Our Journey with Heaven-How We Came to Adopt
I have decided to give this blogging thing a try. I figure I have never been very good at journal keeping but I spend a lot of time around the computer so hopefully I can keep everyone up to date on our lives and at the same time keep some sort of record of them for future generations. There is a way to print this right?
So our family embarked on a new adventure last year. We decided that we wanted an addition to our family. We also decided that we (at least Steve and I) wanted the addition to be a baby girl. Having female dogs was not doing it for me. So thanks to the support of some friends who have been there, we decided to look into foster/adopting.
This story really starts before last year though. It starts back in August 2003. Steve and I had decided to have another baby, and I was 6 months pregnant. Luckily, Steve went to the doctor's visit with me on Friday, August 29, 2003, because it was on that day we learned our baby no longer had a heartbeat. We were told we had several options. We decided we would have the baby at the hospital, but we had to wait until Tuesday because it was Labor Day Weekend.
We went in early on Tuesday, September 2, 2003 to have me induced. It was a strange feeling going to a hospital to have a baby that we knew was not coming home with us. It was the same hospital we had gone to two times before and brought home two beautiful healthy baby boys. We had had the whole weekend to grieve and come to terms with what was happening, but it was hard to walk through the door of the delivery room and see that there was a picture of a leaf with a teardrop on it. This picture was to notify all workers that the person in the delivery room was not having a live baby.
The staff was wonderful and I remember the nurse being so upset that she had to leave me at 7:00 p.m. because her shift had ended and I still had not delivered. She was in tears when she left. Luckily, I was not in much physical pain. I just wanted to have it over with so I could grieve and get on with things. The nurse was very surprised when she came back at 7:00 a.m. the next morning and I still had not delivered. I don't remember the exact time I delivered and I will not go into detail about it, but I never want to relive that again. It was the most painful delivery I ever had, and I have had a 9 pound baby. I remember sobbing so hard that my whole body was shaking. They finally had to take me in to have a D&C after because they could not get all of the placenta out. I just remember asking if they were going to knock me out for that part.
Steve and I saw the baby, and he looked like he had already started to decompose. He was very small and fit in the palm of the doctor's hand. We found out that he had knotted up his umbilical cord, making it impossible for him to get the nutrition he needed to survive. I didn't feel any deep connection to him. I felt more like I was mourning the loss of the hope of a baby instead of a baby I actually knew. I guess this made the healing time easier.
I do remember being upset when I would go to the mailbox and get a Get Well Card. I got to the point that I hated going. It was if someone else had control over when I had to grieve, and I didn't like giving up my grieving control. I also remember not liking it when people would say things like "God has a plan and this is just the way it is suppose to be" or "At least you have 3 healthy boys. Some people can't have any children" and "You can always try again." I know these people all meant well; and I already knew these things, but it didn't make losing this child any easier. And I certainly wasn't feeling ready to go and try it again anytime soon. My pregnancies are so hard, and I usually throw-up for the first 6 months. I was just heading into the part of pregnancy I liked, so I really wasn't interested in going through a horrible 6 months again. The last thing I remember hating was when people would say to me "I'm so sorry, I had a miscarriage once." For some reason, to this day, it still irks me when people refer to it as a miscarriage. I went to the hospital, was in labor for over 24 hours and held a dead baby. I am not trying to belittle the mourning of a miscarriage because I have never had one. I am sure it is devastating to someone who has no children and wants so badly to experience the joy of pregnancy and child birth but mine was still a little different than a miscarriage. I guess it is like how I will never understand how someone feels who is unable to have biological children. I try to be careful about what I say around people who are grieving now.
So about 6 months after the loss of our baby, I decided that maybe we should look into adopting. We didn't want to go with a private agency because we felt like we would be taking away a baby that someone who was childless or who couldn't have biological children was waiting for. We decided that the county was the best route for us. We went to the orientation meeting for Riverside County. It was a horrible experience and really turned us off to county adoptions and foster care.
About 6 months after that we decided to put our house up for sale because our dream house was available and we wanted to get Steve closer to work. Our house was on the market, and we made an offer on our dream house. It sold before we could sell our house, and we were going to take our house off the market but just didn't feel right about doing so. We started looking in the same area for another house but couldn't find one we liked or could afford. One day, quite by accident, I ended up out in the area we now live in. We found a house that we fell in love with, and we could afford. I kept having a feeling that for some reason we were supposed to be here. Unfortunately, this house wasn't closer to Steve's work and a year after we moved here his company moved even further away. But this is where we needed to live to get our baby, and Heavenly Father knew that. I love looking back and seeing all the things He did to get us where we needed to be.
