Written by: Annabelle, Adoptive Mother
There are many paths to parenthood, and though I pride myself at many things, my sense of direction has always been a bit off. So, for my sweet husband and me, the path was long, complicated and emotional. From the time we began daydreaming of family to the time we met our child, the better part of a decade had passed. Ironically, once we’d committed to CAS and domestic adoption, the process itself only took a bit longer than a year.
The clinical process –reading several books, filling out paperwork, creating a profile, completing classes, visiting pediatricians and schools, and preparing for the home study – now feels like a blur.
All of it was a build up to a fateful Wednesday, just before Valentine’s Day, when we were guided to the meeting room and were met by her eyes and her confident voice declaring “my people”. I remember not wanting to sit across from her. This wasn’t my interview: it was hers, and I was nervous. Would we be what she envisioned for her baby? I asked if I could hug her, and I was relieved when she said yes.
On another unexpected Wednesday, the baby arrived. She would release him to us a few days later and we told everyone our long-awaited son had arrived. People often ask if I’m sad that I couldn’t be there for his birth and no, I’m not. The woman who made him, who carried him and chose life for him got those first few days, and we get to share the rest of them – those first days didn’t belong to us, they were precious and belonged to them and their love.
After loving our baby for a week, we were informed that she’d made the brave decision to parent. (I know what you’re thinking…what a plot twist?!?! We did not see that coming!) My husband and I experienced something akin to parental grief trying to make sense of our experience and wishing we had heeded the advice of our social worker and waited to meet him after the parental revocation period. But, if we had done that, we wouldn’t have experienced him, and he was endearing. At the time, we felt we knew his mother’s heart. We had read the tea leaves and been so certain: could we have been this wrong?
Our winding path to parenthood would have to continue. We went through the difficult process of telling family, friends and coworkers that our adoption had fallen through, and we were shocked by the support we received from our community. We prayed that the baby’s mom would be able to parent, the baby would thrive and that our frustration and loss would wane. We mourned a child that still lived; but mostly, I realized, now in hindsight and in my own bereavement, that I’d failed to sit with her and understand what she had gone through. After a week of this, we received another phone call: she was releasing him forever into our care. (Twists and turns – who could have predicted this outcome?) It was a moment of unexpected grace. Again, we willingly leapt into the unknown awash with love.
There are so many things that our baby’s mother has taught us. When we started this process, I thought I was compassionate and understood that adoption was about love, loss and joy. My bookish approach did nothing for my heart’s continued education. To relinquish a baby into the arms of another, regardless of the circumstances, requires FORTITUDE and FAITH. As an adoptive parent, I continue to be made more aware of these traits and sensitive to the ultimate sacrifice our baby’s mom has made and continues to make. Our son is LOVED by too many people to name; but first and foremost, he is loved by his first mom, his dad and me. It is my hope that he never questions this love as it is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.
We have an open adoption. This means that our son will always know who he is, looks like and where he comes from. I want him to know that he was, and is, always loved, wanted and cherished. I want him to feel secure in his individual attributes and traits because all of them are worth celebrating. I also want him to know that everyone has a unique story, and his father and I are honored to get to be a part of his.
Knowing what we know now, we’ve been asked if we would go through our adoption experience again. Please indulge me as my response is to my child’s mother and to you, my darling. If adoption and parenthood are a leap of faith, I would, once again, jump into the unknown and uncertainty through time and space for eternity at the opportunity to meet and love both of you once again. Paulo Coelho said it best in The Alchemist, “I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you…One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
When our little one smiles or accomplishes something, I see the best of his mother in him. I can’t imagine my heart being fuller or more grateful, and we cannot wait to see what adventures lie ahead!
Like most things in life, planning a family is stepping out into the unknown. There will be hope, heartache and joy. I truly believe that on this path to parenthood my husband and I have experienced what we were meant to experience, we met who we were supposed to meet, and we were guided through this process by the people who were meant to guide us on our journey.
If you are considering adoption, the leap – the vulnerability – is small in comparison to what can be gained.