Becoming a Family

Maintaining a relationship with our adopted son's birth mother has been a bumpy road at times, but we are a family.

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When my husband Pete and I decided to adopt, our expectations of what the process would be like were far different than what actually happened. I could have never dreamed of the hardships and the beauty of the relationships that were about to develop.

Two weeks after I had received the adoption application and information from the adoption agency, I received a call from Annie, the younger sister of a friend of mine. I had known Annie vaguely for 10 years; she was 18 now, but I still pictured her as the sandy-haired, blue-eyed little 8-year-old that I first met when I was 17. She explained that she was five months pregnant and after giving it a lot of thought, she had decided that she was in a bad situation to raise a baby. She knew Pete and I were hoping to adopt. Were we interested in adopting her baby?

Did She Just Ask Us To Adopt Her Baby? 

I was stunned! Did she just ask us to adopt her baby? I knew my answer to that one, but I needed to talk to Pete. He was hesitant at first; he couldn’t believe that someone would just call us up and ask us to adopt her baby. I called Annie up, and we talked for a long time. She told me what was going on in her life and why she felt like it would be better for the baby if she placed him for adoption. She also told me she wanted more then the occasional letter and pictures; she wanted to be able to see the child from time to time.

I wasn’t sure what to say. I didn’t know very much about adoption, especially open adoption. Talking to my husband, we decided that she was making such a big sacrifice and  we should do whatever we could to make it easier on her. So I called her and told her that we wanted to adopt the baby if she would let us, and she agreed.

The first meeting between Annie and Pete happened during our first meeting with the adoption attorney. We picked Annie up, and I introduced the two of them. There was a long awkward silence. The ride to the attorney’s office was a long one, and the conversation was limited to cars, work, and other trivial things. There was not one mention of where we were going or why. On the way back, my husband whispered to me that he was hungry, should we invite Annie? I smiled and told him to go ahead and ask her and, somewhat shyly, he did. Annie agreed to have lunch with us, so we stopped at a nearby restaurant. While we were eating, Annie asked Pete if he planned on naming the baby Pete Jr. if it was a boy. My husband, caught a little off-guard, managed to reply, “No.” Annie gave a sigh of relief and said, “I’m glad because I wouldn’t want him to get teased. You know, the whole Pete and Re-Pete thing.” Pete and I both burst out laughing, and then so did Annie. The ice was now broken.

Over the next couple of months, my husband and I developed quite a fondness for “our Annie.” She was tough, funny, and yet so trusting at the same time. We took her to all of her doctor’s appointments. We got to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, and I was there for the sonogram that showed that the baby was a boy.

Last-Minute Fears 

Finally, five days after she was due, we got a call from her sister that Annie was in labor. I was a wreck on the way to the hospital! I had been so anxious for this moment to arrive and now that it had, I wanted to stop it. I was afraid that she would change her mind once the baby was born. As long as she was pregnant, I could believe that he was going to be mine. Now the baby was on his way, and my dream would either become a reality or become a painful memory.

Annie was incredible. She came through the delivery like such a trooper. As soon as Connor Timothy made his entrance into the world, the nurse led us into another room so we could bond with him. Even as I held my son for the first time, my thoughts kept turning to the young girl in the next room and what she was going through just then. Annie spent that day in the hospital with Connor in her room. And then, as difficult as it was for her, she signed the adoption papers.

Annie’s first post-hospital visit with Connor occurred three weeks later at our home. She seemed hesitant at first to see the baby; I am sure it was very painful for her. I tried to be understanding and supportive, and I hope I was. I don’t remember for sure, because I was too busy falling in love with my son. Then, when Connor was 9 weeks old, I got a call from Annie. She had decided to leave her abusive boyfriend and wanted to know if our offer to let her stay with us still stood. We said of course it did, and I went and helped her pack up her stuff.

Having Annie at our house was a strange experience. I never felt threatened by her, but it was strange watching her interact with Connor. She seemed a little distant. I guessed it was probably because she didn’t want act like a mother to him and didn’t want to get more attached to him than she already was. For me, the hard part was that I found myself second-guessing everything I did because I didn’t want her to think I was bad mother. Annie stayed with us for two months, and somehow we came out of it closer than ever.

Talking to Connor 

Pete and I had decided to be open with Connor from the beginning about his adoption, so from the time he was 8 months old, I started telling him the story of how we became a family. I knew that he didn’t understand then, but eventually as he got older he would.

Whenever Annie would visit, I would tell Connor that she was coming to see him. I would tell him that she was his birth mother, that he had grown in her tummy, but because she was too young to take care of him, she had placed him with Mommy and Daddy to be his parents. And that all three of us loved him very much.

Connor is now 3 years old and understands as much as he can about who Annie is and why she is in our lives.

We have had our emotional ups and downs, but we are honest with each other. We always work it out. At first, I had hoped that Annie’s pain would eventually go away, but now I know that part of her will always hurt over placing Connor for adoption. And I am sure that her heart aches whenever she hears Connor call me “Mommy.”

For me, the hard part has been dealing with other peoples’ reactions to adoption. Many people act strangely when I mention that my son was adopted, as though I shouldn’t be talking about it, or as though I can never know what it is really like to be a mom because I didn’t give birth to my child. And there are those who think it is wonderful that I was able to adopt my son, but act horrified when I tell them that his birth mother has contact with him. Many seem to see Annie as a threat to our family, believing that one day she will come back to steal him. My love for Annie makes me incredibly sad when anyone has anything negative to say about her and her role in our lives.

Though it has taken me a while, I finally realize that what other people think does not matter. Although the road has and will continue to get bumpy from time to time, it is the one that my husband and I have chosen to take. And wherever it leads us, we will travel it together as a family.

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