Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Nice Email

I think most of my readers know about the drama with Gus's adoption while we were in Michigan. We were "stuck" there for two months because of a few problems, but the main problem was paperwork that was incorrectly filled out by Gus's birth father (H). Being a minor, he wasn't exactly accurate on the medical history and family background paperwork, and as a result, he said that he was Native American AND registered to a tribe.

When we went to meet with our attorney, I asked about the medical history and family background information sheets for both of the birth parents, and she gave them to us. Steve grabbed the birth mother's sheet, and I grabbed the birth father's sheet. Just a few seconds after being handed the sheet, I noticed that it said he was Native American and registered to a tribe. I said to our attorney, "Oh... H is Native American?" Immediately, she started to freak out and grabbed the form... then said, "OMG... this is NOT good news."

Basically, if there's a registered tribe member placing a child for adoption, the tribal leader has to give permission. We were told that if there was someone in the tribe who was willing to adopt Gus, that they'd have priority over us.

This scared me more than anything. We weren't sure if this was the case, or if it was a mistake on the part of H. We decided to do what we could to find out the truth.

After meeting H, and his parents (and paternal grandmother) for lunch, Steve nonchalantly asked about there being Native American in their family history. Turned out that there was Native American in the history, but as for them being registered to a tribe... there wasn't anything proving that this was the case.

So Steve set out to see if the birth father's mother (L) would be willing to fill out the paperwork again for him, and to do it as accurately as possible. We then found out that L had found out about the adoption two days after Gus had been placed with us. Apparently H said to her, "Mom... I need to tell you something. C and I kinda had a baby." When L heard this she said, "What do you mean kinda had a baby? Where is the baby? What happened to it?" Then she was told that they placed the baby for adoption and that he was with us. She was hurt and angry, and very upset. She decided that she wanted nothing to do with us and would do nothing to help the adoption. She basically said we could rot for all she cared. She also went on to say that she had rights as the birth grandmother, and would be contacting an attorney about it.

As a result... our attorney had to contact both of the tribes that were listed on the paperwork and had to see if there was any record of the birth father being registered to their tribes. Our attorney decided that it'd be best for her to wait to submit paperwork to the county, because if the judge saw that the birth father was Native American, he'd ask about getting tribal approval, and she didn't have that. She felt that it would only end up with the papers being rejected until there was further information about the Native American issue.

Further complications took place while we were there. We had Gus's baptism and invited both of his birth parents and their families to attend. We were pleasantly surprised when Gus's birth mom (C) and her mom (P) and best friend came, and then the birth father (H), his sister, and his mother (L)came. Gus's birth Great Aunt came with her family too and it was a great occasion.

Prior to the baptism, Steve had talked to L and asked her about filling out the paperwork accurately. She said she'd get to it, but was busy. She also told us about not being happy that we were friends of P (birth mom's mom) and that she was never informed of the pregnancy and adoption plans. Steve told her that we weren't friends of P, and met her for the first time at the hospital. It seemed to make L feel better, but she was still very hurt and angry. She said that she'd fill out the paperwork at the baptism.

Steve brought the paperwork to the church and was prepared to have her fill it out after the sacrament. As soon as L got there, she marched up to me and Steve and said, "I need to speak to the two of you in private. I'm not okay with this whole adoption." I felt like I would throw up. Steve said, "That's fine, but we're going to have to do it after the baptism." L said it was fine and walked away. All I could do is think about what was to come and how it was one thing after another.

The L walked up to P and said she wanted to speak to her. As they walked away, C said to H, "What's wrong with your mom?" Then H said, "She's being a bitch... as usual."

While I wasn't there to hear the conversation, I was told afterword that L basically went off on P and told her that she felt it was ridiculous that she knew about the pregnancy and never told her. She said that they had people in their family that would adopt Gus, and P then said, "It's a done deal L... deal with it."

So... the baptism happens... and there's an ackwardness to the whole thing, that should have been a beautiful event. C's best friend cried through the whole thing and poor Fr. Terry just kept on going. At the end we took pictures and when it was time for the picture of H and his sister and mom, she was in the bathroom crying. It was just really bad.

