Tuesday, August 31, 2010

an update

I updated our babystrology counter thingy to reflect the new due date.
We're hoping to schedule the c-section on:

How cool would that be??

a relationship built entirely on text messages and pizza delivery

On Friday, August 27th, our birthmom was safely moved to a secret location, far away from the crazies (well...10 miles away, but they don't know that). I took Friday off because I had a fever and a sore throat (a lethal combination of stress, lack of sleep, an airplane ride and a sky-high ragweed count - thanks a lot, Kansas!) so while I thought I could relax in bed and sleep all day, instead I answered no less than 35 phone calls. (I swear...we try for days and days to get ahold of Mary but the one day I'm home, sick in bed, she calls relentlessly for 24 hours.)

It started with a conference call to make sure we were all on the same page - that Kelly would be moving to an extended stay near her brother's house. Yes. Then there was a call to confirm the payment plan to the extended stay. It varied. Then there was a call to confirm payment to a pre-paid credit card to be delivered to Kelly the next day. Cool. Then there was a call to explain how the lady at the extended stay who authorizes the payments over the phone was in jury duty and the guy in the office (who was super nice) needed some information faxed over. Do I look like the kind of girl who has a fax machine in her living room?  We needed to call this guy (who was super nice) and explain to him that we were putting the first week's rent on our credit card. Ugh. So then I called Ryan (who was running around his office, trying to do his job while answering phone calls and writing checks to get them sent off to California) but he had to call and talk to this guy because I WAS DONE.


There was talk for a while about our sister-in-law, Sarah being the one who might remove Kelly and Sophie from the crazy house (Sarah is a former OPPD detective and is currently training with the FBI in Georgia so she has excellent "dealing with crazy people" skills) but Sarah was training 4 hours away and it didn't make any sense for her to drive 4 hours to deposit them 10 miles up the road. She was willing!  In fact, she mentioned she might enjoy the chance to kick some crazy-people right in the teeth, but it just wasn't going to work out with her schedule.

I worked my way in to a Benedryl coma and when I woke up, Ryan was home. The drama still wasn't over, as the guy at the extended stay needed a copy of our credit card faxed over for a reason I still don't understand (because of the Benedryl) so I sat on the couch in a fog while Ryan ran around the house trying to hook up the scanner/printer/fax machine to our laptop (in the living room) and get the information to him by 5:30. Which he did.

At 6:08, I texted Kelly to say:

"We heard you got all checked in! Sleep well in your new place and please call us if you need anything!"

1 minute later she texted back:
"Well...i cant get ahold of mary...this place is just like the last..not a single dish. i only have dinner to cook for [sophie] and i tonight.  i love [sophie]"


"My brother bought me chicken and rice and peas for tonight andtheres nothing to cook in...so its not starting off too good.icant feed [sophie]. i love [sophie]"

I turned to Ryan and asked, "Is 'i love [sophie]' the thing she's writing now so we know it's her and not Tony?"

"I think so."

"She says she doesn't have any food or dishes or pots to cook in."

"Can she borrow one from her brother?"

"Probably. I just don't want her to freak out and call Tony and Amanda. We have to figure something out or she'll panic and go running back to crazy town."

"Well...I don't know what to do! She just has to get through tonight. Did she think there would be a hot meal waiting for her on the table when she got there?  What can we do? Order her a pizza?"

I texted her:
"Mary sent a prepaid credit card to arrive tomorrow morning for groceries and dishes and anything else you need. Is there any way you can borrow a pan from your brother just for tonight? There will be plenty of money on that card if you can get through tonight? Or we can call pizza hut and have a pizza delivered to you?  Pre-paid??"

"I didn't know that ..mary hadnt told me..i only got half of your message.is someone coming here. i love [sophie]"

"The card should have plenty of money on it for anything you'll need. Can you borrow a pan from your brother just for tonight?"

"My brothers girlfriend left him and took the dishes...its funny if u knew her..i have about 3 dollars in change so ill take [sophie] to store Am i gonna be meeting someone tomorrow? i love [sophie]"

I turned to Ryan, "Does she think Sarah is coming tomorrow to take her grocery shopping?"

"Who knows."

I texted her back:
"No, the card should come in the mail. Either fedex or ups. Do you want us to order a pizza and have it delivered to you? Pre-paid?"

"Is that possible?would that be strange?sounds good really..im just embarrassed..yall really dont mind. i love [sophie]"

"Not at all! We'll call the pizza hut near you and have it delivered. What would you like on it?"

"Yall are funny..well pepperoni and italian sausage is what we get...yall are so sweet...im in room304 by the way. i love [sophie]"

Ryan got on the laptop and looked up the nearest Pizza Hut (we had her new address because we'd just faxed a week's worth of rent to her new "landlord".)  He called the Pizza Hut and explained that we were in Kansas and we wanted to order a pizza and have it delivered to someone without her getting any record of our last name or our credit card information. No problem.

"We ordered the pizza. It will be there in about an hour. It's all paid, even the tip. Enjoy! :)"

"Wow..yall really are very kind people..thank u so much...i have tears in my eyes...yall have a good night...call me when you would like..i love [sophie]"

(No phonecalls for awhile, my friend...sorry.)

She texted us an hour later:
"Pizza just got here...thank u so much. i love [sophie]"

"You're welcome! :)"

"Yall are the best...have a good weekend...call when you can. i love [sophie]"

"Do you have a way to get groceries tomorrow? Are you within walking distance to a grocery store? Or wal-mart?"

"Sorry..just gave [sophie] a bath didnt see message...were not within walking didtance but i could probably take a cab for 5 dollars if brother cant. i love [sophie]"

"The credit card should be there tomorrow so you can pay for the cab that way. Just ask them when you call if they accept credit cards."

"Ok...im gonna see if my brother will come take us. hes actually right near by..thats why i chose this area.he works some weekends though. i love [sophie]"

(the next morning)
"The card came and i really want to thank you. thank you so much for helping me with my daughter and caring if we are ok...maybe we can talk 2 nite. i love [sophie]"

"You're very welcome! Now go have some fun and shop for whatever you guys need. :)"

"Ok...just call me in the room304...or on cell phone when yall get a chance. i love [sophie]"

We haven't called or texted since Saturday afternoon, so we're just crossing our fingers that everything is fine. She's either in a total state of panic - climbing the walls because there's no drama to keep her brain spinning or she's totally mellowed out - sitting on the couch eating name brand peanut butter and watching cartoons.  Even if I wanted to call and talk to her, I've managed to lose my voice from all of the coughing. My "sore throat and fever" amped itself up to laryngitis and I sound like a phlegmy version of Kathleen Turner. Kinda sexy if not for all of the mucus and raging headaches.

Monday, August 30, 2010

medical records

Ryan and I got a call on Thursday from our adoption agent. She had some good news. Kelly was finally moving out of Amanda's house. She'd had enough. Not only had Amanda shut off the house phone (so Kelly couldn't use it) but she and her daughter were beginning to taunt Kelly and Sophie with food - bringing home McDonald's and eating it in front of them - telling them to "go ask Ryan and Ashley for money if you wanna eat."

I don't know how you look at a 3 year-old and tell her "I'm not going to help you" but I haven't pretended to understand how these people think - I'm not going to start now.  

According to Mary, sometimes they would feed Sophie, but not Kelly. And it usually depended on whether Tony was "happy" - that's when Kelly would get treated well (further evidence of the sick relationship between Amanda and Tony - that they decided whether to help or torture Kelly on any given day.) But Kelly hit her breaking point when Amanda told her she could no longer use her phone to talk about her adoption plans. She didn't want Kelly "conducting that kind of business" on her phone.  Kelly finally realized that Amanda didn't care about her, she didn't care about Sophie, and she didn't care about the health of this baby. The same woman who drove all night from Georgia because she was SO CONCERNED about her safety was now turning her back and treating her like garbage.  My guess is that Tony was disappointed that we were no longer financially supporting all of them. The burden of guilt was falling on him again and he couldn't take it. Kelly tried to explain that she ASKED us not to help her, "it's not their responsibility" but clearly they didn't care. 

Mary was going to make all of the arrangements so Tony and Amanda wouldn't find out where she was going (and disrupt Kelly's chance to move on, again). Mary was also retaining a lawyer for us in Georgia and helping Kelly re-apply for Medicaid and food stamps. The other good news was that Mary had the medical records analyzed from the night Kelly went to the emergency room and we have an updated estimated due date - October 12th!  Kelly also passed every drug test, blood test and urinalysis without any problems. Her heart rate was fine, her blood pressure was fine, and she was only in the emergency room for 3 hours - which told us that the baby was fine too or they would not have let her go so fast. They didn't do a sonogram, but they gave her a prescription for Iron and a daily vitamin without any restrictions to her activity or diet. 

