(BEWARE! This post is LONG LONG LONG but ever so special for me to get it down for our family! Don't forget to check out the next post to see what donations we are collecting to take to Ethiopia with us!)
After you've been waiting for something SO long and it finally happens, you don't want to forget a detail of the day, moment, feeling... to say we were surprised by our referral call would be an understatement. We were still what I thought unofficially #5 on the list and in the
depths midst of renewing our homestudy paperwork. So here it is... after 21 months and 2 days on the waitlist (26 months after we started this amazing process of adoption) we got our referral call throughout the day of Thursday, June 28, 2012...
Woke up that morning to Claire complaining for the 3rd day that she had a sore throat after she had just finished a round of antibiotics for strep throat so I called and made an appointment for her and Eden since she had a persistent cough lingering for 3 weeks. Why not take them both if I can? The appointment couldn't be made with our dr. so we made it with another dr. in the same office on the opposite side of the building (this is significant). So I packed up the girls for Claire's swim lesson that morning at 10 a.m. - yes, we still went - and didn't really stop for the rest of the day! After swim lessons, the girls went to my weight watchers meeting with me, we quickly grabbed Chick-fil-a (I noticed I missed a call from a 971 number but it didn't register) and got to the dr. office for our appointment. On our way to the dr. office, I got a call that showed up as AGCI so I picked it up and spoke with our case manager "T". She said since we were updating our homestudy she was looking through it and saw a couple of inconsistencies in regards to our parameters. I had noticed that the week prior with our home agency social worker and thought it very strange that there was an inconsistency found this late in the game. "T" asked me to discuss it with Neil and to get back to her - when asked when she needed to know by, she asked me to call that day. Had to get the girls to their appointment and when we were taken back to a room, this is the one we were in - the African Safari room =) SO I had to take a picture because I thought "Oh how cool is that?!" and talked to the girls about the acacia trees in the background.
We wouldn't have regularly been in this room because remember it was on the other side of the office. When we were getting weighed, Claire caught a glimpse of a little girl peaking through another exam room and she said "Hannah!" which was a girl she knew from school. The little girl opened the door and I recognized the mom from working with her on the yearbook but we didn't know our girls knew each other from the playground. After a quick hello, we went back into the exam room to be diagnosed with another positive strep test and Eden with a sinus infection (yuck!) The mom and two girls (same age as my girls) were in the waiting room checking out when we left so we ended up talking more and quickly into the conversation she said "I don't know if I ever told you but we're adopting a little boy! The birthmom's due date is in two weeks so we are getting ready to bring him home!" SO of course I had to say "Really? We're adopting a little boy too but we're still #5 on our waitlist and don't really know when we will get our phone call. Actually, I was just on the phone with them this morning about something but it will probably still be awhile" (if I only knew!) So we really hit it off and exchanged numbers since we live in the same neighborhood and the girls will be in school together next year. I left thinking, that was really cool!! Just love it when God crosses our paths with others that we can relate to!
Now back to getting on the phone with AGCI! Not thinking anything but the goal of clearing up our homestudy, I called Neil and we spoke about our parameter decision... one we had gone back and forth on over the past years and decided we were going to change our homestudy. Now, this has been on my heart for a VERY long time and when I asked Neil, he didn't even hesitate. I was floored and thanked Jesus in the same breath for such a peace about something we had really struggled with before (not that we always feel peaceful when it's God's will!).
So when I got home, I called "T" back and I told her we'd like to keep the parameters that was in the back of our homestudy and again, wondering how it was in there in the first place - thank you Lord - so she asked me a few other questions just to clarify. I looked a few things up while on the phone with her and then she said it "Well, then...I have a little boy to talk to you about..."
