This is why...

This blog has been created to give our family and friends an idea of our journey through infertility and the steps we chose to take to make our dream of becoming parents a reality. There may be a few graphic details here and there, along with some fun photos, but most importantly, we wanted to document these events in our lives for our future children and for anyone else who dreams of becoming a parent. Enjoy!

*Anyone who may be interested in us as adoptive parents, please feel free to check out our link at Bethany.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More about our story...

Jen asked me to take over since she has been writing up a storm lately...

First, I want to say that I was a complete wreck in South Carolina. I wanted so badly to up and leave to be with Jen and Claire. I had to fulfill my commitment to Piedmont Technical College by spending a couple days with them teaching them how to use the software tools that Evisions develops. They were so grateful to have me there and were so proud that I was a new dad. The director of IT there was telling everyone about Claire, and they were so happy to see pictures of her. They, along with the my bosses back in Irvine, were kind enough to let me cut the trip short. I was going to fly back Wednesday evening, but of course, the flight sold out as we were purchasing it. I settled for the first flight Thursday morning. This allowed me to stay the night at Daniel and Jackie's (Jen's brother and his wife) and see my nephews, Cristian and Gabriel.

They were so happy to see me. I got to play with them for about an hour before they went to bed. From there, I was home and the happiest person in the world. It was so surreal holding Claire for the first time. I kept thinking that this can't be real. As you all have seen, she is perfect and beautiful.

I got to spend the first night with Jen and Claire alone. It was my first opportunity to feed and change her diapers. I literally just stared and watched her for about an hour sleeping in her swing. I also was pretty terrified of breaking her, but I have since learned how to handle her with ease. I thought Claire and I had a deal where she was going to leave the poop diapers for her mom, but she broke that pretty quickly. She managed to get it on my hand the first night. Never thought I would be happy about that.

That first day back we also took Claire to her first doctors appointment. We never got around to researching pediatricians so we just picked the closest one to us. We ended up seeing Dr Helati, and we loved him. It turned out to be George and Kristina's pediatrician. So that was another blessing for us to find.

The following week, we got to take Claire to her hearing test. She initially failed it at the hospital. Fortunately, she passed with flying colors. Of course, we could already tell that she could hear things since she would get startled with loud noises, but it was nice to hear it formally.

In these 2 weeks, Jen and I have been nervously waiting for the birthmom to relinquish her rights. There was a slight delay because her stitches started to come out early. She finally signed them on Friday, October 28, 2011, and Kiana overnighted them to the state on Halloween.

Claire spent her first Halloween as a Ladybug.

I wanted her to be a Hot Dog, but we couldn't find the costume. Oh well. I did get to carve Claire's first pumpkin. I asked Jen's brother, Anthony, to sketch up her name for me to carve, and it came out great.

We got to pass candy out to our neighbors. We picked up Jen's Grandma and spent the evening with her too. She treated us to dinner at the Habit. For those in Anaheim Hills, it is a delicious burger place. You should make a trip there.

It seems like everyone who has come to see Claire has instantly fallen in love with her. Jen and I, especially, but we just kept wishing that everything was official. The thing about the relinquishment forms is that the birthmom still has rights until the forms are acknowledged by the state. It could be anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks for that to occur. Fortunately, I got the call from Kiana on Tuesday, November 8, that they had been acknowledged by the state. Claire is officially our daughter!

We are now starting the legal process of finalizing the adoption. This is a series of supervised visits with our social worker, and it takes anywhere from 6 to 9 months. The first step is a supervised visit with Kiana at 6 weeks. It will also be our first visit with our birthmom since Claire's was released from the hospital. This will be on December 30th. At the end of this process, we get to go to court, but it is a good thing. It is more of a celebration than anything.

What else can I say? This has been one hell of a 4+ year ride. At the beginning, Jen and I said, "By October 2007, we will be pregnant." Who knew that it would take til October 2011 for all of this to happen. Through all of the struggles we have had, I would not change one thing. I think it has allowed us to really appreciate what we have. In the end, we have our beautiful daughter, Claire. Jen and I are finally enjoying life as new parents....

