A part of me still wants to hang this photo in Luke's room. It made both of us cry, which made the nurse cry.
It was official! The papers were signed!! And our 10-day wait (the Georgia revocation law) could begin. We were thrilled. We snapped this photo (and yes...that's a tear-filled kleenex in my hand):
As we sat in the NICU gathering up Luke's stuff, we caught a glimpse of Tony and Kelly walking out of the hospital. She was wearing a pair of pajama pants, the t-shirt Tony was wearing two days ago, and a pair of hospital slipper-socks. They did not appear to be getting along:
I took my phone in to the next room where our favorite nurse (Janice) was caring for a set of premie twins. I showed her the text message from Kelly. She hugged me and congratulated us on our beautiful baby boy. I thanked her for everything she'd done for Luke. As I walked back in to Luke's room I noticed it was pouring down rain. (as a side note: It rained on our wedding day. It rained on our honeymoon. It rained on the day we moved in to our first house. Rain was sort of our thing.) It hadn't rained in Georgia for 3 weeks, but it rained on the day we became parents!!!! It rained for about 5 minutes. Just long enough for us to get the message "this was meant to be" from the heavens above.
We thanked the staff and got Luke all bundled up and ready to go. He looked ridiculously tiny in his car seat:
I'm not sure we've experienced a moment quite so fulfilling as taking our son out of the NICU with signed relinquishment papers from his birthparents:
We brought Luke back to Aunt Sarah's condo (my sister-in-law) and planned to stay there indefinitely. We were told that the ICPC process could take 5-7 days and we had to stay in town with Luke until we were cleared.
Over the next 48 hours, we hosted Ryan's brother, Chad:
Ryan's parents, Bev and Wayne:
And we began enduring hateful, strange, bi-polar text messages from Kelly:
If I would have known i would be sitting in a hotelwithout a dime to feed my child...i never would have done this...what hapened to after care? mary knows i have nothing...i thought provisions were gonna be made after for me and [sophie]. i cant believe.im having to plead for help 9:36pm 9/10/10
i have lost alot because of this...including probably my [sophie]...This week in the hospital was awful...i just thought everyone really cared about mine and [sophie]s well being...i shouldnt even have to ask for help now..i thought it was an automatic thing..i really feel used and discarded 9:39pm 9/10/10
I texted her immediately, "what happened? Is everything okay?" I never heard back.
Saturday afternoon, we got the following text messages:
Is there any way someone can bring me something to feed [sophie] with...i hate to ask but mary said their accountant left early on friday and i have absolutely nothing to feed [sophie] with and we are in a hotel all alone and i have nothing to feed her...i also cant get my blood pressure medicine...i hate to ask but its what it is 11:01am 9/11/10
Wait...what happened to the $50 we gave [Amanda] for [Sophie], the $50 we gave [Tony] for gas, the $90 in gift cards, the $100 Kroger cards, and the $100 worth of stuff we bought you at Rite-Aid?11:05am 9/11/10
U know...i never saw a dime of that money..i got 2 15 dollar kroger cards...the mistake was giving that stuff to [tony]...now me and [sophie] have nothing...i was in hospital and had no control of anything...i would think mary would have told u that [tony] claimed that for himself... 12:26pm 9/11/10
I wish yall would have given the cards to me because he spent them on his gas and things he needed...now [sophie] and i are going without even eating...do u think i would make this up?its degrading to even have to ask...you all knew how [tony] was...i just wish yall would have dealt with me 12:29pm 9/11/10
We decided to call Mary. We explained about all of the hateful, guilt-laden text messages. Mary said, "I talked to her for 3 hours yesterday!! I asked her if she needed anything for the weekend and she said she was all set!!! She was all excited about a job interview on Sunday and she said everything was going great!" Mary sounded incredibly frustrated. From the very beginning, Kelly has always had a direct number to contact Mary whenever she needed her. And Mary assured us that she has always replied to Kelly every single time. Mary was supposed to be the one in control of the trust account for Kelly so there was no reason for Kelly to be contacting us about money. Especially when we'd just handed over about $400 worth of stuff on Monday. Mary could prove to us that she was on the phone with Kelly for 3 hours the day before - and that she made a special point of asking if she needed anything for the weekend. We told Mary we weren't sure how to respond to Kelly at this point. We didn't want to make her angry or argue with her, but this whole, "I don't have a dime to feed my child" stuff was getting old. We gave her money! How was it our fault that Tony stole it? We couldn't keep doing this with her.
