April 19, 2013

Shepherd's Adoption Story, Part II

One week quickly turned into two. I missed my husband and Isla was starting to struggle with being away from her dad, our home, our routine, and with mom going to the hospital every day.  I prayed and prayed for a miracle, hoping with each new morning that I would walk into that hospital and Shep would be completely healed. The doctors had originally predicted he would be in the hospital for 3-4 weeks. He was already a week old when I got there, so I figured by my second or third week in Texas we'd be on our way home. Day by day it became obvious we were not going anywhere, anytime soon. And there was another big problem. The caseworker in Texas was adamant that we not do placement until the baby was discharged from the hospital. There was also an issue with the timing for ICPC, the interstate compact agreement that allows adoptive parents to leave state lines after placement, but before finalization. To get permission from ICPC can take anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks depending on when the paperwork is processed and it cannot be started until after placement, which was being delayed(Does your brain hurt yet?). Everyday I sat with my son in the hospital with no legal right to have a say in any of his medical care. He was in limbo. WE were in limbo. Legal placement needed to happen, and soon, I KNEW it in my heart. I don't care to explain this part of the story in detail, it's not pretty and in the long run it really doesn't matter who said what, but just know this: I went to battle for my family, for my son. On a Saturday night I received a call from the Ogden LDSFS office that placement would be happening on Monday afternoon. I honestly couldn't believe it. I immediately called Ben to get a flight and lo and behold they were sold out, well kinda, there was one flight routed through New York and Georgia that cost $1200.00 dollars. Ahhh! Enter another miracle: An angel (you know who you are!) with a connection to Delta had a buddy pass for us. Ben flew into Oklahoma City on Sunday morning and then rented a car and drove 6 hours to Midland, Texas. After 10 years together we have rarely been apart and never for more than a few days. When he pulled into the driveway I felt like my heart was going to burst and all the anxiety and stress I had been carrying around for weeks seemed to lighten as our family was  finally reunited.

On Monday, March 18th we readied ourselves for the emotion that comes with placement day. We sat in an office at the church and talked about Shepherd, our stay in Texas, and how all these things had fallen into place. Shepherd's birthmom, Kathleen, was so strong and put on a brave face. Isla's birthmom, Cassie, had written a special note and sent it along with a little gift for Kathleen, from one birthmom to another. Kathleen read the note aloud and I struggled to hold my tears back as she read the sweet words Cassie had written to her about our family. The days leading up to placement had been tense, but in that moment the spirit was so strong and I hope in some way it was a comfort for Kathleen to have the support of another birthmom in our family, two women whose children are now siblings. It's clear that Shep is a special boy with lots of people who love him. We cried bittersweet tears and just like that, he was ours.

The next week and a half was great. We spent lots of time at the hospital, playing at the park, getting Mexican food at Rosa's, and eating donuts from the Southern Maid stand, all of these things within close proximity to the hospital. I visited cute baby stores and bought sweet little clothes to take Shepherd home in. We had hoped to leave as a family and I pictured all of us flying home together any day soon. Each day that passed with no improvement for Shep seemed like a defeat. His lungs were small because he was premature, but they just did not seem to be getting better the way they should have been. I began to worry if maybe something else was going on with him, something the hospital in Odessa may not have been able to detect. Ben and Isla flew home and I felt the full weight of the situation pressing in on me. How much longer would I have to stay in Texas, a week? a month? 2 months? Nobody had an answer for me. I sat at Shepherd's bedside day in and day out, waiting for something, anything to change. The Sunday after Ben and Isla left was Easter. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and figured I'd spend the whole day with Shepherd. His tolerance for sedatives is super high and that day he just couldn't seem to relax. I held his hand and sang to him and tried to get him to be calm, but he kept thrashing his head back and forth and I could see he was crying really hard, though no sound could be heard due to his breathing tube. It was heart breaking and made me feel completely powerless to help sooth him while he was so confined to the bed. Then his oxygen began to drop, and quickly. I could see the sudden stress in the nurses eyes and she asked if I'd like to wait out in the hall. I said no, I wanted to stay. His oxygen got so low that the sensor lost his heart rate, the vent stopped working, and they had to bag him, which is a balloon that they use to essentially give CPR. When the nurses were finally able to get him stable again I went over to hold his little hand and whisper to him. He looked up at me with the saddest little eyes and I knew: It was time to go. 

That evening I went home, exhausted and totally depleted. Shepherd's day had gone terribly and I knew it was time to go, but I had no idea how to get that to happen. Odessa Regional had already expressed their inability to transfer a baby on not only an oscillator vent, but nitric oxide as well. Two things that would make transport very difficult. A name floated on the egde of my mind. A friend we knew well in Colorado that was a Nurse Practitioner with an impressive resume. I hadn't spoken to her in years and didn't know what to say if I called her, how would I explain what was happening and all the medical terms in a way that would even make sense? I walked in the door, laid on the bed, and my phone rang. It was her.

My friend, Amy, knew exactly which questions to ask and understood the situation perfectly. She explained to me all that I would need to know to put the pieces together. She also gave me the number to Primary Children's NICU and told me to speak to Dr. Null, the Medical Director at PCMC, directly and ask that they come and pick us up. It turns out that only a handful of teams in the country have the ability to pick up a baby on the kind of life support Shep is on, and one of the best happens to be Life Flight in Salt Lake City, Utah. First thing in the morning I called PCMC. As chance would have it, Dr. Null just happened to be standing next to the nurse that answered my call and she put me right on with him. Within hours it was arranged and I was told to pack my bags because they were coming to pick us up the next morning. We were going home.  


  1. This story is beyond amazing. I love reading about all the miracles. Thank you for sharing it all!

  2. We can't wait to hear more. He's been on many prayer rolls in the temple and in many family prayers as well, we hope they are helping and that more miracles come for your family.

  3. You are such a strong person and your family is so lucky to have this little boy! I am so happy for you, I know that there is a lot to go through, but you seem so close to our Heavenly Father and the spirit is right there with you, you have been blessed so much and I have no doubt that this little boy is going to so bless your lives for so many years to come! What a wonderful story! Hang in there, I know more blessings are to come! Thank you for sharing these sweet pictures too!

  4. WOW! How can anyone read this and first of all not cry, and second of all not see the many miracles and tender mercies being shown to your sweet family. We continue to pray for you everyday. XOXO