“So, do you think you’re ready for us to fly out?” I asked J. “Yes, I’m not sure how the rest of this is supposed to work, though,” she said. “Me neither! But we do know how to book flights.” We laughed, and I told her I’d update her tomorrow as we were on our way. Though she laughed, I could hear the deep hurt in her voice as she began to consider what it would mean to put her son in our arms.
We texted our families as many details as our minds would let us sort through. And apologized for texting and not calling. I rushed to buy a “big brother” t-shirt for J’s other son, going to two stores to find they were closed before parking in the expectant parent spot at Buy Buy Baby and finding the perfect t-shirt. Back home, we packed all the newborn boys’ clothes we had, as well as a few gifts we had carefully selected for J and her other son. I slept zero hours that night, and Dan slept deeply. Typical in our home.
Our flight out of Indianapolis was late boarding. It was near zero degrees as we boarded, and the flight technicians couldn’t get the fuel door open to fuel the plane. We sat on the runaway for about 2.5 hours. I was anxious. I used to laugh about essential oils, but man, I had that Serenity oil slathered on. Dan and I weren’t seated together, having bought our tickets at the last minute. Once in the air, Dan started vomiting every hour or so. And we quickly realized we would miss our connecting flight from Phoenix to Salt Lake City. But we were reassured we were booked on the next available flight.
When we finally landed, we learned we were not set to leave until 9p from Phoenix and not get us into Salt Lake City until 11p. Because of our last minute booking, we got bumped way to the end of the “line” to get out. I ate something while Dan sucked down Gatorade. We quickly calculated that we would get to Salt Lake City more quickly driving nine hours than we would waiting for our flight. We went to baggage to ask that our bags not be loaded onto the next flight. “We have one big roller suitcase and a car seat,” I explained. “We’re adopting a baby, and we need to get to Provo as early as we can tonight.” This travel experience was similar to our honeymoon experience in a lot of ways. It’s a family tradition to hit travel snags before and after major life events, apparently.
We drove nine hours, watching the landscape change as night fell. We talked about our hopes and expectations and fears. We kept praying for J. The stress dissipated, and we settled in for this time in the car together before our lives changed in an instant. It was a precious time… We fell in love and later figured out marriage during long drives in the car together. I felt I might burst with such great love for Dan and such great anticipation for meeting J and baby Jayden.
While driving, we realized we would be getting in much later than expected after getting the rental car and making a few necessary stops. We told the social worker, and she suggested we talk in the morning about getting together with J. We understood and were thankful for one night of solid rest once we got to Provo.
I talked to J on the phone for a while. I don’t want to share details of that call, but again, our love and care for her intensified. And we again came to a strong realization of how seriously she had taken this decision and how deeply she loved her son. It was emotionally intense, but I am so grateful for the ways she has given us complete insight into her emotions.
We pulled up to our Airbnb rental home in Provo. The front door was unlocked with the key on the kitchen island, if that gives you any indication of safety in Provo. We set our bags down and looked around. It appeared the home was used full-time by a young couple and their two children except for when rented via Airbnb. This would be the home where we would spend our first days with our son. It was strange and wonderful.
We woke up early, ready to go for the day. We called the social worker and J. The social worker wanted to be there to facilitate our meeting, but she had become swamped with other cases and some other strange circumstances. We knew the uncertainty and delays were hard on J, so we apologized and reassured her and shared our excitement but understanding. We busied ourselves with eating waffles, and filling out paperwork, and settling, with certainty, on a name. We called J to explain our choice for his name and our desire to keep his given name as his middle name — just as we will for our African sons. She gave her blessing, and we wrote his full name on paperwork for the first time.
Milo is a name Dan mentioned several months ago. When we looked up the meaning, we were sold. Milo means “merciful” and “solider.” We love the idea of our son being a man who is strong yet merciful. A man who daily dons the armor of God. Jayden means “thankful.” And well, we have one million reasons to be thankful for this boy, his birth mom, and the ways God brought our story alongside theirs.
The day drew on, and dinner time came. The social worker was still not available, so we went out to dinner at a little Mexican restaurant. Finished with dinner, we still hadn’t heard anything, so we started driving to BYU’s campus to see the liger. Seriously, we were losing our minds waiting at that point. Then, suddenly, we heard from the social worker. It was time to meet up. We ran by the house to grab our gifts and the paperwork.
My nerves had decreased each time I talked to J throughout the day, but they were suddenly back. “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness,” I muttered as we drove. We pulled up outside where we were meeting. “Are you sure this is it?” I asked Dan. “It is!” “Okay, here we go… Deep breaths.”