As requested here is a rough timeline for the series of events pertinent to my adoption story. There are two important notions to keep in mind while reading this:
1) Athena still has he calendar from the year of her pregnancy. I don't have it in front of me. I may mix up a few things here and there. No promises on 100% accuracy. I'll try my best.
2) I'm posting this because a reader requested it. I really do take everyone's input seriously and respond directly. If you have an idea, question, or anything you'd like to share with/say to me I'm all ears.
About 2008 - This year I found myself living with a couple (one a good friend, the other his partner at the time) in a house 44 miles from work. Two years post college I was 25 years old. I had been hired at the university in August the previous year. Athena was living with her family and continuing to struggle with Crohn's Disease. Not a fan of major surgery and a lifetime of steroids she was attempting to control it through diet and Traditional Chinese Medicine (herbal decoctions, tinctures, and the like).
February 2008 - Athena contacted me via an art website to commission a piece. It was quite complicated, I was a bit lazy, and getting adjusted to 60 hour work weeks for the first time. It took months or working and revision.
July 2008 - Athena and I met for the first time. The intention was to hand off the piece or find all the niggling details to revise that couldn't be expressed properly over e-mail. We walked better than 12 miles talking and stayed up all night staring at each other. I was in deep smit. I also moved into my brother's empty house. He moved to LA and asked me to watch the place until he could find a renter.
August 2008 - For reasons I'll not get into, I moved out of my brother's house. Significant family strife involved.
September 2008 - Athena and I started talking about moving in with each other because we suck at being apart. The hunt begins.
November 2008 - We moved into our first apartment. I dubbed 2008 "the year of the move." It was also Athena's first move. I was old hat at changing homes and had some difficulty understanding what's so hard about it. Removed head from sphincter and attempt to be supportive.
December 2008 - Athena's health declined. Stress went up. December 27th we get the big news. Stress went up more.
January 2009 - By the end of the first week we'd told both our sets of parents. In the middle of January I decided therapy was a good idea for me and started looking for services. By the end of the month I'd found a therapist and start weekly sessions. Somewhere in there is the visit to the Pregnancy Counseling Center.
February 2009 - We'd settled on adoption and had concluded that extra-familial is the only way to go. Adoption within either of our families felt too messy to consider. I believe this was the month we found Catholic Social Services and started working with them. Lots of reading and crying ensued.
March 2009 - Ultrasound with terrible, terrible, terrible doctor. Immediately transferred care to midwives. Athena's Crohn's symptoms were dramatically reduced.
April 2009 - I was put on seasonal leave at work (annual four month lay off without the benefit of collecting unemployment. My stress about money sky rocketed). Athena and I began crafting the birthing plan. Touring the hospital was a significantly traumatizing experience which lead to the realistic fear that Athena would run away into the woods to deliver the Visitor. Alternative plans started hatching.
May 2009 - Ultrasound with the awesome tech. First positive hospital experience! Midwives found in Athena's home town associated with a private birthing center. Athena and I read piles of prospective adoptive parents profiles at Catholic Social Services. After reading the 11 that fit our initial screening criteria we took three profiles home. There were two that really struck us. One that seemed too good to be true in most respects, with a couple significant reservations. One pretty damn good without much to question. One was a ringer. Just in case. I read each profile at least twice every day for the following ten days. Clawing my way away from depression I managed to celebrate my birthday.
June 2009 - We scheduled a meeting with Ms Scarlet and Prof Plum. Once they're back in town we met. The significant reservations were all flipped on their heads in that conversation. Each concern became a boon. We exchange e-mails and start working out times to meet for dinner et cetera. Athena transferred prenatal care to the midwives in her home town. We became half time residents in her parents' home (practically speaking) for the check ups.
July 2009 - My brother asked that we consider him and his wife as adoptive parents. In the discussion I told him we'd already considered it and laid out our reasons for not going with intra-familial adoption.
August 2009 - We wait-wait-waited. Half way through the month I resumed work. Athena's due date was August 29th. We were praying the Visitor wouldn't show up on her birthday, the 31st.
September 2009 - The Visitor arrived! He went home with Ms Scarlet and Prof Plum from the birthing center. I took a week off work to help care for Athena at her parents' house. The labor was long and difficult. Athena lost a lot of blood and was structurally unsound for some time. After a week I returned to work, leaving Athena at her parents' house to continue her recovery. On the drive home I talked with both of my brothers for three hours about why they were not parenting Festus and why asking for custody now was inappropriate and disrespectful. Athena stayed with her parents for two more weeks before returning to the apartment with me. It was one of the most difficult times in our relationship and in my life.
October 2009 - Visits with Ms Scarlet and Prof Plum continued. Contact was a little weird at first, and somewhat stressful. I often felt, in the early visits, like I was going to a job interview (if I didn't dress right, impress them, make everything easy and pleasant, they'd decide I shouldn't be a part of Festus' life and cut off contact. I didn't really believe it, but that's how it felt). We confirmed that Athena's Crohn's was in full remission.
December 2009 - Athena's family joined us for a visit to Ms Scarlet, Prof Plum, and Festus for the first time.
January 2009 - I terminated treatment with my therapist.
Fast forward to the present. . .
Contact with Festus, Prof Plum, and Ms Scarlet continues and is getting better all the time. At this point I consider them friends I would enjoy spending time with regardless of an adoption agreement. My family still hasn't seen Festus. That continues to be difficult for me. Athena's health remains better today than it had been at any point since Crohn's first manifested. Her pregnancy, in a very real and literal way, saved her life.
Today Athena and I are still together, still living in our little tree house apartment (there's a bay window surrounded by trees. It's quite lovely). We're making plans for our future and long for a dishwasher.