Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reunion with Isaac's Birth Mother and Family

Before yesterday, we had only met Desiree, Isaac's birth mother, once: On the same day that we first met Isaac when we was five months old.

A day later, we never saw Desiree again.

Yesterday we attended a memorial service in Oceanside. The service is for Lila, Isaac's biological grandmother and Desiree's mother. We had never met Lila before a few weeks ago, but then I received a Facebook message from Lila. She said she had been looking for us for many years and found our Baldwin family web site a while back. She said a day hadn't gone by in 12 years that she didn't think about Isaac. She asked if Isaac might want to meet her, and when we talked to Isaac about it, he said he'd be very interested. (By the way, he said he wasn't quite ready to meet Desiree yet).

So on October 25 we met Lila for dinner at Island's restaurant in Carlsbad, shared a great conversation, watched Lila and Isaac exchange glances, prayed for Lila, and then agreed that next time we might include Sally, Lila's mother and Isaac's bio great-grandmother. Lila also said that she'd planned to stop smoking again the next week.

On Halloween, Melissa received a call from Sally saying Lila had had a heart attack, had a collapsed lung, and had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance and was in ICU.

The next day Lila passed away.

Isaac thought it was nice to have a grandmother that had this special bond with him and so he wanted to go to her memorial service, knowing of course that Desiree would be there with her three children.

Everyone seemed very excited about meeting Isaac, especially a biological cousin, Ashley, who is only a few months older than Isaac; and for much of the time Isaac was also flanked by his biological half-siblings: Alyssa, Hope and Chris. Uncles and cousins also embraced Isaac, but none so much as great-grandmother Sally did. In one day she said good-bye to her precious daughter and reunited with a beloved great-grandson.

The day was about Lila and her life, of course, but we appreciated the invitation to have Isaac be part of the day, and to have us join the family gathering.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ten Years Later

I have no memory from a few minutes before the crash until I woke up on a gurney at Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, a hospital specializing in trauma that was several miles away, and heard the voice of our friend Andra as she stood over me. Melissa had been taken to Mercy, too, but was then transported to Kaiser because our health plan was there and she was eight months pregnant with Emma. The boys were both taken by separate ambulance to Scripps Chula Vista, the nearest hospital, and Landen was cared for there, but Isaac, because he was only eighteen months old, was then transported to Children’s Hospital even further away than Mercy. At one time the four of us were at four different hospitals, and because it was still Thanksgiving weekend and family had been gathered together, there were enough people to disperse. The whole time elapsed must have been an hour or more I guess.

Today it is exactly ten years later and I still don’t remember any details, thankfully, except passing our friend Jose Chavez and his family as were driving up Telegraph Canyon back home after a rainy day out as a family. What I don't remember at all is that we were at a stop sign across from the golf course only blocks from our house and a man driving a red Suburban was coming toward us and, as Melissa tells it, he didn’t look like he was going to stop, and didn’t. The Suburban struck our white Honda accord on the driver’s side with Isaac directly behind me in his car seat. Except for some bruises, Isaac ended up walked away unscathed. Landen has a scar on his chin that was more visible for years than it is today, and we think the hit he took was from a loose middle seat belt or object inside the car. Melissa went into pre-term labor but walked away okay, too. For years she had nightmarish memories of the drunk driver of the Suburban walking toward the car and standing at her window.

The whole event happened a block or so from the home of our friends, the Stephens. Blair was a San Diego police officer and was off-duty but heard a report of the accident on his radio and recognized the street names and came to us right away, along with his wife, Denise. Calls were made and other friends and of course our family responded right away.

In the same six weeks, Isaac’s adoption was final, we moved into our new home in Eastlake, survived the crash, Emma was born, and Melissa turned 30, all while I was probably trying to do good work in a job I’d been in for only a year. Thank God for times like these where we can experience his mercy, his grace, his provision, and the gift of family in rich and comforting ways.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Road Trip to SLO

Two weeks ago we decided it was time to go on a family road trip since the kids were on their three-week break from school. We took two days to drive up the coast to San Luis Obispo where we stayed two days and visited some of my childhood stomping grounds. The kids seemed intrigued by some of the places I used to go and play: Montana de Oro especially (photo) where they hiked and explored; Bubble Gum Alley and downtown SLO; walking along the creek at Santa Rosa Park, seeing up close the sea lions lying around at the pier at Avila Beach, eating seafood in Morro Bay, and even walking past a concert by Sean Kingston on the Embarcadero. We stopped at Los Osos Cemetery where my grandparents, great aunt and uncle, and several other extended family members are buried, and walked around looking at headstones. Maddie commented as we drove away: “Next time I want to look at all of them (headstones) to see of one of them says, “Birth mom.”

It was good to get away together, and as expected, nice to go back to where I feel grounded.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My first son is now a freshman in high school. I really never imagined the day would come, or maybe I hoped it wouldn’t, and yet I couldn’t imagine a young man more ready for this challenge. He’s ready for it, whether he knows it or not. Landen has the intellectual curiosity, world perspective and biblical foundation and that I wish I had 25 years ago, and that his mom had, although I did have self-discipline, optimism and faith, which he has, too. I’m more excited than I ever dreamed for Landen and the life God has prepared him for. It’s just happening way too fast.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Rhonda Buell, a Childhood Friend

Last week I realized that my previous three postings had to do with death. I've been very busy this week at work, and with Melissa and Emma away visiting Granger and meeting our movers, I figured I wouldn't have time to write. But friends, there must be a message here. My childhood pal Joanna (whose birthday was yesterday), wrote a few minutes ago with the sad news that Rhonda Buell died of breast cancer on Tuesday. She was our age, so I'm guessing 39. I'm not fatalistic, but this is another opportunity for me to see that I need to make my days on Earth count, and for me that means living for, and in response to, the gospel of Christ for God's glory.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bedtime Reading on a Summer Night

Here' s a great way to relax and wind down at the end of a long stressful work day: It's warm in the house and all the kids have been cranky, but when it's time to read with Emma she wants to be outside when the sun is setting and she can listen for dogs "chirping" to each other, as she says. (By the way, she considers herself a dog rescuer, and she's found several stray dogs in the neighborhood since we've arrived.) We sit together on a porch swing in her grandparents' backyard, she with her Animal Ark horse book reading aloud, and I with my eyes closed in the coolness of the gloaming, and with each sentence my muscles are relaxing and the tension is released, and I'm thankful for this moment with my first daughter who seems to enjoy this time as much as I do.