February 19th, the day of our red file meeting, Mr. Ladd was in Miami for work, squeezing in a last minute trip in case our news was good and he wouldn't be able to make it back for a while. He was scheduled to be back at 8:00 that night, and our red file meeting was happening at 10:00 am. We figured we might not hear anything until the next day anyway, given the fact that making decisions for the entire sibling group might take a little longer. We also decided it was more important for him to be available for any potential follow-up meetings and visits with the girls that could follow, than to be sitting around waiting with me on decision day.
That morning, I read a blog post from Jen Hatmaker about praying boldly. It was this idea that we actually get real with God and ask for what we want. Not a televanegelism sort of name-it-and-claim-it business, but also not false humility with reserved thee's and thou's, praying for some sanitized version of "God's Will" in which we play no part. "All in" sort of praying. I wanted to pray like that. Here's the deal...I suck at praying. I get so hung up on all the wrong ways to do it and not wanting to be a pious jerk, or treat God like Santa Claus. I don't think trusting your desires to God means you pretend you don't have any though either. So at 10:00, I went into the bedroom that was mostly prepared for our future kids, sat down on the floor, and prayed and cried. I fully admitted to both God and myself how much I wanted this. I told God I wanted to be their mama. I asked to be a part of this story. I asked for bravery and peace and humility. I prayed for my girls who had no clue what was about to happen to them, and their heartbroken grandmother who most certainly did. And then I held it all up, open-handed, with tears streaming down my face, knowing that whatever happened at that 10:00 meeting, we would be fine, and I was better for having been raw and vulnerable in that moment.
Now the clock was at 10:45. (Felt like longer, God.) I laid down and was surprised to find myself drifting off. I actually felt at peace, and the emotional exhaustion of the last two weeks started to catch up. I was good until at least noon, when I started to get antsier with each passing minute. At 1:13 I called Mr. Ladd, who was on his way to the airport to come home. "This is getting pretty torturous now," I said. He agreed. We did some speculating about when the meeting would be done and whether or not a decision would even be made today. Just as we were convincing ourselves we probably wouldn't hear anything until the next day, our adoption specialist was calling Mr. Ladd on the other line! He was going to try to put us on conference call all together, so he put me on hold after I suggested he pull the car over. Didn't seem like the type of thing he should be doing while driving. After being hung up on and called back to conference in on a three-way call, we finally had her on the phone with both of us - her at her office, me at home, Jeremiah in a random Miami parking lot with his blinker still going.
"Well," she said, "It's a good thing Jeremiah's on his way home from a business trip, because you were chosen for V and J and have a paper presentation meeting on Monday!"
I just cried and said ,"Oh wow," with my face in my hands at the kitchen table. Blinker click still going in the background, Mr. Ladd cleared his throat repeatedly (his crying tell). Neither of us could really speak. She giggled a bit as she congratulated us and told us some of the reasons we were chosen and what their case worker liked about our family for these girls. At our Monday meeting we would meet their case worker, get to see pictures, and ask any other questions we had before committing officially. The adoption supervisor got on speaker phone with her and offered his congratulations too, and they told us how excited they were for us back at the agency office. Have I mentioned how much we love our agency, and the difference they've made for us?
We hung up the phone, and I immediately called Jeremiah back to cry some more. We couldn't even believe it and marveled at how surreal this was, with the turn signal still rhythmically clicking along in the background. He hated to hurry off the phone, but he had a plane to catch so we said goodbye for the moment and let it sink in. We were chosen.
During the two week wait, I had only told two people about our potential match. We knew if we weren't chosen it would be really hard to go back and tell everybody, and we didn't want to get everyone's hopes up while we did all we could to manage our own. Carrying around this huge news was killing me though. I knew we could trust these friends and needed them to know what was going on, hope with us, pray with us, and buy us little dresses (with receipt attached) to get excited with us about the potential of these two little girls.
They knew the meeting was that morning, so after getting off the phone with Mr. Ladd, I immediately called them and sobbed into the phone that they chose us! One was in the car on her way home from work. She said she was coming over. She had called her husband, so he came over after work too. The other one texted a few minutes later to ask if she could just come over for 30 seconds and hug me. By about 2:30, I had all of these friends sitting in my backyard, just keeping me company while I recovered from the biggest news I'd ever received. The house was a mess, my face was from crying, and I had dog hair all over my sweatpants, but I will never forget that afternoon and how our people just showed up without even being asked. By 4:30 everyone had cleared out. I couldn't believe I still had four hours to wait for Mr. Ladd to get home. I noticed Kelsey was outside playing with Dash, so she became the next target of my excitement. I hurried outside with the biggest grin ever, and told her the news too. She hugged me tight and teared up with me, and Dash celebrated by giving me a healthy dose of frustrated toddler. He wanted me to see what I was getting myself into. He and J are only one month apart in age, and I was so excited to tell Kelsey that we would be adding to the little neighborhood gang. I've never been more grateful for these people we do life with here in Arizona. They are our chosen family.
The weekend was a blur, but Mr. Ladd was finally home, and we could simultaneously celebrate and freak out together. Monday came around. We drove to the DCS office in the rain, anxious and running late. I held tight to his hand the whole way there, and we blasted gangsta rap, cause it made us feel brave and our days of uncensored music in the car were limited. We went into the conference room with our agency adoption specialist and the girls' case worker. The first thing she did was put down a black and white, photocopied picture of the girls. There they were! It was blurry and hard to see. She apologized for the poor quality and said she'd email us the original later, but we didn't care. They were beautiful, and we were looking at our daughters for the first time!The rest of the meeting was for us to ask any questions we might have and then take 24 hours or as much time as we needed to make a final decision. We got back in the car and could hardly believe this was our life. We were all...
Of course we did not need even 24 hours to decide. Mr. Ladd emailed back the next morning:
"Erica & I spent yesterday afternoon talking and thinking about V
& J and our answer is a definite yes! We are so excited for the
opportunity to be their parents."
We were officially choosing them - to be our daughters, our family. They were chosen.
To be continued Monday - How I Met My Daughters Part 3: Waiting & IKEA
To catch up: