Someone very wise once said, “Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.” Another equally wise person jokingly asked the question, “Do you know how to make God laugh? Make a plan.”
This autobiography is a story about a major league baseball player and his wife who, having infertility problems of their own, adopted 4 children internationally and gave up his ball career to stay home with the children. I am sure the book is out of print now, but it really changed me. I didn’t know at the time that we would also have infertility problems, but this story laid the framework in the back of my mind for adoption.
So now having gone through the many interviews, home visits, a battery of tests and background checks, we got the referral for a baby boy born Jan. 11, 2003. If we accepted the referral, we would be able to name him on his birth certificate, and if all else went well have him home in the summer. Gabriel Evan Garner became the focus of our attention as the paperwork and diplomatic process began. I could hardly believe it, or let myself totally believe that it would happen.
Every new report or set of pictures from Central America helped make it seem as though Gabriel was really ours, but I have faced disappointment before, and I was determined to be prepared for whatever roadblocks might come. And there were occasional bumps in the road, including the necessity for me to take a new job in Kalamazoo, Michigan as Chris stayed in Indiana at our residence of record. While I lived four nights a week away from home, we had the weekends together to tentatively plan for a future that would include our new son.
I Was Pregnant!
Then came the spring and the surprise of my life – I was pregnant, due the 30th of January. Ultrasounds later revealed it would be a baby sister for Gabriel. Suddenly, when it had appeared that we might never have children, we were about to have two new children in our lives. For me it was an incredible thrill. Having wanted just this very thing to happen for so long, it seemed like a dream just to say the words.
I had struggled for so long not to be bitter toward women who talked about motherhood as a blessing – one that I believed God had somehow forgotten to bestow upon me. For Chris, it would be his third child – fourth, counting Gabriel – and he was just as shocked as I was. Imagine after so many years of our hoping and praying, now it would come doubly true. As that summer turned into fall and I grew bigger and bigger, we seemed no closer to getting Gabriel. In what turned out to be an unusually long process we still had no firm idea when – or if – Gabriel would be joining us. It became apparent that Chris might have to travel alone to Guatemala when the time came, as I would be too far along to fly.
Meet With Gail
Finally, the word came. On Tuesday, Jan. 6, Chris departed from Detroit on his way to meet Gail in Houston. I am so thankful that she was able to take time away from the adoption agency to travel with Chris. He had not traveled much and never out of the country. The two of them flew to Guatemala City with an appointment to meet Gabriel that evening. How I wish I could have been there! After getting Gabriel’s visa on Wednesday, they spent an extra day before planning to fly home Friday. Things went fairly smoothly but Chris got sick and spent Thursday evening in the emergency room in Guatemala City. Apparently through the language barriers, he was able to convince them NOT to take his appendix out!
Meanwhile, I waited on pins and needles. Chris had called me Tuesday night, but now it was Friday and I still hadn’t heard from him. Finally I got a call from Leah at the agency. The good news: “Chris is out of the hospital.” The hospital! I was in panic. No wonder I hadn’t heard from him. But Leah said they were on schedule and I should pick them up at the Kalamazoo airport that night. By the time they got off their last flight in Kalamazoo they were a road-weary sight for sore eyes! We had the best homecoming ever! Gabriel settled very easily into his new home in Kalamazoo.
We had purchased a three-bedroom ranch in November and he got his very own, freshly painted room. But, of course, before we really had much time to enjoy him, along came No. 2, just three weeks later! I had made the decision some time back to deliver the baby in Battle Creek, about 20 or 25 miles east of here, even though I lived and worked in Kalamazoo.
As you might expect, it was snowy and cold the day of Feb. 2 – Ground Hog’s Day – the day I went into labor. By the time Chris was able to find someone to watch Gabriel and make his way to the hospital, I was well on my way. I was one of those expectant mothers who planned to do everything the right way – or the hard way: No pain killers, certainly no epidural, and the baby would be allowed to nurse right away.
Well, they can tell you all they want in the child-birthing classes about the pain, but until you are actually there . Needless to say, I had the pain killer. I HAD the epidural (which, by the way, may have been the best thing for the baby), and because she had some difficulty breathing at first, she spent the first several minutes in the warmer. But there she was, Chloe Noel, born 1:50 a.m. Feb. 3. Now our lives would REALLY never be the same! It’s 2 a.m. feedings and the initial onset of the Terrible Twos all at once. It’s two car seats, two play pens and a limousine-length double stroller.
And two trips to the doctor’s office. Despite all this, the kids seem to be adjusting well. Gabriel loves his little sister. When she cries he will bring her a blanket and pat her back. He also loves to give her kisses. Just this week, when Chris had to take extra time to tend to Chloe, Gabriel went in his room on his own, pulled his quilt out of the slats of his crib, and put himself down for a nap on his floor. Chris went to check on him and found him fast asleep.
At this point I’m back at work while Chris cares for both babies as the stay at home Dad. Then chores for me (bottles, dishes, clothes to wash) when I get home. There’s never a dull moment, but as we sing around here, “Count your blessings, name them one by one !”