We always wanted our daughter, Paris, to have a sibling. With every passing year it seemed more and more unlikely. On top of unexplained infertility, we had numerous military deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan to contend with. For a while we gave up and told ourselves, each other and everyone we knew that we were content with one child. Deep down we both knew that wasn’t true. After all, 15 years from now, who would come home for Christmas if our daughter couldn’t?
After our last round of failed fertility treatment, we decided it was time to go forward with our plans to adopt. I made the first phone call in June of 2009. We zipped through the Home Study process because in September, Jeremy was deploying to Afghanistan for 12 months. We became active with American Adoptions in October, 2009.
With Paris in school and Jeremy deployed, I found myself tapping my finger waiting for the phone to ring. So I decided to substitute teach in the schools on Ft. Bragg to keep myself busy. It was fabulous working with all of the kids from different backgrounds. At this point we were pretty sure a birth mother wouldn’t choose us while Jeremy was deployed to a war zone. So we went on with our daily life, counting down the days until the end of this deployment when we would have a chance at getting chosen by a birth mother.
Then it happened. On Tuesday, April 27th around noon, I was subbing in a reading class. I had a two hour break so I ate my lunch and was reading my book when my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number so I let my voicemail pick it up. When I checked my voicemail I heard “Hello Lindsay, this is Lara from American Adoptions”. My heart went into overdrive and my hands started shaking. It took me three attempts at dialing her number before I got a hold of her.
Lara told me a baby boy was born that morning at 3:09 in Mississippi and if I was interested in the match I needed to be in Mississippi the very next day. I wrote down all of the information on about 20 Post It notes. Then I sent an email to all three email addresses I had for Jeremy telling him we got a match. It was about midnight in Afghanistan so I wasn’t even sure if he was even awake.
It only took him 20 minutes to get my email and call me back. The connection was horrible and we got cut off every 3-4 minutes. I told him that we have a son and I had to be in Mississippi the next day. He was speechless. I gave him all of the details that were given to me and when we hung up the phone he was off to bed. When he got up the next morning, it was life as usual for him. Almost as if our conversation was a dream and this baby was a figment of his imagination.
My world was much different. I called my mom at work and asked her if she wanted to fly to Mississippi the next day to meet her grandson. She too was speechless but eventually we decided that she would fly down and hang out in Mississippi with me.
The rest of the day was a blur. I finished out my workday and went home. I purchased airfare for my mom and me, arranged for a rental car and booked a hotel. We had no idea how long we were going to be in Mississippi so everything was open ended. When Paris got home from school, I told her she was going to have a baby brother and she was ecstatic. It was decided that she would stay at home with Jeremy’s mom, who lived with us.
The day after I got “the call”, my mom and I flew to Mississippi, rented a car and headed straight for the hospital to meet the birth mother, Sheree, and her baby. My mom waited in the waiting room and I entered her room all alone. Talk about scary. I would have given anything to have Jeremy there with me.
When I walked in the room, Sheree was sitting in the chair with her 2-year old in her lap. I introduced myself and she called the nursery to have the baby brought to the room. It took forever for him to be brought down. She is a woman of few words but was very friendly. I was able to get a great sense of who she was during our conversation. I told her that my mom was in the waiting room and she insisted that my mom come in and enjoy the experience.
Finally, they wheeled in the bassinet. The nurse checked the baby’s ID bracelet with Sheree’s ID bracelet at a very slow pace. My toes were tapping with anticipation. I wanted to grab him out of the bassinet and kiss and cuddle him but I knew that at this point he still belonged to Sheree. I think Sheree was aware of my anxiousness because as soon as the nurse left the room, she turned to me and said “He’s yours, go”. I jumped out of my seat and got my hands on the most beautiful baby boy I could ever imagine! He was tiny and sweet and I knew from that moment on he was my baby.
After an hour of kisses and cuddles and tons of pictures it was time for my mom and me to leave the hospital. Sheree was being discharged and the baby had to stay at the hospital another night.
Although I still couldn’t bring myself to call him by the name we had picked out, I announced our baby boy to our friends and family as soon as we left the hospital.
