And then there were four

Well, have I got a story for you! On Tess’ Gotcha Day, when her adoption was finalized (September 24), I got a phone call in the middle of my workday. An agency I’d spoken with once a year or so ago called to see if we’d be interested in adopting a healthy Haitian-American baby, unknown gender, due in April. My jaw hit the floor. First of all, no one calls you to see if you want a baby. You pay lots of money to an agency to find you a baby while you wait with insurmountable impatience. Second of all, Dave and I had only begun leisurely filling out the paperwork to find Tess a sibling – and we felt like we were going fast!

Without getting our hopes up too high, we said we’d love to be considered and sent them our adoptive family profile – which I’d happened to finalize the week prior. Usually when this happened with our agency, the birthmom picked someone else. But no! We got a call back saying she’d like to talk to us on the phone that day! Tuesday, we all chatted for 15 minutes or so and felt like it was a good fit. It seemed too easy; what if it was a scam?

I started (in the 2 seconds a day I wasn’t working or with my visiting in-laws!) frantically trolling the web for information on the agency. Nothing bad popped up. They’ve been doing this for decades, have an A+ rating with the BBB, and take really good care of their birthmoms. Still, I thought, too good to be true!

The agency owner is from Wisconsin originally and happened to be back in town visiting family. We demanded an interview; threw it out almost as a challenge. On Thursday we went to Starbucks, assuming we’d hate them. They were charming and answered all of our questions. Unbelievable! Dave and I were flummoxed.

How do you say no to perfect? When we decided to get married, it was totally on the fly. I felt like a little kid; I had to be Dave’s wife as soon as possible! It just felt that right. Then we were matched with Kat and Spencer, and despite all the excitement of Tess’ unusual birth, they were perfect for us, too. Suddenly, on the very day we’re celebrating Tess’ adoption finalization and official entry to our family, perfect comes to visit again! I don’t mean to sound trite, and I cringe even as I type, but how ridiculously blessed are we?!

I’m typing this up on the advice of my very sage in-laws, because I know I’m not ready to tell all of you yet. When we got matched for Tess, we exploded with excitement. Right now, it’s more tentative – a little flame of love just starting to catch. April is far away, and a lot could happen in the meantime. Still, this birthmom seemed really together and sweet. This decision of ours may bring heartbreak, but it could very well also bring the joy of a spring baby into our lives.

We’ve been so worried that our other kids would feel completely overshadowed by Tess’ miracle birth story. I think I believe this adoption will go through because it makes this birth story just as incredible. I’ll keep ya posted (in secret!).

We’ve only told a small circle that we’re adopting again. Just like biological parents (I’d imagine), people always have an opinion about when you add a child to the family. Unfortunately, with adoption, that’s compounded by people that feel they have the right to judge what child you choose to join your family.

I struggle mightily with this. No one would ever look at a pregnant woman and question the ‘quality’ of a child she was carrying. Yet we are often confronted about who our birth parents are, whether or not choosing that match was a good idea, and opinions as to whether or not people approve of our choices. Dave and I feel that good people find themselves in difficult circumstances. I’ve said before that our adoption joy comes from someone else’s loss: the loss of a theoretical future with their biological child. A birth mom/parent’s inability to give their baby the life they want that child to lead does not make them less perfect – in my book, it’s a huge act of selflessness that they live with for the rest of time. Judging them in their most difficult moment of decision is cruel. No one has the right to judge and criticize a child before they’re born.

The agencies we work with matched us to our birth parents with care based on a profile we spent months developing. Birth parents are people we relate to and that we respect. When you question our match, you disrespect the birth parents who choose us as parents, the agency with decades of experience that matched us, and our family – by assuming you know more about what makes us happy and complete.

As always with a post like this, I want to clarify that I am not referring to the kind, curious, supportive people who make up the bulk of our community. We love talking about adoption and the generous people who let us become our kid’s parents. We are happy to answer questions and help people understand this complex process from a more personal perspective. We’re simply asking that when you come across an adoptive family or talk to a birth mom who has chosen to share her story with you, that you consider the difficulty that brought all of these people to this place where something incredibly beautiful comes out of a lot of pain and loss. You may also want to think about moments in your history when you had to make difficult decisions, even though the circumstances may have been very unlike the one under discussion.

As someone very wise mentioned last night, we all make mistakes or find ourselves in challenging circumstances from time to time. What we should really judge is how well an individual proceeds from that moment. Turning adversity into a strength, using that clarity to learn from and move beyond – these are skills we value as a society, and progress we can all applaud. Everyone who chooses adoption has come to that point, where they decide that the baby’s needs come first. By the time we meet birth parents, they are already make tough decisions with grace. Please join us in respecting that, honoring that, and showing gratitude for their generosity of spirit.

