Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Adoption Chronicles: The End

We arrived at the LDS Family services building today to already find everybody there. My Parents, Nikki’s Parents, the caseworkers, Nikki, Aaron, Aaron’s girlfriend, and Aaron’s girlfriends friend. It was nothing short of a full house. Sometime was spent passing Roe around and letting everybody hold him and love him. Then Nikki wanted a little more alone time with him which we gladly granted. We all kind of hung out with Aaron and his family in the waiting room for about half an hour making small talk and pleasantry’s. Then our case worker Sharon came out and asked Lara and I and my Parents to join her in a conference room. We went unsuspecting of any bad news and Sharon dropped a bomb. Nikki was having second thoughts. You know that sick feeling you get when you see the lights of a police cruiser on behind you while speeding? Multiply that by 100 and you’ll have a glimpse of how I felt in that moment. The problem? Luckily Nikki wasn’t thinking that she wanted to not adopt at all, she just wanted to change the deal a little bit. Nikki desperately wants to be a part of the baby’s life as he grows up. I remember specifically that she asked us how we would handle that issue. Lara and I told her then that I thought that a child really and truly becomes conscious of what’s going on when they are 2, and that we would be fine with meeting her and allowing her to visit him two or three times a year, but that after he turned two, that we would want those visits to end. Me and Lara’s position is that we not only want the boy to not be confused or have confusion around him, but that it will be easier for Nikki to let go and move on with her life with less contact. It’s really nice to be married to a woman who has been in Nikki’s shoes through all of this. It gives us a perspective I think would be impossible to have without Lara’s insight. Anyway, after being told we were the ones Nikki had chosen, she agreed to the two years. Today she is rescinding that agreement and trying to get us to agree to something more. Today! Minutes from when she is supposed to be signing her rights over to us. I was livid! Lara tells me that Nikki is stressed out with the regular taxing effects of post-pregnancy, the stress of constantly fighting with Aaron, and most importantly coming to terms with adopting out her son. Sharon (our caseworker) was advising me all kind of things about how lots and lots of kids have prolonged exposure to their birth parents, and how there are new studies that showed it was healthy and stuff like that… which was all contrary to what Lara and I had read and even what we learned when we went through those foster care classes. I felt like she was working on commission or something and that she would say anything to get this through. Lara had this look of concern on her face that I will never forget, I knew what was going through her head, “What if this doesn’t happen?” “What if Nikki changes her mind.” Lara thought we should rethink it. I did not. My parents were very supportive but both of them made it clear that they thought we should just take the path of least resistance. Sharon was all for the change. I did not like it, not at all. The truth is, that there are no agreements in writing about our obligation to the birth parents after they sign their rights over to the adoption agency. We could promise Nikki the world, and then never speak or even write a letter to her and there would be nothing she can do. No one said it out loud but I felt like it was implied that on this point we should do something of that nature. I was so angry… I am embarrassed to say how angry I was. I felt like I was being hustled or strong-armed into doing something I wasn’t comfortable with. At the time I just thought Nikki had lied to us the whole time fully planning on doing this at the last minute – though looking back I don’t think that was true at all. I didn’t know what to do, Lara suggested my Dad give us a blessing. She’s great like that. We sat in the conference room, my parents, and my wife. Lara and I held hands as my Dad laid his hands, one on mine and one on Lara’s head and gave us a blessing. It was really hard to focus on what he was saying, as my mind just spun with what I was going to say to Nikki. I specifically remember however these words, “Heavenly Father has a plan for your family and he knows that you are ready to raise one of his children, I bless you with the wisdom to that the right way.” That was it for me, it was like an answer. The look on Lara’s face was 180 degrees from what it was prior to the blessing. Lara and I met alone for a few minutes and we just decided that we were going to stick to our original agreement because we both honestly thought that was best for Roe. We went and met with Nikki, in another room, her case worker and her Mom were there. She was holding Roe and told us the same thing Sharon did. I told Nikki that we were not comfortable with that, I said something to the effect of, “You picked us for this adoption because you think that we will do the best for your Son in any situation. If this is our first act as his parents then I am telling you the truth, we don’t think it is a good idea to agree to visits after he is two. Maybe two years from now we will think differently and I want you to trust us, trust that we will let you see him if at the age of two we think that is best for him. We could tell you right now what you want to hear and then just do whatever we want. You know all about that, that is what your Sister went through. So we are being completely honest with you now, and hope that by us being honest you can trust we will always do what is in Roes best interests.” It worked, she agreed to sign the paperwork and did. I was a little triumph that wasn’t at all satisfying… We meant every word of it though, and I am way more comfortable being completely upfront about all this. We said goodbye to everyone, I think I hugged pretty much everyone there twice and a few of them three or four times. Finally it was over, we overcame obstacle after obstacle to the very freaking end. Now the only thing we had to do was make it past the next six months without either of us dying! That is the only conceivable obstacle that could take him away from us. Roe was strapped in and asleep in the backseat of our car, Lara and I sat there for a moment or two both looking like we had just had the longest day of our life. We hugged and started kissing, we made out over the car console for a minute or two like we did when we were dating. It was pretty much one of the greatest moments of my life thus far. And then, we, me and my family, drove home.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Adoption Chronicles: Dizzy

