On Friday night, July 10, 2015 just before midnight the phone rang and it was our kids' first father, Namo. I bolted out of bed knowing this was it! The call we'd been anticipating!
He said that he and Loriann were at the hospital in Mena, Arkansas and the baby was on the way!
I called my mom (she was coming with us to Arkansas), jumped on the computer to booked flights, make rental car reservations, and emailed the company where our cabin in Mena was reserved. Then set off to finish packing.
Ryker couldn't sleep either, so he was my buddy during the wee hours as I made travel arrangements.
A couple of hours later, the phone rang again and Namo told us they were sending them home from the hospital. Loriann’s contractions were not progressing and the baby was sideways. They were hoping the contractions would hold off and the baby would turn. If not, a c-section would be necessary. At about 3 am, I cancelled our travel plans and tried to get some sleep. I awoke at 5 am and saw that I had some text messages, Facebook messages, and had missed a few calls from Namo. I bolted up in bed (again) and read these words, “Hey good news just when we were halfway home (they lived in DeQueen-- an hour from the hospital) she felt the contractions worse than earlier. We made a u turn n headed back to the hospital. In just 10 minutes she did it. She gave birth. The baby is fine n it’s a beautiful baby girl.”
What?!! A GIRL?! I nearly dropped my phone as I read the word 'girl'! At the ultrasound 4 months prior, they were not able to see if the baby was a boy or girl so it was a complete surprise. I had picked out a baby girl and a baby boy outfit to take to the hospital. A little girl is what I had always dreamed of, but I didn't dare dream TOO much. I didn’t want to get my hopes up and figured I would be the mom of three boys, and that would be OK too. I could hardly wait to get there to meet her and reunite with our Marshallese family.
Our baby girl was born Saturday, July 11th at 4:16 am. Weighing 7 lbs 1 oz, 20 inches long.
These were the first pictures we saw of this gorgeous girl and her beautiful first family.
Lorwiena- our kids' full biological sister, with Jayla and Mama Loriann.
The next morning Ryker buddy was exhausted.
I was too, but was running on adrenaline.
At the airport ready to go!
We left Sunday morning, July 12th, at 2:00 am to drive to Salt Lake City to catch our 6 am flight. We were lucky to have Grandma Cox join us. On the drive to SLC, Ryker cried the entire way- he was evidently not happy about being woken in the middle of the night and refused to settle back down and sleep. Needless to say, it was a long drive.
But we were on our way!!
After our arrival in Tulsa, Oklahoma Sunday afternoon, we had another 3 hour drive to Mena, Arkansas.
Both boys were sooo tired by then.
We arrived at the hospital late Sunday afternoon and as we all walked into the hospital together- Mom, Dad, Ryker, Brody, and Grandma Cox- we were excited and nervous. As we came in to the hospital room we were first greeted the family, then laid our eyes on our beautiful baby girl and fell instantly in love. Beautiful thick black hair, full cheeks, gorgeous eyes, and beautiful skin. She was all we prayed for, hoped for, dreamed of, and much more. We spent some time holding her, taking pictures, and reuniting with our family. Then we left to get settled into our cabin (to try to get some rest since we were all going on 48 hours with out sleep) and to let Loriann rest.
And the name we chose is
Jayla Nalori Jones
(Nalori was chosen by her first parents, a combination of their names-- Namo and Loriann.)
Jayla is doubly blessed to have 2 sets of parents who love and adore her unconditionally.
Grandma holding her for the first time.
Brody is such a proud big brother and you can see it all over his face.
He kept saying, "I wished for a baby sister and it came true!"
I love this little family of mine and and I know with all my heart these beautiful little ones were meant to be with us. I couldn't agree more with Elder Richard G. Scott's (from the quorum of the 12 apostles) thoughts on adoption-- he too is a parent through adoption. His words are told by his son Michael who was adopted. . .
How blessed we are.
The next afternoon, Monday, July 13th, Jayla was released from the hospital. We were so happy, but nervous to take her to our rental cabin outside of Mena.
