Sunday, November 2, 2008

Part II of the Beginning

Here's where we left off....Monday morning my support worker called to ask if we wanted a 14 month boy for a pre-adopt placement that was low legal risk, meaning the social worker was pretty sure we would be able to adopt him. After saying yes, yes, yes, and hanging up with the social worker, I called Dave to tell him to get home now cause we had some shopping to do. Then I called my mom and said, "are you ready to be a grandma?" To which she replied "heck no", but didn't really have a choice. She made plans to come up that week to visit and made me promise to email pictures as soon as he gets in the door. Funny how I remember every detail of these first moments. Then I attempted to call my best friend in IN about 50 times, but she was otherwise occupied doing something far less important than talking to me about becoming a parent in two days. And she continued to do whatever she was doing, I don't know, working or something (I know, how dare she, right?) for, like, the next 4 hours. Way to be a friend Devan, you're supposed to be available for me all the time! Eventually she called me back while we were shopping and was in total shock about everything happening so fast. She also made plans to visit, which required flying from several states away so I guess she's an okay friend. I also called my work, where I was a contracting as a massage therapist, and told them I would be taking a couple weeks off. Well, a couple weeks turned into a couple months which turned into quitting my job. Sidenote: now I work part-time as a recruiter for foster and adoptive parents so it worked out for the best.

Dave came home from work early and we went to Target, Walmart, Babies 'R Us, Toys 'R Us, and anywhere else we could drop about a grand on baby stuff. I've never been so happy to buy diapers (that faded quickly). I think I was on a high that I'll never experience again. Of course, it will be similar with our second child but we'll have a bit of a distraction with Mateo. Then we looked at about fifty thousand baby names. Of course we had a running list of names we liked previously to hearing about our son, but none of them seemed to fit a puerto rican african american little boy. After spending hours upon hours looking at all sorts of hispanic names, we narrowed it down to two. Gabriel and Mateo. We picked Mateo (despite some second guesses due to my sudden realization that Mateo sounds a lot like potato) because we liked the nickname "Te" and also because it means "gift from God" in some weird way having to do with early Latin translation of the root word of something or other.

There were a couple reasons we decided to change his name. One, because he was never called his birth name, Aurelio. He had been called a different name in each foster placement. Two, the name given to him was his birth mother's boyfriend at the time, who DNA testing later revealed was not his birth father, so there wasn't much significance there. And three, Aurelio would have been hard for other kids and people to pronounce. But we did keep it as his middle name.

So, we decided on a name and then....we waited. For 48 hours to be exact. We didn't sleep Monday or Tuesday night. On Tuesday, Mateo's social worker, who is a very pleasant woman and completely in love with Mateo, came over to the house to show us his file and picture and tell us all about him. I don't think I stopped smiling the entire night. We tried to enjoy the last moment's we had as just us, but we couldn't stop talking or thinking about our son. Wednesday afternoon could not come soon enough.

And of course, the social worker was late bringing him over. I sat on the front stairs wondering out loud what was going on, how could she be late, what if something happened, what if the other family wouldn't give him to her, and generally driving Dave crazy right up to the moment when she pulled into the driveway. When she opened the car door and said, "Come meet your son," I almost lost it, but pulled myself together as not to create a scary crying lady first impression on my son.

I can vividly remember my first glance at my son and what he felt like to hold, and now I'm starting crying thinking about it. He was tiny, that's all I could think about at first. He was about the size of a 10 month old. He had a big smile but I noticed the scar a lot because I wasn't used to it. His skin was beautiful, he had all ten fingers and toes, and soft curly brown hair. He wasn't shy, he came right to me when the social worker took him out of the car. He felt so light, like carrying a doll. I just wanted to hug him and squeeze him and love him. But at the same time, it was kind of weird that this lady was handing me a complete stranger that I was supposed to love and take care of forever. It's much different than giving birth. Mateo already had an entire year's worth of history and personality that we had to get to know. And, of course, the big fact that I was now the 4th mother Mateo had in his 14 months of life. Something that was going to effect us far more than we thought in that moment.

So, with Mateo in my arms, his social worker said goodbye and drove away leaving us with this little person we have no idea what to do with. He was perfect the first few days and nights. He went to bed early without any problems. He wasn't walking, but could crawl and pull to standing. He couldn't feed himself or say any words, but he was very friendly and social. He made us laugh and seemed like a perfect, happy little boy, and we couldn't understand why anyone would give him back. Well, little did we know in those innocent moments, what monster lay beneath the surface (so to speak, although I still call him my little monster, but mostly cause he's really loud.).

Dave and I didn't sleep the first week. This is what the first few nights sounded like.

Do you think he's still alive?


Like, you don't think he could've just stopped breathing or something, right?

I don't know. Does that happen?

All the time. I read it in a magazine.

Well, turn the monitor up. See? He's snoring. I think it's okay.

But I wanna play with him.

Good point. Let's wake him up.

For the first few weeks I was literally running on adrenaline and caffeine. All I can say is thank God for Dunkin Donuts coffee coolattas. I may have single-handedly financed the new bathroom renovations at my local Dunkin Donuts solely on coffee purchases made by my husband and I. Actually, one of the first things Mateo communicated was the understanding that the Dunkin Donuts logo meant munchkins. I never realized a child so young could spot every Dunkin Donuts store anywhere we drove, whether he had been there or not.

After putting him to bed the first night, we sent an email out to all our friends and family with 3 pictures attached. We avoided taking Mateo out to meet people or having people at the house because we needed to bond with him and also assure him we were his parents so he could begin to trust and depend on us. This, as it turns out, was a difficult process. But I had an appointment for a bridal party that I promised I would do on Friday morning because they couldn't get anyone to cover. So my mom came to stay with Mateo for a couple hours while I went into work. I was so so upset about this. Mateo was a pleasant child but not affectionate or cuddly at all. He didn't want to be held or hugged and would make sure to face outward when we carried him. I'll talk more about this and other attachment issues in my next post. But when my mom came over, he got very clingy to me. He laid his head on my chest for the first time and held onto my shirt with his hands like a little monkey. He didn't look scared because he smiled at my mom, he just didn't want the one person he was getting to know to leave. But what he must have been thinking and feeling at that time just breaks my heart. My mom was almost crying watching me with him. I didn't want to leave him. Not even just for a couple hours. My mom assured me that he wouldn't remember and it wouldn't ruin every chance of attachment we had and that he would be napping most of the time anyway. He didn't even cry or anything when I left. Even still, I cried like a baby the whole ride to work. Just knowing my poor baby had his world turned upside down and now I was supposed to be his new mom and I was leaving him already. That was the first time I cried for my son.

I think at this time, we knew there would be a tough adjustment period for Mateo and us to deal with. But we definitely didn't know the long, long journey that lay ahead of us. And things would begin to change the very next week. be continued....

I feel so bad for my little guy when I look at these photos and think
about what he must have been feeling

first photo with Mommy (first morning with us)

first photo with Daddy (first evening with us)


Peace said...

Oh, I am loving reading this, and most especially because today I will be picking up my 2 little ones at the airport!!! A 4 year old girl, and a 10 month old boy. So, you see, your story is very important to me right now. Hope you don't mind if I comment to you periodically, and throw in a question or two. Okay, I am off to begin preparations for the day. God Bless!!!

J-momma said...

of course i don't mind. that's why i keep this blog and i'm telling my story. hopefully to inspire people. i will answer any questions you have to the best of my ability. good luck with the kids! you'll have your hands full!

Rachel said...

How sweet! I can't imagine all the emotions running through your household during this time. Mateo looks like such a little sweetheart. Of course, I haven't read about the monster phase yet :)