Oh wow, I am lame. I promised Part 2 would be last week and then I just got caught up in stuff and more stuff and deciding last minute that working is not fun and that me and Emmaline should go to the pool instead. You can also blame my brother for getting married on the same day we closed on our new house. It’s pretty funny to sit here and edit his winter wonderland wedding photos while it’s 90 degrees outside. That experience is definitely a whole other blog post! The moving to a new house with a toddler experience should be wiped from my memory and we shall never talk about it henceforth.
Part 2: We meet the Squish.
As you well know from Part 1 (click here to read!) we got THE CALL on a Wednesday and were told that we would get to meet baby girl on Friday. My last day of school (thursday) was a COMPLETE blur and I smiled blankly at all the parents when they asked me if I was teaching the class again next year. (Can I just stop here and talk about how much I love my students’ families? Some of the moms and dads have become dear friends, and they have been so supportive. There is no place like TCK.) At the end of the day I looked very dramatically at the 3 ladies who knew what was up and then RAN THE HECK OUT OF THERE. I laugh now, because the other teachers were probably super confused about my behavior. Whatever, they love me. If I let them, they would spoil the Squish rotten and ruin my life allowing her to run wild and eat candy and ice cream all day and let her stay up til as late as she wants.
We were told by our case worker that on Friday, we would meet with baby girl’s case worker first, chat with her a bit, and then see if it worked out to go over to the foster family’s house to meet the Squish. No big deal. We were just going to meet our DAUGHTER and somehow convince all these people that they made the right choice in choosing us as her parents.
So on Friday we drove the longest hour of our life to a little town where we would meet “Christina” who had watched over Emmaline since she was born. Our case worker “Fran” was having car trouble, so instead of having Fran with us to tell us WHAT IN THE WORLD WE WERE SUPPOSED TO DO…. we kind of had to fend for ourselves at first. We navigated the perils of the DSS facility and finally somehow made it back to Christina’s office. I liked her immediately, at first glance she was friendly, competent, and passionate about her job. She doesn’t play around, and I loved (and still love) that she was very honest with us in a kind, straightforward way. In so many words, she didn’t mess with our heads or hearts with the typical Southern passive aggressive stuff. I could tell that Emmaline was special to her, and that she was anxious to see her settled in a loving home. She sat us down and started talking to us about Emmaline’s medical conditions.
See, this is where it got complicated. This is where a “normal” adoption placement became a commitment to a child whose health was compromised, and who might spend a ton of time in the ER or admitted to the Children’s Hospital. This was when the words we read on a bewilderingly long profile became more real and more scary. This is the part where I can recall the absolute terror I felt at some points in this process.
Christina explained to us that there were 3 main issues when Emmaline was born. First, she was born at 32 weeks and was considered a preemie. Second, that she was born positive for cocaine, and third, that she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Beckwith-Weidemann Syndrome. (click here to read about BWS) The complications resulting from all 3 of these issues meant that even though she was in decent health on a daily basis, she was in danger of having serious health issues-especially as pertained to her lungs and kidneys. She had been admitted a couple times, and had several ER visits in her history when we met her at 5.5 months old.
So, Christina gave us time to ask questions and try to process the new information, and when Fran arrived we made a plan to visit baby girl. We had to wait a while for the foster mom to be home with the kids, so Christina suggested we get lunch.
Get lunch? Get LUNCH? Eat food?
This woman is insane. I’m about to meet my daughter and you want me to eat at Wendy’s for GOODNESS SAKES.
Again, small town…so limited options. Thankfully I like Wendy’s and it was one of those newly renovated ones. We walked in, and we were so giddy and happy and scared. I wanted to stand up and shout DON’T YOU GUYS EVEN KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE??!!
We ate something…I guess. Then we took this picture outside Wendy’s so we would always remember what a weird, funny, scary day it was.
And then we drove to the foster family’s home.
We pulled up, got out of the car, and the lady who met us cheerfully in the driveway was holding a tiny, squishy little brown-eyed baby girl. She invited us inside, and I suddenly forgot how to walk or put words together. This little baby was looking at us with the BIGGEST EYES EVER and she had the flattest little head. It was so flat you guys. After a million years, the foster mom asked who wanted to hold her and my very own BRIAN HORTON stepped up and grabbed her. (Are we surprised at all that Daddy is a rockstar and it’s all about Daddeee Daddooo Da Da all day long until he comes home from work every day? Now you know why. )
And so we laid eyes on our baby girl for the first time, and Brian held her and looked at her like he had always known she was going to be his Squish. And I looked at them and I was in awe that he was holding our daughter.
Stick around for Part 3!