Meet Claire Elise Shirley!

Ok...back to the hospital. When my parents and I arrived at the hospital, we were greeted by my friend Melanie and she showed us where the nursery was and where to find our birth mom. I knocked on our birth mom's door and spoke with her for a little bit. She told me that she hadn't seen the baby all day because she wanted me to be the first to hold her. :) The nurses gave me a wrist band that matched our birth mom's and the baby's and then led me into the nursery. I took one look at our little girl and couldn't believe that this day had finally arrived. My mom and Melanie stood outside the nursery window and snapped some pictures.

After spending some time with my brand new daughter in the nursery, we found out that the hospital was going to give me my own room for the night. I was thrilled! I had no idea that I would get to spend so much time with our new baby but our birth mom made sure that I was included in everything and that I was able to bond with her as much as possible. 

Meet Claire Elise! 

   I had waited so long for this day to arrive but never thought it would be without Darryl. We talked on the phone a lot and I sent him picture after picture. I even took a video hoping he would feel as part of this as he could from across the country.


Grandma and Grandpa also got to spend some quality time with their new grand daughter!

And thank God for my best friend Emmy and her husband Leonel! They drove to my house, picked up a bag that my Dad had packed up with clothes for my mom and me, and drove it out to the hospital in Murrieta. We now had pj's, toothbrushes, and pillows to make our night in the hospital a little more comfortable. :)

My mom and I were able to stay the night and our birth mom allowed for our little Claire to stay the night in my room! Our prayers were being answered one by one and this truly was going as smoothly as it possibly could!

When Claire was born she was put on antibiotics through an IV as a precaution for infections. Since she was born early the doctors wanted to play it safe and we were just waiting for the test results to come back to see if they would be transferring Claire to the NICU. 

The test results came back the next day and the nurses said she was perfectly fine and that we could be discharged that day! We were a little nervous, not knowing if our birth mom would allow us to take Claire home before she was discharged but she was absolutely amazing and said that we could! She however, had to stay in the hospital for a few extra days due to a C-Section and her staples coming out. 
When our social worker arrived on day 2 at the hospital, she had the birth mom and me fill out lots and lots of paperwork and explained that our birth mom would not be able to sign the relinquishment papers giving up her parental rights until she was discharged from the hospital. She told me that I could still take Claire home but that it may be a few days before the birth mom could sign the papers and then she explained that the birth mom had the right to have the papers held for 30 days or to have them filed immediately. I was nervous taking Claire home, not knowing what our birth mom's decision would be but I trusted that God knew what he was doing and that I needed to take this little girl home, love her, and be her mommy for as long as I could. 

Discharge papers were started at noon, and at 5:30 or so, we were finally released from the hospital and I was able to bring my daughter home! Before we left we took a few pictures with our birth mom and even took pictures with Matt and Melanie and their new baby boy Hunter! Melanie swears that one day our two little ones will be married and will have the story of a lifetime! 

After saying our goodbyes to the WONDERFUL hospital staff and our birth mom, we were on our way home!!!!

Claire's first car ride!

One happy Mommy!
 As we pulled up to our house we were greeted by an awesome sign that my niece and neighborhood girls put together for us! It says, "Welcome baby Claire!"
  And I must take a moment and say how blessed we are to have such amazing neighbors and even more amazing sister!!!! My sister-in-law Jen broke into our house and spent all day building our pack n play, our co-sleeper, our swing, cleaning our floors, washing clothes, buying some more baby items, and even going out and getting dinner for us!!!! My eyes still fill with tears when I think how loving that was of her and how long she has been waiting for this day! She has been so supportive and knows first hand the heartache we have gone through these past four years. Thank you Jen for being such a good Auntie to our little Claire and for helping to prepare our home for our newest family member. ( I know Claire's other Aunties would have been there helping too if they could have been) :)

Our good friends Kristina and George also surprised us with a giant present in our front yard! Unfortunately it gets VERY windy at our house and the winds picked up so much that night that I had to bring it indoors. I didn't want any flying pieces to hit anyone's car and I didn't want it ruined since we got to keep part of it. The bag will be hanging in Claire's new nursery. And thank you again to George and Kristina for all of the clothes they brought over for our Claire! They have twin girls and know how many clothes babies go through!

