My Family

If you are new to this blog and want to read the entire story chronologically - please start in January with "Our Story, Part 1"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our Story, Part 46 - He Wants Her Back

Mykel loved every second he got to spend with Aubrey. He was able to take her to the ocean and put her toes in the water for the first time during our trip to Mexico. He loved playing with her in the pool and taking her for walks in the stroller. She was so easy to love and get attached to! Even though the initial adjustment was harder for me, after the first few weeks I couldn’t imagine our family without her!

One of the hardest parts for me (and my husband) with the adoption of our children was not having paperwork signed (parental relinquishment) from day one, Aubrey was no exception. On the day I was asked if I wanted to take Aubrey home nothing was put in writing, again my husband and I were basically baby-sitting because her parents could legally take her back at any time. I was always hesitant to answer any phone calls or e-mails from Ruth or her husband, almost expecting them to come get her. I tried to just enjoy every minute I got to spend with her because I never knew if she would be with us the next day~ it was very nerve racking and stressful to say the least!

That is was happened on September 17, 2007 - (three and a half months after Aubrey came to live with us). The following is a copy of the e-mail I received from Ruth and my response to her and her husband – (Aubrey’s name was previously Katelynne, and I deleted Aubrey’s birth father’s name for privacy reasons)

September 17, 2007 - From Ruth to me ~

_____ has been making noises in the past about wanting Katelynne back, today he actually told me that he wants her back.
I just wanted to make you aware, I still want to place her. She is so happy with you.
She is doing good under your care.
Thank you. I better go

To our Attorney on September 17, 2007, I sent him a copy of the above e-mail and this was his response:

I've been thinking about Ruth and have been a little worried, because of some comments that _____ made when we last spoke. My best advice on this isn't legal advice. They hold the trump card. I think that you are in the best position to assess your relationship with Ruth. I recommend that you think about that, pray mightily, and decide whether you should call her. If you do, some honest points to consider:
--You and Mykel have been constants in the other 4 kids' lives and you have sacrificed to give the kids the best possible life.
--You've been up front and open with Ruth for many years, she should be confident that you'll continue to treat her with dignity and respect.
--Ruth has also sacrificed, because she has governed her decisions on the selfless test of what it best for the kids.
--Right now, Katelynne has 4 devoted siblings. It would be devastating to her sister and brothers, and to her, to tear her away.

Be careful to criticize ______ or question his motives. Ruth is probably doing that on her own.

Call me anytime if you have a question or I can help. For now, I don't know what to do but ride this out.

Mykel and I sent the following e-mail to Ruth the same day:


Thanks for updating us on what is going on. We don't want to fight _____ on this, as Katelynne is his daughter. She is doing wonderful here and I know it would be devastating to Bryan, Cole, Preston and Ava, if she had to go back. We are all so attached to her and she is a big part of our family. She is so happy and she loves all the attention she gets from her brothers and sister.

Mykel and I are both in tears thinking that she will have to leave. We all love her so much and want her to be a part of our family. She is very attached to Mykel and I know it will be extremely difficult for him to see her go (as it will for all of us). Please let us know what your final decision is and what you would like us to do. We don't want to say anything to the children unless we know for sure what you want to do.

We love her very much, but we respect both of your decisions on this, as you are her parents. We know there are no easy answers. Please let us know.

Love, Mykel and Camille Henrie

I also sent the following e-mail to Aubrey’s (Katelynne's) birth father a few days later:

Dear _____,

I wanted to write and express my feelings about Katelynne. I know when we spoke a few months ago out in the storage shed, you mentioned several reasons for wanting to place Katelynne. One of those reasons was financial. Mykel has just accepted a position in Ogden with one of his previous employers that will allow us the finances needed for Katelynne and all of our children to be well taken care of. We also put an offer on a house in Farr West (just North of Ogden) and our offer was accepted today. We will be moving there in about four to five weeks.

Now that we will be closer to Salt Lake, I would be happy to bring Katelynne down to visit when you wish to see her.

Katelynne is so attached to her siblings and they to her, she is very happy here. She laughs, giggles and just wants to be held and loved. She is a good eater and loves to be in the water taking baths making funny faces. It would be devastating to us and our children if their sister was taken away. She is thriving with all the attention from her brothers and sisters and I would love to have her stay and grow up with all of them.

Also when we spoke a few months ago, you mentioned that if you and Ruth got divorced that you would allow us to adopt Katelynne. If you and Ruth don't end up together, it will be much easier to get a divorce if there isn't a child involved. You also won't have a lifelong connection to Ruth if Katelynne is placed.

In short, I wish I could convince you to change your mind about wanting Katelynne back. I will be happy to send you pictures any time you request them and allow you to talk to her or see her. I am not trying to take her away from you, I only want to give her what you yourself told me you wanted her to have; a stable family who loves her and will take care of her.

If you want to talk to me or have any concerns, please feel free to e-mail me or call me. My home phone number is ** and my e-mail is **.

Please let me know what direction you want to go. I don't want to fight with you on this, I know you love her as we do and all of us just want what will be best for Katelynne in the long run.


Camille Henrie

He never wrote me back or asked for Aubrey (Katelynne) to come back. The next time I spoke with him was when I picked him up to go to court to relinquish his parental rights (four months later).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Our Story, Part 45 - The Faith of a Child

I had only been gone about five minutes from Ruth's house when I called Mykel (my husband) to tell him that I wasn't traveling home alone! It would be an understatement to say that he was thrilled! We decided not to tell any of the kids and just surprise them in the morning...

Mykel and Aubrey

I had to go to the airport and pick up my sister so I headed up the freeway… I had only been gone about 10 minutes when Aubrey started to cry. I couldn’t reach her from where I was sitting so I had to pull over and get her a bottle and try to find her pacifier. I didn’t know it then but she hates to be in a car seat! I finally made it to pick up my sister and then she drove so I could sit next to Aubrey. It was almost 8 p.m. by the time we got on the road to head home. I realized that I didn’t have any other clothes for Aubrey, I had given away all of the baby girl items that were too small for Ava, so I didn’t even have pajamas for Aubrey to sleep in.

We pulled over at 13th East in Salt Lake and went into a ShopKo store to buy some clothes for her. Aubrey’s onesie was soaking wet and completely filthy and her diaper was dirty again, so it was definitely time for a break. My sister Yvonne and I had a great time shopping for little dresses, shoes, shirts, pants, PJ’s and diapers. Aubrey was content to either sit in the cart or have me hold her. I was grateful for the time I was able to spend with Aubrey beforehand so she was somewhat familiar with me and who I was since I had spent time in her home and with her mom and dad during the past couple of days.

By the time we got on the road to get home it was really late and luckily for me after Aubrey was fed she fell asleep for most of the drive. When I finally arrived at my house after midnight Mykel was waiting up for me. Aubrey was awake after I took her out of her car seat and Mykel wanted to hold her. He told me later that he “immediately felt a bond with her” and that he was “completely attached at first site" (she has been a daddy's girl ever since!) For me it took a little longer to feel the connection, I was so absorbed with worry that she would be taken away from us at any time that I couldn’t let me heart fully open. I was still somewhat guarded with my emotions because of past experiences with my other children being placed with us and then taken away.

We didn’t have a crib for her so we tried to lay her down between us on our bed to sleep. I was exhausted after traveling for over seven hours in the car, standing out in the heat and just the emotional aspect of the entire day. Needless to say I wanted at least a catnap, but Aubrey had other plans, she had already been asleep and now she was fully awake! I don’t blame her for being anxious, she wasn’t in her own bed, she was unfamiliar with our home, with us and everything around her. She would finally sleep for a few minutes and then wake up, sleep, wake up, all night long. It was a lengthy night for me, but Mykel enjoyed all of it, he wanted to just hold her all night anyway.

Aubrey already had him wrapped around her little finger!

The next morning is one of my favorite memories. I could hear some of the kids getting up to get ready for church. I walked in the living room holding Aubrey and my son Preston was sitting on a chair fixing his tie. Now I have to back up a little bit here and give some details on the situation with Preston…. We had been talking to the kids about the possibility that Aubrey could become a member of our family for several months, so each week Preston wanted to “fast and pray that Aubrey could come live with us.” Preston was only nine years old at the time, but he had been fasting every Sunday for the past month. I brought Aubrey in and when Preston saw her he was so excited! I told him that his fasting and prayers had worked and that his little sister was coming to live with us. Then he said “does she get to stay forever?” I told him I wasn’t sure yet because no paperwork had been signed, then he said “then I am going to fast again today.” I tell Preston it was because of his strong faith that Aubrey became part of our family, which I completely believe to be true. He has amazing faith.

That first week with Aubrey was full of fun and excitement for all of us. She is always so energetic and and playful, we call her "the little firecracker!" We had to rearrange rooms, find a crib, buy some more clothes and adjust our schedules to accommodate a new member of the family. We had been planning a vacation to Mexico for about four months and now we had to figure out how we were going to make the trip with a young baby and get permission from her parents and her birth certificate so she could cross the border.

Our Mexico trip was the first hurdle, by the end of summer Ruth wrote me to tell me that her husband “was making a fuss about getting Aubrey back.” I still get sick to my stomach when I read that e-mail.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Our Story, Part 44 - "Take Good Care of Her"

On Saturday June 2, 2007, I was out grocery shopping with my kids. As I was walking to my car I got a text from Ruth asking me to stop by her house that afternoon. I lived 3 ½ hours away, so it wasn’t just like I could pick up and leave right then and I had already been to her house twice that week, but I knew something was different this time because my knees immediately started shaking when I read the text.

I told her that luckily my sister had to go to Salt Lake City and take her son to the airport that afternoon and I could ride out with her. I took my kids home, told Mykel the news and got ready to go meet with Ruth and her husband. It seemed like the longest drive to get there that day, and since I wasn’t driving and it wasn’t my car, I just had to follow where everyone else was going. We met one of my other sisters in Salt Lake so the cousins could visit for a while, then I finally dropped my sister and her son off at the Salt Lake Airport. I was a few hours late to meet with Ruth and her husband. By the time I got to their house Ruth had already gone to work. I asked her husband if he wanted me to come back later but he invited me in. I could see Aubrey crawling around on the floor and we went and sat on the couch to talk. A few minutes later he asked me if I could go outside to a little storage shed and talk to him.

This is where my crazy imagination started to run wild, I thought “what if he is going to take me out to the shed and kill me; no one knows where I am at…” I laughed at myself for thinking that, but I thought the request was quite odd and I remember watching Oprah once where she said to "listen to your gut when you feel strange about a situation…." Then he said “I want to talk to you outside so my brother doesn’t hear us.” That was a valid reason because I knew that he and Ruth were being kicked out of his brother’s house, so I assumed that was why he wanted to keep our conversation private. This helped shake my heebie-jeebies so I followed him outside (besides, he was carrying Aubrey, so that made me feel a little safer).

It was a VERY hot June day and the air inside the shed was scorching! As I have mentioned before, I always sweat to death when I am nervous, but now I had an excuse to actually be sweating, it was roasting inside the shed (no breeze whatsoever) and I had on a long sleeve shirt and jeans. We were both standing up to talk and he was holding Aubrey for most of the time (she was only dressed in a diaper and a onesie) and she was squirming in his arms and wanting to get down and crawl around.

We talked for well over an hour. I had so many crazy thoughts running through my head but I was trying to focus on every detail of what he was saying and pay close attention to everything he said so I could give an educated answer to his questions. At one point he mentioned that he and Ruth were thinking about placing Aubrey with us in a few months because of financial reasons and because they had no idea where they were going to live. I tried to help him with some options and offered to help them look for a place to live. We kept talking and at the end of the conversation he asked “do you want to take her home today?” I asked him what Ruth thought and he said that she already knew. I then asked him if Ruth wanted to say goodbye to her and he said that she already had. I finally answered him and said “I would love to take her home with me.”

We then went back inside the house (the air conditioning didn’t work but it was much cooler indoors!) He started packing up Aubrey’s bottles, formula and kitchen items and explaining what her schedule was. I tried to act intelligent and ask questions about her care, but mostly I just listened to what he was saying, I was still in shock. I was amazed at how organized he was about all of Aubrey’s bottles, food and her daily schedule (he had all of her bottles sanitized and gave her distilled water with her formula). He was taking extremely good care of her and I could tell she was happy and healthy.

He had some coupon vouchers for more formula, so we decided to go to the store and pick it up. We all got in the car together, he put Aubrey’s car seat in the van and we headed to the store. We walked around the grocery store; I was carrying Aubrey most of the time and I suppose to most people we just looked like a young family out grocery shopping. It is times like these that I remember not to assume or pre-judge people that I see because obviously no one could imagine the true scenario of our being together at the store that day….

By the time we got back to his house Aubrey needed to be changed. I put a new diaper on her but he didn’t offer me any new clothes, so I just put the onesie back on her. We then loaded up all of her stuff (a few diapers, formula and bottles) and he walked me out to my vehicle. He carefully buckled Aubrey in, kissed her goodbye, laid her favorite blanket on her seat and then looked at me and said “take good care of her” – I could tell his voice was cracking and he was having a hard time saying goodbye to her. My emotions were at the surface as well and I tried to hold back my tears, I promised him that I would take good care of her. He watched me back out of the driveway and leave and it was difficult to compose myself as I drove off and left him standing there alone.

