combined with holy cow we are about to be parents of 2 boys, 23 months apart].  The next step was to drive to Ottawa on the Thursday to meet the birth parents and make sure they did want to move forward with us.  We were all set to cancel Florida but everyone wanted us to take the trip, especially since Jackson had asked ‘airplane day?’ every day that week.  Talk about a chaotic 10 hours – we had to find a sitter for Jackson, take the dog 40 minutes away to where he was staying while we were in Florida, finish the laundry, pack for Florida, tie up the loose ends at work so we could go on vacation, tell my boss our news that I could be leaving work in just a couple of weeks (gulp!) and think of baby boy names (the last one was the fun part!).  The good thing about the adoption process is the adrenaline you get and not needing to sleep. Plus, why not start to get ourselves prepared for little sleep with a baby right?!

The meeting with the birth parents went really well.  They’re amazing people and we instantly felt a connection to them.  It was definitely a nerve-wracking process still as you don’t want to say the wrong thing or do anything to have them change their minds and the whole time you’re worried they will.  The interesting thing we learned was one of the reasons they picked us was because we are in an open adoption with Jackson and they saw how happy he looked in our pictures.  They also liked that we travel.  We then drove back to Toronto Thursday night, Chris drove the babysitter across Toronto to her house and I finished packing.

Needless to say Florida was a much needed break and great to spend some last one-on-one time with Jackson before becoming a big brother but it was also a very nerve-wracking week.  Birth parents sign adoption consents 7 days after the baby is born and then have an additional 21 days to change their minds.  We were still in the early days with a long road ahead.

The Lows

This time the adoption waiting period was absolutely brutal.  I can’t imagine what the birth parents go through during this whole process and in our case some second thoughts on their end were happening.  Because of all the uncertainty and having Jackson at home, Zachary stayed in an extremely loving foster home in Ottawa until the waiting period was up.   We did get to go visit him and received email updates with pictures.

During this waiting period, our lowest low of our two adoptions happened.  We were going to see Zachary for a 2nd time when we were told it might be best to drive back to Toronto from Ottawa as things weren’t looking good.  Chris and I were devastated, especially as there had been a possibility we would bring Zachary home that day, had all our gear in the trunk and had told Jackson about ‘Baby Zack’ coming home so he’d be prepared (luckily he hadn’t come on any trips to Ottawa at this point).  We got into the car and started a somber drive home…….for about 20 minutes and then pumped the tunes and sang and danced (well I chair danced, Chris does air drums) and knew that if it’s meant to be, it will be.

Sure enough, after two more grueling weeks it was meant to be.  We drove to Ottawa the day the waiting period expired with our fingers and toes crossed that our phones would not ring with bad news and they didn’t (yippeeeeee!).  On Thursday, April 23rd, with Jackson, we went picked Zachary up and brought him home with us.

Having Zachary in our lives was worth every minute of the process and we couldn’t be more in love.  Jackson is the best big brother and we are so blessed to be lucky enough to have such two amazing boys so close in age.  Everything really does happen for a reason.

Advertisements

My Family

According to Webster’s dictionary, a family is a). a group of persons of common ancestry or b). a group of people who are related to each other. Most definitions of family include mention of ancestry and being blood related but not my family. My family isn’t one that the majority of people understand right away. My family description took my husband and I a while to understand when we first heard the concept. My family is my family and I love its uniqueness.

Let me describe my family. My family consists of my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, parents-in-law, nephews, grandparents, husband, son and lots of extended family who we see quite often and love spending time with. It also consists of my son’s birth mother and father. His birth grandparents, aunts and uncles, half-sisters and many more. My family is an open adoption family. My family consists of tons of people who love my son and who love and support Chris and I. We are so lucky. Blood doesn’t make a family strong; love does.

Let me give you an example of our open adoption family. Chris and I saw both of Jackson’s birth parents this weekend. Friday night we attended a fundraiser for the pregnancy crisis centre that his birth parents went to. Because of this centre, Chris and I became parents to the most amazing baby boy almost one year ago now. At our table was Jackson’s birth mom, papa, aunt, two great aunts and two of his birth mom’s friends. Each person we met gave Chris and I a huge hug. One aunt told us to call her ‘aunt’, right away welcoming us into her family. It was like any family dinner talking about Jackson, work, the drive up, etc. We were asked when we were coming up next so they can see us again and have a big gathering. When we left many hugs were given.

The next day we hung out with Jackson’s birth father. He invited us to his family reunion this summer wanting to give us lots of time so we can plan to be there and meet his whole family. Hugs were also exchanged.

