It was a Tuesday afternoon in late November, and I had just gone to a fundraiser luncheon for my husband's job. He was the keynote speaker and I was brimming with pride watching him on stage sharing his heart. Since he'd ridden to the event with coworkers, I gave him a a ride back to work afterward.
The point of this part of the story: Nick and I are never, ever together on a Tuesday afternoon at 1:45.
As we pulled into the parking lot, Nick's phone rang. He answered and looked at me in disbelief. "Oh hey, Debbie!" he said.
I knew in that moment what was happening. My palms got sweaty and my heart raced as I watched his face. He put her on speakerphone and we listened as she told us the news:
a baby girl, due in January. The birthmother had chosen us and wanted to set up a phone conversation for later that week. We listened as we heard her background, why she was choosing adoption, and how it would all play out when the time came.
After hanging up, we both sat in stunned silence.
Truthfully, we didn't know that we were still even in the running for a baby. We'd known that birthmothers were few and far between, and we'd let our homestudy expire, taking our sweet time to get it renewed, as we didn't really feel rushed, and the sting of our last experience still lingered.
We were excited, nervous, cautious... and even though we'd been hurt before, we couldn't stop smiling. This felt different.
Six days later we sat down for the conference call that had been set up with the birthmother and our caseworker. We dialed the number, not sure what would come of all of it. We reached our caseworker and made small talk, waiting for the birthmother to dial in.
She never did.
Our hearts sank a little, feeling like this was a sure sign that it would all happen as it did before. We continued to talk ourselves into remaining as neutral is possible. Expect the worst, hope for the best. Not our style at all, but we wanted to remain realistic and do what we could to guard our hearts.
The next day, our caseworker called us to reschedule, explaining that Jen (*not her real name, but I am tired of typing out "the birthmother") had fallen asleep and missed the time to call. She did want to speak with us, and we set up another conversation for the following day.
The phone conversation could not have gone better. She was friendly and sweet, and we felt totally at ease. It was an awkward conversation, knowing why we were on the phone, and not really sure how to address everything. But we got to know each other a bit and felt relief that it had gone so easily as we hung up.
We made plans to get the room ready after Christmas, and just enjoy this last little bit of time with the boys before our world (potentially) changed.
And then we got news that Jen had her baby three weeks early! Born on December 16, healthy as could be, beautiful and with a head full of hair. And I was dying... I wanted to be there, to hold her and cuddle her and bring her home with me.
But the agency advised we wait the ten days the birthparents have to change their minds and take back parental rights. It made sense, no matter how much my heart ached to hold that baby.
Our caseworker took her to a "caring home" - to stay with a family that volunteers to care for newborns until their adoptive parents come to take them home. The sweet couple sent me photos, dressed her for Christmas, and stayed in touch about how she was doing. The days dragged on, each day my heart growing more and more fond of this baby I didn't know, all the while very aware that Jen could take her back at any moment.
She had until 9pm on Thursday night to change her mind, my flight left at 10:45.
Nine o'clock came and went, and we finally breathed a sigh of relief and elation.
I boarded my flight and couldn't sleep a wink. I could not wait to hold my girl.
After a long layover and one more flight, I got my rental car and drove another couple of hours to my hotel. I changed my clothes, freshened up, texted a million people and waited and waited and then...
the knock on the door that changed my life, my heart forever. The caseworker and the woman who'd taken care of our baby stood there, my little Frances in her arms. She was awake and quiet and so tiny. I scooped her up and took her in - her sweet face, her soft curls, deep brown eyes, dimpled cheeks. I couldn't believe she was real. That she was mine.
In a sleepless daze, I signed all the papers, hugged the ladies, and they were off.
It was just us - me and Frances - alone at last in my little hotel room.
And that's where we've stayed for the last 24 hours, cuddling and eating and sleeping and getting to know each other. We skyped with Nick and the boys (who were way more interested in the burger I was eating than their baby sister).
I'll be here for another week, until the paperwork is approved by both states and I can fly home. I am so grateful for this time to be with her and ease into real life.
I am so thankful for the gift that this baby is.
And I am so grateful for all of you, who have supported us, loved us, prayed for us...
You are part of her story - of our story. And we are so blessed.