MEETING YOUR BABY- THE BITTERSWEET BEAUTY.
Meeting your baby for the first time is one of the most beautiful moments of your life. Seriously, if I could pick one day of my life to go back in time and relive it would be the day that we met our son Judah. However it is also sacred and heartbreaking in ways that people don't often talk about.
As I walked into that hospital room and met my son for the first time I was overwhelmed in the best way. Overwhelmed with love. Overwhelmed that years of infertility and miscarriages all of a sudden felt totally worth it when I looked into my little guy's eyes. Overwhelmed that God had told me to trust Him hundreds of times and every time that He did, I imagine He had a picture of that moment in His mind. I was overwhelmed because my dream had come true. Overwhelmed because my hands were now full of the gift that I had a longed for and prayed for and hoped for for years. But I was overwhelmed for another reason, too.
I was overwhelmed because I knew that before I ever walked into that NICU room, another woman spent time in there. Another woman looked into that little guy's eyes. Another woman rocked him in that chair on the other side of his little bassinet. Another woman was there not long before, changing his diapers. Another woman had kissed that head full of so much precious hair. Another woman cried tears in that room, too. Tears of love, but different kinds of tears than my own. I wasn't the first woman to fall in love in that hospital room. I wasn't the first mom to meet this little guy and have her heart well up with the instantaneous love that you feel when you meet your child for the first time. I wasn't the first mom in that room.
One of my friends, Ashley Mitchell, is a birth mom of 12 years. She said something once that has stuck with me continually throughout this journey. It was about her experience at the hospital when she placed her son for adoption. I want you to read this thoughtfully, maybe a few times. She said that when the time came for her to leave the hospital she prayed that the family she had chosen would uphold their promise of an open adoption. She prayed that that wouldn't be the last time she saw her baby. She told him how much she loved him and she then began to beg him for forgiveness. She told me that she feared to her very core that her own son would hate her for walking away. She gave him one more kiss. She breathed in the last moment of being his only mother. She glanced back at him as she walked out of the hospital room. She walked down the hall. Her father walked with her and said, "I feel like I'm leaving my grandson's funeral." They made their way down the hall, hand in hand, after Ashley made the hardest and bravest decision of her life. Out of love. And then she heard something. Outbursts of joy. She looked down the hall and saw her sons new family there to meet him. Full of excitement and joy and even with balloons. Can you imagine? Try to. Try to put yourself in this woman's shoes.
Adoption is complex. As adoptive parents it can be so easy to only see how this affects us. Our dreams of becoming parents come true in that moment when we meet our baby. It's amazing! But hear me- birth mothers are NOT surrogates. They are mothers. They are entrusting you with THEIR child. To become your child, too.
Let's try to think outside of ourselves more on this journey. Let's be sensitive to the complex and to the sacred. Let's rejoice! But with a deep understanding that as we rejoice someone else is mourning. Our gain is their loss. Did they choose this? Yes. I'm sure first parents think about their decision one thousand times before their pen hits those relinquishment papers. They chose you. They placed their confidence in you out of love for their child... but after those papers are signed and you're holding your fresh new babe, remember that her grieving process has only just begun. After all, this is her child.
Let's work together to balance the excitement with empathy. The joy with understanding. Let's help the world understand that birth parents don't "give up their baby." They very carefully place their baby (THEIR BABY) for adoption. They place their baby into the arms of someone that they think enough of and trust enough to parent them. Someone that they choose to be there to see their child's first steps and hear them say, "mama" for the first time. They break their own heart out of love for their child. Birth parents are brave. They matter.
Let's rewrite the narrative of adoption. It's not simple. It's not easy to look outside of yourself. It's tempting to focus on all of the things that feel good and make the adoptive family look like the heroes, but that's simply not the case. When it comes to domestic infant adoption, in most cases, we aren't rescuing orphans. My child was not an orphan. My child had two very brave first parents who love him very much. Let's start by making the switch from, "WE'RE MATCHED!! Pray for us!!" to "We were chosen by an expectant mother!! Please pray for us and please pray for her as she prepares to possibly make the hardest decision of her life." This isn't just about us. Adoption is sacred, beautiful, messy, and so worth it.