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How Adoption Changed My Life

Today's blog is rather sappy. It's National Adoption Month and we are less than 48 hours away from my baby boy's 6th birthday! Every year at this time I cannot help but remember the memories and fears that were going through my mind during this time. We were impatiently waiting on our very big secret and trying our best not to have an emotional breakdown before time (at least I was). When I say it was a secret, I mean very few people knew. A lot of people knew we were going through the adoption process but we had kept the fact that we had been selected and were waiting on our baby to be born restricted to our immediate family, our coworkers that we worked directly with daily, our Sunday School class, and some of our immediate church family, Elders, and Preachers.

I would take my phone with me every step I took. If I walked to the bathroom, I had my phone. If I walked to the printer, I had my phone. When I went to bed at night, my phone was on the highest ring it could be and was right at my face to ensure I could hear it. My fear was that I would not hear my phone so I was in constant high stress mode. Once November hit I would wake up multiple times a night and check my phone in fear of missing the "go time" call.

I had three stacks of clothes set up on my chest of drawers just waiting to be thrown into a suitcase. I had a baby bag and baby clothes neatly packed and ready. I had a specific sweater picked out to wear for our "first picture" together. I also wore that for his newborn pictures and again for Tucker's.

As predicted, my phone went off during the night. I first thought it was my alarm to get up and then I remembered I was working from home that day so I wouldn't be getting up that early. I sat straight up and snatched my phone to realize Judson's birth mom was letting me know she had gone into labor. We called and woke up our parents and immediately starting trying to get a flight out. Our original flight plan was a bust because the flight was full. I started having a panic attack. I was going to miss his birth. Eric got on the phone with Delta and luckily they told us about another airport an hour away that was smaller and would be easier to navigate through. Eric's mom and my parents all got to our house about 6:30 that morning (Eric's dad was already at work). My parents loaded up our pups and cat to take to their house and Eric's mom drove us to the airport. Talk about an emotional moment!

Once we were in the airport something happened I will never forget. I was so emotional and was pushing an empty stroller with a carseat snapped in, had a boppy, carseat base, baby bag and my carry on. People could see there was no baby in there so we had some strange looks. When we were waiting on the elevator a young girl walked by. She peeped over trying to see the "baby" and I smiled with tears in my eyes and I said, "We're on our way to adopt a baby. He's not in there yet. He's being born today." I was crying in front of a total stranger but could not help myself. She looked at me as her eyes started filling up with tears and she said, "I've been trying to have a baby for two years. I'm so happy for you." We both stood there in silence and tears rolling until the elevator opened. She headed towards the escalator and then yelled back at me, "I'm praying for you!" in a very rocky voice and then I yelled back, "I'm praying for you too!" I think about that girl often. I may never see her again but I pray that us meeting for that brief moment was God using Eric and me to show someone else their way.

Eric and I were unable to sit by each other on the plane because we got the last two tickets (talk about God taking care of us!) so the unlucky man who thought he was going to get work done on the flight was sadly mistaken because he was forced to talk to my nervous, crying, stressed out self for nearly two hours. I'm sure I wasn't the only one thankful we had landed!

Luckily landing at a smaller airport allowed us to get our rental car and get out of there probably 30 minutes faster. I checked in with Judson's birth mom right when we landed to let her know we were an hour out and also to find out that our sweet boy had not been born yet. I couldn't hardly believe it. We drove as fast as we could and as we were getting out of the car I got a text that he was here! Our sweet baby boy was born at 2:32PM! When we got off the elevator there were two people waiting on us. 1.) The Case Worker and 2.) A representative from the Ronald McDonald House. If you ever have wondered why I love and support the RMH Charities the way I do, this is why. Two very scared new parents walk into a hospital and they were one of the two faces we saw first. I will forever be thankful for their hospitality.

Our case worker had this massive, contagious smile and she said, "Are you ready to meet your baby!" She escorted us to the baby wing and there he was. For anyone who has never experienced this, it may be a little hard to imagine. Judson's biological mother placed him in my arms. For as long as I live I will never be able to understand how she was able to do this, however, I know God was the one and only reason why. God made her able to do this so that I could be Judson's mommy. The depth of that tragedy and the magnitude of that privilege are not lost on me.

Our first picture together! I am wearing that sweater I insisted was the perfect one to meet my son in!

Our first picture, wearing the sweater I insisted would be the perfect one to meet my son in.

The next few hours were mostly a blur. We we went to the nursery and got him settled and pretty much just held his hands, rubbed his head, and sat in awe. The nurses encouraged us to get something to eat since it had been a good 10 hours or so. It was hard to leave him but we knew they would take care of him. Finally about 11 PM we went to the Ronald McDonald House for the night. It was hard to leave but the hospital was full and there was no empty room for us to stay in on the baby wing so it was our only option. The night on facebook I used the status, "God is so good." Many people knew why I had referenced it but most did not. All I knew was that morning could not get there fast enough to get me back to him.

We spent all day in Saturday, minus about an hour to go get lunch while he had his checkup. The amazing thing about that afternoon was that Judson was wearing his Georgia Southern beenie and Georgia Southern beat Florida at the Swamp! Talk about GS's good luck charm! It also started snowing that night!