I’d be lying if I said the whole situation is easy. It’s extremely emotional. You feel like eyes are always on you watching your every parenting move. You feel like eyes are on you watching how you’ll react to Jackson and his birth mom interacting. You feel like everyone in the room is watching to see if you truly get along like you say you do. But we do. This is our family.

GUEST POST: An Adoption Journey?

Journey?

Adoption Journey. That’s what our esteemed P.R.I.D.E leaders called the adventure that we were all about to embark on. A room full of attentive couples, wide-eyed and eager to begin their journey. Journey. It’s a gentle word, passive and quiet. It conjured up images of running through a peaceful meadow of wild flowers in bloom with my future child’s hand clasped in mine. It brought to mind playing in a gentle ocean surf with my future daughter, building sand castles fit for a princess. It painted pictures of laying in the tall grass on a hillside beside my future son, discovering all the elephants, ice cream cones and angels erupting in the cottony clouds above.

Yeah. Journey’s not the right word.

On Your Mark…

At the end of an intense P.R.I.D.E weekend, my husband and I skipped home, arms full of reading material, completed assignments, and the encouragement of our course leaders and fellow students. Our green P.R.I.D.E certificate was more than a check-marked necessity, it was the green light we’d been waiting for to embark on our very own adoption … you know.

The outset wasn’t bad. We signed up with an adoption practitioner in Toronto; a seasoned, no-frills veteran in the game who sits at a desk in a 200 square-foot room overcome with paperwork. We willingly opened up our past lives, our relationship, our medical records and our home to all the authorities whose job it was to deem us as suitable parents. We registered with four agencies in Ontario and got approval to register with agencies in the United States. Everything, and everyone, was working for us. Or so it seemed.

Get Set…

The agencies in Ontario were open and welcoming when it came to accepting our registration fee, charging us twice that for an hour consultation, and demanding that they needed five more profile books, in soft-cover, if you don’t mind.

The real trick was to get them to keep us posted, answer our emails and return our phone calls. Have we been presented to anyone? Has anyone expressed any interest in us? Have you given us a second thought since we signed that last cheque?

We decided to focus our attentions on the agency we had registered with in Miami, Florida. After looking at our profile, they decided to take us on, despite having limited space for Canadian couples. They spent an informative, two-hour consultation on the phone with us, and assured us that, if we were patient with them, finding us a newborn baby was only a matter of time. That was in July, 2013. On November 15th, we got a call.

Go!

We’d been chosen by a young woman in Panama City, Florida, to adopt her baby boy, due on the 6th of December. We arrived a week before the birth to meet her and spend some time getting to know each other. She was shy, but soon came out of her shell to show us a sweet, witty side that endeared her to us. She was happy for us, thrilled that she could make our dream come true, and vowed that she was firm in her decision, that the biological father wanted nothing to do with the baby, and that we would be heading home to Canada with a newborn son for Christmas.

The day finally arrived, a little early, on December 3rd, 2013. We were invited into the delivery room. My husband cut the umbilical cord. We settled into the hospital room right next to the birth mother to spend the required 48 hours post-birth time requirement until the papers were signed and the baby was discharged from the hospital into our wanting arms. We took the night shifts, more than willing to let our dream-maker sleep and recover. She visited with the baby during the day and seemed to be committed to the adoption plan.

We had the baby – and loved him with all our hearts – for about 45 hours. As we were packing our things and discussing what we would do our first night at the rented condo with our son, the director of adoption from the agency came in and told us the bad news.

False Start

Apparently, the birth father had taken a renewed interest in the baby, despite the fact that he could not be found for the previous six months.

He arrived with a support group for young, black fathers, all sporting red t-shirts and angry scowls.

We never saw the baby again and were completely devastated… and actually sad for this lost child. The last update we received was that children’s services swooped in and placed him in the foster care system, where he remains today.

Journey? Not quite.

Back to Your Marks…

As we packed up the truck and hit the long road home to Toronto, I started to think of all the amusement park rides I’ve ever been on that may lend a more appropriate title to what we had just been through.

The Zumba Flume log ride? No. Too slow, too peaceful, and only one sudden drop that only threatens to soak you through-and-through but never lives up to its promise.

The Ferris wheel? No. Too consistent, reaching heights that evoke nothing more than a few butterflies dancing gaily in your belly.

The Loop-to-Loop? Hmm. Getting closer. A wild roller coaster that whips you around at dangerous speeds, dangling you upside-down for eternal seconds, threatening to steal your pocket change and the Beaver Tail you just ate.

The Tilt-a-Whirl? Relentless. Nauseating. You’re trapped in a big strawberry or tea cup which spins individually in dizzying circles, while the base of the ride spins mercilessly around and around and around…

… yep. That’s it. The Adoption Tilt-a-Whirl; a sickening, cruel, spinning ride that leaves you with weak knees, indigestion and the overpowering desire to pull down the blinds, lay in bed and wait for it all to pass.

Ready… Set…

It’s a distant memory now, as I sit here, listening to my two-month old son sleeping, cooing like a pigeon until he starts to growl for one of his eight meals of the day, which should be soon.

The second call came on December 17th, 2013. We had been chosen by a young birth mother in Ft. Lauderdale, who wanted to see the profiles of couples who had been through a difficult – ahem — journey.

Quinn Isaac was born on January 16th, 2014. We arrived home in Toronto with our son mid-February and have spent the past few weeks introducing him to our family and friends. It is heart-warming to watch him being passed around from one set of loving arms to another, never complaining, happy to be enveloped by such a warm, welcoming village in which he’ll grow, learn and thrive.

So, here we are, at the beginning. The real beginning of our adoption journey.

GO!

Image

The dreaded transition to daycare

Mmmmmmm drinking a latte while it’s still hot. I guess that’s one thing I have to look forward to when I go back to work?!

I’m sitting in a Starbucks after just dropping my son off at a 2 hour daycare transition visit. I’m not going to lie, it was way harder than I could have ever imagined. I love my job and am looking forward to going back but man, I’m going to miss him like crazy! I know he’s in good hands but it’s still hard learning to trust others with your pride and joy.

Last night I couldn’t sleep and started reflecting on my last year. A year ago Chris and I were meeting potential birth parents hoping for a match not having a clue that in only a few months we would become parents. With 6 days notice we didn’t have much time to prepare or do research. Luckily we have awesome family and friends who were a big help and made the transition easy.

I had a major to do list (I’m obsessed with lists for those who don’t know me) of all the things I was going to due while off.  Last night I realized I barely did any of it and yet for once I don’t care. I have no regrets! In my 9 months off I met a great group of women who have babies around Jackson’s age whom I got to see at least weekly. We spent lots of time with family and friends. We traveled A Lot and have amazing memories.  We did fun things like Baby Aquafit and going to the Aquarium but most importantly we spent time together becoming our own little family (including Marvin of course).

I didn’t organize our filing or keep the house super tidy. I waited to join a gym until just recently. I wrote a lot less blog posts than I thought I would and I spent more money than planned. But I have no regrets. I did work on Jackson’s baby book and we made time for his birth family as I know those will be important to him when he’s older.

So I go back to work Friday and besides feeling sad to miss my days with little man, I know I had an amazing time off and I’ll just value our time we have together now more.  And as I keep being told, I’ll get to go the bathroom alone and I got to buy my son a ridiculously cute backpack and lunch bag ;).

Ready for daycare

Hang in there – your ‘HAPPY’ is coming! Staying strong during the holidays.

The holidays can be a really hard time for people trying to have a baby or adopt.  I know – I went through it for 4 years.  My dream had always been to announce Chris and I were pregnant at Christmas by people unwrapping a picture of our ultrasound or an ornament saying something about Baby’s First Christmas with the following year on it.  I’d also had the dream of telling Chris on Christmas Eve somehow (not wrapping the pregnancy test though as that would just gross him out lol).  I was one of those people who thought we’d get pregnant on the first shot and I could plan every step of the way – wait, that’s not how it works?!

I knew adoption could happen fast but if you’d told me at Christmas last year that I would be a mom in less than 4 months, I’m not sure I would have believed it.  I know everything happens for a reason and a lot of time I think our journey happened the way it did to throw a curve ball at me and teach me you really can’t plan everything. This is our first Christmas with Jackson and looking back at last Christmas, I can’t believe all of this happened in less than 1 year!  We are so lucky and blessed to have the most beautiful, amazing 8-month old son.

Have you ever had those moments in your life where all of a sudden it dawns on you how lucky or happy you are?  I’ve been happy since the day Jackson came into our lives but it was in August when it really hit me.  On August 26th, 2013 I was sitting on the lawn of the Molson Amphitheatre (Toronto) listening to my favourite band Mumford & Sons perform my favourite song ‘I Will Wait’ and in that moment I knew life was perfect and I was the happiest I’d been in a long time. I Will Wait was my theme song when I needed a pick me up during the adoption wait.  I still smile and dance every time I hear it.

To those of you waiting, I hope 2014 is your year and that you have a special song to get you through the tough days!

Image

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!