We are careful with stories. The intimate stories of how our family came to be are for our children. Anyone who has children who were chosen will understand what that means. Too often, the private details of a child who was adopted and the circumstances of the child’s birth family become the ideal banter of well-intentioned people. We made the decision when we knew we would build our family through adoption that we would not share the intimate details and even as I write these short stories I choose my words carefully. I won’t tell you the private stories that are our children’s stories to tell but I will share the very public outpouring of support my partner, Kim, and I felt when our children came home.
Our older child – Brennan is now ten years. She is funny, smart, loves playing the flute, loves to travel and wants to go to vet school in Paris (she is also interested in dragons, fashion and animals). Brennan was adopted internationally and the months after her birth but before we could bring her home were grueling. At the time Kim and I both worked at a university in a small town and we were surrounded by people who supported us and just wanted that baby home so that the community could wrap its collective arms around her. But those months were tough. We were asked daily by those who cared deeply for us about when Brennan would be coming home. The support was from the heart but the questions only made the wait that much harder. And then – the day came…the call came – it was time to bring her home. It was a Thursday and we had to be on an international flight on Sunday. I ran across campus (I don’t run) and burst into Kim’s office as she was in a meeting telling her “it is time.”
And indeed it was time – time to bring Brennan home. We completed all the paperwork, finalized the adoption and then boarded a plane to come back to the U.S. Exhausted but ecstatic to be bringing our baby home we deplaned, changed a diaper and walked down the long hallway to the terminal. We turned a slight corner and there they were…our people waiting to embrace Brennan and us as a family. One person in particular who was waiting – was Evan. At the time he was a little over two years old and he got out of the stroller, walked over to Kim and Brennan. Kim knelt down so that Brennan (in the carrier) and Evan could be eye to eye. Evan looked at her and said “baby Brennan we wait long time for you.” Indeed we did wait a long time but the wait was worth it. Brennan is our child forever and always.
Sanibel is our six year old. She is vivacious, chatty, smart and so very caring. Sanibel was adopted domestically and we had custody of her within hours of her birth. Again, we were diligent to not share details about Sanibel’s birth family or even where she was born. Instead, we dropped Brennan off at childcare the morning of Sanibel’s birth and told the teachers to contact us on our cell phones if they needed us as we would be at a hospital visiting our new baby. Sanibel looked like one of those tiny, perfect baby dolls when we got to the hospital (with an emphasis on tiny). She wasn’t quite five pounds but appeared healthy otherwise – just tiny. We held her, talked about a name, noted how she looked like Brennan although they are not biologically related and we talked about how we wouldn’t share her story – we would tell her everything and then she could decide what she would tell others.
We stayed with her during the day that day and the next, and were told on day three we could bring her home. On day three we called the childcare center to let them know Brennan wouldn’t be in as we would be picking up Sanibel (as a family) and bringing her home. Right after we made that call the phone rang – it was a nurse at the hospital letting us know that Sanibel was in trouble and we needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. We dropped a confused Brennan off at childcare and raced to the hospital – all we knew was that Sanibel had stopped breathing and eating and had been tubed in the night to get fluids in her. The next ten days were a blur as we rallied around Sanibel in the NICU but we didn’t rally alone. Suddenly the detail of where she was born was not something we would keep a secret – we needed our people. Our parents and friends surrounded Kim and me – taking turns with us at the hospital, taking care of Brennan or coming to the house to stay with us after Sanibel came home. We needed them and they were there….just as they had been at the airport when Brennan came home.
Being surrounded by family and friends as we made our family through adoption has been a gift. Adoption is not for the weak – and the best advice we received when we started the process was that there is little fair about the process. But what is fair – beyond fair is that we have the children who were meant to be our children. And we have the support of our family and friends. We are not naïve enough to believe that it will always be utopic. When it is rocky and issues connected to adoption arise we will meet all of the challenges with honesty, candor and thoughtfulness because our daughters are our daughters and when we adopted them we made promises to them….”you are strong, our family is strong, and we can get through anything as long as we are together.”
We love you Brennan and Sanibel –
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