Josh. Cali. McKallister. Oakland. Quincy. Camden. Murphy.


We didn't give you the gift of LIFE,
life gave us the gift of YOU.
The week of May 12, a neighbor told me that she met a Mom, Tiffany, that was thinking about giving her child up for adoption and she had told her a little about our family. She explained that Tiffany was interviewing a lot of couples to find the right fit for her baby and herself and asked if I would be willing to meet with her. Of course I said yes!
May 17 she called me up and asked if just her and I could go out for ice cream and chat. She just wanted us girls to meet so I told her I'd pick her up. After getting her address, pieces started to fit together because of how close it was to my parents. Tiffany was staying at her boyfriend, Ryan's, house with his parents. His parents were friends with my Grandparents, my parents had gone on double dates and grown up with his older sister and he grew up with my Aunts and Uncles!
Before I met with her, I had decided that I was going to be 100% honest with everything I felt and thought. I wanted a birth mom to select our family based on who I really was. I met Ryan briefly but we were able to chat enough that I knew I liked him. Then the two of us girls went and got Jamba Juice, and just sat in their lobby chatting and laughing. I felt so comfortable with her and the two of us were very open with each other. She had a notebook full of questions and would jot down the answers I gave her. It felt like a really weird work interview!
Obviously some of the questions were personal and while I wanted her to know those answers, I felt so vulnerable. It was a very weird feeling to put my life to the test. To give someone explanations of what type of Mother I was, how I planned to raise my children, different views I had. It was very draining, even though we were getting along. We talked about her family and situation and I started to love this person I had just met. She was doing such a selfless thing because of her place in life. As the smoothie shack was getting ready to close, we were still talking so we walked across to a food store. We bought some treats for her older children, that live with their Dad and then decided to head home.
I'll never forget when we pulled in to the driveway and the baby started kicking. She grabbed my hand immediately and let me feel. It was so emotional for me, such an exciting experience to feel this sweet baby- who I didn't even know if I'd actually get the chance to meet. She wasn't due for another 6 weeks, wasn't sure what she was having or when her due date was and I knew there were at least 10 other couples that had met with her, so when I got to my parents house to meet Josh, I just sobbed.
My emotions were depleted. A lot of thoughts went through my head, wondering if I said the right thing or answered how she wanted me to. What if she didn't like me? Or worse, what if she didn't like me as a Mom?
The next morning, Saturday, I got an email from another birth mom who had found and followed our adoption blog. This is a story for another day but plays into how this all worked out. Long story short, we ended up having the sweetest little girl in our home for 24 hours, before the Mom changed her mind and decided to give raising this little girl another chance. My heart had shattered. We had already been scammed twice, and now had a failed adoption. I wasn't sure this process could work. Or that my heart was ready for this type of rejection.
The day we took our sweetheart back to her Mom, Tiffany had called me multiple times. I couldn't answer. I was going through so much pain and not knowing why she was calling was unnerving. A lot of factors had played into the previous possibilities of adoption not going through and so I talked to my caseworker a lot over the last couple of days (Ok, I talked to her almost daily over the 5 months since we had been approved). I was very close to her and relied on her more than I should have to explain the feelings I was having, what to do next, how to handle this rejection I was feeling.
After 2 days, I realized I had to face what Tiffany was calling to tell me. No matter how much it hurt, I had to let her in. But what she said caused such great, sudden surprise, I just sat there. "Cali, I had the baby on Sunday! It's a little boy and I want you guys to be his parents." It was that simple in her mind. She hadn't yet met Josh and she knew that she wanted us. I don't remember how most of the conversation went but lacking the power to speak coherently all I said was "really?!"

We hung up so I could call Josh but I actually first called my caseworker, Amber. I just cried to her. Asking her to explain why I wasn't feeling the excitement I should. I felt guilty that she was my first call, rather than my husband but I needed help. As a friend, she told me that in 5 months time we had been scammed twice and just had a failed adoption. Now having lost 2 children, I'll never forget when she said that it is comparable to having lost children and I hadn't had the proper time to mourn any sort of loss. I was protecting my heart by not allowing this news to touch it.

Tiffany called back so I hung up with her. She explained that the baby boy was in the NICU and would be anywhere between 2-6 weeks, just depending on how quickly his lungs developed. Right up front she explained that she wouldn't sign any papers until he was released from the NICU because she wanted to be able to have the power to see him, however, she wanted me to have the other NICU bracelet that would give me access to see him anytime I wanted without her being present.

Josh met Tiffany the same day we met Camden. Now, you all know the outcome of this situation...beyond happiness. But for the 3 weeks he was in the NICU, it was a waiting game. She had never told us that she wasn't going to sign but there is always that possibility. It was hard for Josh to get attached. He wanted to stay strong for me if this didn't work out. But this little baby had me at first glance. The first time I held him, he looked at me with those big eyes and I prayed that he would one day call me his Mom.

Camden had been born on May 19th, weighing in at 4 lbs. 10 oz. and was 17 inches long. He was on a feeding tube and oxygen, constantly monitored by a heart monitor and always wrapped up to look just like a burrito... size and all. I would go in pretty regularly but also wasn't going in as much as I wanted to, or as much as I would have if I knew for 100% certain that she was going to sign the papers. I knew his feeding times so would plan accordingly. I was able to change his diaper and dress him when I was there. As any Mom, I started noticing when he wanted something, or something was bother him. He always calmed down when he heard my voice and one nurse told me that his oxygen and heart rate charts always looked better when I was there. I wanted this. I wanted to be his Mom. I felt like I was his Mom, the way we looked at each other, how he fit in my arms. It all felt right. But I had that feeling when we had our sweet girl for the 24 hours so my mind played tricks on me.

She wanted us there when her sons and Ryan's daughters met Camden for the first time, so that they could meet us and have a better understanding of what was going on. They couldn't go in to the NICU but they arranged to bring him to the window and the kids could look at him. We met her ex-husband and her Aunt, who asked us a lot about who we were. What we believed, what we thought of the situation and we could tell she wanted to get the best feel of us possible. For that we were appreciative. We knew she cared about him and about Tiffany and we admired her passion.

Family members came with us to the NICU and came in one at a time to meet him. He looked so small in everyone's arms but I loved seeing my entire family love him, all feeling like he would be ours. My Mom visited with me the most since Josh kept his distance and I learned pretty quick where my love for all children come from.

As Camden ate more of his bottle, he was able to have the feeding tube out. As his oxygen levels increased, he was able to be off oxygen more and more. And as his weight increased, the prospect of coming home was more likely.

Tiffany and I would run into each other periodically at the hospital over the next few weeks, but I would give her the time with him and just visit with her. We would stay in touch over the phone and any updates she would get, she would call and give me. She finally asked what we were thinking of naming him and gave the hospital permission to call him that (they had just been calling him baby boy). The day they put his name on his NICU crib was the day I believed this may actually happen. Camden could actually belong to us legally as much as he belonged in my mind and heart.

As it got closer to his release date we were all in touch a lot. On one of his potential release dates both of our case workers met with us out in the waiting room of the NICU to sign papers. Because Tiffany and her ex-husband's divorce had not gone through, he legally had to sign the release papers. He was there and was willing to sign over to us. Ryan signed but as Tiffany had previously explained to me, she was not going to sign until he was released. We were given permission by the NICU to have all 4 of us together with Camden and shared some very tender moments.

There were 4 different occasions that we thought Camden would be released from the hospital, but due to a rough night or his oxygen dropping for too long at a time, he would have to stay in for another 24 hour monitoring. There were multiple times that we thought Tiffany would meet with us to sign the papers but she wouldn't show. Despite this, we did our CPR training and were trained how to use oxygen and the home monitors. Because he was under 5 pounds when he was released he had to go through the "car seat challenge", to make sure he could keep his oxygen up while in the car seat for one hour. We bought one and brought it in, they adjusted it and then he sat...The first time he didn't pass. 

We hadn't told Oakland anything about Camden. I didn't want her to have the heartache of losing another sibling. She had a hard time already understanding how anything baby oriented worked. But by now, Oakland had figured out something was going on and was obviously paying attention to conversations that I had no idea she was even within ear shot of and asked to see the baby we were talking about. We didn't give her too many details but did want her to see him in the hospital and just told her that he was a very special baby.

We would try the car seat challenge in another 24 hours, so our case workers were now trying to arrange a time to sign the papers for his adoption to be official. We had decided to meet right after his next challenge and talked about the possibility of signing, even if he didn't pass since we knew his release would be within days. While we were still arranging this, I received a text that changed everything. "She signed!!!"

What?! My heart skipped a beat but of course I replied, "Signed? As in, she scheduled a date to sign?"
Amber wrote back, "Signed, as in Camden is yours! Now get down here and sign your side of the papers asap!"

I can not explain this feeling. It had come as a shock, even though it shouldn't have. I was nervous but my energy level shot through the roof! I had another baby boy!!! I called Josh and we had the same conversation I had moments ago with Amber, "Signed hospital paperwork?" No...he is OURS.

Camden was ours. The rest was smooth sailing. He passed his car seat challenge, we signed the adoption paperwork, we signed the hospital release forms and we walked out of there with a baby in tow.

My Mom was watching Oakland while we were at the hospital, so she was our first stop. She squealed the first time she held him and couldn't contain her excitement when we told her, this is your little brother...forever and ever. He isn't going to Heaven. He isn't going away. He is OURS.


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