Tuesday, July 22, 2008

we interrupt this blog...

to bring you updated photos of our girls:

Cora's first taste of rice cereal -- her adoration of Madison

Cora's smile upon awakening -- Madison shucking homegrown corn (thanks, Shannon!)
My girls in MY childhood rocker -- Madison with my favorite childhood book (Little Mommy; which she reads fluently now)

Madison on the 4th -- Cora with our new fav bottle (no hands required - great for dinnertime with her family!)

finally, Madison with her "science project" from Gammy (powdered snow)

God's story, part 3

I didn’t intend for these posts to be “poor me” posts... I hope they don’t sound so. Rather I wanted to remember the details so we can remember the blessings behind the trials. There were so many.

So our names were first on the standby list for the overbooked 4:20 flight. At 3:30, Mr. Kenney called to say the papers had arrived in Topeka and that we’d been approved to come home!! After regular boarding, the agent started making the “last call… if you don’t board now your seats will be given to standby customers…” He made this call about 3 times, telling us there were 2 seats available; as long as these people remained “missing” we would be aboard.

Madison and I started praying… the agent made one last call… then a business passenger, who has precedence over standby customers, ran up and took one of the seats. Madison looked at me and said, “Do we have to stay in Texas again tonight, Mom?” To which I couldn’t even answer.

At that point, I heard the ticket agent announce: “Would the passenger who spoke about giving up his seat please come see me?” Apparently this guy was waiting to board the plane so he could see if we got on. When the flight got down to only one open seat, he gave up his to let us get on.

I can’t even tell you how overwhelmed I was. To say I was speechless is putting it mildly.

This good Samaritan refused to give me his name – even told the ticketing agent not to tell me – because he didn’t want any thanks. He said, “I heard you on the phone with your husband. You need to get home to your mom. I can easily catch a later flight.”

We got on that flight and were home a little over an hour later!! Ohmygosh, seeing Tuck’s face was the best sight we’d seen in a long, long time.

Our friends had all signed up to bring dinners to us – we had food delivered for over two weeks, beginning with 2 that were delivered for my sweet husband while we girls were still in TX. The first month at home with Cora was pretty typical of a home with a newborn and preschooler. Tiring, yes, but also full of new discoveries, joy and unexplainable love.

Mom had her quadruple bypass surgery March 20 and was out of the hospital on March 24! She has healed remarkably from that – both in her chest and her leg where they removed the arteries. However, the blood clot that was in her other leg is still there. Prior to her surgery, the surgeons put a “cage” into the artery with that clot to prevent it from moving to her heart/lungs and killing her.

Turns out, the cage did its job – the clot moved out of its original place in her leg and into the cage. Problem is, it backed up the entire artery in her leg. She has had a full-leg blood clot since then. It has slowed her down immensely, but her attitude is incredible. She’ll go in mid-August to see if the blood thinners have been working and what the next course of action should be.

Since Cora’s birthfather, JT, hadn’t signed papers to terminate his rights, and because we were finalizing our adoption in KS, it was up to us to do “everything humanly possible” to notify him of the adoption. In early April, our lawyer told us that his private detective had tracked JT down and would be serving him papers any day.

On April 8, Tiffany called and said JT had gotten served and was ANGRY. He told her he intends to come to the hearing (May 12) to fight this. He also called our lawyer and said a LOT of other things, denies raping Tiffany and is accusing her of terrible things that she denies. Both our lawyer and Tiffany's lawyer told us that 99% of situations like this end up being the birth father trying to look tough but never following through.

Our verse for April 8 was a very familiar one: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

God's story, part 2

Our lawyer, Mr. Kenney, did his best to get us out of TX, but paperwork is paperwork and nobody else seemed to be in any hurry. We’d originally bought our plane ticket for the girls and me to return on Wed, March 12, but that morning we were told that KS hadn’t even received the paperwork from TX yet. Mr. Kenney assured us that his personal friend in Topeka was awaiting the papers and we’d be approved to leave within an hour of her receiving them. He’d been told that Texas had over-nighted the papers on Wed, so they should be in her hands by Thur morning.

I called Southwest and explained the problem. As it turns out, a manager answered my call and she was able to find spots for us to fly out Thursday at 1:50pm at no extra charge; saving us close to $200. Sally took Thursday off of work to spend the day with us and help us get to the airport. We were trusting that the papers would be taken care of, so we all went to the airport after lunch.

At 1:30, Mr. Kenney advised us to find a later flight; his friend in Topeka hadn’t called yet giving us permission to leave TX. By this time, the boarding agents all knew our story and found us seats on the 4:40 flight – again at no extra charge. So we walked the airport and killed time with Sally.

In the meantime, my parents called us to let us know my mom had been scheduled for an angioplasty on Friday morning. She had apparently been having some pains that week, but she hadn’t told me so as to not worry me with all I “already had going on.” Needless to say, news of the angioplasty was completely out of the blue and I needed to get home for it.

