Jauary 4, 2002 was a normal day until we got THE call! Then it turned into the day that we had our first contact in our adoption journey with respect to Caleb.
You see, we had been waiting a LONG time, had walked a very long and very difficult, heart-wrenching, and most importantly, God-ordained journey to get to this point.
Our adoption journey actually officially began in March of 2000 when we went to an informational meeting for an adoption agency. After the meeting, we truly felt this was the plan and the process to build our family, so we jumped in with both sets of our feet. We completed the necessary paperwork; we read the necessary books; we had the necessary home study visits; and most importantly we began working on our Dear Birthmother letter.
I then took a trip to visit my parents and saw a friend and was filling her in our adoption plan. She then told me about a young lady that we had known from our church who was pregnant and was interested in placing her baby for adoption. She asked if she could provide her with my information. I told her, “Of course!”
Trying very hard not to get my hopes up, I went home and went back to work and continued getting things accomplished on the adoption checklist.
To make a long story much shorter, that situation did not lead to a placement, but led to a lot of heartache and ultimately led to Tony spending 15 days in the hospital — including three in ICU and being intubated overnight — after having a four-hour MAJOR surgery. I knew that there was no way that I could have taken care of a newborn, taken care of my husband, myself, our home and continued working. But darn it all, I was so confused!
Due to Tony being so sick, we never were able to grieve the loss of that little baby that we held and cared for for almost two weeks until months later. When we finally did, we got back into the adoption process, working on our Dear Birthmother letter again. There were lots of phone calls, meetings, discussions, disagreements, frustrations with the adoption agency, as well as many tears over that letter. Until finally we had our approval and were able to get the required number of copies that the agency needed.
And then we waited. And waited. AND waited. AND WAITED. (I was not a very patient waiter.)
We began talking and wondering if this really was what God had planned for us. We talked about medical intervention, which we had never done, and sought counsel from some wonderful and dear friends. I talked to my doctor and he referred me to another doctor. We scheduled the appointment and they almost “guaranteed” that they could help us.
We (well, I should clarify that “we”‘ to be an “I”) were almost desperate enough that we believed them and were ready to jump in with both feet without looking. Outside of October/November 2000, these were some of the worst five months of my life at that point.
I do not remember the exact day, but one day in November 2001, I called my doctor and told them I was done. I couldn’t go through any more treatments. The nurse assured me there were more things they could do — much more invasive, mind you — and I just said no, I’m done. I couldn’t go through any more heartache. Not even an hour later, my phone at work rang. I answered it and it was our adoption agency. The agency had received a phone call from a birthmom who had given birth at home, had been taken to the hospital, had no insurance and wanted to place her child for adoption. They wanted to know if we were interested in having our profile presented with about five other families who had been waiting as long as we had. I called Tony to get his thoughts, he said to go ahead, called the agency back and then waited. I truly felt this was God telling me that we had made the right decision to forgo any other medical intervention and that adoption was the plan for our family. I had a peace that I had never felt before.
Obviously, that was not God’s answer for our family, but we were okay with it.
Then we started talking about whether we should think about international adoptions, but then that led us back full circle to our current agency. Tony and I decided if we were willing to go the international route, we should be willing to open our preferences with our current agency, where we had already completed all of the necessary paperwork, paid all of the required fees, and had spent so much time and energy over the last year. Around the first part of December, we completed a new “preferences” profile page and sent it to our agency.
Things were so busy with the holidays that we didn’t have much time to just “sit and wait.” Then came the snow storm of January 2002. January 4, 2002, we were snowed in. Granted Raleigh had only received four inches of snow, but an inch of snow closed down the city!!! They were just not equipped to deal with snow. We spent the day at home and that evening we were doing something on the internet. At the time we had the slow dial-up!!! We were on the internet for hours! I can’t even remember what we were doing. I can visualize the picture of us sitting in our living room with the computer on our living room floor. I am not sure why we were in there and not in the office! When we got off, it was well after 9:00 p.m. And, guess what, we had a message!
I checked the message and was shocked when I heard it was from our adoption agency. I immediately got off the phone and tried calling, but even though they called from the California office, could not get anyone except for the 24-hour birthmother line. And because it wasn’t an emergency, they wouldn’t call any one for us. So we had to wait.
Saturday morning, we received a call from some dear friends that had come up from Florida for a wedding that weekend. We ventured out to meet them and learned about a small church, which turned out to be a church where we met some wonderful people and who were there to support us and pray for us during the next a year and a half.
Monday morning as soon as our local office opened I called and talked to the staff there, but they had no idea what the call would have been about. I would have to wait until after Noon to call the California office. I’ll tell you what, that was the longest morning at work that I had had in a very long time.
