I always knew I wanted to adopt. While playing dolls with friends when I was younger I would "adopt" my dolls all the time. It never occurred to me not to adopt. The circumstances around adoption were never clear in my mind. As years went on the tiny voice in my head that was telling me to adopt kept getting louder.
I'm going to pause here to state that there are many details surrounding Jackson's adoption that I consider his story, and not my information to share so I apologize for any glaring gaps in the story.
Spring 2014 I learned of Jackson's birth mothers pregnancy. I immediately started praying for him as I knew his road may be rough. I recall having the fleeting thought of, "adopt him," but it was just a tiny whisper in the wind. After he was born it was apparent that he would need help from people other than his birth parents and again I heard a small whisper but truly didn't think that it was feasible so didn't act upon it.
By October of 2014 I could no longer quiet the voice. I started investigating the possibility of interstate fostering and learned that every state has an Interstate Contract for the Placement of Children (ICPC) department to handle interstate issues. You can learn more about ICPC here: http://www.aphsa.org/content/AAICPC/en/resources/ICPCFAQ.html
Once I realized this was a viable option, I contacted my cousin who had been caring for Jackson since birth and asked her if she thought they would let me take Jackson to Texas. Things moved at warp speed after that. The next day I received a phone call from the case worker and at the end of our discussion he stated that Jackson may be able to move to Texas the beginning of December. Within a month I had my home study and background checks completed and started planning for his arrival.
A major difference between adoption and giving birth is the preparation. While there are many unknowns in both scenarios, I feel the unknowns are so much greater with adoption. Because of this much of the preparation is done quietly, without fanfare. Often baby showers aren't held until after the baby arrives, just in case. I realize this is trivial, but baby showers are a time of joy, anticipation, and celebration. All of those emotions still exist for adoption, but for me at least, those were experienced primarily alone.
By this time I had shared with a few friends what was happening but kept my information close to the chest for the most part. Early December I was informed that I could bring Jackson home after Christmas. I drove from Texas to Nevada to celebrate Christmas with my family and to bring Jackson home. His nursery was ready, clothes were purchased, all the necessities were in place.
I had been calling Jackson's case and social worker for weeks trying to get details of what was going to happen transition wise for Jackson. I must say communication with his first case worker was, hands down, one of the most frustrating things. If I didn't catch him when I called them I could almost guarantee I wasn't going to get a returned call. Same for the social worker. It got so bad I started keeping a call log just so I could track how many calls it took to finally talk with someone. Halfway through my drive from Texas I finally got in contact with the social worker. She informed me, in a very emotionless way, that I wouldn't be able to take Jackson back to Texas. That events had taken place that necessitated him staying in Nevada. She said it with the same amount of emotion as one would use while solving a math problem. She ended by saying, you may be able to take him to Texas in April or May. So there I was. Middle of nowhere being dealt a blow that completely changed my perspective on how this was all going to play out.
Up until that time it seemed as though everything was going to be smooth sailing. Nothing is smooth sailing with fostering to adopt.
The silver lining of the trip was that I finally got to snuggle with Jackson and spend time with him. I knew he was meant to be with me already, but actually getting to hold him sealed the deal.
I had scheduled pictures to be taken while I was home thinking they would be a good memorial of our start together. They are, but in a different way.
When I returned to Texas, I immediately packed up all of the clothes I had purchased and shipped them off to Jackson. It was clear he wasn't going to be home in time to wear them.
My prayers kicked into high gear, and I kicked into tiger mom mode. I called his case and social workers 3-4 times per week. I didn't want his case to be placed on the back burner. I wanted it to be made clear that I was fighting for Jackson. Almost two months later my persistence paid off. I was finally informed that Jackson's case would be going to court to determine if he could come to Texas. February 12th Jackson's move to Texas was approved! I flew home February 20th, spent time with Jackson on the 21st and placement was made on the 22nd!
I spent the better part of a week in Las Vegas with Jackson before flying home to San Antonio. What's missing from this story is the gut wrenching heart ache of the family that loved and cared for Jackson since birth. They adore him. They love him with reckless abandon. Their love for him is a big part of why he is such a happy baby to this day. His placement was a mixed bag of emotions. While I was elated to finally be able to take him home, I was fully aware that my
joy was equaled, if not outweighed, by another families heartache. I felt guilty in a way. I knew how much pain they were going through, but also knew that they understood that Jackson and I were meant to be together. That juxtaposition of emotions will continue to be a theme throughout the rest of my journey.
I'll write the rest in part two. My brain needs a break!