Relinquishment and placement. A time during the adoption process that I was never fully prepared for. As cliché as it may sound, it brought the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

Leading up to LT’s birth and placement, there was no discussion on what anyone wanted and how things would go. I think we kind of figured our caseworker would direct us on what to do. After all, we knew little to nothing about how things were supposed to happen. We’d been to classes and trainings, and of course, we’d seen the photos that countless families shared. A tear-stained, beautiful face looking down at a newborn babe. A heart breaking with eyes full of love and hope. Behind her, a couple hugging, beaming with joy, yet having a somber presence. That’s what I thought relinquishment and placement was “supposed” to be like. It’s nothing like what we experienced.

LT was born on a Saturday. We arrived shortly after birth, stayed briefly, and then let RW know we’d be nearby if she was okay with us coming by again. We didn’t hear from her that night, and that was okay. We knew there were a million things running through her mind.

That night we heard from her caseworker. She was going to be doing the majority of the work and would have one of her colleagues to help her, as she wasn’t allowed to travel due to her pregnancy due date coming up quickly. She had news for us: a tentative time for relinquishment and placement the next evening.

It was surreal, and suddenly I felt very calm. The fact that we hadn’t heard anything else from her was completely okay. This was her time. So we rushed to find a jewelry store still open because LT arrived early, and I didn’t have a chance to order the necklace I had planned on. I think every blasted store was closed. . . except one. In it, we found the perfect necklace with his birthstone. Our placement gift was complete.

The next morning, RW invited us to come spend time with her, her mother, and LT. We didn’t stay long as the feeling was so strong that it was her time. The time we did spend there was quiet. MTV was on in the background, so a few laughs were had, but mostly, it was somber. Each time I looked up I saw tears in her eyes and a heart swelling and breaking. I would have done anything in that moment to keep her from feeling pain. All we could think to do was give her time. So we left. We’d see her again in a few hours.

Relinquishment and placement didn’t happen that night. She wasn’t ready and requested more time. We would tentatively plan for the following day.

The next day, we received a call from the caseworker and headed towards the hospital. As we walked into where we’d sign our papers, the colleague helping out explained that RW had requested that we all sign at the same time, and we did. We continued to wait in the little family area waiting for RW to come in. She never did. Instead, in walked her sister and mom with LT.

While we weren’t there to witness RW signing papers, I can only imagine based on her sister and mom that it was one of the absolute hardest things she ever did.

This was one of many times that I can admit was nothing like I’d imagined. The movie reel that had played over and over in my mind from those photos I’d seen was the furthest thing from our reality.