Friday, February 27, 2009

Meeting the (birth) Parents!


Before Andrew's birth, we were lucky enough to meet, get to know, and spend some quality time with his birth parents. On the day of our first meeting, at 4PM in a city 2 hours away, my car began acting a little funny, but nothing that I thought a full tank of premium gas wouldn't cure. We wanted to leave the van with the car seats for my parents, who were going to watch Alex and Austin that afternoon and evening, so we could have quiet, peaceful time with the parents without the distractions created by a two year old and a 5 month old.

So, off we go on the interstate. As we are gathering our speed on the interstate, the car starting acting very sluggish. We had left on time, but I'm afraid we'll be late if we turn around, go back home and switch out car sears and vehicles. Pete swears that the car will be fine. I actually prayed, out loud, 'Dear Lord, please get us to there to meet these parents on time. I don’t want to be late, I don’t want to break down, I don’t want to make a bad first impression.”

We make it to the restaurant and meet the birth parents, and it was a wonderful first meeting. We loved them and they loved us and it was the very beginning of what has become a relationship that we now consider extended family. Andrew's birth mother is like the little sister I never had, and her mother is one of the coolest women you'd ever want to meet. From the moment we all met, something just clicked and we knew our families all coming together in this way was going to be very special for everyone involved. I just cannot say enough about how well we all got along, and how much we all adored each from the very start...truly lucky, indeed, especially for little Andrew.

However, upon leaving, we turn from the restaurant parking lot onto the lane for the interstate. We get no more than the next exit up, and the car is dying. We stop at the first gas station, add oil, add water, do everything Pete knows how to do and can do without tools there, and the car is dying. It’s now 7PM, and places are closing.

We make it down to some auto service place down the road, barely able to chug our way in, and they tell us that they are closing, and it looks like they’ll have to order parts, which won’t arrive until morning. What to do? We have to get home! I have to work the next day! We have to get back to the boys! It’s a two-hour drive home! And a tow-truck home would be a killer!

There is no fixing the car that night. It’s deader than a doornail. We leave it parked at the auto repair shop and, after a lot of anxious decision making, land on the plan the only thing to do is have me rent a car and drive home while Pete spends the night. We assume it'll be only a few hours the next day for fix the car, and then he can drive right back home. Luckily, we’re close to a Holiday Inn. We walk over and check Pete in for the night. Then, we start calling around for a rental car, thinking that with a credit card, we can rent a cheap-o over the phone, have it delivered to us at the Holiday Inn, where I’ll get in and drive home. Don't I see commercials on TV like that all the time? Don't I? I swear I do. But in reality? No such luck. All the car rental places in town are closed, because it’s now almost 8:00 PM. The ONLY one that is open is the one at the airport, and they don’t deliver cars.

Next step: call a taxi and have it take me to the airport. That wait was forever. Finally, I get in the taxi, but the driver is Buddhist, and it now being 9PM, he has to do his evening prayers. So I sit in the taxi, while he finds a point due East, and prays. (I’m praying now, too, by the way....praying I will ever make it home to see my children again).

I finally make it to the airport (where the heck is it...this is the longest taxi ride EVER), and rent a car. Paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork. Get the keys, and since I’ve never been at this particular airport before, and I don’t know my way around this city very well, I decide to ask the rental clerk how to get to I-75. He tells me he doesn’t think I-75 is in in this city. Um, what? I mean, he’s a car rental agent, working at the airport, and he doesn’t know if I-75 even runs throught this city...hello? We argue over this for a few minutes until I give up. Whatever...this guy looks smart in this car rental agency suit and tie and jacket, but looks are apparently very deceiving. I grab a map, find my rental car and make my slow way home at the end of what is now a very long, stressful night. The final twist of lime to this story was the massively long, slimy snake that crossed the road in front of me on the interstate just as I was coming into Gainesville. And for those of you who don't know this already, I really, really hate snakes. But that's a post for another time.

I arrive home at about 1:00 in the morning. My mom is still there, but both boys are in bed asleep. I manage to get about 4 hours sleep that night before morning arrives and I have to get the boys up and get me ready for work. Mom comes to watch the boys while I go to work. I keep expecting a call from Pete that he's home, but the call never comes. The car did not get repaired the next day, and had to be towed to the Buick dealership for an exclusive Buick part, so Pete had to repeat my routine from the night before: take a taxi to the airport, rent a car, and drive home. He did, and kept the rental car overnight here at home and went back the following day, where he dropped the rental car off at the airport, and then had to take a taxi to the auto repair shop to pick up the Buick, where it ended up being the catalytic converter on the car which had blown up.

So, to summarize, here is what our little journey ended up costing us:

Dinner with the birth parents and our attorney 150.00
hotel for Pete 134.00
taxi to airport - Jamaica 56.00
rental car home first night- Jamaica 90.00
Pete - dinner at hotel 29.00
Car repairs - first auto shop 304.00
tow truck - Buick to dealership 172.00
Taxi to airport for Pete to pick up rental car - 65.00
car rental to drive home - Pete 44.00
Taxi from airport to Buick dealership after dropping off rental car 45.00
car repairs - Buick dealership 1095.00
TOTAL $ 2,184.00

It's like Gilligan's Island...they started out for a "three hour tour" and ended up stranded for years.
We started out thinking it'd be just one evening and maybe a couple hundred bucks, tops. Three days and two grand later, well, I'll just say this: when you adopt, you want to watch every penny. Adoptions can be expensive, and we're not rich. At least, monetarily. Our riches come from other sources: apparently, the unexpected, comical, embarrassing, and frustrating (i.e., character-building) moments that life throws our way. What's a family to do?

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