Friday, July 03, 2009


Today is Gianna's "Gotcha Day." Many adoptive families celebrate their child's birthday as well as their "Gotcha Day" --- the day we Gotcha (got you). For some, it's the date they met their child (that's us), for others it's the day they went to court, and for others - the day their adoption was finalized.

On her birthday, we'll celebrate Gianna's life; on her Gotcha Day we'll celebrate becoming a family. It's actually a bigger deal for Iain and I since we weren't there when Gianna was born, nor did we even know about her. She was an absolute surprise....up until the very last minute. From the time we got "The Call" until the time we came home with her - only 4 and a half hours past. Some people think that 9 months isn't long enough to prepare for a baby --- try 4 and a half hours.

In observance of this special day for our family, I thought I'd share the story of how it happened. The following is the email I wrote in July of last year informing our friends and families of our BIG NEWS. (Our closest peeps knew before then, but we didn't want to make it public since our failed adoptions happened only 3 months prior.)

CHRISTMAS IN JULY - Adoption Update

July 8, 2008

Dear Friends and Family,

Well, last week I had every intention of sending out an email to update everyone on how we were doing in the aftermath of our failed adoption of Maddie & Collin. I was going to tell you about our journey toward healing. I was going to tell you about the amazing vacation to a resort in Cancun that Iain and I took which served as our "adoption band-aid." I was going to tell you that we were in discernment as to what our next step would be in this crazy adoption process in order to further our quest to grow our family. Well, that's what I WAS going to tell you. Apparently - God (once again) seemed to have another plan.

What I AM going to tell you will probably come as a complete surprise to you. (We're STILL in shock and no, I'm NOT pregnant.) Iain & I have become the parents of a brand-spankin' new baby who turned one week old today. You read it right. Iain & Maria are the parents of a brand-new baby!

Better news: It's official!!! Both birth father and birth mother have signed their surrender of parental rights.

Even better news: IT'S A GIRL!

Very Best News: She is in our home, in Iain's arms, as I type this.

Most Amazing News: We got to pick her up from the hospital when she was 2 days old!

She has been with us since Thursday night (July 3rd).We know that you will understand why we've waited to share this miraculous event until it it was official. Even though we've been busting at the seams for almost five days just dying to share our was really important to us to refrain from taking everyone on yet another crazy roller coaster ride - especially if things didn't go according to plan. (Been there, done that.....don't care to go down that road again!)

How This All Came About:

At 6pm on Thursday night we got a call from Marcia at NLC. (I had already scheduled coffee with her to let her know we'd be pursuing additional adoption avenues.) She started out by saying, "What are are y'all doing?" I told her that we had just pulled into my parents driveway for supper. She said, "Well, do you think you could change your plans?"

"And why would we do that?" I asked tentatively?

"Well, I'm at the hospital looking at the most precious baby....and she's yours if you'll have her."

Baby?......Girl?.....No flippin' way. (In my head, I imagined a bi-racial baby boy.)

She went on to tell us the birth mother's situation (I don't want to give too many details since it is a closed and local adoption). Her family was supportive of her decision to place the baby for adoption and so was the birth father's family. The birth father had signed over his rights that night but the birth mother had to wait five days after the birth to sign her surrender. By law she would be required to have 2 hours of counseling. So, the tricky decision that night we pick up the baby now hold our breath for a few days....or do we let someone else care for the baby until the mother is completely signed?

When I asked Iain what he wanted to do, he replied, "Let's go pick up our daughter." (still gives me chills!) And so we did. We got to the hospital at 9pm, signed the power of attorney, went to the nursery and laid eyes on our daughter for the very first time. It was magical. She's teeny tiny (5lbs 3oz) with light brown hair (with a little blond and a touch of red thrown in for good measure.) She even has the most intoxicating dimples! We signed some paperwork from our attorney.The nurses gave us some paperwork and asked if we had any questions? Are you kidding me? How am I supposed to think of questions 10 minutes after becoming a mother?

By 10:00 pm we were leaving the hospital and (you're gonna love this) I got to be wheeled out in a wheelchair with my baby just like all the other card-carrying moms! That's when I knew it was real. It was surreal. It was mystical. We could hardly get her little 5 lb body in the car seat. SO tiny!