This is one of our favorite RN's at the hospital. She was so sweet and kind to us.

Sunday early afternoon we were released from the hospital. Our first meal was at a Chinese restaurant. When we checked in our hotel do you know what Judson did? He threw up and peed on me! Haha! Yep, he broke me in really quick!

We spent the next few days being on crazy schedules, taking turns getting up and down. I know that first night I may have slept an hour or so because I kept jumping up and checking on Judson to make sure he was okay. I was terrified to go to sleep!

We were in a hotel on Thanksgiving, which was really hard for us, so we struck off to have lunch at Cracker Barrel. We rode around and looked at all the snow and then came back for Football. The highlight was that we got to facetime our families and our Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins got to see Judson! This was our Thanksgiving picture! Lucky for a camera with a timer! :)

That night both Judson and Eric had their very first black Friday shopping experience. We were only a few miles from the mall and we were going stir crazy in a hotel room and since our sleep patterns were already so messed up, why not grab a diet coke and hit the late night shopping! We got all three of us something pretty and new to wear home to Georgia as we anxiously awaited our clearance from the ICPC. Since ICPC is a state agency they were closed that Thursday and Friday as well as the weekend so there were four straight days of absolutely no progress for our paperwork.

We also ventured over to Bethlehem to check out the Christmas lights and downtown area. It was pretty neat but ridiculously cold! Did I mention it snowed like 5 times while we were there? That's like a decade's worth of snow for us!

That Monday we found out one more thing needed to be signed by the birth father and then Tuesday it was to be mailed out overnight to Georgia. On Wednesday we found out it was accidently sent two day and it would be Thursday at the earliest they would get it and it could be Friday or the following Monday before we received clearance to cross state lines to go home. I was devastated. I was homesick, I wanted my Mama, and I wanted my baby in his own bed in our house with our family, friends, and fur babies with us. I was on the verge of a breakdown. Instead of calling my Mama and making her upset, I called my friend Candice and cried like a baby.

That night I called Fed Ex in Nashville and tried to intercept our 20 pounds of paperwork to get it changed to overnight. I cried and cried over the phone and the person at Fed Ex had people digging through bins trying to locate a needle in a haystack. I got a call back saying they had not found it yet and they just could not make it happen. Luckily for me, I have a friend with a little Government experience that was willing to step in and help. :)

We had decided that night that we were heading to Philadelphia regardless so that we were close to the airport. I called my friend Lauren to have the hotel set up (thanks for the friends and family discount) and at least then we would be making progress towards home! The next morning I received a call from the Georgia ICPC asking me to send in everything I had digitally for them to begin their review while they waited on the hard copies. Our lawyer and I sent everything in and we struck off the Philadelphia. We checked in the hotel and let them know we may end up checking out if we were given clearance to go home. They told us they would only charge us for one night if that happened. Thirty minutes later we got to call to pack our bags. I could have jumped through the phone to give that lady a hug. When we went to check out the person working the front desk said, "Oops, I don't see where you have a reservation. It looks like you don't owe me anything...get that baby home to Georgia!"

Our family and a few friends were heading to pick us up that night in Atlanta! One sad part to this...Mama had been diagnosed with the flu the day before and was not able to be there. A plug for a flu shot, she's gotten one every single year since then. She said watching Daddy pull out the driveway to come get us was one of the hardest things she's ever had to do.

I can tell you one thing, TSA was MUCH nicer to use once we had a baby in tow. We were given the royal treatment in Philadelphia airport and yes, I did have one philly cheesesteak since I was in Philly!

Once we landed I could hardly contain the excitement. Walking out at baggage claim and seeing my family was overwhelming.

You'll notice in these pictures our excitement and also the fact that the pilot gave Judson as set of wings when we were leaving the airplane! Side note, you see what all we are carrying? How did I wrangle Delta into letting me carry all of this on board!?!? LOL

It was more than exciting to get home! Papa gave his big ole boy his first bottle at home and I would say he liked it very much!

Judson had his first appearance at the dance studio the next night. Oh, did I mention I had a solo in the Nutcracker just two weeks later! Yikes! Thankfully I had an amazing dance teacher who just wanted me to get that baby home! This was the last Nutcracker I was in since I wanted to spend every free moment with my little man! I'm so thankful he got to "see" Mommy dance his biggest solo of my dance career!

It's hard to believe this was six years ago. My sweet baby is my miracle from God. Just eight months later we were blessed with the miracle of becoming pregnant without invitro as we had been told would be our only option. We found out just two weeks before our first appointment to begin the invitro process. I guess God just had other plans!

Here are a few more of my favorite pictures over the last six years. If you are someone you know is considering adoption or are experiencing infertility issues, please reach out to me or someone else who has been where you are. You are not alone. Remember God has an amazing plan for each and everyone of us it just not be the path you had planned for yourself. Listen to your heart and follow God's will!

Happy 6th birthday my sweet love! You are my miracle from God and I am so thankful that out of all of the Mommies in the entire world, He picked me for you!