This year. The highest highs – our daughter started preschool! This was a major event for all of us. She, along with 8 other pandemic babies, started going to Montessori school away from us parents who hadn’t left their sides in 3 years. She was fine, by the way. We were less fine. Just like always, she was ready before we were. This was true when she started solid foods, moved into her crib, moved into her big girl room from the nursery, and again when she started preschool. On the first day of school, she carried her supplies and marched in that classroom without glancing back over her shoulder. Full confidence. I cried at the parent orientation wondering how my child could possibly move through three hours without me looking over her shoulder to prevent a stray toy from tripping her precious foot. I was a mess, and Darby. Was. Ready.
Also this year – the lowest lows. Laura’s dad has been living with Parkinson’s for some years now, and he took a tough fall on Christmas, and fractured his skull. He had/has two hemorrhages, and for now has pretty much lost his hearing. It’s been a really tough week working with this news. Laura’s sister has done a great job sharing updates and caring for Paul, no easy task on either count. Laura is balancing a lot of feelings in all of it, and doing a good job sitting with her feelings (crying) when she needs to, and being present for Darby and our family. She always has strength – it’s kind of amazing to watch. But this is hard. Paul is alive and he’s answering questions and knows what’s up , although he’s not ambulatory yet, and we don’t know what the road ahead will be.
Our families are doing ok. My folks are fine – they are well, and near, and having fun in their retirement. They’re awesome grandparents and even keep up with this three-foot-tall maniac, occasionally. While we have been actively waiting to make Darby a big sister, the hope of it was a bit dashed during Covid. Newborn adoption nearly stopped, nationwide. Our original adoption agency closed, like many other small businesses, during the pandemic. So we signed up with a new regional agency, a much bigger agency with high hopes. After a year of almost total silence from the agency (ugh!), we decided to add a second resource to try to help us last fall. This time, we engaged a law firm instead of a full service adoption agency. Very different processes, but one more resource trying to help is never a bad thing. (If we had more money we would have signed up with a dozen more to try to speed things along.) We still want to complete our family and have two kids, but as things are quiet and we are aging, we have been beginning to let go and focus on life as a party of three, raising our spunky wild flower. This kid. I can’t imagine what our lives would look like without her. She is hilarious and sassy (shocker), and so very smart. She is wildly verbal and talks openly about her feelings and needs. She loves Parmesan cheese and toys that fly. She is our everything.
So, Laura has a hat that says Girl Dad. I got it for her last Mother’s Day as a joke…she loves it and wears it all the time. She especially likes wearing it around people that just look at it, well, confused. 🙂 And here’s a cool piece of news…this year, I’m getting a hat, too, and it will say Boy Mom. After three and a half years, we are matched with a birthmother and are expecting a baby in February! Being matched during a pregnancy is a totally new experience for us. (When Darby was born and we got a call, she was already born and we got in the car and were holding her an hour later.) We are re-learning everything about this wild and beautiful and painful process, and hoping we do it right. But damn, there’s no rule book. Like before, we hold on to each other, and our daughter, and keep moving forward.
Realizing that anything I share about the birthmother or the baby is the baby’s story, and the baby needs to be able to choose what is shared, I will be very selective in what I write here. But we are over the moon, and tentatively excited. And here’s a cool nugget – we’ve been selectively sharing our news for a couple of weeks with close friends and family, and Laura’s dad is excited, after two daughters and five granddaughters, to have a grandson on the way. Our village is excited along with us, for which we are so grateful. Sometimes I worry about taking other people on the ride with us – it feels like a lot to ask – but hell if this isn’t a family affair. It’s adoption and as we’ve learned the hard way, it can go sideways, so we are still metering the excitement in the manageable ways, while preparing ourselves and our home for our growing family.
So, if all goes according to plan, come February, we’re going to have a son! And his name will not be Toby. 🙂
So that’s the Dougherty update this New Year’s Eve Day. New year, new hat, new baby. Here we go…