The next morning we got up early, ate breakfast and headed to the hospital. My baby boy was discharged to me 55 hours after he was born. I was able to pick him up and finally tell him “I will love you forever, Kian”.
We spent a total of 14 days in Mississippi. Being away from both Mommy and Daddy was very hard for Paris. After only three days, my neighbor drove her down to Mississippi to be with us. It was wonderful having both of my kids with me. The only thing that would have made our stay better was if Jeremy could have been there.
After leaving Mississippi, mom my posted a blog about our stay. It sums everything up…
I wouldn't exactly say I was a world traveler.
I've been to several states in this country, many just passing through on my way to somewhere else, and others where I intended to be awhile for one reason or another. But I never intended to visit you, let alone stay with you for quite this long. There were times when I felt you were holding us prisoner, but there were times when I was grateful for your generosity and warmth.
After all, you gave us this wonderful child to take into our hearts and to keep as ours forever.
You gave us mornings of lyrical birdsong. We got to see you at your worst when your thunderstorms forced us to buy umbrellas. We also saw you at your best. When the sun was so bright, we searched out the shade of your magnolia trees, some still carrying the last remnants of faded spring blooms. We inhaled the strong fragrance of your mountain laurel that even as the final stages of spring pollen fell on our faces, arms and in our hair, the bees continued their quest to get drunk on the last of the season's sweet nectar.
We met your people, who never hesitated to meet our eyes, smile and say, "hello, how y'all doin'?" Many even stopped to have short conversations in their deep southern dialect that left us wishing we'd brought along an interpreter.
Nothing moves quickly here. No one is rushing to meet deadlines, checking their watches to make sure they aren't late for something, or hurrying off as if there was still too much to do before they could finish their day. Do they know something we northerners don't?
You've given us so much that I wonder if we can ever repay your hospitality.
While we were anxious to gather our possessions and run back to our real lives, we will always remember the things you gave us.
You gave us your heart, and we can only hope that we left a little of ours with you as well.
You introduced us to the maintenance man painting the hotel laundry room who advised us that "goin' fishin' is the best way to see what our creator gave us."
You introduced us to nurse Linda who with her gentle hands handed us a gift that is sure to change our lives forever.
We interacted with Trisha, who not only reset our Internet connection on numerous occasions, but always offered us a friendly smile and an "of course," when we asked to send and receive more faxes than a normal person should be expected to handle.
You showed us some of your secrets, historic houses along a meandering roadway, a bustling city that still offers a downtown movie theater as well as furniture and clothing stores. Coming from northern towns and cities where the landscape constantly changes, we worry about what you could be losing when we saw new construction moving out of the city, once rural areas where now box stores and chain restaurants lined streets so new, our GPS thought we were driving through fields when we were clearly on pavement.
We saw empty storefronts in your city, vacant city lots and buildings in such disrepair, their bricks and mortar could no longer hold up what once were sturdy walls.
Just like us, your people wear the latest fashions, designer clothes and funky accessories. They listen to the latest music on their iPods and carry cell phones everywhere they go, but unlike us they also wear smiles they are always more than willing to share.
Your strange configuration of roadways, two way access roads that suddenly turn into one way streets forcing us to find creative ways to get from point A to point B, only reinforced your laid-back attitude. How else would we have found a way to make the Jimmie Rodgers museum an inside joke or express our own styles with purchases we made at The Spotted Pony boutique?
Although we were anxious to leave, please don't take it personally. We only wanted to take our newest, most prized possession and return to our real lives - lives that will forever be changed by your generosity and kindness.
The souvenirs we take home will only temporarily remind us of the time we spent together, but what you gave to our hearts will be with us forever
We still affectionately refer to that time as “When we lived in Mississippi”.
Jeremy came home for R&R when Kian was five weeks old. He spent 15 days with him. He learned his likes and dislikes just as it was about time for him to head back for the last leg of his deployment. It was hard to watch him board that plane again but we knew he was only going to be gone for 3 more months.
Jeremy came home for good on September 3. Since then we have been bonding as a family. Jeremy and Kian are best buds. They laugh and play together everyday. Kian has completed our family. We waited a long time for him but every second was worth it. After all, good things come to those who wait.
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