Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our Adoption Story Part II

At 33 weeks Kat started having contractions as a result of a urinary track infection and dehydration.  She was hospitalized briefly.  Before she went home, I asked if we could tour the NICU in case the babies would need to be there.  The babies there were so tiny and so sick.  Kat was determined not to deliver early.  At the same time she was physically miserable.  Her doctor scheduled her for an induction on March 13, 2008.  The evening before Kat was to be induced we took Kat and Kristen out for dinner.  It was a nice evening.

We picked Kat up early the next morning.  She was induced but labor didn’t start until early afternoon.  Both Kevin and I were with Kat through the day. Kevin struggled with what his place was.  He came in and out of the room awkwardly.  Kat also had her mom and sister and best friend there as well.  When it was time to deliver the babies, she was moved to the C section room in case one became necessary, which we were told was standard procedure with twins.  Kevin and I got to put on scrubs and Kat’s sister came as well.   I have had the privilege of being in the delivery room with many of the women I worked with.  I have given birth four times.  It was a totally different experience when it was our babies I was watching be born.  Kat was so strong but when the time came closer to deliver I could clearly see the pain on her face anticipating the grief she would soon feel.  Kat's sister and I coached Kat through delivery.  When it came time for Kat to deliver, it hit me that my babies were about to be born.  This whole experience has been surreal.  I was a jumbled mess of emotion at that moment(and many other times as well).  Rya was born first.  I can’t explain the emotions I felt at that moment.  I was excited, nervous, happy, sad for Kat and very hopeful that things would work out.  I was overwhelmed by what was occurring.  I never imagined that making a choice to reach out to someone would result in this day.  Kevin was able to cut her umbilical cord and went with Rya to the warmer.  Of course the first thing he did was take pictures of her feet(because he's a foot and ankle doctor)!  Kat’s contractions stopped so they had to re-start the pitoccin.  When it was time to push Roman out, his placenta was coming before him.  The doctor very calmly asked if his friend Bob was around.  I later realized he was looking for anesthesia to be nearby in case of an emergency c section. I so appreciated his calm demeanor that did not alert us to his concern.   He was able to hold the placenta and push it up so Roman could come first.  Roman was born 21 minutes after Rya.  This time I was able to cut the cord.  How awesome!

Kat’s mom and grandma and Kristen were there shortly after the babies were born.  I will never forget that Kat’s mom looked at me and said "Congratulations".  I was struck by how incredibly hard and very selfless that word was.  Here was grandma telling me, a virtual stranger congratulations on the birth of her grandbabies!  Wow!  There was so much emotion in that room.  That and a whole lot of love.

It would be 48 hours before Kat could sign the adoption papers.  We knew she could still change her mind but I chose to fully fall in love with them and then deal with the consequences later should she not sign. 

It is policy that in an adoption the hospital will provide a room for the adoptive parents to care for the babies if that is the wish of the mom.  There were so many babies born that day that there were no rooms available for us.  Kat offered for us to stay in her room with her.  This is definitely not common in an adoption!  There were so many things about this adoption that were unusual.  Because of this, Kevin went home at night and I stayed.  Kat let me do all of the baby care although she spent a great deal of time holding and loving them.   I remember those first two nights I was SO tired and I was doing all of the care by myself.  I was a little afraid of what I’d gotten myself into.  Two babies are definitely harder than one baby, plus I was 10 years older than the last time I’d cared for a newborn! 

The other children came to the hospital to meet the babies.  I didn't know what to expect.  The moment they saw the babies they all burst into happy tears!  They said "these are our babies!"  They held them and smothered them with kisses.  It is still such a joyful family memory!
The family and Chantel (who's like family)meeting the babies 
Sterling doing double duty
Spencer bonding with Rya
Sweet Linnea
Teary-eyed happy Hannah

During the time we had together in the hospital,  Kat and I talked a lot.  We’d both cry and honestly, it was emotionally exhausting.  When it came time for her to sign the papers, Kevin and I were in the waiting room.  The social worker came out and said that Kat had requested that I be there with her when she signed the papers.  This is not something that happens ever in an adoption.  It was gut wrenching to watch her sobbing as she signed her legal right to be Rya and Roman’s mom away.  I ached for her.

The whole thing drained me emotionally. Kevin could not possibly understand what it was like for me.  I got angry at him for leaving me at the hospital alone to care for both Kat and the babies.  I needed a place to release all of the emotions of the past 3 days and he ended up being my target.  I later had to apologize to him because we were all doing the best we could during this time. He didn't have the experience I had with adoption and he just didn't know his place and this was so out of his realm of comfort.  I had expected things of him without communicating.  Poor guy, he was struggling too with all that was happening.

 I was grieving for Kat.  I was happy for us. I felt guilty for being happy when she was so sad.  

After the papers were signed, Kat had requested a few hours alone with the babies.  Again, this was unusual.  Typically after the papers are signed, the adoptive parents take the baby and she may not see them again while in the hospital.  There are no hard and fast rules to follow, just what is "typical".  I was so ready to have time alone with Kevin and the babies.  I had promised to always respect Kat as their mom and to do whatever I could to lessen her grief.  So we left the hospital and went out for lunch.  I don’t think we really talked.  It was just so much to process. We held hands and held each other but sat in silence.  There are some moments when there are no words necessary.

