Introducing Leah!

So in the neverending unpredictability of our amazing life, we’d like to introduce our daughter, Leah.

When we became Griffin’s parents, our hearts exploded with happiness. But we still feel the ache of the twins we lost. I don’t know how to describe it – Griffin is our angel baby and we adore every hair on his head. And yet we knew there was another kid coming. We finally admitted that to each other about two weeks ago.

Then something crazy happened. I heard about a little girl, thought about it, shared it with Dave, and we both felt this might be our missing piece. We ran it by all agencies involved in our family’s adoptions, and they all weirdly agreed this would work well for us. We told Joy, assuming she’d be livid. She clapped. No one advised against it, even though it would be highly irregular. So we told this mom Amy we were interested, along with 11 other people.

We thought, why would she ever pick the family with a one-month old?

But she did. This mom in California chose us to adopt her 8-month old daughter. She picked us immediately for the same reasons that compelled us: a connection to Germany, languages and opera. And the joy of siblings! Despite knowing that Griffin just got here. The thing is, Griffin and Leah are only a little closer than Tess and Remy. We were ready to have another child when Leah was born; she just wasn’t ours. And Griffin is still the baby, which is obviously what he needs!

We told Joy, who exploded with laughter. As insane as this sounds, it feels right to all of us. Griffin has a sister close in age, who looks like him. Tess has the sister she’s been make-believing for nine months. Remy gets a new playmate and hug buddy. And we have another wonderful daughter to love and cover in pink! Although I suspect Tess will have that well in hand.

This new match wasn’t a typical domestic adoption, where we waited 3-6 months and to see if it happens. This is a mom saying, “I can’t parent anymore, even though I love my daughter madly.” This is us frantically building a new homestudy in days, then flying to California a week later to immediately meet a beautiful 8-month old girl and her loving mom. Adoption at lightning speed!

So we found out at 2 am Sunday June 28  that we’d been picked. We were amazed and elated. I submitted Griffin’s one-month follow up report (tons of photos coming, Bianca and Claudia!) and finished building a new homestudy. We got plane tickets and found someone to stay with our older kids for two weeks or so. Friends will back up the A-team with play dates and carpooling.

Leah’s adoption went through in ten days. Ten days from saying we were interested to parental right relinquishment and her placement with us. That sounds like no time at all, and yet I assure you, we have lived a lot of life this week and a half. The idea of leaving Milwaukee and our older children after just getting home was really hard to face. They need time with us and to get settled again. Still, we knew this was such a special match! We made the best decision ever – a decision of a lifetime. Amy is smart, loving, funny, and an excellent mom. We got to spend a few days with her, and were amazed at how easy it was to pass the children around and have great conversations about life and family. Even fishing! She’s curious; Dave’s delighted. Griffin took to her very easily, as easily as Leah took to us. Leah and David seem to have a special bond, which is beautiful to watch. The days after we met and before we signed everything felt almost like a honeymoon. The goal was to learn as much about each other as we can, to build trust, and to see how we all fit together moving forward.

In hopefully a week or so, we’ll come home. We can’t wait to see Tess and Remy’s faces as they welcome their little sister, the one they’ve been talking about for ages and make-believe lives here. They have been so incredible with Griffin. This will make them even more excited! We also can’t wait to introduce Tess and Remy to Leah, who we suspect will be thrilled by her new sister and brothers. She’s certainly fascinated by Griffin! Our crazy household will suddenly become even more amazingly unusual and wonderful than it already was.

This adoption is open, which we love (and all of the birthmoms asked about when we let them know what was happening!). After four adoptions, we could not be bigger fans of open. Adoption can be really intimidating on all sides. Paperwork, interstate legal issues, fear of disappointing each other – everything looms bigger when the person or people you’re most involved with are unknown. Leaping into the void and getting to spend time together makes me nervous every time, and then makes me delighted every time. Amy is smart, warm, curious, energetic and determined. We really like her, and look forward to getting to know her better in the future. We are so excited to bring a thoughtful, ambitious, and fun birth mom into our extended family! She’s in great company.

That said, Leah Lucile is superhealthy and sunshine incarnate! She’s eight months old and in 18 month old clothes. As mom said, we suspect she will tower over Tess. From day one, she seemed absolutely taken with people, new settings, and exploring her world. We fell in love with Leah on sight. She never cried when we took her in our arms, and she falls asleep when David sings to her and holds her. Adding her to the family is the most natural thing ever. She just feels like she’s been here forever. Amy said we need more of us, which was adorable! But Leah is one of us. Our kids may not be related to us by blood, but they sure act like it! Maybe that’s because both of our families embrace every family member’s interests and direction. There are so many of us, and we’re all interested in so many different things. It makes it easy to assimilate someone new. 🙂

Amy named her Leah, which suits her and is beautiful – and also David’s sister’s name! And her middle name, picked out years ago for our next girl, comes from my university voice teacher Lucile Evans. Lucile made me believe in myself when no one else could. She’s strong, funny, welcoming, brilliant, and cooks like an angel. I can’t imagine a better namesake for this sweetheart than that dame I adore still with all my heart, even if we don’t see each other!

I can’t communicate the unbounded, peaceful joy in our hearts as we revel in becoming Leah’s family today. Yes, she and Griffin are very close in age. Yes, we and Joy will be very busy for the next year. (Yes, we told her about this entire process and made sure it was OK first!) Our kids will go through their phases together. Right now, they’re all in diapers and love ride on toys. Soon, they’ll get more into Legos and Disney. After that, it will be all about bikes. We love that our kids will share the obsessions of different ages. Tess and Remy love playing together because they want to play the same things. Griffin and Leah will hopefully be the same.

Even if they aren’t, because kids never seem to be what we expect them to be, we have the most beautiful family in the world and we feel incredibly lucky. Thank you Amy! For choosing us, for getting to know us, and for trusting us to be Leah’s parents. We look forward to a lifetime of funny pictures and great conversations about this little person we all adore.

And for Dave and I, another amazing adventure is starting. As we always say,

We’re never boring!


Therapy graduation

Tess got called last week for her 30-month checkup. After freaking out over the fact that she’s that old, I wondered how she’s been doing without therapy. She was assessed by the physical therapist, the occupational therapist, and a new speech pathologist (who apparently thinks bilingual children are “confused” ?!) Tess rocked their worlds. From climbing on the spinning stool without flying off, building a tower of 9 blocks, and rolling in the barrel to following English instructions fabulously and having extensive conversations in French, she passed with flying colors. Our intervention was a total success!

As we walked home hand in hand talking about cars and colors, I was downright bursting with pride. This kid’s NICU stories still make doctors gasp a little – at least the younger ones – yet she’s actually ahead of her age group in verbal skills, and is right on track with motor! This little blonde is a force to be reckoned with. 🙂

The following week, we started playschool. Tess seems to really enjoy it and is making friends with lots of kids. She does always end up in the middle of the circle during storytime and songs, but no one seems to mind. It’s fun to see her in the school environment. We’ve now gone from therapy graduation to our first school experience. What will come next week?