I was STUNNED and almost speechless - all I could say was "No way! Are you serious?" and Claire was right by my side saying "What? What?" And with tears in my eyes, I told her we got our phone call for baby brother! She screamed, hugged me and ran into the next room to tell Eden. After only hearing that he was 3.5 months old and hearing his given name, I quickly got off the phone to call Neil so we could be on the call together with "T". When I told him "You need to come home now!" he couldn't believe this was it! We were all so surprised! Now I will tell you, the 20 minutes following our hangup was the LONGEST 20 minutes of pacing, celebrating with the girls (Eden was in her room cleaning it all on her own accord because "Baby brother is coming and he might put the small things in his mouth") and just not knowing what to do with myself! I was supposed to have a voice lesson in 5 minutes so I called them to let them know I had to cancel (the dad is an adopted dad himself so he totally understood!) but then we just waited. Claire wrote "H" a note with a giant heart and it said "We just got our call. We love you already. Can't wait to see you and hear what you learned in Africa." Could it get any sweeter?
The garage door went up and Claire FLEW out the door to hug Neil and Eden wasn't far behind! So we gathered by the computer in the bedroom and called "T" back. She wanted to go through all the details of our little guy before sending pictures which is a good thing because it helped keep my ears opened and mind focused. In retrospect, I'm glad I had that time waiting for Neil because it really gave me the time to calm down and be prepared to hear everything "T" was telling us. We put a movie on for the girls and then we heard the first words we ever knew of our little guy. We've never felt anything like it before... being so excited and heartbroken at the same time... it's nothing we could've ever been prepared for even though you've heard people speak of it before. And then we invited the girls in to see the pictures of him which only heightened these emotional polars. Such joyful tears but a sob I've never had before in my life... Neil and I were just overcome and I don't know how else to put it in words. To see his face...to study that little body...to love someone you've been praying for but are just laying eyes on...to see his birthmother's pain on the last day she held him... it's beyond words and comprehension. My heart is broken and we are humbled and honored
We told "T" we would like to proceed so she sent all the paperwork to get started on. First thing first, a call to the international pediatrician and then out to get a picture printed to take over to our parents house to share our news! We went to Rome's pizza to celebrate and Claire made sure little "H"s picture was sitting on the table with us (we can't post anything public until we pass Embassy on our second trip!)
Our parents were thrilled and the girls enjoyed being part of telling them with the picture
as a surprise! Here are the proud sisters at Rome's =)
celebrating with ice cream
I insisted we get a picture of all 4 of us the day of our call and this is the best we got =) 9:30 p.m. and worn out with all the excitement and to-do list ahead of us
The most amazing man in the world!
celebrating with donuts
Claire and her swim coach, Kelsey
We quickly got dried off, dressed and headed to Rome's (yes, again!) to meet up with some of Neil's coworkers and a formal coworker who was visiting from South America (he loves Rome's so it was his choice). 20 minutes into the meal I noticed I missed a call from 971 number and knew that we had someone else taking over our process as "T" is out of country for a few weeks. So I excused myself to call back and after "M" asked me how I was feeling she said "Do you think you'd be feeling up to traveling soon? Your court date is set for July 23rd!" Again, floored, surprised, taken aback... not knowing what to say or how to take it all in! I got all the info written down (get visa papers sent asap, call travel agents to get quotes, etc.) and got to celebrate with the girls, Neil and his friends with our amazing news! It was off and running again to get it all done on a Friday afternoon to the post office, money orders, passport pictures, calling a courier service, fill out application, call travel agent, get a quote, get it to AGCI to approve... my head was spinning and the craziest part? I had a dr. appt at 3 p.m. so we had one hour to get it all together so Neil could take over and get it where it needed to be (thanks to my dad for taking Eden to her swim lesson)! So I'm on my phone doing what I can as I have to literally SIT and WAIT in the dr. waiting room for one hour... oh the irony... I kept thinking "NO one in here knows what just happened to me and I want to tell them! All I can do it sit here and wait!" And you know what? The Lord just gave me a song "Be Still and Know that I Am God"... this whole journey has truly taught me about surrendering control, trusting Him... and I was once again in the position of not being in control literally (this is hard for me but God is refining me) and trusting that Neil would get it all done. And you know what? He did =) We make an incredible team! By the time I got home from the dr. we had everything completed along with our itinerary approved and tickets bought to leave in a week and a half. Now it's off to planning for the kids, researching and getting our immunizations done, making a photo album, getting donations for us to take to Hannah's Hope, coordinating all that was supposed to happen while we are now going to be preparing to leave or not here at all. My parents brought over these flowers and balloons to us to help us celebrate today!