Friday, April 29, 2016

Ariel Claire Magee

This weekend has been an absolute whirlwind.  On Wednesday morning shortly after 11 while I was at work, I got a call from Andy that we had been chosen.  Luckily, I was working in my main office that morning and was right next to Andy's building.  I popped over to his office and we were able to sit together for 'the call' with one of the counselors from OA&FS, Delphine.  It was exciting, joyful, and nerve-wracking all at the same time to realize how much our lives could change during that time.

This is what you get when you search for 'exciting phone call at work.
Not totally what I was going for, but it's about on the same level of crazy!
Compared to our previous path to adopt Dominic, this case was a last minute placement.  With Dominic, we got 'the call' about 6 months before he was born which left plenty of time for everyone to get to know each other beforehand.  For a last minute placement, everything is accelerated.  In this case, this compressed our first meeting, getting to know each other, ensuring that everyone is still comfortable with moving forward, setting the framework for the open adoption agreement, having an entrustment ceremony, and then finally departing from the hospital in the span of about 24 hours!

First Meeting
After getting the call, Andy and I rushed to handle logistics to make sure Dominic would have someone to watch him that evening (thanks Uncle Matt!) as well as figuring out what each of us would do with our jobs.  Effectively, we went from being active employees one hour with loads of responsibilities to telling management that we were about to be out on leave...immediately.  We always knew this would be a possibility over the past 2 years, but it was still a challenge for us to shift gears so quickly!

Once we sorted all of that out in a mere 60 minutes, we drove directly to the hospital to meet the birth parents and little Ariel.  While we only first met them on Wednesday afternoon and spent time with them through that day and again on Thursday before we all left the hospital, both Andy and I found ourselves talking again and again about how they are amazing people.  They're caring, genuine, and loved by so many people.  I feel lucky that they not only chose us to parent Ariel, but that we'll be able to continue a long-term relationship with them as we all see Ariel grow and develop over the days, weeks, and years ahead.

The Choice
One of the key questions many adoptive families have once they're picked is, why us?  Not long after we met the birth parents, we got to hear some insights into this.  Among these were that we would likely get along well together in the long run, we had similar values and goals for an open adoption, and that Dominic would make a great older brother for Ariel.

Andy and I with Ariel at the hospital
Every birth family has a different reason for choosing an adoptive family, so it's always interesting to hear these sorts of things.  One key thing I enjoyed hearing from the birth dad was that he wished he could give a baby to every single adoptive family he looked at.  Again, just a really kind and caring example of the type of guy he is.

Wednesday Night and Thursday Morning
Andy holding Ariel on Wednesday night
We had the great chance to stay at the hospital and care for Ariel overnight while the birth parents went home for some much needed rest.  Andy stayed there with Ariel.  A key difference for this experience compared to when we were preparing to be placed with Dominic was that we already had a child that needed to be taken care of!  With some key family and friends out of town or departing town first thing in the morning, I drove back home to relieve Uncle Matt and make sure someone would be home with Dominic.  After that, I energetically (hah!) threw together some baby items and attempted to install an infant car seat and then reinstall Dominic's car seat from the middle of the backseat to the side.  Being rather exhausted at 11:30pm, that was way harder than it likely would have been otherwise!

In the morning, I took Dominic in to day care.  We would have loved to have brought him down to the hospital to meet Ariel's birth family and friends, but caring for him for that long of a time would have taken away the focus from those that really needed it for the day.  I know we're all looking forward to having Ariel's older brother meet everyone soon.

Thursday Afternoon
The afternoon was a bit long because Ariel couldn't leave the hospital until she passed a continuous 90-minute test while being restrained in a car seat.  We waited to do this until some final members of the birth family stopped by to meet her and us.

During the test, we were all crowded around Ariel.  Delphine walked the birth parents, Andy, and I through the entrustment ceremony.  All of us were very informal about it, but it was a key event as we talked about our hopes for Ariel and our feelings.  It was quite moving.

The decision for a birth parent to entrust their child to someone else is a powerful thing.  It is not a decision that is made lightly and it has the ability to affect the lives of everyone involved in a very profound way.  During these final hours at the hospital, I wished that I could do something that would free the birth parents from any feelings of anguish and sadness, but there really were no special words or actions that would do so.  

Thinking back to Dominic's favorite movie, Inside Out, one of the lessons is that while society always tells us to put on a smile and be happy that it is ok to embrace sadness as well.  The ability to feel sad about something means that someone truly cares and may feel a sense of loss.  Building on this, Inside Out also shows us that sadness and joy can coexist in transformative moments of our lives.  For myself, the entrustment ceremony was exactly one of those moments.  Despite the sadness I know we all felt that afternoon, I feel joy knowing that both Andy and I will be the best adoptive parents for baby Ariel that we can be and that we will be able to help her birth parents see her grow and develop.

(Full disclosure: Inside Out is easily one of my favorite movies as well for this and many other great reasons!)

Dominic meeting his baby sister for the first time
Like I noted in a post the night we brought Dominic home, today's goodbye will become tomorrow's hello.  Already today, we have been trading texts and photos of Ariel with her birth parents.  Compared to past times when closed adoptions were the norm and this would never happen, I am truly happy that we are able to have open adoptions for both of our children.


  1. Wow!! Congrats!! I have been checking in on your blog for about a year as we were in the pool and then adopted in December. What a moving post. Hope adjustments are going smoothly and you are enjoying the previous newborn days. -Esther

    1. Thanks Esther! It's definitely been an adjustment to reenter this phase as we're remembering all of the basics of swaddling, bottle cleaning, and trying to function on little sleep. It's been both exciting and like remembering to ride a bike which has been so much easier the 2nd time around. Our attention hungry older son has added a new dimension though :)

      Hope all is well with you and your family!

  2. Hooray! I've been following your blog for at least a year and now that my husband and I are only weeks from being in the pool, I always check the monthly newsletter to see if you've been chosen. Congratulations! I'm so excited for you and it makes it all seem very real for us too! :) ~Jenn