Mary told us that Sophie was (for sure) being taken away by the state. She was going to live with Amanda on Monday, so Kelly was probably in a panic. She has to prove that she is "exercising proper parental care" before she can get her daughter back. Mary said she was sorry she wasn't in the office (it was a Saturday) but she would send money from the trust account first thing Monday morning. Meanwhile, I was still getting hateful text messages:
All [sophie] and i have been through and i cant even feed her...what a shame...this was poorly organized..sorry but this is what has happened 12:31pm 9/11/10
U know..im sorry [tony] took advantage of yall...i tried to warn everybody...hes all about himself...i dont know if yall even know this but i didnt even get all of my pain meds. the day yall bought my scripts..i have been taken advantage of by him and it breaks my heart to no end..especially for [sophie]...i cant believe he would do this to me either but at least im used to it 12:52pm 9/11/10
I decided to call Kelly. Enough was enough. It went right to voicemail (because she's too chicken to say this stuff directly to me...she has to send it in a text message). I told her that the hospital told us not to contact her, so we thought we were doing the right thing by going through Tony. We were sorry she didn't get any of the money we gave her. This is the first time we've ever done this and we were just doing what we thought was right. Then I asked her to call me so we could figure out a way to get her something to eat. Maybe have something delivered.
sorry i missed your call...can u call me in this room? the number is [###] and im in room 161...this cell phone isnt working right 1:31pm 9/11/10
We called the room but it said it's not in service. Ryan is talking to the hotel manager now.
Sorry...but im done begging for a little help..its degrading and i shouldnt be having to do it..This whole process was unprofessional...there should have been arrangements made for me and [sophie]...but there wasnt...i even have 2 prescriptions i cant get...what i need is a card that i can use...nomore calling yall for each thing i may need...i will not embarrass myself again..i hjave been through too much 1:44pm 9/11/10
Where are you in the city? We can come meet you.
U know i dont even want to see yall again because evbery time i do i feel more and more like a piece of garbage..mentally i cant handle this anymore...i shouldnt have to deal with yall...mary should have taken care of all of this..im taking [sophie] to mcdonalds to play..she needs to get out 1:49pm 9/11/10
Do you know how frustrating it is to keep giving you money when [Tony] just steals it? We are trying to do the right thing, but we have no idea how to make you happy.
Do you know how hard itis to have to ask yall for money to eat and get prescriptions..mary should have settled everything..and do u know how hard it was to be nice to [tony] so he would sign papers to give u a child? I have been used and abiused...just so he wouldnt cause me a problem...now its over almost...hes out of the pic...and now i need help. everyone is pissed...what about my feelings 2:39pm 9/11/10
Im at mcdonalds letting [sophie] play.. 2:45pm 9/11/10
Ryan is coming to meet you.
I am at the mcdonalds right near the hotel letting [sophie] play..i couldnt just make her sit there...so yall need to let me know what u want to do 3:03pm 9/11/10
Ryan is on his way.
Tell him im at the mcdonalds right near the hotel 3:05pm 9/11/10
Ryan met Kelly at McDonald's and gave her a $50 gift card for groceries and a $20 McDonald's gift card to get her through the weekend. We didn't like it, but we didn't know what else to do. She still had the power to revoke consent and we didn't want to risk it. Minutes after he got home, Ryan got a text message from Kelly.
Thanks...sorry u had to deal with all of this. Thanks for thinking of [sophie] with the mcdonalds gift card.
We didn't hear anything else from Kelly until Tuesday night - the night we flew home. I was in the back seat of my mom's car (having just been welcomed home by an army of hugs and smiling faces) when I got these text messages from Kelly:
Just to let you all know...i dont appreciate how yall spoke to me the other day..its not my fault yall gave [tony] stuff instead of me..why shoul me and [sophie] suffer for your mistake..i will be calling ronnie fishbine tomorrow because i dont appreciate being left out here alone to begfor help 5:35pm 9/14/10
This adoption was handled very unprofessional and i tried to make it easy but begging people to help pay for my second blood pressure meds and food to eat was degrading and uncalled for..im not as dumb a person as yall think i am...well see what happens 5:40pm 9/14/10
I didn't respond at all. I didn't even know what to say. What a horrible, ungrateful human being. Now she's threatening us? After all we've been through with her - moving her from place to place - going out of our way to make sure she's comfortable and treated with respect - firing our lawyer in Topeka because she didn't like the way he talked to her and moving her in the middle of the night - meeting her crazy friend and insane boyfriend at Burger King on a random Sunday afternoon after they threatened to "make things difficult" for us - cleaning up the disaster of a room she left us in Kansas City - answering her every text and phonecall with kindness and generosity....now she's going to complain about the way this adoption was handled? Like she had NOTHING to do with the fact that our plans changed 587 times over the course of 3 months because SHE couldn't stay in one place longer than 3 days????? This was a wonderful, joyful, amazing day and she completely RUINED it with her spite and ugliness.