Yesterday, we went to the hospital to take Roe home. It was the most bittersweet experience of my life. Nikki, was having a really really hard time letting him go. I cannot blame her, seriously. I am a way more selfish person then she is and were our situations switched this adoption wouldn’t even be happening. I think this was also the first time that I have actually looked up to someone younger than me. We gave her as much time as she needed and Lara and Nikki were connecting on a plain I could never ascend to. There was much crying from all of us it was really really hard. Finally, we drove home with a baby! I was so overcome with emotion I was dizzy and having a difficult time driving home. If it weren’t for the slight stress of having Aaron and his family opposed to this arrangement I probably would have passed out with Joy. On that matter, we got a call from Aarons Sister. She explained that her and her mother really wanted to see they’re Grandson/Nephew. With all that had gone on in the past months, I did not think this was a good idea. However, I felt terrible even thinking of depriving them of this opportunity. So we arranged a meeting. I told them I thought it should be in a public place and they suggested the Arby’s in Murray. We went there tonight. I was really nervous, legally this child was more theirs than mine. Nikki and her Mom were certain that this woman was crazy, what if she tried something, what if they had people waiting around to jump us and take the boy. I decided to take some precaution, I called my best friend Cameron who lives only two houses down from me and is a probation parole officer who had access to a state vehicle. I suggest to him a plan, that he would arrive a little bit before us off to the side of the road nearby the Arby’s. That he would turn on the flashing lights in the state car and just sit there. Then Lara and I would arrive and meet with them. I told Cameron that I would call him as soon as we entered the Arby’s and leave my phone on with it in my pocket so that he could hear if anything was amiss. My reasoning behind this was that with a police car so close by if they were planning something dastardly, that they would forgo their plans for fear of being caught. We executed this plan exactly as described, and it worked perfectly. Except that after meeting Aarons Mom and Sister I realized that my fears were completely unfounded and that my genius little plan was taking things incredibly overboard. Were they to find out the lengths I went to I think I would be embarrassed. They were extremely pleasant and cordial. It was possibly the best thing that could have happened. We met for just under an hour, they took some pictures and we exchanged emails. Aarons Mom said she would let Aaron decide what he was going to do, and even apologize for being so “meddlesome.” She told us that Aaron had told her that day that he was going to allow us to adopt and that he wanted to be there when the handoff was made. We were so worried about this meeting tonight, we almost didn’t let it happen. Had we given into fear and not done the right thing, I don’t think that this would be happening the way that it is. I can see Lara is in the other room with our son, she is singing softly to him and swaying as she feeds him. Tomorrow is going to be a big day, we will get full guardianship, Nikki’s in and now Aaron is too. It makes me cry to think about all of the miracles that have gotten us to this point. I never cry.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Adoption Chronicles: Email Announcement

At approximately 5:30pm today “Roe Ulysses Maxim” was born. A healthy 8 lb 5 oz baby boy.