Aubrey 2008

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our Story, Part 43 - Not Knowing

After Aubrey’s birth I was in the “not knowing” stage again. Ruth had mentioned several times that she was thinking about placing Aubrey with our family so I never knew from one day to the next if I would get a phone call asking me to come and pick her up, it was so hard to plan for anything!

Over the ensuing months I would occasionally talk to Ruth via e-mail but sometimes I had no idea what to say or the gall to tell Ruth how I really felt. I was not trying to take her daughter away from her, but knowing that I may eventually get to be Aubrey’s mother and raise her, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her! My husband’s insurance at the time would cover adoption expenses if a child was placed within 90 days of birth, so I gave Ruth that information in hopes that she and her husband would make a decision one way or the other.

I want to make it clear that if at any time Ruth had said she was not interested in placing Aubrey or had decided to raise her on her own, I would not have kept the topic open for discussion. I had such high hopes that Ruth would be able to raise Aubrey, I knew this was her last chance at being a mother and I knew she regretted having her tubes tied (she told me she regretted it as soon as she had done it).

It was so difficult for me to try and go on with my life as normal, knowing that at any time I may get a call to go and pick up another child. One week I would get an e-mail from Ruth stating that she was unhappy and wanted a divorce and if she got a divorce then she would place the baby with our family. The next week I would get another e-mail saying that she and her husband needed a place to live. It was so hard to try and remain neutral and supportive!

In April 2007, when Aubrey was six months old, I got an e-mail from Ruth stating how unhappy she was in the marriage and that she really needed to leave the situation. I lived several hours away and there was nothing immediate that I could do. By the end of May 2007 Ruth really needed to move from where she was at. I offered to go help her and her husband find an apartment. Mykel and I were taking the kids out to Lagoon (a family amusement part) for the weekend and I told Ruth I would be in town for a few days if she needed any help. I had come to terms with the fact that Aubrey may never be placed with our family and I could live with that, it was having my emotions toyed with that was making me crazy!

On May 29 I got an e-mail from Ruth asking if I could help them find an apartment. I had been looking online and making calls to help them find a place to live but nothing was panning out. Finally I decided to just go out and help them physically look for a place. I drove the three and a half hours to their house and picked them all up, Ruth, her husband and Aubrey (yes, it was a little awkward). We had a few appointments to look at some apartments and made calls as we drove around (the silence was almost deafening in the car...and the small talk was almost nil). There were several places that would work but when they filled out the rental application they were denied because Ruth’s husband had a felony on his record (so depressing because Ruth could qualify on her own but not together). After driving around all day (we did stop for lunch) I finally took them back home because Ruth had to go to work. I stayed and talked with her husband for a long time about their situation (I also got to hold Aubrey).

After a very LONG, emotionally exhausting day I drove another three and a half hours home by myself, (this was my second trip to the city in less than a week). I had no idea by the end of that same week I would be asked to come back, but this time I didn’t leave by myself… my life was about to change in a big way, again!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Open Adoption Blogger Interview Project

About a month ago I found a blog named “Production Not Reproduction” that has various links relating to adoption. I signed up as an “Open Adoption Blogger.” Heather at PRODUCTION NOT REPRODUCTION hosted an interview project (question/answer session) between bloggers that have experience with adoption or are waiting to adopt.

My partner was Tracey who recently adopted a beautiful baby boy. I have enjoyed reading her posts and her perspective about adoption, she is very positive and has some great insight for those who are thinking about adopting or who have recently adopted... and some great ideas for women and moms in general! A few of my favorites are her Prayer List, and Wordless Wednesdays. Check out her blog, I think you will enjoy it!

QUESTION: What process did you go through to adopt? i.e. adoption agency, private, social worker, friend?
After much searching on the internet, we found a local, small agency that is Christian based. They only have 5 women working there and do about 20 adoptions a year. In the 10 years they have been in business they only had 2 birthmom's change their minds at the last minute. We hit it off with our case worker right away and really liked the home style atmosphere.

QUESTION: How long did you have to wait for a child?
My husband and I were married in July of 2003 and had been trying to have a child ever since. We tried artificial insemination twice. (I had also tried to get pregnant with my first husband using AI and drugs and nothing ever happened. We got married when I was 24 and we were married for 6 years. So, I feel I have been trying for a very long time.) We found out agency in January of 2008, finished all the paperwork and were put in the active pool at the end of June and 6 weeks later we got the call that we had been chosen by a birthmom. No, this is not the norm...we were told we could wait around 18 months, so that is the number I had in my head. We met "K," the birthmom of our son in August, the next week we went to the first ultrasound, and found out we were having a boy. Samuel was born on December 8, 2008. We brought him home 2 days later and everything was finalized with the courts on May 6, 2009.

QUESTION: Did your child’s birth mother choose you and your husband for the baby?
Yes. The agency we worked with has all the couples they work with put together a book about themselves with pictures. We also write autobiographies about ourselves. When the birthmom's come in they are asked what kind of adoptive parents they are looking for and based on what they say, a number of books are shown to them and then the birthmother decides who to meet from those books.

QUESTION: What has been the hardest part of adoption?
The wait and the not knowing were hard at the time, but overall we had a very easy process. Taking Samuel home and knowing that "K" had 48 hours to change her mind was full of anxiety. Having to jump through numerous hoops to "prove" we are good people, when others who can't even put food on the table pop out babies one after the other really bothers me. I wish EVERYONE that wanted to have children had to go though the paperwork, background checks and home visits that we did. We'd have children growing up in much more stable environments and the abuse and neglect would be greatly curbed too. Stupid questions are also annoying.

QUESTION: What has been the best part of adoption?
There are a number of things that I love about adoption. It brings people together that would otherwise never know each other. I am closer to my family now (both sides) then I have ever been. It has made me a better person. I am more patient, honest and faithful then I ever thought possible. Seeing God's hand in all of this (Sam looks just like my husband, has the same birthmark on the back of his neck that I do...etc...) and knowing that this is part of the grand plan. Understanding now that DNA really makes no difference at all. Sam is 100% my son and a child of God and God doesn't make mistakes. I now have proof of that! Richard feels more connected to his birthfamily (even though he has never met them), because of this process. And the #1 best thing about adoption....IT GAVE ME MY BEAUTIFUL BOY!

QUESTION: How comfortable are you with open adoption? Would you like to have more/less interaction with your child’s birth parents/family?
To be totally honest, at the beginning, I HATED the idea, but we were told things would go faster if we would at least be open to it. I had very selfish ideas before this process. I remember thinking..."This is MY baby and no one else is going to tell me how to raise it. It will just confuse the child too much." After training classes, talking to other people and finally just meeting "K" and her family, ALL of my fears and anxiety over it DISAPPEARED. I knew as soon as I met "K" and the family that this was meant to be. God wanted things this way and He took the fear away.

