Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Visits With Isaac's Birth Family

First visit: Photo shoot

Isaac's godmother and one of my favorite people in the world, Kelsey, gave us the gift of a newborn photo shoot. When Isaac was only 12 days old, Natalie Champa Jennings came to my mother-in-law's house and worked her magic! Lexie (Isaac's birth mom), her parents, and her nieces were a part of that day as well.

We debated whether or not to invite Lexie. Was it too soon? Our hospital goodbyes were still fresh in my mind... would seeing Isaac rip apart open wounds? I spoke with our adoption counselor, and she encouraged me to ask Lexie directly. Since Lexie and I had been in close contact since Isaac's birth, this seemed natural. Turns out, she was over the moon about the chance to see Isaac. I still worried that it was too soon and Lexie would hurt afterwards. In the end, it was a very positive experience. From everything I heard from Lexie and her family afterwards, it seems as though it was wonderful for Lexie, too.

Second visit: Restaurant

Our second visit was at a favorite haunt of Lexie's family. Technically I suppose it's more of a bar than a restaurant, but "bar" and "infant" don't sound quite right together... =) It was great. A whole crew was there; Lexie, her parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle, nieces, and us, of course. We participated in a meat raffle, had the greatest cinnamon roll of all time, and Lexie's family got in lots of cuddle time. Isaac was still so young... he slept most of the time and snuggled right in to whomever was holding him.

Third visit: Chuck E. Cheese

We picked Chuck E. Cheese, not for Isaac (he was only 4 months old, for goodness sake!), but for Lexie's nieces. Lexie, her parents, grandparents, and nieces came to this visit. The girls played game after game and gorged themselves on pizza. It was the perfect meeting place. Close to our house (so Isaac could nap in his bed both pre- and post-visit), entertaining for his cousins, and quiet at 11 am. Since this was a December visit, Christmas gifts were exchanged. Lexie gave Isaac a book from Hallmark, read by her recorded voice. It's called "All the Ways I Love You." Thinking about it now still makes me tear up. What a perfect gift. We read it almost every night and Isaac loves it. When he was younger, he stroked his hair every time he heard her voice, which was a gesture he reserved for the comforting moments of drinking his bottle. Those are the only two times I ever saw him exhibit this endearing behavior.

Fourth visit: Baptism

As far as visits go, this was much less satisfying. It was a busy day that involved getting dressed up, attending a packed church service, being surrounded by a gaggle of family members, and going out for brunch at a table that stretched almost the entire length of the restaurant. I am so thankful that Lexie was able to be a part of this day, but I remember very little about her interactions with Isaac. To be honest, I don't think she was able to have many. One thing that stands out, however, is that Isaac's birth father was at the church service. We have many cute pictures of him with Isaac from that day, but I don't feel comfortable posting them since I have never asked his permission.

Fifth visit: Library

Our most recent visit was at our local library. Sounds weird, but it was a perfect locale for a Minnesotan baby of 9 months. Since Isaac was getting around on his own by this time (albeit in a funny looking way... he was a champion roller and could adjust his angle to roll wherever he wanted to go), Isaac would have had less patience with a standard restaurant visit. But, Minnesota weather did not permit an outdoor park visit, so... what do we do? Well, our city recently built a brand new library with toys for kids to explore and reservable meeting rooms. I reserved a room and we met Lexie and her parents at, yes, the library. They played with Isaac at the toys for awhile and then we went in to the meeting room where there were couches and plenty of floor room for Isaac to do his thing. It was fun to see him smiling and flirting with them.

Sixth visit: Como Zoo

Sadly, we forgot our camera on this visit. I was so proud of myself for remembering sun screen, sippy cup, lunch paraphernalia, etc... Our camera was the only casualty. Lexie, her parents, and nieces, joined us at the extremely crowded Como Zoo in St. Paul. Parking was the biggest challenge, but it was smooth sailing after that. We ate at a table outside, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and they had a chance to see Isaac doing big boy things like feeding himself finger foods. We brought the stroller, but Isaac was passed from person to person for most of the visit anyway =)

Seventh visit: Scheduled for early July at a park (hopefully it won't be raining). Isaac's birth father is planning to be there.

Although our original contact agreement dictated 3 visits a year, Isaac came to us from such loving and open people that we have been able to do more. More about our thoughts on open adoption (particularly this open adoption) later. Tired.