Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Placement Day - January 8th, 2012

In Nevada the law is that a birth mother is required to wait 72 hours before she can sign relinquishment papers for adoption.  Although we had talked a lot with Sierra and knew that she was sure of her decision, until those papers were signed there was always the chance that she could change her mind.  Those 72 hours were probably the longest of our lives.  It was like the ultimate culmination of the previous six years that we had been waiting.

On Friday, day 2 of Benson's life, we were only able to go into the hospital for about hour in the evening.  It was difficult to just go about the day trying to be as normal as possible.  When we did get to go into the hospital, at about 5pm, my parents came with us just in case they would be allowed to visit.  Sadly the nurse said no, so they went off to spend time with my aunt Jayna and her family while we we spent some time taking care of Benson.  It was fun to just be able to hold him.  We also had a chance to sit and visit with Sierra in her room that evening.  It was nice to be able to talk to her and hear the birth story from her perspective.  She wanted to talk about how hard labor had been, how tired she was, the IV's and so forth.  She also wanted to talk about visiting and spending time with Benson.  It was such a blessing to be able to chat with her about him and hear and see the love she felt for him.  That is one of the many blessings of open adoption!  This is the one other person in the world that truly loves our son as much as we do and we get to know her and love her as well.

Another blessing is getting to know Sierra's family.  During those three days we got to spend a lot of time with Sierra's little sisters, Carmen and Isabel, since Sierras mom was staying at the hospital with her. We got to see their sweet personalities and notice how much Benson looks like his birth mom's family.  They are cuties:) and we grew pretty attached.

Sweet Carmen (she has a cute face AND a great name:))

Harrison and Isabel became great friends

The next day, Saturday, was the day that Sierra was discharged from the hospital.  We arrived there at 8AM to spend the day with Benson.  Sierra had some time to say goodbye to him before we arrived and we did not see her until the next night.  We spent the entire day at the NICU.  It was such a crazy feeling to hold and care for this sleeping baby. It was pretty funny too though, because we wanted to spend as much time with him as we possibly could but after about 2 hours of him sleeping while Ben held him Ben turned to me and said " what?".  Haha.  Benson did have many visitors while there.  On Saturday my mom and dad as well as Jessica, Justin, Avery and Tiffany came to visit.  On Sunday we had even more visitors with Hailey and Addy also coming as well as Tiffany's parents, Mitzi and Jack.  This little boy is very very loved and we felt that from the first day of his life.
Grandma Johnson holding Benson for the first time

Grandpa Johnson with Benson

Aunt Tiff

Daddy showing Avery her newest cousin through the NICU window

Aunt Jess

Mommy showing Benson off to all the family and friends that came to visit

I love these pictures because I think they are a great representation of all the people that were so excited for this little boys arrival.  

On Saturday night we were so tired but we wanted to go out and buy a special gift for Sierra for placement day.  It's hard trying to find a gift that can somehow signify the love and gratitude you feel for this person.  I had been thinking about this gift since the day we had been chosen, actually probably since the day we had known we wanted to adopt.  What kind of a gift can you give someone when they are allowing you the opportunity to be parents, when they are placing with you the most precious gift possible?  What is something that can possibly represent not only our love for her, but the love that we would share with Benson and the love that he would have for her as well?  We talked about a few different things but ended up settling on a Pandora charm bracelet.  We felt it was the perfect way to be able to continue to give her meaningful gifts (charms) that would represent significant times and milestones in Benson's life.  We ended up starting out with a charm of little hearts that wrap in a circle.  The name of it was "endless love" which seemed very fitting.

