"Who's cutting the cord?!" - These are the words I vaguely remember hearing from the nurse's lips. And in that very surreal moment both birthparents looked at me and said "you should do it… this is your moment too."
Just over a month ago we were contacted by our adoption agency in Indiana. They asked us if we would like our profile book to be shown to a young couple with a mid-February due date. We immediately said yes and about a week later we found out that we had been chosen as the couple's top pick - our nerves quickly set in! A conference call was set up to get to know one another better and to confirm a match. Matching is a two way street, so everyone needs to be onboard. Casey and I were not sure what to expect for we had never reached this point in any of our previous possibilities. It felt very much like going on a first date - slightly awkward, anxious yet excited and most of all filled with hope. The young couple was very friendly, engaging and articulate. It almost seemed too good to be true. Despite our wacky cell connection, the most vital connection was made, leaving us to feel very optimistic.
Days went by waiting on additional details from the agency and it was made clear to us that the birth mother could go into labor at any moment. It is fairly common for adoption plans to be orchestrated months in advance. With only a matter of days left to go, we found ourselves scrambling to get everything ready. While Casey was wrapped up in rehearsals down in Miami, I found myself "nesting" at home. This was not a particularly easy feat, for it required me to completely empty out my whole office space, futon and all.
As we got closer and closer to the baby's due date, the feeling of anticipation only grew stronger. Every time the phone would ring my heart would start racing! Was this "THE CALL"!? I couldn't help but think about the episode of I Love Lucy in which the gang acts out a plan for when Lucy goes into labor. Each trial run goes very smoothly until Lucy declares that "the time has come" and chaos ensues! Fortunately I packed our bags early and had everything ready to go at a moment's notice. When the baby's due date came and went, the doctor decided to schedule an induction. This actually allowed us to plan ahead and make our way to Indiana in advance. Chaos averted… or so I thought.
As luck would have it, my own company would be the one to let me down! My original plan was to fly into Indianapolis and rent a car (Casey would be coming directly from Miami). I got to the airport in Newark only to find out my flight was delayed due to a mechanical issue. I thought: No problem… I have plenty of time. Had I not checked a huge suitcase, I could have switched to a different flight quite easily. And then it got worse: CANCELED! Okay… Plan B… Get my suitcase back and try to get on another flight. "We're sorry, your bag was sent ahead and has already left for Indy". YIKES… how does that happen?! So I made my way to the employee parking lot and just started driving in the direction of Indiana. Bad weather and additional cancellations made flying nearly impossible at that point. It was pure adrenaline and excitement that got me safely to Indiana plus two pit stops, numerous phone calls, Adele on repeat, a wintry mix and some rest stop fried chicken 12 hours later.
I know some people are unsure about the way adoption plans work. Just to clarify, when a match is made, birthparents still have the right to change their minds. Consents are not signed until after a baby is born. It totally makes sense that this would be the case but it certainly makes it quite nerve wracking for the adoptive family. More than just the huge amount of money that is involved and at risk, the emotional roller coaster is what is most concerning about the whole process. It's nearly impossible not to get your hopes up from the day you confirm a match. People have asked me in the past if I would be mad if birth parents changed their mind at the last minute and I said no. I would definitely feel extremely sad and disappointed, but I would never be mad at a mother or father deciding to raise their own flesh and blood. You see, the birth parents hold all the cards. So much of this process is out of our hands. Patience, a positive attitude and a lot of faith is all that we can really come armed with.
It was certainly a relief to be reunited with Casey in Indiana. My suitcase had fortunately arrived without issue and was being stored at the IND airport. We still had a day left to get things organized and settled before the scheduled induction. I found a great deal on the best hotel in the area only a few blocks away from the hospital.
That night we met up with the birth parents to have dinner. In addition to our previous phone call, we had also been sending text messages back and forth. So in a strange way, this initial meeting felt like catching up with old friends. What could have been a very awkward and uncomfortable situation turned out to be very valuable bonding time between families. We have such a deep amount of respect and admiration for the birth parents. They reassured us that they had come to this uneasy conclusion after much thought and discussion. They expressed confidence in their decision and excitement in the fact that we would be the baby's parents. With only hours left to go before the big day we all decided to try and get some sleep… but who could sleep at this point!?
