Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ella's Adoption Story

On Friday night Tommy got home early from work so we decided to head up to Frederick for dinner at the Olive Garden. We had just ordered our food when Tommy’s phone rang. It was pretty loud in the restaurant so he went outside to take the phone call. I assumed it was someone from work. He was taking forever outside! As soon as our food came to the table Tommy came back in and said, “Merilee wants to talk you.” (Merilee is our social worker at LDS Family Services). He was smiling when he said, “There was baby girl born this morning in Frederick.” He was kind of whispering, we have always been really careful of what we say to the kids about adoption. My heart just about stopped! I took the phone from him and walked outside to talk to Merilee.

She said there was a healthy Caucasian baby girl that was born this morning at 3:00am in Frederick. Allison (birth mom) had always planned on adoption for her baby, and had a family lined up in Pennsylvania. That family called her last week to tell her that they couldn’t take her baby anymore because they were getting a divorce. Allison went into labor a week early. I’m not sure if she didn’t have time to get in contact with another family, or just didn’t want to. I assume she just looked in the phone book for adoption agencies in Frederick, MD. Allison wasn’t interested in looking through any more profiles, and asked Merilee if she could pick a family for her baby. Merilee told me that she had been thinking about us a lot for the past few days, and that it was time for us to find our precious little girl. We must have been on the same page because Tommy and I have really felt like (and hoped!) that we would be able to adopt before we moved in CA in July.

Merilee and I talked for a good 20 minutes, and I couldn’t stop smiling! Could this really be the little girl that we had been waiting for?  We have been trying to adopt for 2.5 years now, and we have gone through a lot in our adoption process. I felt like I was in a dream. Merilee told me a little bit more about Allison, that she is 28 years old and has a 13 month old little girl at home already. She knew who the birth dad was, and he knew she was pregnant, but didn’t know she had the baby. 

I wanted to go to the hospital right then to meet Allison and her baby (we were only about 10 minutes down the road), and I asked Merilee if that was okay. She needed to call Allison to see if she was okay with us coming by the hospital.

I went back in to the restaurant to join my family for dinner, but neither Tommy or I were hungry at all anymore. I think I had two whole bites of my dinner. At this point the kids knew something was up. You could tell that they thought something was wrong. I have always wanted to tell my kids in a great, creative way that we had a little girl coming, but we told them right then and there….at the Olive Garden. It was still fun. They were sooooo excited!

We went across the street to the mall to waste time while we were waiting for Merliee to call us back. She called back about 20 minutes later and said that Allison really didn’t feel comfortable meeting us. It would be easier for her if this was a closed adoption. We would have to wait until tomorrow to come to the hospital. Longest night of my life! I think I slept maybe 2 hours that night. I was just too excited! We called both of our parents that night and a couple of friends so that we could have someone to watch the kids if we needed them to when we went to the hospital. (We weren’t sure if the hospital allowed kids to come and visit).

Saturday was already a really busy day….like usual. We have three kids in soccer, and it was their first game of the season. Roman’s soccer was first at 10:00am so I took him. I know A LOT of people in Roman’s class, and it was really hard to not say anything. I could have said something of course, but Allison still hadn’t signed any papers. We have had things fall through before, and I didn’t want to have to go through telling everyone about it again. I just felt better waiting until she was at home with us.

Merilee texted me in the middle of Roman’s class saying Allison had signed papers that morning and was checking out of the hospital shortly. Carter’s soccer game was right after Roman’s, so we asked Merilee if she would meet us at the hospital after that. (She checked with the hospital staff, and they were fine with us brining the boys, yay!) We ran home and grabbed a bite to eat, and a camera and left. I still felt like I was in a dream, and couldn’t stop smiling. We got all checked in with security at the hospital, and a really sweet nurse brought us to a room that they had set aside for us to meet our baby girl. We waited for maybe 5 minutes, but it felt like an hour at least.

