Monday, July 7, 2008

KC's Journey

People tease us that just when life gets calm, we have to go and muddy the waters by adopting again. It probably looks that way to others, but I don't think we have an inherant need for chaos. We do have a deep love for kids and a desire for a large family and I think when we get to that place where we feel the family as a whole is ready, we jump in again. It wasn't that we didn't love the kids we had. We were certainly busy with Chet and Robbie and our frequent visits with Fiona.

But part of us always wanted a baby. Chet was supposed to be that baby, and we had placement at 6 weeks. But he was a toddler by the time all the paperwork between India and the US took place and though we loved him dearly, not a baby. I researched different agencies and found Adoption Link in Chicago IL. The costs were not too astronomical and the people seemed very friendly when we called. There was a mandatory tele-class on transracial families and racial sensitivity. I remember thinking that we so didn't need that because we had all ready completed MAPP training for Robbie. Wrong! The issues covered were not the same, and at a much deeper level. I was at the conclusion of the course both more afraid and more prepared for the racial issues that our children would face than I had been before.

We only needed to update our homestudy because the existing one was not over a year old. We found Jewish Family Services of Metrowest in Framingham and began that process with Dale, our social worker there. We "clicked" with Dale instantly. Our sessions felt more like chatting with a close friend than the kind of relationship I had experienced with any previous home study.
In short order our homestudy was updated, our birth mother letter was written and all our documents shipped to IL. The waiting began and though it seemed long, we were busy with life and time passed quickly.

Shortly before Kirsty's birthday in February we received a call. We had been matched with a birth mother. She was due in late May by C section. We were so excited. The fact that she was having a C section seemed to make it so much easier to plan. We decided our drive to Chicago could double as a vacation which would enable us to take Robbie to Niagara Falls. We would leave Chet home to take care of the dog and cook ahead for him so that he would also be all set.

As in life and always in all things adoption--things change! Patriots Day of 2004 we were in Boston at a family event for our company. After a day of baseball and socializing we came home to find many MANY messages from our agency in Chicago. We called back. "congratulations, you have a boy," she said. We knew that it was a boy as the mom had an ultrasound earlier. "No, " the worker continues, "you don't understand. You have a baby boy NOW! He was born the 17th! You need to come to Chicago now." We had 36 hours to get to Chicago and probably spent the first hour walking in circles with silly grins on our faces. We had a son! We had a baby boy waiting for us in the midwest! Somehow we packed and Robbie Kirsty and I left early in the morning (6 a.m.) for the long drive. We left Chet home with food ideas but not premade food. There wasn't time and we didn't know how long we would be gone. We would need to stay in Chicago until the interstate compact was approved. The first night we stopped in Sandusky Ohio, tired to the bone. Almost too tired to eat, we somehow managed to scarf down our burgers. The hotel had a jacuzzi tub and a swimming pool. We made sure Rob got to try both of them. At 7 years old, he was not happy that plans had changed and the vacation aspect of the trip was no longer viable.

The next day we drove to Chicago, went to the agency and did some paperwork, checked into our hotel and went to the hospital. We saw our son for the first time. A very very tiny little guy. He was premature and in the NICU there. We had to have a 6 hour training session in how to care for him before he could be released into our care. Additionally he had an erratic heart beat the night before and needed another EKG before he could be discharged. We did our training session with poor Robbie sitting right outside the NICU peeking in the window. He wasn't allowed in because of the risk to such fragile newborns. But I worried about him too. The fact that the ward was locked was not enough to ease my peace of mind. We were far from home and Robbie was only 7 and not any too happy about being in a strange place with people he did not know.

Still we learned how to feed our little guy, how to change and bathe him, how important it was to make sure he was not exposed to illness and more. The more we were trained the more scared I got. How were we going to take care of this tiny little package and nurture him into a robust life? He was so tiny he wasn't as long as my forearm. He didn't have eyebrows yet. As a friend later put it, he wasn't done cooking yet! Filled with joy and fear in equal parts we brought him home to the Wright Inn in Chicago and waited for the interstate compact to go through.

The hotel was lovely and we slept in a Murphy Bed which Kirsty and I thought was just hte coolest thing in the world. The suite was small but we got by with minimal in suite cooking. Rob had his own bedroom. We did some school work every day and then he and i would play baseball at the park or walk to the movie theater etc.

KC is named for his three strong men in our family. There are two Kenneths. The first is my grandfather who was a huge and important influence in my life. He would have loved our kids. The second Kenneth is my mom's second husband. Ken has been a wonderful grampa to all the children and is especially beloved to KC. Carl is Kirsty's dad's middle name. More of a father to me than my own biological father, we wanted to honor him as well. However Kenneth Carl is a mouthful, especially when one is peanut sized and thus KC became his nickname. We found out later that this was Grampa Ken's nick name as well when he was little. (his middle name began with C as well but was not Carl)

KC was a contented baby most of the time. He didn't cry excessively, slept a lot and ate well. We did notice that he seemed wheezy after eating and that he spit up excessively but Drs told us that also this could be a result of prematurity and might be outgrown.

We went to court in Chicago and met Michelle Hughes, our adoption attorney. Michelle had done a segment of the teleclass that we took and we felt like we were meeting a friend. The court was daunting and the system for adoption slightly differnet than in our home state. It was good to know that she was watching things carefully. I was worried that we would get home and think everything was all set and then find out something wasn't done that should have been.

Meanwhile, we waited for the IPC to clear and worried about Chet. He wasn't doing well at home on his own. Without frequent prompts and a consistant structure, his ability to function breaks down. We received a long distance call from the local library. He had passed out there because he had forgotten to eat. We had arranged times we would check in by phone. He would forget to be near the phone and we had to have a friend go and bang on the door and rouse him and have him call us. I felt very helpless knowing that I was in Chicago with a new baby and my technically nearly adult son was spiralling downward at home.

When the call came that our IPC had cleared, we packed immediately. We had supper at left that very night. Stopping every two hours to feed KC and check his diaper, we drove 20 hours straight from Chicago to our home. Kirsty consented to let me drive for about 3 hours while she slept but most of the driving fell to her. My job consisted of watching route signs, keeping an eye on Rob and checking to make sure KC's head hadn't flopped forward in the car seat because it could cut off his airway. He was so tiny that we had rolled up receiving blankets and towels trying to prop him in place in the car seat but it was a far from perfect situation.

We got home and found that the house was filthy. Chet had not only been unable to take care of himself but had not done normal things like taking out the trash. The kitchen floor was a mess because the dog had run around with muddy feat and he hadn't wiped it up. Kirsty crashed right away, going to sleep in our bed with KC near by. I felt a deep need to restore order to the house first so I cleaned and did wash til things resembled the type of home I am more used to.

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