You can meet new friends in the unlikeliest of places, and that is definitely the case for me and Jenn. I was selling my beautiful Silver Cross pram (reluctantly) on eBay back in January this year and got a message from Jenn asking if I would consider sending it to Washington, America. Whilst messaging back and forth Jenn told me that she was adopting her daughter and had her heart set on this pram but couldn’t get it in the USA. I couldn’t believe the coincidence and told her about Rae. We messaged all evening and then became friends on Facebook. Since then we have stayed in regular contact, and I’m not sure if it’s the same for her, but for me Jenn has been a massive help. We message each other to ask opinions on decisions we’ve made, or just to rant about something that’s happened. It’s been great having someone to talk to that completely gets what I’m going through and hopefully one day we can meet up face to face with our girls (I’ll come to you though Jenn, your weather’s better)
So because no two adoption journeys are the same I asked Jenn if she’d mind sharing hers, as I personally think it’s amazing what her and her husband Pat are doing. Read on to hear the start of their story.
Every Family Has One
Every family has one, that person that has made bad decisions in their life and maybe even gotten in trouble for it. They do nothing productive with their lives and squander every opportunity they’ve ever been given. They lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want. As much as you want them to disappear, they’re still part of your family and there’s always someone who will love them unconditionally. In my family, the black sheep is my cousin Jackie. She wasn’t always a bad person. I have fond memories of spending time together when we were young. She grew up very differently from me though. My parents were divorced but I was lucky to have a very supportive mother. Jackie had two parents but they hardly equaled one. They were both addicts and were always more concerned with themselves rather than Jackie and her sister and brother. When we were children I couldn’t understand why Jackie and her siblings didn’t have clean clothes or live in a clean home. Looking back now it makes me sad for her. As she grew older, Jackie was fairly responsible. She had a job that she went to every day and was able to care for herself. Somewhere along the line, things changed. She just stopped. It was almost like she gave up.
To really understand our story, I have to explain life with my husband. I’ve been married to Patrick for 6 years. When I met him, he was in the army. He was an Army Ranger to be exact. The best of the best that took on the most dangerous missions. His unit deployed every 9 months for about 4 months at a time. When he was home he often had to leave for months at a time for training. We decided early on that this wasn’t an ideal situation to raise children in. We decided that we weren’t going to do anything to prevent having a baby but we weren’t going to actively try either. We thought it was a little odd when all of our friends were having babies and we weren’t but we didn’t think too much about it. 2014 seemed like the perfect time to start trying. Patrick was getting out of the army and was going to start working as a police officer. We just purchased a home in a great community and I had just started a job with a charity and was able to work from home whenever I wanted. After several months of trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully, we decided to go to the doctor in July 2014. After so many tests that I felt like a lab rat, it turned out the problem was me. There was still a possibility we could have a baby of our own but the procedure would be expensive. We decided to try but after 4 attempts the procedures failed. I was devastated. I felt broken. I kept asking myself, “What’s wrong me? What did I do to make this happen?!” I lacked the one biological function that women everywhere have and it wasn’t an easy thing to accept. The only step we could take now would be in vetro. Much more expensive than the last procedure and it would require a many more doctor’s visits and exams. I wasn’t ready. I needed time to think things over. That’s when life changed…
On November 1st I was trapped in an all-day meeting and bored out of my mind. I took a break and gave my mom a call. She was upset and told me that Jackie had delivered a baby girl at home early that morning. She refused to go to the hospital at first because she knew the doctors would find drugs in her system and they’d take the baby from her. We all thought the worst. The baby was probably born addicted to drugs and who knew if it would even live. My mom told me that the Department of Social and Child Services was already at the hospital and they were preventing Jackie from taking the baby home. My heart was heavy when I got home that night. I told Pat what happened and then we started thinking, who is going to care for this baby? She won’t be allowed to go home with her mom. Should we make the offer for her to live with us? How do we even do that? Should we do that?! We have been trying for a baby of our own and now we’ve been told about a baby with no home. Were we ready for this? Is this crazy?
On Monday I tracked down the social worker. She said that the baby’s name was Ann and she was in good health. She was born with a small amount of methamphetamine in her system but it was almost immeasurable and she wasn’t addicted. I let her know that Patrick and I were interested in caring for her and she sent me some paperwork for a background check. The trouble was Tuesday was a holiday and all the offices would be closed. Court was scheduled for Wednesday morning at 8:00am. There wouldn’t be enough time for the paperwork to be checked. The social worker told me to go to court anyway and meet with her. After this phone call, I assumed there were a dozen other families ready to accept this baby girl but I went to court anyway. My mom came as well. Partly to support me but also to support Jackie. Jackie has always held a special place in my mom’s heart. At 10:30am our case was called. The next 15 minutes seemed to go by in a flash as lawyers and social workers spoke. Finally the judge said, “Mrs. Kelly, given you and your husband’s backgrounds, I have no concerns about you not passing the background check. Please go pick Ann up from the hospital before 3:00pm today.” I felt light headed. That was it?! In one breath the judge changed all of our lives forever. Did she realize the magnitude of what she had just done? I remember walking out of the court room and thinking, “What just happened?” And then the panic set in. We had NOTHING. No crib, no clothes, no diapers, and no car seat! How can we possibly be ready to become parents by 3:00pm?! Most parents get 9 months to prepare. We had 5 hours. How were we going to do this!?!?