Thursday, February 6, 2014

Our Time in Oklahoma (Ryker's Story Part 4)

We spent the next 13 days in our hotel getting to know our little guy and catching up on sleep.  I know that sounds ironic since we had a newborn in our care, but Ryker has proven to be a very mellow, easy baby. 
Also, with it being cold/ flu/ RSV season, we didn't want to venture out too far from our hotel room with our tiny baby, so that gave us plenty of time for cat naps while Ryker was sleeping.  
Some days, the highlight of the day was literally driving through a fast food drive through to get greasy food.
I think we caught up on every episode of Duck Dynasty and Brent was beginning to feel like he was next of kin to the Robertson family!
Brent was going nuts by the 3rd day.  He is not one to sit still.  EVER.  He is typically busy, moving, and working-- in the great outdoors. 
Being cooped up in a hotel was not his forte and he missed his Brody.
While I wasn't thrilled about our extended hotel stay and being away from Brody for so long, I tried to make the best of it.  I attempted to soak in the quiet time with our sweet newborn, knowing all too well he wouldn't stay a newborn for long.

 We were in baby heaven. 

Funny story-- One night I got up about 1 am to use the restroom.  Just so happened the toilet was clogged.  I begged Brent to go to the front desk to get a plunger.  He begrudgingly did so.
I went to work plunging, and shut off the water behind the toilet so I could give it a flush.  As I did so, we heard LOUD CLANKING, GRINDING, and BANGING in the pipes. The walls shook and I swear, it echoed through the entire hotel.
I was laughing so hard I could barely stand.
Brent was mortified.
Same thing happened again when I turned the water back on. CLANK, BANG, GRIND, SHAKE!
He refused to be the one to return the plunger to the front desk, which happened to be just a few doors down.
Good times.

The day after we brought Ryker home (to our hotel), Namo called and asked if they could come see him.  He told us his wife had had a hard time the night before and had been up crying all night. She wanted to spend some time with him.
I told him they were more than welcome to come, and they were welcome to visit any time throughout our stay in Oklahoma. (We plan to have an open adoption, but the distance between Idaho and Oklahoma will make it a challenge to see them, so we hoped to spend some time with them while we were there).
Then, Namo asked me if they could take Ryker for a few hours.  
(Looking back now, my reaction seems silly, but in the moment I had a gazillion thoughts running through my head). 
My heart stopped at this question. I think it was a combination of lack of sleep the previous two days, and fear of the unknown, but I wasn't sure how to answer him so I passed the phone to Brent. 
Brent asked them if they would instead like to just come to the hotel and spend time with Ryker there, rather than taking him, but they wanted to take him to his brother's house to spend some alone time with him.
Brent hesitantly told them yes, and I felt like I would fall apart for fear of what would happen. 
Brent hung up the phone and made the comment, "We get forever, what's a few hours?"
I agreed, however, my thoughts were, "But what if they decide not to bring him back?"
In actuality, they had every right to decide that if they so chose.  We had not been to court yet, and they had not terminated their parental rights.  It wasn't scheduled for another 5 days. 
We called our attorney just to let him know what was going on and he assured us that he felt all would be well-- they just needed a little time with him.  He too reminded us that legally, we could not say no even if we wanted to. We did not have parental custody yet. 
They gave no indication that they were reconsidering, but we couldn't help but think of this possibility. 
We had been through so much to get to this point-- 
and we already loved him.
Brent and I talked, and came to the conclusion that if worst came to worst and they decided they didn't want to proceed with the adoption, although we would be completely heartbroken and devastated beyond repair, we would not want that kind of adoption.  We wouldn't want an adoption where the birth parents felt they had to go through with it out of obligation or coercion, or for whatever reason.  How would we look Ryker in the eye and tell him his adoption story if that were the case? 
With that said, I hesitantly packed Ryker a bag and apprehensively awaited their arrival.  When Namo and Loriann arrived, we walked outside with them, and Brent transferred the car seat to their van as I tried to hold myself together. 
The next 3 hours felt like an eternity. I was in a total haze, tears flowing.
Eventually, we heard a soft knock on our door and in came Ryker's birth parents, car seat in hand. 
Loriann was glowing.  
The past few hours must have done good for her aching heart.
How could I have ever doubted them? They are amazing and steadfast.
So courageous and selfless in their decision.
Namo called us the following day and thanked us.
He said it helped Loriann to realize that Ryker was not gone forever.
A few days later, they visited and we spent some time hanging out and watching football.
We had the hotel desk clerk take our picture together.  
They will forever be our friends and we will be eternally grateful for them.