I tried my best not to let it bother me, but I just couldn't believe it. We'd done EVERYTHING for this woman. We weren't making her BEG for anything. We simply asked what happened to the money we gave her. It was a fair question. It made me so angry (it STILL makes me angry). I wanted this adoption to be a positive experience for everyone. I wanted Kelly to feel good about her decision. I wanted to feel good about the way we handled ourselves. It just wasn't fair.
We called Ronnie Fishbine (Georgia attorney) and told her to expect a call from Kelly. Ronnie assured us that she wasn't going to accept a revocation over the phone. "She's going to have to get a ride, find my office, walk in here and sign something to revoke consent." She also assured us that she's never dealt with anyone quite like Kelly. "In my 25 years of doing adoptions, I've never met anyone so hot and cold from one minute to the next. I'll be glad when this is done. For my sake and for yours."
The next day we called Mary. We told her about the weekend and the flight home and how Kelly texted us her "threat" to call Ronnie Fishbine. Mary said, "You guys...I've dealt with bi-polar birthmoms, birthmoms on drugs, and I've never...in 25 years...I have NEVER lost empathy for one of my birthmoms - until now. She texts me one minute that I'm the only person who really cares about her, that she really appreciates all I've done for her - then she tells me that I don't care about her and how could I leave her out here to suffer on her own? I'm like...I don't even know how to respond. It just doesn't make any sense. I feel like she HAS to be taking something. She has to be on drugs. There is just no excuse. You guys...I swear to you...I talked to her for THREE HOURS on Friday. She said she was fine. She contacts me in the middle of the night that she has nothing to eat and how could I leave her in a hotel room without a dime to feed her child...what does she want me to do? The office is CLOSED! She can't plan ahead. She can't give me a budget. I keep telling her '[Kelly] you need to give me a budget. You need to tell me how much you need.' and she can't do it. She has no idea. But I am not going to send her a check. I'm just not. Unfortunately, we're in a bit of a hostage situation until Monday, so my advice to you is to send in the check for the next 6 weeks of support and we'll just tide her over in small, continuous chunks. Then you're done. You can block her number. You can set up your phone to send back a message to her that she's been blocked. She'll get the message. You guys have done EVERYTHING that's been asked of you - and then some. You do not need to be getting anymore messages from her. You should just be relaxing and enjoying that sweet baby of yours."
Mary also told us that she's endured a lot of really hateful text messages from Kelly lately and she's done with her. After the adoption is final, she said, "I will return her messages, but not right away. I will talk to her, but mostly I want to focus on getting Sophie in to a better home. Amanda's house isn't any better. She's not any further from the sick relationship they've all got going on." Then Mary told us a story about another couple who adopted a baby last year from a couple who tested positive for drugs. They had their 2-year old taken away by the state so the adopting couple asked if they could keep the siblings together. They adopted both the baby and the 2-year old. Ryan and I looked at each other and (almost at the same time) said, if it came down to it, and the state wanted to find a more permanent solution for Sophie, that we would be interested in adopting her. Mary sounded shocked and excited. That's when we told her about the strange "I have a serious question to ask you" text from Kelly and how we'd already thought pretty seriously about it. We admitted, "At this point, we want nothing more to do with Kelly and Tony, but if it means giving Sophie a real chance at life (and getting her away from those sick, crazy people) we are totally willing to do whatever it takes." Mary wasn't sure what would happen next, but she'd keep the note in our file.
(and we're pretty sure she told us that story on purpose.)
We've held our little guy for 2 weeks now. We've fed him. We've changed his diapers. We've given him a name. We've created a room for him. We've introduced him to our friends. He even has a baby book full of stats and stories and photos. But if Kelly decides that she wants to be his mommy, she still can. She can walk in to that lawyer's office tomorrow and sign a piece of paper that says, "I changed my mind". And there's absolutely nothing we can do about it.