10 People in 10 Days
I’m going to be doing something a little different with the blog during the 10 day wait. Let me explain how the 10 day wait works in this country. After your court decision approves your adoption request the decision does not become legal until the 11th day after the decision is made. This gives the biological family 10 days to lay claim to their child and forfeit the adoption. Sterling’s parents have already signed away their rights, but his extended family could still stop the adoption if they wish to do so. Our ten day wait ends on Friday, October 14th. Normally your court resolution would be on the 11th day; however, since our 11th day is a Saturday, our court resolution will be on Tuesday, October 18th. Government offices are not open in this region on Mondays. So, we are at least 2 weeks away from taking Sterling out of the institution. During those two weeks we will be visiting only every other day (and not on weekends.)
Now to explain the blog for the next 10 days. Our visits with Sterling are almost always the same. We will still post pictures and I will caption them directly instead of writing a long blog about the visit (mainly because it is the same old stuff and it is getting monotonous!) So, during the 10 day wait I am going to be doing something different. Something I’ve never seen on another blog. I REALLY believe in giving credit where credit is due. This adoption took the work of A LOT of people. Many, many people helped us financially, emotionally and mentally. During the next 10 days I am going to write about one person (or one group of people) who helped to make this adoption happen. They offered us different types of support but together the 10 of them made this adoption a reality. I will be sharing who they are, their stories and explaining how they helped. I will be going in the order they were instrumental CHRONOLOGIALLY (except for the last one – who really was the driving force and the one who made it all happen!) So the first person is the one who was instrumental with the start-up and the last people are the people who were there as we were finalizing. If you aren’t listed it doesn’t mean you didn’t help! These are the most influential/key figures in the adoption – I hope by sharing these stories you understand how instrumental they were in our adoption process.
I know I’ve already made a lot of people cry – but honestly, this part of the blog isn’t going to help. I’m not normally one for spilling my heart (or for that matter openly sharing my feelings at all) but I think it is super important to highlight that an adoption is more than just parents gaining legal consent to parent a child. It really does take a lot of people to make an adoption happen. I am genuinely grateful to everyone who helped us in any way.
The elementary school I worked at is a brand new school. We opened in the 2009-2010 school year. Our school (at the time) was somewhat taking a different approach to providing services to children with special needs. At the time, we were offering no pull out services and our school had one teacher at each grade level whom was certified to teach in an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) classroom. I was teaching in our 5th grade ESE inclusion class. Of my 21 students 11 of them had IEPs. It was a great plan. The only problem was, with all of the curriculum we were supposed to be teaching it was hard to find time to work small groups and hit IEP goals all in one day. As a result of this, in October, our principal decided to hire an ESE teacher that could come into each ESE room and co-teach with us. That person was Nichole. Once she started Nichole and I became fast friends – something that has never been easy for me. She looked past all of my faults and took out the brick wall I keep up to keep people at bay with ease. We have been amazing friends ever since and we are often seen together outside of school (even though she left our school this year and made it relatively impossible to hang out after school! J ) Since that first meeting, Nichole and I have become very close and I have thoroughly enjoyed becoming “part of the family” (as has Brian.)
About 2 weeks into her tenure at our school Nichole told me she was pregnant. At the time, that came as quite a sting because it was right in the middle of Brian’s and my infertility nightmare. But the sting didn’t last long and I was super excited to be a part of this new baby’s life. There are lots of little things I remember about that whole process (including eating jelly beans in my room after school with Nichole while discussing ESE strategies!) Around November, I asked nonchalantly how everything was going after Nichole had been for a prenatal visit with the OB. It was then that Nichole shared that the baby (we had learned by this point it was a girl) was showing soft markers for having Down Syndrome. She and Scott had previously decided to not have any testing done, in part due to their religious beliefs and in part because testing would only put the baby at harm and they were keeping her regardless. It was a really emotional time. Nichole help up incredibly well and never really showed her emotions at school, although later she shared that she had been hiding a lot of emotions during that time period. She saw several specialists and while none of them would say definitively that the baby did not have Down Syndrome without testing – that became the overriding thought . Despite all of the reassurances from the doctors there was still some fear when the baby’s due date approached.
Well, Aurora Simone Comeaux graced us with her presence a few days early and as you can see she was not born with an extra chromosome. (Probably not what you were expecting on this blog. LOL)
Aurora joined older brother Clayton and older sister Audrey on May 30th, 2010.
Having an ESE background I have known a lot of children and families with Down Syndrome but I had never known anyone personally who had gone through a Down Syndrome (or possible Down Syndrome) pregnancy. It was a very emotional time and quite honestly one that made our decision to adopt Sterling even easier.
Throughout the whole pregnancy Nichole and I had many discussions about the baby, about Down Syndrome, about religion (she was instrumental – along with some other friends – in us going back to church) and about raising children. Nichole spoke openly about her religion and how it was hard to believe that most (92%) of pregnancies of a child with Down Syndrome are terminated. We talked a lot.
Well, Aurora was born at JUST THE PERFECT time in the school year. Nichole would be able to return to school in August and we decided to take on a new challenge together. You see, our school was adding two ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders)/IND (Intellectual Disabilities) units the following year. Nichole and I signed up to take on those positions.