Our only freak-out moment happened when Ryan forwarded the medical records to me and I finally had a chance to pour over them. I looked at every number and abbreviation, trying to figure out what it all meant. First thing I noticed, under "Current Medications" the nurse listed "mj. occ. pain pill" The nurse also wrote "admits to mj use", so it was definitely something they talked about. The urinalysis came back "negative" for every drug, but listed "Presumptive Positive" under the THC results. She'd been smoking pot and admitted it to the nurse, but not so much that it came back in her test results. 

I google searched, "effects of marijuana on a fetus". The first link I clicked on was blocked by Hallmark. Great. Now I'm on some kind of list. The second link was through drugpolicy.org and it said "there is no convincing scientific evidence that marijuana causes psychological damage or mental illness in either teenagers or adults. Some marijuana users experience psychological distress following marijuana ingestion, which may include feelings of panic (hello...trip to the emergency room?), anxiety, and paranoia (as in...every single text message we've ever gotten from Kelly). Such experiences can be frightening, but the effects are temporary.  

Since it was not directly linked to a conversation about THC and babies, I clicked on a yahoo user question that made my heart sink. Chrishawn T asked, "I have been smoking marajuana basically throughout my whole pregnancy, and I know its not right, but how has it effected my baby if at all?"  

And this person gets to have babies. 


The answer was, "When adverse outcomes are found, they are inconsistent from one study to another, always relatively minor, and appear to have no impact on infant health or mortality. For example, in one recent study, researchers reported a statistically significant effect of marijuana on birth length. The marijuana-exposed babies, on average, were less than two-tenths of one inch shorter than babies not exposed to marijuana. Another study found a negative effect of marijuana on birth weight, but only for white women in the sample. In a third study, marijuana exposure had no effect on birth weight, but a small negative effect on gestational age. Overall, this research indicates no adverse effect of prenatal marijuana exposure on the physical health of newborns."

So according to this, my baby will be two-tenths of one inch shorter than the other babies with a potentially low birth weight, but that's about it.  Certainly nothing to cancel the adoption about, but worth calling Mary back and telling her, "Ummm...Kelly totally lied to us!"  And maybe let's do a better job of telling the truth in the future? Mmmm-Kay?


And seriously...if she's gonna smoke pot, why is she smoking the kind that makes her all crazy and irrational?  Why can't she smoke the kind that makes her want to take her prenatal vitamin and get a sonogram? 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

While on vacation, Ryan and I both received some strange text messages from Kelly. I got the first one late Friday night (7:15pm in California, which means it was 10:15pm in Georgia). It said, "I just need to know if yall still want to work with me."

I immediately texted back:
"Of course we do!! Are you okay?"

Several hours passed and I got this message:
"I just think we need to have a very serious conversation but I don't want Mary involved. I just want to talk to yall because I haven't been sleeping. I'm just so worried and upset about the way this whole thing started off."

I immediately texted back:
"It's absolutely fine! Everything is totally fine and we could not be more excited about working with you." (9:05pm in California; 1:05am in Georgia)

I didn't hear anything else from her. Hopefully she went to sleep.

Saturday morning, I texted this:
"Ryan and i are both traveling right now so we aren't together but we will be home monday. Are you free to talk on monday night? Maybe we can put some of your fears to rest?"

I didn't hear anything else from her.

On Sunday night, Ryan got this text:
"I love [sophie]…I just have a coulpe of very serious questions to ask you..i have taken the time to think seriously about this…we all need to be on the same page with this before we can continue. I love [sophie]."

Evidently, he debated even showing me this text because his immediate thought was, "She's going to ask us to adopt Sophie too." And how did he feel about that?  He needed time to think.

My flight got in at 10:15pm and I physically walked in my door at 11:30 (trouble at the baggage claim). Ryan texted me at 11:45 that he was 15 minutes away (dropping off the other guys on his way home) so we hugged and brushed our teeth while attempting to share every detail of our separate vacations. Then he showed me the text.

Holy crap.

"What does that even mean? Does she want us to adopt Sophie too?"

"That's what I was thinking."

"Would we?"

"I don't know. Probably."

"Can you even imagine what her life is like with those people? We would have to."

"I love you."

"I love you too."

Five minutes later, Ryan was snoring.

Three hours later, I was wide awake. I was trying to imagine our life with little Sophie - explaining to her that "your mommy loved you SO much that she decided you should come live at our house" and "this is your baby brother and he needs a big sister to protect him. Can you help us take care of your little brother?" (or sister...we don't know what we're having.)  And maybe Sophie wouldn't remember living at Amanda's house - on the couch?  How much do most of us remember before the age of 3?  But jeez...how much therapy were we in for? Sophie would feel permanently rejected and hurt. Forever. She would wonder what she did wrong and I began to imagine all of the sleepless nights when Sophie would probably cry for her "mama" and I would have to explain to her that "I'm your mommy now." She wouldn't understand. But maybe the presence of a biological sibling would give her some stability and comfort? They would be forever bonded because they'd both been abandoned by the same woman - and adopted by the same loving family.

Finally, I got up and took 2 Tylenol PM. I fell asleep thinking about the paperwork required to permanently change her name. We would call her "Georgia" enough times that by the time she started kindergarten, that would be her name. Georgia Westhoff. And that way, if her crazy mom ever tried to find her and take her back, they couldn't find her (because let's face it, she would probably change her mind after a week and then we'd get harassing phone calls until they eventually drove up in the middle of the night and took Sophie away from us).  Crazy-ass crazies!

I woke up the next morning all groggy and dazed, like the whole thing never happened. For a while I thought I'd imagined it all, and technically I guess I had...but the text was real. It was the ubiquitous question on my mind and it deserved scrutiny. I even went so far as to re-design my house (in my mind again) to accommodate a 3 year old. Which room would she get?  What colors would she want? What bedding would we pick out?   How would she get along with Delaney?  What would our friends say when we came home from Georgia with TWO kids instead of one??

Needless to say, I did not accomplish much at work on Monday.

I hurried home so I could be there by 5:30 to call Kelly. Ryan tried her cell. It was no longer in service. He texted her. "We're home and we'd love to talk to you." Then I got a text from a number I didn't recognize: "Hey this is [kelly]. I would really like to talk to ya'll. I have no phone. I need minutes on the cell phone that i have. Does mary do that? I have no way of talking to ya'll until i get minutes. This is my friend's number, so if you could let me know how i can get minutes to talk to you guys, that would be great."

I gave the number to Ryan so he could dial it. A girl answered. He asked if we could talk to Kelly. She said, "She just went to the bathroom. Can she call you back on this number?" He said sure. And we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

What if it was Tony texting us the whole time? What if the girl who answered was his new girlfriend and Kelly wasn't there at all?  Mary warned us that sometimes Tony grabs Kelly's phone and text messages people. They were going to think of a "code" so Mary would know it was Kelly and not Tony.

I texted back:
"We have no idea how to add minutes to your phone but we are here and ready to talk to you. We think mary has to do it but we are waiting to hear back from her."

I got a message back:
 "Well i cant use this phone all the time. Its not mine. Mary knows how to do it when you're ready."

Just then, Ryan's phone rang.

What the hell?

He started talking to her and looking at me like, "it's her!" as he pushed speaker phone. I could hear her voice. How was this strange, calm drawl coming from the same frantic person who texted all of those messages?  The conversation lasted over 45 minutes, but it basically came down to three things:

1. Mary asked Kelly, "Do you still want to place your baby with Ashley and Ryan" (probably in the middle of a conversation where Kelly was going on and on about something completely irrelevant and Mary probably wanted to get her back on the topic of what really mattered) so Kelly explained to us that, "Mary kep askin' me if ah wuz still innersted in workin' with y'all so ah started freakin' out that maybe y'all'd changed yur mines."  No. We haven't changed our minds.  "Wul...ah jus cudn baleeve that y'all'd changed yur mines outa nowear, but she kep askin' me so ah started freakin' out..."  No. We haven't changed our minds.  "Wul...Mary jus kep askin' me so thass wha ah wuz geddin suh worried."   Great. I think that's settled. Nobody has changed their minds.  But it went on like this until Ryan interrupted with a question:

"So...what were your very serious questions? Are you okay?"

2. "Oh, yeah, ah'm fine. Ah jus wanna fine out howduh git more minits on mah fone becuz [Amanda]'s bee-un rill straynge about her fone. She keeps tellin' me, 'this ain't yur fone' an 'this is mah biznuss fone' an ah jus caint keep askin' er." Of course. We will talk to Mary and figure out how to get more minutes on your phone. "Wul...ah jus...she's jus bee-un rill straynge about her fone. Ah jus wanneda add more minits but ah dunno how it all wurks cuz ah think ever time ah wendu tha store Allan n Peggy jus added more minits cuz it jus showed up one tahm with ten more minits."  Do you mean that Allan and Peggy are still adding minutes to your phone?  "Ah dunno. This hole thing is jus rill straynge an ah don wanna keep askin' [Amanda] for help. Ah mean, ah got mahself inna this mess, ah shud bee abol tuh git mahself out, but...she's jus bee-un rill straynge."

