On a Thursday night in late-March, Paul and I called Kayli and we all talked for over 2 hours. Paul and I had worried that it might be awkward talking to Kayli over the phone having never met in person and I even debated coming up with a list of talking points, although I ran out of time because of projects at work. But the conversation flowed so naturally and freely – it was like talking to an old friend.
Kayli explained how she had felt when a family friend who had built their family of 6 through adoption had suggested the idea of placing the baby for adoption when Kayli was trying to decide what to do at around 6 months pregnant when Clara’s birthfather had told Kayli that he wanted to separate and did not want to be a part of the baby's life. Kayli told us about how she had decided that if she was going to place the baby with another family, that she would not change her mind after placement. She talked about an email that Paul had sent to her where he had expressed his thoughts on growing up with all boys and what it would mean to him to have a daughter, and how that had been so important to Kayli's decisions about whether we were the right couple for the baby she was carrying. We talked about the amount of openness we were hoping for in the adoption, including visits, phone calls, and emails.
Late in the conversation, Kayli hesitantly raised the issue of a name for the baby. Paul and I have favored the name Clara for our first baby girl for quite some time, and late last fall we had been lying in bed trying to think of a middle name to go with Clara. We had tried family names, popular names, unusual names, etc. but nothing seemed just right even if there were a number of names that seemed “okay.” Then Paul suggested "Jane. There was a surety that this would be our daughter’s name – Clara Jane – and we both knew it immediately and had talked about her as Clara Jane for months.
But before we had the chance to explain all of this to Kayli, she rushed on to say that she knew we probably had names we loved and that she wasn't trying to require us to use a name she liked, but asked if we would at least consider giving the baby the same middle name as an influential friend of Kayli's who had changed Kayli's life for good at a pivotal time for her. The friend's name was Rachel Jane. My jaw dropped open and Paul's grin nearly split his face as we realized that we had already decided on the very name that Kayli had wanted. I had read of this happening before between other adoptive couples and birthmoms, but never imagined that it would happen with us. Not to get all superstitious or hocus-pocus, but it felt like so much more than just a coincidence.
That was the moment when we really felt like our little girl had found us.
After our first phone call, we booked plane tickets to visit Kayli and her family in Texas and we continued to get to know each other through emails, texts, and more phone calls. Kayli forwarded photos of Clara's 18 week ultrasound and we compared them with photos from the 32 week ultrasound while Kayli pointed out Clara's four-chamber heart, her little mouth, or her arms, ribs, or other developing parts over the phone.
Our visit to Texas truly did feel like a reunion and the love we already had for Kayli by that point - just one month after receiving her first email - grew even more as we saw what kind of person she is and what kind of family she comes from.
The remaining weeks until Clara's due date went both fast and slow. Friends began sending gifts for Clara, we set up the nursery, I started winding down my projects at work while Paul left one job and began another at a larger law firm. I washed tiny newborn pajamas, blankets, and sheets so that we could make Clara's bed and pack her bag. Bottles were sterilized and a diaper bag was packed. A moment of reality for me was cutting off the tags to all of the tiny dresses and shorts and tops that I had picked out for Clara, knowing that once the tags were removed there would be no chance of returning the garments to the store in the event that the adoption fell through.
As solid as everything seemed with Kayli, there is a niggling of doubt that I imagine hovers around the minds of every adoptive couple. We worried about the birthfather and whether he would decide to contest the adoption. We read stories about failed placements that were occurring with other couples who had felt so sure about their adoptive situations. When I began telling people at work about my need to go on maternity leave, I felt it was necessary to damper everyone's enthusiasm with a disclaimer that adoptions are known to fall apart last minute and there was a chance that I would be gone on maternity leave for just two weeks only to return to work empty-handed and broken hearted. As sure as I felt about Clara being our daughter and about Kayli having the courage and faith to place Clara with us, my heart ached every time I gave one of these sobering reminders to those around me.
Up next, birth, placement, and ever after...