So for a while, we didn't know, exactly, when little man was scheduled for his arrival. His birthmom was having a csection, and her doctors in her home state had told her "around March 26th" so we'd been planning for the 26th. However, because the agency is in Utah, she was going to have the baby in Utah and the doctors there hadn't given her a definite date. So we waited, and assumed the 26th. . .until we got word that it was going to be the 23rd. . . the Tuesday before. So, my weekend plans became the plans for the next couple of days and we were packed and ready to head out to meet our little boy on Saturday, March 21st.
First stop was a Starbucks for breakfast and coffee. Christian agreed to drive the first leg and I didn't end up driving until we hit St. George. The drive out was full of uncertainty, excitement, anticipation. . . all of it. We'd taken this route before, just a few months earlier, not knowing that we'd be making this same trip later to meet our little boy. During our first trip, there was a lot of fear and concern that the girls would have a hard time with the long drive and that Chino to Salt Lake in one day was entirely too much to take in. But we were wrong. We made sure they had something to look forward to, used coloring books, road trip friendly crafts, stories on CD, just about anything. We did save electronic games for the VERY last leg of our trip when we deemed it an emergency but didn't rely on it. Love how the girls were able to look out the window, engage with others and fill up pages and pages of paper with their drawings that I will cherish for years.
We made it to Nevada with no major issues,
Now, the great thing about when we finally made it to South Jordan, was the place we were able to stay. A little background, a friend of Christian's at work has several contacts in the Salt Lake area since he attended BYU Idaho and several friends from there or his Ward have friends there. One afternoon, he asked Christian is we had made arrangements for housing while there. We hadn't due to the fact that K's csection date wasn't set in stone. So a Facebook post and a lot of God working out details, we had a place to stay, for free, 5 mins from the hospital little man was to be born with a family who, over the course of their own marriage, had adopted 10 children. We were blown away by their kindness, generosity and care for our family while we were there. Claire and Ashlyn loved the drawer with all the toys and books and loved playing with Miss Arlene who had also taught preschool for years and was very tolerant and loving toward our loud, rambuntious, bickering (at times) little girls.
The second day we were there, my dad was able to fly out for the purpose of helping us with the girls as we met with little man's birthmom and hung out at the hospital when he was born. The girls LOVED having Papa there and we loved the extra hand and having someone there to be with them so we could be free to be with our new little boy.
The day before the csection date, we met K and her friend who drove her out to Utah for dinner. It confirmed in us the connection we had with her and God's hand in the match, for sure.
The next morning was an early one. I knew I needed to get some sleep since we wouldn't be shortly :-) But it was hard. . . too excited, nervous for K for the whole situation. Per K's request, we were supposed to be allowed into the nursery as soon as he was brought in. She was going to sign some paperwork allowing us to see him right away, but since the night staff forgot to give it to her and the morning staff didn't get a chance (her csection was early in the morning), we spent about 15 to 20 min waiting for the social worker to get a signature from K after her surgery. We could hear him crying on the other side of the door to the nursery. We wanted so bad to be on the other side. . . couldn't believe we were there, hearing him.
And then we were cleared to go in. . .
and he was here. . .
He was perfect, and sweet and . . .here. I remember being completely awestruck at the whole moment. The nurses and doctor who came to seen him were commenting on what a pretty baby he was. There was some concern from a nurse that one of his ears didn't have an opening, but the doctor assured us that it did.
They kept checking his blood sugar. And we just held him. And rocked him. And fed him. And tried to send word and pictures back to family amid very bad hospital wifi.
After a while, the nurses asked us if we'd like our own room with him. We weren't allowed to have a hospital room but they had a room off to the side of the nursery with rocking chairs and a sink. We spent the afternoon there with him while his birthmom slept off her surgery that morning. And we got to know this new little son. And were amazed by the whole thing.
We named him Reed (after my grandma's family, who have handed down an amazing faith in Christ, love for music and grace for others) William (after my dad and also a mentor of mine who passed away the same day we matched with his birthmom, a guy who loved learning, travel and people) Caeden (a name K said she'd always liked).