Around the 3rd day, I noticed Ryker's eyes were looking a little yellow. Jaundice.  Everything I read, said that yellowing of the eyes required blood work to check bilirubin levels and I was a little freaked out by the things I read if it went untreated (like brain damage-- yes, I'm a worrier-- especially when it comes to my children).  Of course, it was Sunday and when I called the physicians office in Oklahoma there was no 'on call' physician.  
I called our attorney and asked if there was a walk in clinic somewhere nearby (we couldn't find one in the phone book).  He told us there was not, our only option was the ER.  However, his wife happened to be a neonatal nurse so he passed the phone to her and she asked me a battery of questions, after which we determined that it would be alright to wait until Monday to take him in.  (She admitted the ER in Idabel was terrible and he would likely catch something worse while waiting).
Brent gave Ryker a priesthood blessing and it gave me a calm reassurance.
By morning Ryker's eyes were looking better, but we took him in anyway. We were sent to the hospital for lab work.  His labs came back on the high end of normal, so no treatment was necessary.
It's hard to see, but his eyes look a little yellow in this picture.
He did spend some time hanging out in the window sill, trying to catch a few rays of sunshine to help the bilirubin levels dissipate a little faster.

And he slept. 
A lot-- as newborns do.

We improvised and made a bed out of a plastic bin.  It was cozy and the perfect size, and I could lay it next to me in bed.

His favorite place to nap was on Dad's shoulder. 

After a few days, we started to get cabin fever and decided to take a short drive to check out Broken Bow Lake. 

It was a cold, windy day so Ryker was kept tucked away, snuggly warm in his car seat inside the car.
I love his squishy, swollen newborn face.

Yep, folks we were in the south.  You can have it all at 'the blue rooster.' Catfish, shrimp, and fried chicken.

The dental office where I work in Idaho just so happens to also be "All Smiles Dental!"

While we were away, Grandma kept us updated on what, and how Brody was doing. 
When we talked to my parents on the phone, they couldn't let Brody know it was us or he would fall apart and cry for us for an hour or so.  It broke our hearts, and yet we felt bad for my parents too. 
In actuality, he had a fun time at Grandma and Grandpa's house and they kept him busy with fun activities.
He went to a Christmas light parade and came home with tons of loot.

It looks like he had fun on the train ride at the mall.

Story hour at the library.
Grandma and Grandpa took good care of our big guy while we were gone.
Brody referred to Ryker as, "my Ryker."
Just after Ryker was born, my mom showed Brody some pictures of Ryker and he asked her where his baby brother was.  When my mom told him he was at the hospital, Brody asked, "Why?  What happened to him?" 
Since we have been home Brody keeps asking me, "Where you got him?"
I explain that we went far away on an airplane and got him from the hospital.  I've also told him he grew in Loriann's tummy, just like he grew in Kourtney's tummy.
One day he said, "He grew in the wrong mom's tummy?"  
I laughed and explained, "No, not the wrong mom, but his birth mom's tummy."
He evidently isn't satisfied with my answer to his question and he still asks me about once a week, "Where you got him?"
He also looks forward to the day Ryker gets "teef" (teeth) so he can play with him.

