The story of Bernadette’s [fast and furious] arrival into the world and our family
Exactly 52 days ago we thought adoption was not going to happen for us. Today, we hold our 11 day old daughter.
On November 7th, we published our post that a birthmother had chosen Albert & I for her baby girl who was due December 4th. Not even 48 hours later, she was here!!! Bernadette Lorraine was born at 1:48pm on Thursday, November 9th to be exact. She was born at 36 weeks and 3 days, but very healthy at 6lb 3 oz and 19 inches long. As of November 7th, we thought we had weeks left to prep, but here she was ready or not! Let me tell you about the past 10 days – it has been a whirlwind!
Quick timeline looking back on our adoption journey:
- We were Married – July 3, 2009
- Found out we could not have biological children – September 2011
- Joined the adoption pool for the 1st time – May 7, 2012
- Learned that birthmother chose us for our first son, Quinton – May 17, 2012 (he was born 5/14)
- Joined the adoption pool for the 2nd time – September 2013
- Learned that a birthmother chose us for our second son, Brooks – March 27, 2014
- Watched Brooks being born into the word – May 15, 2014
- Joined the adoption pool for the 3rd time – July 2016
- Wrote about our adoption story – November 2016 (see all the posts here)
- Had a no more babies rummage – September 23, 2017
- Got “the call” that a birthmother had chosen us for her daughter – October 5, 2017
- Shared story on LCFF about our daughter who was due 12/4 – November 7, 2017
- Baby Bernadette was born – November 9, 2017
What a journey the past year has been. Back in November of 2016, we were very excited about adopting again. By summer of 2017, it looked as if it would not happen for us because we only had a few months left on our contract and because of my husband’s Lyme disease. Therefore, we sold our baby items in a rummage and 12 days later got “the call” about a little girl chosen for us. Exactly 5 weeks later, she was born!
Story of Bernadette’s Birth Day
It all started in early November. I knew Bernadette wasn’t due for close to 4 weeks, but I had this sense of urgency to get things ready. I took care of almost all the items on my long term “to-do” list. Things like – back up photos, get out winter clothes, clean the basement. Then, the week of November 9th, I had this urge to fill the fridge and clean the house. So the night of November 8th, I looked around the house and it was actually good (for once). All trash was taken out, the fridge was stocked and the rooms were clean. Ah, now to sit back and enjoy it. Not so much.
On the morning of November 9th, I got the boys ready for school. I actually packed my toothbrush for no reason. As with most Thursdays, I take my oldest to school and put my other son in the school daycare while I lead Bible Study for moms from 8:30 – 10:30. Around 8:30 I got a text from the birthmother that she was 5cm dilated and I should get to Florida (she wanted me there for the birth and I wanted to be there too). I asked my friends what 5cm dilated meant and they said, “you need to go”. So I called my husband. He was able to get us on flights from Chicago to Tampa at 4pm. That meant I had 3 hours to pack before my dad picked me up.
I said goodbye to the moms at Bible study and asked for their prayers and strength (I may have been breaking down quite a bit in front of them). It’s hard to explain the emotion. I was excited, nervous, and most of all worried if I’d get there in time. Luckily I was at the school of my oldest son, so I was able to steal him from class to say my goodbyes. Remember, at this point we were told to plan on around 25 days out of state. It was so hard, and I could see Quinton was trying to be strong, but the wells of tears in his eyes broke my heart. How could I leave my first baby for so long?
After saying goodbye, I grabbed Brooks from the daycare and took him home with me. The plan was for Brooks, my mom and me to go to Florida and for Al and Quinton to stay at our home. I had arranged car pooling for Quinton a few days prior. Luckily I had pre-packed our bags and only had to remember those last minute items (which I could barely think through – since I was in such an emotional state). My dad and mom picked us up at noon and drove us to O’Hare.
Not 10 minutes into the drive I started getting texts like these from the birthmother:
- “I’ll try to keep her in until you come.”
- “She’ll be here soon. Within hr.”
- “You’ll have a little girl any time.”
- “They just broke the water.”
- “She’s coming now. About to push.”
- “6lb 3oz 19 inches long. She is perfect.”
- “Congrats mommy and daddy.”
I was sad I couldn’t be there for the birth, but in reality even if I lived in state, I likely wouldn’t have made it. She came so fast and the cord was cutting off air to the baby. I was glad that the labor wasn’t super long for the birth mom and that the baby was healthy as could be! Phew. Next goal – get there on her BIRTH DAY. It was only 2 pm (3 pm Florida time). Our plane was to arrive at 8 pm, and we only had a 15 minute drive to hospital. It could happen!