L tried to leave without filling out papers, and Steve saw her walking to her van... he ran out with the papers and confronted her. His dad was with him (I was inside the church having my own melt-down from stress and uncertainty). L proceeded to tell Steve that she was not going to lie, and she was pissed. She said that she had it in her mind to just take Gus and run off with him and had a car seat in her van for this purpose (TALK ABOUT SCARY). Steve told her, "Well, if you took him, we'd call the sheriff because it'd be kidnapping and we WOULD press charges." YIKES! She said it was nothing personal against us, and she was sure we were nice people, but she had family that would adopt Gus and she wasn't happy with not knowing about it. She was certain that there was something that she could do to get him back from us.

Steve gave her the papers and asked her to consider filling it out and she said she had a tattoo party and would try to get around to it if she had time. She never did. A few days later she really put up the wall and refused our phone calls and the calls of our attorney.

There was nothing more that we could do but wait. And wait. And wait some more. Three weeks after Gus was born, Steve had to fly back to NC and left me and Gus. It was heart-wrenching to say goodbye to him and not know when I'd see him again.

In the meantime, the funds for staying in a hotel were running out and I didn't like being there alone. Gus got a cold from being in the dry hotel air, and I took him to the pediatrician's office because he had a bloody nose and was spitting up blood.

I decided to move out of the hotel and into my parent's house. I didn't want to do this, because they didn't have anywhere for us to stay, but they immediately jumped on the idea and were estatic to have us come and stay with them. We ended up staying there for a little more than a month.

The bottom line was that our attorney ended up getting information from the two tribes and found that H was not registered. H's dad ended up stepping up and came and filled out papers with our attorney and she was finally able to submit the paperwork to the county and interstate office in June. It had been more than a month since Gus had been born. When H's dad filled out the paperwork, he said to P, "We just hope that H can be apart of Gus's life too." P went on to say, "I can't speak for Steve and Cathy. What your wife did has caused them a lot of problems and I can't say if they'll want you guys to have anything to do with Gus or not. You'll have to take that up with them."

Back to the original reason for this post. I got an email from L yesterday. In it, she appologized for all the hell that she put us through with the adoption, and said that she was happy to see how well Gus is doing. She follows his blog and watches videos on our family YouTube site and said it means more to her than I could ever know, to see him grow up. She said she was certain that Gus was meant to be with us and she's so happy that he's loved, cared for, and taken care of. She asked if she could send him something and she would understand if it wasn't someting that we were comfortable with. She also asked for our forgiveness and said she was sorry for everything.

When I saw that there was a message from her, I felt sick to my stomach. However, we wanted an open adoption and wanted Gus to be able to grow up and know his birth parents. I feel really lucky that C and H's families are in contact with us and Gus will have the opportunity to grow up knowing not only his birth mother's family, but also his birth father's family.

I replied back to L and told her that I held nothing against her and that I hoped I would never have to experience knowing that Gus had a child and placed it for adoption without me being aware of it. I said that she can send him something anytime she'd like and that we'd be coming back to MI in May or June for his first birthday, and hoped that we'd be able to get together so their family could meet him.

She wrote back a final time and said she was so relieved to hear that we weren't mad at her and didn't hate her. She also said that H and his paternal grandmother haven't spoken since the day at the diner for lunch and that they're both stubborn... and that's what we had to look forward to with Gus. She said she would love for us to get together and maybe Gus coming for a visit could be exactly what was needed for H and his grandma to repair their relationship.

It made me really happy to read her email and to have some resolution from things with L. It's not perfect, and it's something to keep working on, but I am very thankful. I believe that God had a plan and there was a reason for the timing of the whole adoption. Not only did it give me some amazing time with my parents, and give them a chance to REALLY bond with Gus, but we were able to be there when Dave and Heather and the kids came from Arizona. For the first time ever... all of my family was together. We went to dinner to celebrate our being able to come home (July 10th) and it was Scott, Christie, Alex and Lily, Dave, Heather, Eamon, Aine and Benton, my mom and dad, and me, Steve and Gus. Fourteen people all together for dinner and it is one of my most amazing memories. It happened because we were still in Michigan.

