He's here!

As hard as it is for us to fathom, our wait is over! He's here! It feels surreal, so utterly natural and right on the one hand, and unbelievable on the other. Birthmom K has signed relinquishments, and they've been acknowledged by the state. There are a few more hurdles to get through before he's officially, officially a member of our family, but we're pretty confident, and he's felt like our kid for a while now.

But the adventure isn't over. In many ways it's only just beginning. Maintaining an open relationship with K, watching him grow, making tough parenting decisions - it's all ahead of us. For now, however, we're going to revel in this awesome, quiet moment before the ride starts up again.

So without further ado...

Welcome to the world Shaylor Augusten Asher Saraniti (aka Gus)
Born 5:09 pm on 8/8/12 - 8 lbs 20 inches



I've been struggling with how to write this post for a while now. I can't seem to come up with a metaphor that does justice to this part of our journey. Maybe there just isn't one. I've been thinking a lot about connection. In a myriad of ways, really. I am kind of a neuroscience geek and love reading about the brain. And the brain is all about connection. In fact, there are more possible connections between the neurons in your brain than there are atoms in the universe! That is absolutely mind-boggling and utterly fascinating to me. The thing about connections, though, both in your brain and in your life, is that you must maintain them. Sure, we all have a few close friends that we can go for months and months or perhaps longer without interacting with and then just "pick up where we left off" with them, but generally, those connections have to be nurtured. It takes work. It takes time. Sometimes we don't feel like doing it. Sometimes there are connections we'd be better off pruning. But, for the most part, when we have connections we are committed to, we're going to have to pull our weight.  Why the heck am I going on and on about this, you ask? Well, dear reader, I'll tell you.

We are matched! We have made a connection with a brave young woman who is committed to an adoption plan. We spent the month of June getting to know K over email, Facebook, phone and Skype.  And now, she has moved down to SF so that we can build an even stronger connection. We are excited. We are nervous. We are unbelievably busy! But most of all, we are committed to building and maintaining this connection with K for the sake of the kidoodle that's on its way.

Shelley's mom was adopted back in the "baby scoop era", when it was believed that cutting all ties between adoptees and their birthfamilies was the best thing for everyone. But there are fundamental, evolutionary reasons that humans desire to know their roots, where they come from, who they look like - and it is no longer believed that cutting those ties is healthy for anyone. Open adoption, though not perfect, is a way of maintaining those ties - that biological, fundamental connection.

It will be difficult at times, I'm sure. K will have to choose again to follow through with her adoption plan after giving birth, which will be excruciatingly hard. She may decide to parent, which is absolutely her choice, and one in which we will support her, but that, of course, would be difficult for us. This thing we're doing is not easy, and often daunting, but we have to stay committed and focused on why we are doing it:

This tiny human - he is the reason.


Amusement ride?

The awesome 10 year old that I get to hang out with most mornings and afternoons each week visited the Santa Cruz Boardwalk last weekend. She rode the Giant Dipper for the first time (the famed roller coaster featured in the great '80s vampire flick - before vampires were as trendy as they are now - The Lost Boys). Anyway, she was quite proud of herself for this accomplishment because, as she told me, she's "not really a roller coaster person."

And I realized, I'm not really a roller coaster person either. At least not of the emotional variety that we've been on lately. I used to really like them - the unexpected twists and turns, not being able to see what comes next at the top of the hill, the heart-pounding, stomach dropping into your feet adrenaline rush of it all. They never lasted long enough. I always wanted to go again. Now, I just feel like stop-the-dang-thing-I'm-going-to-puke-I've-had-enough-of-this-let-me-off-let-me-off-let-me-off! 

Listen, I know what you are thinking. The roller coaster metaphor is overdone when it comes to adoption and specifically waiting for placement. I once thought that too. Come on, how bad can it really be? Roller coasters are fun! I get it. I know. But believe me, there's a reason people use this example over and over again. Because a roller coaster is exactly what it feels like. You're up, you're down, you're all around. One day, you think you could have a baby soon. Then, it's Mother's Day and it feels like you'll never be a mother. Then, you get a call from the agency and there may be someone who might pick you. Or not. It's like the longest roller coaster ever and you're stuck on it for the foreseeable future with absolutely no sign the ride will ever end and the adrenaline rush is no longer fun but just makes you feel all anxious and panicky and exhausted.  At least that's how it makes me feel. 

I think I may have misrepresented the truth in one of my earlier blog posts. I may have made it sound like Shelley was the only one with control issues, the one having a hard time with this whole waiting thing. I don't think I meant to lie. I actually think I was okay. I think my Calvinist upbringing (I was raised Presbyterian) had me convinced that things would happen a certain way because they were predestined to. Huh, that was total autopilot. Now that I've stopped to examine it, I'm not so sure.

