Thursday, August 6, 2015

Miracle #1-Katelyn's story

This first story is dedicated to two wonderful people.  First to my sweet daughter Katelyn.  This is her story and she glows with happiness every time she hears it.  I love you sweetheart.  You are truly an amazing daughter.
I also wish to dedicate this to another.  In all good stories there is a hero and this one is no different.  The hero in this story, whom I love with all of my heart, is Katelyn’s birth mother Marie.   Without her bravery and absolute selfLESSness I wouldn’t have this story to tell or my daughter to cherish.  Marie, we will always have a strong connection, a powerful bond in the beautiful girl that we share.  Two mothers and one daughter-three hearts bound together for eternity. This is our story…

From the time I was a little girl as far back as I can remember I just loved babies.  Anytime my mother would bring a new arrival home in the form of a brother or a sister I became a little mother hen.  I prided myself on knowing how to hold a baby “just so”.  I didn’t even mind changing a messy diaper! My favorite thing to do was to sit in a rocking chair, babe on my shoulder, and rock back and forth patting a tiny back to the rhythm of my humming.  From my earliest memories I dreamed of one day cradling a sweet little infant that was mine and would call me mommy.

I started babysitting for other people at a very early age, 10 years old.  I guess people would observe me with my siblings and felt I could handle the responsibility.  I became a very popular babysitter and loved every minute of it.  I think I was so good at it because I actually enjoyed the kids and I would play with them.  Life was even better if the family had a baby to tend.

As I grew into a teenager with a busy life my love for children didn’t diminish.  As I grew closer to graduating high school I had a difficult time deciding on whether to attend college or not.  The only thing I ever dreamed of was becoming a wife and a mother.  I didn’t have an interest in any other career.  I wanted to be a stay at home mom and I didn’t feel I needed a degree to do that.
Luckily I decided to go.  I realize now that obtaining a college education is so much more than a degree.  The college experience is valuable and rewarding.  A lot of growth takes place in those years.  I was fortunate to find a major in an area that I love and felt I was pretty good at…children! I graduated with a degree in Professional Preschool Education.  Not only was this something I enjoyed but it would allow me to run a business out of my home and still be with my own children.

In May of 1998 I became a bride.  Half of my dream joyously came true.  I married a wonderful man who loved and cared for me very much.  I just knew the other half of my dream would quickly become a reality and I would begin my perfectly happy life.  In my naive mind I assumed that shortly after we were married we would have the wonderful news to share that we were expecting.

Well a few months went by and hmmm…I guess it takes a little longer than I thought.  Six months comes and goes but “don’t panic” I tell myself.  It takes the average couple a year to get pregnant.
When a year turned into two many of our friends were announcing their happy news.  I would receive it with a smile on my face and an ache in my heart.
As two years turned into three it started to become unbearable.  What was wrong? Wasn’t wanting a baby a righteous desire? I knew I would be a good mother.  I was very confused.  I felt like the one thing I had always dreamed of was falling out of my reach.
Time kept plodding on and I was left with my aching empty arms.  After awhile I felt numb.  It was so painful to look at my friend’s babies as they joyfully added children to their families.  
The question that kept running through my head was “WHY?”  Was I not a good enough person? Would it happen when my husband was out of school? Was there something I was suppose to learn first? If only I had the answer maybe I could bear it easier.

It was always Christmas time that I would gauge that another year had gone by and still no baby.  I can remember some years exactly where I was sitting down to eat Christmas dinner when I would look around the room at all the new babies born that year and I would think to myself “Not this Christmas.  Maybe next”.  I didn’t realize until later just how much those thoughts would mean to me.

Shortly after our 7th wedding anniversary I suddenly had a feeling that it was time.  I remember my husband sitting in a chair and I was kneeling on the floor in front of him with my arms folded across his knees.  Through tears I expressed that I felt it was time we looked into adoption as an option to start our family.  I was surprised that it felt so right and so peaceful because we hadn’t delved very deeply into infertility treatments yet because we were poor struggling college students.  Now that Wayne was so close to graduating and had a job already lined up we would be able to afford testing to find out the reasons why we were not conceiving.  But my heart was telling me strongly that we needed to inquire about adoption.