We went to the symphony tonight, and spent the whole time whispering potential baby name combos to each other. It’s sinking in; baby on board! We’re so excited.

Dave says I have baby Tourette’s. I’ll look at him mid-other conversation and toss out a baby name, or ask whether he’s hoping for a boy or a girl. (For the record, we don’t have a preference.) We’ve decided not to share our news with anyone beyond our parents and a few friends for the moment, so the growing excitement about this child is something I can only blurt about to him.

Our first experience with the adoption process was just that: a series of firsts. This time around, despite a wait that’s twice as long as the one we should have had with Tess, we’re experiencing a quiet excitement. There’s an ever-present giddiness that underlies our daily routine. It’s being tempered by the “Do you think the birth mom will like us when we go visit? What if she changes her mind?” thoughts, but this match feels as snug and right as Tess’ did.

I think matching in adoption is like dating. This isn’t our first night out, but we’re as nervous and insecure as last time! Will she like us? We’re thinking about her all the time; is it mutual? Babycenter says our child is the size of an apple. Is he or she moving? Are there foods baby says yes or no to? What about mom? Does she need anything? The weeks feel like months and we’re dying to know more, but we also don’t want to inundate this poor birth mom with our zillions of questions.

It’s also getting harder to keep this great news to ourselves. We agreed to wait until we meet her before telling everyone, and at the time I was nonchalant. Sure we can wait that long – maybe even until the new year so we don’t stretch the question period out as long. Suddenly, November (when we go meet her) feels eons away. April, when the baby is due, feels equally around the corner and Rip Van Winkle years away. See what I mean? Dating!

I’m now in China obsessing about our kids. Yes, we already consider this child ours. I didn’t let myself feel that way about Tess during the pregnancy – didn’t dare count on everything going smoothly. For this child, I slid into gear as easily as flipping a lightswitch. I miss our daughter, but we’re at week 18 of pregnancy with our second. I want to call our birthmom and see how she’s doing, if she has any questions for us, and if we’re having a boy or a girl. We don’t care one way or the other, but I’m dying to know! Driving through the Beijing countryside trying out baby names in my head? Bizarrely awesome.

Aaaaaaand…I’m nervous. Our baby is 20 weeks old today, and Tess is 8 months. Suddenly I realized how invested we are in this adoption. I’ve been trying to keep it under wraps and under control, but we’re meeting this birthmom the week after Thanksgiving, and I’m nervous!

What if she doesn’t like us? What if she changes her mind? I’d hoped those fears had been laid to rest after our first adoption was such a dream, but here they are again, smirking from the dark little corners of my neurotic brain. The thing is, if this falls through, it falls through. There’s nothing we can do about it. We really like this birthmom, and we’re so excited about this baby – but shit happens. That consideration is ever-present, but seeing her in person and hopefully getting to know each other will make that easier. Oh, Florida trip, come soon!

In the last few days, we’ve had more contact with K, the birthmom. She’s shy, but sweet and smart. I like her a lot. And as Turkey Day swoops in, the butterflies in my stomach are multiplying. We’re going to meet her, and then we’re going to tell everyone, and then my heart might explode. I’ve been trying to force this to the back of my mind, to protect my heart at least a little, but that ship has sailed. A baby is coming! in a few short months, Tess will be the big kid in our house, which just boggles the mind. That knowledge informs how I look at her, and as she learns to sit up and hold her own bottle, as she expresses herself and sleeps through the night, I’m rooting for her to make progress so she’s a little more independent when our arms are full with a newborn. As she plays with toys she’s always ignored and chats to herself in the morning instead of shrieking for us, I realize that she is growing up. When baby 2 comes into our lives, Tess will seem so big to us. And all of that is me still trying to ignore my rising excitement about becoming a mom again. The sheer size of my love for Tess almost frightens me sometimes, so what will it be like for there to be two?! Dave and I still take turns putting Tess to bed so we both get to enjoy the late snuggles, for god’s sake!

All of that to say that I can see the huge turning point of making our news public, and I’m a little terrified. What if something goes wrong? What if this makes our bosses crazy? What if it makes us crazy? (Too late.) Most truthfully, what if my heart gets broken in such a public way, giving fodder to the few adoption critics we’ve fended off? None of it matters, I know. This is the joyful and terrifying process of becoming a parent, biologically or otherwise. So in a week, I’ll be sharing this giant post with all of you, finding out if we’re having a boy or a girl, and hugging K for the first time in Florida. Do you blame me for my fluttery stomach?