We have been hibernating at home with this precious little creature for the last few days waiting for the official news....and tonight at 7:20pm we got it. We are officially the parents of Gianna Elyse Lewis. (Pronounced Jee-AH-nah). The Name We have chosen our boy and girl names early on in the adoption process. We liked our boy name (still not tellin') but I really felt like God chose our girl name. I came across the name Gianna several times in a short period of time, one being in an article about a family in Kansas who was pregnant with a baby girl who didn't develop a kidney and only lived a short time after birth. They named her Gianna - and it sounded beautiful to me. It was a touching and inspiring story of an amazing, faithful family. I was curious if Gianna was a saint name, so I did a little research and found an amazing story about St. Gianna Beretta Molla.

The short version of the story is that Gianna, a young Italian woman, wife, mother and physician who (while pregnant with her fourth child) discovered she had a uterine tumor. She endured the painful pregnancy even though doctors encouraged her to abort. The baby was born healthy and Gianna died a week later. The Church lifts her up as a model of selflessness, heroic virtue and is a patron of Pro-Life. The name Gianna means: God is Gracious. We knew then, that would be our girl's name....and it fits her beautifully.

And here's the icing on the cake:

As Iain & I were driving to the hospital, I was thinking and let out a huge gasp/scream and my poor husband slammed on the breaks. "Oh my Gosh, Iain," I said, "you're not going to believe this?"

After making me swear I would never do that again while he was driving...I told him what I had discovered:

Last fall when we finished our adoption home study and paperwork, I brought our completed adoption profile to Marjorie at New Life Counseling. I remember it was October 1st, 2007 (Feast of St. Therese), I went to Mass and when I returned home I wrote an email to friends and family letting you know that we were finally were finished with our part of the process and all we had left to do was wait. The exact quote was, "We consider ourselves officially expecting!"

Well, wouldn't you know that 9 months TO THE DAY after I sent that email exclaiming the we considered ourselves "officially expecting".....Gianna Elyse was born......July 1, 2008. That was my sign that she was meant for us. No question about it. I knew this like I knew my own name. This baby girl was born for us.

What happens next? In the next week, we'll go to court and we'll petition for "placement." It's not a scary court thing....just a formality stating we intend to adopt this baby. For all practical purposes she is ours......but in the State of Louisiana adoption take a year to finalize. There is virtually no way she can be taken from us at this point. We are a family.Prayer of thanks!

We are filled with gratitude and love as we are living an answer to prayer. We are completely overwhelmed by God's goodness and are amazed at by the graces being showered on us. I keep thinking of that Rascal Flatts song with the line, "God bless the broken road that led me straight to you." Broken bet. Blessed road......amen!

We ask that you join us in prayer for the birth mother (and birth family) as they grieve their loss and hopefully find the healing and comfort they deserve with this life-changing decision they've made. We also ask for your continue prayers of Maddie & Collin. Although they are no longer part of our family, they will always be part of our heart. We continue to miss them, think of them and love them. And thank you all for joining us in this incredible journey. Your prayers, concern and support of us has helped to bring us to this blessed, joyous day. Keep praying and this story is not over. There's so much I wanted to share, but my thoughts are a little muddled right now.Okay, I'm going to love on my little baby girl now. I know that you guys have been waiting for the is the link to Gianna's first few pictures. (You know there are hundreds of them already, but I only posted about 30.)
Maria & Iain (a year ago)

I had a boy outfit and girl outfit all ready to go - just in case we got a last minute call. I brought the sweet little pink girl outfit to dress my baby in. There was NO WAY. It nearly swallowed this tiny little munchkin. So, we just took her home in the little onesie they had her in.
Yep. This is when we became believers in Love at First Sight. I know many new moms complain about having to be wheeled out of the hospital. Not me! It was my honor, my dream, me pure delight!


  1. Maria! It seems every other post of yours is a tear jerker. Happy tears of course. Gianna's story is so close to being my sweet God-daughter's story. I think of her every time I read about how Gianna was carefully placed into your family. Happy Gotcha Day to the Lewis'!

  2. Okay so how many tissues does it take to read that blog? Awesome...pure and simple. Love this happy ending, well, beginning really! Happy Gotcha Day to your sweet family.


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