It was just after 1 pm. My phone lit up—It was Mama T.
My body was numb, my eyes on fire, my voice raspy... but I took a deep breath and answered.
We talked about the morning. I cried some more. I leaned up against the wall to keep myself from falling over. My head was spinning.
"I'm 100% certain I'd like to move forward with the adoption."
Gratitude washed over me. I wished I could hug her through the phone. All I could do was look to John and my mom and give them some shaky thumbs up. I kept my composure as we chatted about what would happen next. And then we hung up.
I collapsed and cried. John rushed to me. We hugged, we cried together, we thanked God. And then he looked at me and said, "Let's go meet our son."
We raced to the hospital...
...well, we ate (we hadn't eaten since around 7 am), freshened ourselves up a bit (because... woah), and THEN raced to the hospital.
I shook as we made our way to the fourth floor of Florida Hospital. We signed in and then made our way to Mama T's room.
We had only known each other for four days. But I felt like I knew her, and she knew me as we said our first hellos. I put by her bed that yellow vase of flowers that represented so much. She told me her favorite color is yellow. Perfect.
And then we met our son. Emerson's half brother was holding him, and he smiled at us as he passed Emerson to me. More tears (I must have an unlimited supply) rushed to my eyes as John and I stared into the face of the most perfect baby boy we had ever seen.
I went and sat on Mama T's bed. We cried and hugged little Emerson together for a while. Not much was said, just tears and hugs shared. She asked what his name was, and I told her Emerson John. She liked it.
My mom then came in and met her grandson. Soon I was getting a band put around my wrist that gave me some type of legal passageway to visit him—which felt like an achievement of sorts. They took us to a private room where we got to hold, pray, and love on our tiny son.
It was so hard leaving him. We said goodbye to Mama T, and told her to let us know when we could come to the hospital the next day. I instantly felt so vulnerable. Now we had met him. We gazed into those beautiful brown eyes of his, and he had us wrapped around his tiny little finger.
That night we celebrated.
Seafood. Ocean waves. Sand under our bare feet. Breathing in the fresh ocean air. Gratitude. Thankfulness. Peace.
The next day, April 6th, in the early afternoon, Emerson was officially placed with us.
We surrounded Mama T in a circle of hugs, and then we prayed over her. We cried together yet again, then walked to the NICU together to visit Emerson. He was having some tummy troubles and needed to stay in the NICU for the next six days. Mama T and us surrounded his little bed together.
I have a confession: I was waiting for "the moment." In all the adoption stories I've read, there has been this incredible moment between birth mom and adoptive mom that painted the sky with "it was meant to be." While Mama T and I had many things align, and shared amazing moments together—I still didn't get "the moment." But then it happened.
"I named him Christian before I knew what name you had for him," she told us.
Due to privacy reasons, we're unable to share our last name with our birth mother. She didn't know our last name was Christian, and it took everything in me to not shout "his name IS Christian!" But my heart swelled. Emerson John Christian took on a whole new meaning. That was our "meant-to-be moment."
Mama T held Emerson one last time before being discharged. Trying to put his tubes and cords aside, she held him, loved on him, and it was beautiful to watch.
Emerson will forever know how much you love him, Mama T.
She thanked us for giving her son something she couldn't. And we thanked her for giving us something we couldn't.
"Be a good father," she told John.
"Be a good grandmother," she told my mom.
"I know you'll be a good mother," she told me.
Then she bravely walked out of the NICU.
6 days in the NICU. A total of 19 days in Florida.
A huge number of people that rallied around us in support of our adoption—whether that looked like donating, showering us with gifts to return home to, making us meals, watching our pups and house for nearly three weeks, taking on one of our fundraisers, or simply sending texts and letters of love.
We are so blessed that this is our story.
It brings me so much joy to see John be a dad (and a great one at that), and my love overflows daily for our little family.