Most of you may be asking, "John, I didn’t think your wife was pregnant…" well, as many of you may or may not know we have been looking to adopt for some time now, and finally it seems to have worked out. We will definitely be bringing this child into our home, and though we have a few small trials and battles still to face we are confident enough that things will work out, to make this announcement.

I also wanted to briefly apologize to everyone; this has been a very stressful and time consuming endeavor. So we apologize to friends, associates, and clients, for being a little out of it lately.

Stay tuned for an in depth explanation of all that has transpired over the last many weeks.

Just thought you would all like to know, Love you all.

John Maxim
(801) 541-0849

The Adoption Chronicles: The Birth

Today, I didn’t go into work. Lara and I went to St. Mary’s Hospital to hopefully witness the birth of our new son. We spent almost the whole day there; I can’t even explain how lucky we are to be here I doubt that many adoptive parents get this chance. I worked on a blanket that I was crocheting for the little guy. Nikki, her Mom, and her Sister, along with Lara and I were there all day. With me crocheting I was just like one of the girls. It was good to be able to spend that much time with Nikki. We mostly just talked all day about things. Nikki really doesn’t love the name Roe. She wants to name the baby Bryson. So it was a little awkward every once in a while because Lara or I would refer to him as Roe, and Nikki would refer to him as Bryson. A couple of times it was almost like a competition, as though the last one who said the name would get to be right. After lunch Lara and I talked about it and decided we would just call him Bryson. We decided that this was Nikki’s time with him. After spending the day with them I felt certain that this was going to go off without a hitch. Nikki was induced sometime in the morning, but it was taking forever. But after being there all day she finally went into labor… I remember “The Simpson’s” were on the TV, and Lara stood and held one of Nikki’s legs. Nikki had invited me to watch the actual birth, but I wasn’t really comfortable seeing what one see’s when they witness a birth. I was fine just being in the room, not able to see all the gory details. I sat off to the side; there was a lot of commotion, a lot of coaching from the Doctor. Nikki was in pain, but it wasn’t anything like what they show on TV. It happened pretty fast, it was very much a blur. I first saw Roe amidst a forest of adult arms and legs. I stood up to actually see. His tiny gray body seemed lifeless to me, and for a moment I was very concerned, I thought he was dead. The doctor massaged his body violently, I remember thinking if Roe wasn’t dead he would be they way they were handling him… but to my surprise he suddenly started to cry. And his teeny body turned flesh colored really fast. The nurses quickly cleaned him up and Lara got to cut the umbilical cord. They put him in a little tray, and then I’m not sure what happened for the next little while. Lara and I stood there watching him and we both cried. It was… literally, it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. This little person just like came to life. He hardly cried at all, he was wide eyed and just contently looking around. The sensation was overwhelming. I was able to collect my emotions, and notice Lara had already stopped crying. We didn’t say a lot, we just smiled at each other. I got to hold him a little while later. I was nervous, he seemed so fragile, and I was afraid he would cry once I had him or something, but it went really well. Nikki hogged him though, and I can’t blame her for that. We left about an hour ago (8:00pm) and even knowing that he is over in the hospital makes this possibly the most surreal night of our marriage. Nikki is going to keep him at the Hospital as long as her insurance will allow, which means till Tuesday morning. The plan for now is that we will be taking him home then. We did it!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Adoption Chronicles: volume 30

Nikki’s doctor will be inducing her tomorrow morning! This thing is really going to happen. Nikki has invited us to be there when it happens. I am so nervous this is like the biggest Christmas Eve ever! A couple weeks ago Lara and I decided on a name. We want to call him Rowe Ulysses Maxim. I want to spell the name Roe, and Lara wants to spell it Rowe… we’ll see what happens. I’ll tell you later where it all comes from, but let’s get back to the birth. I can’t believe we are actually going to get to be there. I hope Aaron comes and that he just decides its okay for us to adopt his son. That would really make my day.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

