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Our Adoption Story

1 year, 6 months, 26 days - From the day Carly was born to the day we finalized the adoption

$2000 - the amount of the homestudy and placement fee (a mere pittance compared to the normal cost of adoption. Had Carly not been a "special needs" case it would have been $4000 - still a bargain in the adoption world)

2880 - the number of diapers we changed from day 1 to gotcha day assuming she made 5 dirty diapers a day

4lbs 12 oz - Carly's weight when she came home from the hospital

6 years, 11 months, 24 days - From the day Josh was born to the day Carly was born

8 zillion - A rough estimate of the tears shed because we couldn't have a baby

8 zillion and 1 - A rough estimate of the tears shed because Carly came to us

1152 - Hours of sleep lost (assuming an average of 2 per day) from Carly's birth to gotcha day assuming 2 sleepless hours per day.....I would estimate this number is actually much higher

These numbers mean nothing, and at the same time everything. They take something with no physical form and make it a quantity that we can file away. The journey through adoption was much more than words can describe, a twisting turning descent into despair and a rise from ashes to joy.
Josh is biological....that is the answer to our most common question. Anyone that knows us can see that Josh is obviously white and Carly is obviously black. Anyone that takes a moment to study faces can see that Josh has some definate traits from my side of the family - round rosy cheeks, full lips, the "Jones" nose. (Growing up it was a big deal to look like a Jones - my paternal grandmother's side of the family). He also has some features that are distinctly inherited from Eric - long lashes, chocolate brown eyes and heavy eyebrows. He physically belongs and fits with us.
Josh's pregnancy was not easy. I got pregnant easily and quickly and promptly got very sick. The kind of sick where you can't get out of bed and the sight, sound and smell of food all send you running for the bathroom. Six months of not eating and lots of sleeping. I never felt like I looked pregnant but once I was up and around again, I certainly waddled just as all pregnant women do. I saw a picture at my brother's house of my swollen belly and I was definately looking pregnant. I didn't let Eric take many pictures of me during that time.
Josh's birth was more difficult than the pregnancy. I went into the hospital for a stress test and was having mild contractions throughout. I was sent home with the instructions to return if they continued or picked up in frequency. I went home and took and nap. Later that night, the contractions about 5 minutes apart, we headed to the hospital.
I was given medicaton to progress my labor and intensify my contractions. This was not happy medicine. Thankfully around 2 am I made friends with demorall. My labor was very intense and the break it afforded was short. I asked for and got an epidural. It did nothing. I pushed for a long time, a couple hours as I recall. Nothing. Josh was stuck.
The doctor was getting nervous about his heart rate and decided to use a vaccuum - something I honestly knew nothing about. It took more than one try but finally he was didn't help calm the new mother when the doctor said "that was close". Josh was whisked away to the nursery to get some iv fluids and warm him up but after the ordeal he was perfect and pink and wrinkled.

Offered a glimpse of newly born Josh, a concerned Uncle Scott asked
"His head won't stay like that will it?"

After Josh's birth the nurse said to me, oh so sweetly, "don't worry, the next one will be easier." My reply was "That is what adoption is for."
Talk about eating your words.
Josh was a happy healthy baby and child. It wasn't until he was 3 or so that we really started thinking about more kids. From the time I got pregnat onward, we never used birth control.
More years passed, I never got pregnant although there were times when my crazy body tricked me into hoping I was. Each time was a disappointment. Each time my heart was crushed. Each time I wondered why I couldn't be like a normal woman and conceive. For me, infertility was a constant reminder of how imperfect I am. An in your face look at my flaws and shortcomings. How could I be a good wife and mother if I couldn't give my husband more children. The ups and downs of hope and despair peppered those swiftly passing years.
Eventually, we began to settle on the idea of exploring adoption. Our initial fear was that the cost would be too great for our budget and that the strict observation of every aspect of our lives would rule us out. Flaws, how they haunt you.
Fortunately, we know a few people that have adopted through LDSFS and other agencies. One couple in particular in our ward here in Michigan had adopted 2 children already. One day at church Eric went out into the hall to use the restroom and get a drink. He saw the mother of this family in the hall and got the impression he should talk to her. He shook it off. But again he was impressed that he needed to talk to her and he turned around and went back. She happily shared with him that adoption costs through LDSFS were minimal (compared to most agencies) and that qualifying for adoption wasn't so bad as we might think. Not fun, but not unreasonably hard. The real miracle - and yes I'd call it a miracle - is that at the exact moment that Eric was talking to this woman, I was in the chapel praying and wondering just what was wrong with me. Asking again for a baby to come to us, because we knew our family was incomplete. It came to me then, a sweet comfort and reassurance. It came to me that I was not being punished, I was in fact being protected. I knew surely that - for whatever reason - my body could not endure another pregnancy at this time and that my Heavenly Father had protected me from the danger another pregnancy could pose.
You might choose to believe that this is mere coincidence...but I know, without a doubt, that these two events happened at the same time for a purpose. The path to adoption was laid out before us.
We began the process with optimism...indeed from paperwork to approval our biggest concern was the $1000 fee associated with the homestudy. Our worker was friendly and enthusiastic. We wanted a boy, somewhere around 3, to fit in with Josh. A playmate around the age he would have been had he come to us naturally in the time we felt was right. We began searching websites - there are state run websites with older available foster children. These sites are heartbreaking to say the least. Most of these children come from severly broken homes or have disablities that make their care a full time, heart wringing job. We found a few cantidates. One boy in particular was named Skylar and planted himself in my heart. But, our homestudy was not complete and being a pretty normal 3 year old with beautiful blue eyes, Skylar was swept away to a home before we could even express our interest in him. Our agency worker was transferred suddenly out of state and a new worker assigned as the agency director. At a quarterly adoption conference - a required meeting for all prospective adoptive couples in our area - the new director took a few minutes to talk with us. We had recently watched a foster baby under the care of LDSFS for a weekend. He was so sweet and had the loudest breathing you would ever hear. But we fell for him head over heals. He was already headed to another couple, but that weekend showed us that we would not be entirely opposed to having a baby in the house instead of a 3 year old.