We agreed to 3 meetings with "K" after Sam was born and then pictures and letters 4 times a year until he is 2 years old and then twice a year until he is 18. She also has my cell number, but rarely calls. Last Thanksgiving we offered for her to see him again and the meeting went great. As long as her life and family are stable we want to continue with this every year around his birthday. I do wish we had more contact, but from what I understand it is just too painful right now for her and her family. I am hoping that this will change in the future. We have left things in her hands and told her that she can call any time she wants.

QUESTION: What is your favorite part about being a mom?
The longer I'm a mommy the better it gets. At first, it was just holding that little bundle and knowing that God made me responsible for this precious gift. As the months went by, it was seeing him grow and change and becoming more aware, hearing his cries and knowing I could calm his fears. Now, it's feeling those little hands around me and seeing that smile and knowing it's for me, seeing him get excited over a new success and looking to me for encouragement. I love seeing life through his eyes. Everything is brand new and exciting.

QUESTION: What advice would you give prospective adoptive parents?
* Be patient.....and stay busy, it helps to pass the waiting time.
* Don't get the babies room ready too early; it makes you think about it too much.
* Be totally honest with yourselves about what kind of child you are willing to love and parent. It isn't fair to them or you to agree to something that is out of your capabilities.
* Be prepared for stupid or ignorant questions.
* Don't be too open at first and then regret it can't unring a bell, but you can always offer more later when things have calmed down.
* If you are given the chance, be in the delivery room. I did and it was the most amazing experience of my life. And when Sam asks about the day he was born, I can tell him every single detail.

QUESTION: How do you plan to tell your son about his birth family?
My husband was adopted (closed) also and we want to tell our son, just like his mom told him. Around the age of 5 or 6 he remembers her sitting down with him and telling him that he didn't come from mommy's belly, but from a different lady that loved him a lot, but wanted him to have a better life and so she gave him to them to raise and love. She said it also means you have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as any other member of this family.

Because of the way his family didn't focus on the adoption, my husband has no negative feelings about it. He honestly feels like an equal and total part of his family. In fact, when we had to write our autobiographies for the agency, he wrote 4 pages about his life and as I was editing it I realized that he failed to mention it at all. He rarely thinks about it, even.

Since our son's adoption is open, I am hoping that with yearly contact with "K" he will know about this a lot sooner and he can ask her, himself, any questions he may have. He'll also be able to meet his birth grandparents on "K's" side too.

Along with my husband, and a cousin being adopted, "K" herself was adopted, so he will have plenty to people to relate to.

What was something you didn’t expect with adoption?
How my feelings would change about everything: from "openness," and actually wanting someone else to be involved, to not even caring and not thinking about that Sam did not come from my body. It used to make me physically pained that I couldn't conceive and bare a child, now I don't even think about it. I also didn't expect it to touch so many lives, bring past friends back into my life and to bring my family closer together.

QUESTION: Would you recommend adoption to others?
DEFINITELY! 100%!!! It was am amazing experience, from start to finish! Even with all the headaches, I would go through it again in a heartbeat

I hope you enjoyed my interview with Tracey and her positive attitude about life and adoption! Thanks to Heather at Production Not Reproduction for allowing me to be a part of this Interview Project!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Our Story, Part 42 - Aubrey is born!

In October 2006 my younger brother Kelly planned a family get together for Halloween. He and his wife Sandi love Halloween so we all bought tickets to take a “Haunted train ride” up the canyon. Mykel and I took the kids out the day before (it was a 3 hour trip) and we stayed the weekend with some of our friends. While I was there I got the call that Ruth was going to the hospital to have her baby.

I guess I was wrong when I said I didn’t have pictures of me with any of my children at the hospital. The day after Aubrey was born I visited Ruth at the hospital. We weren’t talking about placing the baby at that point (she had alluded to the possibility of placing her, but it wasn’t brought up during our visit). Ruth was married and we were all hoping that things would work out for her and that she would be able to raise her last daughter (she got her tubes tied with the last pregnancy).

When I pulled up to the hospital and found a parking spot my heart was beating out of my chest, I just never knew what to expect or what would happen. My good friend Andrea came with me to the hospital and I decided to take Ava as well (Mykel stayed home with the boys to tend, it was too hard for him to go). We stopped at the hospital gift shop and brought a few presents to give to Ruth and the new baby. Ava wanted Oreo’s and she made a huge mess in Ruth’s room with her cookies! I took my camera so I could get some pictures of Ava with her little sister. I had no idea if they would be able to have a relationship in the future and I wanted to have the pictures to show to Mykel and the boys.

Ava with Aubrey the day after she was born.

I was nervous to hold the baby (but I get nervous holding ANY baby, it is not an easy thing for me to do). Luckily my friend Andrea isn’t shy; she held the baby first and helped Ava hold her. She was so tiny and adorable, I took pictures of her tiny toes... it was unbelievable how she was such a perfect mix of Ruth and her husband! My feelings were mixed, I had been in this position several times before and it was always so painful.

I had so many questions going through my head…could this be my child at some point in the future? How much emotion do I show? Do I act indifferent so I don’t put any pressure on Ruth? How do I show support when I am secretly longing to have this little girl be a part of our family and grow up with her siblings?

We only stayed for about 20 minutes and right before we left I was able to hold Aubrey for the first time.

It would be eight months until I would hold her again.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Our Story, Part 41 - The News

A few weeks after Ava’s adoption was finalized in August 2004, our little yellow house sold. We had been talking about moving “back home” where Mykel and I grew up to raise the kids, but we weren’t in a hurry.

In 2005 we moved back to where my husband grew up, a tiny little town that doesn’t even have a stop light (we love it there!). A few months before we moved Ruth’s brother, sister and mother were visiting from back East and they stopped by our house to meet Ava and the boys. I was amazed by the resemblance of my oldest son Bryan with Ruth’s brother (his biologic uncle), my son still has hopes he can inherit some of their height!

Ruth and I kept in touch via e-mail, but the visits were quite infrequent at this point, especially now that we moved several hours away. In early 2006 Ruth wrote me to let me know that she had met someone else and was thinking about getting married. I was really happy for her and in my heart I was truly hoping this would be the chance she had dreamt about of being married and raising a family.

In June 2006 I got an e-mail from Ruth telling me she was expecting another girl. I was so happy for her! But in the same e-mail she also said she was unhappy in her marriage.

