I remember the first time I felt my son move. I’ve heard people describe it as butterflies, which is pretty accurate before the baby gets too big. There he was, fluttering within me, but within my mind, I pleading with him to help me find him the people he would know as his parents.
I wasn’t ready for any of this–the pregnancy, the option of adoption, recovering from adoption–none of it. I made an adoption plan, found his family, and spent months preparing for what it would take to bring a child into this world and not take him home with me. I was preparing to break my own heart. But, how do you prepare for that? That moment that you sign away your parental rights, how do you anticipate what it will be like? Part of me hoped I could be pregnant forever–that I wouldn’t need to put myself through that loss. The rest of me tried to be understanding and just do the best I could while I could.
The moment came. I went to the hospital and delivered a beautiful baby boy. I held him in my arms and begged for circumstances to change so I could raise him. In my heart, I knew adoption was the best plan for him, and I hoped so badly that they would let me participate in his life. We had set out a plan that was to be executed in the hospital, and they respected it beyond belief. I hoped that this was a sign as how things would go after everything was official.
The next step was what made it official. I hadn’t slept in over 48 hours, and I was recovering from childbirth, but I held that little boy in my arms all night long crying, apologizing, singing, praying the clock would stop ticking so I could soak in more of this child. Morning came. I dolled myself up for my son, and we left the hospital to go to the adoption agency.
There were three things that, looking back on it, helped me immensely while I signed those papers.
1) Being in a comfortable environment
I signed the papers in at the adoption agency. Lucky for me, this was the norm for the way my agency did the process. I had sat on that couch a million times before during birth mother groups, individual counseling sessions, and even when I met the couple for the first time. I sat in “my spot,” with my parents on each side, my counselor at her desk, and my son in my arms. She told me up front that the papers were full of legal terms that seemed heartless, but they were worded carefully to protect any child being placed. She explained, with love in her eyes, that everyone knew that what I was doing was out of love, but if I decided to parent, that they knew that decision would be made from love, as well. Then, the process began. As heartbreaking as it was, I felt the love and support in the room. I was overwhelmed by the emotions as I experienced both sides of the spectrum that day, that very moment.
2) Be surrounded by loved ones
As mentioned above, my parents were next to me while I signed the papers. Something I learned about myself once I found out I was pregnant is that I have a ridiculous sense of pride that has grown from nothing. I didn’t know it existed. I didn’t know I was nourishing it. Once I was pregnant, I was determined to do everything on my own. Perhaps to prove that, in spite of my ability to make mistakes, I had the ability to make right of them. I forget easily that accepting help can be just as strengthening as denying it. This moment in my life, the moment I willingly told the State of Utah that I was no longer going to be my son’s mother, was the moment my loved ones and my Savior carried me through. My only regret from this was that I had a particular friend that wanted to be with me while I signed my rights away, and I told him he shouldn’t be there. That friend is now my husband, and I wish I had him at that time to hold me and remind me it was the right thing to do.
3) Plan on bringing gifts
Yes, I placed my child with that dear, devoted, and loving couple. Why should I give them more? My case worker counseled me that it could be emotionally helpful for me if I had something to give my son. I asked my mother, who loves making quilts, if she could make him a special quilt for me. It was a jean quilt with a square in the center that my sister cross-stitched a picture of hands with the saying, “From God’s Arms, to My Arms, to Yours,” which was my favorite adoption-related song. I told the couple, “He has my genes and my jeans,” and we chuckled over my embarrassing pun. They tell me that he still asks to sleep with his “Kacey Blankie.” My case worker was right; giving him that gift has helped me so much.
I love open adoption. I love that my son knows my role in his life and he loves me for it. Relinquishment was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. But I also know that it was worth it. He has a life is full of love, a secure family, and a future where he doesn’t have to worry about where his next meal is coming from. He has everything I could have hoped for him. It was never about me, it wasn’t about whether or not I was fit to be a mother; it was about him. It was about sacrificing for his quality of life, which is what motherhood is all about.