At 4:20 we still hadn’t heard from Mr. Kenney and our plane was boarding. The agents were holding seats for us to board last, giving us as much time as possible to hear from him. I’d had Tuck on the phone all day; we had decided to risk it and just get us home. We were literally walking down the boarding ramp when Mr. Kenney called and told us not to risk it. If either of the birth parents found out we’d left the state before the papers were approved, they could rescind their signatures and take Cora back. It was enough to make me turn around and stay another night in TX.

Thank God Sally was still at the airport because it was at that point I finally lost it. Not only was I sorely ready to see my husband and get my girls home, I was going to miss my mom’s procedure… and our luggage had just taken off for KC. Poor Madison saw Mommy crying and started crying herself. Sally just took us both in her arms and let us bawl… as she said a prayer for comfort.

I quickly got myself together and decided to make an adventure out of the whole thing – which, blessedly, Madison totally bought into. We had to buy diapers & formula, but we borrowed jammies and just washed the clothes we had on so we could wear them again on Friday. Of course, I was totally counting on the fact that we WOULD come home on Friday. Our verse this day had been: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3 NIV)

Friday morning, Mr. Kenney let us know that the papers had truly been over-nighted, but they hadn’t left TX until after 5:00pm on Wed. That meant they technically left TX on Thurs and the earliest KS would get them would be Fri morning. I called Southwest and the only flight they had available with 2 seats was the 1:50 flight; so we booked it (again, no charge).

This time, Sally had to be at work because her class had a field trip. My uncle, who lives about an hour away, drove to Dallas to take us to the airport. He had a wedding to perform that day, so he was only able to drop us off at about 11:00. We still had no papers approved when our plane started boarding nearly 2 hours later. Once again, all the ticket agents knew our story because the agents from the day before had seen us and come to tell the new ones to take good care of us.
Throughout the morning, Dad called to give me the progress of Mom’s angioplasty. When I called him to tell him we couldn’t get on the 1:50 flight and were on standby for the 2:45, he told me that they’d called in a specialist to Mom’s procedure. What was supposed to have taken less than an hour had already taken two.

To top it off, we had no approval from Topeka and were unable to get on the 2:45 flight either. At that point we put our names on standby for 2 seats on the 4:20 flight; our last option for that day – Friday, March 14.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

God's story, part 1

There is so much about our recent adoption story that I haven’t shared. So many blessings through each step. So much challenge in getting through each day. To say that God refined us through this trial is a cliché and an understatement.

I’ve had a daily Bible verse calendar for as long as I can remember. The verses quoted in the next several posts are from that calendar and came at the times we needed them most. I had them taped to our bathroom mirror all the way through this adoption.

We got the first phone call in mid-December about a birthmother due in March. If you’ve ever desired a child that you couldn’t have, you know how tough the holidays can be. God gave us this glimmer of hope just in time for Christmas, though because of previous experience, nobody knew but Tuck and me. We were guarding the hearts of our loved ones and praying for strength in our own hearts. “… that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit…” (Ephesians 3:16 NKJV)

While things went very well between December and March, I’m a worrier. Most times I can pray the worry away, but it’s tougher when a baby is involved. Satan knows this and plays on it big time. In this situation, you name it and I worried. The day we left for Texas, I had this verse: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27 NIV)

On the morning of March 3, I went with Tiffany to the hospital for her induction. I sat with her and we had some great heart-to-hearts. Tiffany’s hospital plan stated that I was to be her labor coach, but would leave when she began pushing. When it came time to push, however, Tiffany looked me in the eye and said “please don’t leave me.” It was quite the bonding moment for two mothers, to say the least.

And I got to coach my baby girl into the world!

Two days later, Madison, Tuck and I left the hospital with Cora! (her nickname) Because Tiffany’s lawyer was located 2 hours away, it took another day to get all the paperwork signed. While we never wanted to doubt Tiffany’s decision, that was a loooonngg 24 hours as we wondered if we’d have this baby taken from our arms. On March 6, Tiffany signed her papers and the four of us left Cora’s birth city. We drove to Dallas to stay with some of our close friends, Mark & Sally, as we awaited permission to leave the state.

What a blessing to stay in a home instead of a hotel with a preschooler and a newborn! The first three days with our two precious blessings were relaxed, wonderful, carefree days. We spoke to Tiffany a few times and she was doing well, too. On March 9, Tuck flew home to go back to work (he’d just started a new job) and I stayed at Sally’s with our girls, believing we’d be following in a day or two.

A little background on the birth father: he’s a 19-year-old with quite a police record already. Tiffany has known him for a long time. He denies it, but Tiffany claims her pregnancy was a result of a non-consensual incident between them. On March 10, Tiffany called us to tell us that he had called her upon his release from jail. He wanted info on “his” baby and was livid that she’d been placed for adoption. This was our biggest fear realized.

Prior to adopting Madison we’d been matched with a birthmother for 3 months. We went to doctor appointments, talked on the phone all the time, decorated a nursery, had showers, etc. Then at the last minute, the birth father decided to parent his baby. We’ve since learned that sweet girl – just 4 months older than Madison – is in the foster system due to abuse.

Hearing that this situation could repeat itself was a little more than I could manage with Tuck hundreds of miles away. But the verse I got on March 10: “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.” (1 Peter 2:19 NIV)