Sunday, October 14, 2012

It's us!! It's us!! A Referral Story

Last Thursday evening (Oct 4) we learned of a referral at our agency, and realized it could mean we had moved up to the #1 spot. I sent my coordinator an email the next day to confirm my suspicions.

I ended my email with this:
"I think I'm in a sort of suspended disbelief we'll ever get a referral."

After 18 months of waiting, and over 2 years of being in process, patience wasn't my strong suit anymore. I didn't wait for a response. I just called her.  She confirmed we were #1, and then she said something strange.  She has certainly given us vague words of hope in the past and given us non-committal time frames...but she'd never said anything like this: "You guys get ready, I think it could be soon."

I think we'd become so wait weary, I just tucked that nugget of optimism in the "Yeah, right..we'll just see about that" part of my brain. I knew several people who waited in the number one spot for months. I'm not even sure I could hear the words. I was numb from the long wait.

Fast forward to Monday morning, just one month after moving into our new house. It was a dreary rainy day here in NC.  Fredrik decided to work from home, and Kysa and I went to our Mom and Tots dance class. After I fixed my tiny dancer lunch, we snuggled on the couch for an early nap. I was feeling under the weather, and a sweet sleeping child nestled in my lap was the best possible medicine.

As Kysa was starting to drift off to sleep Fredrik headed out in the rain to go to the post office and bank to take care of some adoption paperwork we're having to re-do/update because of our recent move. He came back quickly and drenched, cursing Christopher Columbus because banks and post offices were closed.  He went upstairs in a grumpy mood...

Maybe an hour later, I'm still snuggling with Kysa on the couch. I (ahem) might have been helping to elevate social consciousness by watching the reunion show of the Real Housewives of NYC. Don't judge. It was a snuggle on the couch watch bad tv kind of day. Fredrik came down the stairs holding the phone with a look I've only seen once on his face...when he had to tell me my Uncle Tony had suddenly and unexpectedly left his body. His face was intended to be blank and allow me to have my own reaction to the news he was about to share. But what it really said was, "hold on, life is about to change."

It's funny my rational brain didn't respond in that moment. Especially since Cat, our coordinator, had said those hopeful and optimistic words just days before.  Reading Fredrik's face sent me back to a time of grief and tragedy. Everything slowed down, and I started shaking and repeatedly asking, "what's wrong? what's wrong?"

I wiggled myself free from under Kysa, and followed Fredrik into the only room in our house that didn't have furniture yet. Fredrik closed the door.  I was breathless. I continued to search his face for clues. And then Fredrik showed me his phone. I could see it was our adoption agency on the phone and my knees buckled and I sat on the floor pulling Fredrik with me.

The conversation started like this on the speaker phone...
Fredrik: Cat, she's here now...
Cat: Hi guys...This is it. This is the call.
Me: nonsense, tears, laughter, trembling, more speaking nonsense

Honestly, the next few minutes were a blur.
We woke Kysa up with our commotion and she wandered into the room with sleepy eyes and wild hair, and snuggled into my lap just in time to see Baby W's photo at the same time as us.

Kysa: Is that my baby brother?
Me: We think so, Sweetie...
Kysa: Is he sitting on a potty?

And then we listened to Baby W's brief history and cried for him...
And then we heard his name (that we can't share, but we LOVE and plan to call him) and saw more photos
And then we asked questions that didn't make sense and listened to the answers without really hearing them.

And now I'm going to admit my true reaction.  The same thing happened when Kysa was born and she was immediately placed in my chest and I looked at her and thought to myself, "who are you? you are not who I was expecting. Are you my daughter?"...and then over the next few minutes, hours, days a love beyond comprehension grew.

Same thing with Baby W..."Who are you? You are not who I was expecting. Are you my son?"
I wish I could tell both my children's stories saying the moment I laid eyes on them I knew they were mine. But in that nebulous new mother time, my expectations took a minute to catch up to reality. I don't know if other people experience that feeling, but I take comfort it happened with BOTH my children.

Maybe it's a mammalian trait, the finger and toe counting, the body scan to make sure everything is okay. I can only describe it as a get down to business, no time for celebrating until I've properly inspected my baby, and THEN turn on the love fest, open the flood gates, and bask in baby bliss. Or maybe it's just me needing a moment to let the months of fantasy and expectation die a proper death, a moment to wipe the slate clean, and let the little precious being in front of me begin the lifelong process of revealing who they are to their mama.

The finger and toe counting was a little difficult with only three small photos...but the process involved me blowing up the photos and scanning every inch of visible skin, and taking in as much of my sweet baby boy a photo could reveal.

I've spent the last few days obsessing over with the photos, discovering drool on his chin in one photo and seeing what appears to be the tops of tiny teeth shimmering above his bottom lip in another. He has a tiny indentation on his left ear that looks like he's had his ear pierced, or maybe it's just a dimple. I've peered over every inch of visible skin I can see in those photos...

He's wearing a white necklace I'm dying to know the story about and hope beyond hope we are able keep for him.  He's also wearing a pink sweater with tiny flowers on it...apparently pink is the "official" Ethiopian baby boy referral picture according to other adoptive moms. That sweater just kills me on so many levels...

In one photo there are two beautifully gnarled hands holding Baby W. In the corner you can see the cheek of a woman obviously smiling and trying to stay out of his photo, a nanny we presume.  This is all we know about his care, the smile gives me hope he's being loved.

Let me tell you, this mama has been floored by what Baby W has revealed through the magic of a flat photo. He whole being SHINES and his eyes TWINKLE with curiosity and mischief. He is going to rock our world that much we know for sure...

Baby W is the cutest handsomest little dude I have ever laid eyes on.  My arms already ache for him. How's that for a proud and biased mama? How's that for a miracle?

With so much gratitude,



  1. Got all teary and full of chill bumps again! Love referral stories, love it even more that it is yours!

  2. Congratulations and thanks for sharing the story!