Thursday, March 29, 2012

Emma's 1st Bath

It seems both Barry and I are always comparing our experience with Owen and our current experience with Emma. It's like you forget that every baby is an individual with certain likes and dislikes. When Owen was Emma's age he hated baths. He didn't like to be naked either. Well, Emma loves both. Emma's umbilical cord finally fell off last week so we gave her a real bath.

I love the combination of her big belly with her chicken legs. She is still tiny though. We estimate she weighs 7 pounds which was Owen's birth weight.

New Pictures

A couple years ago we had our family pictures taken by Shalee, who is an adoption friend. We got to know Shalee and her husband back in 2006 when we were both waiting to adopt. She did such a wonderful job so we decided to have her come again and take Emma's newborn pictures and Owen's 5 year pictures. Both Owen and Emma did so well. I usually take Owen to JCPenney to get his picture taken each year. Each time I would hope for just one good picture since Owen would be uncooperative and at some point be in tears.

The pictures are posted on Shalee's blog. (they were not watermarked so I didn't feel right posting them here)

Emma looks so beautiful in her pictures. In the first picture she is in her Easter dress. The headband she is wearing is one I crocheted for her. The other picture she is in the dress that aunt Amanda got for her. I added the leg warmers and headband (love all the girl accessories). The last picture she looks so angelic!

I love the picture of Emma and Owen. I can finally say, "These are my kids!"

I must say Owen's picture is the best picture he has taken in 4 years! He looks so grown up and when I snuggle with him I still cannot get over how he seems so big!

Emma's Newborn Checkup

On the 12th, we took Emma for her newborn checkup with Dr. Edwards at the Pediatric Center. I can't say enough good things about Dr. Edwards. Before Dr. Edwards Owen hated going to the doctor and now when we mention about going to the doctor he always asks, "Dr. Edwards?"

Emma weighted in at 6 pounds 4 ounces. She gained a half pound in just 10 days! Since she had some time to finally stretch out, she measured an inch longer than the 18 inches she measured at birth. Dr. Edwards was so excited for us. He checked all her reflexes and pronounced her perfect. He took the time to make sure we were up to speed on baby care and even asked about Owen. He estimated she was 37 weeks at birth.

Meeting Emma

Over the past 3 weeks, many of in our family have been able to meet Emma. It's been a long time since there has been a new baby in either of our immediate and extended families so Emma has been spoiled with lots of love.

A Surprise Addition - Part 2

One thing I forgot to share in Part 1 of our story was how we came about choosing a name. On the way to Portland we started talking about names. We have had a list of our top choices for a long time now. Well, both Barry and I didn't feel like any of names on our list was the baby's name. When we talked to her birth grandmother we found out the birthmother's name. Barry thought it was simply beautiful and I thought so too but I was hung up on that her nickname would be the same name as one of Barry's cousins. I suggested the name "Emma" since it started with "Em" like her birthmother's name. Barry wasn't convinced and wanted to wait when we saw her to know for sure. Coincidentally enough I had been reading Jane Austen's "Emma" for my book club on the way there.

Back to Sunday morning...
We got to the hospital to find the caseworker there. Shortly afterwards, the birth parents arrived. They had been discharged Saturday night. I have such admiration and gratitude for them. Despite their own emotions, they both made us feel at ease. Placement is always a tender time for everyone. As an adoptive parent you feel excited and anxious yet sympathetic and grateful for the birthparents all at the same time. After hand shakes and hugs they lead us to the nursery to meet baby girl. My first thought when I saw her was how she was so tiny even more so than when Owen at birth. I loved her dark hair and big eyes. Her hair reminded me of Owen's dark hair before it fell out (by the way she is loosing her hair too). Her birthmother asked about her name and Barry quickly piped up and said it was Emma. He told me later that when he saw her he knew she was Emma. Her birth family really liked it.

The hospital gave us an empty room so we could have some privacy. Initially they said we would have to stay in the nursery to be with Emma but they quickly sorted that out. I have to say that the hospital was simply wonderful and very adoption friendly. The nurses, OB, and pediatrician were at completely at ease with the situation and so friendly and caring to all involved.

While we waited for the notary and the other witness to arrive, we got to know each other better. We all took turns holding her. They shared why they decided upon our family. Her birthfather identified with Barry growing up doing farm work. He also liked that Emma would have a big brother. He is a big brother to a little sister too. He apologized for being so emotional but it was so touching to know how much he loved her.

Emma's birthmother liked that we had good family that was close by. She liked that we had a house with a big yard for Emma to run and play and that we lived in a neighborhood with lots of other kids. I think Emma looks a lot like her especially her eye shape and her nose. Emma has a birthmark (her pediatrician said that her particular birthmark is a called a stork bite) on her nose just like her birthmother did when she was born. Though originally they wanted a closed adoption, we all agreed to an open adoption. So we have been texting, emailing and posting pictures.

