Four years ago Monday, Casey entered the world. We were so lucky to be present and witness his arrival. And in honor of his fourth birthday, I thought I'd share our story.
Jason and I decided to pursue adoption some time around November or December 2001. We had attended a seminar in Orange County which had convinced us that open adoption was for us. That following January (2002) we attended a weekend-long seminar in Los Angeles to begin the process. I remember coming home from that weekend feeling like for the first time in a long time, we were finally in control. (How we arrived at this point is unimportant to this story-- and maybe a post for another day.)
We scheduled our physical exams, requested our birth certificates and marriage license, made appointments for fingerprinting, and met our assigned social worker. The months that followed were a hurricane of paperwork. We wrote long and detailed auto-biographies, harassed our closest friends for letters of recommendations (outlining why we would be such good parents), got proof of good driving records and lacking criminal records, and began writing a letter to potential birth mothers. We also baby-proofed our home, cleaned and prepared for our homestudy visit, and set up an 800 numbers so women interested in interviewing us could reach us.
It took us around 6 months to finish all our paperwork. The first month we had two phone calls from prospective birth mothers. The second month we had two more. And that July we drove up to Santa Clara to meet G, who we liked immediately. By the end of our two days visiting, she revealed that she wanted to match with us, and we were in heaven. She even gave us photographs of the baby's ultrasound. But then G stopped calling. Days passed, then weeks, then months-- and because she'd never called our agency, we were still officially waiting. And receiving phone calls every couple weeks.
In the meantime, I felt at a complete loss. For the first time in my life, things were not going as planned. In that first six months of 2002, I switched jobs, studied for the LSAT to apply for law school, and trained for a marathon. I was going crazy trying to keep my mind off the one thing that mattered more to me than anything else: starting a family.
Thanksgiving weekend we got a phone call from a facilitator in Indiana who had a birthmother who was interested in us after seeing our profile online (we had a website). She was going to call us back in a few days. And true to her word, she did. But the birthmother had changed her mind already and decided to parent. In the meantime, we'd received a phone call from a lovely woman in Georgia-- M. M and I talked pretty regularly over the next 6 weeks or so. She already had two boys and her life was pretty complicated, and her boyfriend didn't think they were in an emotional or financial position to parent. At the same time, he was kind of in denial about the fact the baby was coming soon, and he didn't want to interview prospective families.
M hadn't committed to us, so we kept our information out there. I really wanted things to work out with M. But I couldn't put all my eggs in one basket. Then, a couple weeks later, we got another phone call from the facilitator. This time she had a birthmother in Ohio who was interested in us. This birthmother wanted to talk to us-- and the facilitator gave us her phone number.
I called, but there was no answer. I called 30 minutes later. No answer. I repeated again 30 minutes later. Still no answer. I called the facilitator back. "She's avoiding me," I said. The facilitator told me she'd investigate and call me back. She did and told me to try one last time. So I did. It turned out Angie, the birthmother I was trying to reach, had been at a doctor's appointment over an hour away and it was snowing so it took a long time to get home, so she wasn't there when I called. Anyway, Angie and I hit it off over the phone. Still, no one made any promises or committments.
Angie was due January 21, 2003. M was due at the end of April 2003. Angie was having a boy. M didn't know if she was having a boy or a girl. We were headed to Florida the second week of January because I'd been signed up for Disneyworld's 10th Annual Marathon. I actually ended up with a stress fracture over the Thanksgiving holiday (or the weekend after), but I had paid all that money for the trip-- and we were going. And our good friends (the Goulds) were going to Disney, too. Jessica Gould was pregnant with J.T. at the time, and Erik was fixing to run the marathon, too.
Anyway, long story short, I fan (and finished) the marathon on a stress fracture (read: broken) leg. It took me forever, but I finished it. And I have the metal to prove it! The next day (a Monday) Angie called to let us know they had decided to induce her, and she was certain she wanted us to parent, and could we please get to Ohio by Wednesday morning at 7:30am? Um, YES!
