“I’m sorry. You can’t see him,” a nurse told my mother after she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. The nurse proceeded to take the baby away from my 19-year-old mother who had made an adoption plan for her baby because of some very difficult circumstances in her life. My mom’s case worker came into the room and told the nurse, “She has not signed any paperwork yet. That is her baby, and she has every right to hold him!” The nurse hesitated before finally handing the baby to my mom. This was the first adoption ever handled at this California hospital back in 1978, and the staff was confused, to say the least.
My mom held her baby, kissed him, told him she loved him, and took pictures of him. When it was time to leave, she wanted a moment alone with her baby to tell him good-bye. The hospital staff would not allow this as they thought she would “kidnap” him. This was absurd as he was her own baby. She still hadn’t signed the paperwork. She ended up taking him into a janitorial closet and shutting the door so she could have some privacy while the staff waited on the other side of the door. My heart breaks thinking of my mom saying good-bye to her baby on the cold floor next to a bunch of brooms and mops. After he left, she never knew what happened to him. What was his name? Did he have siblings? Where would he live? And most importantly, was he happy?
24 years later, he found her, and they were reconnected. We now have a wonderful relationship with him and his family. He grew up in a loving family and had a very happy childhood. He had an older sister and two wonderful parents who raised him. It was such a relief to my mom to form a relationship with him and know he was okay after all those years.
Seven years after reconnecting with him, her daughter (me) and son-in-law were about to adopt a baby boy. She was shocked to find out that we would meet the birth parents and their families before the baby was born and after he was placed. My mother’s story of her closed adoption made us feel even more sure that an open adoption was something we would be very open to.
We enjoy an open adoption with both of our children’s birth mothers and with our son’s birth father. A lot of people don’t understand. I’ve had people say to us, “So do you still talk to those girls? Is that so weird? Are they going to try to get them back?” People don’t understand that I have a special love for my children’s birth parents that is different from how I love anyone else. Most people can relate to the love you feel for your parents, your spouse, your friends, and your children, but there are only a handful of people I know who fully understand my love for my children’s birth parents because they have been down the same road. Watching my children’s birth parents sign the relinquishment papers is something I will never forget. My heart broke for these amazing girls because of the pain they were feeling. I felt that it was so important to be able to say “See you soon” instead of “Goodbye” as we parted ways from the hospital.
And “See you soon” is something that we always know will continue. When they were pregnant, we went maternity clothes shopping, went out to dinner, to movies, ultrasounds, got pedicures, and just spent time together.
Now my children are almost 4 and 5 years old. and we still enjoy seeing each other a few times each year. We are Facebook friends and text often. I’m so happy my kids have their birth parents in their lives. It’s just more love, and we could all use more of that in our lives.
There are still closed adoptions today. Sometimes it is a necessity, and sometimes it is just the preference of those involved. There is no wrong way. But I’m happy that open adoption is an option today. It was so right for our family and for our kids’ birth families. No more janitorial closets for saying good-bye. It’s just “see you later” for everyone involved in our adoption story.