Each state has different laws when it comes to parental rights can be relinquished. Owen was born in Idaho so his birthmother had to wait 48 hours after birth, relinquished in front of a judge, and upon her signing it was irrevocable. In Oregon, a birthparents can relinquish her parental rights anytime after birth. They can relinquish in front of a notary and two witnesses. Also, once signed it is irrevocable. Both her birthmother and birthfather signed. It was such a tender mercy that she was born in Oregon. We didn't have a couple days to worry if her birthparents would sign and once they did we were able to enjoy spending one-on-one time with her instead of worrying about her birthparents coming back and changing their minds. Her birthparents knew of our past and recent heartaches and they told us they couldn't have dreamed causing us to go through another heartache.

After everything was signed, we took Emma to the hotel and stayed until Monday. Since we had an interstate adoption, our adoption was subject to Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC). Basically we had to wait for both Oregon (the sending state) and Idaho (the receiving state) to clear us to leave Oregon and enter Idaho. Luckily Oregon and Idaho make up the Northwest Adoption Exchange so they have plenty of experience working with each other and they both work electronically. We then traveled up to Portland so we could be near the agency if they needed us to sign anything else. We stayed there until Wednesday when we got the clearance from Oregon. We drove all day until reaching Ontario, Oregon.

We had hoped we would have clearance from Idaho by that time but we didn't get clearance until Thursday. On the way home we took a couple pit stops to feed Emma and get her changed. We stopped in Meridian at my uncle's home and had a good visit with my aunt Tiffani. Then we stopped in Burley at Barry's aunt's home and visited with them. Emma was so good the whole way. Of course being a just a week old she just slept.

We rolled into Idaho Falls that evening. We were so glad to be home and to see Owen. He seemed so big too me after being with tiny Emma. For a second, I wondered who had taken my little boy and replaced him with this big one.  Owen held her and just loved her.  It was an especially special time for our family to be all together again.

That's Emma's story. Like Owen, she is our little miracle and not a day goes by that I don't thank her birth parents and Heavenly Father. I would be so ungrateful if I didn't acknowledge both of them in this story. From Emma's birth grandmother finding our profile to adopting from Oregon, it couldn't have been just luck. It was God in his mercy making everything align and having Emma's birthparents courageously make the right choice even when it was hard.  Truly it is by small and simple means that great things come to pass.  We look forward to be able to finalize Emma's adoption soon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Surprise Addition - Part 1

A little backstory...We have had a web site for our adoption profile up since we decided upon adoption  in 2005. After our first failed adoption, we started doing "finding" instead of "waiting" as suggested by many adoption agencies including LDS Family Services. We started doing advertising (in states where it was legal), networking, and outreach efforts. It was becoming too time consuming and emotionally draining. In November, we joined an adoption advertising service that did all that work for us. Since the service already screened contacts from their ads, we figured we would keep our web site up and let them screen the contacts from it as well. So, we put their toll free number as the sole way to contact us and also put up the new profile they had us do.

Saturday morning of March 3rd, I checked our web site statistics to see who visited. I noticed 3 visitors came to our web site. One of which is connected using an Internet connection from Oregon. We were all ready to go out the door at about 11:30. As I am about to walk out to the car, where Barry and Owen are waiting, I hear my cellphone ringing. I had forgotten it. I scramble to find it (Owen had been playing games on it earlier) but it stops ringing just as I find it. I look at the number who called and didn't recognize it as it wasn't a local number. I called the number back and it was our adoption advertiser Carol.

She tells me there is a baby girl born in Oregon, south of Portland, Friday night and her parents have chosen to place her for adoption. She had spoken with the baby's grandma that morning and the birthparents were looking at a few adoptive couples. I tell her that I had checked the visits to our personal web site that morning and there had been a visitor from Oregon and they had found our web site searching Google. Carol doesn't want us to get our hopes up, but wants us to stand by and prepare in just in case we are chosen. While I'm talking to Carol, Barry comes in and asks what's holding me up. I'm speechless so I hand Barry the phone.

An hour or two pass by and Carol calls back. We've been chosen! We pack a suite case for Owen and Barry calls his mom, who was driving from her work in Rexburg to home in Idaho Falls, if she could stop and get Owen after explaining what was happening. We quickly packed for ourselves and packed our car seat and bassinet as well. One thing, though small, that proves God's hand in our story is we didn't even have to worry about packing for the baby, because I never unpacked the baby's suitcase after coming home from our scam in December. We hop into the car and start the 12 hour drive to Portland.

We quickly call our local caseworker at LDS Family Services and tell him this time is for real. He calls the caseworker in Portland. This caseworker calls us to update that he has met with the birth family and has the paperwork done for placement tomorrow morning. We were able to talk to the birth grandma on the way too. She is such a great lady. We were really glad we were able to meet her. We also texted with the birth parents and we agreed to meet 9 AM. We got to there at 2 AM and stayed at one of the two hotels in the town.

It was a LONG day and LONG night!