Just then, the doorbell rang and it was our buddy Stu, in town for his birthday. Our plan was to meet a bunch of people for dinner at 6:30 to celebrate, so I greeted him (and his mom, who had just driven him from Lawrence) and showed them the nursery we'd renovated. The whole time, I was telling them about this phone call and how it's gone on for 30 minutes now, but we haven't really talked about anything. Certainly nothing SERIOUS or CRITICAL as her text messages had indicated.

At 6:15, Ryan was still talking to Kelly. Well...he was listening. I can't say he was doing much talking. I heard him say a couple of times, "Well...you can call us anytime. It's totally fine." At one point, I scribbled a note on a blank piece of paper with the word, "complaining?" and he nodded "yes" and made the "she's still talking" motion with his hand. I scribbled "what were her serious questions?" and he just made a face like, "I have no idea". I figured we had the car ride to the Plaza and the rest of dinner to talk about it, if necessary.  I said goodbye to Stu's mom and immediately went to the liquor cabinet.

"Do you want a drink?"

"You seem like you need it more."

"I DO, actually..."

So we made some drinks.  Ryan walked in as we were clinking glasses and indicated that we should probably get going. (I may or may not have taken my drink with me in the car.)  Stu sat shot-gun and I sat in the back while Ryan told us about main topic number 3. 

3. Mostly, Kelly wanted to explain why she left Kansas City. She regrets it every day but she just felt really embarrassed. She didn't like calling me every time she needed a fork and she felt guilty that she was relying on someone else for everything (which made me CRAZY because how is her life any different now? She's living on Amanda's couch and eating Amanda's food!  How is THAT not relying on someone else for everything?) To which Ryan responded, "I know" with a really long pause. "Sorry...continue.  What else did she say?"  But apparently not much. She sort of sticks to one topic and repeats the same information over and over again, changing the order of the words but not the content. It's an excruciating way to have a conversation.

"So...she doesn't want us to adopt Sophie?"

"She gave no indication that she wanted us to adopt Sophie. She basically just wanted to talk about Mary and the texting thing - which apparently Mary told her some story about a birthmom who sent her a text message saying, 'I don't want to do this anymore' which turned out to be that girl's MOM...so now I'm beginning to think Kelly has confused that story with her OWN life?  That maybe Tony ISN'T texting from her phone?  But I have no idea. It's impossible to know what's real anymore. I think she hears things a certain way in her head and that becomes the truth. She changed her story several times while we were talking so I don't think she has any idea what's going on."

"Then what in the world was all of the frantic texting about? What were her serious questions?"

"She just thought Mary was asking her if she was still 'in it' as if we weren't - or something? I don't know. I think she's home alone a lot."

"No kidding."

So we went on to have a lovely dinner and a great evening and we celebrated Stu with endless platters of meat from Fogo de Chao. (DELICIOUS!!!!) We stayed up playing games and listening to music until about 2 in the morning, so (once again) I didn't get much sleep, but I pretend I'm preparing myself for motherhood. I've heard you get very little sleep once you become a mom.  And I don't know how to be MORE ready than I am now, but if this is the training, then I'm preparing for some sort of marathon!

As of today, our baby is roughly the size of a pineapple. He or she should weigh a little over 4 lbs. (but still...no doctor visits mean no confirmation that everything is on track, so I'm using this incredible tool called "hope" to get me through each day).  I don't have a belly (unless you count the tuna sandwich I ate for lunch) so it's really hard to feel like anything is truly happening at all, but as Stu left yesterday, he said, "next time I see you, you'll be a mama!" which almost made me cry.  It seems like forever and yet it's right around the corner!  The weather is getting crisp and the leaves are already falling in our yard. Before we know it, fall will be upon us and I will be dressing my little October baby in a Halloween costume.

So here's to "hope".

Monday, August 23, 2010


Ryan and I took a much-needed break from the adoption craziness last week. I went to LA for a work trip and Ryan went to Cincinnati for a tennis tournament. I shopped at Fred Segal while he watched Andy Roddick. We both returned late Sunday night filled with renewed hope and promise for a successful adoption. Only 7 more weeks to go!

By the way, California is excellent therapy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

the latest

Last we heard, Kelly was calling around for a new place to live. She is essentially homeless and relying on Amanda for everything, which is not good - considering Amanda has some ulterior motives and is being less than helpful. Our agent wants Kelly to go somewhere that doesn't involve Tony or Amanda (she suspects their relationship is sick and twisted) and they are going to attempt to use code (even around Sophie) so Tony doesn't find out where she's going. Kelly admitted (to Mary) that she is scared of Tony and she no longer trusts Amanda, but it's impossible to talk on the phone without one of them listening. Even Sophie repeats everything back to Tony (because she's a kid and she doesn't understand lying), and they don't want Tony to magically show up again and ruin her chance of a better life. Tony is somewhat abusive and controlling and Kelly has been trying to leave him for years. Our agent said, "Is this the kind of example you want to set for Sophie? That it's okay to let men treat you this way?" and Kelly started to cry (so clearly there are bigger issues). Our agent also told her she's in danger of having Sophie taken away if she can't provide for her or protect her.  Not sure it was necessary to scare Kelly in to moving out, but she needs to get away from those people and off of Amanda's couch.

Kelly had her chance to make a clean break by moving to Topeka. Amanda and Tony didn't have her number. They didn't know how to contact her. But when the place was so bad and she was miserable, Kelly called Amanda for moral support and it went downhill from there. Amanda got Tony involved and she let them right back in to her life. We still don't think it was Kelly's idea to ride back to Georgia with them - Tony just has a lot of influence over her and she's scared to say "no". Our agent said, "She wakes up every day and regrets coming home. She wishes she'd stayed, but she just didn't know how to accept your kindness. She said she'd never met anyone so generous - complete strangers who would drive up in the middle of the night to rescue her out of that place in Topeka - she didn't trust it. But she knows she made a huge mistake by leaving and she wants to prove you can trust her."  We asked where she was going and if we could help her get there (if she needed money). Mary said, "She doesn't want to take any money from you guys. She feels like you've done too much already. She wants to get there on her own and prove to you guys that she is GOING to place this baby with you. She wants this baby to have YOUR life. She doesn't want this baby to have HER life. She's embarrassed about everything that's happened and she doesn't want you to tell the baby anything about Tony. Just say 'you never met him'."  Poor girl.

There are three places where Kelly could go - and since she's going to use code, I suppose I should use code as well (though I realize Tony and Amanda don't have computers and they'd never know about this blog - and even if they did, I doubt they would track Kelly down through me, but still...I'm going to try my best to protect her.) Kelly has friends in California, Alabama and Indiana, so Mary said, "Her job today is to call everyone she knows and find out if she can crash with them until this baby is born." Kelly asked if maybe we could help her get an apartment somewhere after the baby is born - pay a month of her rent or something. Mary wants her to prove that she can stay away from Tony and Amanda first and follow through with her plans before we promise any support. Sounds good to us!

We felt much better after talking to Mary. Kelly doesn't want to take any money from us and she still really wants to place this baby with us. THAT'S HUGE! We offered to send money so she could add more minutes to her phone, but that's the only thing she accepted. Of course, none of this is a done deal - that's the risk we take with adoption, but we're feeling pretty good right now. We're not risking anything by sticking with her until the end. We're basically doing (what is called) a "baby born" situation where the birthmother hasn't had any financial support or prenatal care (and in some cases, the pregnancy is such a shock that she hasn't made any adoption arrangements) so she calls the adoption agency when she's going in to labor and the agency calls a waiting family (that's us) to come adopt the baby. Most of the time, you haven't been matched ahead of time and they know very little about the birthmother or birthfather, but in this case we've already been matched and we know WAY TOO MUCH about the birthmother and birthfather. And instead of the agency calling us, we figure Kelly will probably call us - or have her c-section scheduled.

It depends on where Kelly ends up, but the adoption laws in each of those states are slightly different. In Kansas, the law states that Kelly can sign relinquishment papers 12 hours after the baby is born (no sooner). In Georgia, the law states that Kelly can sign relinquishment papers immediately after the baby is born, but she has a 10-day window when she can revoke her consent (that's the "scary time" when we just pray she hasn't changed her mind).  In other states, the relinquishment window is anywhere from 48-72 hours, but the decision is irrevocable. What this means is, Kansas is basically awesome and we have the very best adoption laws with the shortest "freak-out" window. (yeah, Kansas!) But Kelly won't deliver in Kansas. She has no intentions of coming back here. We are expecting a phonecall sometime this week to let us know where she ended up and where she plans to deliver. We're hoping she can land somewhere soon and schedule that c-section!! (and even bigger bonus if she can stay with someone who will help her get to the doctor when it's time!)

We realize we probably won't find out the sex of the baby until he or she is born and I think we're okay with that. Just one more element of excitement to add to our little story!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

are you KIDDING me?

