Monday, August 26, 2013

The Eye of Adoption Book Giveaway

Jody Dyer contacted me just as we were matched this last time and offered to send me a copy of her book, The Eye of Adoption. I am always looking for something new to read and happily accepted. I immediately loaded the book onto my iPad

The babies were born premature and we were on an adoption roller coaster. I didn't have a minute to read the book or think straight until I found myself at the DMV the day after Independence Day (with everyone else in Long Island) with unexpected hours to read. Having this book was a godsend because I almost had a nervous breakdown right there at the DMV, crying intermittently and may have used a few colorful words to the clerk after waiting for four hours just to get a lost license plate replaced. Not my finest moment, but I was under a lot of stress.  Anyhoo, I opened the iPad and started reading.



Immediately, I felt comforted by Jody's southern charm. I may be a "New Yawker" now, but I will always be a southern girl at heart. It felt like she was an old friend telling me her story. I could relate. Her longing for a child, the waiting, the uncertainty were all feelings I have had and was having. "Do not underestimate the depths of suffering and lengths of endurance required of adoptive parents. Do not underestimate the difficult choice to find a child through adoption. No one "just adopts"." Amen, Jody. 

No two adoptions are the same, but the same emotions and sentiments are there. Her book reassured me that  my internal dialogue about trying to have a family were actually sane. Her book is honest, warm and funny. I loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter that set the tone and how she wrote sweet letters to her baby to be throughout her adoption journey. They never gave up hope. At the end of the book there is a great Q&A with the birth mother of her son. It's a perspective we often do not get.

In the last couple of months, Jody has been there for me. She has sent me pep talk emails and let me vent. When our match failed, she encouraged me to keep hope that one day we would have our family too. I have never met her in person, but I am honored to call her a friend.

Jody has graciously given me a paperback copy of The Eye of Adoption to give away! She's awesome, right? To enter, click "Enter Here" below to fill out an entry form. For an extra chance to win, like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter or Pinterest or subscribe to Two Cats and a Cradle by email. Just click one of the links on the left. A winner will be selected randomly on September 9, 2013.

The giveaway has ended.
Thank you to everyone that entered.

The winner is ...
Anna!

Congratulations!

For more information about Jody Dyer, check out her website: http://www.jodydyer.com/ or her blog, Theories: Size 12, Musings from a Mountain Mama.

If you can't wait and want to read the book right now, you can purchase a paperback or Kindle version of The Eye of Adoption on Amazon with the link below. It really is a must-read for anyone that is considering adoption, waiting to adopt or loves someone going through the adoption process.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thank you

People are amazing. We have received so many kind notes, calls, emails, cards and comments from family, friends and people we don't even know from near and far. It has meant so much and it really has helped us to know that we have so many people supporting and encouraging us during this tough time. I know we haven't responded personally to everyone, it is too much for us right now. We are focusing on moving forward and healing. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

We are still in touch with the birth mom. She is fighting for custody of Ian and Ada from the birth father. We are there for her and she is for us. It isn't how we thought it would go, but we've been through a lot together. She sends me texts to cheer me up and I tell her how strong she is and she'll be a great mom to them. I truly believe that.

I am not going to lie, this sucks. There hasn't been a day that has gone by that we haven't thought of Ian and Ada or got choked up about something dumb. We miss them. Each day is a little better. Marlon and I have a solid foundation and we will get through this together. I don't know what the future holds for us. We are not shutting the door on having a family. Right now, we are taking each day as it comes.



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mom and Dad For 56 Days

You probably have been wondering what happened to the posts from Two Cats and a Cradle, okay, probably not, but I was in babyland for 56 days. We were mom and dad to Ian and Ada. Before you cheer in excitement for us, this is a very heartbreaking story. It is the worst nightmare for any adoptive parent. What I have written has been simplified from what actually happened. There are many reasons we pursued this adoption and felt we had a chance. We had to take the chance.

We were matched again at the end of May with a birth mother expecting twins. This match was made through our adoption agency but because of a previous failed matched and health concerns of the unborn babies, we decided to keep this match under our hats. We only told our family, a few friends and our jobs. We were cautiously excited. We were going to have twins - a boy and a girl!



On June 13th, Ian and Ada were born eight weeks premature. It was an emergency cesarean and we were not notified of their birth until the next morning. When I got the call, I was shaking uncontrollable. Was I really just about to be a mom? We rushed to the hospital and met with the birth mom, her family and the social workers. The babies had a rough entry. Ian was on a ventilator and had a tube in his chest to drain fluid. Ada was tiny, 1 lb, 12 oz. The doctors seemed confident and their prognosis was good, but they would be in NICU for quite awhile. We were in awe. At that moment, Marlon and I knew these were our babies. We quickly rearranged our life, took time off from work, bought a car and prepared to be parents.



