Saturday, March 19, 2011

Meeting Katie and Drew

Dear Baby Boy,

Yup, it’s official: you’re a boy!!  It was confirmed on Friday when we went to an ultrasound with your birth mom Katie.  We saw you wiggling around on the screen (I think you waved at us J), and we saw the profile of your little face for the first time.  You are only ½ a pound right now, and already you are cute as can be. 

I’ve heard people say that pregnant women “glow.”  Well, I feel like I must be glowing today.  I have this little burning excitement inside, and I can’t help myself from smiling and from thinking about you and your birth mom.  We met her for the first time this weekend, and as I think about her, I am filled with awe at this experience that we are having.  She is so generous to invite us into her life and to allow us to be a part of her pregnancy.  I think she is beautiful, inside and out.  I hope you have her almond-shaped blue eyes and her strength, wisdom, and spirit. 

On Thursday night, we took Katie and your birth dad, Drew, out to dinner at the Olive Garden.  I was quite nervous.  I just wanted them to like us, and I wanted it to be natural between us.  I had been fretting about the perfect outfit for weeks, and I even video chatted with your Aunt Laura the night before to get her approval on what I had picked out.  (For the record, it was dark jeans, a long gray sweater, a red shirt, and my favorite colorful scarf.)  I also brainstormed a few discussion topics/questions, in case there were awkward silences.  J

Well, I think it went well.  Of course there were a few awkward silences, but we managed to keep the conversation going.  We all asked each other questions, and I told lots of stories.  (I hope they didn’t think that was annoying.)  I told them about when I took a massive spill on the ski hill in front of the Nielsons, when Ryan got mugged near our apartment in Buffalo, when a woman at our church (Ziggy) banged her shoe on the pulpit during testimony meeting, when another woman at our church (Deborah) said my dad would “look good in some shorts,” and when Ryan disappeared in El Salvador until some nuns and I went looking for him in the middle of the night.

Although the main purpose of our “double date” was just to get to know each other, we did talk a little bit about you.  I asked Katie how she is feeling, and she said pretty good.  (She looks great…you can barely tell she’s pregnant, and she is already 20 weeks along.)  I asked Drew what he thought about adoption, and he gave me a big thumbs up.  He said something like, “Adoption is awesome!”  They said that they knew from the beginning that adoption was the best option for you and for them.

Your birth dad is really cool.  He has a distinctive style, kinda like a skateboarder/snowboarder but with his own flair.  He was pretty quiet around us, but he is obviously smart, funny, and considerate.  He has a mischievous sparkle in his eye and a cute dimple when he smiles (I wouldn’t mind if you ended up with those traits!).  I noticed that he looked us in the eye when he answered questions, and I noticed that he held Katie’s hand almost the entire dinner.  I think they are very close and a support for each other.  

I also loved that we got to spend a lot of time with your birth grandparents this weekend.  When we picked up Drew for our Olive Garden date, his mom, Shanea, answered the door and invited us in.  Drew has two younger siblings, and we all sat around and talked for several minutes.  Shanea is really funny and likeable, and she made us feel at ease right away.  After a few minutes of small talk, she got more serious and said, “I’ll probably get emotional, but I do want to talk to you about the adoption.”  She said that when she found out about the pregnancy, she was really worried and upset; but after she went to our blog and read about us, she felt peace and knew that everything would be okay.  She said, “If there is one thing that I hope you will tell the baby, it’s that we love him.  We love this baby.  We love this baby so much.”   It’s pretty amazing to hear those words from a mother who desperately loves her son and her grandbaby and wants what is best for both of them—and she is trusting that we are what’s best for them.  It feels like a humbling and sacred conversation. 

The next day, we spent a lot of time with Katie’s parents and family.  Katie’s mom, Elizabeth, went with us to the ultrasound, so we chatted with her during the 30 minute drive each way.  She is wise, down-to-earth, loving, and real.  She has been so supportive of Katie and of us throughout this entire experience.  The first time that Katie called us, Elizabeth was by her side, and after we were done talking, Katie handed the phone to her.  Elizabeth told me how much she loves Katie and how proud she is of her for the way she is handling the situation.  It brought tears to my eyes to think about what Elizabeth and her husband must be feeling, and yet they are so affirming and loving to Katie.  I hope I can be such a Christ-like parent. 

