We finally made it. The last installment of Brighten's Storie. Even though it's been fun to relive some of this experience through these blog posts, I'm really excited to move forward to updating you on Brighten's now and all that we're seeing her do! Without further adieu, here is our story of our time in Texas with Baby B!
For all of you who donated toward our adoption fund after we found out about Brighten - THANK YOU! Because of your generosity, we were able to stay at a corporate apartment in Houston where there were lots of restaurants, grocery stores, and other necessities nearby. We were also on the 31st floor, which was beautiful, but taking a dog down 31 floors to go potty is quite a feat. It was a beautiful place to stay, and we are so thankful that we had two bedrooms and bathrooms, a full kitchen, and space to spread out.
Living away from home as a first time parent with a two-day old child is something, though. We longed for our friends and community, and I really missed little things like just knowing where I'm going and not having to put everything in the GPS. I also wondered how in the world we would fit everything into our house once we got home, but it all worked out. In ways, Houston was so so hard and I just wished to be home. In other ways, though, it was a sweet time for the four of us to bond as a family with no distractions.
Cabin fever, like bad
I've joked with several people that I've had trouble writing this part of the story because all I really want to say is that we were in Texas for what felt like a long, long time. The end. But alas, I think the fact that we felt like we were eternally going to be living out of suitcases and our homesickness is more a tribute to the amazing people that we have surrounding us in Birmingham. Family, friends, church, neighbors, strangers...haha...we are so so thankful for our people.
We did get to go on a fun outing while we were in Texas - we went to Magnolia Market in Waco! I've been a long time fan of Chip and Jojo, so seeing the Silos up close and getting to shop at their store was super fun. It was a renewing sense of familiar right in the middle of our never-ending Texas not-vacation.
If it was so bad (it wasn't really that bad), why did we stay so long?
That's a great question! So, there's something called the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) that basically says that the sending state (Texas) has to sign off on the fact that we're adopting a child from that state and then the receiving state (Alabama) has to agree that we can bring her into that state to live. The length of that process varies, but basically we couldn't leave Texas until Texas said we were good to go. As soon as they gave us the okay, we could have left and gone anywhere in the country, except for Alabama. Crazy, right? So, it was way easier to just wait it out in Texas than stake out in another state. Also, ours ended up being a little longer because we got approval from Texas on a Thursday, and it takes a day to ship all of the paperwork to Alabama, so it basically got there on a Friday afternoon and we had to wait through the weekend.
God in the details, again
So, all along God has totally been in every detail...I think that fact has already been well established. However, we found out just before we left that the law firm that Jason works for was going to be opening an office in Texas...in Houston, Texas. Jason is one of a few people who usually go to a new office to get all of the tech stuff setup and then who hangs around the first few days to help everyone get up and running.
Basically, Jason would have been in Houston for a bit whether Brighten was born there or not. How insane is that? It also meant that some of Jason's breakfasts and lunches were paid for by the law firm and that he didn't have to use a ton of vacation. I know some people would probably have opted to use vacation for the first few weeks of their new baby's life, but because we were out of our element and everything was basically a whirlwind already, we decided it would be better for Jason to use some of his vacation time when we got home so we could settle in. We didn't know that we'd get to do that, and the fact that God worked out that detail is so incredible!
The end of the beginning
All in all, we are so thankful for the weeks leading up to meeting Brighten and for the few weeks we spent in Texas bonding as a family of 3.5 (Swanson + Brighten make up about 1.5, hehe). Although it felt hard at the time, we wouldn't change a thing. When we arrived home to Birmingham, we were so excited for that quick little chapter of our life to be over, but so thankful for the experience that we had. We are grateful to have begun our life as the Morales Family in Birmingham, and we cannot wait to see how God works in and through our little Brighten Storie. We know He's got big plans for her.