In August 2006 I met with Ruth and her husband for lunch, I took Ava with me because Ruth hadn’t seen her for over a year. Ava was being so cute and just playing around. It was fun to see them interact together. Ruth took pictures of her in the car with my camera and I took a few pictures of Ruth and her husband. I talked to them about their baby and what they wanted to name her when she was born (she was due in October), how she was feeling, etc. I didn’t take the boys with me because I hadn’t told them that Ruth was expecting and we weren’t sure how to share the news with them yet.

Pictures of Ava that Ruth took on the way home from our lunch meeting.

In September 2006 I got another e-mail from Ruth stating that she was moving back to Missouri to be with her family and have the baby there (without her husband), but within a few days she came back to Utah because the living arrangements didn’t work out. They (Ruth and her husband) were looking for an apartment and I offered to help.

With all of this going on I knew that at some point there may be a chance of us raising another child. I didn’t want to assume anything, but in the back of mind I knew it was a possibility. I just had no idea how things were going to play out or what to plan for because I had no control over the situation…. I could never have imagined how the next few weeks and months would unfold.

"In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back." ~ Charlie Brown

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Our Story, Part 40 - Favorite Memories

"Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ~ Norman MacEwan

I almost forgot one of my favorite memories of Ava… As I have mentioned before, there are so many things that were meant to be with regards to my life and the adoption of my children. Two years before Ava was born we bought a little house in the inner city. We had been living in a condo with a tiny yard and we needed a place for the boys to play. I love looking at houses for sale and the internet made it that much easier to browse… I found a little yellow house with white shutters (I love older homes) and it had a HUGE fenced in back yard (exactly what I was looking for). It wasn’t in the ideal location, but the price was right and I was dying to have some room for my boys to play outside. I just KNEW this home was where we were meant to be at the time and I realized later it was because the people we met while we lived there would become lifelong friends. A few posts ago I mentioned my friends who went and took Ava to meet her birth father. Well, those friends were actually sisters, Rachel and Leslie that I met when I lived in my little yellow house.

Ava on the front steps of our little yellow house

One of the hardest things for me about adoption was the planning (or lack thereof). I love to plan things; I like to know what is going to happen far in advance. The one thing I had no control over was when we were going to “have” children. I had no idea that a little girl was in our future after the adoptions of our three boys. I had given all my baby stuff away by the time Ava was even born, and if you have been following this story you know that I had less than an hour to prepare for her arrival (I guess less than that because right after I got the phone call I went and picked her up!). Anyway, my friends knew that I didn’t have anything for a baby, let alone a baby girl.

At this time in our life we were hanging out with some other neighbors that we had met, the Laings. They were a young couple who didn’t have any children so they would come to our house several times a week, sometimes we would watch movies, play with the kids, go play tennis, whatever we could think of, they were a little extension of our family and we had a lot of good times (I miss those days!). One night we decided to go out for dinner with just the adults (which was very rare), so we got a baby-sitter and headed for “The Pantheon.” The whole dinner everyone was acting strange (except me of course)… they kept looking at their watches and checking the time. We finally made it home and everyone was trying to find an excuse for me to go over to our church, and bring Ava with me ~ I finally made it easy for them and just went!

I walked in to an entire room filled with my friends and neighbors patiently waiting for me to arrive for a surprise baby shower! Many of the ladies who attended were over 70 years old and had lived in our neighborhood for a long time (I feel so bad that we were late!). They made Ava several beautiful hand-knitted and crocheted baby quilts, gave me pink girl PJ’s and clothes, gift cards to buy a stroller, and one of my friends had even made a wall hanging with Ava’s name and birth date on it. I cannot express how wonderful it felt to be in a room filled with people who were there to support me and my family. It is one of my most cherished memories. Most of my friends have since moved from that neighborhood, but I know we were all meant to be there at that time to help each other and to meet each other. Thank you!

Before I end this post and move on with the story of my youngest daughter’s adoption, I just wanted to add a few quotes that have come from my children over the years with regards to adoption (and being adopted). I know my children’s birth mother was concerned that they may be having a hard time with being adopted (she and I had lunch yesterday and discussed this a little bit), so I thought I would share some of their thoughts in their own words:

“I love you as much as Jesus loves us.”

“I am glad Ruth did the right thing” – Preston said this when he was five.

“I am so glad that you are my mother and that you adopted me.”

“Heavenly Father must have taken 2000 years to make you such good parents.”

“Thank you for adopting me, I love you.”

“We have the best family ever!”

“If your tummy worked you wouldn’t have had us!”

“Mommy, is love full of surprises?”

“I can’t stop loving you.” –Preston and I were holding hands and walking together.

“I love you mom” – My personal favorite that I get to hear almost every day.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Something Special"

The events of this weekend have caused me to do some introspection and self-discovery. My sister-in-law gave birth to a healthy, baby boy early yesterday morning (I haven’t seen him yet, but I can only imagine how adorable he is). When I got the message that he was born I just started crying, not for joy, but because I was filled with overwhelming grief, anger and jealousy, but not happiness. I kept asking myself, why can’t I be happy for them, why do I feel so upset? I am such a horrible person for even feeling this way! I didn’t even want to do anything. I mean, this isn’t the first time someone in my extended family has had a baby (I have over 50 nieces and nephews), but this time I felt I had been kicked in the stomach. I was numb.

My husband knew something was wrong but when he asked I just told him “I am fine.” I left to take my kids to the library and to the store and on the way my youngest daughter fell asleep in the car. I didn’t want to wake her, so I just had my older son go in the store and I stayed in the car with her while she slept. During those few minutes of quiet I had time to reflect on why I was feeling such resentment. I sent a few texts to my husband to tell him how I felt. I told him I didn’t want to see the baby just yet; I wasn’t ready to hear about him. I didn’t want to hear how wonderful it felt to give birth, to hold their son, to hear him cry, to feed him, to have the grandparents there to witness everything, to ooh and awe over every little movement and sound. These were things I had dreamt about for so long, but would never happen for me. I realized what I was feeling was envy and I hated that I felt that way; I truly wanted to be happy for them. I didn’t want to take something away from their life just because I was sad; it wasn’t their fault that I couldn’t experience the miracle of birth. I couldn’t be mad at them, my anger was misdirected, I was angry with myself.

So I just sat in the car and cried and tried to analyze my feelings. I sent my husband a text to tell him why I was feeling so sad and he sent me back the most wonderful words of comfort. I let myself cry for another 20 minutes and then my son came back to the car. He had six dollars that he wanted to spend but when he got back in the car he had only bought four things, two things for his sister, one for his dad, and one for me. Nothing for himself.

The whole reason we had gone to the store was to get a prize for my youngest daughter Aubrey. She has been waking up at night and I promised her a treat if she would sleep all night long (my husband tried this before and it worked wonders). Aubrey kept telling me “I want something special” – so I sent my son Preston in to get “something special” for Aubrey. He didn’t get anything for himself, but he got me “something special.” It was then that I realized how truly selfish I was being. I was only thinking of myself, I was being a brat.