On our way home from the ultrasound, we stopped to meet your great grandma Edna, who is so sweet and concerned about Katie, about us, and about you.  She got emotional and told us that she couldn’t bear it if she didn’t know for certain that her great grandson was going to be raised in a good home.  I promised her that we will love and cherish you forever.  I wanted to tell her more about our experience with infertility—I wanted her to know what a blessing you will be to us and what a blessing Katie has been to us…but the moment passed before I could.  I hope I have the chance to tell her someday.

That evening, the Stratfords hosted a barbeque for everyone at their home, so we got to know Katie’s siblings and her dad, Mark.  Drew and Shanea also came, and I was amazed by how natural the conversation and humor was between all of us.  Ryan and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Baby, you come from a heritage of awesome people.  Your birth grandparents on both sides are smart, funny, and loving.

My favorite part of the weekend by far was getting to know Katie.  I love her.  I really really love her.  She and I went out to lunch after the ultrasound, and at first it was a little quiet, but then we got talking, and we couldn’t stop.  (One of the restaurant workers eventually asked us if he should set up a tent. J  I think we talked for about two hours!)  She told me about some of the struggles she’s faced in the past couple of years, and my heart ached for what she has experienced.  Her teen years have not been easy for her, and yet she has a positive, mature attitude.  She talked about the lessons she has learned, the ways she has grown, and the gratitude she has for her parents.  I wanted to tell her how much I admire her; I wanted to tell her how much God loves her and is proud of the changes she’s made…but again, the moment passed.  I think she already knows those things, but I’d still love the opportunity to tell her.  Sometimes words feel so inadequate.

I think Katie and I are kindred spirits.  Though our life experiences are very different, I think our hearts are similar.  I love reading her emails and her perspectives on life.  This weekend, she let me and your dad read a letter that she wrote to you, and it was my favorite thing to read yet.  We were sitting in her living room—everyone around us was talking—and yet their conversation became muted as I read her sweet words to you.  I felt something run through me—love? the Spirit? humility? awe?—and I looked at her across the room, and she never looked more beautiful.  She is so selfless.

In her letter, she said that she loves you, and that is something she never wants you to forget.  She loves you and she wants you, but it just isn’t right for her to keep you.  She mentioned that I am lucky because I will be your mom, and therefore you will love me.  She said that she hopes you will love her too and not hate her for giving you up.  Baby, if there is anyone deserving of your love, it’s Katie.  She is going through the difficulty of pregnancy to give you life.  And then, after all of the morning sickness, weight gain, uncomfortable nights, and judgmental stares from others, she is going to place you in our arms so that we can give you the life that she thinks you deserve. 

I really have no doubt that you will love her.  We will teach you about adoption as soon as you start walking and talking.  Katie and I are going to write a story book for you about our lives and how they intersected and how you came into the world already loved by four families: Drew’s, Katie’s, your dad’s, and mine.  I hope you will never doubt how very loved you are, and I hope you will always feel nothing but respect for your birth parents. 

Baby Boy, I am so happy.  I can’t believe how this experience has come together so perfectly.  God works in mysterious ways.  A year ago, I had just suffered an ectopic pregnancy after years of wanting a baby and months of fertility treatments.  Six months ago, we were in the middle of our first adoption heartbreak with a birth family stringing us along and then changing its mind.  During those dark days, there were moments when I wondered if I would ever be excited about a baby again.  Would my heart become numb and guarded?  Would I eventually lose faith that I would ever be a mother?

This year, I’ve read and re-read scripture verses about “waiting on the Lord.”  There are 47 verses that mention a variation of that phrase, and tonight, one seems especially fitting: “And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you.”  (Isaiah 30:18)

God knew best.  He waited to bless us until the situation was perfect and right.  He knew that you were on your way.

The wait was worth it.

I love you, Little Man.


Drew and Katie with Mom and Dad