Friday, July 30, 2010

Things I should have told you... and tears.

Things I should have told you:

Dumb me forgot to tell you some very important details about the adoption that may help you understand the process a bit more as you go through it yourself.

First: The ICPC actually went a lot quicker than we expected. We were told it could take up to 14 business days... that's 3 weeks people... Fortunately, our lawyer informed us that it was also possible that it could go a lot quicker. I guess it really depends on how quickly your lawyer puts together the paperwork and how quickly each state is at contacting each other.

You may remember that we were staying at a week-by-week hotel. It was much cheaper than paying for a hotel nightly. This leads me to my suggestion for you: ONLY BOOK ONE WEEK AT A TIME! We booked for two weeks and ended up only staying in that SC for nine days. Now, we did only book one week at first. But, our lawyer got her days mixed up and thought Thursday was Friday. So, on Thursday she told us she wouldn't get the paperwork until Monday and that we could leave on Tuesday morning. So, we went ahead and booked another week, because it was still cheaper than paying for five days at a nightly hotel. Then, right after paying for the next week, she calls us and tells us that she thought today was Friday and she will actually have the paperwork tomorrow (Friday) and that we could leave tomorrow night if we wanted. While this was great news because we wanted to go home, we had also just shelled out a fistful of money for an extra week! We ended up staying until Saturday morning and then coming home. So, keep in close contact with your attorney. They will let you know how the process is going and give you estimates. If you book two or three weeks, in advance, then you might end up paying for days you don't need.

The ICPC process was easy. It was mostly waiting. They started the paperwork the day the relinquishments were signed. It involved faxing us some materials at the hotel, which we had to sign and send back, and then a lot of lawyer to state office, state office to state office, state office to lawyer work. (Confused yet?) :)

We used these nine days to get to know our daughter on our own. I hated being away from home, and really wanted to be sleeping in my own bed, rocking my daughter in my own recliner, watching my own TV, using my own DVR, visiting with our families, and petting my sweet cats (who I missed terribly). However, it was much needed time with our baby. We were able to bond with her, without anyone else around. While it would have been nice to have family helping us out, it was good to just be US. We got used to her cries, her feeding schedule, her need for being held. We spent the time loving her and dedicating ALL of our attention to her - not work or lesson planning, etc. ICPC time actually turned out to be very valuable time to us.

Second: Every state has different birthfather laws, relinquishment laws, and revocation periods. So, your experience may differ from ours, but I figured I would share it so you could have something to compare it to.

In SC, the birthmother goes to a hearing BEFORE the baby is born to determine that there is no coercion taking place. Here, she tells the judge who she's chosen, why she's chosen them, and why she's chosen to pursue adoption. This allows the judge to see that she is making the decision on her own, that there is no "baby buying" taking place, and that she is in the right frame of mind. Some states have this hearing after the baby is born. A had her hearing in June. It went well. Our lawyer got the chance to meet her and talk to her.

After the baby is born, most states require that birthmothers wait 24-72 hours (some states even require weeks) before relinquishments can be signed. In SC, the relinquishments can be signed any time after the baby is born, as long as the birthmother has been off pain medication for a total of four hours. In our case, A had a C-Section. She wanted to rest for a day, and we wanted her to rest for as long as she needed. The lawyers were trying to pressure her into signing the papers the same day the baby was born, but we all wanted them to wait until Saturday or Sunday. Honestly, Nick and I figured that they wouldn't be signed until Monday. I know that if I had just had surgery, I'd want pain meds for as long as I could. (I'm a bit of a wimp).

A signed the papers Saturday morning, not even 24 hours after the baby was born. We were thankful and surprised for such a quick process. In SC there is no revocation period.

In our situation, the birthfather was not named. SC is different from most states, in that the birthmother does not have to release ANY information about the birthfather if she so chooses. A chose not to release his name or identifying information, though we did know his age and race. The way SC handles terminating birthfather rights in such a situation is through advertising. They will run an ad in the paper once a week for three weeks. After that, they must wait 30 days. If no one comes forward, they will terminate the birthfather's rights. Since they have no name, it appears in the paper as a John Doe letter. A's name will not appear in the ad.

