This is a question that recently crossed my mind. Our journey to parenthood includes several adoption stops along the way, none of them successful, with parenthood finally arriving thanks to the blessing of embryo donation. On our third attempt with this method, we finally found our forever child, due to be born next month.
I have proceeded cautiously throughout the pregnancy, in denial the first half, cautiously optimistic in the second half. After all, we had a child in our home when we fostered. We got used to her being in our lives, we loved her as our own, we were her parents for every intent and purpose, and then she was taken away. The loss of this child is the source of our biggest heartache, but there were other, smaller losses along the way as well. We’d start to prepare to welcome a child only to find out the situation had fallen through for one reason or another.
With only a month to go, I’m finally getting into mommy mode and happily anticipating welcoming our long-awaited child into our arms. Part of that preparation has been birth preparation, and that’s where the young ladies we worked with in the past started to pop into my mind. I realized that I now had something in common with them in that we both experienced pregnancy. But my pregnancy will culminate in the joyful welcoming of a prayed-for child, whereas their pregnancies ended quite differently.
I started to wonder what it must be like to feel your baby moving inside of you day after day, seeing that baby on ultrasound, finding out if it’s a girl or a boy and perhaps starting to call baby by name, all the while knowing you won’t be the one the child will grow up calling “Mommy.”
I thought about all the little anecdotes I’m jotting down about my child’s time spent in my womb, and how expectant birth mothers probably can’t bring themselves to do something like this if they then have to pass this on to the adoptive parents to share.
I’ve read so much about the importance of early bonding, of the need for the newborn baby to not be separated from her or his mother, and I’ve started to appreciate the requirement that potential birth mothers wait until after their baby is born before relinquishing their parental rights to an adoptive parent. I know I have a bun in the oven, but I also know that it won’t become an experiential type of knowing until I hold that baby in my arms, gaze upon her or him, and allow the realization of being a mother to come over me. Only then will it become real to me.
So how can it be any different for a pregnant woman who is making an adoption plan for her baby? How can she think of her baby in any way other than hypothetical before she has had a chance to hold that baby in her arms? She can make all the logical, rational, and reasonable plans in the world in advance, but before she holds that baby–-real flesh and blood, an actual little person–how can she truly know what she’s agreeing to?
For years, I sympathized with fellow hopeful adoptive parents and saw adoption from their perspective. I took for granted that the decision to place a child for adoption was something I could never relate to and so I didn’t worry about it.
Now that I have something in common with these young ladies (they were all young in our case), I cannot imagine what they were going through while thinking about the future of their babies. They must have loved their babies tremendously to carry them in their bodies for 9 months, as I now know that this is no easy task–one that goes better for some than for others. They must have bonded with their babies, maybe even attributed certain personality traits to them based on their movements in the womb. Surely, they must have envisioned moments in the future with their child, only later coming to the conclusion that these moments were not likely to take place.
It’s easy to conclude that I could never be a birth mother. But I have drastically different life circumstances than do women who do make an adoption plan for their baby. And it’s those circumstances that I now sympathize with.
It is hard to imagine such a gut-wrenching situation as having to willingly separate oneself from one’s baby. All I can offer is a reminder that adoption is a delicate situation for all involved, and we need to be delicate with each other.