We met K yesterday. She’s everything we could have hoped: warm, cheerful and put-together, and she laughs with her whole self. She has one of the nicest smiles I’ve ever seen. We didn’t get to meet Kat and Spencer before the birth, even though we all wanted to – so this was a new experience.

Our current agency is way more hands-on than the first one, almost to the other extreme. K has a lot of people watching out for her, which we like a lot. Still, it meant the ultrasound room felt like a movie theater!

K is a master mom to a delightful little girl who’s almost 3. She’s a reader, outgoing and loved taking care of Tess. She really loved playing and coloring with Dave. We were calling her the little duckling; she followed him wherever he went all day!

Bonding with K as a mom has been interesting. She’s in her early 20s, but has an older child than us, so she’s in a position to give us advice! That produced an immediate platform for conversation, and yet is also bittersweet as we share this current motherhood. Watching the ultrasound felt invasive, even though K had no problem with us being there; but seeing our little boy (that’s right!) squirming and kicking, and hearing that strong heartbeat for ourselves was nothing short of awe-inspiring. They gave us the pictures and discs, which also felt wrong. I kept asking K if she would like them, but I think she is doing her best to maintain a tenuous emotional divide – so I can understand her reticence. Still, the tech even said how healthy and developed this kiddo looks, so she’s doing a great job of keeping that baby happy.

Every adoption is different. Still, we’ve done this before and therefore have expectations built on precedent. Kat and Spencer were so in this and so supportive of each other that they went through the flames of emotional connection, and wanted to connect with us – which was super easy because we share a lot of similar passions and come from big families. We also had a ton of time together. K is a more private person; she’s already a mom so she has her own expectations about pregnancy and motherhood. She knows what she’s doing, and this choice allows her to give both of these kids the life they deserve, but I think it’s harder for her to connect with us, as we’re a reminder of what’s coming and that we are just discovering our common interests. That may also be because it’s before the birth, but it makes my heart ache a little for her.

Still, at the end of the day we felt like a fragile bond had developed. We’re going to get together again before we leave, and she likes texting – so I see many chats in our future. We are so excited and nervous. It’s real now. We’ve seen her and spent time with her, and we’ve seen how incredible her daughter is, and are already dreaming about what this little boy will be like. The agency and we really feel like this is a strong match with a high likelihood of success, but unlike last time, we’re telling you earlier. So be gentle, world! We’re on pins and needles until April.






18 thoughts on “And then there were four

  1. OMG. I am sooooo excited. Maggey, as I read your thoughts from the last few months, I felt like I was right there with you, butterflies and all.. Each child is completely different and yet so much alike their siblings. Their differences are from nature, their similarities are nurture. You and Dave have so much love and value to share, your children are so blessed. You two will nurture them and provide them with every thing they need to be a blessing to all they come in contact with. I envy you the journey ahead. I am so glad I can share it with you as a grandparent.. Love you all. Gramma Rose

  2. Oh my gosh!!!!! Mark and I are beyond existed for you 🙂 🙂 🙂 We will keep good thought coming your way and anticipate great news in the coming weeks! WOW!!!

  3. WOW! We are SO excited for you guys! How awesome that Tess gets to be a big sister! She’s got no idea what’s coming! 😀

    How very awesome – so glad that you’re connecting so strongly with K, and how cool is it that you got to be there for the ultrasound! Just amazing.

  4. TEARS OF JOY!!!!
    SOOOO happy to read all of this! Very good advice getting you to write down the progress so that you could share it with us once you were able to!
    Miss you all like crazy and hope to see you soon!
    Big kiss!
    Jess xoxo

  5. I am so excited and so happy for you guys!!! I don’t see how people wouldn’t love you 😀

    As for the critics – menh!! Seriously? They aren’t you, haven’t had your life experiences,and don’t have to live in your shoes. You guys know what is best for you! The rest of your family will support you and love you all!

  6. Maggey and Dave,

    This is such exciting and happy news! This lucky little boy will be joining the most wonderful family. Hard to believe that Tess will be a big sister!

    Love, Susie and Dan

  7. Congrats! I’m so happy for you…you two are great parents. Looking forward to lots of pictures of the new baby when it arrives!

  8. Das F R E U T mich R I E S I G !!! Ich, als Einzelkind habe mir immer Geschwister gewünscht, und später wollte ich auf jedenfall 5 Kinder. Michaela ist die Älteste,…

    Wir wünschen euch A L L E N ganz viel Glück und vor allem Gesundheit !!!
    Ich freue mich so für Tess !!!

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