The Adoption Chronicles: volume 29

Let’s break it down. Nikki is having a baby in the next week. She has chosen me and Lara to be the adoptive parents of her son. Aaron, the birth Father even though he liked us has not said “yes” you can adopt. His Mother who is really the decision maker is seriously opposed to the adoption and is telling her son, Aaron, that she and he will legally fight to stop it. It is the opinion of Nikki, the Birth Mother, Nikki’s Mother, and the mediator the met with a week ago that 17 year old Aaron is apathetic about the whole thing and were his Mother left out of the situation that he would simply sign over the rights and let us adopt. Nikki, will not allow them to adopt. She has decided that should Aaron and company fight the adoption that she will let us take guardianship during the legal process. Which could take anywhere from six months to two years. I have gotten everything ready for us to fight Aaron’s family for the right to adopt the child. If we end up having to go that route the adoption agency, LDS Family Services, will not help us or even handle the adoption. This means that all of the work we have done would be in vain. The Home Study, which we have already paid for, is specific only to LDS Family Services. So we would have to order another Home Study, and do the process privately through an attorney. On top of the costs of the legal battle which have been bid at between 10 and 20 thousand dollars the adoption itself would be another 13 thousand. Lara and I have made the commitment to fight no matter what the cost. Regardless this is all hanging on by a very thin thread.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

The Adoption Chronicles: volume 28

Today was fast Sunday. My whole family and Lara and I fasted for this adoption to work out. I threw in a bunch of thanks for last nights little adventure. I found out that the girl who was drunk driving didn’t die, which was a relief. I also felt good about the adoption. That little boy is supposed to be born any day now. With how easily it dawned on me yesterday that I take my wife for granted I realized today that I take all kinds of things for granted. I won’t bore you with the bulk of it, but I definitely haven’t thought much about Fatherhood. I have been so focused on getting the baby, I haven’t spent anytime thinking about what’s gonna happen when he’s here. Am I really ready for this, granted it’s a little late for second thoughts, but this is going to be a big responsibility. I’m excited fatherhood, that’s been evident for years… for the first time, I’m a little nervous.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