Sierra and Ben both LOVE Hello Kitty so we included a cute stuffed animal along with her bracelet

Endless Love

That night we also called Sierra to see how she was doing.  We chatted with her on the phone for a few minutes and just let her know we loved her.  Afterwards we wanted to go home and go straight to bed but it turned out that my parents were out and about and they had the key so we went and met them for dinner with the Stahelis at the Cheesecake Factory.  It was a lot of fun but the best part about it was the drive home.  I don't know if it was the exhaustion or just the stress of the past couple of months.  Maybe it was the feeling looming over us of the fact that the next day was probably the most significant of our lives and at that point we had ZERO control over the outcome, but Ben and I ended up in TEARS from laughing so hard.  He kept trying to say things to me and it was like he couldn't speak English and they were coming out all wrong.  I could not help but laugh and laugh and laugh.  I honestly thought I was going to get in an accident we were laughing so hard.  Talk about losing it!  HAHA.

The next morning we woke up and got ready to go to the hospital while everyone else was getting ready for church.  We knew so many people were praying for us and thinking of us that day and that was so reassuring.  Judy had told us that she would be meeting with Sierra at about 10 AM to sign the papers.  Since Benson was still in the hospital at the NICU placement day was a little different than we had always imagined.  Instead of being in a place where Sierra could physically place him with us we were at the hospital taking care of him while she was at home with her family.  We did our best to act like everything was normal.  We went about taking care of him, changing him, feeding him and just loving on him. I kept checking my phone to see if we had received anything yet.  While we were sitting there two more babies were brought into the NICU right next to us.  They were screaming and being taken care of and it was chaotic but kind of distracted us from our nerves.  Benson slept right through all of it of course.  At 10:58 AM I received the text. The papers were signed!

I know I have said this a lot about this whole experience, but I have no way of ever expressing the feelings of that moment.  That was it!  For the past three months there had been SO much worry and anxiety over that exact moment.  We knew that even when we expressed our excitement about our upcoming adoption, no matter how happy people were for us, there was always the question and thought in the back of their mind "but can't she change her mind?".  We had so many people tell us about failed placements they had heard of or experienced.  Every single second of every single day there had been the underlying realization that it was totally out of our hands.  She could change her mind and decide to parent him or decide to place him with another family and that was her decision.  That is adoption and that is one of the many things that we as hopeful adoptive parents sign up for.  This child is someone else's until she signs those papers and up until that point we had to be ok with the possibility of her changing her mind.  No matter the strong and secure face we put on, no matter how much we had felt peace and contentment during the whole process, we always knew that it could end differently, it could end in heartbreak and that fear had been there every second of every day.  Now, it was gone!! Talk about relief.  I  turned to Ben and said "She signed!" and he said very softly "Really,... it's done?" and we both had tears streaming down our face.  We kissed and looked down at this beautiful little boy who was now ours, nothing was going to change that.  PURE JOY!!!

We did have to sign papers ourselves and we went downstairs to the cafeteria and were able to do so with the notary public as well as the caseworker.  It was surreal!

After months and months of paperwork that felt like it would never end, these were some papers were were ecstatic to fill out and sign.

When we went back upstairs we even felt the difference with the way the nurses treated us.  We were now the parents and all the decisions were up to us.  He was our responsibility and it felt amazing!

That night after leaving the hospital we went over to visit Sierra and give her our gift.  She was happy to see us and we were happy to see her.  She always puts on a strong face although we knew it had been a hard day.  She has been so sweet and thoughtful of us through the whole process and this day was no different.  When we gave her the gift, she said to us "but I didn't get you anything.....".  Um, what do you say to that?  Trying not to get too emotional, I just said "you have given us the most amazing gift possible!".

What a day!!!


Susie said...

Carmen, thank you so much for posting these stories! It is such a blessing to those of reading to see your joy.

melanie said...

OH MY! What an amazing story. Thank you so much for choosing to share it..

Tiffany Johnson said...

I am so glad you are writing all of this down. I truly can feel your emotions by reading this and it's really such a beautiful story. I love the detail and that pictures are priceless. I am so in love with little Benson and I am so grateful he is part of our family. Such a great blessing. You two are amazing parents and I love watching you guys with him. It's a match made in heaven.

The Staheli's said...

Such an awesome day. So glad we got to be a small part of it. ♥

Angela said...

I understand exactly your feelings! Things always work out, I told you:). Now you have a handsome little was worth the wait and roller coaster of emotions huh?! I'm just so happy for you guys.