Friday, January 24, 2014

Placement Day (Ryker's Story Part 3)

 We awoke on Thanksgiving Day and headed to the hospital late morning.  Again, we did not want to trespass on the birth parents precious time with Ryker (following suit of what we learned through our first adoption with an agency).  We had not yet heard when they would be discharged, but we thought it would likely be today.
When we arrived, Namo and Loriann were sleeping soundly.  The nurses offered to bring baby to another room across the hall so we could spend time with him.
Our little baby burrito was brought to us and we were able to hold him in our arms for the first time.
Felt like heaven. . . Finally, we were able to snuggle him.
We fed and changed him and soaked him in.

After the birth parents awoke we learned that yes, discharge would happen that day.
None of us really knew how things were supposed to take place.  No attorney present.  No adoption coordinator present.  There was literally no one there to guide us through this. 
We had spoken with our attorney by phone earlier that morning and he told us that according to Oklahoma law since we did not have a written order for custody yet, the "transfer" of the baby could not take place within the hospital.  He told us that typically the birth parents chose to send the baby with the adoptive parents anyway, even without them having legal custody rights and the "exchange" usually took place in the hospital parking lot (sounds cold and callous).  However, the birth parents could choose to do it however they preferred and in actuality could keep the baby within their custody until the court proceedings took place (which happened to be scheduled 1 week away).
Namo and Loriann were unsure of how things were supposed to happen, and were and asking us for direction, so we told them what we little we knew from our conversation with the attorney earlier that morning.
This adoption was very different than Brody's adoption which took place through an agency. It felt like the blind leading the blind, and in that moment I wished (mostly for their sake) we had our caseworker from LDS Family Services there to guide us through the process. It seemed unfair to our birth parents to not have a support system in place, a caseworker there to provide encouragement and words of comfort. 
We visited with them for a bit, gave them some gifts (which seemed so small and insignificant compared to the gift we would soon be given), and then told them we would leave so they could spend the remaining time with Ryker alone at the hospital, for which they seemed very grateful.
The nurses took our number so they could call us when it was time for discharge to happen.
We ran a few errands and picked up some last minute baby supplies.
Then we ventured out to find something open on Thanksgiving so we could grab a bite to eat.
The only place we could find was Dairy Queen.
Hardly a Thanksgiving feast, but we weren't all that hungry anyway!
 A couple hours later the nurse called us and told us they were getting ready to go over discharge papers.
We headed back to the hospital, our hearts pounding as we made our way up to the labor and delivery floor. We were nervous.
When we arrived the nurses were just finishing up discharge instructions with Loriann.
We watched Loriann and Namo lovingly and carefully feed, and change Ryker as they snuggled, kissed, and talked to him.  Once again, it was such a mix of emotions.  It's never easy to watch someone say goodbye to their baby. And there is guilt knowing that your joy stems from the same place as their pain. 
Yet they were so very brave, and so selfless and steadfast in their decision.
Our hearts ached for them, and swelled with love for them and for our baby boy.

When it was time to go we exited the hospital together, and as we walked through the front doors, Namo handed Ryker to Brent in his car seat.  We made our way to our car together, placed Ryker inside, and exchanged hugs.  As Namo walked away, I will never forget him turning around with a pained look on his face saying, "I can't look back."  
Brent and I drove the 10 miles to our hotel in awe as we quietly, and humbly pondered the extreme act of love and strength we had just witnessed.
Half of our hearts were breaking, the other half was swelling with love and gratitude. 
It felt like a dream. . . 
We got back to the hotel and carefully took Ryker out of his car seat.
It was just the two of us with our baby boy. 
Now we could let go of our hesitations, and completely and fall in love with him.
And we did.
Everything about him was perfect.
His perfect plump, but tiny lips.  The wrinkles on the back of his soft neck.  His beautiful brown skin.  His soft, black, fluffy baby hair.  (This was the thick, black hair I had dreamt about.  Almost 1.5 years prior, as we were amidst the steps of becoming approved to adopt I had repeated dreams of a baby with lots of black hair. Little did I know at the time, that later on we would be led down a path to a Marshallese baby.)

We spent the next few days soaking him in, getting to know our sweet baby. 

We feel so blessed and so lucky to welcome Ryker to our eternal family.  We know that he was meant to come to us, and in this way.  Our Heavenly Father chose him and sent him to our family for a reason.  
We are so humbled to be his parents.
There were so many miracles that happened along the way. 
Starting with the day back in late February 2013 when my friend Sherrie told me about her friend's daughter who had adopted a baby through this attorney in Arizona.  I immediately wanted to know more and as I learned more, I felt pulled in that direction.  Something in my heart told me this was the way we would find our baby, instead of through our agency.
Fast forward.  Nine months after that initial conversation, we were holding Ryker in our arms. 
I look at him daily 
 and at his awesome big brother, Brody, with gratitude to our Heavenly Father for blessing us with this both of these amazing little boys.