Third: Finalization! We will finalize in SC, where the adoption took place. Some states require 3-6 months for finalization, and I believe some are even quicker. In SC, finalization can take place 90 days (3 months) after the initial placement. They need this time to file paperwork with the court, get the birthfather's rights terminated, and have post placement visits. In our case, the post placement visits will be done by the social worker who did our homestudy. Our state requires 6 post placement visits (once a month). That means if we were finalizing here, we would have to wait 6 months for finalization (and probably longer). SC only requires one post placement visit. So, our SW is going to send along her first report to the lawyer, but she still wants to complete her 6 visits. So, we'll still be having post placement visits even after we've finalized. It's very strange to deal with two different states at one time because neither state knows the other state's rules and things like this end up happening. But, we are happy to oblige. We don't mind visits, and it won't change our ability to finalize in three months.


And Tears...

I broke down today. I am working like a dog lately. I have four jobs total. I teach at two different universities, I work as a tutor online, and I am a realtor. Currently, I'm not teaching since it's summer, so I'm only working two jobs right now. But they're kicking my butt. I have been away from the house so much this week - and I hate it. Today, I left the house at 12pm and won't get to go home until 8 or 9pm tonight. (I'm at work right now, answering phones at the office). It's been like this every day this week. What am I going to do when school starts back up????!!!!??? I HATE being away from my Mimi so much.

I didn't think it would be this bad. I knew that I'd be away, but I also knew that when I'm gone she'll be with her Daddy. But I can't stand it. I want to see her chubby cheeks. I want to feed her. I want to change her poopy diaper. I want to sniff her baby feet. I cried and cried before I left for work today. I miss her terribly.

When school starts, I'll be working every day of the week. I don't know how I'm going to do it. I wish I could be a stay at home mom.

Unfortunately, it's just not possible. :(

Monday, July 26, 2010

Peace and Quiet...

Yeah right. :)

M. is a peaceful baby, as long as she is being held. She doesn't like to lay in her bassinet or crib. But, it is easy to calm her. She likes to have her hands held. So, if she gets fussy, we just hold her hands and talk to her and she calms right down.

Of course, I could hold her all day long. This probably doesn't help her get used to sleeping in her crib. But she's just so doggone cute. I could stare at her forever.

I read in a book that babies her age are awake 1 in 10 hours of every day. This means she should only be awake for 2.5 hours a day. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!! She is awake much more than this. In fact, a lot of people have commented on her level of alertness. She is awake for hours on end, especially at night.

She's had a few good nights where she'll sleep for six hours straight. But it seems that the majority of the time, she's just not tired at night. Sometimes she'll fuss and scream. Othertimes, she'll lay peacefully, but WIDE eyed and awake.

I have to say, although I'm definitely sleep deprived -- I love every minute of it. I am happy to wake up to a screaming baby. I know that it will get frustrating in time, but for now... I'm just in Heaven!

We've discovered a lot about her in these short two weeks.

She likes:
-Her boppy pillow
-Being held
-The rocker recliner
-Feeding time
-Holding hands
-Her womb sounds bear
-Being burped sitting up on our laps

She dislikes:
-Having her diaper changed
-Laying alone in her bassinet
-Having her back rubbed


Her little face turns SO red and she screams so loud that she starts to sound like static. She never screams so severely at any other time. Here's a picture of her post-bath. She's starting to calm down in this picture:

I'm hoping that once we're allowed to tub bathe her that this will change. Time will tell.

Usually though, she's so peaceful and happy. And that puts a smile on both our faces.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The big day...

Friday was the big day. And guess what... I was SICK!!!! I woke up Thursday with a sore throat and stuffy nose and thought, "Great... If I get any worse, I'm not going to get to see the baby." But, we packed our belongings and started the 8 hour drive to our destination. About an hour into the trip, drugged up with a.lka-s.eltzer plus, I started to feel better. I wasn't sure if it was the medicine or if I was just healing, but I was happy.

There is a cheap-o extended stay hotel about 16 miles from the hospital. Since we have to stay in town for about two weeks, and this place charges by the week, it was a good fit. Let me tell you... you get what you pay for. The bed is a thin little mattress sitting on a piece of wood. The air conditioner is inconsistent. And, it's very small. But, it has a little kitchen, and it works for our budget.

That night, we had dinner with A. She was in really good spirits and suggested her favorite seafood restaurant. Dinner was so good. While there, we decided to give A the present that we bought for her. It was a heart necklace that was half rubies and half crystals, with a tiny gold heart linked to it. I told her that half the heart represented her, half represented me, and the little heart is the baby. She was very gracious and put it on right then and there. Conversation flowed nicely, and we even openly talked about the adoption a little bit. We talked about the fact that she's worried about explaining it to her son, who is four. He knows there's a baby, but he doesn't know about the adoption yet. She doesn't know how to explain it to him. I don't envy her position. It must be very difficult to try to make a child so young understand how and why adoption happens.

