its a boy

Going through it {Welcome Baby}

“ You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go through it. Uh-huh! We’re not scared.”

That little mantra comes from one of my kids’ favorites books and it has been on repeat in my head for the last several weeks with one exception. The kids from the book who are going on a bear hunt bravely declare that they are not scared, but with timidity, I kept thinking about just how scared I was. I finally took a sigh of relief this past Friday.

Let me back up to the day that little mantra started playing in my head. I was roller skating, yes, roller skating with a bunch of gangly fourth and fifth graders from my son’s class. As we wrapped up the event, I asked a teacher to take a picture of an unenthusiastic Greyson and me. As she handed my phone back I noticed I had a few missed calls. They were all from the same unknown number, and I had a voicemail. The kids took the bus back to their school and I hopped in my car to head home. I was thinking that I hated the smell roller rinks left on your clothes as I tapped the speaker button to play my message.

It took me a minute to register that it was a caseworker from an agency near Detroit asking me to call her back as she had good news to share with me. Now, I’ve heard that it’s typical for the labor and delivery process to get quicker with each child you have, but no one ever said that of an adoption process. Yet, we had been through a four year process with Charlie, to a thirteen month process for Sawyer and now it had been six short weeks since we began waiting in this adoption. Surely, this was not the good news the caseworker meant, but I intended to find out. I called her back immediately.

Thankfully, I was around the corner from Ron’s office so I pulled in and headed to find him. He wasn’t in his office, but I took a seat at his desk and began to furiously scribble notes as the caseworker talked. Ron walked in a few seconds later with a confused look on his face, and I mouthed the words “BABY!” and pointed at my phone. Sure enough, there was a pregnant women who wanted to meet with us, and could we drive across the state next week? We could, so we did, and there we met the birth mom of our fourth child.

When we started waiting in September I just had to ask the average wait of families at the agency. I was given the politically correct answer that of course they couldn’t ever really say, but it seemed to be somewhere around six to fourteen months. I did the math in my head and liked where that put us, past the busyness of the holidays, past the trip we had planned to take in January and into spring or summer where it’s easy to get out with a baby. Yet, here we were meeting a brave, spunky women who had needed to find a family quickly for her baby because she was due in four weeks. Again, I did the math and asked “Your due date is on Thanksgiving?”.

We didn’t even wait those four weeks to meet our baby. While I was still trying to wrap my head around it all, I got a text from the birth mom one Friday morning. She would be getting induced. … today. Which was a little more than a week prior to her due date. Sometimes I wonder if God thinks its fun to mess with me. Kinda seems like maybe He does. This whole scenario was so far away from what we had envisioned, and lets be honest, what I had planned. I kept telling people when we started the process “I have no expectations,” and I certainly didn’t expect THIS.

THIS being that this adoption was not a clear cut situation. THIS being that while we were able to be there an hour after the birth to meet our baby, he would not be coming home with us. Yes, we were allowed to stay in the hospital with him until he was released, but he would be going to a host care (think agency foster care) rather than home to our family. Goodness, I cried about that. It seemed unfair. I have grieved missing the first year of two of my kids’ lives, and swore that this time it would be different. It was different. We could visit everyday, but there were strict rules put into place. We couldn’t be with him longer than two hours a day, less than that on the weekends, and our kids were not allowed to meet him or visit with us. Of course they had gone over all of these scenarios with us, but we were told it was pretty rare for a baby to go to host care. I just didn’t expect for both his birth mom and his new family to be leaving the hospital without him. Again, the little mantra played over and over in my head. “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, You’ve got to go through it.” And I felt scared.

There we sat; Ron and I in a hospital across the state falling madly in love with our tiny 5 pound 6 ounce baby, while his first family sat in another room just down the hall. We kept him with us at night, but he would visit her during the day. We visited with her too, met her parents, and her nana. We all cooed over the baby. It felt a little surreal. Then just like that it was time for her to head home. The lump in my throat grew as we wheeled the bassinet into her room for the goodbye. She picked him up and held him close, tears streaming down both our faces. Then she bravely handed him over to us and out she went. I can only describe this as the rawest form of true love I’ve ever witnessed. She put her own desires aside for the needs of her baby. She holds a piece of my heart.

We woke up the next morning in the hospital feeling anxious and discouraged. Today the host family would come to take our baby home. After a few restless hours, the caseworker walked in and immediately my lip began to tremble. “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, got to go through it.”

Ron says I am being dramatic here, but I don’t know how else to define what happened next. An extreme presence of peace was ushered in with the host mom. It was like Jesus walked in with her. She had a warm, welcoming smile. She empathized with us and although I bawled when she put my baby in her car, I was certain he would be loved. God has been so good to us. Our wonderful host mom told us to come as often and as long as we wanted, she sent pictures and texts daily, and most importantly, she loved on my baby. I don’t know what kind of person signs up to take on a newborns schedule, but they are some kind of wonderful. It wasn’t an easy couple of weeks, but this family certainly lightened the load.

Our final step in this process was court, not for us, but for the birth parents. Without going into too much detail, this is where all the issues came into play. Legally, certain steps must be taken in order for our baby to be able to come home. We knew there were concerns, but the agency felt they had a good handle on the situation. Forty eight hours before paperwork had to be sent, I got a call. The caseworker explained that things had not gone as planned, it was proving more difficult to get everything in order than originally thought. They had had a meeting with their legal team. If things didn’t turn around in the next couple of hours, court would need to be rescheduled. The caseworker said “if you have people willing to pray, I’d contact them now”

That is exactly what we did. One of my prayer warriors said as she was praying, “ Thank you God that you are in the midst of the details, that nothing escapes your eye.” So yes, we were going through it, but we were certainly not going through it alone. I am so thankful for faithful friends and family who covered us in prayers, watched our children so we could make visits a reality, and constantly checked in on us to see how we were doing. They helped carry us through.

