Day 1 Monday: “Wake up, wake up. The phone is for you.”
I groggily awoke in a haze to see my husband pushing my cell phone extremely close to my face. “This had better be an emergency,” I told him.
He held the phone close to his body and said this is our neighbor’s neighbor. She wants to know if we would be willing to adopt her great-granddaughter? I was like, what the what?
At this point in our lives, we were the parents of five children: four boys and one girl. We weren’t searching to adopt again. We had been through a very expensive and emotionally exhausting sibling/agency adoption, and we were just living life.
I quickly took the phone from my husband and spoke to the great-grandmother. She shared with me a story of her young granddaughter who was looking to place her 13-month-old daughter. She had been 15 and pregnant. She decided to parent for a year and see how it went. Now, she was 16 at the time of our conversation. After a tumultuous first year of parenting for this young birth mom, she had left high school and did not have employment. To add to that, her own parents had been arrested and put in prison. She felt like her best choice for her daughter was to place her for adoption.
We spoke of all that would need to happen for this placement to happen. This young, scared birth mom agreed. We would need her to get herself and her baby to the airport where we would fly her from her home state to Utah, which is where we were living at the time. This was Monday morning.
Once I confirmed with our daughter’s birth mom that this was what she was choosing, I called her grandmother to let her know. Then I called our adoption attorney who had helped us with two previous adoptions with our agency. This time we would go it alone, with no agency. Our attorney immediately squelched our hope all in one sentence. “This will never work. I have seen this a thousand times, and the birth mom will never follow through.” I told him thank you very much, hung up the phone, and then called our social worker. I told her that we needed a new attorney. I recapped our case for her, and she told me if I’m not willing to step into the dark, the light will never turn on. With great reward comes great risk.
The new attorney told me that he had a judge that would only be in town a few days that particular week, so we would need to arrange with our daughter’s birth mom to come soon. (Oh, and did I mention this was all happening two days after Christmas?) We made many, many phone calls this day back and forth with the great-grandmother, the birth mother, attorney, and our social worker.
Day 2 Tuesday: We spent the day making more phone calls with our attorney. We made sure he had a judge that could meet with us then purchased a last-minute flight into Utah for our daughter’s birth mom. We made sure that she would have transportation to the airport early the next morning. We spoke again with her to make sure that this is definitely the choice she wanted to make. It was.
Day 3 Wednesday: I took our 6-year-old daughter with me to the store. We bought a pink coat and a car seat. We drove 45 minutes to meet the birth mother’s grandma. She gave us a picture of her granddaughter and great-granddaughter. This is the first time we had seen a photo of our little girl. We left great grandma’s house and headed for the airport. We stood together, my daughter and myself, waiting with a picture at the airport to try and recognize our daughter’s birth mom.
Our plan had been to take her to her grandmother’s home then meet later that night with our whole family and her side of the family for dinner. As things turned out, a huge snowstorm started just as we were leaving the airport. What should have been a 45-minute drive home took us five hours in a snowstorm. We had a good chance to ask each other a lot of questions. We both wanted to get to know each other. It was a huge blessing in disguise. No dinner happened that night, but as we got to her grandma’s house, we went in, I sat them all down to make sure that they were clear about how the next day would play out as well as to make sure that she was very clear about what she was choosing.
Day 4 Thursday: We met in court for our daughter’s birth mom to relinquish her rights. It was a very emotional time for all of us. After signing over her rights, she carried her little girl to our suburban, put her in her car seat, and walked away. I gave her a huge hug and told her I would see her on Sunday when we took her to the airport.
We drove around the block and pulled over. My husband and I had just had a crazy whirlwind for four days, and we were now the proud parents of six children. We took a picture of this darling little 13-month-old and called our parents for the first time that week to let them know that we had just adopted a little girl.
Her name was Olyvia.