Just had a lengthy text conversation with our birthmom.
It went something like this:

Me: "Mary said you were going to the dr today!  How did it go?"

Kelly: "Am i supposed to even be talking to yall? im confused...and the doc wanted my medicaid papers which i didnt have all of...its a big production it seems."

Me: "We're just waiting on confirmation that everything is going well with the baby. We still want to work with you!"

Kelly: "K. i will let yall know when i know something. i have to go to medicaid tomorrow. then i can proceed from there. my hands are tied until then."

Me: "So the dr wouldn't see you until all of your medicaid forms were filled out?"

Kelly: "The lady i made the appt. with said i could...when i got there it was a different story. now i have to get [amanda] to say im living here and shes nervous."

Me: "Is that a temporary living situation? They just need an address on file."

Kelly: "Bottom line...im homeless and no address means no medicaid...im doing the best i can...i have issues that dont even concern this adoption..."

Kelly: "I have fifty cents left on this phone...ill let yall know as things progress."

SO...the woman who DROVE ALL NIGHT because she was SO CONCERNED about her "friend" won't even let her write an address on a Medicaid form so she can go to the doctor????  I'm not interested in knowing any of these other "issues" that Kelly's talking about. I can only imagine. I'm just irritated that we had a PERFECT living situation all lined up for her here, and she abandoned it to go back "home" where these IDIOTS could "mentally support" her.  Nice support.

And we still have 9 more weeks of this.


As we seem to have made some forward momentum on the adoption front (SHE'S GOING TO THE DOCTOR! SHE'S GOING TO THE DOCTOR! SHE'S GOING TO THE DOCTOR!!!!!  Can I get an "AMEN"?) my plan is to break out the "wallpaper remover bucket" as soon as I walk in the door tonight (right after I kiss my husband and remove everything pinchy from my outfit). It is time to attack the wallpaper in the nursery! 

The "wallpaper remover bucket" contains 1. a giant yellow sponge 2. the "tiger claw" 3. the all-important scraper and 4. several bottles of "Dif". We have a proven method (perfected over the last 5 years) that involves all of these essential tools. Step One: score the wallpaper with the tiger claw; Step Two: spray on the Dif; Step Three: soak the giant yellow sponge in hot water; Step Four: press the sponge against the wall, allowing the steam to heat the glue under the wallpaper; Step Five: peel! 

I have chosen a grey-ish blue color for the walls called "Ghost Ship" (not to be confused with this movie). I picked it to match this rug we found 4 months ago (notice all of the little birds and woodland creatures?) It's not blue because we know we're having a boy. It's blue because it goes with my calm color palette, and my nature-themed design concept.

My other idea (I just got this one last night): instead of purchasing $400 birch tree wallpaper or $90 wall clings, I am going to purchase a $6 roll of white contact paper and cut my own birch trees, then stick them to the wall. Like this:

It's just going to be one accent wall and I have decided I can do this. I have not tried it anywhere else in my house (or in my life) but in my mind, it's going to work. And it will be awesome - and cheap. But mostly awesome. 

We have the crib:

We have the dresser:
We also have this super cute night light (thanks to Bev) that gives a soft glow to the room:

Still need to replace the ceiling light (no ideas on that yet), but I've decided my natural wood blinds will look pretty cool (and natural) with my color palette.

Still REALLY want this glider, but searching like crazy to find it on sale somewhere:

Can you see it?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

what a day

Last night, we waited by the phone only to have our conference call cancelled. Mary thought it made more sense to wait for a verbal confirmation from the ER nurse regarding Kelly's hospital visit. We agreed.  The call to cancel our call was exactly on time.

Tonight, we waited by the phone for the call to make up for our cancelled call. The call that was supposed to make up for our cancelled call never happened. It wasn't cancelled, it just never happened.

I called the agency at 6:30, but the receptionist said Mary was on another call. We assumed that meant she was on the phone with Kelly and she would call us back soon.

Instead, she just never called.

I emailed Mary at 9:15.

She emailed right back.

"We received a verbal that she goes back tomorrow. She was in and they did confirm everything seem to be good. Will mail out records on Wednesday 8-11-2010."

Seems like she could have called us back to say that.

Monday, August 9, 2010

above and beyond

First of all, let me just say that the outpouring of support and interest in our "story" has been overwhelming. I've done nothing but marvel at your sincerity and compassion over the last 4 weeks (and 5 years) of our struggle to build a family. I don't even know where to begin thanking you all for the personal emails, the cards, the packages, the flowers and the facebook messages. If I haven't personally responded to thank you, please just know that I'm storing all of your kind words in a place that gets me through every single day with grace and courage. And when I see you again, you will get a big hug!  I promise! I read every word (sometimes twice). I read them to Ryan and he reads them to me. We love them. We need them. And we sincerely thank you!  

Now...for the update:

We were supposed to have a conference call on Friday, but our agent in California called my cell phone at 3:00 to say, "[Kelly] is still waiting for her friend [Amanda] to get off the phone so she can call us back."  Evidently, they are now sharing a phone.  Kelly is out of minutes. Our agent also mentioned that Tony has been gone for the last 3 days. As soon as they got back to Georgia, he took off. Nice job, jerk.

We're still not sure of the exact cause of Kelly's panic attack, but it sounds like she is really regretting going back to Georgia. She is back to living on Amanda's couch and using food stamps for groceries. I hate to say "I told you so" but if she could have held out for another 24 hours, she would have loved the apartment we found for her. I mean...can you imagine it?  A fully-furnished apartment with a 24-hour gym, a pool, a washer/dryer in the building and a sweet little couple (that's us) footing the entire bill - bringing her food - answering to her every need while she just chills out for the remainder of her pregnancy?  Who wouldn't want that?  We even had an offer from our sweet friend Cat to bring her in for a complementary haircut/color at Cat's salon!  People were lined up and ready to pamper our birthmom (because we have the most amazing, supportive friends/family in the whole world) and she let those fools convince her to ride back to Georgia where they could "mentally support" her.  So dumb (and short-sighted).

The medical report (which is the only thing we actually care about at this point) is being mailed to ANLC, so Ryan and I were trying to imagine what we would talk about on Friday if there still wasn't a medical report/update. Mary said something about how Kelly wants to "explain about the maintenance man and all of the reasons that she left" and I assured Mary that we're not interested in any of that.  It doesn't change our minds one way or the other. The drama swirling around Kelly has nothing to do with this adoption plan. We want an update on the health of the baby. That's all.

It sounds really cruel, but we realized we can't emotionally invest in Kelly's health or happiness anymore. We did EVERYTHING we could to make her happy and it didn't work. We got burned. So now it's time to lean on the agency and let them take care of Kelly's well-being.  (that's what we're paying them for, right?)

Our agent said, "Do I think she's going to place this baby? 100%.  Do I think she wants to place this baby with you guys? 100%. Do I think there's still going to be drama?  100%." 

I know it's going to work out the way it's supposed to and we obviously don't have any control over what happens next, but we're really ready for something good to happen. If it all falls apart and this was not meant to be, we'll just pick ourselves up and start again - we know how to do that, but wouldn't it be great if we ended up with a healthy baby on October 15th? There's a really good chance we won't find out the sex of the baby until he or she arrives. It's looking like Kelly is going to do everything in her power not to go to the doctor or get a sonogram (and there's truly nothing we can do about that) but we can still urge Mary to urge Kelly to visit the doctor.

Everything felt suspiciously quiet this weekend - like the calm before the storm. It made me uncomfortable. I'm either bracing myself for what's coming or I'm just not used to things going well. Just this weekend, I compared our story to a Lifetime Original Movie, so I'm guessing this is the boring part where you should probably get up to pee or refill your popcorn. Lord only knows what's going to happen next.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

that makes two of us

Found out today that Kelly was in the hospital last night because she was having a panic attack. She was having trouble breathing. I didn't even think to ask if they checked the baby, but her medical records are being faxed to our agent in California. Hoping they also did a blood test but are there any nurses out there?  If a pregnant woman comes in to the emergency room, don't you usually hook up a fetal heart monitor?

We'll have a conference call with her (and our agent) tomorrow, but I'm guessing things aren't going any better for her in Georgia??

no news is good news

We didn't hear from Mary last night, which is actually a good thing.  She's talking to Kelly and working out the details of getting her to the doctor (and figuring out why she was at the hospital last night - can't wait to hear that story). She's also in the process of finding an attorney in Georgia to manage the trust we're supposed to set up for Kelly, so if the phone isn't ringing then we're not being asked for money - which is fine with us. (and don't get me wrong...we're not trying to get away with not paying or supporting her, we're just not clamoring to send a big check to another lawyer until we know for sure that Kelly has had a blood test). So, this is us playing it cool.

And there you are...my first drama-free update!  Feels kind of strange.  And boring.

