Our Arrival to UT:
On June 06, 2017 Brandon and I nervously walked into the mall food court, not saying much, and nearly shaking from shot nerves. We had just landed in SLC, UT (thanks to the extremely generous gift of flight miles from Anne) a mere hours earlier and were trying to wrap our minds and hearts around what was about to take place. We were an absolute mess!!!
Today was the day. A day we weren’t so sure what was going to happen (our friends and family rallied and pulled together the rest of the funds needed <——this sounds so mediocre….what really happened is, our friends and family and even strangers pulled together a financial miracle to help us reach goals to bring Elliana home!!) but here we were, an hour early and trembling….at least on the inside. We made our way downstairs to the kids play area and waited in the midst of screaming and laughing kids on a little bench. The hour had past and our anxiety was now consuming us! We didn’t know whom to look for. We knew nationality and that three children would be tagging along but nothing more than that a social worker would also be with them. Then, the elevator doors opened and out stepped a beautiful woman whom was obviously carrying a miracle, a large and smiling man, three gorgeous children, and a little lady following close behind. This was it. This had to be them!
Excitedly, the little lady approached us with hand extended and introduced herself as Sandi and how excited she was that this was able to happen. Sandi then introduced Mama C, Papa T, and the three lovely kiddos. Everyone was so sweet, although you could tell they were nervous as well. We decided to go back up and grab some pizzas in the food court so we could sit and talk and get to know each other a little. My heart was racing, afraid I was going to say the wrong thing. Afraid I was going to mess everything up. Would I say something that made them dislike us. Would having more of our story make them second guess us as the right choice to raise and love their daughter?
Brandon and Papa T. hit it off right away. I mean, what men can’t jump right into sports talk and connect? Papa T. and Brandon lagged behind on the way back up discussing more about our life and our goals and their goals and dreams for their daughter while Mama C. and I ordered the pizzas. By the time we were all around the table together, it was as if we had known each other for years. The fears, and stress, and feelings of discomfort for the present situation were suddenly gone. We chatted, we laughed, we heard their stories….so comfortable in fact that Sandi decided she should leave and let us just naturally let things play out.
We finished eating and before their departure, it was decided we would visit the aquarium that was attached to the mall with the kids and them. We headed that way, with Mama C and I staying back just a little bit still chatting and learning. She asked if Brandon and I had picked out a name yet. I hesitated, instead of answering right away, I asked if she and Papa T already had a name in mind. I wanted to be sensitive to the fact that she had been carrying this little girl for 9 months and very well may have chosen a name that meant something to them for her. She said no, and asked again if we had a name chosen. I smiled and said, yes, actually we love Elliana Jayne. She got the biggest smile and leaned down to her oldest daughter and asked what she thought of that and she enthusiastically said yes, that’s real pretty. Mama C. said that her niece has a similar name and she always loved it. I explained to her Elliana means “God has answered” and that Jayne means “Jehovah has been gracious”….oh man has her name stood as a beautiful reminder!!! Mama C. agreed it was beautiful and fitting.
For the next few hours we explored the aquarium with many laughs! It was unreal to me that people we met just hours before, felt completely like family. The kids would grab our hands to pull us to the next exhibit, they would beg for us to see things and loved when we oohed and awed with them. I even went in a bird exhibit with them <—-y’all this is HUGE!! I hate birds flying around me but when they asked, there wasn’t a hesitation about doing it. We absolutely fell in love with this sweet family.
As we departed, we prayed, we cried, we laughed a little more and then off we all went in our separate directions. The walk back to our rental truck—yes they were all out of normal cars, so we ended up with a HUGE pick-up truck while in Utah—I sobbed. It was all real. All at once. There were faces. There were stories. There was hurt beyond my understanding. The next morning Mama C would give birth via c-section and her and Papa T would look into a little face they love and make a decision I can never a million times over fathom making. They had an adoption plan. They chose us. They seemed to love us, but would they change their mind when they saw her beautiful face and heard her sweet cry? We headed back to our place of stay (a whole other story which ended up being a HUGE blessing!) with a new sense of excitement and fear and hurt, and so many other emotions I am not even sure we knew we were feeling at the time.
Bright and early on Wednseday, June 07, 2017 we were out the door, ready to keep our minds as occupied as possible until we received news. Today was the day. Mama C would deliver her precious baby girl. She would hold her. She would cry over her. She would fall fully in love with her. Brandon and I headed to Park City to distract our anxious hearts. If you are ever in the SLC area, you should certainly visit Park City. Its such a cute and fun little town. We walked and talked and told stories to each other so the time would at least seem to pass faster. We grabbed ice cream…of course we did…and twiddled our thumbs just waiting for a call or text. We knew her c-section was in the morning and it was now after 1pm. Our minds wandered exactly where the devil wanted them to wander., but alas, at 1:30pm we got a text from our amazing point of contact at the agency, Rachel, that Mama C had given birth to a beautiful 8.4 pound little girl at 8:41am. That was all of the information we got for the day. This wasn’t the birth experience I had ever dreamed of, not even for adoption, but it wasn’t about me. None of this was really about me.
