We’ve welcomed a new addition to our home: Phoebe Quinn Gainer was born on Friday, April 22, 2011, in Mississippi. She arrived at 37 weeks, weighed 6 lbs. 6 oz., and was 19 inches long. She and her birth mom traveled to Utah late Friday night, and we met with our adoption agency very early Saturday morning to sign paperwork and bring Phoebe home.
Our decision to adopt Phoebe so soon after losing Daphne will undoubtedly surprise many of you. It surprised us, too, but it was absolutely the right decision for our little family.
After Daphne passed away, Will and I intended to wait a while before adopting again. But, when a friend at our adoption agency asked us about our family plans a few weeks ago, we realized that, although we weren’t anxious to adopt, our hearts didn’t feel as closed to the idea as we expected. We told our friend she could bring us individual situations and we’d consider them one by one.
On Friday, April 22, at 3:40 p.m., our agency called Will about a little girl who had been born in Mississippi a few minutes earlier. She was a few weeks early but apparently healthy, and her birth mom wanted to travel to Utah to place her, so we wouldn’t have to fly to Mississippi or wait for ICPC to clear.
When Will got home from work, I was rushing around, frantically trying to prepare our house for Shelby’s birthday celebrations—a family party that night and a princess tea party the next afternoon. (Yep, Shelby’s birthday is also on April 22.) Will interrupted my preparations to tell me about the agency’s call. I could tell from his tone of voice that he felt good about this little girl. I felt too stressed and emotional to make a quick decision.
Part of me wanted to say yes, but part of me felt that, by saying yes, I would be betraying Daphne. It was so soon, and there were so many things I still hadn’t done for her. Before I could say yes, I needed to be sure I could be fair to both girls—that I could still honor Daphne while loving a new little one unconditionally, that I could keep them separate in my heart and treat them as individuals.
I called our friend at the agency for advice. She told me that only Will and I could know if this particular baby was right for our family. Then she assured me that my fears of betraying Daphne were normal, and she pointed out that it wouldn’t matter when we decided to expand our family, those feelings would always be there. She was absolutely right. One month, six months, two years—it would never be long enough for me to stop missing Daphne. I will miss her until our glorious reunion.
When I got off the phone, I had less than an hour before Shelby’s party. As I tidied the house, I pondered our decision. I tried to imagine saying no, but each time I tried, I felt a wall form in my mind, as if this wasn’t even an option. This Mississippi baby was meant for our family, even if I felt unprepared.
Will and I decided to take until morning to make our final decision. I woke early Saturday morning to finish preparations for Shelby’s princess tea party. When Will joined me later, we discussed our decision and decided to tell the agency we would take the little girl in Mississippi.
I felt comfortable with our decision but extremely agitated because we didn’t have a name for our baby. We tested names on our list, but none of them felt right. I started looking up names online, searching for ones that sounded good with Shelby and Daphne. Eventually, I stumbled on Phoebe, and Will agreed it was perfect. We opted not to tell anyone except our parents about Phoebe, because we knew the match could fall through, and we didn’t want others to suffer that lose.
When Will initially talked to our agency, they said that Phoebe would arrive in Utah on Easter Sunday. But Sunday passed, and Phoebe wasn’t discharged. Monday passed and then Tuesday. Each day we prepared for Phoebe’s arrival, but each day ended in disappointment. On Tuesday night, our agency pressed our birth mom for better information and learned, through a conference call with Phoebe’s nurse, that Phoebe was in the NICU and wouldn’t be released for several days.
During delivery, our birth mom’s oxygen level had dropped and so had Phoebe’s. Phoebe was sent to the NICU for observation. Because she was a bit early, she had trouble eating and breathing at the same time. At first, she held her breath while eating, then panicked and spit up to breath. The NICU team wanted her to go seven days without a feeding episode. We were obviously concerned to learn that Phoebe was in the NICU, but we were relieved to understand why she wasn’t being discharged.
On Friday morning, we learned that Phoebe had been discharged and would be arriving in Utah at 11:00 p.m. We arranged for Shelby to have a sleepover with Will’s mom, Judy, and we stayed up, anxiously waiting to hear from our agency. Around 11:40 p.m., we received the call that Phoebe was in Utah. Because of the late hour, our agency opted to have us sign paperwork at a Village Inn near our birth mom’s hotel; then they took us to meet our birth mom. She was very sweet and friendly. I always love meeting the birth mom. It gives me context for my child’s biology and something to tell her if she has questions in the future.
When we walked in, our birth mom was sitting on the edge of the bed, holding Phoebe. We spotted Phoebe’s thick, curly hair from across the room. (Shelby and Daphne both had lots of hair, but Phoebe made them both look bald.) Moving closer, we noticed Phoebe’s impressively long fingers. As we were commenting on this, she stretched, extending the longest, skinniest baby arms I’ve ever seen. We’d been told she was 19 inches at birth, but she appeared much longer in real life. Phoebe didn’t look anything like I expected, but she was absolutely adorable.
Since Phoebe had been dressed in Mississippi, she was a little underdressed for Utah’s chilly weather. We put her in a warmer outfit, buckled her in her car seat, and wrapped her in blankets. We hugged our birth mom goodbye and headed to the car. We arrived home at about 2:00 a.m. By 2:30 a.m., we had fed Phoebe and tucked her in for the night. We expected to be up a few hours later, but Phoebe was so exhausted from the trip that she slept until Will woke her five hours later.
Phoebe is a very calm, quiet baby, who sleeps day and night. When she’s awake, she likes to watch faces. At first, she seemed to be scowling all the time, but her expressions have grown more pleasant and content over the last two days. She has powerful lungs but doesn’t use them very often. When she does cry, it sounds more like an eagle screeching. It’s adorable.
Shelby absolutely loves Phoebe and has been a wonderful helper. She wishes we had named her Cinderella. Each morning, she helps me bathe, lotion, and dress Phoebe. When Phoebe fusses, she’s the first to respond with a pacifier in hand. She’s been asking for a sibling since Daphne’s passing, and I think she’s happy to have a new little buddy at home.
Will is smitten with Phoebe. He loved our other girls as infants, but his bond with Phoebe seemed particularly strong from the first moment.
We love our new addition and feel very blessed to have her in our home. It is clear to us that Heavenly Father is still looking after our little family.