We rearranged our return tickets (we were scheduled to return to San Diego on Wednesday the 15th, so we just changed our tickets to Tuesday). As luck would have it, we were already scheduled to fly through Ohio! So we just needed an extended layover. The only down side to all of this is that we were on vacation. In Florida. Which means we were completely unprepared for winter snow, which we were destined to experience in Ohio in January. We also had nothing ready. We had purchased no nursery furniture. We had no baby clothes, no carrier, no changing table, no diapers. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I didn't want a nursery in our house until we were sure we were having a baby-- no reason to remind myself of what we were missing day in and day out.
Anyway, on January 14th we spent the morning at Disneyworld's Wild Kingdom, hopped a shuttle to the hotel, grabbed our bags, took another shuttle to the airport, and go on an airplane to Ohio. We told everyone why we were going to Ohio in shorts in the dead of winter. And everyone on the plane was so excited for us.
We flew into Cincinnati, but Angie was going to be induced in a rather small city about an hour south of Columbus. When we arrived late at night, the rental agency had us set up in an economy-sized car (which is what we requested). As she was helping us with directions to Casey's birth city, we explained to her why we were flying into an airport several hours away. And why Jason was wearing shorts. She was so excited for us-- and immediately surmised that two Californians driving across the state of Ohio in the middle of the night in the dead of winter probably needed something a little safer than an econo-box. So she upgraded us to an SUV (thankfully!).
We drove through the night. In the snow. And we got to Chilicothe, Ohio around 2am. We checked into our hotel room (which had two double beds because my mom was going to fly up from North Carolina the following day to meet us). And we crashed.
Angie-- who we had never actually met asked us to meet her at the hospital the next morning, where they were planning to induce her. And so we got up eary and went over to the hospital. I remember telling Jason I was nervous about knowing who she was. After all, she had our picture-- but we didn't have hers. He told me she'd be the pregnant one, and I replied that his comment wasn't funny, seeing as how we'd be meeting her in the maternity ward. But we really had no problem finding Angie at all. She was the pregnant one-- the only pregnant one wandering the hallways and not in labor. And I remember her big grin when we first met.
I don't remember what we did while she checked in. Maybe we waited in the hallway? What I remember is her in her hospital bed and us in chairs in the room, and meeting Linda, her mom. Linda (Grandma Linda to Casey) had to get back home to the kids (Angie's other two children) to get them to school. So she left us with her cell phone number and their home phone number in instructions to call when it looked like Angie was getting close. And then we were alone with Angie.
Conversation flowed very easily. We taught her some card games. And then the hosptial social worker showed up and literally kicked us out of the room. Told us to go down to the cafeteria so she could have a chat with Angie. Basically, the hospital had to make sure Angie was okay with us hanging around her while she was in labor. And they didn't want us to be around while they asked her a million questions. We sat in the cafeteria, picking at the food, wondering what questions they were asking and how Angie was responding. And when we returned 30 minutes or so later, Angie invited us back into her room.
They'd started her pitocin drip around 8:00am, and then at 10:00am, the doctor came in and asked us to leave the room again so they could break Angie's water. The whole time we were in with Angie, she never indicated she was in pain, but after they broke her water, one of the nurses turned up the volume of the monitor so we could hear when the contractions were occurring. Jason and I were both surprised and impressed with how calmly Angie was handling it-- those contractions seemed to be coming awfully frequently!
In the meantime, Jason and I debated whether or not he should drive to Columbus to pick up my mom. She was scheduled to arrive around noon, so he'd only we away from the hospital from 11am to 1pm, and we'd heard that induced labor often lasts forever. My mom offered to take a bus, but Jason thought we should go pick her up. In the end, he stayed with me (and Angie). And boy, it's a good thing he did. . .
So this has been a very long and uneventful post so far. . . but it gets more exciting (I promise). Still, I'm tired, so I'll have to add to this tomorrow. Hopefully by the actual day of Casey's birthday I'll have told his whole birth story!