When I was finally able to call, I learned that they had a birthmother, who was due the end of February, and they wanted to know if we were interested in having our profile sent. I told her yes, since Tony and I had talked a lot over the weekend about the possibilities. I was told that they would be sending our profile as well as one other one to her by overnight mail that day. And so there was much more waiting!
Tuesday was a normal workday and that evening we were going about our normal activities when the phone rang. I answered it and it turned out to be Caleb’s birthmother. She had chosen us! I was in absolute shock. We talked for a while on the phone, learning about her situation, answering questions about us, back and forth.
Wednesday I called and talked to our counselor at the agency in California and we began making plans to fly out to meet her less than three weeks later.
After getting the call from Caleb’s birthmother telling us that she had chosen us to be the parents of her unborn child, there was a lot to do, since she was due eight weeks later. Our agency liked to have what they call a “match meeting” where the adoptive parents and the birth parent(s) meet and kind of develop a plan of how the hospital is going to be handled, how visitation after placement is handled and, most importantly, how much or how little contact there is going to be and what type.
Since Caleb’s birthmother lived in California and we lived in North Carolina and with her being within the last trimester, we knew that the best way to make to this happen was for us to fly out to California and go through the California office.
Since Tony was working as a contractor for the postal service he had a long weekend due to the Martin Luther King holiday, so it was a perfect time for us to go. If I remember right, we flew out on Saturday and flew back home on Tuesday.
We had arranged with Caleb’s birthmother that we would pick her up Sunday morning and spend the day with her. We ended up going to the State Capital and then going to Sutter’s Fort, as those were things she really wanted us to see.
It was a fairly good day, albeit it was an emotionally taxing day.
On Monday, we were scheduled to meet with the counselor to do the “match meeting.” We picked up Caleb’s birthmother again and took her with us to the meeting. The meeting went well and there didn’t appear to be any “points of contention.” She did request help with some clothing and we discussed that with our counselor. After the meeting, we took her shopping for some clothes, got her something to eat and then dropped her back off, since we had a VERY early flight the next morning.
At that point, all we could do was WAIT!
So when we got back home from meeting Caleb’s birthmother, we had approximately six weeks to prepare for Caleb’s arrival. Fortunately, we already had the crib and a lot of clothes and other baby stuff. The big things that we did not have was a stroller and a car seat. Tony and I decided we would wait and buy a stroller and car seat in California, so we wouldn’t have to fly out with it, to make things easier.
Getting things ready helped pass the time. During this time, Caleb’s birthmother would call every few days to let us know how she was doing for the first couple of weeks. Then we stopped hearing from her. We’d try and call her at the last number that we had and we would learn that she had left that location.
Then a couple of days later we would hear from her!
After about two or three weeks of this, the stress was really getting to me. I was beginning to wonder if she was just using us. I called our counselor at the agency in a panic one day, not knowing what was going to happen. She calmed me down and told me that we only had a couple of weeks until her due date. She told me to stay calm and keep preparing and to see what happened.
I’ll tell you what, those next two weeks were very LONG.
On February 28th, I received a call from Caleb’s birthmother’s friend saying that she was at the hospital in labor. I called our counselor and she told us to start getting ready to travel. I left work and began finishing our packing and changing our plane tickets to fly out the next day. Later that afternoon, about 4:45, we received the phone call that our son was born. We were so excited. I could hardly sleep that night! The next day we began the long flight to California. I called the hospital and talked to our son’s birthmom before we got on the plane. She told us that the nurses said it would be okay for us to come to the hospital as soon as we got into town, even though it would not be until about 10 p.m. that we would even land at the airport.
We did go straight to the hospital and this is the first time I was able to see our son, Caleb Alexander:
This is an absolutely horrible picture of me, seeing it was actually 1 a.m. North Carolina time and I’d spent seven hours on an airplane!
Caleb spent five days in the hospital and then was discharged to us. His birthmother was resolved in her decision and signed all the necessary papers when she was asked to. We even had to do it a second time due to the fact that there was some mental health questions and we found out that she needed to have a psychological exam performed before actually signing the papers. So we had to hurry and get all of that accomplished.
We were told that it could take weeks to get the necessary ICPC paperwork approved, which meant we had to stay in California until that happened. It so happened, that because our home study would have expired while we were in California and would need to get it updated as soon as possible, we were actually able to receive a conditional approval and leave California to go home to North Carolina within a week of Caleb being discharged from the hospital.
It was wonderful to be able to go home with our little boy!
So that is some of the major points of Caleb’s adoption story!!!! There are other stories that are intertwined with this that I may share at other times of individuals who helped us during this very exciting, but stressful time in our lives. God blessed us with some wonderful friends who blessed us in ways that we could never have imagined.