Have you ever met someone and immediately thought about how lucky the people in their life are to know them? That's how I felt simply by talking to Christy Langston over email. When I finally met her in person my suspicions were confirmed - she's warm, wonderful, welcoming, and kind. Four truly amazing attributes to have in a mother. Which is one of two reasons why Baby Alex is so verylucky. The other reason? His dad, Chris. (Yep, Chris and Christy... I know, ADORABLE). Chris is friendly, gentle, caring, and silly.
They make an incredible pair, and the most worthy parents to one of the cutest little boys you have ever laid eyes on: Alexander Robert
Alexander Robert Langston was born on May 16th, 2017 in Lakeland, Florida. He was 6 lbs and 7 ounces of pure joy, and 20 inches long. Christy reached out to me a little bit before Alex was born and told me she and Chris had been notified that baby was being born in Lakeland and they were matched as adoptive parents. I was inexplicably touched that these two new parents had found and wanted me to document one of their first days with their son. It was so easily one of my favorite shoots I have ever done - so full of wonder and delight.
Chris and Christy are natural parents - Alex was only a few days old and they already knew how to soothe him, how to get him to smile, and what his cries meant. They apologized when he fussed (unnecessarily, of course) and were quick to point out one another's strengths as well as the areas where they would be leaning on each other for years to come. Chris is an expert swaddler, if you were wondering, and Christy has the mother's bounce/sway motion down to a science. It was beautiful to witness these moments between the new family of three, but I knew my short time with them could not possibly translate into the full story I wanted to share in this blog post. I asked Christy to share her story with me so that I could in turn share it with you. The rest of this post is in her own words - get the tissues ready.
"We have known from very early on in our (now 12 year) relationship that we wanted to adopt."
"When we decided it was the right time to grow our family, it wasn't happening for us biologically; because we had considered and approved adoption between us from years before, we threw ourselves into the adoption process.
It was much more complex than we anticipated: every state has different regulations, choosing to work with an agency - and then choosing that agency! - took weeks of research, and we were approved simply to begin the adoption journey in October 2015. We attended the agency orientation in January 2016, filled our hundreds of pages of paperwork, completed the home study process, and was approved officially by the agency in August 2016. It took us from then through Thanksgiving to create our profile book, a glimpse into our lives for expectant mothers considering adoption. Our profile went live on December 9, 2016, and we were given an expectation of an average 18 month wait. (There was a possibility of an anticipated 9 month wait at the earliest because we were so open about background).
"Waiting can be a curious thing."
We were riding the waves of excited and impatient anticipation, each feeling at different levels on any given day. Luckily, if one of us would be feeling low, the other was typically strong enough to support them... until the positions switched. We vacillated like this for weeks at a time, all the while doing our best to present a calm demeanor to the world.
Few people knew of our active plans to adopt, but as the days went on we gained peace and perspective enough to bring more people in on the news. With more people knowing it created opportunities for greater peer support, but our adoption plans also became a more frequent topic of conversation. It was a curious feeling to field questions about our adoption from loved ones; one on hand it was terrific to know that we were being thought of and prayed for, but in the other hand we wondered in how many different ways we could say, "No news yet, we're just waiting."
We were pleasantly surprised when we knew our profile was being shown to expectant mothers about three months into going active, but it added a layer of "what if?"s and "why not us?"es to the mix of emotions. A couple of times we were asked follow up questions, which always got our hopes up. One follow up - what will you do for child care when you go back to work? - didn't go our way as the expectant mother was hoping for someone who would leave the baby with family instead of using a daycare. The other follow up was more promising: why are you interested in a baby whose race differs from yours? We explained that we had no reservations about whether we could love a baby of a different race as our own, and that such a baby would have plenty of multi-racial mentors in its life from both of our families and our diverse group of friends. That answer seemed to get some traction.
After an emotionally exhausting couple of weeks for me, Chris had agreed to let me sleep in on Saturday, May 6th, while he went to a final presentation for one of his spring semester classes. We had had a whole conversation about it, which was why I was so frustrated with him when he called me at 8:54, just before his 9am class.
"I thought we had agreed..." I began, but he interrupted me. "We have been chosen by a mother, we matched, I just talked to our case worker. Our baby is due next week..."
"They're sending paperwork we have to review and decide if we accept the match. I am going to give my final presentation now." He sounded thrilled, terrified, and distracted all at once. I told him how much I loved him and that I hoped he could go first to get the presentation out of the way.
There was no way I was going back to sleep. I read through all of the paperwork they sent over twice. I researched what a match meant, what to expect, who to tell (as few people as possible because your placement wasn't final at the match stage) and how to tell them. I researched head circumference estimates from the mother's prenatal care scans, family histories, and acronyms about development and blood tests that I had no idea what they meant. I started to research about taking a baby through TSA, then stopped because I worried that I was getting ahead of myself...
"...then I started to cry for the first time since getting the news four hours before at the thought of actually bringing a child
- our child -
The baby, a boy, was due on May 10th. Four days from when we found out about our match. But he didn't show up until May 16th when his mother unexpectedly went into labor and gave birth to him less than an hour later. We scrambled to change our flights to as soon as possible, called our parents, and packed our things for the trip. We made it down to Lakeland Regional Medical Center at 11:15pm and are happy to say that we met him on his birthday. His mother invited me to stay the night with them in her hospital room, which I am so glad I did. We had some time to get to know each other, she witnessed my first attempts at being someone's mom, and we developed a close bond. I hope that I helped to reaffirm her decision that night.
We brought the baby, whom we had named Alexander Robert, home from the hospital on May 18th, the day after Chris's 32nd birthday and the day before our 8 year wedding anniversary. We stayed in Florida, getting to know each other and learning how to be parents, until we were cleared to return home to Connecticut on May 27th.
"I didn't know until Alex was born how quickly I could fall in love with someone or that my heart could grow quite so large."
He is a wonderful, happy, beautiful boy who has taught us so much. We are so fortunate to have found each other, and he has made the journey to him completely worth it and seem insignificant."