So to liven things up, here's a picture of me with my smooshy little nephew, Brett:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

the saga continues

We got a call from Mary today and she's been getting text messages from Kelly as well.  Basically, Kelly still really wants to place this baby with us.  Through all of her craziness, complaining and changing her mind, she has been consistent about one thing - she wants this baby to go home with us. We are "it" for her (which is good to know). 

And it turns out, the delay in hearing anything back from Mary (though annoying and frustrating) has worked in our favor. Technically, we have been "responsibility-free" for almost 4 days and have paid nothing this month to support whatever habits Kelly may or may not have (Mary does not suspect a drug habit and neither does Ryan, but we requested a blood test anyway).  We will get the results of that before we decide to continue.  We also got the deposit back from the room she trashed at the extended stay, so that was a good thing. (We found out they tried to sneak Amanda's 12 year old Australian Shephard in to the hotel on Sunday - in addition to smoking in the room and ashing in the nightstand. Did I mention it was right next to the Bible? I mean, they only missed by a couple of inches.) Kelly was there for less than 48 hours and the hotel manager knew exactly who she was.

The unexpected (financial) bonuses of Kelly leaving when she did: 1. we hadn't signed a 3 month lease yet  2. we hadn't gone to the trouble of furnishing an entire apartment for her  3. we hadn't retained a lawyer yet  4. we hadn't bought any new (perishable) groceries for her in a while  5. we didn't shell out $1500 up-front (out-of-pocket) for 3 months of doctor visits and pre-natal care that she would never use  6. we didn't have to pay for her flight back to Georgia (or Sophie's).  Not that we think she's better off (mentally) where she is, but she did save us a boat-load if she was just going to pick up and leave anyway. (we think she craves the drama - and I think that was a nice way to put it.)

Of course, now we're making a pro/con list for sticking with this adoption plan vs. starting over, but all of that hangs on the fact that Kelly has to pass a drug test and she has to show us an updated sonogram. In fact, while we were talking to Mary, she got a text from Kelly that she was at the hospital. (which could mean she was just AT the hospital...like, in the gift shop or something, or she could have been there for Sophie or she was there for some emergency back surgery for Tony, or she could have been there because something is wrong with the baby, but whatever...we aren't even guessing anymore.  Mary was going to investigate and get back to us.)

Mary also promised that she would investigate the living situation and we could evaluate what we're able to contribute (financially) to her living expenses each month. We are legally obligated to provide $$ for her rent, food, phone, utilities, etc. until the baby is born, so we can't just say "we won't pay". It's not an option for any match - it just depends on who you get, how they live and what their expenses are. If we start over, we could get matched with a 16 year old girl who is 2 days away from delivering, she lives at home with her parents, and she is covered under her parents' insurance or we could get matched with another 37 year old woman who is still 10 weeks away from delivering, she lives in an apartment with her jobless boyfriend, and she still hasn't applied for Medicaid.  That's the risk we take.

We expect to hear back from Mary by the end of the day, but we aren't in any hurry now.  We think we might drag our feet a little bit and see if we can get away with not paying for Kelly's coffee and Coke diet for most of August. Besides, we might need that money if this baby needs tons of surgery (you know...for the brittle bone disease).

what to say?

Just got a text from Kelly this morning:

"I just need to know if yall are still interested in this process."

(...and yes, she types "y'all".)

Still haven't heard back from Mary. Don't even know if she's still working with Kelly after the email I sent her (and photographic evidence of the beer and cigarettes in the room). I have NO IDEA what to do.

I want to be a mommy.

I want that baby to go to a good home.

I don't know if I want to work with these people.

But maybe now that they're in Georgia, we can have some peace until the baby is born???

I have no idea.

Advice??  Please??

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

we're done

Like the start of every effed-ed up day, it started with a phonecall. I saw her name on caller I.D. and it was the first time I didn't jump to answer. We knew Tony and Amanda were in town and we were going to try our best not to see them at all. Their plan was to take Sophie back to Georgia so we figured they had to be leaving soon. It was noon. Maybe they'd already gone and Kelly just needed some more ice or something? I answered.


"Hay...ummmm...yeah...this is Kelly."

"How are you?"

"Well...ummmm...do you an Ryan have plans for tu-day, by any chance?"

"We were actually going to go look at apartments for you. We have several listings that my friend found and we were gonna go check them out."

"Well...ummm...mah frens Tony an'Amanda are here in town an they wanna meech y'all."


"Well.  (looking to Ryan for some sort of brilliant lie)  Ryan and I thought it might be best if we just keep our relationship professional. That we just keep our relationship with you and not extend it any further."



"Does that make sense?"

(clearly flustered)  "Well...uh...I mean...I guess if y'all don'wanna meet'um."

"It's not that we don't want to meet them. (it was) We just want to try and follow the rules as much as possible. Just to keep working on our relationship with you."  (I could feel my palms start to sweat and I kept looking at Ryan who was looking more and more frustrated with me.)

"Well...a'right...I mean...he's thu father uv this bay-bee..."

"I know.  (pause)  Let me talk to Ryan and we'll call you right back, okay?"

(annoyed) "O'kay."


"Why didn't you say we had family stuff going on?" 

"I said we were looking at apartments! I thought that was good enough! I'm a TERRIBLE liar! I'm SORRY!!!!!"

"I know. CRAP!"

"Should we call Mary?"


I dialed the hotline and explained to the receptionist that our birthfather just drove in to town last night, showed up out of the blue and now he wants to meet us. She sounded a little shocked and said something to the effect of "oh dear", which only made me more nervous and freaked out. I asked if she could please get in touch with Mary right away and she told me, "I'll have Mary call you."

Mary never called.

Ryan and I frantically ran around the house, trying to figure out what the eff to do. If we didn't go, our birthfather could really screw things up for us. If we did go, we ran the risk of crossing the line and allowing these crazy people in to our lives whenever they wanted. 

What the faaaaaaaaaaaaack!? 

We decided to go.

I asked Ryan to call Kelly since "clearly, I suck at it." and make plans to meet. We decided to meet them somewhere on Johnson Drive where there were several restaurants and fast food places. I'd driven her up and down Johnson Drive on Friday, so I know she remembered seeing the old-fashioned McDonald's, and Sophie pointed out the Burger King with the playland. 

"How about the Burger King...Sophie can play while we talk."

Sounded good. They were just leaving the hotel.

I can honestly say that this was the most scared I've been in my entire life. We were flying blind. We had no idea what our agency would say. We had no idea what these people wanted from us. We had no idea what to expect. I have been nervous before, but this was a whole different kind of stomach turned inside out nausea that didn't stop from the moment we drove in to that parking lot until the moment we left. 

Ryan and I got some drinks and found a table. It wasn't big enough for 5 adults, but we figured we could just move in to the playland once they arrived and let Sophie run around. I twirled the wrapper from my straw and tapped my foot until we saw them pull up.  Of course. It was a big, white Buick with a handicapped tag. "Who is handicapped?" I asked Ryan.  "All of them." 

We watched them get out of the car, one-by-one.  Tony was really skinny and he had white hair with a big bald spot on top - really thin in the front. He was wearing a blue and white striped polo shirt tucked in to some jean shorts (yup...jorts), white socks and white sneakers. Clearly not handicapped. "He's old." I don't know why I was so shocked. Then Amanda got out. "Oh boy".  She had short, white hair too and she carried about 100 extra pounds on her thighs. I decided she probably has a desk job and she doesn't take care of herself. Then we saw Kelly. She was wearing a green and blue striped polo shirt and some jeans - the nicest I've seen her look since we met.  I saw the top of Sophie's head and immediately felt sorry for that little girl.  This is her "family"...the messed up love triangle from Georgia. Amanda was clearly their mom. Tony was their dad. Kelly was their daughter. And poor little Sophie was the pawn in every scheme they've ever pulled. 

They took their time getting out of the car. I think they wanted to feel really special and important, walking in to meet us. Tony reached out his hand and introduced himself to me. I purposely didn't say my last name. Ryan didn't either. Meeting these people was the last thing either of us wanted to do and they probably knew it. But they thought we owed it to them. They made that very clear. 

"We drove all this way. We cudn' believe Mary thought we shudn' meet."

(yeah...it was all Mary's fault)

"We wuz jus worried SICK about Kelly and li'l Sophie! An we cudn' git anyone to call us back!"

(probably because you're completely irrelevant to this process and you shouldn't even be here.)

Tony and Amanda went on and on for a good 15 minutes about how worried they were that "sum'thin terr'bl was goin' on" and they couldn't do anything to help their dear friend, Kelly.  (meanwhile, the whole time Kelly was in Kansas, all she talked about was how she didn't want to talk to Tony or Amanda. She just wanted to be away from them for a while. But of course, she didn't say that. And neither did we.)  We just listened. And smiled. And waved at little Sophie as she climbed through the tunnels with the new friends she made.