We expressed this new perspective to our agency worker and it was met with excitement. After a month or so, our worker called us. Because we had indicated we would take a special needs child she wanted to offer us the chance to possibly adopt a baby newly born. This baby had been born with multiple birth defects including a heart with valves attached incorrectly and a backward turned foot - the tip of the iceberg. This was a painful question for us, but after a day or so of thinking we decided that if this was the right baby for us, we would take it and love it. Had we conceived naturally, there was no guarantee a biological child would have been born perfect. We prepared our family for the possiblity of a baby with severe defects. And it fell through.
After only a few short weeks, we received another call from our worker. A baby girl had been born with drugs in her system. She was just under a week old. Were we interested? Our answer took no thought, of course we did. Our worker asked us to pray about it and she would call us back. The next day we reaffirmed that we wanted a chance to have this baby. Then a couple days went by. The baby would be going to stay nearby at a foster home in our ward. We were to be called when the baby got there so we could go see her. These few days were a roller coaster of dread and elation. Finally, we called our worker back again and she said that the baby had been released and we could go see her anytime. That she was ours. We immediately went called the foster mother and drove over. It was 9pm on a Friday night.
We had decided to name her Carly. Pulling up to the driveway the fluctuations of joy and fear were almost palpable between Eric and I. Carly's foster family let us in and we saw her for the first time - a tiny sweet perfect baby no bigger than a doll. We took her home to meet Josh. We spent a few blissful hours with her and returned her to her foster mother.

Thus began her journey home.
At first it appeared to be a slam dunk case. Carly's birth mother didn't want to know anything about us, didn't care much, had no desire to see Carly and just wanted the process completed and forgotten. A court date was set. During this time Carly was staying with us during the day and at her foster mother's house at night. The court date came and the birth mother didn't. A second court date was set. Once again the birth mother did not show up for court. Carly came home to live with us - day and night! - when she was 2 months old. A third court date was set in November and the birth mother promised she would be there, apologized for missing the first two. Our hopes could not have been higher, our despair and frustration lower when she once again failed to show up at court.
I'm sure that Carly's birth mother has her reasons not to come to court, but to us it was a jab at the heart.
Our agency felt at this point it was best to get Child Welfare involved and have the birth mother's rights terminated. For months we heard nothing. In March a worker from the state came and inspected our house and checked on Carly and said he hoped to resolve the case by the end of the month. Someone filed a report against our foster liscense because we had a broken window - someone that knew our agency's name and that we had an 8 year old son...A friend reported us to the state anonymously and we were afraid for a terrifying week that they would show up at any moment and remove Carly. We formulated plans for where she might end up going and how we would handle it. Adoption laws stated that Carly had to have her own room by her first birthday and so we made arrangements to move to a new place. And the state continued to drag its feet for termination.
In July we finally got a court date for termination. I brought Carly to a hearing and we were informed that a pretrial date would be set and that the process could take another 6-9 months. In the courthouse my emotions overflowed. However, a angel named Courtney was now on our side. Courtney is the propelling force that got us into court in July. Courtney went personally to Carly's birth mother and convinced her to come to court and sign away her rights at the pretrail hearing. At the hearing the judicial system made noises about things "not working that way" but Courtney pushed them until they finally accepted the mother's sign off. Carly was now legally free for adoption. It was August 2, she was just shy of 1 year old.
It was Courtney that tracked down our file once again when the state adoption people lost it. It was Courtney that convinced them to allow LDSFS to contnue with our adoption despite the fact that they wanted to reassign us to another agency so that we'd have to do a whole new homestudy. It was Courtney that was there on March 2, 7 months after the birth mother's rights were terminated, to share the finalization with us. It is Courtney to who my thanks cannot ever fully be expressed.
I have left out so many of the bumps and bruises, the memories and paperwork, that peppered our adoption process. Now said and done, the pain means even less than the numbers.

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