Tuesday, August 24, 2004 will mark the day that changed my life forever. Prior to this day I had known nothing but disappointment along the road to become a parent. I never thought that I would ever know such joy as I did that day.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004: My phone rang in my office at approximately 1:00pm. "Hello, Laura?" - "Yes?" - "Are you somewhere you can talk? – “Yes?” – “We have a birthmother who would like to meet you.” – “What what what what????” I really don't remember much about the next 20 minutes. Thank goodness, I was madly writing everything down. Our caseworker did not tell me that Sara was born until towards the end of our conversation and despite everything I was told about keeping our feet on the ground, it all vanished once I heard “the baby is born…it is a girl…and her name is Sara” - I never thought that love could overcome me so quickly. Although my head knew that nothing was decided or definite, my heart was committed instantly.
Of course, there was no work getting done for the rest of the afternoon. So, I wandered down to a nearby department store and picked out a pair of pink booties and baby card. Back at my office, I printed out the following words, each in large print, on separate pieces of paper - "If - you - could - have - one - wish - what - would - it - be?"
I left work a bit early that day (I figured they would understand). After I got home, I set each word at the front door, up the stairs, down the hall, and into our spare room (Sara’s room)...and waited and waited and waited. What was only about 10 minutes seemed like FOREVER before Chad arrived. I stayed in the room with the door closed when he came home.
I have never heard Chad move that fast in his life – in the door, up the stairs, down the hall, bursting into the spare room. In front of him were the pink booties. I came around the corner and handed him the card…but of course, he already knew that we had got “the call”. The card read, "It's a girl...and her name is Sara." We both just held each other and cried. At first Chad was a bit confused about the whole "baby…girl… Sara…already born" thing, so after I explained that, yes indeed we have a baby girl named Sara who was two months old, we began crying again.
We decided that since we only had about a week before Sara would be home that we would not tell our family or friends about our big news until her arrival.
The best words to describe the days leading up to Sara’s arrival are "numb" or “surreal” – almost like a dream (that you never want to wake from).
We did not sleep AT ALL that night. We would be lying in bed at night and one of us would say "You awake?" and the other would reply "Yup, wide awake." This continued each night for a week.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004: Back to work, but not much getting accomplished. We decided not to tell anyone at work until after we met our birthmom. We called each other back and forth all day long, just checking to see if in fact this was all real. No sleep that evening either.
Thursday, August 26, 2004: "Match meeting" with birthmom. I wish I had taken more time to remember that moment – it was so overwhelming that I can hardly describe the feeling – a combination of fear, excitement, self-consciousness, doubt, disbelief, joy, and humility. During this meeting, we saw pictures of Sara for the first time - that moment is truly indescribable. Our birthmom also had no hesitation in letting us know that we were to be Sara’s mommy and daddy.
We posted her picture everywhere around the house. No sleep again that night.
The Weekend, August 27-29, 2004: This was the BUSIEST weekend of the entire year, with a wedding and my parents’ 35th anniversary celebration. All I wanted to do was sit at home, gaze at Sara’s picture and just take it all in. We walked around in a dream-like state that whole weekend. And STILL no sleep.
Monday, August 30, 2004: "Details meeting", where we discussed with birthmom about Sara's name and the details of the placement. We also found out that we would be meeting Sara the next day at her temporary placement home. Do you think we slept that night?
Tuesday, August 31, 2004: We had to drive an hour outside the city to where Sara was staying. As we walked in the house, her caregiver said, "She is still sleeping, she should be up shortly." - So I'm thinking 'are you kidding me? I am not waiting another second' and slowly started moving my way to the room where she was sleeping. Chad and I both walked in the room and Chad began to cry uncontrollably (funny thing is that Chad does not cry easily, so when he does, I seem to go into protective mode and did not cry much in that moment). We just stared at her at first, almost afraid to touch her. I nudged Chad, and as he picked Sara up and held his precious daughter for the first time, I began crying too. We spent about two hours with her that day holding, feeding, changing, starring…
That evening we went shopping for a few baby supplies and because we wanted to keep her arrival top secret, we drove all the way across the city to shop, so we would not bump into anyone we knew. Even still, as I placed everything into the cart, Chad was the lookout.
Wednesday, September 1, 2004: Gotcha Day, a day we celebrate every year as a family. We spent the whole day with her at her temporary home, just being a family. Later that afternoon, our caseworker, birthmom and Sara met us at our home and she was officially placed with us. After everyone had left and we were finally left alone with our sweet precious baby girl, we laid in our bed, with Sara in the middle, alone for the first time as a family, and just took it all in.
Later that evening, we headed to my parents - they were expecting us, as we had told them that we might drop by to say hello. We walked into their house unnoticed. We could hear my dad on the phone and my mom watching TV. We stood in their front room for a few minutes, waiting for my dad to get off the phone. However, when it became apparent that he would be awhile, we decided to walk straight in. As I walked around the corn with Sara bundled in a pink blanket my dad started babbling to the stranger (his insurance broker) on the phone saying something like "daughter... baby... adopting... here with baby... call you back..." My mom carefully took Sara from my arms, whispered to her “We have been waiting for you my sweet girl”, and kissed her gently on the cheek – as my dad still stood in absolute shock.
Next, we headed to my younger sister's home, following behind my parents car. She and her husband were painting the outside of their house. We parked the car a bit down the street (by the way, in all the excitement we forgot to strap Sara into her car seat on that ride - we started as such great parents!). Now, if you knew my younger sister, you would know that she is wild, emotional, and a bit unpredictable at times, so as we were walking up the street with Sara, my mom was trying to lure the paintbrush from her hand. Too late - she spotted us, carrying our pink bundle. And in the middle of her front lawn, she fell to her knees and began crying hysterically. It was exactly what I expected from my younger sister...it was perfect. Her poor husband was in the backyard and (said afterwards) was scared to come to the front.
Next, over to my older sister's house, following with us again was my parents and my sister and family. My older sister’s husband and son were home, but she was out. So we all just waiting for her to arrive home. You have to know that at that time my grandmother was 92-years-old and not doing very well, when my poor sister saw all our cars in the driveway she immediately thought that grandma had passed away. But when she walked in the door, I was standing in front of it with Sara. Ironically, my older sister is quite the opposite of my younger sister, more laid back, strong, and steady. But she could not even control herself in that moment.
Thursday, September 2, 2004: The next morning, at about 6am, after our first night of sleep after eight days, with our babe between us, we headed out to Chad's parents, who live about 1.5 hours out of town. When we arrived at their home, they were still sleeping. While Chad held Sara, I was banging banging banging on the door, until Chad's mom finally came. As we walk inside, she asked us repeatedly "Whose baby is this?", "Chad, whose baby is this?" and each time Chad replied, "Mom, she is our baby."
September 21, 2004: Even though we felt quite confident of our birthmom's decision, on the evening the 21st day (in MB, this is the day Sara became ours forever), our family and friends came to celebrate with us and we popped a bottle of Pink Champagne.
And we have been celebrating Sara's arrival ever since. To this day still, one of us will say "I still can't believe it" and we always know exactly what the other is referring to. I don't think I will ever get over the arrival of Sara - I never want to.
Happy Gotcha Day to my precious Princess Sara.