Anniversaries are always a cause of reflection for me. Today happens to be an anniversary of one of those days I remember and cherish.
Seven months ago, we received a phone call that was life-changing. I know that sounds cliché, but there really is no other way to describe it. Our morning had been a little off. My husband is employed by the federal government, and this was the first full day of the 2013 government shutdown. It was unusual to have him home during our morning routine. He ran our daughter to school and returned home to try to decide what to do with himself during this forced time off.
Later than usual, I jumped in the shower to prepare for the day. I heard my phone ring as I was getting out of the shower. I glanced at it and noticed that it was our adoption case worker, but didn’t think much of it. I’d call him back later. Moments later I heard my husband answer his phone. Again, I didn’t think much of it. The call was brief, and when it was over my husband walked into our bedroom.
“That was Sterling. There is a baby girl for us at the hospital. We need to get there as soon as we can and bring a car seat,” he said.
That was it. I stood there, dumbfounded, as tears filled my eyes.
“You’re kidding me,” I said.
“No, I’m not kidding, get dressed!” replied my husband.
And just like that, our lives changed and the rain outside and the government shutdown didn’t seem so dreary. I turned toward my closet–it was full of clean, pressed clothes! I giggled to myself as I recalled the day before spent doing laundry and ironing. I’ve never been so glad to have my laundry done! I got ready and dressed quickly. My mind was spinning but also filled with peace.
About thirty minutes later, we were walking out the door. As we were backing out of the garage, our adoption caseworker called. I’ll admit that my heart sank at that moment. I just knew he was going to tell us not to come, that the birth mother had changed her mind or selected another couple. I braced myself for disappointment. Luckily, he was only calling to tell us that the baby would have to stay overnight, so there was no rush to get a car seat. Phew! I was relieved that the phone call wasn’t bad news, and I was equally as relieved that we didn’t have to make a stop on our way to the hospital.
This hospital is several miles up the street from our house, and we were there in less than 10 minutes. We parked the car and walked into the hospital. The only instruction we had been given was to ask for Jackie at the nurses station. We really weren’t sure who Jackie was but would later learn that she was the angel nurse who had been taking care of our daughter’s birth mother. Once we got into labor and delivery and asked for Jackie, I felt all eyes on us. I believe that everyone knew why we were there and shared in our excitement.
We met our adoption case worker and Jackie in the hallway, where they gave us a few very brief details. The birth mother had come into the hospital in labor the previous afternoon. On her way to the hospital, she called the adoption agency and told them she needed to find a family for her soon-to-be-born baby. The case worker told us he encouraged her to call after she’d had the baby, but she insisted that she find a family now. He quickly gathered profiles and met her a short time later at the hospital. He brought 12 profiles. The baby was born that evening, shortly after she had selected our family. She chose not to see or hold the baby, afraid that it would be too difficult to say goodbye.
After no more information than that, we walked toward the door of her hospital room with nervous excitement. As we were walking through the doorway I realized I had no idea what color her hair or skin was. And I knew as quickly as the thought entered my mind that it didn’t matter.
We walked into the room and saw a beautiful woman seated on the side of the bed. She stood up and greeted us with hugs. It didn’t take long for tears to flow as we spent time talking to her. There is something indescribably sacred about spending time with a woman that has just given birth to a child and knows that that child belongs in your home.
Our conversation turned quickly to our 7-year-old daughter. This woman had been particularly drawn to our daughter and remarked about how happy she looked and how cute and adventuresome she seemed. I asked if she’d like to meet her, and she told us she would. My husband quickly ran to her school; he had the sweet experience of telling our daughter that she had a new baby sister, and her birth mom wanted to meet her!
Our 7-year-old had a fantastic conversation with the birth mother. They talked about school, pets, and adoption. She promised to be a great big sister, and somehow I knew that assurance was exactly what the birth mother needed.
We spent a precious hour with the birth mom. We shared our love and gratitude for her and made plans to stay in touch. We will love her and cherish that time spent with her forever.
The hospital arranged for us to meet our new daughter in a room at the end of the hall. The three of us were there as a family, eagerly waiting for Jackie to bring her in. They wheeled her bassinette into the room and handed us the most perfect little blond-haired bundle. We held her and kissed her and marveled at the unexpected miracle that had made us a happy family of four.
I got to spend that night in the hospital with the baby. In the quiet of the night my tears flowed freely as I reflected on the events of the day and as I imagined the thoughts and feelings of her birth mother leading up to her birth and placement. Once again, I felt enormously blessed by a courageous birth mother who chose adoption, and chose our family.