Keegan’s Story (Part II)
[WARNING: I think Part II may be longer, but I broke it up again for you.]
So Jen called Marcia. Marcia gave Jen the contact information for the agency out west. And Jen called that woman. She gave a little more information. It was a baby boy, and both of his birth parents are Hispanic. She had been on the phone on Christmas Day with a couple who considered the boy but ended up saying “no” because he was “full” Hispanic. (Huh?!) She was on the phone with a second couple but she thought they were going to say “no” for the same reason. So Jen and I talked for a little bit. We were comfortable with his Hispanic background. But we didn’t know anything about the birth mother’s medical background. Had she gotten any pre-natal care? Was she an alcoholic? Any drug use? We couldn’t get that information before the agency would want to know if we wanted to be considered. So we moved ahead on faith. That this was who the Lord wanted us to have and everything else would take care of itself. So Jen called the woman back and said we’d like to be considered if the second couple turned him down.
I immediately went online trying to get a flight to that area of Florida so we could be there by 6:00 p.m. No dice. Not many flights available the day after Christmas. I found one seat to a nearby city, so I bought that for Jen. She would have to rent a car and drive over the rest of the way. Then we just had to wait. But if this was going to happen now, we really should have some stuff for a kid. All we had was a bassinette and a swing. That’s not enough. So we went to Target.
At Target, we went to the baby area and looked at car seats. Found one. Then we started looking at bottles and formula. Too many options. So Jen called a couple of friends to get their input. What bottles? Which formula? Then the other line rang. It was the adoption agency. Jen clicked over. The second couple said “no;” he’s yours if you want him. Are you freakin’ kidding me? A rush of excitement, fear and joy overwhelmed me. What the hell was happening?
Thus commenced the Target mad dash. Bottles, formula, t-shirts, onesies, socks, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, lotion, baby powder, butt cream, blankets, towels, and on and on. Nearly $400 worth of stuff all crammed into a red Target buggy.
The agency said they needed a copy of our home study. Ooops. We didn’t have the final report. Jen called the social worker. No answer. Jen left a voice-mail to call her back as soon as she got the message. We went home. The ticket that I bought for Jen wouldn’t get her to Florida by the 6:00 p.m. deadline. Jen called the agency to let them know. The agency made arrangements to let the baby stay in the hospital another night. Jen called the social worker and left another message.
The social worker called Jen back from the airplane she was on traveling back for the holiday. She was going straight to her office to print out the report, but she needed my medical exam. (This is where it does not pay to be a procrastinator.) Who is going to be able to give me a physical on the weekend? Of course, Jen’s OB/GYN. We hoped anyway. He goes to church with us, so we called him. Sure, he says. Meet him at his office. So I go to Jen’s OB to get my medical exam, and Jen has to leave for the airport. We would reconnect in Florida.
At the OB’s office, as you can imagine, I got some weird looks from the nurses. But the doc assured them I was in the right place. He was able to do the complete physical except the TB test. OK, we’ll take care of that tomorrow sometime. So I go back home and pack all of the newly purchased baby stuff from Target into the Explorer, grab some clothes and head to my office. There, I grab some work-related things I needed to take care of that week and sent a mass email to everyone telling them where I was headed. I had let most of them know that we were planning to go through this process, but I didn’t think it would come this quickly. I got back in the car and headed south on I-75.
I have driven into the wee hours of the morning before, but I have never been as wide awake as I was on this trip. I was making calls to people telling them where I was headed, and my Blackberry was buzzing as everyone replied to the email I sent out.
I arrived at the hotel around 4:00 a.m. I slumped into bed and quickly fell asleep. Around 9:00 a.m., I got up, and we went to find a place that could do the TB test. We found a worker’s comp clinic that fit the bill just down the street from the hotel. They ran the test and told me to come back for the results.
We went back to the hotel to wait to hear what was next. Around lunchtime, we received a call from the attorney’s office. They said they’d like us to be at the hospital around 4:30 p.m. She said that the birth mother might want to go to dinner with us to meet us and talk to us. I was not in favor of this. I’d just rather pick up the baby and move on. If she wants to talk at the hospital, I’m fine with that. Jen agreed with me. But as the time crept slowly by until 4:30, we both softened. If she wants to meet us, we could do that. We’d have the rest of our lives to be with this baby. She deserves the chance to meet us.
Eventually, enough time passed that it was nearing 4:30. We went to the hospital and waited in the maternity lobby. The attorney came out to us with the paperwork. The birth mother had signed the paperwork and revoked her parental rights. What about the birth father? Well, he was not available to revoke. He was in Panama. The attorneys would have to go through the process to notice the birth and give him an opportunity to come forward before they could consider his rights revoked. OK. Would’ve preferred a little more closure on that, but we’ll deal with that. We signed all of the paperwork and then the attorney walked us back to the room. She said that the birth mother was feeding him.
