We were very lucky to be in a truly wonderful hotel. We stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn (I think . . . it is amazing to me that it hasn't been that long and yet I can't honestly remember the hotel name!) Because of the size of our family and Chet's autism, we had the penthouse suite, 2 bedrooms, a kitchenette a living room and bath. It was spacious by hotel standards and we were most grateful. Chet does not do well in small spaces and this was really the minimum size he could function in. the hotel also offered complimentary breakfasts daily and also suppers on occasion. We were really able to keep costs down by eating in the lobby at their offerings and having a small supply of easily prepared items that we cooked in our suite.
Elisabeth was a fretful baby from the outset. Likely a combination of her drug exposure in utero (mom used consistantly through her pregnancy) and a lactose intolerance. She was very sensitive to noises and easily wakened from her restless sleeps. We spent our days holding her, keeping KC and Rob occupied and talking with our adoption attorney and our MA agency that did the homestudy and our Chicago agency that did the placement. Kirsty did most of the phone work which I was grateful for. I worried that we would not be home in time for Christmas. We hadn't thought about Yule in the frenzy of leaving and flying to Chicago. We had presents at home, not even wrapped, but they were there. What would we do if we were in a hotel over Christmas with no gifts on the morning for the boys. KC had just started to learn about Santa, Rob was a true believer still--this was hugely worrying to us.
Our Chicago agency had not filled out our names properly on the paperwork our lawyer needed and this was a glitch. We did finally get our court hearing, a rainy chilly day as only the windy city can offer up. But we were on cloud 9. The court hearing would initiate the proceedings that would, roughly 6 months later, make Elisabeth ours forever. It has always felt to me like setting a stone into a setting somehow, as a jeweler does when he spies the perfect gem. A promise of permanancy. Lissa wore a darling red velvet dress and we have pictures of all of us with the court official and of course of Lissa in our arms showing off her adoption dress. In every adoption picture Rob looks blank. The same thing happened when we went to court for KC as well. I wonder if something happened in his past that makes courts scary. I don't know if the kids attended any of the hearings surrounding termination of rights in his family, but I do know that he has a real deer in the headlights look in the pictures. And yet, I know he loves his sister and brother. He is a very gentle person with young children, especially infants. In fact he was the first person Lissa gave that gassy, baby smile to when we were still in the hotel room in Chicago. I have a great picture of that and it is a better benchmark for how he was during the time we were in Chicago.
Once the court process was over the next hurdle was the approval of the interstate compact. Massachusetts is known to be a state that has a myriad of issues surrounding IPCs. We knew from our adoption of KC that this could be difficult. We cautioned our agency in Chicago to please make sure that they did everything necessary and said that our agency in MA would be happy to facilitate and go over the way things needed to be submitted. I pleaded that we wanted to be home for Christmas (we were now at 12/21 or so here). Suddenly our warm and friendly agency in Chicago was less so. They said we should be prepared to stay however long it took and to remember that if we left before the IPC was approved that we could lose our daughter forever. We knew this; we were not trying to skip out in the night early. We were just asking for help. Feeling increasingly alarmed we called our agency in MA and explained our problems.