Signing My Rights, But Not My Love

For me, the hardest day in my adoption was definitely the signing away of my parental rights. After the birth, the bubble that had protected me throughout the pregnancy shattered into emotions I didn’t expect to deal with. Adoption was what I had chosen from day one, so I couldn’t understand how I could be so distraught over something I brought upon myself. I had thought of her as their child from the very start, and it wasn’t until she was actually here that I was able to face reality and say she was actually mine first–that even though I made the decision that these people were the best gift I could ever give to her, this baby was a piece of me and always would be.

I was a nervous wreck when I arrived at the lawyer’s office. I think I was the last to arrive, standing outside forever trying to avoid the inevitable. Finally, when I felt as calm as could be under the circumstances I went in to face my ex and to break my own heart.

The lawyer read the papers out loud, and we both had a copy to follow along and sign. So even though I not only heard the words out loud, but read them as well, I still couldn’t really tell you what they said. My lawyer was speaking Martian, as far I could tell. It was like the normal part of me that speaks and controls my personality was hiding in a tiny hole somewhere in my brain and a different part of me took over, and she is the one who signed those papers. It’s similar to being on auto-pilot. There is some pain the human brain simply can’t handle, and it has to dissociate from itself. I was coherent enough to speak clearly and to sign in the right places, but I wasn’t really present.

The legal papers I signed basically stated I was no longer the mother of the minor child, and I was not allowed to contact her until she was an adult. It was the opposite of what Rob and Karen had been promising me, and it scared me very much. Now that I had signed the papers, all I had was faith that they would keep their word to me because after becoming so close with not only Sarah, but her parents as well, I couldn’t imagine a life without them. Karen had somehow become one of my closest friends very quickly, and I knew I was going to miss her almost as much as Sarah.

After the lawyer’s office, the 3 of us went out to lunch, and they gave me a very special gift. It was a small, silver jewelry box. Engraved on it was, “To be a mother is to love forever.” I cried the second I read it. I knew right then and there that despite the papers I just signed that said otherwise, they still acknowledged me as being her first mother and that they meant every word they said. We were now a family.