Where was I?! Ah, yes - we said good-bye to Bridget and Brian's parents on December 28th and stayed one more night at the Ronald McDonald House in Tucson. The next day we waited until 5:00 pm to hear if anything was amiss with our adoption application at the Arizona ICPC and no one called, so we headed to Kingman. Our thought was that we would get halfway home (Kingman), but still be in Arizona just in case something happened with our application.
We were told by the doctors not to let the babies stay in their car seats for longer than two hours and the drive to Kingman was a little over six hours. Our first stop was a Wendy's parking lot where we took turns eating and then feeding and changing a baby. (We were in Brian's brother's van - his parents took our Subaru back to Utah.) For the next two hours I sat in the very back seat with my arms stretched over the middle seat holding binkies in some very angry baby mouths. We got to Kingman very very late and just as we flopped into bed wearing our clothes, the babies were ready for another feeding. I think it's fair to say that we had no idea what the word "exhausted" actually meant before going through this experience.
The next morning, Thursday the 30th, started out fine. We were lazy and watching TV - planning to stay in the room all day except to maybe get food. The phone rang at about noon, the Tucson lawyer's assistant calling to tell us we needed to comply with the Adam Walsh Child Protective Act by having an FBI fingerprint background check. Our up-to-date FBI background screening on file in Utah was not enough, they needed our fingerprints. We were not to go home or even cross the state line before the Arizona ICPC had it and we were told it could take four weeks. For the next four hours, Brian and I took turns calling every person we knew who had any experience with adoption. We had to take turns because we were also taking turns losing our cool. I lost mine when an Arizona government employee told me that they wouldn't give us our fingerprint cards so that we could hand deliver them to the FBI offices (Arizona only releases fingerprint cards to agencies, not individuals). The state of Utah would give us our fingerprint cards, but we couldn't cross the state line with the babies.
The last call we made was to my friend Andrea's parents in Page Arizona. I've never been more embarrassed to ask for anything, but we couldn't figure out a way around it. We needed them to meet us in Fredonia, Arizona, then take me back to Page with the babies and stay at their house for who-knows-how-long. Can you imagine?! A person you barely know asking to stay at your house with two brand new babies and can you pick her up two hours away on New Year's Day? (And why Fredonia? Because it's seven miles from Kanab, Utah, where we were going to jail one at a time to get our fingerprints.) The amazing part is that Lois and Mike didn't hesitate - they just said yes. And they said it in a way that I knew they were happy to help.
Friday, December 31, we left Kingman and drove back into the heart of Arizona (Flagstaff) then up to Jacob Lake at the north edge of the Grand Canyon. It was New Year's Eve. We watched a marathon of Pawn Stars on the History Channel, complete with commercials. (Now I can't go a week without watching that show. It's like a whack-job version of Antiques Roadshow.) Our plan went beautifully the next morning and Brian headed back home with our fingerprint cards while I went to Page. (Can you believe there was someone in Kanab who could get our fingerprints done for us on New Year's Day? What are the odds...)
I blogged from Page - it really was a baby honeymoon. Lois and Mike fed me and held babies and fed babies. I could do my laundry and I even got to take a nap once a day. Andrea's sister brought me Dr. Pepper and found binkies for the babies. It couldn't have been better. Brian was home with Bridget and going to work again. He handed in our fingerprint cards to the local FBI screening office, but he had to guess which screening to have them do since NO ONE WOULD TELL US EXACTLY WHAT THEY NEEDED FROM US and also, no one had ever heard of the Adam Walsh Child Protective Screening.
Brian guessed wrong on the screening they needed, but the ICPC guy in Arizona (who had been following our situation and trying pretty hard to help us get home) granted us a conditional release if we could get the correct screening and email him a receipt. (Of course we had to pay for both screenings. When we'd been home for a few weeks I got two traffic violations from Tucson and our cell phone bill from December in the mail on the same day. Those three items combined added up to $1200. Got us again, Arizona!) After a week in Page, Lois and Mike drove me and we met Brian halfway. It was after 10:00 pm when we got home and I came downstairs just as Grandma Peggy and Bridget were finishing watching "Annie." We stayed up even later so that we could finally open our Christmas presents.
It was a strange and emotional journey - one I'm sure we'll be re-living every year when we talk about how Emil and Colin came into our family. This is a word-y post, but I didn't take many pictures during that last week in Arizona. It was one of those life-altering experiences. We felt the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Adoption is not for sissies.