The beginning of the year was horrible (and not because of the kids) but that is a whole year’s worth of blogs on its own. In short we had some staffing issues (read “nightmares”) and Brian and I were in the throes of infertility treatment (waste of money) so I was an emotional wreck for the first half of the year. But, Nichole was there for all of it. In October (of 2010) Brian and I decided to stop all infertility treatments. My stress level was through the roof (not conducive to conception) and the infertility drugs were really making me fun to be around (NOT!). It was during this break from fertility treatments that the idea of adoption first came up. Up until this point I was not IN ANY WAY interested in adoption. I wanted MY OWN kid. MY flesh and blood. Let me tell you something, that feeling lasted about 6 months. By October I was exploring the possibility of adoption.
I’m a researcher by nature. I need facts. It’s just the way I work. If numbers are involved – well even better! So in October I commenced my 3 months of research on adoption. By Christmas, Brian and I were toying with the idea. Of course, I ran it past Nichole. Who was more than supportive – but she told us not to count ourselves out just yet. Regardless, Brian and I set ourselves up to complete our Homestudy since we were leaning toward adoption. That way, if we found a child we would be ready to go. (I find it interesting that December is when we started going to church again too – but that’s another story.)
I think I first stumbled upon Reece’s Rainbow in late January of 2011 (hard to believe that was only 10 months ago!) I was researching adoption and linked from another link (you know how that goes) to get there. I was taken by the pictures of all these children, without families, simply because of an extra chromosome (or in some cases an HIV diagnosis.) I didn’t share the site with anyone. Not even Nichole. I would lie in bed at night (after Brian went to sleep) and look at those faces. HUNDREDS of motherless children. It was heart wrenching and I cried myself to sleep on more than one occasion.
It was funny though – I kept returning to one face:
In late February I shared the site with Brian – who went into immediate shock. He was not so keen on the idea of a special needs adoption. (Little did he know – he is so IN LOVE with Sterling now!) Lots of RR families will tell you this is how it went down in their homes too. Brian and I talked A LOT during that time period and slowly with the help of facts and research (and tomorrow’s family!) he began to accept the idea. Of course, then he fell in love with Sterling during the prep phase and he will advocate until the day he dies for these children and for Reece’s Rainbow.
Back to Nichole.
Once I turned Brian, I eventually shared the site with her. Her faith, along with her teaching background and the fact that she is a mother led her to be as taken by these children as I was. For me, Reece’s Rainbow became a daily obsession: which child had found a family, which child had been added to the photolistings, which child had been transferred and even (on occasion) which child had died. I’m sure Nichole heard more than she ever wanted to know about those children (and about Reece’s Rainbow) but she never showed it. It’s interesting how a friendship works. The year before it had been her dealing with life while I offered support; then the tides changed and it was reversed. It’s all a very cool system of give and take that, as humans, we fail to recognize a lot of times.
Well, come about May, Nichole said to me something to the effect of, “If you are so passionate about it – do something about it.” In hindsight, I think that is all I really wanted. Or needed might be a better way to put it. I needed to hear someone say that it was OK that we WANTED a child with Down Syndrome. Nichole gave us that - the piece of mind that we weren’t adopting Sterling’s Down Syndrome that we were adopting Sterling. That underneath all of the labels that RR had for him was just a little boy who desperately needed a family. (Ironically we were just a family that desperately wanted a little boy.)
It is safe to say that without Nichole’s approval we wouldn’t be here. She was the first person we told and by far (as we told more people) the MOST supportive. We had other friends who weren’t so excited for us in the beginning (all of them are now of course) but so many people showed shock and surprise (and even disapproval) that, without Nichole as our ROCK, we would not have our son.
So, THANKS NICHOLE!
We LOVE you!
PICTURES FROM TODAY!
Sterling babbles. In the beginning of our visits he didn't make a sound. Now he babbles incessantly. A lot of nothing but very cute. He also makes these gutteral sounds and groans. I'm sure they are noises he makes to keep himself occupied in the institution. HOWEVER - Brian and I are SURE he said his first word today. My mother and my sister will be thrilled. Why? Because the word was "book." He used it Monday too (we didn't say anything because we wanted to see it again.) We took the book out he pointed at it (he points with his thumb) and said, "bk". So frigging cute. With some therapy he will be talking soon. He also sometimes gets so excited during snack that he will SCREAM what sounds like "Da" if we hold up some food. Da means yes. So we are pretty sure there is more there than the institution has any inkling of. We can't wait to get him out of there! I will try to catch him saying book on Friday.
We brought a new toy today! This giraffe was a gift from our friend Kimber. It makes soothing noises. Giant hit! He LOVES this thing...
We tried on clothes today. 3T jeans...WAY TOO BIG! And yes, he is wearing a diaper here. He has no rear end and no belly to hold anything up (good thing we bought a belt.)
Those jeans are just a tad long...LOL. The sweater is 2T and fits nicely! Thanks Clayton (and Nichole) for the hand me downs!
This boy loves his snacks.
Is it that obvious?
He prefers to sit backwards in any chair (or on any bench) we put him in.
I love this smile. It melts my heart.
See this cowlick in his hair that pushes his hair to the right side of his body? Yea - Brian has the same one - in the same spot and it does the same thing. :)
He is so darn handsome!
This jacket (believe it or not) is a 5/6. It swallows him but at least we know it will fit him for a while! And can I say that he looks SO HANDSOME in real clothes and out of those orphanage duds???