Exactly one year after meeting our daughter, I finally sat down and wrote my part of her adoption story. There were things we couldn’t share as they were happening and things I needed time and space to process before I could put words to them. But the anniversary of Parker joining our family seemed like the perfect time to finally share.
We’re just one part of this equation and I think that’s important to keep in mind as you read this story. There are parts that are left out because they are too sacred, there are feelings too big to fully explain, and there are details that may be missing because it was a year ago and kind of a blur of a time with all that was going on. But, imperfect and incomplete though it may be, it’s a story full of God’s grace, goodness, and impeccable timing, and one I never want to forget.
I want to emphasize this is only one third of the story. This is what happened as Jared and I see it (or really just my perspective even though we lived our part together). But Parker’s birth mom has a different side of this story to tell, and that’s not mine to share. Parker will one day have her version of this story too.
February 21, 2019
After finding out the previous day that we were officially an active family, I awoke that Thursday morning to several emails from our adoption consultant. The first told of a baby girl, born several days earlier at 31 weeks currently in the NICU less than an hour from our home, and her brave mother, looking to make an adoption plan for her baby. My husband was already at work, but he too had just read this same email. And after a very short conversation, we agreed to put our yes on the table.
I had just sat down for lunch later that day when my phone rang. I wish I could remember the details of this phone call, the exact words that were said and my response, but all I remember is that I was told we were chosen to be this little girl’s parents. The next stretch of time is a blur as well. I remember calling my husband and telling him the news. I remember texting a friend and her calling me immediately and her yelling with joy on the other end of the phone. I remember wondering if I should pack a bag for the hospital or wash my hair or prep some food, not knowing yet when we would get to meet this baby and her mother. It’s all a total blur except for the fact that my lunch remained uneaten.
The next four days, the length of the revocation period in the state of Georgia where we were living at the time and where baby girl was born, were also a total blur. We were in regular contact with our adoption consultants and the adoption agency and I lived for any update on the baby and her mother during this time. All I wanted to do was hold this baby and hug her mother and learn everything about her, but I couldn’t yet. So, not knowing what else to do, I went to target and put together a little gift for her. And I prayed A LOT; not for this baby to be ours (although if I’m being honest there was probably a little of this in my weaker moments), but for the health of the baby, for God to guide the doctors and nurses caring for her, and for her mother to make the right decision for her and her baby, no matter what that decision was.
February 25, 2019
After a long, hard weekend of waiting (a hard that I know paled in comparison to what Parker’s birth mom went through), we got the call from the adoption agency at 4pm that Monday, telling us that it was official…we were the parents of this little girl and we could meet her that evening. We immediately called each of our parents and told them they had a new grand baby and we revealed the name we had chosen for her, Parker Bree. I rushed to pack anything I could possibly need, not knowing if I’d be coming home anytime soon. And we left our house for the last time as a family of two.
I have zero memory of the drive to the hospital, walking in the front doors or riding the elevator up to the floor the NICU was on. All I remember was meeting the representative from our agency outside the NICU and chatting with her, hungry for information about the baby and her birth mom, while we waited for shift change to end so we could meet our baby. When the time came, just after 7pm, we walked up to the table where you sign in, and the representative from the adoption agency introduced us, for what was the very first time, as parents to this baby girl. We got our “proud parent” visitor stickers, washed our hands, and made our way back to the “Pooh” section to meet our daughter.
What happened next is a blur of emotions, images, and physical feelings, all imprinted in my brain and on my body – the thrill of walking towards the isolette knowing our daughter lay inside it, the pure joy when I laid eyes on her for the first time, the way my husband totally froze next to me and knowing it was because he was feeling more emotions than he knew what to do with, the feel of her tiny little head in my palm, her skin against my skin, the tangle of the tubes and wires enveloping us as I held her for the first time, a new kind of love for my husband overwhelming me as I saw him hold her close against his body.
She had a little pink and blue striped hospital hat on that the nurses made into a bow for her and then that fell on the ground and we had to put a new hat on her. We were told she had gotten a bath that day, a special thing because it wasn’t bath day in the NICU, because they knew she was going to meet her mommy and daddy that night. They added her name to the isolette decorations they’d made for her with her hand and footprints on them. The nurse asked if I wanted to change her diaper, but, intimidated by all the wires and the fact that she was so small, I told her I’d watch her do it this time. We stared at this beautiful girl, in awe that she was ours, for as long as we could, and then we went home which felt completely wrong because how could we possibly leave our precious girl. But we came back the next morning, our first full day as parents to our Parker girl. We took turns doing skin to skin with her, the only way she was able to be held at the time, we heard her cry for the first time (removing tape from delicate 8 day old baby skin is not fun!), I changed her diaper, we took her photo, all the normal things new parents do (except that we had to have help from a nurse to do them) which was such an amazing blessing and everything I had dreamed it would be.
The next day we got to meet her birth mom for the first time. I’m not going to go into detail because it’s not just our story and that time with her is sacred. I’ll just say that what could have been incredibly awkward felt almost normal, like grabbing lunch with a new, but very good friend. Jared and I both left that lunch in awe of her strength and overwhelmed with love for her, beyond happy to welcome her as part of our family.
The next few weeks were spent going back and forth between home and the NICU. It was mostly just Parker and me, which sounds weird considering the two of us were constantly surrounded by a sea of babies and nurses and other families. We had a couple visits from family, and my husband came whenever he could get away from his training exercise. But it was a special time of bonding, just mama and daughter, that I will forever cherish. And as my heart swelled with love as I got to know our new baby, it also broke more and more for her birth mom – for everything she had gone through and was still going through, and for what they could have had together if things were different. But I prayed for her and for Parker as I held her close in our little corner of the NICU. I updated her birth mom with every milestone Parker hit, which was many and frequent because she was (and still is) such a little warrior, and we started building the foundation of our open adoption.
I don’t know how to end this story, because the story doesn’t end there. I set out to put the details of our part of her adoption story to words (our part because it’s only one third of what went down during this time), but her adoption story didn’t end when the paperwork was signed, or when the revocation period ended, or when we met her, or when she came home from the NICU, or when the adoption was finalized. It’s still being written now, as I hold her while she sleeps, a year removed from when we met her and a whole year old, and it will continue being written throughout her life. Adoption isn’t her whole identity, but it is a part of who she is and she’s going to have to figure out what all of this means for her, as we guide and love her through that. That will be her story to tell though, not ours; her one third of this journey that led to our family.