Clint has a somewhat unexpected cousin. Not only a first-cousin, but one who is a mere seven weeks younger and lives one zip code away. This is the most exciting thing possible. And the story contains no small amount of drama.
Jez’s brother, Chris, and his partner John have been trying to adopt a baby for about 18 months. They signed up with an agency. The put up a web site. They got a lot of nibbles from moms who, for various reasons, were pregnant but didn’t want to keep the child.
Typically, the moms would contact them, string them along a bit, then flake off into oblivion. Occasionally, they’d try to extract cash from Chris and John: “Well, I can’t afford prenatal care.” “I’m about to lose my home.” “I can’t pay my cell phone bill. It’d be a damned shame if I was homeless and unable to call you to tell you to come pick up my baby.”
Chris and John had learned to stay skeptical when a potential birth mom called, while at the same time, treating her like long-distance royalty.
Chris and John had gone to Maryland for Christmas. They had tickets to travel to Africa in late December. They were on the brink of making the international flight when a birth mom sent an email to John. Because the sender and subject were cryptic, John didn’t immediately open it when he spotted it on his Blackberry.
John and Chris ate dinner. During some after-dinner downtime, John browsed through his Blackberry and had the “eureka” moment when he read the woman’s message: I just had a baby. Come and get her. The text:
- So i delivered yesterday and have come to the final decision that placing [the baby] for adoption is what i want to do and you guys are perfect for her. I will talk with your agency as soon as possible so that you can come get her tomorrow. She is perfect and beautiful with a head full of wild hair. Weight 7 pounds. If you guys have moved on and found another baby i understand. i never questioned placing her for adoption it was just a hard process for me to face.
At that moment, flights along the east coast were jacked up due to snowy weather. Chris and John found a flight to Nashville, then drove to Ehrlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, where the mom was about to be discharged. When they arrived, the mom was firm: This baby is all yours.
That afternoon, the hospital discharged the birth mom. The adoption paperwork hadn’t been completed, so the birth mom kept legal possession as they exited the hospital building. Then they headed to separate vehicles. Chris and John walked to their SUV with the infant.
They had help from their friend Shannon, who had driven their SUV from Decatur to Chattanooga. She equipped the vehicle with a car seat.
Chris and John were allowed to take possession of the newborn, but weren’t allowed to leave Tennessee. State law requires an extended in-state transition, and allows a birth mother ten days to change her mind.
Chris and John and the infant checked into a hotel suite. They made an appointment to see a pediatrician. They crash-coursed in the care and feeding of an infant. They got plenty of advice from other mothers, including Chris’s sister. They talked to lawyers in Tennessee and Georgia. And they counted down the days.
Friday, they brought home their baby girl.
They named her Sara Grace. Shannon had returned to Decatur and spent an abundance of time fixing up the nursery and taking down the Christmas tree that was slowly petrifying in their living room. Jez contributed our co-sleeper, which is a bassinet constructed to sit alongside the parental bed. Clint has already outgrown it.
We visited John and Chris over the weekend. Their proper, well-appointed Decatur dude bungalow is suddenly filled with the trappings of parenthood. And at center stage, sleeping most of the time, is Sara Grace.
Sara Grace is tiny and beautiful.
The legal minutiae of adoption continues, but Tuesday the birth mom’s window of revocation closed. Chris and John began celebrating their status as the parents of Sara Grace.
It’s a great day.