Our two days in the hospital we spent, mostly with Reed and we'd visit K and her friend who helped drive her to Utah. We, luckily, got along with both of them and while the situation was a difficult one, it was also so, so good to have a good relationship with her through the difficult. We had prayed for a situation where we could feel totally comfortable with future contact with the birthmom we'd be matched with and God gave us more than we could have asked for with K. She came to see Reed in the nursery on Tuesday morning and then again Tuesday afternoon after we'd all been discharged and papers had been signed. We got pictures of her with him and us. It was good and hard and amazing and incredibly humbling.
We packed up to head out, Reed was so small in the carseat, the same carseat I brought his sisters home in and the last baby we will use it for since it will expire in a year or so.
We snapped a picture of Reed with the social worker we had in Utah through Heart and Soul Adoptions.
And suddenly, we were a family of 5.
The next several days were spent waiting out ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) to be cleared in the state of Utah and then in California. We had no idea how long this would all take. It could be a week or two depending on how fast everyone got everything done. We had heard Utah was fast and efficient. California, not so much. So we really were ready for anything.
But this also gave us some time to breathe and enjoy this new life in our family before hitting the road again. My dad stayed through Wednesday night so we got to meet Reed first. Ashlyn, who I was worried would not take to a younger sibling and who I thought might be jealous, fell in love. I'm predicting they will be best friends.
Claire loved her brother from the start. She's been helpful, has learned to feed him, fetch diapers for me and likes to kiss and hold him.
Christian is loving having a "little buddy" after all the girls,
and I can't get over this snuggly, sweet little man.
Another miracle in this whole thing is the speed in which we were able to go to court to see the judge. We decided, per agency recommendation, to finalize in the state of Utah. We are hoping to be able to have our lawyer and agency represent us on finalization day so we saw the judge while we were there. Both the court and the lawyer had cancellations enabling us to be able to go to court Thursday afternoon. The judge was very nice and the clerk gave the girls stuff to write on during the proceedings. After it was over, the judge said, "I was adopted and had wonderful parents and a great life." She was so glad to hear our case, as it was the first adoption case for her. That was amazing.
One Friday, we decided to spend some time at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. It was great for the kids and little man slept most of the time. He did perk up for the sharks. . . and promptly went back to sleep. :-)
We also discovered, in the South America exhibit, Ashlyn's hair becomes extremely curly in hot, humid weather. Who knew?!
We fully expected to be there through the weekend. But to out amazement, while we were sitting at lunch at the aquarium, we got a phonecall from a social worker in CA at Nightlight Christian Adoptions who we had complete our ICPC in CA. She asked if we had gotten the call to go home yet. . . we hadn't (and really didn't expect to). "Well, you should hear soon. Everything is done on our end. Let me know if I need to make another call." WHAT?! Sure enough, a couple hours later, our social worker in Utah sent a text message said we were cleared to travel. Mind blown. So the next morning, we said goodbye to the amazing couple that allowed us to invade their home during this adoption and who gave us so much encouragement during the whole process. We were so, so blessed by the Bartlett's and their hospitality. Thank you seems so inadequate.
Heading home, however, was going to prove to be the most stressful part of the trip. Leaving the Salt Lake area, the car started making strange scraping noises. Christian checked it, secured a few things and thought it was fixed due to the fact that the noise all but disappeared.
We continued to St. George where we visited the Dinosaur Discovery Site which was worth about a half hour or so for the girls to stretch their legs and see dinosaur bones.
We stayed at the CasaBlanca Resort and Casino for the night and expected to head home in the morning.
But we wouldn't make it home the next day. Leaving Las Vegas, the traffic looked like this. . .
it wound up taking us an hour to get from Las Vegas to Primm, Nevada (Stateline). And remember that scraping sound? It came back. . . so, so much worse. We finally made the decision to return to Las Vegas and stay at a Station Casino but when I told a friend who lives in Henderson with her family that we were going to be staying there overnight, she suggested we just come stay with her. Unexpected but it was GREAT to see her and her family and love, love, love that Danielle is a part of Reed's story :-)
After Firestone fixed the broken wheel bearing, we were finally able to make it to California,
and welcome this little guy to his new forever home.