A few days later I called the social worker in the state we were moving to.  I explained to him we were moving there in a month and we were interested in adopting.  He said that was great and that he would take our names down and contact us in a year and a half so that we could start our paperwork.  What?  We had already waited 7 years and now we had to wait another year and a half just to START the paperwork and then wait who knows how long until we actually got a baby.  I was devastated.  
Luckily out of the blue I remembered that his name, which he said at the beginning of our conversation, sounded familiar to me.  I asked him if he had ever lived in a certain town.  He said “yes”.  I asked him if he knew my mother and I mentioned her name.  He said of course I know her and then he called me by my first name and exclaimed. “I remember you.  How the heck are you doing?”  We chit-chatted for a few minutes and then he said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll call the agency there where you live and if they can help you get your paperwork started and have at least one interview with you guys before you leave then we will take you right away as a transfer.”  WOW!  We had found a loophole or should I say a little heavenly intervention caused me to remember his name and it was all good from there.
To make a long story short we moved to our new town, finished our paperwork and were approved for adopted 7 months later.
As soon as we were approved we were told the average wait was a year and a half for a baby.  Okay.  I could wait a year and a half longer.
One month later (three weeks before Christmas) I was away for the weekend with my mom.  We were headed back quite late.  I was staring out the car window into the dark when a thought came into my mind. “Your social worker called while you were gone.  There is a baby on the way.” I quickly corrected that thought “No! Don’t be ridiculous! It’s only been one month since we were approved.  We still have over a year to wait!”  The thought came again. “Your social worker called while you were gone.  There is a baby on the way.”  This time it came with a very intense feeling.  I tried to cry as quietly as I could as I stared out the window so my mom wouldn’t hear me.
I arrived home at 11:00 pm.  I walked through the door and hurried to find Wayne.  When I finally located him the words rushed out “Did anyone call while I was gone?” He said “No” I questioned him again with a furrowed brow “Are you sure no one called while I was gone?” He again told me that no one had called.  I looked into his eyes and thought “He is not telling me the truth” but that wasn’t like him.
I went to bed very confused.  Why did I have that thought and why were the feelings that accompanied it so intense?  I still had the feeling as I went to sleep that Wayne was not being honest with me.
The next morning before Wayne left for work he came and grabbed me by the hand and told me he had something to tell me.  He led me to the couch and sat down facing me.  With my hands in his he told me that our social worker had called while I was gone.  A baby was due in two weeks and the birth mother had chosen us.  The flood gates burst.  Sobbing I said “I knew it! I knew he called!”  Wayne said he knew that I knew.  He could tell that I felt something was happening, but as late as I got home the night before he knew that if he told me then neither one of us would have gotten any sleep, so he decided to wait until morning to tell me.  He was probably wise in that decision.  
I called our social worker that day and he told me to write a letter to the birth mother so that she could get to know us a little better before the baby was born.  I sat down to write the letter and found it very difficult to put into words what I was feeling.  How do you adequately express to someone your gratitude in choosing you to raise her baby?  This was not a puppy she was finding a good home for.  This was her baby.  The feelings I felt were overwhelming and humbling.  
I started off by expressing my love for her.  Already I felt a strong connection to her.  How could I not?  Soon she would become a mother but then turn around and make me one, something I had dreamed of all of my life.  I remember telling her in the letter that it was neat her baby would be born close to Christmas because every year something about Christmas made me think “Not this Christmas. Maybe next”.
In the weeks before she delivered all that I could do was pace the floor and cry.  It was all so overwhelming.  My fondest dream was so close to becoming a reality and yet so far away because she still had a chance to change her mind.
Two weeks went by and we didn’t really hear anything.  Our social worker said that hopefully no news was good news.  Before we knew it Christmas day came.  We hadn’t heard anything in the negative so we were still hoping.  We spent the day pretty much like any other Christmas, enjoying our families and the festivities but inside I was a bundle of nerves.  The not knowing was so hard to bear.
We headed home quite late and arrived at about 11:15 pm.  There was a message on the machine from the hospital Wayne worked at and he had to run there really quick to take care of something.  It had been a long day and I was tired so I went to bed.  At 11:30 the phone rang.  I got up to answer it knowing that it would be Wayne telling me he would be detained for awhile.  The voice on the other end was not Wayne.  It as a woman explaining that she was a social worker from our agency in another state.  She apologized for calling so late but she had a birth mother there who didn’t want another Christmas to go by without me knowing that this was the  Christmas and we had a daughter.  I was speechless!  This only thing I could do was sob. She went on to explain that the baby’s birth mother had gone into labor earlier in the day and she kept telling the nurses to please do everything they could do to insure the baby would be born on Christmas as a gift to me. It was amazing that in her hours of pain and difficulty she was thinking of me.  The only thing I can remember saying was to tell her thank you and that we love her.
I got off of the phone and Wayne still wasn't home.  I had just received the biggest news of my life and was standing in an empty house! So I did the next best thing.  I called my mom.
Shortly after I sobbed out the news to her, Wayne walked in the door.  I hung up the phone and crossed the room to hug him and tell him we had a little girl.
The next morning we left  to get our little one.  During the car ride we pretty much rode in silence.  The thought that I had a baby girl consumed me and it was too painful to try and think of anything else.  
After a stop at Walmart for diapers and a few other things we were lacking we arrived at the agency.  We rushed in quickly (it was all I could do to keep myself from running) and met the social worker in the lobby area.  It was after hours so she was the only one there, all except for one bundle of joy whom my eyes were searching for and couldn’t find.  She told us to follow her and led us down the hall to a door.  Opening it she said “Wayne and Leanne, I would like you to meet your daughter.”
Across the room a car seat was on the floor.  I don’t think it took me more than two steps to get to it.  Kneeling down I reached in and miraculously in my hands I lifted out a beautiful tiny newborn.  I looked into her face and in one instant all those years of pain were gone.  She was mine.  The bond was instantaneous.  It was amazing.
As I held her Wayne looked at her and softly with a voice of awe said “She’s so cute”.  She was beautiful.  I had never seen such a sweet little round face before.  She was perfect.  The next moment was humorous and it kind of broke us both out of our state of being awestruck.  We remembered the social worker telling me on the phone that the baby had a lot of black hair so Wayne pulled off her little hat to see it and went “AHHH what’s wrong with her head?” She was so new, not even 24 hours old yet and she had quite the cone head still.  I laughed and assured him that it would go down.
We didn’t spend much time at the agency.  I was anxious to check into a motel and start our first night together as a family.  When we walked into the motel room I was very pleasantly surprised to see it had a rocking chair! Of all the luck.  My first night as a mother with my sweet daughter and I could rock her the way I had always imagined it. (I have yet to stay in another motel room that has a rocking chair.) God didn’t even leave that little miracle out.