A nurse rolled her into the room in one of those hospital baby beds, and was looking right at me. She had a huge smile on her face. My jaw literally dropped open when I saw her. She was just perfect in every way. She looked exactly like I thought she would. I couldn’t believe how tiny she was! It’s funny how you forget things like that. Tommy was quick to tell the boys that Mommy was going to be the first one to hold the baby. I had to agree! J I washed my hands and picked her up, and my heart just melted. I was immediately in love! The boys were all huddled around the baby, and it was the best feeling. I only held her for a few minutes, because the kids were dying to hold her too. After all, they have been waiting just as long as Tommy and I.

Carter was the first of the boys to hold her, then Roman and then Mason. Mason kept saying she was the cutest baby that he had ever seen before. I could see that they loved her from the first time they saw her. All of the kids were so sweet with her, whispering to her and touching her cute little fingers and toes. Roman kept calling her a “he” which was pretty cute too.

We got to stay with her for about 3 hours that day, taking turns holding her, chatting with Merilee, and taking lots of pictures. Ella wasn’t able to leave the hospital on Saturday like we had hoped. We were hoping to just bring her home right then, but since it was an adoption she needed to stay one more night. We still had one more soccer game that night, so we ate dinner in the car and went straight to Mason’s game. After the game we took the boys over to my friend Heather’s house so Tommy and I could go shopping for diapers, wipes, bottles, formula….and a few cute outfits of course. J We didn’t get home that night until almost 10:00pm. It was a long, but wonderful day!

On Sunday morning, we took the kids over to our friends the Ainsworth’s house while we went to pick Ella up. We were told that this part might take a while, so we decided to leave the kids with friends. Merilee was waiting for us there with an adorable pink baby blanket. (So nice!) We signed some paperwork, and it all went really quickly. When the nurse who was discharging us found out that Ella was our 4th child, she pretty much skipped over everything that she had to say. Right before we were going to leave, Ella needed her diaper changed. It sounds so silly, but I was glad to change her diaper because I could see for myself that she was really a girl. J I think we were only there for about an hour before we were able to leave. It’s hospital policy to wheel mom out in a wheelchair with baby in the carseat on her lap, so that’s what we did. It was kind of funny that I was in a wheelchair and I’m not even the one who gave birth to her. We took a picture of course. J

We picked up the kids, and brought everyone home. Of course with a new baby we have a new seating arrangement in the car and the kids thought that was the greatest thing ever. As soon as I put her carseat down on the ground in my living room, the boys brought their new baby sister a doll that they had been saving for her, and Roman read her a book. It was adorable. It was general conference Sunday, and we honestly attempted to watch…..but we just passed the baby around and loved all her all day long.

As of now we are still waiting to get consent from Ella’s birth dad. According to Allison, it shouldn’t be a problem.....I hope she is right! I don't know much about her birth dad, Merilee is trying to locate him. If she can't find him then an add will go in the local newspaper saying he will need to show up in court within 30 days. We are hoping and praying that this birth dad will sign without any problems or drama.

We love our little Ella so much! I was just telling Tommy last night that it seems like she just fits right into our family, and that it really hasn’t been that big of an adjustment….yet. She is such a good baby! She is sleeping well at night, and eating like a champ. We are so grateful to have her before we moved from Maryland. I feel like all of our friends here were (almost) as invested as we were in this adoption. We are so lucky to have so many great friends who care so much about us. With our family being so far away, I’m so grateful we have our friends to step in. They are just like family to us, and I am so grateful for them!

I just wanted to get Ella’s story written down before I forgot the details. I’m a mom of 4! I can’t believe it, and I love it!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Break: Part 2

Day 4: On Thursday we went to see "The Croods". I took 5 kids with was a little bit crazy but a good friend needed my help that day. The kids were so good and we had a great time! The best part is that we went to a theater where military families get in for free. Yay for free movies!

Day 5: Friday was our "down day", I really needed to get some things done around the house and go shopping. We went to Sams Club and had a lunch date while we were there.