When Thursday finally rolled around we got the best present of all! Daddy got to come home and meet his beautiful baby girl! I will let him take over the story from here. 

Godly coincidences...

God has been so completely present during this whole journey and especially during our daughter's first days. October 25th 2010 was the day my favorite person left this Earth for a much better place. Since we were coming up on the one year anniversary of my Grandfather's death I had been really missing him. I prayed on the night of the 24th....probably right around 9:16pm that I could hear his voice again. I even searched my old voice mails in my phone to see if I had one from my Grandpa. When there wasn't one, I was hoping he would appear in my dreams that night as he sometimes did. Funny that the next morning at 3:00am was when I got a phone call that would change my life forever. My brother thinks that our Gramps had something to do with it. I think that God and my Gramps wanted the 25th to be a day of celebrating. Not only was the 25th my niece Delilah's 4th birthday but it was also a day to celebrate a new life brought into this world.
Another God thing took place at the hospital. Remember our friends Matt and Melanie? They were mentioned early on in our blog. They adopted their daughter from Bethany and we met with them to discuss their experience. Because of all the wonderful things they shared with us, we decided to pursue adoption and go with Bethany Christian Services. Who knew that Matt and Melanie's second adopted child would be born the same day as our little one AT THE SAME HOSPITAL! Coincidence? I think not!!!! Matt and Melanie were so helpful to myself and to my parents. They were down the hall from me the whole time we were at the hospital and were able to walk us through any questions we had since they had already been through it a couple of years before. Melanie was able to comfort us with any worries we had and gave me the best advice there was. She told me, "You need to allow yourself to fall in love with her." Which of course I did!!!!
God answered so many prayers in those first couple of days and also some prior to us going to the hospital. For several months before our little one's birth, Darryl and I had been discussing buying a new car. We knew eventually we would need something bigger than my little Hyundai and his Corolla. We test drove some SUV's in October but decided that we would save for a few months before buying anything. After much researching Darryl figured out that the deal we had been offered at Tustin Acura was the best deal out there and we had until the end of the month to take it or leave it. On October 20th, Darryl got the feeling that this was something we needed to do now and we went in on a Thursday evening and purchased an Acura MDX. I felt like we were being a little spontaneous and that maybe we should have waited to see if we could sell my car instead of trading it in but Darryl said, "Let's just do it." I'm glad he did because 4 days later, we needed that bigger car. :) Another coincidence? Maybe...but I think God had everything in the works for our very soon to be family.
Our month has been full of these kinds of situations and I know that God had a hand in all of them. He knew we would need a blessing party, he knew we would need a bigger car, and he knew that I would need my job back this year to make this all happen. He has truly blessed us beyond our wildest dreams! Now for the big we met our daughter!!!!!

God had other plans...

