We always wanted an open adoption. In 1985, through an adoption agency, we met with a potential birth mother. She had been adopted. Instead of the clandestine way it happened back then (meet on a dark country road), she wanted the child to grow up knowing her. The meeting went well; we still have the smiling pictures to prove it. It was such a sure thing that we were supposed to be followed by a camera crew from the area to do a human-interest story. It had the potential to go national. When the young woman went into labor, we were in the hospital waiting room nearly the entire time. As things often go, the camera crew was not available due to a tropical storm hitting Florida at the time. It was only the first thing that wouldn’t go as planned.
The labor was really long and hard, and after many hours the birth mother endured a caesarean birth of a healthy boy. Although she didn’t want me present for the birth, we were supposed to be able to hold the baby and feed him as soon after the birth as possible. We immediately went to the hospital nursery and one of the nurses held the baby up for us to see. We were not allowed in the area and couldn’t seem to convince anyone we belonged there. We called our social worker and headed to the hospital social worker’s office.
It was there that we were told in no uncertain terms to “back off” and “give the mother space.” We were on our way to our car when we passed the hospital commissary. There were the mother’s parents sitting at a table and it was obvious they were in a heated argument. We went home not feeling too good about the situation. Our instincts were right.
Two days later, we found out the whole story. One of the nurses had been encouraging her to keep the baby. After all “she was over 21,” she “loved” her boyfriend and “surely he would come around.” She had had such a hard delivery, and “maybe down the road she wouldn’t be able to have more children.” Her parents knew she wasn’t ready to raise a child and that they would undoubtedly be left taking care of the child. They didn’t want her to take him home. But she did.
We were brokenhearted. It was at that time that I bought a plaque that still hangs in our bedroom. It reads:
As children bring their broken toys
with tears for us to mend.
I brought my broken dreams to God
because He was my Friend.
But then instead of leaving Him
in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
with ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,
“How can you be so slow–”
“My child,” He said, “What could I do?”
You never did let go.”
~ Author Unknown
It was barely two weeks later that we got the call from our adoption agency. They had a baby for us. No, it wouldn’t be an open adoption, but we got to bring home a beautiful baby girl who was 10 days old.
We put our names back on the waiting list at the agency right away. Those two years passed as quickly as our lives did with a new baby.
During that time, we volunteered at the adoption agency to give seminars to prospective adoptive families. Our story balanced the perfect situation the other volunteers had — stories of being in the delivery room and having the birth mother in their home. It gave the prospective adoptive parents a reality check — that sometimes things don’t go as planned , but they always seem to turn out well in the end.
Undaunted, we tried the open adoption route again. I made a really cute little album for potential birth parents to see. It was done in crayon and was written as if our daughter did it. It included our family and life from the perspective of a two year-old.
It wasn’t long before we were in the same agency office, meeting another potential birth mother. She was impressed by the photo album. This young woman already had one child — a boy. He and our daughter were about the same age and went off with a social worker to play while we chatted and got to know each other. Again the meeting went well, and again we have the pictures to prove it.
If only there wasn’t another again…
Yes, the young woman changed her mind. Actually, her father laid a guilt trip on her and she reluctantly responded by keeping the baby. Her future as she had envisioned it would probably never be realized. She wanted to go back to school. That might not happen with two children to care for.
Our plans were dashed too. Although we had been through this once before, we were still shaken. But our faith carried us through, and again the phone rang with good news.
It was 1988 and I’ll never forget that day or where I was when the call came. The agency had another baby girl for us, and they asked if I was sitting down. The child had the same birth mother as our daughter. Our family was complete when our youngest came to us at three weeks old.
It is unbelievable that if both mothers hadn’t changed their minds, we would have gotten different children. It is unbelievable that if the timing of any one of the events had been different, our girls would have gone to different adoptive parents.
The coincidences are amazing. The birth mother didn’t get prenatal care and just showed up at the hospital to give birth. She then indicated she wished to place her first daughter. The agency placed the child in their foster home and after a short re-hospitalization for an ear infection, placed the girl in our home.
Almost three years later, the same woman showed up at the same hospital and gave birth to another daughter. She left the hospital the next day and, through a communications breakdown, the hospital thought she had abandoned the baby. She was placed in a state foster home.
After contacting the child’s mother and clearing the confusion, the state called our agency. They could have called a number of other agencies, but they called ours — and immediately the workers knew where the baby would be placed. Our youngest came to us at three weeks old, already with a special bond to her sister.
Are you ready for more? The coincidences don’t stop there. We got the call about our first daughter the day before my husband’s birthday in October. They not only share the same birth month, but they are both left-handed. We got the call about our second daughter the day before my birthday in June. She not only shares my birth month, but is also right-handed.
It has been interesting to watch the girls grow. Even though they have different birth fathers, they look similar enough that people get them mixed up. I can’t imagine either of them not having each other and am delighted they are being raised in the same family.