At one point, Tony told us some story about how he has brittle bone disease and he was all prepped for surgery when the surgeon told him there was nothing he could do to help him. His only option was to take pain meds for the rest of his life. Amanda shared, "Yeah...they wuz killin' him in more ways than one." Tony went on and on about how he was on these pain meds when Kelly first started her process with ANLC but he's off 'em now. ("Clean an sober for three munths, thank you ver'much".) He explained those pain meds were the reason Kelly left him - that she didn't like the way he acted on pain meds..."an Mary duddn' know that, jussa you know." And they all agreed, "Yeah...Mary duddn' need ta know ever-thin' 'bout us."  (ummm...yes, she does!  We picked you based on the information you gave Mary. YOU LIED TO US!  YOU WITHHELD INFORMATION!  WHAT ELSE ARE YOU LYING ABOUT...you freaks?)   

Tony's medical information was left completely blank on all of the forms Kelly filled out for ANLC, but clearly she knew about this brittle bone disease if that's the reason she left Georgia. It seemed like a huge red flag to me. If she lied about that, what else did she lie about? Was she really smoking the whole time she was pregnant? Was that smoke I smelled the other night? Is this baby inheriting a genetic disease that she knew about the whole time? 

We endured the rest of the meeting, trying to understand exactly what they wanted from us. I asked directly, "So...do you guys feel good about going forward with us?"  Kelly answered "yes" and Tony and Amanda both answered at the same time, sharing their personal opinions of Mary and the way she didn't call them back. I heard Tony say that he had the power to really screw things up for us, so he didn't understand why everyone wasn't trying harder to make him happy. I heard Amanda mention how they drove all night to rescue their good friend but had to stop in St. Louis because they didn't want to "look high" when they got here. I told them Ryan and I were looking at apartments with swimming pools because we just wanted the next 3 months to feel like vacation for Kelly. They stopped talking and looked at her like they'd forgotten she was pregnant.

We used the apartment search as an excuse to get going - claiming we had an appointment to get to. Sophie decided she needed a soda before they got going, and for some reason I was compelled to ask Sophie if she needed to use the bathroom first (call it a motherly instinct). Amanda said, "Oh, thas a gud i-deha!" and took her to the bathroom. Tony and Kelly walked outside with us and said goodbye, mentioning something random about how Tony doesn't drink. He doesn't even like the taste of beer and how Kelly wasn't on drugs because "you can jus look at my arms n tell ah don' shoot up." (ummm...okay) See ya later!  

Ryan and I searched for the next 2 hours to find an apartment we could rent for 3 months. We searched in Johnson County - several apartment buildings next to our old house within walking distance of Wal-Mart. We searched in KCK, eliminating the complex across from the graveyard and anything without a pool. Then we found 2 apartments we really liked in Wyandotte County and we made appointments to see them on Monday after work. I even thought, "I should call Kelly and tell her!  Maybe she could go see them with us?" when I got the following text message:

Don't be scared but if I went back to ga. would yall still want to work with me? i think yall are awesome. i just need to be around people that can mentally support me." 4:58 pm 

Please don't think im changing my mind...i just didnt anticipate the loneliness i would feel by myself. with or without [sophie].    4:59 pm

Please think about working with us from ga. ill understand if you do not wish to continue.  5:01 pm

The text messages came faster than I could process them. 

What was she talking about?

Why did she want to go back to Georgia?  Why did she suddenly care about these people again? I asked her if she would miss Sophie after a couple of weeks and she said she just needed a break. She needed time to relax and be by herself. 

I tried to call her. 

It went right to voicemail.

I texted her:

Can you give me a call? It goes to your voice mail when i try to call you


I called Amanda's number.


I called Tony's number.

It rang and rang.

Something was wrong.  I told Ryan I didn't really care if she went back to Georgia. I just wanted to take her to the doctor first. I wanted to know what we were having. I wanted to make sure that baby was healthy. If I could just get ahold of her, maybe I could take her to the emergency room? Take her to a free clinic? Something? Anything!!!  

Plus, this was the first time she'd ever texted me. And for as much as Tony and Amanda complained about Mary not getting back with them, I found it strange they weren't answering EITHER of their phones. I was going over there. 

Ryan drove about 80 mph and we barely spoke. We were both thinking the same exact thing but we weren't going to say it out loud. I held the key and Ryan marched down the hall ahead of me. We knocked on the door. Ryan held his face up to the peep-hole. "Do you see anything?"  "No."  We knocked again.  We could hear the TV. Maybe she was in the shower?   We knocked again.  Nothing. Finally, I held the key out and paused for a second. I took a deep breath and opened the door.  She was gone.

The TV was on, the light over the stove was on, the light in the bathroom was on, the window was open (so the room was about 90 degrees) and there was trash everywhere. It wreaked of smoke. There was a frying pan on the stove - full of grease. There was a half-eaten banana on the nightstand - rotting. There were empty Coke cans and cups and plates all over the room and tiny pieces of play-doh ground in to the carpet. The room was trashed and she was gone. 

I sat down on a chair and surveyed the damage.

"I really don't want to chase her back to Georgia."

"I don't either."

"I think we're done."

"I think so too."

Ryan called ANLC and I called my mom  He told them it was an emergency. I told my mom I was devastated. Seconds later, Ryan's phone rang and he talked to Mary as he paced the room. I just kept hearing him say, "She's gone, Mary.  She's gone."

And that's when I cried. 

Ryan came over to hold me and we sat there for quite a while.  All of this effort. All of this work. All for nothing. 

We decided to clean the room using the trash bags she left on the table. First thing we noticed was a pack of cigarettes in the trash. Ryan pulled the trash bag out to tie it up and noticed a 16 oz. can of Budweiser. "Well...somebody was drinking."  It was either the pregnant lady, the guy who adamantly swore that he hated the taste of beer, or the 60 year-old handicapped lady who was currently driving them back to Georgia. We found ash in the nightstand and ash in the bathroom sink so somebody was also smoking (in the non-smoking building). For all of the complaining Kelly did about that room in Topeka, we're not sure this room would have looked much different after a whole week in there. It only took her 48 hours to trash this room and it's possibly the only 48 hours of her pregnancy she's spent not breathing in second-hand smoke. Unless she's been smoking the whole time. 

Suddenly, all of the relief I felt about Kelly not feeling emotionally connected to this baby turned to horror at all of the things she's been exposing herself to, knowing she's not scared about the consequences. 

Maybe we dodged a bullet? 

Maybe this baby is really sick?

Maybe Kelly's been smoking and drinking and doing drugs this whole time because she knew she was placing this baby with someone else???

We took pictures of the "evidence" but weren't even sure that was necessary. We knew we'd have to come back with a vacuum to get all of the mashed-in gunk off the carpet. We took one last look under the bed and found three of the Little People that Troy brought over for Sophie. Seeing those truly broke our hearts. That poor little girl. Then I found some scissors on the bed with black, burnt tips. Strange. I showed them to Ryan.  "Is that a ROACH?  Did they use that thing to smoke something???"  Ryan sniffed it.  "I don't think so. I have no idea.  It doesn't smell.  And I've never heard of anyone using scissors, but who knows.  Let's just get out of here." 

We took all of the trash down to the dumpster and got back in the car. All of the moments from the last few weeks just went flying through my head like I was still trying to believe it was all real.   We stuck our necks out for Kelly. I felt like she'd gained our trust. I felt like she really wanted to place her baby with us. I just don't think she had the capacity to make decisions on her own. She was (obviously) heavily influenced by Tony and Amanda and it should not have surprised us that they convinced her to go back to Georgia. 

Ryan and I talked about "what if" - like if we heard from Kelly or Mary in the next few days. We decided we would only work with Kelly on a "baby born" situation. If her friends have the resources to rent a car, drive to Kansas, stay in a hotel and are SO concerned about her well-being, then they can support her for the rest of her pregnancy. She can call us when the baby is born. We want the baby to get checked by a doctor. We want the papers signed and ready to go. And then we will hop on a plane to Georgia and bring that baby home with us. 

We took Monday and Tuesday off to consider our next steps and grieve our loss. We called ANLC and asked if they would put us back up on the website right away.  We want to start all over again as soon as possible - clean slate.  A little less drama next time. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

editor's note

in my attempt to spell Kelly's accent, my stories have become hard to read and a little annoying. (I'm not getting feedback, this is just my opinion.) So from this point on, I'm not going to type the accent. Just know that she has a strong Georgia accent. And her name isn't Kelly.

the beginning of the end

Saturday morning, I woke up early to finish the cupcakes I was making for a baby shower. I had everything ready to go when the phone rang. It was Kelly. She didn't have any forks. I told her I would bring her some forks - no problem. I'd stop by right after I dropped off these cupcakes at 11:30. She went on and on about how bad she felt calling me and she's so sorry, blah, blah, blah...

"It's really no problem!  I will be there. Is there anything else you guys need?"

"Nah...jus the forks. Oh! An'a bag'a ice?"

