This is a story in multiple parts. If you are just joining me, start at the beginning.
The title to this part is a bit misleading, as there was still a lot to go before we could finalize our adoption. We had to have a few more visits with the social worker to check in on how we were doing. When you first take placement of a child in Florida, legally the adoption agency is the guardian and the adoptive parents are given guardian status by the agency until the day you go to court and a judge grants you the legal status of parents. Usually that process takes about 90 days. From bringing Kiddo home to going before a judge, took 159 days.
Part of the delay was the winter holidays. We took placement of our daughter and then everyone took holiday vacations, so court schedules were backed way up. We were busy during this time, learning to be a family. We quickly worked out a schedule that would ensure hubs and I both slept: I took any and all middle-of-the-night wake-ups (he can’t fall back asleep) and Joe took kiddo starting at 7am so that I could sleep late. This worked pretty well for us for a few months, and she started sleeping through the night (more or less) by around 4 months (I know, we won the baby lottery, right?).
We were also fortunate to have Sarah living with us. Even with three healthy adults in the house, no one recovering from giving birth, having a newborn was exhausting.
I was trying to breastfeed, and the experience was…antagonistic. The supply was low, the flow was slow, and we got to the point where kiddo screamed EVERY. TIME. SHE. SAW. MY. BOOBS. Pumping literally made me sick (a rare but real condition that some women have…no fun at all). I tried different sized flanges. I drank ginger tea, sucked on peppermint candy and blew a diffuser with peppermint oil on my face to try to combat the nausea. I looked at pictures of my baby. Pumping still sucked (pun intended- you’re welcome). I tried a supplemental nursing system. A nipple shield. My baby still screamed. She was using the slowest flow nipple on her bottle, the bottles that were supposedly the closest to a natural breast. We did everything the lactation consultant told us too. I was taking supplements ‘round the clock. When we finally hit the point where I was in tears too, my very supportive husband convinced me it was ok to throw in the towel if I wanted to. I wanted to. She’d had three months of breast milk to supplement her formula. A friend found us a breast milk donor who generously shared her leftover supply, so I had about two more months of breast milk. We’d done well.
Kiddo screamed EVERY. TIME. SHE. SAW. MY. BOOBS.
Little Miss flipping the bird to breast feeding.
During those first months we were diligent about teaching kiddo to sleep on her own, not letting her fall asleep on us. We still held her a lot and did lots of skin-to-skin contact. I couldn’t stop thinking about her first three days of life, before we got her. Laying in a bassinet in the hospital, different nurses all the time. I don’t know if her birth parents spent time with her or not, but they are not interested in an open adoption. We know very little about them, except that they did what they felt was best for this little girl. We respect that.
I know she will have questions as she grows and I will not be able to answer all of them. That is the hard truth for all adoptions. You will not have all the answers, even if you do have access to the birth family. In those early days I told her over and over the story of how she came to us . Talking about it before she can understand it is the best way to ensure that we are comfortable with it when she is old enough to ask questions.
In the early days, people kept asking if we will tell her that she is adopted. My response? I think that cat’s been out of the bag for a while! Everyone we know is aware that we were adopting. Why would anyone think that my daughter would be the only one in the dark about her own history? But I digress.
We lived our lives, and we waited for our court date. We met another couple at the agency picnic, with a baby girl a month younger than kiddo, and they’d already gone to court. After that we got aggressive about pushing for info.
I’m not ashamed to share that I’d been having anxiety dreams since the night we brought her home. Dreams about someone taking my baby from me, for various reasons. They didn’t make any sense. I mean they REALLY didn’t make sense. In one, the hospital tricked us into taking home a duckling and when I tried to exchange it for our baby they refused. In another she got sick and was taken away because we couldn’t keep her well. In yet another, someone showed up early at our door to request her back and no one woke me up or asked any questions and she was just gone when I got out of bed. These dreams were ridiculous but they were a very real symptom of my concern that we had to wait so long for a court date. When it finally came, we were so relieved.
Let me be clear: in Florida, there was almost no chance that anything could happen to cause us to lose our daughter. It is just very unsettling to be almost 6 months into raising a child without having any paperwork to back that up. We didn’t have a birth certificate. We couldn’t apply for her social security number or file our taxes.
On May 7, 2019 we finally went before a judge. We swore that we would care for our daughter until she was 18 years old. We already knew that we would care for her forever.
Our story isn’t over, far from it. We now have many happy years ahead of us, raising this bright, funny, cheerful, willful, little ball of energy. She is dear, and sweet, and feisty and everything we could have ever hoped for.
Thanks for reading our story.
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