The Adoption Chronicles: volume 27

Tonight was crazy! Lara and I had gotten into a fight about something trivial in the morning. We didn’t take care of it early in the day, we just let it fester. She had planned to go see a movie with Nikki and April this evening. I planned on playing video games while they were at the movie, something I haven’t been able to do for a really long time. Well, apparently I had over charged our bank account when I was at Wal-Mart the night previous. Lara called because the debit card was not working, but I was on the phone with my Dad cause I missed his birthday yesterday, and I didn’t switch over. She left an irritated message, and since I was being an idiot, I just thought to myself, “April can spot her the money.” The night went on and I was feeling really relaxed, I was having a good time playing Nintendo. At about 10 the phone rang, I could tell by the ring that it was Lara. I was at a part in the game that was paramount to its successful completion, so I didn’t answer, and I just planned on calling her back. I forgot. The phone rang again about 15 minutes later, it was Lara, I answered.
JOHN: Hey, Babe.
LARA: The car is out of gas, and we don’t have any money on our card. I need a ride. What have you been doing all night?
JOHN: Can’t you just borrow some money from April.
LARA: (yelling) I already borrowed money from her to go to the movie. Do you know how embarrassing that is? What are you doing? You better be getting in the car right now to come get me.
(I was still sitting in my banana chair)
JOHN: I’m headed out the door where are you?
LARA: (frustrated to the point of almost crying) I’m at the chevron by the theater. Where have you been, why haven’t you answered the phone. Nikki and April went home and I got stuck at this terrible gas station, and I’ve been here for 20 minutes what have you been doing?
(Like an idiot I tell the truth)
JOHN: I was playing Nintendo.
(There was silence)
LARA: (Screaming) Hurry up!
(Then she hung up)
I got dressed and got in the car to go meet up with her. When I pulled into the Chevron, she didn’t even get out of her car, she just sat there. I started pumping gas and walked around to the driver’s side window to talk to her. The door was locked. I tried talking to her through the window, but she just kept looking forward. I said, “I know I deserve this but would you please talk to me so I can apologize.” In response she turned to look at the gas meter to see how much longer she would have to wait before she could leave. I gave up and was kind of mad, though in retrospect I probably didn’t have any right to be. No sooner had I shut the gas door she started the car and without a word sped off. I got into my car, a little upset and tried to catch up with her. My hopes were that I would be able to get home as close as possible to when she got home so that I could try and calm her before we went to bed. You know, the whole “never go to bed angry” advise that everyone likes to give out at weddings. So anyway I am driving on the freeway, and its dark out. I think I see what appear to be her car a few lengths ahead of me. I hang back a little bit because I don’t want her to see me following and speed home faster or something. After a couple of minutes off in the distance, I see what appears to be headlights’ coming strait at me. I saw cars ahead of me swerving to get out of the way, but I distinctively thought, “there’s no way a car is coming at us.” Then before I can react or even think about it further I see the two cars in front of Lara’s swerve and she had no time to react. I see her car slam head on into the on coming car. All I could discern was that the force of the collision swung the back of her car into the air to where I could see the whole bottom of the car. I slammed on my breaks and the horror of what just happened sunk in. I pulled over and was about to get out of my car to run over and see how everyone was doing, but I noticed car after car speed right at the wreck and then dangerously swerve to avoid hitting them again (keep in mind this all happened in less than a minute. It was like 11:45 at night, so traffic wasn’t terrible, but I reversed my car and then when the opportunity presented itself I pulled my car into the same lane as the wreck about 100 yards back, stopped, flipped on my hazards and got out of my car and ran towards the wreck. My thinking was that it would be better for someone to hit an empty car then to hit the one that had my wife who was probably already seriously injured in it. As I ran toward the wreck I noticed for the first time that this car was not my wife’s car, it was a pick up truck, and it was nothing close to my wife’s car. I was as overjoyed as I could be under the circumstances. Lara hadn’t been hit after all. I was the first to arrive at the scene, and this part is weird. As I run up to the truck the driver climbs out of the window and who is it but my best friend from middle school Phoumixay Chounlamany. I say hi to him and we both marvel for a second at the fact that we hadn’t seen or spoken to each other for two years, and that we would meet in this way of all ways. He then goes to help his passenger out of her seat too. Both cars are pretty destroyed and I am amazed that Phoum and his lady friend just walked away. The driver was not so lucky. I went over to see if she was okay. She was totally out of it but awake. She was trapped under the steering wheel and had hit her head pretty severely. There was blood everywhere. She saw me and reached out to me and called me Jeff. I tried to talk to her and keep her coherent; I was kneeling by her car, a late 90’s brown Ford Contour, holding her hand through the driver’s side window. I tried asking her her name? She looked at me and her mouth tried to form some words but her response was an incoherent groan. Her eyes were spinning like she was drunk or dizzy. I said its going to be okay and then her head, which was holding itself up until now, flopped violently to the side, and her hand went limp. I tried to check for a pulse to see if she had died. I could only feel my own pulse pumping… I couldn’t tell, I had this horrible pit in my stomach I thought she died right there as I held her. I tried to arouse her, but she didn’t move. The Highway Patrol should up then and started debriefing everyone. To cut the story down, the block the whole freeway and had Life Flight land directly on the freeway to take her to the hospital. As I was giving my report the Highway Patrolmen told me he didn’t think she was going to make it but that she was definitely alive when he got there. Apparently she was drunk, and got on the freeway at 600 S going the wrong way. She had traveled nearly 24 blocks before hitting my friend Phoum. I had tried to call Lara, through out this experience which took an entire hour from the time it happened to when I got to start driving home. She was not answering. I was really concerned because the Officer also told me that three cars had ran into the cement medians in an effort to miss the on coming car, and that all of them had been taken to the hospital. There was about 60 seconds where I thought Lara had been hit by a car and it was perhaps the most terrible experience of my life. I drove home hoping she wasn’t one of the three who had wrecked. When I pulled up to the house I saw her car parked out front. I started to cry. I came in side and she was asleep. I woke her up and told her the whole story. Luckily she forgave me for the days events. I had to write this down because I have never been so aware of how much I love that woman! I have been taking her for granted, I would do anything for her, she is the only thing that really makes me happy in life. I hope I read this story and that I can remember the feeling I had running from my car towards what I thought was hers. I love my wife. I love her!