As Darryl and I sat tight waiting for a phone call from Bethany, Darryl had to go on a business trip to South Carolina. He left on a Monday morning and I was planning on meeting him in Georgia on Thursday to spend time with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews. We knew the timing would be a few weeks away from the birth mom's due date but since she hadn't quite picked us yet, our agency told us not to change any plans and to continue living our lives. So our Monday went as planned. Darryl left early for his flight to South Carolina and I went to work. That night we said good night to each other on the phone and both of us were wondering how the birth mom's counseling session had gone because we knew it was planned for that day. Darryl said if he hadn't heard from our social worker by Wednesday, he would call to see what was going on.
The next day, (1 year after the death of my Grandpa), I got a phone call at 3:00am. It was Darryl calling me from across the country to tell me that our birth mom's water broke and she went into labor early. A healthy, 6 pound, 10 ounce baby girl was born at 9:16pm on October 24th. Her boyfriend had called Darryl 2 hours after all of this took place but since Darryl was out of state, he was already in bed asleep due to the time difference and didn't get the message until the next morning when he got up for work. As Darryl told me what was going on, I had no idea what to do! I knew I couldn't go to the hospital yet, I knew that our social worker hadn't been contacted yet, and I knew that I had several parent teacher conferences already scheduled for that day! All I could do at that moment was call my mom and dad and sister-in-laws and then text a few people with the good news. At that point, we figured that the birth mom must have picked us since she and her boyfriend wanted us to come down to the hospital! We were overjoyed but so sad that Darryl would not be able to come home until Thursday.
After several phone calls back and forth, Darryl decided to call our social worker and ask her what we should do. She told us that she would not be able to get down to the hospital until later that afternoon but that I was allowed to go down there if I wanted. I felt a little weird going down there without her and wasn't sure what exactly I was allowed and not allowed to do once I did get there. Kiana, (our social worker) said that's fine and to go ahead and get some things settled at work and then to head on down to the hospital. So I went into work that morning, took care of a few parent teacher conferences, and prepared for the day. I explained to my very happy principal what was going on and she said she would call in to HR and get a sub for me. I really thought I would be able to keep my composure and teach for a few hours but before the 8:10 bell, I had a fellow teacher come to my room to tell me something. I ended up breaking down crying and telling her that my daughter was born the night before and that I needed to leave as soon as possible. She was so excited for me and told me that I could leave immediately and that she would help watch my class. However, after getting a few things ready, my sub showed up and I was able to leave knowing that my 28 students would be well taken care of.
I called our birth mom before leaving and asked how she was doing. She said she was doing good but that she and the baby were just waiting for me to get there. I asked her if I could bring my mom along since Darryl wasn't in town. She said that would be wonderful and that she would love to meet her! So I headed over to my Grandma's house, picked up my parents, and we made our way to the Rancho Springs Hospital in Murrieta.

A very important meeting...

On October 19th, Darryl and I arrived at a Chilis Restaurant for the interview of our lives. We met with our Bethany social worker, a birth mom, and her boyfriend. Darryl and I were very nervous and had prepared for days about how we would answer certain questions and also which questions we wanted to ask. I prayed constantly that this birth mom would love us, that she would feel comfortable with us, and that our meeting would run smoothly.
Our prayers were answered! We did little talking because the birth mom really wanted to share with us her story and tell us about why she chose Bethany and why she was choosing adoption. She seemed to feel comfortable with us and was quick to share why she chose us as a possible adoptive family. She liked that I was a teacher and that I enjoyed baking and she liked that Darryl loved to play Rock Band and how close we were with our families. She asked a few questions about our dogs and our nieces and nephews but never really asked those questions we were prepared to answer. I believe that she had our portfolio for at least a month and must have felt like she already knew those answers and trusted that we would be amazing parents.
When we left the restaurant we were a little unsure about how she felt about us since she did most of the talking but our social worker called a couple of hours later and said that the birth mom loved us! Our next step was to set up another meeting after the birth mom had one more counseling session to make sure this was a decision she was still confident making. Darryl and I had to sit tight for a few days until all of this took place but we were thrilled that she liked us and felt one step closer to becoming parents.

We got a call!!!!!

On October 13th, D and I were on our way to San Diego to get a hair cut and to visit our awesome sister, brother, and beautiful niece Audrey. We were just driving along and a Bethany social worker called to tell us she had a birth mom who had seen our profile and portfolio and was interested in meeting us! We immediately put Kiana (the social worker) on speaker so we could both hear her. She began telling us a little about the birth mom, her situation, where she lived, and when her baby was due! When she told us her baby girl was due in 3 weeks, we couldn't believe it! This is the moment we have waited so long for but it was hard to be excited when we knew that it could all change in a second. We tried to keep our composure but couldn't help but call our families and tell them what had just happened. We knew everyone would be praying for us and we would rather that than keeping it a secret until we were more sure.
(I am now writing this several weeks later,so from here on out I will be telling you about the day and the days leading up to us becoming parents!)