Finally on Dec. 5th we had our court date. 
We all entered the court room together and each took our turn being sworn in, then questioned on the stand.  Questions by our attorney, then questioning from the judge.
So different and way more uptight than our Idaho adoption.
Brent and I only spent about 10 minutes each on the stand.
But our birth parents were grilled for 20-25 minutes.
Their part seemed BRUTAL to me and I think I cringed the entire time on their behalf.
The judge and attorney asked the birth parents over and over the same questions, just in every different way possible. Lots of questions about whether they were doing this by their own free will and if they understood that they were giving up their parental rights forever.
I get that the courts have to make sure they understand what they are doing and that they are doing it by their own free will, but it seemed a bit over kill to me. 
After court was over we all went to lunch together.
Namo, Lorwiena (their daughter), Lynnwood (adoption coordinator- whom we met the first time at court-- she translated for Loriann), Loriann- holding Ryker, myself, and Brent.
We went back and forth on our decision for middle names.  Clenton was for sure and I really wanted to use Rich (my Dad's middle name), but I struggled with the idea of two middle names.  Something I said I would never do.  
Finally we decided it wasn't that big of a deal for Ryker to have two middle names.  So we settled on 
Ryker Clenton Rich Jones.
It will be a neat story to tell him someday how he carries his birth grandfather's name and his grandfather's middle name.

Sunday evening, just a few days before we left, Namo and Loriann stopped by to spend some more time together.  They had to head back to Heavener (1.5 hours away) the next morning for Namo's work.
They came unannounced (which we were thrilled to see them) just as I was walking out the door of the hotel to pick up our carryout dinner.  Brent decided to come with me so they could have a little bit of time with Ryker alone.  They seemed happy and grateful when we suggested it.
Aren't they the cutest?
No wonder Ryker is so adorable.
We were able to meet some of Namo's siblings.  Lynnwood also stopped by to say her goodbyes and gave me some beautiful handmade jewelry which was made by her mother in the Marshall Islands before she passed away. 
Loriann snuggled and loved on Ryker one last time.

We miss them, but keep in contact through Facebook messaging and I send packages and pictures to keep them updated on our little angel. 

Our struggle to get ICPC clearance to leave the state of Oklahoma turned into quite the saga.  
We began submitting ICPC paperwork on December 2nd--five days after Ryker's birth.
Finally, on December 6th we received a response, and they had a whole list of additional (and ridiculous) requests.  For example, they asked for new reference letters (5 of them) even though ours were up-to-date and had no expiration date on them. Our attorney, our LDSFS caseworker, and ourselves, frantically worked throughout the day to get the list of  requests turned in.  At 3 pm everything was submitted and that was supposed to be THAT.  All we needed was the OK from the woman in charge to get on the plane to go home.
Just so happened that the ICPC lady decided to go home early for the weekend!  Our attorney called and tried to get the supervisor to approve everything instead.  They would not budge and told us we would have to wait until Monday until our assigned (idiot) lady returned to work!
Bureaucrats to the end!!
That meant at least 2 more nights in a hotel, 2 more days of car rental, food, etc., plus our sanity was waning!
We had airline tickets booked for Saturday (luckily refundable), but had to cancel them. . .
Monday rolled around and we expected we would get clearance early morning sometime.
The hours ticked by and soon 4:30 was approaching-- still NO word.  We were starting to panic because we knew their office closed at 5.  We had airline tickets booked for the following morning at 6 am- These, however, were non-refundable.  Because of the ice storms and the Dallas airport being shut down for a week prior, tickets were few and far between and EXPENSIVE.  As in $1200 one way!!  We happened to stumble upon some for $370 and jumped on them. 

In anticipation of an early flight, we decided to drive the Texarkana the night before-- which in actuality was against the law because we had crossed the state line and were now staying in Arkansas.
As we were driving across the state line, Brent was singing the theme song from the TV show "COPS,"
"Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?. . ."
It was funny, but wouldn't have been had we seen red, flashing lights behind us with arrests for kidnapping charges. 

Finally at 4:50 pm our attorney called and we had clearance to leave the state!
Talk about down to the 11th hour.
We were so happy, we both had tears of joy. 
We boarded the plane the next morning in Texarkana and when we arrived in Dallas we learned our flight was the ONE and ONLY flight that had not been cancelled that was heading to Salt Lake City that day!
One more miracle.  The Lord definitely hears and answers prayers, and had a hand in the entire process.
After 13 days in a hotel, we were on our way home.
Eager to introduce Ryker to his big brother and the rest of our family.

Link to:
Welcoming Ryker Home

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