First, let me say, adoption is such a crazy awesome blessing for all parties involved.
What a whirlwind! And it’s only the beginning…
I’m still kind of in awe of the whole process. I hope my neighbors have been walking by our house at the right time to catch me strolling around with a tiny baby in my arms just looking up at the ceiling and praising out loud for this awesomeness!
Second, I have to write all this down because I’ve realized how much I’ve forgotten from the first go round with Offspring 1.
If you don’t know our story up to this point, I’ll try to give you a brief synopsis, but feel free to browse our other blogs on Gulf Coast Mom.
Sooooo… short story: we adopted a baby boy (Oliver) from Florida after a 2-plus-year-long process!
BEHIND THE NAME
We get asked what’s up with the name a lot. There is special meaning to each one of the names. Oliver: Mine and my paternal grandfather’s middle names. Miguel: My bride’s paternal grandfather’s first name. Jeremiah: The name the birth mom had been calling him throughout her pregnancy. Brannan: I think you got this one!
We are so thrilled for you to meet our Oliver Miguel Jeremiah Brannan.
Now to the meat and potatoes of the story, I’m going to go back to three weeks or so ago, when the final pilgrimage began. The original plan (haha to planning): My bride and one of her besties, Linda, would fly out of Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and land in Tampa the Friday before the due date of baby Ollie. We chose for everyone to fly because we knew the adoption part of the trip was kind of *forgive the pun* up in the air… so we wanted to make sure something about the process would at least allow us to focus on the 2 humans in our care as much as possible without worrying about navigating highways and byways.
Offspring 1 (Eden) and I would fly out the following Friday, and then we would all fly back together as a lovely family unit with no issues and waltz right back to our house in beautiful Ocean Springs. It was all going to work out according to our plan! (Morgan Freeman Voice: It would not all work out according to their plan…)
Of course, I’m being dramatic, it was not a horrible situation, to say the least. The whole thing was actually a beautiful God-given blessing that we had no idea we would be receiving.
And so the story continues…
Ollie’s due date was the Monday after my bride arrived in Tampa. He was not born on that Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday…
So, here’s how that part of the story went. We had been able to keep in semi-contact with the birth mom (or “tummy mommy”or “Mama S”) of baby Ollie on average maybe once a month through the pregnancy. The agency was always the liaison, and it was always a conference-style call.
Well, now we were down to brass tax. Folks, you’ve got to understand the mentality of my wife and me, emphasis on my wife. We’re the kind of people who don’t necessarily follow rules when it comes to doing what’s right for people, especially when they’re in a situation like Mama S (AKA about to POP with little to no help from doctors).
My wife soon gets a phone call from birth mother that she wants to meet for a late lunch.
My wife obliges and now their relationship gets stronger, which is a God-timing thing, because now my wife can help Mama S get to and from the medical facilities involved throughout the next several days.
My bride is a grad from Mississippi State University, so I mean it in the most loving way when I say she’s a bulldog. She took Mama S from one doctor appointment to another over the next several days leading to the birth of Oliver. I’m giving you an abridged version of this, but she finally got a doctor to admit Mama S into the hospital after finding that she was indeed ready for delivery!
Apparently, in a typical adoption from birth, the birth mom and adoptive family rarely get to meet. Well, in our typical atypicality, Alyssa not only got to be in the room for Ollie’s birth, she actually got to coach Mama S through the birth and cut the umbilical cord!!
It was such a special bonding time for the two moms and it really helped put everything into perspective.
This mom loves her child so much that she knew what she needed to do to make sure he would have a decent chance at a good life. We recognize that, and so my wife and I agreed that we would do our best to have as much contact with Mama S as she wanted and that we could accomodate.
Once we got a lot of the legal stuff out of the way, Eden and I got to meet Mr. Oliver for the first time. Man, was that special. As surprising as it sounds, I try not to live life through a lens, but I had to get the first meeting on video. If nothing else, we want to be as transparent as possible throughout this entire experience in case even one person finds encouragement on their adoption journey.
Eden was out of this world excited to meet her new baby brother.
Because of COVID we had to wait in the lobby of the children’s hospital while Ollie was wheeled down to us in his first stroller ride. Y’all, it was magical. He was soooooo tiny and precious and reminded me of all the good in the world and what all he could accomplish, and I was just washed in a feeling of joy and blessings.
Our family and Mama S’s family basically blended throughout the process, in a way. Once Eden and I got to Tampa, we all got to visit together, talk with one another, and minister to each other. My wife found the coolest gadget for this particular situation. It’s a digital picture frame that connects to Wi-Fi and allows us to push pictures to it so that Mama S can stay updated. We plan on keeping her updated as much as she wants us to.
The emotions felt between us and what I could see in the eyes of the birth mother and her mother were so complex.
As you can imagine, there was an abundance of joy, but there was also heartache. It was an absolutely meaningful week and our cups were overflowing.
THE JOURNEY HOME
Then we had to make it home. This is where our plan went a little wonky, as they do. We soon figured out that our plan to all fly back together wasn’t going to work. This was because, while we had baby Ollie in our physical custody, he still couldn’t legally leave the state of Florida. Keep in mind, my wife had been in Florida closing in on two weeks at this point.
We finally came up with a plan. We would drive our rental car overnight from the Tampa area to Pensacola, get an Air B&B, and hopefully still be able to all travel home together from there. Nope.
We got to Pensacola at 3 AM. This was the day before Eden and I needed to be back for work, school, play rehearsals, etc. Still no clearance to leave the state. After some clever maneuvering of grandparents, friends, and our amazingly robust support system, Eden and I made it back home, but Alyssa and Ollie were still stuck in Florida.
After a few more agonizing days, we FINALLY got the word. Mommy and Offspring 2 were CLEARED and just in time to catch a ride with bestie auntie Kristin!
So, we’re all now home in one piece, stuffed to the gills from meals that all of our amazing friends and family have been providing us. We’re up to our necks in diapers and bottles and baby Ollie is the sweetest little dude ever (I’m making sure to write this now so I can look back once I’m sure he’s become a terror and reminisce… ahhhh).
It’s all beautiful, wild, divine, and insane, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
To our friends, family, and community. Each and every one of you has helped us in this process. Just reading this is helping.
We hope that others can learn through our experience and see that adoption is not scary or extremely difficult, especially if you have a great support system like we have. And if you don’t think you have that support system, or if you want to just talk about the process, just reach out to us. We would love to help you in your journey if you feel like adoption is right for you and your family.
I also can’t talk about this story without mentioning an absolutely insanely incredible opportunity provided by Wahl Grooming that finished out our needed adoption funds. We will forever be grateful to that company and all of you who voted and shared our story.
And, I will also continue to encourage everyone to consider making a donation to organizations like the 1720 Foundation which provides grant to families looking to adopt.
Click here to read more stories about the Brannan’s family journey to adoption.