I just have to show off these cute little Easter baskets that I made for the girls that I visit teach. Edible Easter baskets!!! I love how they turned out! 

Day 6: Our family LOVES to go hiking. It was such a beautiful Saturday, and this was going to be our last Saturday for a while with no soccer games. We took the kids to our favorite local spot called Sugarloaf Mountain. They have huge boulders there for the boys to climb on....they are so in their element there. After playing around on the boulders, we hiked up to the top of the mountain. Roman did the whole thing without being carried, this was a first for him. Way to go Roman!

The boys taking a break half way up the mountain:

This is what Mason looked like when we got to the top.....he was tired before we even started.

Here's the view from the top:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Break: Part 1

Day 1: Snow Day! Carter and Mason were so excited to see snow when they woke up in the morning! Roman, not so much. He could care less about going outside to play. The older boys had a great time playing outside and getting soaking wet! Later in the day it started to rain and it all melted away. So much for a warm spring break!
We also had a few friends over to play later in the day, the kids spent over an hour sliding down the stairs in sleeping bags. And that wraps up a great first day of spring break!

Day 2:  I went with Carter on a field trip with his cub scout den. We went to the Recycling Center and then to the Nature Center. Mason and Roman went to a friends house for morning, so everyone had something fun to do! Once dad got home from work, we had a family movie night watching "Robin Hood". I've decided that "Oooo-da-lolly" should be a part of our everyday language. Love that classic movie!

Day 3: Roman had fun at a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" birthday party! He came home dressed like Leonardo: complete with a blue mask, a half shell for his back, and nun-chucks. Awesome!

While Roman was at the party, I took the older boys to Chuck E Cheese. They were in heaven! Look at Carter double fist-ing those guns! They are both so focused, it makes me laugh.

This is us making cookies for Carter and Mason's piano teacher, and here is a picture of Roman and I waiting in the car while they were at their lessons.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tom's European Adventure...

I spent the month of January 2013 in the wonderful country of Germany.  I was doing a rotation at Landstuhl Army Hospital.  The rotation was great, and I learned a bunch about regional anesthesia.  Also, I got to tour Europe on the government's dime, so that made it especially nice.  Since it was January, it was pretty cold and snowy, so my touring was limited.  In Germany, I got to see some castles, and partake was some German Cuisine.  I also had a 4 day weekend, and I dared to make the trip to Paris.  Let's just say that my trip to Paris on the high speed train (ICE train) was not a pleasant experience.  Not only was it canceled on the trip to Paris, my train was also canceled on the way back to Germany.  So I had to scramble and take some round about trip getting there and going home resulting in a loss of about a day of prime Paris tourist time.  Despite the set back, Paris was great.  It was crowded and I have never felt more claustrophobic on a metro train, but it was fun.  I got to the the Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, The Louvre, Musee d' Orsay, and the Notre Dame.  It was a wonderful time and I will never forget it. The next time, I am definitely taking Shelley!  

ROMAN...Tech Savy

Apparently our 4 year old is a GENIUS!  While I was in the shower this morning, Roman got a hold of his brother's i-touch and recorded a video of himself for his dad.  He not only recorded the video, but he looked up his dad's phone number in the address book.  Then he attached the video to a message which he texted to his dad at work....all by himself.  I thought it was too cute not to share.

Snow, Snow, Snow

We have had a pretty mild winter this year....not that I am complaining. I don't mind the snow, but I really hate driving in it! I'm a nervous wreck until Tommy pulls into the garage after work. After that, I'm good. I love snuggling with my family next to the fireplace in my sweats and watching movies on snow days. It just feels peaceful.

The kids on the other hand love to go outside to throw snowballs, make snowmen and go sledding. We have a pretty good hill that we like to take the kids to up by the local middle school. It's a pretty steep hill so you can really get going fast if you keep your feet up. This snow day (back in January) we just stuck around the house and hung out with the neighbor kids in our backyard. Thank heaven spring is on the way!