So... this is Gus's first Christmas and I am so happy to say that we're continuing to move positively toward building great relationships with his birth parents and their families.

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

MTv's 16 & Pregnant

So I just finished watching the season finale of season three of 16 & Pregnant. Each season there are ten girls that are 16 and pregnant, and the show documents their months of pregnancy leading up to their labor. Then there's about a month or so of life with a baby and being a new mom and a teen. There's always one girl that places her baby for adoption, and in season one it was Catelynn and Tyler, then season two it was a girl who was herself adopted, and then this season it was a girl who placed the baby with her aunt and uncle.

Being an adoptive mom, when I see the adoption episodes, I can't help but get sucked in moreso than I usually do, and I cry. Well, the episode from last night was just as interesting to me, but also was a bit eye-opening for me and I'm so glad I watched it.

For the longest time, I wondered if Gus's birth mom thought about him, or missed him, or had any feelings or thoughts about the adoption. She was so unattached and distant when we went to MI in May to meet her, that I wasn't sure what she was going through or thinking about. After watching the episode last night, I have no doubt that the decision for her to place Gus for adoption was heart-wrenching for her.

There's no way that she carried him inside her, and though it was very late in her pregnancy when she found out that she was pregnant, she still went through the labor pains, and delivered him (without any drugs BTW). She held him in her arms after she birthed him, and she had to find the strength within herself to place him into our arms and care forever.

It just makes me cry when I think about what it must have been like for her to make that decision and to actually go through with it. The most selfless act and yet, she was kind, sweet, and unassuming. She smiled and gave us hugs when she was discharged, and acted like it was all okay with her. Maybe it was, maybe she came to terms with things and realized that in time, the decision was going to be the best for Gus. Whatever was in her mind and heart, all I know is that she's the bravest, most amazing person on this planet. The fact that she was able to think of him and what was going to be best for him, and not get wrapped up in her own hurt, is incredible.

There's nothing I can do or say to ever let her know just how much she means to me. It's kinda stupid to think about things from my own perspective, but, she did give me the greatest gift and one that I can not give myself. I know she didn't place him with us because she wanted to give us the gift of life, but she did, and I am forever in her debt because of it.

I wanted to send her something for Christmas from Gus and Steve wasn't sure about it. We had pictures taken of him a few weeks ago and I ordered a few extra so that we could give them to family and friends. I ordered an extra sheet of wallets so that I could send them to her and let her pass them out as she wanted. I ended up taking Gus's handprint and making an ornament out of Model Magic. Then I gathered up some Burt's Bees and put them in a box, and then I had some of our favorite pictures of Gus printed on Snapfish. I sent them to her and her mom and then I also sent an ornament to her grandma (Gus's birth Great Grandma). Then I sent some pictures from his photo session and some of our favorites to his birth father and his mom. I hope they all enjoy their gifts from Gus.

As we get closer to Christmas, I can't help but think of how blessed I am and how thankful I am for all that I have. Not only am I a mom, but I get to stay at home with Gus and be there for each minute of his life. So many people wish they could be home with their children and they're not able-- I feel exceptionally lucky because he doesn't know a day without being with me.

I am hoping that we are able to add to our family soon. I'm not sure if it'll be adoption through foster or adoption through a friend of a friend kinda thing, but we're hoping to adopt another baby/child in the near future. There was a "possible" prospect just recently (a friend of a friend was pregnant and thinking about adoption, but is probably going to place the baby with family). I'm always praying that the right thing will happen and for peace. I'm already very blessed with Gus and I'm happy with him in my life.

Merry Christmas... I'll post again on Saturday with some pictures of Gus's first Christmas! I can't wait!! We're maybe going to have snow on Saturday, so that'd be a great gift!!
Until next time...