When we walked in, she was sitting on a bench seat feeding him a bottle of formula. Jen sat down next to them, and I stood looking at the baby. I’ll admit it; I was looking to see if there were any problems with him. There didn’t appear to be. He was beautiful with his stocking cap on sucking on that bottle. So at peace.
She asked Jen if she wanted to hold him. She did. Then the woman started to tell her story. She is 35 and from Panama. She has 3 kids. A 16-year-old boy, a 15-year-old girl and a 5-year-old girl. Her mother lives with her in Florida, but her father lives in Panama. She visits him periodically. On one trip back to see him, she went out and met a construction worker. They had sex, and she got pregnant. She did not tell the guy because she didn’t know him and his construction work was somewhat nomadic. He went to where the jobs were, and he was not living in her father’s town still. She had not seen or heard from him since that night. (We found out later that the birth mother had returned to Panama a number of times during her pregnancy and received pre-natal care on each of those visits.)
She did not tell anyone about the pregnancy. She was planning to move her family to a new house in a new school district, and another child was going to complicate that. She managed to go through the entire pregnancy without telling (or showing) anyone that she was pregnant. On Christmas Eve, she was at a party and felt her contractions start. She got up and drove herself to the hospital. Had the baby. An hour-and-a-half later, she checked herself out of the hospital. She said they made her sign a release before she could leave and gave her some Tylenol to take with her. She went back to the party so that people would not suspect anything. She had not seen the baby since she left that night.
On Christmas Day, she went on the internet to find an adoption agency. She had done some research during her pregnancy but didn’t get involved with one earlier because she was trying to keep the pregnancy secret from her family and friends. She called an agency in Florida, but it was closed because of the holiday. Several others she tried were closed as well. She managed to locate someone at the agency out west, and that is how they became involved.
We thanked her for making the decision that she made and trusting us with the baby. After sitting with us for about 30 minutes, she said she was happy and felt that she made the right choice. She took one of the stocking caps they had for the baby as well as a card with his footprints on it. We hugged her, and then she left. I can’t imagine how she felt walking away that day. I do hope that she felt a peace about it. When the door shut after she left, Jen was crying – no doubt thinking about the strength it took for this woman to give us this incredible gift.
The nurse gave us a quick lesson in diaper changing and feeding. The attorney gave us a little information on what would happen next in the process and that she’d call us in the next day or two to give us an update. Then they let us leave the hospital with Keegan. They just gave us this kid, and let us walk out the door. Unbelievable.
Here’s a shot of him on that day.
So we went back to the hotel after picking up some dinner to take back with us. We laid him on the bed and just stared at him. Did this just happen? Did they give us this baby to take care of? This kid? The one laying right there on the bed?
We had to stay in Florida until the State of Florida gave its initial approval. Then we had to have Georgia’s approval to bring him across the state line. That could take 7-10 days they told us. I had to go back and get my TB results. They were negative. No TB for me! That was the final part of my medical exam. I faxed that to the social worker. And the home study was complete.
Then we went to Babies R Us, because we had never registered for any baby stuff – despite the encouragement to do so from others. We spent most of that week in the hotel room waiting to hear from the attorney. I did have to go to the bank to arrange for a wiring of money to pay the adoption agency. (They made a lot of money for 3 days of work by the way.)
On Thursday, we heard from the attorney that Florida had given its approval, and the information had been forwarded to Georgia. On Friday around lunchtime, I called the attorney to see if they had heard from Georgia. No, not yet. If they didn’t hear on Friday, we wouldn’t hear until Tuesday because Monday was a holiday. So I prepared myself for another 3 days in the hotel. Around 2:00 p.m., the phone rang. It was the attorney. Georgia gave verbal approval over the phone. We were free to go. I rushed to the front desk to see if they’d let us leave without paying the extra day. Under the circumstances, they were more than willing to do that. We decided not to go the whole way back to Atlanta given the late start, so we went to Gainesville for the night. We met our friends, Greg and Stephanie. Stephanie is at UF med school studying pediatrics, so we made her give Keegan a good once over. Everything checked out. It was good to get another opinion. I mean, he seemed perfect to us, but the second opinion never hurts. On Saturday, we headed home.
When we arrived at home, we were completely blindsided by what had occurred in our absence. Amy Fritchman and Misty Eldridge came in and cleaned the house. They took down our Christmas tree and decorations. They went by Babies R Us and picked up the crib we’d ordered and put it together. They picked up the changing table. They painted K-Man’s room!! And set up everything in there. It was unbelievable. They were all there waiting for us when we got home. It was great to celebrate with them.
Here are some shots of Amy’s and Misty’s handiwork.
So that’s the story. I think I covered it rather completely. Now you know the rest of the beginning of K-Man’s story. Two years later, he remains the blessing that he was on that first day. He’s just much more mobile now and capable of wreaking greater havoc.