February 16, 2016 - We arrived at the hospital bright and early. A statue of St. Francis greeted us at the entrance, perhaps a sign that Casey's Grandma Frances was watching down on us that day. The birth parents invited us to keep them company in their room allowing us to continue our conversations from the previous night. Out of respect for the birth family I won't be going into much detail regarding their personal lives and reasons for choosing adoption. What I will say is that the more time we got to spend with them, the more genuinely we grew to love them.
The induction started around 8am and by 5:30pm she was ready to push! At the last minute she invited one of us to stay in the delivery room for the birth of the baby, which took us by surprise since the birth mother originally planned on doing the hard part alone. Standing by her side next to the birth father, I watched in amazement as she handled everything like a pro… Superwoman really! After what seemed like only three or four pushes, a healthy baby boy appeared weighing in at 6 pounds 9 ounces and measuring 20 inches long. If you hadn't already noticed he was also sporting a full head of black hair! Everything happened so quickly that I was completely caught off guard when the nurse handed me the scissors to cut the umbilical cord. The birth parents immediately called him Gabriel, for we had previously shared our name choices at dinner the night before.
During our time at the hospital (side note: I have to give major credit to the incredible staff) both families took turns caring for Gabriel. Our birth mother was so generous to breastfeed the baby, and went above and beyond after leaving the hospital, pumping and freezing milk for him for the duration of our stay in Indiana. There was never an abrupt hand-off like some of you might imagine. We in fact spent more time with the birth family even after all the documents were signed, sharing food, photos and conversation. Some people automatically assume that birth parents have no love for their baby - this is certainly not true. This couple clearly loved Gabriel from the time he was conceived - it was that undeniable love that brought them to the very difficult decision to make an adoption plan. They were completely selfless in their choice, only wanting Gabriel to have an endless amount of opportunity and the happiest life possible. Once we were all discharged from the hospital and sent our respective ways, we kept the lines of communication open through texting and photos. The birth mother probably summed it up the best…
Going forward we have all agreed to keep things open and respectful. Casey and I want Gabriel to know all about his birth family. We will keep in touch with his birth parents and allow them to take the lead on how open they would like our relationship to be. I imagine that our contact with them will slightly decrease over the years but we are open to whatever comes naturally. I personally never knew anything about my birth parents but have often thought it would be nice to let them know that I am doing ok. I hope that Gabriel will not struggle with being adopted. I want him to be able to ask tough questions and hopefully we will have the answers. Despite a few uncertainties, I have no doubt that Gabriel will be loved… this is one thing I am truly confident about.
Now that we are home (we had to stay in Indiana for two weeks), it is finally starting to sink in that I am a dad. I can't fully describe all of the feelings that are circling around my heart and mind. All I know is that I LOVE this little boy. I am so incredibly thankful, and so extremely grateful to have this opportunity to be a father. It is something that for many years I thought would never be possible. Casey and I will take this incredible gift and do everything we can to show him the world and all it has to offer. We will teach him to be kind and generous… to always dream big and to never give up… to respect others and perhaps most of all, to love unconditionally.
When we started KNIT FOR BABY just under a year ago I had no idea what to expect. I knew I wanted to channel my creative energy into a project that would keep me focused on our ultimate goal of adopting a child. Over the past year we have received so much support from this venture alone. Each personal message and every ounce of advice kept us encouraged as we navigated the long and bumpy road of adoption. Our focus will now be to try and be the best dads possible to Gabriel.
We still intend to hold the Spring Collection auction, yet slightly delayed until April/May. Our hands are currently full of bottles, diapers and laundry. My intention is still to complete a full 12 piece collection and we will announce the new auction date soon! Beyond that collection we will have to play it by ear and see what is possible. I am still very passionate about knitting and look forward to creating more one-of-a-kind designs.
We cannot say THANK YOU enough for following our journey… it is really only just the beginning. We look forward to sharing updates in the coming weeks and months.
David (Casey & Gabriel)
P.S. Some have asked if we have a registry… it's still a work in progress… but here is what we have so far - www.babylistregistry.com/gabrielmolinodunn