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Monday, April 19, 2010

Our Adoption Story - Placement Day

I woke up very early that last Monday morning in December. I knew it was too early; I knew I needed my extra sleep for the long day ahead. I tried unsuccessfully to slip back into dreamland and instead laid there reflecting on how the morning of August 23, 2002 started out much the same way. That was the day Marc and I joined our lives together, which started off with a very early morning awakening. Excitement and nerves running through my veins. I loved the feeling of reliving those emotions, this time for Marc and I to join our lives with a very special little boy.

Our morning routine was a little on the hectic side - taking showers, getting the (makeshift) diaper bag ready, putting together a gift basket for Tracey, grabbing a bag of snacks for the hours we'd spend in the car, and getting some breakfast fuel to start things off right. As if the placement itself wasn't enough excitement for our day ahead, I also had a doctor's appointment for baby #2. It was my 20-week (and 1-day) appointment.

Interesting side note: way back in September when I found out I was unexpectedly expecting, I marked the weeks of pregnancy on a calendar. I automatically pegged December 28th as a date that would possibly bring with it some very bitter-sweet feelings. That would be the precise point in my pregnancy that we lost our twins the last time around. For that day to come with its possibilities of mourning the loss of our girls, and instead to be the actual day that we would bring a little boy home with us to fill some of the emptiness in our hearts... well, I just don't have words. Coincidence? Maybe. I like to call it mercy. Surely a gift from God, with perhaps some help from our two little angels.

My appointment went well. Baby boy's heart beat was strong and all other signs pointed to us charting new territory along this pregnancy journey, getting further along than ever before. I was amazed by how much movement I felt from him the entire day... almost as if he was fully aware of what was going on and just as excited for the arrival of his big brother.

We made the rest of the drive down to the agency. I clung to my phone the entire drive, anticipating a call at any moment from Tracey or the case worker facilitating the placement, letting us know the actual time they wanted us at the agency. We had been told that placement could happen any time between noon and 4pm. Rather than risk being even a minute late, we got down there as early as possible, and figured we would just wait for the call while wasting a little time close by.

We had lunch at Rubio's. My hands were shaking and I'm pretty sure my nerves made me eat much faster than I should have. At one point my phone rang mid-bite and my heart raced... until I realized it wasn't a call related to our adoption. I decided not to answer, partly because I still needed to catch my breath and partly because I was afraid of missing the call we were waiting for.

After lunch, we made our way to a nearby shopping center where there is both a Target and a Babys R Us. I don't remember now what additional items we were looking for, but we stocked up on a few more things that would come in handy. Walking the aisles of baby products this time felt so different. I felt safe to be excited. My guard was down and I imagined using the diapers and feeding with the bottles... the reality of having a baby felt so tangible... finally. I swear I could smell that new baby smell and could feel the smooth skin that only newborns have.

Just as we were getting in the car to leave the shopping center, we got the phone call. We were to be at the agency in the next 45 minutes. We were only maybe ten minutes from the agency, so we wasted a bit more time filling our gas tank, washing the windows, and throwing out the random receipt or other stray piece of trash from the little pockets in the car. Somehow the time passed rather quickly and soon we were on the road, leading to the agency.

We arrived. I was feeling such a wide range of emotions. Some were my own. Some were what I imagined Tracey to be feeling. I couldn't allow myself to get swept away in the joy of the moment, knowing there would be some aching on the other side. I felt more confused in my emotions than ever before.

We were led back to one of the larger rooms in the agency, where Tracey was waiting for us with her mom and her daughter, and her little son. We hugged. Almost immediately she placed Benjamin in my arms. I was overwhelmed with love... for him and for her. I couldn't believe how perfect he was. So small, so new, so fresh from heaven. He naturally cuddled into my chest and let me love him. It is a moment I won't ever forget.

We exchanged some gifts, received some instructions about his feedings and schedule, and took a few photos. And, before I knew what was happening, Tracey was hugging me and walking out the door. Without any warning, the emotions of the day that had been building suddenly released and I was sobbing. Uncontrollably. She looked back as she got to the door, but turned and kept on going. I wanted to run after her. I wanted to make sure she knew how grateful we were. I wanted to tell her how much her choice was changing our life. I was so afraid that I hadn't adequately expressed our love, our gratitude. I wanted to run to her, but I didn't want my tears to make it harder for her... or for her mom... or for her daughter. Walking away as she did must have already been hard enough.

It all just felt so unfair. Here we were leaving our burdens of pain and heartache at the entrance of the agency. Holding my little Benjamin made all the years of heartache and all the tears of sorrow melt away. Immediate joy filled the space that for so long knew only pain. And, on the other side, here was Tracey exiting out the same door, but with new burdens waiting to leap on her back. I felt guilty. I felt a bit responsible. How could I feel okay with feeling such joy, knowing there was pain and heartache being felt on the other side?

That was the struggle I felt in the immediate days that followed placement (and still do a bit today). My tears of joy were equally mixed with tears for Tracey, not knowing for sure what she was feeling and how she was handling all the postpartum emotions. The aching for her and the rejoicing for our little bundle of joy were totally intertwined with each other. Inseparable. The more joy I felt, the more I was reminded of the selfless sacrifice that brought Ben to us.

So, back at the agency I tried to take some deep breaths to calm my emotions. I held onto Benjamin so tightly, hardly able to believe that he really was going home with us. We finished up our part of the paperwork and within maybe five minutes we were out at the car getting Ben buckled into his car seat.

I jumped in the back seat with him, while Marc drove us the three hours back home. Ben fussed a bit at first, but almost immediately fell asleep. I offered him my finger and he held onto it the entire ride home. I had a hand-holding boy! Oh, the joy! At different points along the drive, I had Marc turn on the overhead light, just so that I could admire the beauty of our little baby. I was overwhelmed and so in love. We had found our little boy. Or, more accurately, Tracey had found us... and she made us a family. The wait was finally over.

When we were about half way home Marc made an observation that I agreed with wholeheartedly. He said, "You know, for some the arrival of a baby feels like a bit of a burden... but, having Benjamin with us actually feels like a huge burden has been lifted."

Perfect, simple declaration of how we both felt.

And, in the almost four months we've now spent with him in our family, we continue to feel that way. It has felt like he has always been a part of our family. He has slipped perfectly into his place in our hearts and in our family. There is no joy greater than what we have experienced as being his parents.

People sometimes tell us how lucky Benjamin is. The truth is WE are the lucky ones. To have been blessed with such a priceless gift of a son, through the compassion and selflessness of such an amazing birth mother. It is a blessing that will continue to bring an abundance of love and pure joy to our lives.


Allred Mom said...

Very sweet and wonderful post once again, Megan! The love that you have and share is so abundant. Thanks for sharing such tender moments with us.
You are such a special person, and Marc, too and I'm so happy for the joy that you feel having Ben and the joy I know he feels having you both as his parents! He is such a sweet baby boy, with the cutest smile! Thank you for letting me visit today and to get to hold him, too! I know, I disrupted his nap! I'm so sorry about that!

Liz said...

What a wonderful day for your growing family! I'm so glad everything went like it did and hearing the heartbeat must've been pure joy.
I hope all is well with you and yours. I think about you a lot and am so happy for you!!
Thanks for sharing these precious moments...

Mandi said...

Reading this part of your story (even though I was lucky enough to be with you during that time) I am reminded again of what a little miracle Benjamin is! You made me cry (again)! I am so happy for all of you! I love you!

The Wright Family said...

We are so happy for you! I hope you are feeling well. About a month to go? You are so deserving to receive these two baby boys.

Miss J said...

Love that you said your burden was lifted with Benjamin. That is exactly how we/I feel...that hopefully someday our burden will be lifted too.
He is adorable and I love your adoption story...which is the exact opposite of how ours was working out...which once again, just shows me it was not the right situation for us. Everyone seems so mature!
Thanks for continuing to share your story and showing me that it can and hopefully will happen one day.

Courtney Lee said...

You make me cry with joy for you! He is such a sweet boy and he IS lucky he has you two for parents. I am so glad that you have finally started your family! Lots and love and prayers come from the Lee's!

Jolie said...

I loved reading this post. I admire your ability to put into words the complicated emotions and feelings that come with adoption. I could relate to everything you described and felt like you were describing my own feelings, too. Thanks for sharing your expereience.

Jeff and Lisa said...

I love reading your amazing story! I find myself eager to keep reading as if I'm reading one of my books I have my nose stuck in constantly. Hugs!

Trent and Amber said...

Love it! I check for new posts all the time, I love reading about ben and your sweet family. Can't wait for the posts about life as a family of 4! Love you! :)

mindyluwho said...

What a beautiful narration, I almost felt like I was there and I cried right along with you.

Inkling said...

This was an amazing post, and my heart is full for each precious person listed in it. Beautiful.

candice said...

You are amazing; thank you so much for sharing such sacred tender moments with us.

Mom of a mommy said...

I really needed to hear what you had felt for the teen daughter just placed my grandbaby a few day ago and it has been so hard...I have not seen alot on blogs about what the feelings for the birthmom is...mostly just about the baby (which I do not blame babies)thank you in helping me heal.