Saturday, February 23, 2008

Meeting Annabel – Thursday, February 21

We knew it was Thursday, because that’s what our plane ticket said. But since we hadn’t yet gone to sleep, it seemed like the longest Wednesday ever.

We were too excited to sleep on the plane, and decided to go over our list of names. I thought it was a little premature – didn’t we need to see her first? – but I went along with it. We’d been through the list several times before, but hadn’t completely decided on a name. After one last review of the top 1000 names in 2006, we chose Annabel Irene for our baby girl. Her middle name was chosen to honor Scott’s mom, who passed away last year.

When we arrived, we went straight to the rental car counter and were helped by a fantastic woman who secured us a minivan for an indefinite period of time, to be returned in NJ. We will have to be in Florida for some period of time - usually less than 2 weeks - for ICPC. Then we’re driving our baby home to NJ. Knowing home much I hate car trips over 4 hours, you might wonder why we’re not flying. Little babies can’t regulate the pressure in their ears, so it hurts for them to fly. So, we’re taking our Town & Country across the towns and country!

(ICPC, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, controls the lawful movement of children from one state to another for purposes of adoption. Both the originating state, where the child is born, and the receiving state, where the adoptive parents live and where the adoption of the child will take place, must approve the child's movement in writing before the child can legally leave the originating state.)

We called Amy and she had us meet her at the hotel where the birthparents were staying. They had been meeting with a social worker for counseling there and later with Amy to complete the placement paperwork. We met Annabel’s father M, a Yankees fan, and her mother M. We talked about their decision to place their baby, and learned more about their family. It was very emotional. Her sweet mother came with us to the hospital to say goodbye to her baby.

I can’t describe what it was like to see her the first time. The last 15 hours had been surreal - so many emotions - and it continued. The nurse brought her into a room to us and we were in love instantly. Holding her was amazing, and she holds onto us too. She’s got a strong little grip in her fist!

She was born at 9 lbs 2 oz, and 19 inches with a full head of black hair. M had a long labor, and Annabel’s a little squishy and puffy. She kind of looks like a little sumo wrestler when she is wearing only a diaper!

It was really sad to see M with the baby, but she kept repeating that they weren’t just tears of sadness, but also tears of happiness and relief that her daughter would be loved and cared for. She’s asked for pictures and updates, and said that her daughters would want to send pictures they take to us and Annabel. M will be forever hold a special place in our hearts.

With only a few hours notice, we were totally unprepared to take Annabel home. We didn’t have an outfit or a blanket for her, so she was discharged to us in a little t-shirt and blanket with the hospital’s name stamped on it. The nurse at the hospital must have pitied our lack of preparation, and she sent us home with tons of formula and diapers and other necessities. A few hours later, we ventured to Babies R Us and got stocked up on clothes, Dreft, and a few of the things babies need in their first few weeks. Of course the real shopping will happen back home with Auntie Joanne!

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