Friday, May 5, 2006

The Adoption Chronicles: volume 26

We went to Applebee’s today to meet Aaron the baby’s father. I did not feel like Nikki had represented him in a very accurate light. This boy of 17 was very concerned with the welfare of his son. He was asking very adult questions and really showed me genuine concern that the best thing for his son happen. Sure he was very arrogant; he showed up with his girlfriend and was dressed much like other 17 year olds of the time. I remember when I was 17 I thought that I ruled the world. This kid was no different than me. Aaron explained that he was not opposed to adoption, but that he wanted to be part of his boy’s life. He didn’t understand why Nikki wouldn’t entertain adopting within their own families. Of course, I am obviously biased, but I think that that is a fairly valid or at least understandable position for one to make in this situation. One thing is definitely for sure, Aaron was not being unreasonable. I felt really good about our meeting. I think we made a pretty good connection, I think it helped that there were only 10 years between us and we had a lot of similar tastes and likes. He didn’t make a decision one way or the other, but some good ground was broken. He and Nikki are meeting with another family too today. Speaking of being arrogant when I was 17, Right now, at age 28, I am feeling pretty confident that we are cooler than the other couple they are going to be meeting with, so maybe Aaron and I have more in common then I think. Nikki, called Lara tonight and said that Aaron really liked us. She said that she thought the other couple was “weird” and Aaron thought they were “boring.” Unfortunately even though it seemed like we won the contest, Nikki said that Aaron still “wanted to not decide.”

The Adoption Chronicles: volume 25

I can’t sleep. My wife and I are planning on adopting this little baby boy within the week, and we aren’t even sure it’s going to go through. If this was a regular old boring adoption, I am sure there would still be uncertainties. I know I have heard that some girls change their mind at the last minute, and right now I would welcome that being the biggest concern. I can’t pray enough to have this work out for the best. I keep trying to pray for the baby’s best interests. I know deep down what I want. What my wife wants. It can’t be wrong for me to ask for this adoption to work out despite the monumental obstacles. I do concede to the Lords will, especially because I recognize that alone I cannot get this done. So I guess what I am saying is that if God would rather we learn from the loss (which is what it would be) of this child in our lives, rather than having us adopt and raise this child… well then I will accept that and attempt to grow… I am not praying for it though. “Ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you” right? It doesn’t say “Ask for what you want but end every sentence with - whatever you want will be cool Lord” That seems more like lacking in faith. Anyway I am rambling in my own journal. I just look at this situation and think that if this doesn’t workout it will be seriously discouraging to both me and my wife. Ugh, I need to go to sleep! Tomorrow, or rather today, is a big day, we are meeting Aaron. I’ll try and read my scriptures - that always knocks me out.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

The Adoption Chronicles: volume 24

Nikki’s due date is coming up really fast, and still nothing is exactly certain. The rift between Nikki and Aaron seems to be unsurpassable. They hadn’t spoken really since the mediation; I seriously doubted that choice when Nikki called today with some news. She said that Aaron called her out of the blue, and wanted her to meet with this family that works with his Mom. Nikki agreed to the meeting so long as Aaron would meet with us. This made me very excited. I knew that Lara and I always made good impressions I figured it was the only chance we still had. Nikki could have her baby at any moment. We set the meeting up for tomorrow.