In Utah, birth mamas have to wait 24 hours after the birth to be able to sign relinquishment papers. Mama C had asked beforehand that we not be at the hospital while they were there so that they could have all of the moments they could with just them, just their family. So, until Mama C was discharged, we were not to be at the hospital. Let me tell you, this was HARD!! There is no way to be pleasant about it, we understood Mama C’s heart behind it but Brandon and I struggled with it. They wouldn’t even allow a picture to be sent. My heart ached an ache I didn’t know it was capable of. Being separated from someone you already love so deeply is excruciating. She wasn’t ours though. She was Mama Cs. So Thursday came and went and all we really heard by end of the day was that sweet baby girl was in the NICU for low oxygen and to be monitored….nothing more. Mama C decided not to sign Thursday.
Friday we found a Starbucks to sit at in silence as we just waited for news. Our hearts cried out to Abba to give us strength, to give us understanding. We got word that relinquishment papers were signed around 5pm. We cried tears of absolute joy and at the same time some of the most sorrowful tears. We hurt for Mama Cs heart. We hurt for Papa Ts heart. We hurt for the kiddos hearts. Adoption is joy and pain pieced together into a beautiful story. This baby girl, our Elliana Jayne was now in our custody. Well technically, according to papers. Another grief flooded us, for although she was ours, we still could not see her. Mama C had not been discharged. Mama C and Papa T were sticking hard to the plan for us not to be at the hospital until discharge. Heart wrecked, but nothing in comparison to Mama C’s.
Saturday, I spent most of the day in bed just waiting for news. My heart grieved for the moments I was missing, even as selfish as that sounds now. It was real. It was painful. I had not forgotten Mama C and her heart but my heart yearned fiercely to hold my little girl. Again, Mama C did not discharge. We went to bed Saturday night feeling so broken and longing to hold our daughter that we loved already so deeply. Sunday morning we got the text that Mama C would be discharged in the afternoon, so we could go up there around 1pm to FINALLY meet our daughter!!!! Cue all of the tears!!! We were there at 12pm but of course stayed in the car until 1pm to head up to the waiting area.
The next 2 hours were excruciating. We watched Mama C and Papa T completely broken as they took turns going into the NICU to say their goodbyes. There were not words that could comfort or a hug that was tight enough to give them any true comfort. We continued to wait in the waiting area with the kids as they gathered their belongings to head home. On their way out Mama C hugged me tightly and told me she knew they made the best decision for their baby. We weeped and told them how much we love them and will honor them and we watched them weep as they entered the elevator and went out of sight. Our hearts were raw, wide open, and we hadn’t even laid eyes on our daughter yet. I will say it again, adoption is messy and hard.
Our daughter was still in the NICU. We scrubbed up and headed back. Against the back wall, in the first little room, there she was. We didn’t have to even be close to know that she was perfect in every way! Here’s the captured moment of the first time I held my DAUGHTER…y’all there aren’t lakes big enough to hold the tears from this moment! And the first time I got to witness Brandon, her daddy, hold her!!!
Mama C had given her a special name while they stayed with her, and we will allow that name be special to her and not share but when the nurse asked what her name was to be, more tears flowed. Since Mama C had approved, we eagerly stated, “Elliana Jayne”. Elliana Jayne. We could not say it enough. We spoke it over her. We told her how loved she is. How prayed for she was. How big her story is. I can remember leaning in close to Elliana’s face and whispering, “Elliana Jayne, its me, your mommy.” Oh, the weight of those words. We spent as long as we could on Sunday, snuggling, loving, feeding, and praying over our sweet Elliana Jayne, until we just had to leave to get some sleep. There really wasn’t anywhere to sleep there so we went back got a few hours and headed up first thing Monday morning to love on her while we waited for discharge.
And 6 Months Later
We discharged Monday afternoon, June 12, and grabbed food (In and Out Burger just for daddy) and headed back to the sweet house we were so graciously being allowed to stay in with our daughter, Elliana Jayne. It will never get old….you know, claiming her! The verse on the picture at the beginning of the post, Is 62:2b-3,
“and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
This has run continuously through my head since that Sunday afternoon. A new name. She has been given a new name….and she is certainly a crown of beauty and royal diadem in the hand of the Lord! Elliana Jayne has been a constant reminder of the new name we have been given in Christ! We are grafted in perfectly. Oh that she will see Christ in her story one day as much as we do. Our hearts have be enlightened in a whole new way with having her join our family. Adoption is beautiful.
We left Utah when Elliana was 2 weeks and a day with joint custody with Heart and Soul Adoptions. We got on a plane to head home to Georgia to our new life with our daughter. Words cannot express how ready we were to introduce Elliana to her grandparents and family and I promise they were eager too after 2 weeks of FaceTiming all day!
Once home, the adoption journey continued. We were not her official parents just because we had her, although our hearts knew we were and she did not share our name. She was without a birth certificate. We have prayed every day since she was placed in our arms to be officially recognized as her parents! This is a part of adoption that a lot of people do not realize. More waiting.
The process and fees continued. We had attorney fees and court fees to prepare for Elliana’s finalization as ours. There were two more post placement home study visits to make sure Elliana was safe and that we were adjusting well to being parents. We completed the last of those in October and have been waiting on the formal paperwork to be filed and for the judge to sign off on us not having to return to Utah to go before him since we went before him during our 2 weeks in UT! Here we are after meeting with him when Elliana was so very little.
About a week ago we heard from our attorney that he had approved us to not have to come back to UT and we have been anxiously awaiting a court date for our case to be heard, for us to be legally declared the sole parents of Elliana Jayne! We knew it could easily be after the new year but we began praying even BIGGER and BOLDER prayers that Elliana Jayne would officially be a Remy by the end of the year. No more legal hoops, no more fears of whom she belongs too, no more doubts!