Sunday, November 29, 2009

Good Kitties.

We love our kittehs and, shockingly to some, our love for them has not diminished with the arrival of Baby J. They're being very helpful, however, by adjusting seamlessly to her presence. The night we arrived home with her Andrew put down the carseat, with her in it, and they both rushed up to see what was inside. Once they'd had a carefully supervised sniff Sam sauntered off for food and Penelope waited patiently for us to get the little person out of the seat so she could sit in it. They are also big fans of J's little floor-mat-gym-thingy, which Penelope is convinced we actually got for her.

We do need to watch Penelope closely, because she is pretty sure that it would feel good to sit on the new portable heater we've acquired:

I also had a great picture of Sam that I can't seem to find at the moment, where he's doing what is his new favorite thing: sitting on the baby's stuff. In this photo he's sitting on top of Green Eggs and Ham, with one paw on a little washcloth toy thing, another paw on Eyes Nose Finger and Toes, and his head resting on a (used) burp rag. So, I figure he's accepted her.

We've made an effort to give concentrated attention to both Sam and Penelope, which has also helped I think. Also helpful: my 11 days with Baby J merging scents with her, the extra treats Andrew has been showering the kitties with and the fact that we're both home a lot more now then we were before the baby, which the animals clearly like.

I'm excited to see when she begins to notice them!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

We spent Thanksgiving on the Olympic Peninsula with Andrew's folks. We are still here, actually, because we had the brilliant idea that we could hang out for a couple days and do homework while Grandma and Bo-Bo play with little Baby J. Yesterday "doing homework" actually looked a lot more like "drinking coffee and staring at the amazing view while sort of thinking about Hebrew Scriptures and then falling asleep with the baby on Grandma's giant bed." So. We have high hopes that today will be better.

A couple of people have asked me about the blog, what we will do with it now that we have Baby J. I've been pondering this, along with several blog entries that are weighted more heavily towards words and less towards pictures, and for now it's staying here. We do have our daughter, but the adoption part hasn't happened yet. I will make a post about the nuts and bolts of that soon, probably later next week after I have turned in my final papers for the quarter and can justify thinking about anything that isn't J, Hebrew Scriptures, or Christian Anthropology. (That's right, my husband didn't even make that list. But he's thrown me over for Microbiology, Pharmacology, Medical Ethics and Baby J, so we're even.) Suffice to say I'll be here at least through the finalization of our adoption and decide at that point whether to just change the name of the blog or move it to a different platform or what.

But, given my proclivity towards communication and self expression I won't stop blogging anytime soon.

Something else I want to say - and it deserves a post of its own but this will have to do for now - is just this. Thank you, both internet friends and those of you who read here AND love on us in person, for all the love and support. My list of things I am thankful for this year is longer than even I could ever articulate but towards the top is the amazing support and encouragement you have given us over the past six weeks. Andrew and I have come back here to read your comments over and over, and have just basked in the support and sharing of our sadness and finally our joy. We appreciate each one of you - lurkers and commenters alike. You rock. Thank you.

And some pics:
Mom and Pop (J's great grandparents) with all their great-grandchildren.

Photo shoot with Grandma (while I was asleep, maybe?)

This time we did a whole-family photo shoot.

Happy first weekend of the Holiday Season to you. ♥

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesdays (also Happy Thanksgiving!)

Dear Internet,
At the moment final papers and homilies get all my words. I hope these pictures make up for it.


Friday, November 20, 2009


And all feels right in the world.

We finally got our call yesterday afternoon, after a snafu with the paperwork that delayed us yet another day. It was 2pm Atlanta time when the Georgia agency called us and Nana, Jubilee and I were on the road to the airport by 3. After two plane flights and one frantic dash through the Houston airport we arrived safe in SeaTac. Nana discreetly checked for our luggage while A+A+J had a very sweet little reunion at the foot of the escalator near baggage claim #9.

