Carrie and I got "the call" last Friday afternoon. A homeless woman in Bend, Oregon (3.5 hours from Portland) named Michelle had chosen us
to be the adoptive parents of her newborn baby boy. Would we come down to Bend to meet them? It was a tough decision, because this baby had a pile of potential issues. 3 weeks premature, and Michelle had smoked, used meth, and most concerning of all, drank during her pregnancy. The baby was considered a moderate to high risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and the more we learned about that, the scarier it got.
But this was what we had been waiting for, and after all, we weren't committing to anything until we signed the papers. That night we scrambled to line up a pet sitter and organize all the baby stuff we'd bought months earlier. I didn't get much sleep. We drove to Bend and met Michelle and her mother Laurie. Both very sweet people. Michelle was eager not to be judged, and she chose us because we didn't seem "fake". She'd been through some hard times -- and was still going through them -- and understandably carried an aura of sadness about her. I liked her right away. I tried to be angry at her for taking such risks with her baby, but it didn't feel right.
We went to see the baby. He was tiny... born 4 pounds, 9 ounces, and 19 inches long. He was completely silent. He had a feeding tube in his nose and an IV in his arm. I felt the pit of anxiety in my stomach clench. Would this child be unable to control his impulses? Would he be violent? Unable to make emotional connections? Would he grow into an adult who couldn't take care of himself or hold down a job? I felt a world of emotions, but the dominant one was dread.
Over the next few days, Carrie and I had many talks about our hopes and fears. We waited and waited for the MRI, which could not rule out FAS, but would show if there was a worst-case scenario.
While we waited, we saw change. The baby started to move more, make more sounds, open his eyes and look around. He started eating more. And more. And more. The IV came out, the feeding tube came out. He was looking and acting more and more like a healthy baby. The doctors gave us encouraging news every day. And then the MRI results came back... completely normal. The dread lifted. There was still the usual new parent dread, but as we grew closer to the baby and his prognosis improved, I felt 100% certain I wanted to take him home with us. There's still a chance he has FAS, although Laurie told us today that she's certain Michelle did not drink as much as she claimed, and maybe only said that because she was high on meth at the time. Anyway, any
child is going to present challenges. I'm ready to take them on, whatever they may be. And because it's an open adoption, Michelle and Laurie will play a part in his life as well.
Tomorrow, we sign the papers. With any luck, we'll be home in a couple of days. I present to you, William Michael Jason Teller (introducing himself in a way that makes me a proud papa):
Here I am reading to him, because he can't appreciate movies yet: