Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A video with no words that says everything

Since I am writing this retrospectively, it will be in past tense. However, for chronological reading of the blog, I am having it post against the day the events actually occurred.

On Tuesday, August 10, 2004, I did in fact receive a fedex package from my agency. In the envelope were several things, but the most important of them all was a video tape. I had contacted the International Adoption Clinic at Texas Children's Hospital on Monday and told them that I had received a referral and asked what the next steps were. I had decided to hire them to look over my referral information to help me determine the potential health of the child being referred. An appointment was set for Friday afternoon, with the request that I forward whatever details I get ahead of time so they could review it before we met.

So now, here I am in Chicago with a copy of a video tape of my potential son. I ran around to all of the conference rooms that had video players and could not get the tape to play on any of them. I wasn't sure if the issue was with the players or the tape, and didn't want to ruin the tape. I also might not have been thinking very clearly and may just have been doing something wrong. But it was making me crazy that I had this video tape and no way to look at what was on it. I spent a good part of that day calling all over the Chicago area trying to find a place that could duplicate a video tape. I needed to get a duplicate sent off by Wednesday in order for it to get to Houston in enough time to beat my Friday appointment.

I finally found a place that was about an hour away from the office. So as soon as my last meeting of the day was over, I bugged out of there to the duplicating place. There was some question about what format the video was taped in as they could not initially get it to play, either. But then it was so surreal to stand in the middle of this hi-tech video room watching this video. Tears were streaming down my face and I felt the need to apologize to the folks working there as I explained to them what it was they were seeing on the tape. To them, it looked like a grainy video with no sound of a little boy (or was it a girl) playing with various toys. They were very understanding of my tears and wished me the best of luck.

When I got back to my parents' house, everyone was extremely anxious to watch the video. We watched it over and over. At the end, my sister Margot looked at me as said "How can you not say yes! As far as I am concerned, that little boy in the video is already a member of our family. He's my nephew. You just have to say yes." Of course, she didn't understand all of the risks and nuances. She didn't understand that the IA doctor could tell me there was a huge potential for health issues. She didn't understand that even after saying yes, I could lose the referral to a Russian family who stepped forward. I just couldn't look at it as simplistically as she was. She was looking with her heart, and I had to include my head in the decision. I just kep telling my family that I would have to wait until after I spoke with the IA doctor and got more information.

Of course, I was falling and falling hard. Part of me already viewed this little boy as my son. But I couldn't admit that to anyone, least of all myself. I had to maintain distance and clear headedness. I had to be objective and not be swayed by emotion. But secretly, I let myself start dreaming about what life would be like with this little boy. I had names picked out. One name for a fair child, and a different name if the child had darker hair and complection. I didn't allow myself to attach either of those names to this child in the referral...not yet. It made my family crazy that I wouldn't even tell them what the names were. I wasn't telling anyone (except Leslie) and now was not the time to share.

On Wedensday, August 10, I pulled off one of the hugest "fake outs" in all time. You see, my wonderful co-workers had taken advantage of the fact that I was actually in town and planned a shower for me. I was in awe of their generosity. They had purchased many of the larger things off of my registry. But instead of leaving me to figure out how to get them back to Texas, they had ordered them online to be delivered to the house. But to ensure my excitement at receiving these things, they did something completely ingenious. They downloaded images of the items from Babies R Us and made iron-on decals of them. Then they actually ironed the decals onto little onsies. I still have those onsies, with pictures of things like a baby bath tub, and a play pen on them.

The fake out part comes in that I was not ready to discuss the referral at all with workmates. So everyone who attended and asked if I knew anything yet, or had any idea when I would travel, or how old the baby would be, got flat out lied to by me. "Nope, it's making me crazy but I have no idea. I'm just waiting for the phone to ring and tell me all of that information."

My co-worker Anne was the only one that knew the truth and I knew I could trust her implicitly. She supported me and gave me the strength that it was okay not to share at this stage of the game. She got to hear the dreams and the fears that were running through my head. She got me through the shower and through the rest of the week.

Monday, August 9, 2004

We have a baby for you...

Since I am writing this retrospectively, it will be in past tense. However, for chronological reading of the blog, I am having it post against the day the events actually occurred, August 9, 2004. Ever since that day, my life has never been the same.

And to really understand my mind set on that August day, I need to step back even a few more days. Lets start with August 5. It was a Thursday, the day that I had my regular calls with my adoption agency. I was in the "waiting" stage where there was nothing further that I could do and waiting is not something I do very well. So as I spoke with Bridgette at EAC, I just kind of dropped a comment about the fact that I had a major milestone facing me the next day: my 40th b-day. Even though I don't celebrate my birthday, it was still a huge milestone and I thought it would be great to mark that milestone with a referral.

Bridgette laughed at me and encouraged me to be patient. She indicated that I really hadn't been waiting long (only since Memorial Day weekend, so about 2 months) and that they were telling folks that it was leaning more towards a 4 month wait for the referrals to come in.

Friday came along and Leslie and I had tickets to see Prince. We were in pretty much the last row of the upper deck of Toyota Center, but you can hear just as well from there. I did spend a lot of time that day thinking that it was the last birthday I would spend as a family of 1. The rest of the weekend was a blur.

But come Monday morning, August 9, I was due to go on a business trip to our office in Chicago. I was planning on being up there for the week, and my very generous co-workers had coordinated to have a shower for me while I was there. I dreaded the conversations that I knew would occur: "Have you heard anything yet?", "Any idea how much longer?" and the like.

I boarded the plane and promptly fell asleep, even before the plane took off. About half way to Chicago, I bolted awake. I don't believe in premonitions or the such, but I can tell you that at that moment, I KNEW I was going to get a call with my referral that day. After a few moments, I began seriously chastising myself for allowing myself to even contemplate this. Afterall, just four days earlier I had been lead to believe that it would be about 2 more months before that would happen. The rest of the flight passed without event.

The office is about 20 minutes away from the airport. I believe I stopped and picked up some lunch and was just settling in at my desk when my cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and realized that EAC was trying to contact me. I grabbed my cell phone and ran outside to answer it. Sure enough, it was the Referral Department at EAC. She informed me that they had a referral and at first she said it was a girl...I about fell over. I hadn't specified a gender, but based on the way that Russian Adoption works, I fully expected to receive a referral of a baby boy. She quickly corrected herself and told me that is was a boy. She rattled off a bunch of information to me.

She was very cagey about the age, just saying that he was a little older than a year. At this news, my heart sank. I really was hoping to get the referral of an infant, not a toddler. But I tried to keep an open mind and as she went on, I realized she was building up to something. Turns out, guess what? He turned 1 year old on the exact date that I turned 40. That kind of changed everything for me, my heart began to melt. She promised to email me a photo and fedex a video and file.

Here is the picture I received:It was like looking at a baby picture of my nephews. And those eyes, how could I not fall in love. Now all the research I had done told me not to get attached to the referral and not to fall in love with a photo. And I tried, I really did.

Of course, I had to call Leslie immediately and forward the photo to her with the promise under threat of death that she would tell NO ONE.

I had always felt that when I got my referral, I wasn't going to tell anyone until I had accepted. But now, here I am in Chicago with all of my family. Could all of this really be happening all around me and I not tell them? I didn't have it in me. As soon as I got to my parents that night, and everyone came for dinner, I spilled the beans. Check a coming post dated August 10 or August 11 with highlights of how the rest of the week panned out.