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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Leo's Story: Part 3, Welcome to Alaska and Meeting Lisa

Preparing to go to Alaska was an anxiety producing experience.  You name it, I was worried about it.  Only prayer got me through those few weeks leading up to Leo's delivery, well, and Lisa.  She was a pillar of strength and resolve.  It should have been me supporting her, encouraging her, giving her strength.  In fact, I felt as those she was doing all of those things for me.

Our community rallied around us to support us.  We were still emotionally fragile and recovering from October's failed adoption.  Dozens of people approached us with offers to help in every way imaginable.  One of the miracles of adoption, I learned, is the opportunity it affords a community to support a family and the opportunity for a family to truly be supported in an amazing way.  The love and friendship that is created and strengthened is a blessing for everyone.  So many friends helped us prepare to bring Leo home and all of them rejoiced with us when he finally arrived. 

One example out of many-- We were very fortunate to have some dear, dear friends who had accumulated a significant number airline miles on Alaska Airline, as tickets to the Alaska interior are very expensive, especially when they have to be purchased last minute.  They donated those points to us.  It was a the kind of gift that humbles you to your very core.  It was a much needed and un-repayable gift.  They told us, for them, it was like giving us play money, but to us it was a blessing beyond measure.  

We prepared in every way we could think of knowing we could never REALLY be prepared and then it was time to go.  I will never forget rocking John Henry to sleep the night before I left.  It was sweet and exciting and sad.  It was the first of many times over the next few weeks I would be surprised by my own emotions.

Lisa was scheduled to be induced at 38 weeks, but had been contracting on and off for two weeks prior to that.  As I was waiting to board my flight I got a call from her. 

"I think I'm in labor, I'm on my way to the hospitlal"  WHAT???  AHHH!

I was scheduled to arrive fairly late at night.  I told her to leave me a voice mail (or make someone else) and I would come straight to the hospital from the airport if I needed to.  I felt so helpless.  I was so grateful for my friend, Sarah.  I could think of nothing else to do, so I called her and asked her to light a candle for Lisa.  She did and kept it burning for hours until she heard from me that it was false labor and they had sent her home.

Some members of our church, whom I had never met, had left their van at the airport for me with instructions on how to find their house, how to get in, and to make myself at home, despite the fact that they were out of town visiting family.  This was another gift of immeasurable worth.  Bringing Leo "home" to a real home was such a blessing, to say nothing of the expense it saved us.

The morning after I arrived, I called Lisa.  She knew where the house was.  To save me driving on icy roads in a city I didn't know, she came to me.  (See what I mean, she was taking care of me. . . so backwards!)  The door bell rang and when I opened the door it was like opening the door for my sister.  She came in, we hugged one another, and then we fell into talking as though we had only seen each other last week.  It was simply natural and enjoyable.  I cherish those few days I got to spend with Lisa, one on one, before Leo was born.  (Link came up two days after I did.)

People ask me if I still "have contact" with Leo's birthmom.  I want to laugh when I hear this question.  Would you ask someone if they still "have contact" with their sister?    We talk on the phone, text, and are friends on facebook.  I know that most people don't understand the concept of an open adoption.  I think may people find it strange or uncomfortable because it challenges the standard adoption paradigm.  I want to tell them all.  OF COURSE!!!  She is the biological mother of my child!  We share something so special and precious it would be strange for us to NOT maintain close connections. 

We spent the next few days talking, eating good food, and resting.  Link came up the Monday evening before her Wednesday morning scheduled induction.  We explored the city and marveled at how different life is the arctic.  We all went out for a "last supper."  I ate an Elk stake.  It was a joyful few days that strengthened us and provided us with the energy to get through the following three days of turmoil. 

Part 4: Leo's birth, to follow.