My wife and I are infertile. I’ve long since come to grips with this, and as such, I understand there are some aspects of a fertile male’s life that I will never experience. For example, I’ll never get to put my hand on my wife’s tummy and feel a kick. I’ll never see a child that shares the same DNA as we do*. I’ll never have the “delivery room” experience, or get cut an umbilical cord.**
*This is probably for the best as our collective family health risks would likely make any biological child one big, genetic time bomb. Put it this way: if there is a charity walk to support it, you can probably find it somewhere in our families.
**Also for the best as I’m irrationally weird about belly buttons. Just typing this sentence makes me uncomfortable.
I am completely, perfectly, 100% fine with not experiencing these things. Through the wonder of adoption, we have two healthy and happy children who are more beautiful than anything my flawed DNA could ever hope to be apart of. We are blessed beyond reason. We’ve talked about adopting again, but I’ve been firm in wanting to be done.
Or so I thought.
* * *
On a typical Tuesday morning (July 23, 2013), I’m sitting at my desk doing some work. My wife calls and ask if I want to take an “early lunch”. Looking at the clock on my PC, I see that it’s 10:29 am.
I am far from hungry, but I can tell that my wife wants to talk about something.
We agree to meet at home in 15 minutes and I head out the door. I arrive home fully expecting to hear some job-related news. Her department has been having some issues, and I’m wondering if she was fired. Or if she got fed up and walked out. Maybe she was offered a vacant management position.
We step in the house, and she tells me “_______________”.
Yeah, I have no idea what she said – either exactly or paraphrased. It was something about a phone call from Florida. But the message was this:
The birth mother of our son is pregnant and has chosen to place the baby for adoption. Our adoption agency wants to know if we would accept the placement.
And just like that, I got to experience something I never thought would happen to me: being told “You’re going to be a father” completely and totally out of the blue.
According to my wife, my initial response was “So you’re not fired?”
* * *
The next 20-30 minutes are a bit of a blur. The baby is going to be a girl. My wife always wanted to have two girls. She’s a giddy, teary, excited mess. She wants this.
I think of my son, picturing his beautiful face. There is no way I could ever look into his deep, dark eyes and say “Well, buddy, Mommy and I had a chance to adopt a baby sister – your biological half-sister – but we said no. Sorry, little dude.” As much I was done – had you asked me 45 minutes earlier, I would have told you that I was more likely to grow a third arm than have a third child – this was a no-brainer for me.
When we called the agency’s case worker back to say “yes”, she said “Well, that was fast!”
Of course it was fast. We’re talking about my daughter.
* * *
I’ll admit it: I’m in shock. As I type this, I still am in disbelief.
Oh yeah, there’s one other little tidbit from that first conversation with my wife that I haven’t shared yet: this baby girl’s due date is August 19. 2013. We don’t get nine months. We don’t even get nine weeks.
This is a serious game changer for us. With our previous two adoptions, we were able to plan and save. I don’t know if you know this or not, but adoption is kind of expensive. While my wife’s employer has some adoption benefits, it barely puts a dent in what we need. Can I fit three car seats in my sedan? We don’t have an open bedroom so somebody will have to double up. There are a thousand other things that change. The classic parenting joke of having to switch from a man-to-man to a zone defense. Knowing that I may not sleep through the night again until 2014. May not dine in a restaurant with my family until 2015. May not be able to retire until 10 years after I die.
But it will all work out. It will all be worth it.
This is my daughter.
* * *
As you are reading this, we’re sitting in a rented vacation home in Orlando, Florida – that’s where our daughter was born. We’ve actually been here for a while. We believed the birth mom would go into labor early, and since we were driving from our home in Nebraska*, we decided to take advantage of a weekend to get down here.
*Yeah, that drive was not exactly a breeze. 1,400 miles with kids that apparently are incapable of sleeping in a car – no matter the time of day. All I know is the person who thought to put a DVD player in minivans will forever hold a fond place in my heart. I’m sure the drive back with a newborn will be much better.
We took placement today (Saturday, August 24), and baby was discharged from the hospital into our custody. Now, we hang out here and wait for our ICPC clearance to leave Florida and reenter Nebraska.
Waiting for paperwork to process may sound like a real drag – especially to adoptive parents whose lives can feel like one giant form, but this is different. This is relaxing, stress-free time. This is bonding with a baby, and spending the quality family time that politicians preach about (before they go sleep with their mistress). In short, this is heaven with take out food and a swimming pool.
* * *
I know most of my friends are probably reading this with their jaws dragging on the floor.
Trust me, I can relate to the disbelief you’re feeling.
I do want to apologize to you for not letting you know about this sooner. But as you may remember, we got burned once by a failed adoption. Even though we had absolutely no reason to believe it would happen this time, the simple truth is that until the relinquishment papers are signed, the birth mom has every right to parent this baby. So we wanted to be guarded and protect ourselves. Neither my wife nor I had any desire to go through the pain of having to tell everybody in our lives that we got our hearts broken. Again. Therefore, we decided to wait until she was born and her birth mom had signed the relinquishment papers.
I hope you can understand why we had to keep it a secret.
Besides, everybody loves a good surprise.
* * *
Alexandra Grace Paris Feit was born at 3:54 am on Thursday, August 22. Lexi, as we will call her, weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20 inches long. She is a perfectly healthy little girl with a full head of silky black hair. Her birth mama needed an emergency C-section*, but is recovering well. We understand that she was released from the hospital today.
*Almost a week past her due date, little Lexi was in no hurry to be born. We were told that she was hanging on to her birth mama as the doctor delivered her.
Her birth mom chose her first name (from the two finalists we had narrowed it down to). Her first middle name (Grace) is the name of her great-grandma (my wife’s grandma) who is very dear to us. Her second middle name (Paris) was given to her by her birth mom, and is the name of her grandpa (her birth mom’s daddy) who shared a birthday with Lexi.
Lexi’s big sister Jamie is over the moon, and wants nothing more than to hold her and kiss her. Lexi’s big brother Cameron doesn’t quite grasp what is going on yet, but we’re sure that he will be a wonderful (and protective) big brother.