Mama E had her time with Spear until close to 9:00 am. During their time together I focused my efforts and energies on getting ready for the big day ahead. As soon as Spear got back to our room he was taken for his circumcision and a few minutes later our lawyer came in.

He popped his head in quickly just to say hello and let us know he was heading to Mama E’s room.

My first thoughts were that I was impressed he was there so early on a Sunday and also that I was glad Spear was away. My anxiety then shot THROUGH THE ROOF.

This. Was. It.

The moment. The time.

Everything we’d done in the adoption process for the last 20 months lead to THIS.

It was either the end of it all or the beginning of Spear’s forever life with us.

Surprisingly, time didn’t really stand still. It seemed like only a matter of minutes until the lawyer popped his head in again. He simply said “Congrats! It’s done! Be right back!”

Huge sigh. Relief. Gratitude. Contentment. Joy. Thankfulness. Peace.  

Zach and I kinda did a silent whisper excitement thing and hugged!

Mrs. Charlotte had been waiting on the word from me to head that way with the older kids to meet Spear. I hadn’t allowed any set in stone plans to be made regarding them coming down because the worst case scenario to me was if Mama E didn’t sign and the kids and Zach’s parents were already there and had already met Spear. I couldn’t risk it.

So I breathed my sigh of relief. Hugged Zach. Sent that text to Mrs. Charlotte to head that way.

The lawyer came back in and again was just casual. This is what he does every day. I mentioned before that Zach and I are “people people” and we kinda feed off others and their vibe. This wasn’t a crazy emotional moment because our lawyer just isn’t that kinda guy.

He went over some things with us. Mostly entailing what will happen next. Technically HE is Spear’s legal guardian. We are the temporary guardians until the adoption is finalized. We signed a post placement agreement with him making that official. Basically it’s a packet of info that none of us even read over but it includes all the legal info and the plan for our relationship with Mama E moving forward.

The lawyer explained to us that he’d go before the judge and make everything official and then usually around the time the baby is 6 months old the adoption becomes finalized. During that wait we will have to have two post placement visits with our case worker before the final hearing may be scheduled.

We may or may not have to appear in front of a judge in Jacksonville for that final hearing. The lawyer said it really just depends on what judge we get assigned to but that we may be able to finalize from home depending.

So yes. Spear is OURS but he’s still not technically ours. The process still isn’t completely complete!

Once finalized we will then receive Spear’s birth certificate and social security card. I have NO CLUE what his original birth certificate says. Most often it’s simply “Baby Boy” for a name. Right now Mama E is signed as the mother and no father is listed on it. Once his adoption is final he will be issued a new birth certificate with his full name and our names listed.

Our official plan with Mama E is to send photos to the lawyer’s office along with a one page update. These photos were to be sent at 2 weeks old and then monthly for the first year. After his 1st birthday it then switches to yearly (always being sent around his birthday) until his 18th birthday. We send it to the lawyer and then they let Mama E know it’s there and she can decide if she’d like to pick it up or not.

That’s what she told them she’d like to have set in place. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way we can communicate. We can still have as open of a relationship as we’d all like to have this photo agreement is basically the bare minimum and is just to make sure the birth family knows there IS a set plan. It’s good to all have a clear understanding and expectations. Zach and I are open to more if that is what Mama E desires.

It’s very normal for the birth mother to do one of two things after placement: 1) desire to be closer than she’d originally planned and truly stick by that desire or 2) have a good bit of communication initially but then sorta phase out over time.

Technically the true post placement agreement is several pages long but the lawyer also provides a single paper for us to take with us to use for dr appointments, insurance or anywhere else that may require proof of Spear’s placement with us.

We signed a few things and thanked him and that was it! I did ask if I could keep the pens we signed with haha ๐Ÿ˜‰ Adopt a baby…get a free pen, right?

Even with everything being official, Mama E was still my main concern at that moment. Our moment of joy, her moment of sorrow. I asked what we should do about her. Do we go to her room to comfort her? Does she want to see us? Need distance? He said he would be going to check on her before leaving and would pop back in our room and let us know how she was and what she wanted to do regarding us.

He came back by and said she was doing good and that she was okay and said she’d be by to see us shortly. 

I was thankful that all during this time Spear was away. He got back soon after the lawyer left and it felt SO GOOD to just allow myself to fully and completely love him without having any reason to hold back. 

Bless his heart he had a paci in when he got to the room. The nurse was hilarious because Zach was like “what is in his mouth?” and she quickly snatched it out and said they usually remember to take them out before returning the babies b/c so many parents are against the paci hahaha We didn’t mind it. While we’re not huge paci fans (after having a paci kid with Kye we don’t want that again!) but understand their need to use them during that time. When those sweet babies are hurting you just wanna offer comfort! 

Spear LOVED it and did NOT want to let it go!

I had this PRECIOUS onesie that sweet friends of ours gave us and wanted to use it as his announcement photo ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Officially introducing Mr. Bryant Spear!!!

(I did NOT post it on Social Media until much later that day because I wanted family to know first of course!)

With the kids on the way I talked to Zach about going ahead and calling my dad. I usually like the kids to meet the baby FIRST but I knew once the kids arrived it’d be crazy and we’d be leaving and I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t rushed in talking to my dad. 

Zach was ALL for it! So I went to the closet room and called Dad. I told him “his first name is Bryant but he’s going by his middle name…Spear.” Both Dad and Audrey were on the phone and were overjoyed to hear that we’d decided to name this child after Dad’s brother. 

It was such a special conversation and one that I will always remember forever and ever. I loved that I was in that room alone so I could truly give my full focus to that phone call. Dad said he was just so proud of me and that I’m an amazing mother and that he’s so impressed with us for making this plan and seeing it through to the end. It was emotional for me to have him say such kind things about me. I’m so glad I made him proud and know that Uncle Spear would be honored to have his name passed on through our Spear too. 

After we got off the phone I sent them his picture too ๐Ÿ™‚ 

At about noon Mama E came by. She was discharged and heading home. Her dad and one of her daughters were with her. I met them in the hall because we’d had the door shut (Zach was doing skin to skin to help after his feeding and to help comfort him after the circumcision). I invited them all in the room but her dad hesitated. I told him there was no pressure at all if he didn’t want to come in, that we understood. 

Mama E and her daughter had already entered the room and her dad stopped me and said he just wanted to tell me thank you and that it couldn’t be a better family to raise this child. It was very sweet and I thanked him and told him how thankful we were to have Mama E and for this opportunity. 

He hesitated a moment and then decided to come in the room. It was heartbreaking to watch his eyes as he tried not to look at Spear in Zach’s arms. I knew he came in because he wanted to talk to Zach. I’m not sure they had ever met and it’s kinda funny in my mind because Zach was sitting there shirtless meeting him for the first time haha. I can put myself back in that moment and I remember watching Mama E sitting on the bed facing Zach and her father standing beside the bed, also facing Zach. 

Her dad told Zach the same things he told me. Thanked him, said he’s so thankful for us. And he said how proud he was of Mama E. That he knew it was a hard decision but that he was so proud of her for choosing it. I saw her eyes fill with tears. 

Both she and I have a soft spot for our dads (we both also said the lawyer reminds us of our fathers and it’s why we both instantly liked him so much). Less than an hour prior I’d been crying hearing my dad say he’s proud of me and Mama E was crying hearing her dad say the same thing. I know it’s a moment she’ll always remember and I hope she carries it with her as a reminder that her dad supports her and is a positive male role model in her life. 

He headed to the car to load her things for her and she stayed to visit a bit. She was very different than she’d been the night prior at our dinner. She was lighter, more comfortable. I have heard a lot that once the papers are signed that the pressure for the birth mother is off and that she can relax. She can breathe a sigh of relief too. It’s done. The anxiety related to this huge decision is over. While she’ll never forget Spear and he’ll never not be her son, she can start the healing process and can start moving forward with her plans and her life beyond this pregnancy and adoption plan. 

I love, love, LOVE the photos I have of them together. I love that she wanted them. I love that I have them. I just adore them. With our first photos we sent her I sent her an album to put all the photos in and also sent her a frame with this particular photo in it. It’s my FAVORITE. She’s looking at him and just smiling the most pure, happy, loving smile. It’s just perfection in every way. AND I love that she’s wearing the pjs and necklace we got her. It makes it even that much more special. Oh how I wish I could show yall the full photo b/c it’s just so beautiful. 

We also got photos of us together which I love, love so much. I mean Spear is just SO blessed to have us BOTH as his mother. He’s just so loved and so cherish and will ALWAYS be! 

I’m SO glad she came by to see us. She loved on him for enough time to get photos but didn’t linger with him. I felt like she probably had her goodbye that morning when it was just the two of them. She wasn’t in a rush, but she didn’t stick around long either. I think having her daughter with her probably helped. I loved on her daughter a good bit because I adore her and am sad I won’t get to see her (and the other kids) too. I love them all, pray for them all, and think about them all always. 

We all hugged. I squeezed her super tight and just told her I loved her. It was hard seeing her go. 

But it was also a sigh of relief. 

For 4 months my focus was on her. My life, my world, revolved around her. I needed that torch passed. I needed to be able to focus on him. On this baby in front of me. On our new lives as a family of 6. It was a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. A lot of emotions I was carrying. And it felt nice to let that go a bit. Not that I’ll ever stop being there for Mama E, but she can no longer be my main focus in life. And that’s good for all of us. This is the natural progression of things in the adoption journey and I was eager and ready for the next steps: truly becoming a FAMILY! 

Our room took on such a different appearance to me. It was OUR room with OUR baby. Everything felt different. There was a huge shift in how I felt and the contentment just washed over me. 