Nine hours after my original phone call from the caseworker, late in the evening, she called again. They had a break through, they had dug up new information, and just a few minutes before she called me, all the time sensitive paperwork was completed. Only God, only God. We give Him the Glory for moving on our behalf. One week later, this past Friday, court went on without a hitch, and our sweet boy came home to brothers ecstatic to meet him. I choke up just thinking about all the emotional ups and downs we have experienced these past five weeks. When I asked the birth mom the reasons she selected our family, one of them was that she wanted him to have a large family filled with boys. She said “I think he will fit in great with your crew.” We couldn’t agree more. Marge, maybe not as much.

God never ceases to amaze me with His plans, His purposes, and His timing. We give Him praise for our fourth son:

Bennett Ray-Isaac Cook

It's a...

I had mentioned a while ago that our adoption agency said this time around our process would be fast, like lightening fast. I didn't believe them. I am still not certain I do, but so far they have lived up to some promises.

When we received our referral for Charlie, our caseworker told me that referrals come in on Friday's. So this time  around I did not think about "the call" except on Fridays. This past Friday marked 12 weeks that our paperwork was sent to Korea but it's not like you are automatically put on the waiting list. Your paperwork gets processed and translated. I imagine that can take some time. We were told referrals were coming in anywhere between 1-6 months after the paperwork was submitted. So, really anytime. This past Friday came, I made sure to have my phone on loud but it never rang. Then Monday came.

Monday is the only day that I work, I look at my phone at lunch and I can hear it buzzing with an email or text during the day but often times we are pretty busy so I don't check it. I heard it ringing around 3:45 and did not think any thing of it. After all our patients were gone and we were wrapping the day up, I pulled it out to see who had called.

Missed call : Adoption Agency... Lump in Throat

I gasped and walked to the back leaving my coworkers to stare. We had some issues with paperwork so I told myself that was why they were calling but the lump did not go away. I called back, line busy. I called my caseworker's cell phone, it went to voicemail. I walked back to my co-workers and explained the situation. Everybody got excited and I told them not to, that it was probably just a paperwork call.  I gave it 5 more minutes and then headed to the back to call again and this time she picked up. She started the same way she had when she called about Charlie "I have good news for you".

It is such a surreal feeling to learn about your kid over the phone, my caseworker started talking and I was listening but not really hearing. Thoughts like  "It's not Friday" and  "I'm standing in a sterile procedure room at work" were running through my head and I had to force myself to focus. She rattled off information quickly, weight, height, birthdate and current age until she finally  said "Oh, I should have started with it's a boy. '"She gave me some more information, I cried and then she said she was emailing me pictures and the paperwork. The phone call ended and I sat in the quiet room for just a few seconds soaking it in, thanking Jesus and blowing my nose.

I called Ron before I headed out to tell my co-workers and his first response when I said we got a referral was "But, it's Monday". He was wrangeling 4 kids at the time because we had our nephews for a few days. It was a quick call and a promise to head home and over to the pool where he had the boys swimming to burn off some energy. I drove home and then to pool all with the knowledge that I could see him if I opened my email but I waited. For us, opening the email is kinda like the moment at the hospital when they lay your baby on your stomach and you get to see them. I wanted us to be together.

I met Ron at the pool and with kids running around, strangers splashing nearby and the sun beating down on us we opened the email and layed eyes on our little boy for the first time. And let me tell you, he is a ball of chubby goodness. We laughed at the size of his cheeks, crazy hair and curious eyes.(I wish I could share his picture) We rejoiced over God's faithfulness and gave Him thanks for entrusting us with another child.  We have named him Sawyer and we are already so in love with him.

The day you get "the call" is so fun.  It is filled with a lot of emotion and phone calls/texts to family and friends.  So far everyone we have told has asked us how long until we get to travel. When we started the process just 5 months ago my caseworker told me that at the rate things were going we could most likely expect a baby home before the end of the year. I called this week to check current time frames and wouldn't you know it, things have slowed down. It's hard to hear about changes in the process when you are waiting for a referral but once you have that picture hanging on your fridge it becomes nearly impossible. Travel times after acceptance of referral are  9-12 months for the first trip. NO! JUST NO! He is only 6 months old right now and if we were to travel before the years end he would still be under a year. So this is the point where I begin asking for prayer again. Even though in comparison to our last process this is very fast, we want him home!

In addition to that our travel vouchers from our spring break fiasco expire in April. We believe that God provided us those tickets for our trip to Korea. They are worth $5,200 and would cover our first set of flights completely!! I know He is bigger than any government, I know He goes before us, I know His faithfulness first hand AND it's still really hard to walk out those beliefs.  So, this week I am busy filling out more forms, dreaming of meeting him in person and praying. Please join me!

Greyson is thrilled about having another boy so "he doesn't have to play with barbies" and Charlie points at his pictue and says "Hi baby". Three boys will be quite an adventure. This week while our nephews were over and all the boys were running around in the back yard with their bike helmets on (who knows why) I was informed they were creating a boys only club. So I guess it's fitting that we are having another boy because in the words of Greyson "No girls allowed". I did sneak into the club to take a picture of their sign informing everyone that boys rule....shhh.