What we did not foresee was a 3 hour plane delay. Boarding. De-planing. Re-boarding. Waiting an hour for take off. We landed around 11:00 pm Florida time. Now, to get the rental car, and get to the hospital before midnight. Well, again, we didn’t foresee the rental car systems being down. So, it was 12:40 am when we got to the hospital. But wait, TECHNICALLY it was only 11:40 pm “my” time (central time). So I will credit that I was there on her BIRTH day 🙂 No matter the case, I would be there for the next 18 birthdays and that is the most comforting thing.
The next 48 hours at the hospital were emotional all around. Meeting Bernadette was extremely special. My mom and Brooks waited in the lobby while I went to meet her and her birthparents. There was a lot of joy in the room. After chatting for a bit, the hospital set my mom, Brooks and I up with our own room. The birthmother insisted that Bernadette sleep in my room. We didn’t sleep that night (including my 3 year old).
The next day was Friday. I spent about 5 hours chatting with the birthparents. It was very special conversations I will forever cherish. The birth parents were scheduled to legally terminate their rights on Saturday at 2pm. So at this point, she could legally change her mind. It was a long 2 days, especially running on fumes. Friday night I put the baby in the nursery. I felt so bad but I hadn’t slept since 6am on Thursday morning and it was 3am on Saturday morning. They took her happily and told me not to feel bad, that I was a great mom.
On Saturday, the time came for the birth parents to terminate their rights. A witness came along with our adoption agency to the hospital. They went with the baby into my room and I waited in the hall for the longest hour ever. I just kept playing situations in my head, where they were changing their minds. And all I could think about was how much I already loved Bernadette and had loved her since I first heard about her on October 5th. I just prayed. Hard. And in the middle of one of my prayers, the agency worker came out and said congratulations to me. I burst into tears and asked if I could go in the room; she said yes.
I walked in the room, bawling and hugged the birth mom and birth father and just said, “thank you, thank you.” We chatted for another hour and then parted ways. My mom, Brooks, Bernadette and I left the hospital, but had to stay in town until we got “clearance” to fly home. Which could have been up to 2 weeks more.
I’ve texted the birthparents a few times since with updates on our travel, and we have a website set up to share pictures. I would sum up the interaction with the birthparents as “natural, easy, healthy”. I know it was hard for them, the hardest thing they’ve ever done and for that, I will be forever grateful and love that baby girl as hard as I possibly can. Throughout this whole experience I was updating Albert. He was waiting by the phone and just staring at it for updates. It was so hard for him not to be there with me.
Next Steps Before Traveling Home
We settled into the condo we were staying at (a gift stay from my mom’s boss) over the weekend. By Monday, we were anxious to hear any word on when we could fly home. I thought for sure we’d hear something by Friday. We had not. It was a good week (taking baby to the ocean, sitting by the pool, walking in the awesome Florida outdoor weather, going to first check up, and more), but we wanted to be home. Home may be snow and cold, and we were surrounded by palm trees and warm breeze, but we wanted to go home. And we would not be able to do so until both Florida and Wisconsin approved our travel.
Long story short, it was nothing short of a miracle that I had emailed a previous adoption worker in Wisconsin my post a week prior. Turns out, she now worked for the state and was going to see if there was anything she could do to get us home. On Friday at 5:15 pm (after business hours) we were at dinner, very bummed that we would not be going home until the following week at the earliest (Thanksgiving travel week…). Then, I got the call that we would be approved to travel home. I busted out my computer and booked a flight home for the next day!!!! Such a miracle!
There are still things pending with the adoption. Technical things. I won’t bore. Finalization should take place around March of 2018. Then we will get a new birth certificate, and she will take our last name. We will have post-placement visits each month. We will update the birth parents with pictures and notes.
The boys are loving their little sister. Brooks calls her “my baby” and Quinton wants to hold and feed her all the time. I am glad we are a family of 5. It feels meant to be. I cannot believe we were only in Florida 10 days, when it could have/should have been more like 25. I shouldn’t be surprised, God has been providing miracles the whole way along this journey. When He got us upgraded to first class for the flight home, I joked that now He was just showing off!
Thanks to all for coming on this adoption journey with us! What a ride it has been. And all worth it! You can read all the posts here. Feel free to reach out with any questions at Stephanie.cutler33@gmail (dot) com.
Albert, Stephanie, Quinton, Brooks & Bernadette Cutler