After dinner, we all headed home for a good night's sleep. Well, we hoped for a good night's sleep. I woke up at 3:30am sicker than I'd felt the night before. I managed to get back to sleep, but woke up again at 5:30am even sicker. My nose was stuffy and runny. My head hurt. My throat hurt. I had a horrible cough. Keep in mind... This was the big day. THE day. The day that our little girl was going to enter this world. And of all the possible times for me to get sick... this is when it happens! I took my medicine every three and a half hours, and used nose spray to battle the congestion. Surprisingly, it worked fairly well, and I made it through the day without any real trouble. So, we headed to the hospital early in the morning. A had to be there at 7am, and we arrived at 9am. The surgery was scheduled for 11:30am. We were all extremely nervous. A's mom, grandma, and dear friend were all present. Conversation flowed from the moment we got there until the moment A went into surgery. Her grandma is so sweet! She reminds me a lot of my grandma. They were all very supportive, and really helpful to A at this difficult time.

Even though we were all getting along great and smiling and laughing, everyone was scared for A. At her last c-section there were lots and lots of difficulties, resulting in five surgeries, a skin graft, a horrible infection, blood transfusions, and a blood clot in her lung. There were five specialists working with her this time, and that alone made us realize the seriousness of the situation. We were praying that everything would go smoothly and she wouldn't experience any of the trauma that happened last time.

At 11:30am, the nurses wheeled A away and we said our "good lucks" and headed to the waiting room. Her mom was with her for the surgery, so me, nick, the grandma, and friend all had to wait. 11:45 rolled around... no news. 12:00... no news. 12:15... no news. We were getting a little worried at this point. We know that c-sections don't typically take very long, and since it had almost been an hour, we were starting to worry that something bad happened during surgery. At 12:30pm, a nurse came into the waiting room and called for me and nick. OMG! THIS IS IT! We rushed to the hallway to follow the nurse to the nursery, but there in the hall stood A's mom with the baby. She handed her over to us, and we all walked to the nursery together. The baby is perfect! And, to top it off, A's surgery went well; there were no complications. She was headed to recovery soon.

The nurses tagged us with bracelets. Only Nick and I could go back into the nursery. Everyone else had to go to the window. We had to hand her over right away, to be warmed, washed, rewarmed, and fed. There is one nurse in the nursery who is not very nice. She made it very clear that she preferred that we leave. She didn't want us present while she was doing what she needed to do. But, we just wanted to be with our baby. We decided to go ahead and leave and come back when everything was complete. We used this time to call our family members and let them know the baby arrived safe and sound. She weighed 6lbs. 14oz. and is 19 inches long.

We headed back up to the nursery, just in time to watch the bath through the window. Then, we headed down to visit A. She was doing well, and not in too much pain. Our day consisted of going back and forth between A's room and the nursery, where we eventually got to hold and rock the baby. All of the other nurses at the nursery have been great. They're supportive of the adoption and happy for us.

Finally, we called it a night. The lawyer called us, on the way home, and let us know that the relinquishments would be signed the next day (July 10), and told us what to do. Feeling confident and relieved, we went to bed early.

I woke up several times throughout the night, but thankfully I felt much better. My cold has gone away about 85%. We headed back to the hospital and met with the lawyer. She told us to go say goodmorning to our daughter, which we happily did. We were just in time for a feeding, and just in time to learn that she doesn't like to eat. DOES'NT LIKE TO EAT!!!! Who doesn't like to eat??? She will just let the bottle sit in her mouth. She refuses to suck. The nurses have been able to gently force feed her. We're told this is normal. She might have swallowed too much amniotic fluid. So, after a feeding battle, we headed back to the lawyer. She was great. She put our minds at ease, while still telling us about all of the things that could go wrong. She educated us about the adoption proceedings, what would happen next, etc. After about half an hour to an hour, A's attorney appeared, smiling. The papers had been signed! We are officially legal guardians. :)

We said goodbye to our lawyers and then ran to A's room to give her a great big hug. She did not see the baby after birth, and preferred not to have any time at all with her. But, she did take a little stroll to the nursery window after signing the papers to have a peek. She was in as good of spirits as one could be in such a circumstance. We talked for awhile, met more of her family, and enjoyed each other's company.

Again, our day was spent going back and forth a few times, and now we're home for a bit. We're thinking of going back to the hospital to visit the baby here in a little bit. Tomorrow, she will be discharged, and we get to bring her home (to the hotel).

Now, we just wait for the ICPC to clear so we can officially go home!



Baby Miriam
Her name means "longed for child."