The birth mom had picked names for the babies, but she wanted us to name them. We used the birth mom's names as their middle names. I always knew I wanted the name Ian for a boy, he was quickly named Ian Lucas. A girl's name was much harder to come up with. I kind of wanted them both to have three letter first names. Marlon didn't want to put perimeters on her name. He wanted her name to shine on its own. We went round and round on girl names. Finally, one of us said, Ada. I say that I did, but Marlon thinks that he did. It fit her. It was a strong name. This little girl already had a lot of spunk. So, she was named Ada Stella. The birth mom put these names on their birth certificates so that they would only have one name.



On day three, the birth father showed up. We met him for the first time briefly. He was understandably very emotional. He said that he would come back the next day to talk with us more. The next day, we sat and talked about open adoption, tried to get to know him and answer any questions he might have for us. He was still very emotional and wasn't sure he wanted a relationship with the twins. He agreed that adoption was the best for them. We all went to see the babies together. We hugged him goodbye and knew the next time we would see him would be the day the birth parents would sign surrender papers.

That day came and the birth mom signed her surrender and the birth father did not. Red flag. He claimed he needed time to look at the papers, that he did not understand the PACA (post adoption contact agreement) and maybe he did not want to have a relationship with the babies. He got up and left in the middle of the meeting with the attorney and social worker. This was upsetting to us, but we all agreed to give him time.



He returned to the hospital two days later with a haircut, his aunt and cousins in tow. Red flag, red flag. But maybe his family wanted to see the babies, the birth mom's family saw the babies. I had a lovely conversation with his aunt about open adoption and we wanted the babies to know their birth family.

Then the birth father got an attorney. Red flag, red flag, red flag. He rarely visited the babies at the hospital and did not participate in caring for them. A custody suit was not filed. We retained an adoption attorney. The birth parents were not married, did not have a relationship during her pregnancy and the birth father had no means to support the babies. The NY adoption law is clear and we knew if he contested that a judge would decide what was best for Ian and Ada. We felt the law was on our side. Our intention was never to cut the birth father out, but to give Ian and Ada the best possible home. We always maintained that we would pursue a relationship with him after the dust settled. 


Our relationship with him was tense, however he was only at the hospital a handful of times during their stay. We had a wonderful relationship with the birth mom and wanted the same with him. Our days at the NICU is what I like to call a Lifetime movie. There was immense joy and unbelievable stress.



Marlon and I were at the hospital every day. The staff treated us as Ian and Ada's parents. We attended rounds and cared for them. We were so excited at their progress every day and so in love with their little faces. I got to watch my husband of 19 years turn into an amazing dad that encouraged and loved Ian and Ada with everything that he had. There wasn't a day that went by that he didn't tell them how proud he was of them. I could not have been prouder of him.



We brought Ada home from the hospital on July 31st. We brought Ian home on August 5th. Those were the two happiest days of our lives.




On August 6th, an emergency injunction was filed by the birth father to remove Ian and Ada from our home. The judge ordered us to bring the babies to court on August 8th. We came to court knowing there was a good chance our babies would be taken from us. The judge would not acknowledge there was an adoption plan and seemed uninterested in adoption laws. Without listening to arguments from our attorneys, the adoption agency or the birth mother, he awarded temporary custody to the birth father. We had to give Ian and Ada to a young man who is basically a stranger to them. We are absolutely crushed and devastated. The birth mom is devastated. How could this happen? What the F* just happened?



I could not hand Ian and Ada over. Marlon stood when I could not stand on this day. He took them into the court house and gave them to their birth family. Their father took Ian and turned and immediately handed him to someone else. His cousin took Ada. It breaks my heart. 



Marlon and I drove home without saying a word. We were stunned. I sobbed uncontrollably and continue to as I write this. 

We consulted with our attorney and she said we could fight it but it would be a very long and expensive endeavor. There was only a slim chance that we would win. Marlon and I made the most difficult decision of our lives to walk away from our babies and to end our relationship with our adoption agency. We packed up the nursery the next day and got the hell out of town.

If I don't seem like myself, now you know why. I am not sure if my old self even exists anymore. I don't know what our future holds. We are exhausted emotionally and financially. We are trying to make sense of it all and putting our life back together.

We were mom and dad for 56 days. In our hearts, we will always be Ian and Ada's parents. Those were the best 56 days of my life and I would not trade one moment that I spent with them.

Update:  This post was written during a very difficult time in our lives. We thought we were the parents to these sweet babies.  It was such an emotional roller coaster during the months that we spent with them. Since then, we know we were misled and not given all the information about this situation. We would not have proceeded if we knew all the facts. About a year after that day in court, their father reached out to me to clear the air. It was healing to both of us to know each other's story.  I have the highest respect for Ian and Ada's mother and father.  We have learned from this experience and have moved forward.