First snuggles as his official mama ๐Ÿ˜‰

When all of our children were born we have had a photographer in the room with us for the delivery experience. I LOVE these photos and LOVE that the photographer stays each time and captures those first moments of us as a family. When the kids meet the baby. When extended family meets the baby etc. 

Obviously I knew this situation was much different but I still really, really wanted to figure out a way to have some professional photos done while at the hospital. I loved the idea of having them once the papers were signed and when the kids would come meet the baby. 

I wasn’t sure how all of that would go down. If Spear was in NICU (which we had thought would be the case) the kids wouldn’t be allowed to meet him until discharge which would make photos tricky. I am so thankful for Lindsay as she helped me reach out and find local Jackonsville photographers. 

As soon as I saw Alex Michele Photography I knew she was the PERFECT fit for us. Her price point was exactly what I felt comfortable with, her images reflected the style I was hoping for, and she includes all the digital images as part of her package (I don’t understand why more photographers don’t do this?!?!). 

She was SO wonderful to work with and I can’t recommend her enough! She was very understanding about our delicate situation and very easy going regarding having to wait to make definite plans. My hope was for hospital photos. But if NICU did happen I figured worse case we could do photos in a hotel room or something if we had to! 

The hospital staff was SO great about letting us hang around and slow rolling our discharge. I still can’t get over the fact that we had to slow roll our discharge. Seriously we are SO BLESSED with this HEALTHY baby!!!

The timing of everything was perfect. Alex got there at 1:00 which was the time we were planning for the kids to arrive. We had planned on a 45 minute session and I felt SO BAD that it took the kids AGES to get there. They were super late because they had to grab some lunch and good ole Jacksonville McDonalds had such terrible service. Alex was SO patient with us and really rolled with things. She was a pure joy to work with and she was so genuine in her excitement for our family. Even having just met us for the first time! 

Even though I felt SO BAD that it took so long for the kids to come…I do really love that we have these images of just us with Spear. Especially so many awesome ones of just he and I together. I’m always the one taking the photos and we always have tons of great shots of Zach with the kids but not nearly as many of me with them and I just love having these!!! 

I also felt bad that Spear wasn’t “himself.” He had a ROUGH morning. Between that alone time with Mama E and the circumcision he was the fussiest he’d been his whole life (all two days of it ha!). I did want to mention that I could notice a difference in him when he spent time with Mama E. He seemed fussier and didn’t eat as well. I think he could feel the heaviness of everything weighing on her. I think babies “know” more than we give them credit for. This day was a LOT of emotions and I truly believe that affected Spear a good bit. I think it was overwhelming for him. I will discuss this more in the future as it played a roll in some of the stuff I experienced with him once we left the hospital too!

When Zach and I were dating we talked about kids. I was pretty smart as I always wanted 4 kids but I told him I wanted 6…he wanted 2 so we met in the middle and decided on 4 ๐Ÿ˜‰ Four has always been our “number” and “our plan.” I felt good at 2 kids though. Not complete, but content in it. I will say having Tess really shook up that contentment for me. I think having that third kid made me feel more eager to have the 4th. It felt odd. Like someone was just missing. The odd number of kids never felt comfortable for me. 

That moment when Spear became our son was a big moment. Not only because it made him officially ours…but also because it made our family officially complete. There is NO feeling that can compare to that feeling of completeness. My heart is full. I have this contentment in my family dynamic. No piece is missing. We are US and it’s so, so perfect. Even before the other three arrived I just felt so full and it was such an incredible feeling to know that will never go away. This is it. Forever. We are complete!!!

I loved this when I saw it and I’m so glad she got a photo of it in the hospital lobby!

The elevators we went up to meet our baby!

HUGE thanks to Magically Made Tees for the adorable sibling shirts…I had THE hardest time finding any in the larger kids sizes (I guess most of the time people are done having kids before their oldest is in larger sizes?) and I LOVE how these turned out!

I hate that he’s so fussy in so many of these but it’s very true to the moment and I think is an honest reflection of the adoption process. It’s a big shift for the child. People don’t often talk about that but it IS. It affects them. He had to go through grieving the loss of the voice he heard every day while in the womb. He had to adjust to a new voice. New arms. New everything. 

That hair! I cannot get enough of it!!!

Our son ๐Ÿ™‚ So thankful for SO much quality time the three of us had together those couple of days in the hospital. Especially for Zach as he got to bond with Spear in a way that he didn’t with the others which I think is SUPER important for their relationship!

When Zach went down to the lobby to meet the kids and get them changed I had some alone time with Spear and I ADORE these images so, so much. 

Our first moments as truly mother and son. I’m so thankful for this gift. This incredible gift. 

One piece of paper that says so little yet means SO MUCH. Adoption is not easy. But it’s so, so incredibly worth it. 

HUGE thank you again to Alex Michele Photography…up next Spear meeting his siblings!


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