My son helped me realize something that day. He wasn’t thinking about what would make him happy, he was getting “something special” for everyone else, even me. I was so amazed and comforted by his unselfishness and generosity!

As I read other blogs about adoption there are many who criticize God’s role and intervention in our life. I have felt many times over that my children were meant to come to me this way. I don’t know why, but I know they are MINE and this was how I was meant to be a mother. There are so many tiny miracles that have happened along the way to make it possible for Ruth and I to even meet, let alone share the past 12+ years on this journey together as mothers. It is definitely God’s hand directing us along the way.

A few minutes ago my daughter Aubrey woke up and came and found me on the computer. She looked up at me and said “I want something special” (she had slept all night again without waking up). I picked her up and sat her in my lap and just held her for a few minutes (I love that she will cradle in my arms and snuggle with me). She brought me back to reality. In fact, she is still sitting on my lap...

Someone asked me the other day “what was the hardest part of adoption for me?” The hardest part was missing the first days, months and years of each of my children’s lives, not being there when they were born, not holding them as infants, all of those things most get to experience as new parents…. But after I wrote that I realized, I have the rest of my life with them. I get to hold them in the morning when they wake up and just want to be held. I get to talk to them about school and their friends. I get to be there and comfort them when they get hurt. I get to be a mom. I thank my Heavenly Father every day for allowing me the opportunity to be a mother; I know it was part of his plan for me. I know He is very aware of my thoughts and feelings, my hurt and sadness. Without pain you can never fully experience joy – which is what I am experiencing right now. Joy. God offers us blessings through adversity ~ and I have truly been blessed with “something special” in my life, my children.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Our Story, Part 39 - Post Placement Study and Finalization

Home Study: A home study is sometimes called an "adoption study," and is a written report containing the findings of the social worker who has met on several occasions with the prospective adoptive parents, has visited their home, and who has investigated the health, medical, criminal, family and home background of the adoptive parents. The purpose of the home study is to help the court determine whether the adoptive parents are qualified to adopt a child, based on the criteria that have been established by state law. Credit (

Even though we had two previous home studies performed with the adoption of our three boys, I had never requested a copy of the final report. I decided to ask for one with Ava’s home study. Here is a small excerpt written by our social worker:

"Status of Placement:
The Henries reported to me that the birth father completed the relinquishment of his parental rights on May 21, 2004 before a Notary Public to accomplish this termination. A copy of his relinquishment is included in the adoptive file. The birth mother relinquished her rights on May 27, 2004. She had an attorney help her do this.

The Henries were relieved to know that both the birth father and mother have stepped forward to do this. The Henries have not put any pressure on the birth parents to make their decision. In fact, the Henries have been very open with both birth parents regarding Ava being placed in their home and have reported how she is developing.

Adjustment of Children in the Home:
By reports from both Mr. and Mrs. Henrie they have not experienced any problems with Ava being placed in their home. Actually, the placement has gone exceptionally well for both the parents and the children. The Henries further report that the three boys, Bryan, Cole and Preston 'simply adore' their little sister. They spend much of their waking hours playing with her and ensure she is taken care of the best way they know how. Of course this is under the guidance of the parents.

When I visited the family today they were having a picnic in their back yard with some neighbors. The children were all playing with each other and their friends. Ava was actively involved with others. She is now walking on her own and has been since the first part of June. I observed all of the children interacting with each other for a good part of an hour. During this time I saw how well they played together and how the boys would attend to their sister on many occasions. Ava even began to interact with me by bringing a toy or food item to share with me. I believe this indicates how comfortable she feels and the trust she has with someone else besides family members.

Therefore, it is my recommendation that the placement of Ava continue as she now feels this is her home. The bonding between all family members with Ava is very strong. Mr. and Mrs. Henrie see Ava as though she is their own biological child. This adoption worker would further recommend that there is no better home for Ava than where she is currently placed."

This is just a small excerpt as the entire "Post-Placement Adoption Report" is over 30 pages long.

Ava’s adoption was finalized on August 17, 2004, when she was a year and a half old. We went in front of a female judge this time and the experience was quite different. We were the only ones in the courtroom besides the judge, the bailiff and our attorney. While our attorney addressed the judge I was trying desperately to keep the boys quiet. They wanted to keep bouncing up and down on fold-away seats. I don’t know why I stressed so much about keeping them quiet. I guess in the back of my head I was thinking “the judge is probably going to wonder about my parenting abilities to take care of this little girl if I can’t take care of my other children!”

The entire procedure probably took about 15-20 minutes. After we signed the paperwork stating that Ava “shall be regarded and treated in all respects as their natural and lawful child,” Cole wanted to run up and give the judge a hug and tell her “thank you" (I did too). The bailiff reacted quickly to a little boy running up to the front of the courtroom and tried to stop him, but then I explained what he wanted to do. The judge was very gracious about letting my other children hug her and tell her “thank you for allowing their little sister to be a part of our family.” The boys were so excited when we were finished and the paperwork was signed; they knew that Ava couldn’t be taken away from us now!

It is weird how things can change with the signing of the adoption decree. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had been so worried about my little Ava having to leave our family and now I knew that “legally” she was my little girl. I couldn't stop smiling and hugging and kissing her soft little cheeks!

When people ask me about my children and I try to tell them a little bit of the story, there is always one inevitable question? Why did their mother keep having children?
Ruth and Ava

That answer to that question is not my story to tell. Throughout the telling of “Our Story” on my blog, I have to leave out many details and background of the people involved. There are many other sequences of events that were going on behind the scenes that I am not at liberty to divulge. These “details” may give readers more insight as to why Ruth relinquished her children, but that is her narrative, not mine.

I cannot fault Ruth for wanting to have more children. I am so glad she did, I could never thank her enough for allowing me the opportunity to be a mother and to raise these wonderful children. I have nothing but love and respect for her and the hard choices she has had to make in her life. I love being a mother and I know that it has only been through Ruth that I have been given this chance. Thank you is not enough!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Just a few random thoughts today before I move on….

I have been talking with Ava’s birth father and he would like to contribute his side of the story, but he is really busy with finals right now so I will add his insight at a later date!

As I have been reading through other adoption blogs I have been amazed at the negativity surrounding adoption and how many people are AGAINST adoption. I guess I must have been living in a bubble but I had no idea of these other perspectives (I hadn’t even thought about it from their point of view). It doesn’t change how I feel about adoption, I have had a very positive experience for the most part, but it has really helped me understand how my children might be feeling or what they may feel in the future. I have honestly learned a lot (I wish these blogs were around 10 years ago!)