We had several hours in the hospital alone with Rya and Roman after Kat left.  When we went home, the kids were waiting with signs welcoming the babies.  That night was so wonderful.  I looked around at my 6 kids and was very happy and fulfilled.  The kids have been so fabulous with the babies.  Spencer and Hannah are like 2nd parents.  There is nothing they won’t do for them.  I was surprised to see Spencer so willing to feed and change diapers.  Hannah often kept the babies in her room overnight so we could sleep.  Sterling will do anything from change dirty diapers to lay with them at nap time.  Linnea is sometimes the one they cry for when they are hurt or in trouble.  They are very blessed to have such awesome siblings and I am proud of them.  They have had to deal with many changes in our life resulting from the adoption.  Linnea was no longer the baby, we couldn't just leave for the day and go to the movies, shopping and our to eat like we used to, there's more noise, stress and busyness in our home.  It hasn't been easy, it kind of rock all of our worlds for a while!   Having so much help from the kids has been a blessing to the parents who had aged quite a bit since Linnea was born! 

We committed to have an open adoption.  Many people have asked us how or why we are willing to do that.  I can’t imagine not having an open adoption.  Kat has given us an incredible gift.  I want her to know the babies and for them to know her.  One of the things we talked about before the babies were born was how difficult it may be to live in the same small town where we could potentially run into each other just about anywhere.  Most of our visits are planned and in our home, but we often see each other at church or at the elementary school.  We leave it up to her to chose to acknowledge us or not.  Sometimes she says hi and keeps walking, other times she will stop and talk and hold the babies.  We try to respect her needs.  We have a bond that will last forever.  She gave birth to the babies.  They look like her.  Rya’s personality reminds me of Kat.  We are entrusted to raise them.  She’s the person I want to call when they do something new because I know she gets as excited about it as I do!  

Ty is the babies’ birthfather.  I had only met him once a very long time ago.  I know he loves the babies.  He and Kat have had an on and off relationship for many years.  On May 1, 2009 when the babies were 13 months old, we were able to meet Ty and his sister Chisty.  I introduced myself to him and said “This is Rya and she looks just like you”.  She really does!  He reached out to hold her and she turned away.  Rya has a hard time warming to new people.  I pointed to Roman and said that he’d let him hold him.  He scooped up Roman and said “Hi little guy, I have pictures of you on my wall.”  He is a big guy and has a rough exterior and lifestyle.  He was not at all what I had imagined he would be.  He was tender with the babies and nice to both Kevin and I.  He took pictures of the babies and seemed to enjoy meeting them.  We were so glad he agreed to meet with us.  We have met with him several times since and he is amazing with them.  He talks to them, nurtures them and always thanks us for letting him see them.  When we do visits we always invite Hallie who was Kat's first child she placed for adoption. Kat's sister and her husband and 3 children are usually there along with grandma and sometimes great grandma  Kristy, Hope, Rya and Roman are all full siblings.  They all look so much alike.  I often show their pictures to Rya/Roman and say there's Hallie, she looks like you.  

Kristen loves the babies.  She has been through a lot in her short life.  She runs to the babies when she sees us and takes them and shows them to people exclaiming, “This is my baby brother and sister!”  We feel it’s our job to help her in any way we can through her grief. 

Over two years have passed since we adopted the babies.  I am so overwhelmed with many emotions.  Here’s what I know.  God loves me!  I am so blessed!  Life doesn’t always go the way we plan for it to go, but God’s way is best!  There is so much joy in our family.  Even during difficult times we stick together.  Our focus is on doing our best with God's help and the help of the people in our "village" to raise our 6 children to know and love Him.  Someone recently asked my son Sterling “what if you hadn’t adopted the babies?”  He was quick to respond “Then we wouldn’t be the Linds!” 

We had lived in Indiana for 13 years.  We felt very clearly when we moved here that it was where God wanted us. Over the years we didn’t know why.  We feel maybe were there because of Rya and Roman.  Recently we were given the opportunity to move back home to Minnesota where our families live.  We don’t think it is a coincidence.  We moved to Minnesota in July 2009.  We try to get back to Indiana as often as we can to continue our relationship with what we now consider to be our extended family.  

I am forever changed by this experience. 
Roman today
Rya today

***Kat had another baby Ellie Rene on April 16, 2009 whom she is parenting.


ariyana9501 said...

I love this so much Gina.....thanks for sharing your journey! I love you!

Amydeanne said...

well you've got me all choked up! What a beautiful testimony for adoption. Thanks for sharing!

Ashley said...

This brought tears to my eyes! I have loved reading your story! I love that you have such a great relationship with the birth parents. So many people are afraid of having a relationship with the birth parents, but stories like yours show that it can be such a beautiful thing! And your sweet babies are so lucky to have so many people around them that love them!

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