So now, dear readers, we begin to settle in. There are so many people who need to meet Baby J, I have a feeling we won't be cooking our own meals 'til sometime near Christmas. Which is fine by me. Jubilee is still solidly on Atlanta time, and was up and ready to play bright and early this morning. Lucky for us she is still a newborn, which means that for every hour of playtime there is 2-4 hours of nap time, and right now that nap is happening right on top of Daddy.

As for me, despite my whopping four hours of sleep (Andrew didn't sleep at all, being somewhat behind me on his sleeping-through-baby-sounds skillset) I can't quite settle down. I'm busy reveling in the lovely rain (yes! I have longed for this rain for eleven days!) the cozy feeling of being in my own place and watching over my own family. There are bottles in the dishwasher and burp rags in the washing machine. All feels right in the world.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

one more day...

Well, here we are, almost five days past the day we thought was the for-sure-we-will-be-home-by-then date and we finally know. Marla called today with the news that our paperwork is finally on its way to Washington State, and should be approved first thing tomorrow. We can't actually buy tickets until we hear the okay, which means they'll be spendy, but at this point I don't care a bit. I just want to walk off a plane in Seattle and into my husband's arms so we can take our daughter home.

Also, slightly less important, I miss my cats.

All in all, however, the past week and half has been wonderful. Staying with Granny and Grandpa M was the best possible decision we could have made. Granny M told me when we arrived that she always offers their home to new adoptive parents, but that lately no one has taken her up on it. Part of me completely understands this - we definitely experienced the impulse to grab our baby and run - but I am so glad we accepted. These are the people who took our baby home from the hospital and loved her until we could get here. They have done such a wonderful job, and the past week I have watched in awe as they have graciously let her go. Yesterday Jubilee was fussing and I picked her up. She quieted and Granny M smiled and said to my mother, "well she sure knows her mama, doesn't she?" If the moment was at all bittersweet for her I sure couldn't tell.

Some pictures for you:

Grandpa and Granny M.

getting ready for bed with Mommy.

and, because there is nothing sweeter:
Her majesty, three weeks old.

Friday, November 13, 2009

waiting again..

Baby J and I are still in Atlanta, or rather the small rural town about an hour away from Atlanta where Granny and Grandpa M live. It's after 10pm and my baby is grunting and snuffling her way to dreamland in her crib. I am taking deep breaths and counting to ten, repeatedly. I want to go home. Andrew is there and we're not a whole family without him. And we have waited so, so long to be a whole family.

So I am reminding myself that this is a process and just because Baby J is born and here and ours doesn't mean I can just skip to the end.

When you adopt a child from a different state there is paperwork that needs to be passed between the two state governments. Baby J is in our custody, but until the adoption is finalized a few months from now the Georgia agency is her legal guardian. So to move with her to a different state both state governments need to approve.

In September Liz said "oh, Georgia has been really fast lately, only taking two or three days." She may have also said that it normally takes 5-7 business days, but if she did I didn't hear that part. Marla, God bless her, is learning on us. And we certainly have been doing our best to provide her with every possible scenario before she closes our file! (Sorry Marla)

We sent Andrew home Monday because we thought the rest of us would be along Thursday. Then Marla remembered Veteran's day and we all thought it would happen Friday. But 5pm rolled right around today with no word on the paperwork. So 2/3 of us are here and 2/3 of us are going crazy with how badly we want to be 3/3 all together. But no one is going anywhere before Monday.

Are moms allowed to throw temper tantrums? Because this one certainly did. But just in case that's bad maternal form I did it alone in the shower. So don't tell anyone, internet, okay? In my defense my sleep has been a little off, lately.

Baby J knows me, now. The rare times when she has a baby breakdown while Nana or Granny M are holding her I can take her and she immediately calms down, burying her wee face in my neck. I melt. And I miss Andrew. Today our baby had a tummy ache, and I walked the floor with her a bit and we talked about it, she and I, and I patted her back and waited for her small body to finally work itself out and relax against my chest. And I thought about how my baby's daddy also has a lovely neck to bury one's face into when frustrated or sad and how much he is a part of us, the "us" who now number three (or five if you count the cats).

And then I re-read this post, and I look over my shoulder to the now quiet (I check to make sure she is breathing and then tell myself I am a silly one) small lady sleeping there. And I absolutely know that this too shall pass. Andrew and I are lucky to be sad about something as wonderful as this. Two weeks ago we would have strongly considered trading in our pinkie toes for this sort of sad.

So there, silly self. Now go to bed. (and I do.)

This is us last Sunday when we were a brand new family, pictured with S, the social worker who brought the papers and helped us sign them. It's not the best photo ever taken of any of us, but right now it's my very favorite one.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where to begin

Well, gentle readers, I understand that this whole thing must seem like quite the whirlwind! Believe me it has been (is?). When I left work last Thursday to go teach at a weekend congregational development conference I fully expected to be back at work on Monday. I am a little ashamed at the state in which I left my desk.

Friday morning during a break at my conference I phoned Marla, just to check in. I knew there were plans for us to be shown a couple times in Texas over the weekend and there had been some issues about the fees that we were working out. I was nervous and also relieved that we were back in the game. When we got back from Atlanta in October Andrew and I both felt strongly that our baby wasn't far away, that she was really just around the corner. We had both been thinking it, but afraid to say it out loud. When we finally did, it was almost all we talked about late at night before going to sleep. When I found out we were going to be shown I felt sure our baby was in Texas.

I spent about five minutes on the phone with Marla, checking in. Then we said goodbye, she promised to call if she heard anything, and I headed back to being a trainer, determined to stop checking my phone every 2 minutes. I succeeded for the next hour, and then when I glanced at it I saw I had missed two calls from Marla, and that she had text messaged me. "Alissa, call me ASAP" it said.

I knew. I knew that she was going to change my life. I had thought that this call wouldn't be like that other call weeks ago and I was right. This time I was in tears before I even got Marla on the phone.

"Alissa," she said. "I wanted so badly to tell you this these past couple of weeks, there is a baby girl in Georgia for you. She is beautiful and the ten days are up."

Jubilee's first mom wasn't able to choose a family for her baby girl, and we really don't know much about her. She relinquished her daughter at the hospital after giving her a name, and then she needed to go. We kept Jubilee's middle name as the one her first mother gave to her, and I got my hands on all the records that I have been able to, for my daughter to look at one day when she's ready. The rest of that story, I think, isn't mine to tell. Suffice to say we stand ready for openness, and will always keep her in our hearts and prayers.

Everything about this trip has been different. Granny and Papa M, Jubilee's carehome parents, are amazing. Granny M immediately invited us to stay with them while we waited for paperwork and we accepted. We were able to learn the routines that J has been living by, and spend time transitioning her from their care to ours.

Andrew left Monday, back to Seattle to get things ready for our return. My mother - henceforth known as Nana - arrived last night and spent most of today simultaneously telling me "don't let me be too pushy" while holding her newest grandbaby every second she possibly could. The three of us: Jubilee, Nana and me, are hoping to get permission to head home Friday.

I'm still processing this past week, will be for a while I think. I feel so lucky, so blessed. It's the rare moments during the past three days when I have been alone with my daughter, cuddled up just the two of us, when I have really felt it - that combination of gratitude, disbelief, wonder and something indescribable. I think this is what it feels like to be a mom.

You love and support has been amazing. Thank you so much for celebrating and for walking this road along with us. We are, all three, lucky to be loved so well by such quality people.

We can't wait to get home. ♥

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The rest of the story...

Okay internet! You've suffered enough.

I said I didn't believe in symmetry anymore, in this process. And just to show me when to get cynical here is the timeline of events:

10/21 - Choice is born, we hurry to Atlanta
10/23 - 10:28am, baby J is born in Atlanta, relinquished at the hospital.
10/23 - 11ish am, Y tells us that Choice is not our baby, we cry eyes out, go home.
10/25 - baby J goes into cradle care to wait out the 10 day relinquishment period.
11/6 - Marla calls to tell us about baby J. The agency had her in mind for us from the day she was born, the day we left Atlanta heartbroken. They waited through the 10 day relinquishment period, just in case, because they didn't want to break our hearts again.
11/8 - we sign papers and officially take placement of our daughter, Jubilee.

So, basically, the day that we were so sad and disappointed, the baby who was meant to be ours was born. Almost that very moment, actually. We just had to wait to know about her until a few days ago. I hope that makes sense, I'm a little tired.

The point is this:

She is perfect, she is ours, and we are beyond elated.

And now, what I know you really want:

Andrew heads back tomorrow because he can't miss much school. My mom is coming out to join J and I, and we'll come back to Seattle together as soon as the paperwork is complete.

I'll write more reflective posts later with all sorts of details. Right now I need to kiss my girl and see that she gets off to sleep.

Friday, November 6, 2009

baby J.

"So what about that name?" I asked Andrew one night, a couple days after we got back from Atlanta. We talk every night before going to sleep, as we are winding down, in the dark. "I don't know if we can use it anymore..." I trailed off.

We had carefully avoided calling that baby girl J, and even when we were holding her for some reason, we hadn't said our name out loud. But others had, and there had been one email, after we met her before we found out that she wasn't to be ours. I wondered. I love that name.

Andrew flipped on the light, looked at me. He shook his head. "No," he said. "That wasn't her. That wasn't J." I can tell when my husband means what he's saying, and he meant it.

And it turns out, he was right.

But more on that in a couple days. (do stay tuned...)


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

all the way back.

"Are you sad about not adopting that baby?" O asked me as we were in our kids' procession through the parish hall to join the service upstairs Sunday morning. I had been wondering what this conversation would be like. O is ten, and was adopted when he was very small. Unlike any of the other kids I teach who are old enough to understand O has been very invested in our process, asking questions and offering his own little tidbits of advice, such as "maybe next time you could get a boy."

"I am sad." I said. "But I guess that just wasn't our baby."

"What happened?" he asked. "Did you see the baby and change your mind?"

"Oh no," I replied and then stopped. What would it be like for O to hear that someone who was going to give up her baby for adoption changed her mind? I decided on honesty. "The mother changed her mind."

"She can do that?" He seemed incensed. "How can she do that?"

"She is the mom," I replied, knowing that we didn't have time to really hash it out. We were almost to the stairs. "She gets to change her mind. It just turned out she could keep the baby, and before she thought she couldn't." We were there, no more time to talk. I felt both relieved and a little guilty. I didn't want to leave him hanging, but wasn't sure what more I could say.

This past Sunday was All Saints, which means there was a baptism. We had talked about baptism in Godly Play, and we got the kids upstairs in time to crowd into a good position near the font to watch the real thing. I love baptisms, for many reasons, not the least of which is the imagery of newness and re-birth. Baptism, for me, is a wildly optimistic statement of hope: hope in new life, hope in community and hope in God. It is impossible for me to witness a baptism without feeling a certain pressure in my chest, a surge of something that I call faith effusing my entire self. It doesn't make my sadness go away, but any cynicism or bitterness I am carrying doesn't stand a chance.

So I knelt among my wide-eyed little friends and watched the dangerous sacred waters of life and birth flow over a new member of our community. I watched him stand and take a candle, bend his head to receive the sign of the cross while beaming with newness and I felt the awe and amazement in my own center echoed by the little hearts beating all around me. Something clicked, and I was finally all the way home.

"Why weren't you here last Sunday?" O whispered to me as we stood in back waiting for the offertory to begin. He was going to help pass the plates. "You were in Seattle, but you weren't here." I wondered how he knew.

"I was home, being sad." I told him. His nose wrinkled up.

"What?" He didn't understand. I repeated myself.

He was silent, still, and then suddenly reached out and touched my arm.

"It's okay." I told him truthfully. "That was last week. I'm here now."