Back to my story… anyway on the day Ava’s adoption was finalized my attorney drove up to Ogden from Salt Lake City (about a 30-45 minute drive). We met at a bank because we had to have a few papers notarized before we went into court. This was the first time that we had even met with our attorney during Ava’s adoption. I hadn’t paid him a dime up until that point (and he hadn’t asked for anything either). I had just graduated from college and my parents had given me $50 and that was all I had to spare at the time. I gave him the $50 that I had and that was it. When we went into court later that morning and he had to tell the judge what our adoption costs were (for his portion), he said $50 and I think the judge about fainted. I only mention this because so many adoption blogs talk about how they hate how people profit monetarily from adoption. I just want to make it clear that my attorney was not doing this for the money. He took time off of his own job to be at court that day with us. He took our phone calls and gave us advice when we needed it and basically did Ava’s adoption for free. I laugh about this now because the following year I was audited by the IRS the because our adoption expenses were so low…. Go figure!

The story of my youngest daughter Aubrey is quite complex and almost unbelievable; again I am at a loss on where to begin. I am going to take a day or so to get my thoughts together and figure out how to begin with “the rest of the story.”

Monday, March 8, 2010

Our Story, Part 38 - “Enjoy the Journey"

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

– Proverbs 17.23

Ava with her grandpa - Summer 2004

The spring and summer of 2004 was an amazing test of my faith. At times it seemed like the weight of the world was on my shoulders, I was exhausted everyday with stress and worry that Ava would be taken away from us, but we also enjoyed many precious days together and created wonderful memories as a family. Ava was with our family for 8 ½ months before her adoption was finalized. For those 8 ½ months she wasn’t really “ours.” I know I will get criticism for saying that because some people feel she wasn’t really “ours” in the first place, but she was placed in our home, not by us begging for a child but because her mother felt it was the best place for her to be. When we were finally able to meet with Ava’s birth father he also agreed with her being in our home. I found a line from another adoption blog that I think applies to our situation “adoption is not designed to find babies for people who want them, but rather, to provide homes for children who need a home.”

Camping at Yellowstone in the Spring of 2004

Looking back now I can see how so many people were placed in our path to help us along. Many times I was inspired to make a phone call, write a note or ask a certain question and my life was blessed by listening to those promptings. I am so grateful for the power of prayer and for a Heavenly Father who knows my strengths and weaknesses and is aware of what I am capable of.

Together at an amusement park (I love how Cole and Preston can't let go of Ava).

I am still friends with Ava’s birth father. I share pictures of Ava with him, he has sent her presents for Christmas and writes notes to her via e-mail (all of which I keep for her to read as she gets older and understands more). I am sharing my experience with open adoption with hopes that others will realize that open adoption can and does work. It may not be appropriate in all situations and it is definitely not easy ~ most things in life that are worth anything are not easy while you are going through them, but adversity shapes our lives and makes us who we are and who we will become.

Graduation Day (finally!) with Mykel and Ava!

"Throughout our lives, we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome; some are not. There are changes in our lives which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen illness, the loss of a possession we treasure. But most of the changes take place subtly and slowly.
Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us, of course, go through similar alterations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes.

This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.

Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows. "
Thomas S. Monson


I had to stop stressing about things I had no control over and instead “find joy in the journey” and oh what a journey it has been!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"On Being" - By Valorie

This poem was written by my children's birth grandmother in 1999 after Bryan came to live with us. She has given me permission to share.


Has it been this long since I took pen to make in here some poem?
Has life itself been so heavy that I couldn't take time to share?
Is moving and sorting through the treasures life has stored in drawers
The thing it takes to open hearts to sit and ponder past?

Is losing loved ones what we need to open up our hearts
to deeper understanding of the meaning of our lives on earth?
Do we have to give up all our yesterdays to make someone else's tomorrows?
Does God expect us to ever understand the sacrifice of His Son?
Do we have to sacrifice those we love to come close to understanding?

I hope I will understand...

by: Valorie 1999

Friday, March 5, 2010

Our Story, Part 37 - Not Your Typical Day at the Mall

The next part of this story is so amazing to me, even looking back now I can’t believe how things turned out. I have been blessed with so many miracles in my life!

Ava’s birth father called me as promised two days later…. I still remember how nervous I was to talk to him; I kept pacing around my living room while I tried to talk on the phone. I was surprised at how well he and I were able to talk about the situation at hand. He was very open about what he wanted for Ava and what his expectations were. I think we talked for almost an hour (I was sweating profusely the whole time) but by the end of the phone call he said that he would consent to allow us to adopt Ava! My heart literally felt like it would burst with joy at the news. I had grown so immensely attached to my little curly-headed girl… I couldn’t imagine her leaving our family; I didn’t even want to imagine it, even though the thought of it haunted me daily.

The next part was getting the paperwork prepared, then arrange a time for us to meet to get the documents signed. The way I understood the law in my state was that a birth father could relinquish his rights in front of a Notary Public ~ but when I contacted my attorney he said that he would have to go in front of a District Court Judge to relinquish. My heart sank with the news! I had told Ava’s birth father (in the letter I had written to him) that he would only have to appear in front of a Notary (he didn’t want to go to court). I didn’t know how I was going to break the news to him, so I did a little research on my own.

I studied the adoption law for my state and the way I understood it the law read that the birth father could relinquish in front of a Notary. I copied and sent that section of law in an e-mail to my attorney. A few days later he wrote back to tell me that I was right; Ava’s birth father was only required to go in front of a Notary! One huge hurdle avoided!

It took a few weeks for my attorney to prepare the paperwork and then he sent me the documents via e-mail. I printed them out and called Ava’s birth father back. When I called him to set up a time to meet he said that he wasn’t sure if he still wanted us to adopt Ava. My heart sank. He said he wanted to talk to someone and then he would call me back in a few hours…. Those few hours drug on for an entire day. I think I fell asleep with the phone in my hand so I wouldn’t miss his call. He finally called me back and said he would meet me to sign the relinquishment! I can't begin to describe how nervous I was waiting for his call and then how ecstatic I was with the news!

We decided to meet in a public place that we were both familiar with (I had no idea what to expect). We arranged to meet at the food court of a local mall. I remember on the way to meet him I was on the phone with my attorney (yes, I was talking and driving….), he said “Camille, you are either insane or a saint, I am not sure which one!" It was such a funny comment coming from my attorney that I still remember exactly where I was on the freeway when he said that to me….weird how those kind of memories stick with you.

Meeting at the food court was another surreal experience. I sat there with four copies of the necessary paperwork waiting for Ava’s birth father to show up (praying he would show). He brought his lunch over and we sat and talked for about a half hour while he ate (again I was so nervous I was sweating clear to my waist… I should seriously do something about my sweating problem!)