So in May of 2007, we were at the baseball field talking to our friends about their adoptions when Steve turned to me and said "Weren't we thinking about adopting? Whatever happened with that?" They gave us a name of an agency but I didn't think much of it until the next day when Steve came home and asked me if I had called. I told him no and I couldn't remember the name of the agency they recommended. So I started to research on the internet and found one that sounded perfect for us. When I called the agency I found out that they were having an orientation meeting the next night and would be starting training a month after that. They were opening up a pilot program in our area. So we were on our way.
Our first placement came in August. We were so excited and scared at the same time. We really didn't know what to expect and had been told some really bad horror stories. When "E" arrived we instantly fell in love. She was a beautiful 19 month old baby girl and looked nothing like the drug babies we had heard about. Well, come to find out that was because she wasn't and 5 days later she was back with mom where she belonged. It was a good start for us, and we felt like we had really made a difference. We learned that she would have gone to the institution (orphanage) if we had not taken her that night. Her mom and grandma were very appreciative. Her mom gave us a thank you card and a gift certificate to Blockbuster and donated a bunch of her old items to us to give to other foster care families.
Our next placement came in September right before Jared's birthday. "A" was 10 months old and already walking. She got into everything and wore me out. Of course, we all thought she was adorable also. She was only with us for a month and then placed back with her mom. I see her grandma at Wal-mart and she says that "A" is doing great. I was not happy with the social worker at all on this case and found out later that "A" was taken away from her mom again and that grandma was awarded custody. When I saw grandma the other day she told me that "A" was at home with mom while she was at work. This was exactly the same scenario as when "A" was taken the first time. I am afraid "A" is going to have a very hard life and wish there was something more I could have done for her. That is one of the hardest parts of fostering.
Our last placement is Nevaeh. We told our social worker that we could take a baby on any day but December 11th and 12th because we were taking a family vacation to Disneyland. But on December 12th when my phone vibrated and the number said private, I just knew it was a placement call. The boys and Steve were riding Mullholland Madness. Our social worker said she had a 2 1/2 month old baby girl named Nevaeh. She told us it was Heaven spelled backwards. I told her I already knew what the name meant because I have a niece named Nevaeh. She then told me that the baby's birthday was on September 26th which is also Jared's birthday. She said the baby had been taken from Fallbrook - that is the furthest we said we would travel for visits. Fallbrook is in San Diego County and we live in Riverside County. The pilot program was suppose to be for families in Riverside County to take Riverside babies, but the only baby ever placed with the agency from Riverside was "A". She said the baby had been shaken and that this was the mom's 5th baby to be taken away. The mom did not have custody of any of her other children.
Nevaeh was being held at the institute (orphanage) in San Diego, and we would need to go there to pick her up. I told her I needed to speak with Steve and the boys since we were supposed to be staying the rest of the day and the night at Disneyland. I asked if she could find out if we could pick the baby up tomorrow but if not I would come that day. I remember hanging up the phone and thinking "This is it. This is our forever baby" "Surely a court wouldn't give custody back to a woman who already had 4 other children taken away." I can't describe how I felt, but I knew on that day she was our forever daughter. Why I can't trust those feelings when everything looks so hopeless I don't know. Maybe part of me thinks I made them up because I want it so bad. But I didn't make them up. They are real and at times they are the only thing I have to hold onto.
So when Steve and the boys got off the ride, I told them we were getting a baby for Christmas. It worked out that we were able to stay the rest of the day and night at Disneyland but my mind was racing on what I need to do at home to get ready. I spent a lot of time on the phone trying to find smaller baby items. Thanks to some great friends, we were able to come up with a infant carrier and stroller and lots of newborn clothes.
The next morning; Steve left the hotel to go to work, and the boys and I finished getting ready to go home. When we got out to the Van, the battery was dead. We had several people try to jump us but nothing worked. Steve had to drive back from work and buy a new battery to put in the van. He had been able to jump us, but we were afraid that I might have problems in San Diego if the van didn't start again.
I remember waiting outside the doors at the institute with the social worker. I was so nervous about meeting this little one. She was so little and so beautiful. She only weighed 8 pounds. That was smaller than my newborn babies. I spent most of the day in San Diego because Nevaeh had a doctor's appointment at Children's Hospital, and I didn't want to have to drive back down on a different day. I finally made it home around 7:00 p.m. to some very excited boys (Steve included). Of course, it was love at first sight again.
We have been having a lot of fun with her and a lot of anxiety also. People always ask how we are going to handle it if she goes home. To be quite honest with you, we have no idea. We have never experienced this before. We know with God's help we can make it through anything. We also know that He has a plan and sometimes that plan does not mean we get what we want, but we do always get what is best for us.
So this blog will be a way for us to deal with the ups and downs of our journey and a way for our family and friends to share in it with us. Thanks for all your support.
Love - The M Family