No words have yet to be put together that properly describe what labor and delivery is like. Attempts at the subject range from horrifying to beautiful, exhausting to life changing, natural to overwhelming. I spent hours of taxing research, pored over my laptop trying to anticipate what that day would be like. How would it be hold the child in my arms that I had tried so hard to create in a healthy way? I’m pretty sure most expectant mothers do the same. But what was unique for my situation? I had made an adoption plan, and was placing that child for adoption.
I was prepared for delivery, as much a young woman can be. There had been attempts at preparing me for placement. In Utah, where I placed, a mother is not allowed to relinquish her rights until this child is 48 hours old. Women in my single/pregnant support group who had placed told me about their experiences. But once again, there was no way to fully describe the experience. When my 48 hours was up, I drove cautiously to the adoption agency. I expected the normal emotions, anticipation, cold feet, nerves, fear . . . here are a few emotions surprised me on finalization day:
Of course I expected to be tired. I knew that physically I would be at my limit. Unfortunately, I had no idea what my limit was. From the onset of labor to signing my rights, it had been four days on less than four hours of sleep. On top of the physical tiredness, my emotions were strung. I knew what was to come and this child had every piece of me wrapped around those tiny, adorable fingers. I was so in love and I knew my heart was about to break. It’s exhausting to willingly walk into a world of pain—even if you’re sacrificing for the person you love most in the world. It’s OK to feel afraid of the hurt, but I tried to remember the good behind my decision. Looking back on these last six years since placement, it was a good decision. My son’s happiness (and after counseling, my own happiness) is evidence of that.
Crushing Power of Motherhood
As horrible as it sounds, I was trying to not bond with that child. I knew he would grow up loving another as he should love me. It happened slowly, with every heard heartbeat and poking elbow and knee. That little boy held every part of my soul that is good and loving. My love for him only increased when he was born, and in an instant, I felt a bond between us that seemed unbreakable. Every instinct I held was screaming at me to not sign those papers, but I knew he deserved better than what I could give him. Motherhood is a strange thing, and I never knew what it entailed until Finalization Day. Within moments I went from mother to birth mother, and that makes me a good mother. Someone who was willing to do anything for my child—even break my own heart.
As mentioned above, every instinct inside was pulling me towards parenthood. My brain was trying to logic while my heart was trying to feel. The two weren’t seeing eye to eye and I felt so torn. I had planned out months of trying to explain to myself why I chose adoption. Those memories began to fade as I sat in my case worker’s office. The struggle was so intense and so real that I shut everything out. I wasn’t thinking, I wasn’t feeling. I had already made my decision and that was it. Everything else would have to be sorted out later.
Peace (Spirit of Comfort)
I’m a religious person. No secret about that, and I truly believe in what I practice. I prayed for comfort and I have never had a prayer answered so directly. As my internal negotiation was happening I began to give up the main part of humanity—emotions. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I knew the heartache would come, how could it not? But the peace I felt was assurance that this was the right choice for me and for my child. I smiled for pictures, kept my composure, and when I got into the car as my parents drove me the six hours to their home . . . I finally slept. It had been 9 months (probably more) since I felt any peace in my life. For a brief moment in time, I remembered what it was like.
It’s healthy to feel the pain. I didn’t want to avoid that. But the Spirit of Comfort helped me through the most difficult day of my life. Slowly, pain and hurt set in and I began the process of proper healing. All these years later, I have never regretted my decision. The emotions felt on Finalization Day were surprising, hurtful, and finally, peaceful. If there is any counsel I can give to women considering an adoption plan for their child, it is to know that the heartache won’t be that way for long.