I am no longer amused by the "fun park" we seem locked in. I'm over all the merry-go-rounds, ferris wheels, and roller coasters. I feel old. I feel tired. I feel frustrated. I feel like I'm searching for someone in a crushing crowd of revelers - sometimes I think I catch a glimpse of them disappearing around the corner over by the corndog stand so I pick up the pace, dodging around the folks lined up for cotton candy, the happy couples strolling along holding hands, the over-tired toddlers in mid-meltdown - but then once I catch up I realize, nope, not who I thought it was. And I have to start looking all over again. Frankly, it's exhausting.

But what I have to remember, and this isn't always easy, is that my life - our life- is pretty freakin' great. We live in an amazing place. I have a "job" that allows me to spend time with one of the most creative, intuitive, funny kids I've ever met. We have friends, resources, access to healthcare, a yummy Indian restaurant that delivers on a Friday night when we don't feel like cooking. We are not making the unfathomably difficult choice to have someone else parent our child. And, not only do Shelley and I love each other, but after almost a dozen years together, we still dig each other. In fact, there is no one I'd rather have beside me on the thrill ride of life. But for now I'm going to hope it's more like a slow kiddie train than a roller coaster.

Swimming with Sharks

When Shelley and I were in the Galapagos last summer, we had the opportunity to swim with sharks. Now, I'm not a super phobic type person, I have no problem with spiders and heights and flying and such things that many people fear. I've done some daring, risky things in my youth. But sharks freak me out. In fact, the thought of them is always in the back of my mind when swimming or snorkeling in the ocean. I have no idea why, but there it is.

A few days after the last post, we missed another call. Then, the bat phone rang again and this time... We answered it! We talked, then skyped, then flew down to southern California and met the couple on the other end of the phone. They told us they wanted us to be their baby's parents! We got excited. And anxious. And a whole lot of other things.

Something I fear more than sharks, though, is missing out on a rare opportunity. I absolutely can't stand the thought of being really close to doing something cool and then not going through with it. So I got on the panga (motorized raft) that was taking us out to the shark-infested snorkeling site. These were not Great White Sharks. They were Hammerheads and Reef Sharks and Galapagos Sharks. They are well-fed because people are not allowed to over-fish their habitat. They would not even notice us, the guides assured us. At this point, I was really freaked out and was wondering why in the heck I was on this boat.

After being matched for 3 weeks, the couple decided they didn't like the agency format and chose to go a different way - without us. This is absolutely their choice - and that choice is one of the fundamental tenets of real open adoption - but it made us really sad. And frustrated. And disappointed. And a whole lot of other things.

When we got to the site, there was a tunnel through two huge rocks that was too narrow for the panga to go in; it would have to meet us on the other side. There would be no turning back - if I jumped off the boat, I'd have to swim through this dark, narrow, shark-infested tunnel.

And that's it, isn't it? One of the great truths of life: The only way out, is through. We have jumped into the cold waters of waiting and now we are stuck in the tunnel. It's freakin' scary in here! We thought we could see the light at the end, and now the waves have dragged us back in, crashing us up against the rocks. It feels like we will never get out, like we'll spend the rest of our lives caught in a riptide with sharks circling underneath us. 

I actually have no idea how I made myself jump off the panga into the water. I remember being pretty terrified. I remember Shelley telling me it was going to be okay. And then I was in the (very cold) water and into the tunnel and the guides were pointing out sharks and I was struggling to see them. And then there they were, about ten feet below me! The guides were right, the sharks had no idea we were even there. They were just going on with their lives as usual.

And I went from being completely afraid and freaked out to completely awed in a matter of seconds.

Everything about this experience of waiting to be chosen, of waiting to be parents, feels just as terrifying and impossible as jumping into that water and swimming through that freezing cold, dark tunnel full of sharks. But I have to trust that once we're on the other side, it will feel every bit as awesome, too. 


Missed connection...?

So... The bat phone rang on Saturday. Shelley was parking the car and couldn't grab it in time and has now convinced herself that this was the one and only contact we will ever get and because she didn't answer the phone in time we have lost out on our chance to be parents. Did I mention my wonderful spouse can be a *bit* of a drama queen?

This incident led to a conversation about how we each were handling (or not handling) this whole waiting thing. I don't know what it is, maybe I figure somewhere deep down that we can't both be losing it at the same time. Maybe the thought of actually getting the call freaks me out almost as much as not getting it. Maybe I'm dumping all my anxious, angsty energy into making stuff. But for some reason, I'm pretty content in the knowledge that this will happen when and how it's supposed to and there's not much I can do to control it one way or the other in the meantime. At least I am right now. Today.

Suffice it to say, that is NOT how Shelley is feeling about the whole thing. And I would hazard a guess that my weird zen-ness is probably irritating to her.  It's not an easy thing to do, this letting go of control. I definitely have areas in my life where I am not good at it. At all. I do think pouring my anxiety about this, or anything frankly, into my artsy-craftsy-creativey pursuits probably is one of the major ways that I am dealing with this right now. It's basically how I deal with most of my feelings - good or bad - so why not this, too? And it makes me feel like I'm *doing* something to prepare for this ambiguous kid that will someday, hopefully, be ours.

Only problem is, I'm running out of room in my studio for all the mobiles I've been making. Is there such a thing as a nursery with too much art?