I figured since I was in the pantry, I would just grab some more cups, a roll of toilet paper, an 8-pack of toilet paper and a huge Costco box of forks, spoons, and forks. I convinced Ryan to go with me to deliver the cupcakes and then take this stuff over to Kelly's. We found the restaurant for the cupcakes and Ryan (my amazing husband) helped me get all 3 dozen cupcakes out of their special little travel boxes and set up on the buffet table. They were adorable and I was really proud of myself.  (not delivered late and not missing any extra pieces! Success!)

Then we headed over to Kelly's. We got to the front door and our key no longer worked. We tried 7 or 8 times before we finally just walked in to the front office and asked for a new key (turns out, I'd set the key next to my phone in my purse and de-activated the card by accident - it later became a careful game of holding the key in one hand and my phone in the other so they did not touch).

We got to Kelly's room and knocked on the door. We could hear shuffling and I heard Sophie yell, "Daddy's here!" Kelly say "No...Jus pud'it down over they-are. C'mon. Go an-ser the door."

There was little Sophie standing at the door. No pants, just an Atlanta Braves t-shirt on and some underpants. Her fat little thighs rubbing together as she shifted her weight and stared at us.

"Hey! We brought you some fun stuff!!  Can you give this big bag to your mommy?"

Then I saw Kelly appear around the door - like she was totally not expecting us.

"Oh! uh!  (nervously) Hai y'all!  We wuz jus cleanin' up. It's such a mess in here. Sophie's been droppin' play-doh in the air con'dishner vent an we got play-doh all over thu place, don't we Soph?"

"Yeah! I wus makin' play-doh babies."

"You were!?  That's fun! Well, there are forks in here and spoons and knives and toilet paper and paper towels and some big cups - and look what Ryan has!"

(looking at the muffin tin of extra cupcakes) "Whoah! Cupcakes!"

"Do you want some? There's chocolate, strawberry or almond."

"I want ALL of those!"

"No, bay-bee...less jus take like...one of each. Or jus...here...how bout jus these two chocolate ones. Thas' plenny. Oh...okay...ummmm...did y'all bring any ice, by any chance?"

"OH! SHOOT!!!!  I totally forgot the ice!!  I'm sorry!  We'll be right back. We'll just run down to the gas station and get a bag."

"Oh...(nervously) no...ah mean...it's no big de-hul. Ah jus like it in mah coke n stuff."

"No. I'm so sorry. We'll be right back with a bag of ice."

(Sophie) "Are you comin' in?"

"No, sweetie. We're gonna be right back. We're gonna run down to the gas station real quick."

"Yeah...cuz it's such a mess in here...we gotta clean up. Ah'm so em'bar'sed y'all. Ah can'even vite cha'in, it's so bad."

...and as she closed the door, I got a faint whif of cigarette smoke coming from their room.

As we walked downstairs, I asked Ryan, "did you smell smoke in their room?"

"No...it was probably just the pan full of bacon grease on the stove. Did you see that?"

"No...she never opens the door more than a crack and she always talks about how dirty it is in there, but I swear I smelled smoke."

"Well...I didn't smell it, but that doesn't mean anything. You often smell things way before I can."

We drove as fast as we could to the gas station and Ryan hopped out to get a bag of ice. We were supposed to meet my cousins (in town from Colorado) for lunch at Planet Sub and the last time I talked to them on the phone, the kids were melting down pretty fast. I didn't want to miss them altogether.

When we got back to the extended stay, Kelly and Sophie were in the lobby, headed in to the office to borrow a vacuum cleaner. Sophie still wasn't wearing pants or shoes and Kelly was leading her around (nervously) - unclear about what to do with this bag of ice while she held the door open and asked the office for a vacuum. Ryan completed the exchange and we took off.

The beauty of the extended stay is that it's cheap, but the problem is - they charge for everything. So if Kelly borrowed a vacuum to clean up Sophie's Play-doh babies, our credit card was the one on file to accept the charge. Ryan told me not to worry about it. Surely they don't charge that much to use the vacuum.

We had a great lunch with my Lucas cousins and my uncle Jack. They were all in town for Bryce's birthday party but Ryan and I were going to miss it - previous plans to attend a double-trouble 30th birthday party for our friends, Kyle and Kelly that night. (not to be confused with "Kelly", our birthmom.) We shared the rest of our cupcakes with the Lucas kids and filled them in on the daily baby-mama drama. Mia gave me a sweet little "french flash-card" set and I showed her the photos I took of Kelly and Sophie the week before. By the time lunch was over, I was starting to feel really excited about bringing our little baby to Christmas this year with all of the other Lucas babies. I was also starting to regret going out for drinks the night before and waking up so early that morning. I needed a nap!

We got home and I immediately turned on the box fan and fell asleep. I slept for almost 3 hours and probably could have slept straight through the night. Ryan woke me up and said, "We have about half an hour to get ready for Kyle and Kelly's party."  I did my best to wake myself up and I struggled to make decisions for a good 20 minutes. I also started to feel really sick to my stomach. I realized I also hadn't consumed any water all day. Coffee for breakfast, Root beer with lunch, and that was about it. Tonight was going to be another night of drinking and I needed water!!

We got to the party and had a fantastic time. The Fishers are fantastic neighbors - fun people to celebrate -  and we've had so much fun getting to know them over the last year. Also at the party were our other awesome neighbors Brad and Elizabeth, who admitted they are avid readers of the blog (Hi, Brad and Elizabeth!). We all sat down at a table together and they were like, "Okay...so we're only up to part two of the story...we're anxious to hear what happens next!" So I filled them in on the midnight Topeka move, the a-hole lawyer, the new apartment, the anxiety of getting a doctor's appointment scheduled for someone without insurance, as well as any advice they had for us - parenting a new baby. And as much as I wanted to just have a night without any drama, I certainly talked about our adoption headaches a lot - to anyone who would listen.

At one point, I was talking to (not our birthmom) Kelly and telling her how much her mom would get along with my mother-in-law when I noticed Ryan in the corner, talking on his phone with an incredibly concerned look on his face.

(I looked at him with the same concerned face and mouthed the words) "What's the matter?"

(he walked past me with his finger over his other ear, on his way outside to hear better) "It's Kelly!"


I looked in my purse and noticed 5 missed calls on my phone.


I followed Ryan outside and hovered around while he frantically searched for paper and a pen. Writing some phone number, he repeated it back to Kelly on the other end and said good-bye.

"What's going on?"

"Well...apparently Tony and Amanda are on their way up here right now. They've rented a car and they're in St. Louis and they need directions to the extended stay where Kelly is staying."


"Yeah...I thought they weren't coming for some reason."

"I know, I thought after we talked on Friday that she'd changed her mind. She didn't even mention it."

"Well...evidently they're coming. And they're almost here."

"So much for a drama-free evening."

"And they're not sure how to get here so they're just gonna call when they get close. I have Amanda's number so I'm gonna call her real fast to tell her I can get them here once 55 runs in to I-70."

"So we're gonna get a phone call around 3 in the morning?"

"Probably...and just so we both agree now - we are BUSY tomorrow doing family stuff and we can't meet them."

"Oh, I don't WANT to meet them!"

"I don't either. That's why I'm saying - we have a whole bunch of family stuff going on tomorrow and we can't meet them."

"Got it."

The evening went on as well as could be expected, but in the back of my mind I started to think about all of the things that could go wrong with this scenario. Kelly and Sophie were SO close!  She said it herself, "Sophie is mah whol'life!" So what if we sign a lease for 3 months and go to all of the trouble of getting her apartment furnished and then she changes her mind and goes back to Georgia anyway??

I guess that's the risk we take, but it sure made sense for Sophie to go back with Tony and Amanda. She was driving Kelly crazy and all she'd been talking about for the last 3 days was how tired she was and how she just could not keep up with Sophie. She kept saying, "Ah dunno what ah wuz thinkin' bringin' her up here. Whaddam ah gonna do when ah have the sussarian an ah'm laid up for fav days. Ah ain't gonna be able da lifter or play wither. Ah dunno what ah wuz thinkin'."

We agreed it was probably a better plan for her mental health, but I was three weeks in to dealing with this woman and I was beginning to understand how her brain worked.

A terrifying thought.

Freak-out Friday

Friday morning was my 10-year anniversary at Hallmark. I spent the first 10 minutes of my anniversary party on the phone with our agent in California, who was nervous because she had just heard from Kelly who loves her new place, but who is worried that she can't spend much more time alone with Sophie. She's regretting bringing her here and she wants to send Sophie back to Georgia. I spent the rest of our conversation telling her how great it felt to get Kelly out of that gross apartment and how Troy brought Sophie a big bag of gifts and how excited they were to see a clean place to live...blah, blah, blah.  Mary was thrilled.

I went to my party. Ryan was there. My mom was there. We told everyone about our dramatic trip to Topeka and how we'd saved this little girl from this horrible situation and saved our birthmom from a smoky, disgusting pit that did not reflect our true feelings for her. I told everyone how my car still smelled like smoke this morning just from the hour that their things were in it...that's how bad it was. Everyone was so excited for us. Even my manager announced that "Ryan and Ashley are expanding their family through adoption. Their baby is due in October and won't that be great."

