(Originally posted 11/4/2016)
My son was born into this world in the usual modern way. In a hospital with too much noise and bright lights. I was hoping for a nice home birth with soft lights and soothing music. Didn’t happen. I was hoping for natural birth but didn’t happen. There was an epidural and also a last minute C-section which left its forever scar. I remember how nervous and filled with emotion I was, waiting for him to come out into this wonderful and wacky world. I remember all I went through leading up to this moment. All the blood, sweat and tears shed so that this little person becomes our child and my husband and I can bear the honored titles of Mommy and Daddy.
When I first heard his cry, I was already crying myself. When I saw his pinkish/purple skinny 19 inches and 5 pounds 1 oz little body on the table being measured and weighed I was still crying. When they let me cut the cord, I was in awe. When the nurse handed him to me all bundled up like a little burrito, there are no words to describe how I felt. Not a word that has been uttered seems to sum it up. An automatic button was turned on inside of me, and I was swaying back and forth and rocking him while I said my first words to him: “Hi! Welcome to the world. You are so loved by so many. We’ve been waiting to meet you for a very long time.”
Then I turned to the sweet, lovely young lady who just gave birth to our son and said, “He looks just you! He’s so beautiful! Look at this perfect boy you just brought into the world.” She was crying too. It was one of the most powerful moments of my life. She and I are now forever bonded by that moment and all the others we’ve shared now over the last 7 years. She is our son’s first mother. She is his birth mother. She is the roots to his family tree. She is a part of us all. She lives in our hearts and thoughts and prayers forever.
This woman we had only known for a short fast month had chosen us to raise and parent her son. It was a rocky roller coaster of a ride for us to become parents. That is the usual way with adoption. Always surprises and unknowns. Things happen you could never imagine, both good and not so good. But you go through it because of your intense desire to be a parent.
It started with my husband and I while we were dating, we both wanted to adopt a child and have a biological child. Then we were so busy being happily married and enjoying one another and our lives that we weren’t in a rush to have kids right away. When we were ready, it just didn’t happen. After three miscarriages, we knew adoption was the route we wanted to take to become parents. It was the right choice for us and we felt so good about it. Don’t get me wrong, those three losses were painful both physically and emotionally. I was in despair after the last one. We had to mourn and feel it all in order to heal it. We took some time for that process before we started the adoption process. I know I will one day write more about that specific chapter in order to connect with others who have gone through it.
The purpose of me writing today is to give some insight about what we went through to become parents. Many people are surprised to know that becoming an adopted parent can happen in a delivery room too. I know it was a rare and special thing for me to experience. To be able to tell him I was there when he was born is something that means so much to him and to me. I also tell him how his Daddy was outside the room waiting and crying too. He asks to hear the story of his birth often and I love to tell it.
November is Adoption Awareness Month. I want others to be aware that an adoptive parent’s love and joy when their child is born, though a different journey taken to get there, is just as powerful and remarkable. Biological parents get to enjoy the bragging rights of how many hours they went through of labor before their child was born. I will never get to tell that kind of birth story, but I do get to tell how many years of labor we went through to become parents. Yes. It’s different and neither experience is less or more or better or worse. It just is what it is. I want others to be aware that there was suffering of a different kind we had to go through. Not only the loss of our biological babies, but also the burden of so many classes about parenting, the piles of paper work, the long meetings and judgmental statements from our social worker during the homestudy, when we had to reveal our history as individuals and a couple. So many personal and intimate questions we had to answer. It was like jumping through hoops and riding a unicycle. We literally had to prove that we would be good parents! It was upsetting and frustrating! So many tears shed and why’s unanswered.
There were possible matches who didn’t choose us. Such disappointments. But ultimately it was all worth it. I remember a friend of mine said to me while we were waiting to be matched, “Once you hold that precious baby in your arms for the first time, all the pain and heartache will be forgotten. And all that will be there is this huge love you have for your new child.” He was right about that first moment when I held him and even into the first night when we fed him at the hospital. But now 7 years later, the pain is not forgotten. Nor is the loss. For all of us. For me, my husband, our son’s birthmother, and even our sweet son himself. With adoption there is always loss.
It was a bittersweet and powerful moment, when this new mother who had just given birth days ago, placed her innocent, fragile baby into my husband’s arms, knowing we were taking him home and she was not. Though it was a decision she had thought long and hard on and felt it was the right one for her son and her, it was not one she made lightly or easily. It was also not lost on me that she needed to hand the baby to my husband and not me. I think it would have been even more painful for her knowing that I would get to be his Mommy and she wouldn’t. I understood. Her words to us were, “You’re going to love him, right?” Even though she knew we would and she had even seen how much we did already, it was just what she needed to hear one last time.
As you know, the moment I held him for the first time was so amazing, but this moment, when she handed us her child and we drove away in our car, after delicately placing him in new child carseat that we had installed at the local police station, was nothing less than extraordinary. Out of body. So bittersweet. We were quiet in the car as we drove away, not sure what to say. But mostly, to honor the reverence and weight of what just happened. We both had tears coming down our cheeks. I was sitting next to our new son in the back seat holding his tiny hand. My husband was driving the safest he had ever done so in life. While we did this, our son’s birth mother was going through her own sort of hell. We have no idea what our sweet boy was feeling.
Those first few months if he woke crying, I sometimes said as I rocked and soothed him, “You must be missing your other mommy. Your first mommy. I know she must be thinking of you too. It’s okay. You feel it. That’s okay. I’m here for you to help you. Always will be.”
We did see her just a few days later and more times too. They were all very nice, loving visits. She now lives in another state but is welcome to text or call us anytime and we can do the same. We’ve sent her many pictures and videos of him. She sees how loved our boy is and can live her life now with a little bit of peace in her heart knowing that he is thriving. She has told us so. To say we’re grateful is an understatement.
Adoption is unique for each person or family that goes through it. There is no cookie cutter, exact path on the journey of adoption. But anyone who has gone through it knows. There is a connection with all of us who have built our family through adoption. It’s why I started an Adoptive Parents and Family support group. So we can all stay connected and share and support each other on this journey. Also, so our kids can grow up knowing so many other adopted kids and can see it’s a part of life. So they are aware it’s just another way a family is made. So, if you ever wonder how to explain what adoption is to your own kids, and please do, don’t wait until they ask about it, all you have to say is, “Adoption is another way a family is made.”
It’s how my family was created, and I’m so grateful and wouldn’t have it any other way.