I love this picture because it is from our daughters birth mom.  It is so touching to me because I know that in this picture she is giving her baby all the love she has for her as she tells her goodbye.  Marie was only with her baby for about 18 hours before they parted.  I cannot even begin to imagine how she felt as she kissed those tiny hands and cradled those tiny feet knowing that the decision she was making for her baby would mean a lifetime of being without her.  
I get very upset when people have the mind set that mothers who choose adoption are giving their babies away.  They wonder how anyone with a heart could ever do that.  I know most assuredly that it is because of these mother’s hearts that they make this decision.  There has never been a moment in time nor will there ever be that I doubt Marie’s absolute love for her baby.   As she said in the letter she wrote to Katelyn shortly after we received her “only through the love I have for you could I bear to let you go”.  That is what I firmly believe.  It comes down to love.  A love so sweet and pure that these mothers are willing to sacrifice what they want and are willing to feel deep pain in order to give their baby more out of life than they feel they can give at that time in their life.  It is the most unselfish and Christ-like thing I can imagine any one doing.  
Our sweet Katelyn will be 20 this Christmas.  She still calls me mommy sometimes.  It still sounds so good to hear.
I am sharing this story because adoption is truly a miracle.  As I reflect back on this story it is full of little miracles. God planned our story and didn’t leave out any details.   I know that every adoption story out there is so special to those who belong to them.  I am sure that they are full of miracles too.  
Marie is also a mommy now.  Whenever she holds her children close I hope she always remembers that because of her I am holding mine too. I am so thankful God had her heart connect with mine because one little girl’s heart depended on it.

Four years after we were blessed with Katelyn we were able to adopt again.  Another daughter, another mother.  Two more hearts bound to ours forever.  But that’s another beautiful miracle story…

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