Around 1:00, I got a call from Kelly that she didn't have any dishes and the ones in the place charged $50 to use theirs. She didn't want to bother me, but she just needed a cup. She wanted to drink her coffee. She loved her coffee in the morning, but just needed a cup. She could just drink out of the pot if she had to. I assured her that I would bring her some dishes. Some cups. Some napkins. Don't worry. And don't drink out of your coffee pot. I'm sorry that the dishes are extra. I had no idea it was an extra charge for all of that stuff.

I went to the double discount shop at Hallmark and I bought Royals napkins, Atlanta Braves plates, and some fall leaf-themed cups. I planned to bring them to her right after work. I thought she might think the Atlanta Braves plates were a cute touch (it just so happened that there were a ton of MLB plates in the cardshop...) Kelly called an hour later.

"Cud you bring me a pan? Like...ah'd really like to fry n'egg."

"Of course!  I will bring you a pan. No problem."

I spent the rest of the day researching hospitals and doctors and how to get a birthmother on Medicaid. Allan was a pain in the ass, but he knew how to get stuff done! He knew everyone. He could expedite Medicaid. Finally, I had success. The receptionist at my doctor's office recommended a Women's Center next door who could get Kelly in next Thursday, August 5th. It would be $1500 out of pocket, but if we filed Medicaid before the appointment, they would back-date and reimburse us for all of the money we spent before Medicaid kicked in. (and according to her, Medicaid was really backed up and might not kick in until after the baby arrived). I called Ryan to let him know.

He'd been talking to the other lawyer about getting Kelly a new apartment, and while Lindsay was finding all kinds of awesome deals, we needed to know where to focus our efforts. Would it be better to have an apartment in Wyandotte County or Johnson County? Because we'd heard that the judge in Johnson County was really picky about the amount of money people pay for adoptions and he requires a lot of receipts and justification. He can really slow the process down or stop it all together if he feels we "bought" a baby. Also, we remembered Allan saying something about how the extended stay didn't qualify as a permanent address...and before Kelly could qualify (or file) for her Medicaid card, she had to have a permanent address in Kansas. She had to establish residency and the extended stay might not qualify. So we had to get her in to an apartment, but again...we didn't know which county.

This new lawyer didn't seem to know for sure. Not the jolt of confidence we were looking for. Maybe we needed a different lawyer???

I called Kelly to tell her the good news - that I'd made an appointment for her to see the doctor. She seemed nervous but willing...and she would like a bag of ice.

I also started to get nervous about what we were doing - that all of this was so brand new and we knew nothing about any of this stuff. Medicaid?  Free health clinics?  Judges?  Lawyers?  We were sooooo in over our heads. We didn't even know what we didn't know - which made it difficult to find answers. I tried the HomeStudy office. Figured they've finalized a lot of Kansas adoptions. While their part of the process was done, maybe they could at least direct us to the right information. Yeah...they're closed on Fridays.

So, what now?  We had a doctor's appointment on Thursday. She was paid up through Thursday at the extended stay. She had to file the Medicaid card before Thursday, but we still didn't know if the extended stay would qualify as a permanent address. And if not, we still didn't know which county was best in the long-run for an apartment.


I decided there was nothing we could accomplish at 5:00 on a Friday, so I called it a day. I made plans to go out for drinks with my girlfriends and Ryan was headed to a Royals game with his buddy Roady after work. I stopped by my friend Holly's house to pick up a skillet (she'd offered to let Kelly borrow anything she needed for the next 3 months) and I called my little brother with an alarming lack of energy to fill him in on all of the drama. I was exhausted, confused, and overwhelmed. I was hoping he had some insight in to the issue about the judges and the courts being rough on adopting couples since he'd worked for the OPPD. He didn't.

I got to Holly's house and updated her as well. She (like me) had really only ever dealt with health insurance through an employer and knew nothing about Medicaid or how to file. Or what qualified as a permanent address. But I quickly realized I was needlessly spinning my wheels. Even if extended stay qualified as a permanent address, we didn't really want to keep her there because they were nickel and dime-ing every single item in the place. It was cheap to stay there, but they charged to use the phone, the dishes, the coffee pot...everything.  It wasn't worth it.  So we would begin the search for the apartments on Saturday or Sunday. Lindsay was sending us lots of options and we could just drive around and find pick the one we liked best.  Hell...we might even take Kelly with us. Let her look at 'em. Let her pick the one she wanted. At least then we'd know she liked it.

I got to the extended stay place and realized I'd left my key at home. I called Kelly to let me in, but was leaving a message as a guy came walking out. He let me in. I got to the door and heard yelling inside. I knocked. There was Sophie, standing at the door with a cute little sundress.


"Hey sweetie. I brought you guys some paper napkins, some plates, and some paper cups. Aren't they cute? They have little leaves on them!"

Then Kelly came to the door. She looked like she'd just gotten out of the shower and she was very flustered. She told me she'd invite me in but the place was a wreck. She just got out of the shower, blah, blah, blah...and how far is it to the gas station down the street? She wondered if it was too far to walk cuz she needed some milk.

"oh my gosh! I'll take you!  It's really hot outside and it's definitely too far to walk."

So she made Sophie go back inside and put her shoes on so they could hurry up and go with us. I could hear them behind the door, hustling around to get Sophie's shoes on and find her purse. I wondered how messy it could be. They'd been there less than 24 hours. Then the door opened, but not all the way. She shoved Sophie in to the hall.

"Ah don' hav mah key...you got yur key...cuz ah don' hav mah key...ah guess ah jus lost mine."

"I don't actually. I left my key at home. So if you can find your key, that would be better since the office is closed for the night."

"Oh...oh dear...okay...well...ah guess it's over here somewhere...an oh... you jus wait there bay-bee...(reaching to the key on top of the fridge) oh, here it is...okay...so here we go. Less'go bay-bee. You gotch'yur shoes?"

And away we went. I drove her down to the gas station where she just hopped out of the car, "Ah'll be right back," and came back with a half-gallon of milk. Then I offered to drive her around, since it was so dark when we'd come in the night before.

"Would you like to see what's around here, since you didn't get to see much last night?"

"Shur...ah mean...if you don' have no-where else to go?"

"Not at all!  Let's look around a little. I could even show you where Ryan and I lived when we first got married. Our first house."

So I drove her up Lamar and past my old house on Woodson. I showed her the playground at the top of our street and how much we loved our neighborhood (hoping she'd understand that we used to live over here and it's not scary). I showed her our vet's office on Johnson Drive and all of the fast-food places up the street that she could walk to if we found her an apartment over here.

"We're tying to get a bunch of options for you. Somewhere next to a playground with a pool for Sophie?"

"Yeah...ah might be sending Sophie home. Ah'm jus suh tired. Ah tried tuh take a nap today n she jus yelled at me 'git up! mama! play with me!' git up mama!' ah'bout smacked her cross tha rooom!  An ah'm suh big, ah think it might be twins in here!"

"are you serious?"

"what wud you do if it wuz twins? Cuz ah'd freak out."

"are you kidding? we'd be THRILLED!"

"oh good, cuz ah wuz suh worried you'd freak out and you wudn' wanna work with me no more."

"Oh my gosh, kelly. if you're carrying twins, that would be such an incredible blessing."

"oh good, cuz ah can feel somethin' here (touching her left hip) and here (touching her right hip) and they's both hard."

"Wow...that would be amazing."

We drove around some more but all I could think about was twins. It wasn't actually possible because we had a report from her one and only doctor's appointment that he only heard a single heartbeat, but I didn't care. I was so distracted that I got us a little lost. I drove past the point where I wanted to turn and then I missed the entrance to the highwday because the entrance was not on the right side, as anticipated. It was on the FAR LEFT and I couldn't get over.


I took them back to the apartment and gave Sophie a hug good-bye. I saw Kelly look at me, like she thought it was really sweet. She approved. I explained that I had to deliver some cupcakes tomorrow afternoon, but they could call me if they needed anything. I wanted her to make her grocery list and we would go on Thursday after the doctor's appointment. That all sounded good. No mention of sending Sophie back. No mention of anyone trying to kill her. No mention of anyone being so rude and yelling at her. This change was good. She seemed good. She talked a lot about how tired she was, but I've obviously never been pregnant so I can't relate. I don't know what that feels like to want to get out of bed, but you can't because you're SO tired. It was really all she could talk about. And how she tells Sophie that she's just getting fat. She's not explaining to Sophie about the baby because she thinks it will be too confusing. But Sophie sleeps in her bed and she kicks her in the stomach and she's like "No! Stop!' but can't tell her why.


I texted Ryan later that night:

"She thinks she's carrying twins."

He texted back:

"And everyone is trying to kill her."