There was a bank at the mall so after he ate lunch we went to the bank to get the paperwork signed. Once the paperwork is signed (according to the laws of our state), relinquishment is irrevocable. There was only one Notary at the bank so we had to sit and wait our turn. There was a young boy and his mother ahead of us opening up a new bank account, they were taking forever (more like 45 minutes) and the longer I sat there the more the sweat kept dripping off my elbows, at this point I couldn’t even lift up my arms, it was too embarrassing ~ and I was running out of things to say.

Finally it was our turn. I put the paperwork on the desk and the Notary asked what we were there for… such an odd situation to try and explain. Picture me and my daughter’s birth father together at the bank signing such a life-changing document... unfathomable. The Notary kept fumbling for words - he really couldn’t understand the situation either... he just kept looking at the two of us across the desk from him, sitting their chatting back and forth like old friends.

Ava’s birth father signed the documents (he had read them and was given a copy previously) and I gave him his copy and I took the other three, one for court, one original and one for me. We waved goodbye to each other and he went up the escalator and left. I am still amazed at how much life can change with the signing of a piece of paper, something so small yet so significant.

I practically floated on air to my car. I instantly called my husband to tell him the good news, then I called my attorney… he couldn’t believe how smoothly it all went; he was actually at a loss for words. I called Ruth last, I knew she was waiting for me to call her, but I knew that our conversation would take the longest. She was so relieved that he signed the paperwork.

I couldn’t wait to get home ~ hug and tell the boys the good news, hug Ava and then celebrate! I got in my car to drive home… I stuck my arms out the window and dried off all the sweat (don’t worry, I only put one arm out at a time). I was on cloud nine!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Our Story, Part 36 - The Meeting

The meeting was scheduled for early afternoon. It seemed like the longest morning of my life! I kept reading and revising the letter I made for Ava’s birth father and the rest of the time I paced the floor (literally). I was so scared and worried about what would happen....running all the different scenarios through my head.

I finally got Ava ready and took her over to my friend’s house. I put her car seat in the back of my friend’s little red Honda and buckled her in. I kept telling my friends “call me as soon as you know something, the INSTANT the meeting is over!” I then stood on the front lawn and watched them drive away with my little Ava girl. I kept having these nightmares that it would be the last time I saw her or something drastic like that…

The next two hours were shear torture wondering how things were going (I was prone to imagine the worst). I was basically useless as a human being. I just sat on my couch and tried to read, I had already cleaned my entire house so there was nothing for me to do but sit and wait, willing the phone to ring with any news.

True to their word, the minute they left the meeting my friends called me. Here is my recollection of what they told me:

When they first got there they met with Ava’s birth father and his mother and brother (and his brother’s girlfriend). They commented on how well Ava looked and “how well Ruth had been taking such good care of her.” They said at first everyone acted rather distant and unapproachable…. Then they gave the letter and album to Ava’s birth father. He left the group to go for a walk and to read the letter privately. My friend then gave Ava’s grandmother the picture album that I had been inspired to prepare for her.

A short while later Ava’s birth father came back and asked his mother to read the letter. My friend’s said that after they were finished reading the letter the mood and spirit of the group completely changed and everyone warmed up considerably. All of a sudden they had a million questions for my friends about us, they wanted to know about Ava, they wanted to know what kind of people we were, about her other siblings, if we were religious and everything else they could think of. They looked through the pictures I had given them (of course I gave them the most adorable pictures of Ava when she was happy and smiling), and they commented on how happy she looked.

Ava during the meeting.... sitting on the lap of her grandmother.

They took some pictures of Ava with their Polaroid camera and since a Wal-mart was conveniently located across the street from the McDonald’s, my friends went and made copies for me (I knew I sent the right people for the job, I couldn’t have asked for better advocates! I am so grateful they took the time to do this for me and my family!)

I asked my friends what they remembered of that day and this is what one of them wrote: “I remember being somewhat nervous… what if meeting [Ava’s birth father] didn’t go smooth or peaceful? But to my delight, it did! I can’t remember any of the conversation. Maybe we didn’t talk much. I remember [Ava’s birth father] laying eyes on Ava and I’m sure it was a surreal feeling for him.”

At the end of the meeting Ava’s birth father told my friends that he would consider allowing Ava to be adopted, he just needed a few days to think about it. He said he would call me in the next few days with his answer (I had left my phone number in the letter). My friends said he seemed positive and open to the possibility of allowing Ava to be part of our family….. YEAH! I started jumping around my living room after I got off the phone with my friends. Now I just had a few more days to wait for another phone call... and I had to call Ruth and tell her what happened at the meeting and about my decision to tell Ava's birth father that she was living with us...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Our Story, Part 35 - The Phone Call

The dreaded phone call came in April. Ava’s birth father contacted Ruth and wanted to see Ava (the phone calls were made between their respective attorneys). It is ironic that I answered the phone call in almost the exact same place as I answered the phone call from Valorie four months earlier asking us if we wanted a little girl. After I got off the phone I remember feeling like my chest was on fire, I felt dizzy and I had to go lie down. I felt like the whole world was crashing down around me and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.

Ava and I were the only ones home at the time and she was sleeping when the phone call came in. I went in and checked on her and then I just lay on the couch and cried. I had no idea what I would do if my little girl was taken away from me. I know that sounds selfish because Ruth had allowed her to come to our family… but that is how I felt. Maybe that is partly how Ruth felt when I came to pick her Ava up, I couldn’t even begin to imagine her pain.

A little while later after I composed myself, I called Mykel at work to relay the news, the boys were all at school and we decided that we wouldn’t tell them, they didn’t need to worry.

Ava’s birth father wanted to see her the next day. His mother and brother were going to be in town and wanted to see her as well. To me, this was a bad sign; having more family come and see her would only make them fall in love with her like we did…. And lessen the possibility of them allowing her to be adopted by our family.

Because Ava’s father had no idea that she was in our care, we had to make arrangements for someone to take Ava and meet him. Two of my close friends (who knew Ruth) agreed to take Ava and meet with her birth father’s family. Of all places the designated meeting spot was McDonald’s.

At this point Ruth was still adamant that we not tell Ava’s father that she was with us, but I felt differently. After I received the phone call, I realized I couldn’t just keep waiting, I had to do something. After much prayer and contemplation, I decided to write Ava’s father a letter explaining everything. I felt if we were open and honest with him he would be more receptive to the idea of allowing Ava to become part of our family. I was also inspired to make picture albums for Ava’s birth father and her grandmother that were coming to see her.

I rushed to the store that night and made copies of several pictures I had of her and put together the photo albums. I also agonized over every detail of the message and thoughts I was putting down on paper as I wrote to Ava’s birth father. I basically laid everything on the line with that letter… and now we would just have to wait, again.