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Terri's Story

 7 September 2007

My story is really all thanks to Nell. My hubby & I had been on fertility treatment for around 3 years when Nell suggested adoption. It was not something we had ever really considered. After a few enquiries at various adoption agencies, we were assured that adopting a white baby was out of the question. This was a bit of a stumbling block for us as we really had never even thought about adoption, let alone cross-culturally. We spent some time chatting to people in our family & our circle of friends and once again, Nell came to the rescue. She said “kids are kids no matter what colour they are. How badly do you want a child?” That was enough for us. We knew that life without a child was not an option. We visited the agency, filled in the forms and “applied” for a coloured girl. No particular reason for that choice, it’s just what we fancied at the time. The agency said we would wait anywhere between 6 & 12 months (that was end August 2004).

My sister arrived in Sept for her wedding and then at the beginning of October, we all went to Scotland for the reception. The day I arrived home, my friend, Wanita invited me over to tell her about my trip. Ha!! What a set up! It was an enormous baby shower all arranged behind my back while I’d been overseas. I was so spoilt that day and went home with a room full of baby goodies! The next day, (24 Oct) I called the social worker just to let her know I was back from my trip. I told her that I was really ready for a baby now as I had a fully equipped baby room in my house. She said “ok – I’ll see if I can call you later with news” I assumed she was joking and thought nothing of it. At 4pm the same day, the secretary at work told me that my husband was on the phone and it was urgent. I picked up the phone and our conversation went like this:

Steve: “Our son has been born”

Terri: “but we ordered a girl!”

Steve: “er yes er and he’s white”

Terri: “but we ordered a coloured baby”

Steve: “er yes er and he’s very premature and sick so we don’t have to take him”

Terri: “What? Of course we’re taking him!! When? Where? How? He’s mine!!”

It was the most bizarre conversation ever! He told me that the social worker had explained to him that the biological mum had chosen us from our profile. She’d wanted an open adoption and had requested to meet us well in advance so that we could get to know each other and so that we could be in the delivery room with her in December. Unfortunately, she became very ill and the baby had to be delivered 2 months early by emergency C Section.

We arrived at the hospital 2 hours later and were met in the reception by our social worker. She explained that the baby was in ICU and very weak. He weighed 1.4kg, he was on a ventilator and the doctor had picked up a few problems. It was really too early to say what the outcome would be. We could still change our minds. Did we have a good medical aid as this was a private hospital?

We called our broker and got her working on the medical aid and off we went upstairs to meet the maternal biological family.

It’s so hard to explain the next two hours. It was certainly the most emotional day ever. We hugged, we cried, we spoke, we hugged again. We clicked. We really liked them. After an hour or so, the ICU sister told us we could come in a meet him. As we approached the door to the ICU, the alarm on the incubator went off and we were hurried back to our meeting room. That was the worst 5 minutes of my life!!! I really though he might die before we’d even met him. I loved him so much and I couldn’t bear to lose him now. It turned out that he had pulled the ventilator tube out and they just reinserted it. We were finally allowed in to see the tiniest, scariest, most beautiful little person. We were petrified of him! He looked like he could break in half………all ribs & tubes & machines. We stayed late that night, just looking at him…….in silence. The ICU staff answered our few questions but mostly we just sat.

What followed was a month of highs and lows in the ICU. He had great days and awful days. Prem babies take 2 steps forward, 3 steps back, 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Every hour, every gram put on or lost, every 10 ml of milk consumed, it is all counted and at all determines how the baby is doing.

After exactly 1 month in ICU, we were allowed to bring our 1.9kg baby home with us.

His name is Alex. He will be 3 in October this year and he is a big, healthy, beautiful boy!