I awoke on my birthday in tears.
What if this isn't God's will? It's all happening so fast. I only want the children God intends for me. How am I supposed to be sure we're doing the right thing?
My poor, poor husband. Ryan consoled me and calmed me down, probably wondering why this woman next to him, who prayed for a baby for so long, was now crying about getting a baby. I'm sure the emotions I felt were all completely normal. I was strapped into a seat on a huge, life-changing roller coaster ride. And I tend to cry a little every birthday, anyways.
I pulled myself together and got ready for the day. We were going to a downtown sports bar to watch the Syracuse basketball game against Pitt. I picked the place because it had tater tots on the menu. I wanted tater tots on my birthday.
Another blogger, and friend in real life, Amber, and her husband, also a huge Syracuse fan, met us there, along with another friend of ours, Matthew.
The only people in the place, we watched the game and talked adoption. The plan was to call the attorney's assistant, Wendy, while we were there. The night before I got Ryan to agree that we would be finalizing this thing on my birthday. It would be my present. The best present in the history of presents.
As we watched the game we talked about the plan for the week ahead, when we might head to the city where the attorney and baby were located, many hours away. A two-day drive. We weren't sure exactly when we'd go, but Wendy wanted the baby in a home as soon as possible.
Ryan handed me a birthday card and inside I found tickets for the Syracuse game, in New York, the following Wednesday. We had a trip planned to my parents' house in Upstate New York that week since we weren't able to go for Christmas. Ryan had secured the days off and we were leaving on Tuesday. Now it looked like we would be heading to a completely different part of the country. No basketball game would be in our future, but it was just about the only reason I wouldn't mind missing it.
Amber and I began talking baby names - a long-held dream of mine, I read baby name books as a child - and I scribbled possibilities on the back of the birthday card envelope.
Gianna, for a first name, and Therese, for a middle name, were high on my list. Therese seemed to fit since not only did I share a birthday with the saint, but I was making this decision on our birthday. Surely she had to be involved.
Ryan liked the name Clare ever since reading about St. Clare in Raymond Arroyo's book about Mother Angelica during one of our weekly adoration hours last summer. He had turned to me that day, out of the clear blue, and asked, what about Clare? What about Clare, I asked back. Well, she was the patron saint of television, his current and my former profession, and what did I think about it for a girl's name? I'd go for Clara, I told him, and that's how we left it. Until now.
So Clara was on our list. Possibly Clara Marie, for our mothers' middle names. Clara Gianna didn't work so well, since both ended in 'a'. Clara Therese. Esther Therese. Esther was my grandmother's name and I had, for years, planned to name a baby girl after her (we'd call her Essie), yet suddenly I found myself hesitant to tell people I was considering it, afraid they'd say it sounded too old-ladyish. I soon realized I shouldn't feel hesitant about a name I was about to give my daughter. It pained me to give up on something I'd planned for so long, but it just didn't feel right.
We decided I would call Wendy at the attorney's office at half time. I only had the number to her cell phone, since it was a holiday, then the weekend. It was a crisis situation and so Wendy, at home, took my call at any time of the day. Butterflies filled my stomach as I waited for the right moment. Was I ready for this? It's funny how you question something you spent years hoping and praying for when the moment finally arrives.
Half time came and I excused myself from the table and headed to the restroom where I hoped to find a quiet spot to make the call. A speaker was broacasting the game throughout the bar and, to my surprise, it was loud and clear even in the ladies' room. I pulled out my phone to make the call regardless, dialed the number, and instead of it ringing, I noticed I had instead picked up an incoming call from a fellow infertility blogger, This Cross I Embrace. You're not going to believe this, I told her, but I'm trying to call the attorney's office to officially say we're taking the baby.
We hung up and I called again. Voice mail. I left a message, said we had the money and if no other couples had come forward yet, we wanted to adopt the baby girl. I had done it. I walked back to the table to share the development.
Moments later Wendy returned my call and this time I stepped outside to take it. So you're saying you definitely want to adopt this baby? I paused. Life changing moment here, I thought. Woah. Ye-es, I answered her, surprisingly hesitant. Yes.
We talked details, which my mind floated through for obvious reasons. Talking details about a baby we would be adopting, and raising, seemed like an out-of-body experience and nothing could really be done until Monday. We would call our agency first thing and have our home study faxed to the attorney's office. Wendy would then send our home study to ICPC, four letters that sounded like jibberish at the time but would soon ring in our ears for days.
This time I returned to the table and told everyone it was official. She was ours. I called my parents to tell them the news and my mother excitedly told me she was cleaning out a closet when a novena to St. Therese floated down from above. She had no idea how it got there and, unlike the rest of the folded and torn old papers she had come across, the paper appeared pristine. She was sure the prayer was intended for me and the beginning lines said it all:
May today there be peace within
May you trust your highest power that you are
exactly where you are meant to be.....
I knew Therese would be the middle name.
Syracuse lost the game without me watching a split second and I didn't even care. I finished my cold tater tots and started to think about what was next. We would head straight to Home Depot to pick a paint color for the nursery.
Letting an infertile woman free in a home improvement store to pick out nursery colors for her baby is dangerous. I ran from paint swatches to the magazine rack, back to the paint colors, flipping through books, all the while asking Ryan for his opinion. Blue walls are okay for a girl's room because they're actually turquoise, with pink accents will be girly enough, but the pictures with green walls make me happy too, I don't want to regret this, blue, green, is blue bad, what do you think? Bless his heart, he even attempted to give feeback.
We left with a kids' room decorating book and primer, since we knew we needed it to cover the red walls in what was formerly an office, currently a prayer room and soon to be a nursery. I would make a decision on the walls after buying an inspiration piece, which Ryan had agreed we would look for that evening at Pottery Barn Kids.
Walking into Pottery Barn Kids was surreal. It was a store I longed for years to have a reason to enter and buy its beautiful, delicate products full of fairies and polka dots. I stopped at the entrance and stood before a display of princess bedding and teared up. An infertile girl shopping for nursery colors at Home Depot and bedding at Pottery Barn Kids, all in one day, and on her birthday. I was surprised my head didn't explode.
I settled on a pink and green quilt as my inspiration piece, which meant the walls would be green, and called my mother from the store to make sure my purchases were even necessary. I hadn't before realized just how clueless I was about a baby's needs and found myself suddenly embarrassed to even be in this store. I was sure the quilt wouldn't be used any time soon, but was it still okay to buy? She assured me it was.
I also ran the name Clara by her. It had suddenly all come flooding back to me that it was a family name, a name I had even used to name dolls as a child. She told me it was, in fact, a family name - my father's grandmother, Esther's mother.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. Clara it would be.