Mena is a small town in the middle of nowhere Arkansas where there are few hotel choices or places to stay. We needed enough room for the 5 of us, plus grandma, plus room to hang out with Loriann, Namo, and Lorwiena, so we found a company with rental cabins through some friends who had also adopted from the area. It felt like heaven to have her there with us and we looked forward to spending time as much time as possible with our Arkansas family while we were there for 11 days waiting for court dates and paperwork.
The first cabin we stayed in left much to be desired, but it was all that was available. It was old and filthy, and there was a propane gas leak that needed to be fixed! The first night there, I kept noticing a funny smell near the stove and then it dawned on me there was a gas leak. Brent shut the gas completely off, and we opened all the windows until it could be fixed the next morning. We spent most of the first evening trying our best to clean it up so it was ready to bring our new baby girl there.
We spent 4 nights here. Despite everything, we made some great memories.
I have my kids trained very well to take off their shoes when they come in the house.
This is the one time I wished I could take that back. The kids wouldn't leave their shoes on in this house either and well, you can see the result.
Ryker was obsessed with these happy meal sunglasses.
and Brody was obsessed with his sister.
We searched for nearby things for the kids to do to keep them occupied, and spent one day at the Queen Wilhelmina State park.
We played miniature golf, took a little train ride at the top of the mountain, and dined at the resort.
Most of our stay was spent hanging out at "home" spending precious time with our Arkansas family.
They were able to come over to our rental cabin several times and we have made so many special memories together. Each time they come, Loriann could hardly wait to pick Jayla up, and to feed and snuggle her. They also had fun watching Ryker and playing with him. There was always a sparkle in Namo’s eye as he watched Ryker play. Pride and love radiate from both of them, to both of our children. One evening we decided to charcoal BBQ steaks. We didn’t have enough charcoal and the heat fizzled out when they were half cooked. We finished them late- seemed like hours later- on the stove top and they were tough and chewy, but we were all so hungry by then, no one seemed to care.
We set up a splash pool outside and kids played and splashed around together.
We set up a splash pool outside and kids played and splashed around together.
Sisters through adoption.
Cooking in the sunlight to help with a bit of jaundice.
We all took turns snuggling the new "princess" and catching up on some zzzz's.
Loriann and Namo taught us a new trick to get rid of the hiccups.
Grandma and I set up a mini newborn photoshoot.
After we spending 4 nights in the 1st cabin, we crammed in a motel room for a night because all of the other cabins were reserved.
Then we went to this place- "Cowboy's Getaway."--I think it was meant to be.
It was a huge relief and a big step up as well.
And the scenery around it was pretty.
Our trusty rental mini-van.
This was a pond behind our cabin.
The trees are so thick around Arkansas that you can't see very far.
Some friendly fellers in our back yard.
There is no way possible to adequately say thank you to these amazing people for what they have shared with us.
They are forever in our hearts and prayers.
We spent the rest of our time talking, relaxing, eating too much food, then going out to eat some more, shooting hoops, tossing the football around the yard, playing horseshoes, then eating again!
Luckily for us, we were able to spend nearly every day with Loriann, Namo, and Lorwiena.
The boys didn't want to be left out of the headband frenzy.
Court occurred on Wednesday, July 22nd, in Mena Arkansas. We were all there, including our family, Namo, Loriann, Lorwiena, and Grandma. Court was short and sweet and took maybe 10 minutes-- the judge was easy going and quirky. He had an office full of pet birds in antique cages, and the surprisingly informal hearing was held right there in his office. Afterward, we all went to dinner, then Loriann and Namo and Lorwiena came to back to our cabin to spend one last day together.
Loving first parents.
Adoption is full of a mix of so many emotions. It' truly a roller coaster of ups and downs, and feelings of pure joy, sadness, elation, guilt, happiness and heart ache.
Watching these two say "see you later" to two little ones they love so much is tough and literally tears my heart apart.
So thankful for open adoption and that it is never truly goodbye, but more like see you soon.
We hope to visit them every few years if we can.
And just like that, we are off. . .
On the plane back to Idaho with bitter-sweet feelings of excitement to introduce Jayla to our family and friends at home, yet sad to leave the family left behind.