Link to:
Ryker's Story Part 4

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Baby Boy's Arrival (Ryker's Story Part 2)

On Tuesday, November 26, as I was getting ready to start on my second patient at the dental office that afternoon, I checked my phone and noticed I had missed a call that came from an Oklahoma phone number (the past couple of weeks I literally felt like I checked my phone incessantly in anticipation of baby boy's arrival).
Originally, we had thought the due date was on the 23rd, but in actuality it was the 26th . . . what's 3 days anyway? . . . to me it felt like an eternity. However, realistically she could actually go past her due date.
I nervously dialed the number and our birth father answered.  
He told me they had been to a doctor's appointment that afternoon and the doctor was sending them to the hospital to start an induction! 
Say what?!
I tried to sound calm and not too over anxious. 
I  think my brain went into overload mode. I hung up the phone in a mind-numbing daze, and told my co-workers what was going on. 
I finished my patient as calmly and efficiently as I possibly could (ha!), then raced out the door to head home.
There were so many preparations that had to be made and I could not even think straight.
Plane tickets to be booked, hotel, rental car, call the attorney, finish packing.
Someone had to pick up Brody from the babysitter.
I needed to let my parents know so they could come and pick up Brody to take him to their house (he stayed with them through the duration while we were gone).
And on and on and on. . .
Preparations continued on throughout the night. We savored our time that evening with Brody knowing we would have to leave our 3-year-old behind for 1-2 weeks and that thought tore at our hearts. He had been our ONE and ONLY for the past 3 years and 8 months, and we were now eagerly preparing to make room in our hearts and family for his soon-to-be brother. We made sure we got in some extra snuggles that night. My parents arrived and decided to stay the night and head to back to their house with Brody in the morning.
Our flight was booked for the following morning, scheduled to leave SLC at 6:15 am.
After Brody was asleep, we hurriedly finished packing and left around 1:30 am to begin the 3 hour drive to the airport.
With it being the day before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year, we would need plenty of time at the airport.
As we drove, we discussed the list of names once again.
Months prior, I had narrowed down my list of 30+ boy names to the following top top ten:
(Yes, I said 30(+)--Since we had such a long wait before starting our family, my list of names has grown perpetually throughout the years).
A few weeks prior to that we had narrowed it down to just TWO names.
Mason or Ryker.
And early on, we had decided on Rich as a middle name (my dad's middle name). We went back and forth between 
Mason Rich
Ryker Rich
Then another loop was thrown into the equation when our birth father called and reverently asked if they could choose a middle name.
We graciously and respectfully accepted their request and eagerly awaited to hear their choice.  
We debated whether to just throw "Rich" out all together or give him two middle names--
Something I said I would never do.
As we drove, we finally decided on a first name. . . It would be Ryker.
Little did we know, our Ryker made his debut into the world as we drove to the airport that morning at 2:30 am, Wednesday, November 27th.
We didn't find this out until we landed in the Dallas airport later that morning when we checked his birth parent's Facebook page.
As I pulled up their profile--
I saw his beautiful face for the first time and tried to hold back tears in the airport.
He was gorgeous.
I also had a FB message from his birth parents letting us know he was here and asking us to call their room at the hospital.  
We spent the next 30 minutes before our connecting flight texting family members to let them know the news!
We landed in Texarkana around 11:30 am, picked up our rental car, and drove the remaining hour to Idabel,Oklahoma to meet this sweet baby boy. . . our SON, 
and his beautiful birth family.
We also had a request from the adoption coordinator to pick up pizza-- everyone was starving!
As we pulled up to the hospital, my palms were sweaty and my heart was racing.
We had not had the opportunity of meeting his birth parents in person yet (we had spent the 5 previous months communicating through phone calls and texting).
I knew that what we were about to do would be a highly emotional, yet reverent thing.

We entered the hospital and rode the elevator in silence to the labor and delivery floor with pizza in hand.
Brent and I stood outside the door to their room for a moment in hesitation, exchanging nervous glances before we knocked.
We were amiably welcomed inside by Namo, Ryker's birth father. We made our introductions but it felt to me as if we had already known one another. 
I was struck by how beautiful Loriann, Ryker's birth mother, was.
I scanned the room, looking for a tiny bundle but didn't see one.
Namo explained that the baby was having trouble keeping his body temperature up and as a result his heart rate was also low, so they were monitoring him in a warmer.
He offered to take us to see him.

We anxiously followed him down the hallway
and we met him for the first time.
We savored the moment admiring all 6 lbs 10.8 oz of him, wishing we could pick him up and snuggle him. 
It was easy to fall in love with him.
It felt like a dream.

After awhile, we returned to his birth parents room and spent some time visiting with them.
They were beautiful, warm, wonderful people.
Loriann was very sweet and very shy, and smiled sweetly.
She does not speak English and how I wished I were able to communicate with her. 
Their 20 month old daughter was adorable and Ryker looks just like her.
We asked what they had chosen for his middle name and were told it would be Clenton, after Loriann's father.
Our conversation turned to an emotional one as Namo tearfully told us this (the adoption) was not initially what he wanted, and we were all brought to tears as we discussed the circumstances of the adoption 
and hopes for his future.  
Bitter-sweet is the best way to describe adoption.
We knew the happiness and joy we would soon experience as we would welcome this baby boy to our family, yet at that moment we placed that aside.
Our hearts were breaking for them as we sympathized with the pain they were experiencing.  The sacrifice on their part was great.  It was obvious their love for their son was deep.
However, despite their pain they had such a positive, optimistic view of this adoption.  
They knew this was best and they wanted the very best for him. 
Namo told us he knew this was God's plan for all of us and we wholeheartedly agreed.
We thanked them from the bottom of our hearts, but it felt insufficient.
How do you thank someone enough?
I don't believe it is possible.
They are a blessing to us,
and this baby boy is a blessing to all of us.  

We briefly discussed our plans for our future with an open adoption.
Later, we said our goodbyes. We were careful not to overstay our welcome.
We wanted to respect the precious time they had at the hospital with their baby boy.
It was their time together.
We had forever to look forward to.
We said our goodbye's and Brent and I left to check into our hotel, get some groceries and we tried to get some sleep since we were approaching 48 hours with no sleep. . .

Coming soon. . .
Placement Day (Ryker's Story Part 3).

Links to: