Well, I’ve been meaning to write this for quite some time now, so here is the whole story of that week early this February when we met and adopted our little girl…
As you read before, we got the call early Sunday morning before we left Disney World. It was a weird feeling, since we were planning on leaving at 5am Sunday morning, and come around 2am I was awake and strangely anxious just wanting to go back to sleep. At 3am I got the call. I find out at that point that Autumn was born around an hour earlier… just about the time when I woke with that uneasy feeling. Strange how I was connected to her and her birthmom even before I knew what was going on.
I’m up so I look for flights. Nothing seemed easy so we decided that we would go to the airport and that I would fly alone to Salt Lake City. River and Kyle would go back to Minnesota for the evening to pick up the infant car seat and baby stuff. I wished more than anything I could have had those two with me, but I knew I needed to get out there asap, and we needed the “stuff”. I guess I was to do this leg of the journey on my own.
At the airport we splurged and bought one of the only tickets left to Salt Lake City in a first class seat (well, if you’re gunna spend the money, better well be first class!) and I took River and Kyle to their gate and said my good byes before I went and hopped on my flight.
It was the longest airplane ride(s) I’ve ever had.
I arrived in Salt Lake City around 2pm. Got a rental car and headed straight to the hospital. I was a wreck. I was sweating, nervous, and excited. Let’s just say my tummy was feeling funny.
I arrived and met with my case worker from Heart to Heart in the lobby of the hospital. After talking with her for a month on the phone it was really nice to put a face to the name. She then took me upstairs and said that the birth mom, who we’ll call “R” was alone, but soon her social worker was going to show up. But for now, we can go in and meet her.
I walked in the room with my stomach in knots. I saw R and she seemed to recognize me from our profile. I sat at the edge of her bed with some pretty icky flowers and some gifts from Disney World. I asked her how she was feeling and she said pretty good. She was obviously exhausted from the C-section not even 15 hours before, and working through her pain. She looked tired but quickly called the nurse so I could meet our little Autumn.
When they wheeled our 5lb 8oz daughter in she looked like a little doll. So tiny, so sweet. I was excited to see all her hair on her tiny little head, and her fingers were super long compared to the rest of her. When they brought her in I asked R if she wanted to hold her, and she said that she wanted me to.
What a gift.
Autumn was gorgeous and sleepy. Holding her for the first time was wonderful, but I kept talking with R so to concentrate on her for a little while. The whole experience was quite surreal, and very, VERY different from my experience with River. No surprise there.
I was in the hospital that afternoon and evening with R, and whatever case worker/social worker was available. It was nice having more than just R and I, since we had just met, but she was so easy to talk to and wonderful, that it wouldn’t have made any difference either way. There was a lot of small talk in those hours, lots of questions answered, along with changing diapers and feeding Autumn. Oh, and you can’t forget that the day she was born the Packers won the Superbowl. (Which we watched when we weren’t chatting). Yes, little girl, you were born a cheesehead. (Sorry MN fans:)
That evening I was planning on staying in a hotel, but at the last second one of the case workers from the agency suggested that I stay in the hospital. The hospital is a very adoption-friendly hospital, and they put up adoptive parents in a room if they like for free. I thought it would be great and if there was any need for help with Autumn in the middle of the night, I’d be there.
I’m so glad I stayed.
At around 2am I got a call in my room from R saying that Autumn was awake and she asked if I wanted to come down to her room to see her with her eyes open. Of COURSE I said yes, and got myself together enough to go down and see the beautiful little girl’s eyes. I am so thankful for that call from R, not only because I really got to see Autumn’s eyes open for the first time, but also because R and I could really have a “talk”. It was a couple of hours of learning a little more about each other, and our experiences with this adoption. (I told her my sob story, she told me some of hers). It was a few hours in the middle of the night that were completely priceless.
As the morning rolled around (yes, I went back to bed) I went on some errands getting R some comfy clothes and a little bit of breakfast for myself. I returned and had some more talk time with R, and some more cuddle time with Autumn. Some of the social workers from the agency started showing up around noon, since the plan was to have R sign the papers around 1. It was very strategic since R needs to be at the very end of the pain med cycle.
So around 1, I also had to get in the car and go meet Kyle, River and Sandy at the airport that was around a half an hour away. I was getting nervous around that time because of the signing of the papers, since I still was worried that R would change her mind. When I left the hospital, R was holding on pretty tight to Autumn, which I totally understood. But, as you can imagine, it scared me as well.
When I got in the car I called my case worker and asked her to let me know if/when R signed the papers. The whole car ride I was a wreck, but probably not half the wreck R was at that moment.
When I arrived at the airport, my case worker texted me, “She signed, it’s official”.
After all we have been through, it was official. I never thought I’d hear (or read) those words.
As I met Kyle, River and Sandy at the airport, I went up to Kyle and told him that he has a daughter. He gave me a goofy smile and a hug. We were both so relieved.
When we went back to the hospital, my family got to meet its newest member. It was wonderful.
We then did our signing of the papers in a different room, and really, truly made it official.
R seemed good. The woman was the strongest person I’ve ever known. This whole thing mist have been so hard for her, but she was a rock all the way through it. I will always be amazed by her strength.
After we signed the papers, the babysitter who was watching R’s 1-year-old brought him by and Autumn got to meet her full biological brother. He was a DOLL. All boy, and so much fun. River had a little fun with him and we got some pictures of Autumn, R, and her brother. The room got crowded for awhile, but it was fun being together.
Soon after the play time we left, since we were going to stay in the hotel that night, and Kyle and I had to go get some stuff engraved for R before the next day when she and Autumn would be discharged. It was weird leaving Autumn in the hospital, but I was glad to give R some time alone with her if she liked.
After doing some errands and our last evening of a full nights sleep, we returned the next morning with some presents, coffee and a car seat. We sat with R and Autumn for a few hours before discharge, and we gave some small gifts to R. A nice engraved box and bracelet. She seemed to like them, but I felt like they were nothing. Nothing compared to what she was giving us.
As discharge rolled around I got more and more emotional. R got everything together and she left first. Autumn was in the room, and as R was walking out, she came up to her beautiful little girl, paused to stare at her, and then gave her a simple little kiss.
A kiss that was so full of love that I could feel it.
Well, as you guessed it, I sat in the room and cried. And cried. Then when Kyle returned from helping R to the car, it was our turn to leave. After talking to the nurse about Autumn one more time, we got all the information we needed and gathered our stuff and headed out the door with our daughter.
As Kyle has said while telling this story to others, we expected that this time picking up Autumn would be a joyous time. Although becoming a family of four is incredibly joyous, the time in Salt Lake City was not all rainbows and party hats. So much of it was heart wrenching. In that short amount of time I really got to see what love is, especially the love from a mother to a child. R loves Autumn so much. She really, truly she does. She did this so her daughter will have more opportunities than she can give her right now. I could tell that R did not take motherhood lightly, and if she couldn’t give her all to her daughter, she wanted to make sure that someone did.
I am so blessed, so thankful, and so amazed that she thought we were that someone.
So, we didn’t stay much longer. We did the dinner with R the next evening and the morning after that we took the trip to Colorado. It was very fast considering, but it was probably the most memorable trip I will ever take.
I hope someday Autumn reads this story and understands how in awe I am of her biological momma. I am in awe of her strength, her love, and her generosity. I hope she knows that she is loved all the way around. By Kyle and I and River, as well as her birthmom who gave up so much so that her daughter can have all that she deserves.
Autumn, you are truly a loved little girl. Your journey ahead is bright and exciting, and your past is filled with the love of many.
Welcome, my child. We all love you.