We were humbled and thankful that Rachel invited us to be in the delivery room to start our story of becoming adoptive parents. We didn’t take this invitation lightly since we knew what a sacred time this would be between her and the little girl she was about to give birth to— the little girl who could potentially graft our families together.

We loved Rachel from the very beginning, and since she wasn’t certain whether or not she was going to place her baby for adoption, we knew we had to trust her decision—no matter what that decision would be. We knew whatever she decided to do would be right for her little girl, even if that didn’t include us in the picture. We decided that we would stand by Rachel protectively no matter what she decided.

We had learned from our first adoption experience (when our son was born), that you really can’t prepare beforehand for such sacred events. Every adoption is unique, every expecting couple is unique, and every delivery is unique. I like to think of it as a circle which includes a mother, father, and a child. No one should enter that circle without direct invitation, and even then with much love, concern and discernment.

Soon after arriving at the hospital, Rachel’s doctor introduced himself, and asked me who I was. At that point I didn’t really have a “title.” I had only known Rachel for three weeks. I wasn’t really her “family” since we weren’t blood related and she hadn’t made up her mind about adoption yet. I wasn’t the typical “friend” who would come for support during a delivery. I was an adoptive mother, but not to her child. The title of “hopeful adoptive parent” didn’t feel right on my tongue either since I knew she hadn’t made her final decision. I decided to introduce myself as “Emma, a potential adoptive mother.” It was the best title I could think of while being put on the spot.

Rachel smiled with approval. The doctor was kind, but he was immediately protective of Rachel like a protective father would be. He, of course, was not her father, but through her pregnancy he became a very wonderful friend to Rachel. I appreciated his stance, even though I knew he didn’t have anything to fear. I had grown just as protective of Rachel over the last few weeks. He soon realized this, and became a warm influence to both sides in our fragile situation.

Chad (expecting father) also arrived not too long after we got there. This was the first time we had met. He was very warm and welcoming.

She was perfect in every way, from her tiny toes to her cute button nose.

The room became busy as Rachel’s delivery progressed. My husband soon arrived, and we stood back to make sure we weren’t in the way. At one point I was able to be closer to her— to cry with her. Those were delicious and sacred moments that I will never forget. I saw the rawness of her pain, and my insides were ached. Rachel’s little girl came into the world quickly and without complications. She was perfect in every way, from her tiny toes to her cute button nose.

This was where it became a bit uncomfortable for us. We’d had a very different experience when our son was born. Those nurses were kind and calm. The nurses in Rachel’s room where busy and anxious. They repeatedly offered us congratulations, which was really uncomfortable to hear while we stood in front of Rachel and Chad. I did my best to educate them that the only congratulations that should be given where to be only directed to Rachel and Chad. As I said this, I could feel her relax and she gave me a smile of gratitude.

The nurses placed Rachel’s little girl on the warmer. The nurses cleaned up the newborn and put a diaper on her. A nurse then picked up Rachel’s baby and held her out to me. Instantly I touched her little head and said, “She needs to go to Rachel’s arms, and Rachel will choose when and if I am to hold her.”

I again felt Rachel’s gratitude when I spoke these words. It was wonderful to see this beautiful baby in Rachel’s arms. Rachel loved her completely. Tears ran down Rachel’s face. I do not know her thoughts at that point, but what I did know was that, at that very moment, we didn’t belong in that room. I knew there was a battle taking place within Rachel’s mind, and that she needed privacy. She needed time with her perfect little girl. My husband and I excused ourselves, and we went to wait in the waiting area.

At that point, I told my husband as we sat hand-in-hand, “I don’t think she’s going to choose adoption, and that’s okay.” We were sad at the thought, but we were ready to love Rachel no matter what she decided. To say that we were anxious would be an understatement.

As time passed, we became more accepting of the possibility that we wouldn’t be this child’s parents.

As his words registered, I felt both joy and pain.

After sitting in the waiting room for about an hour and a half, Chad came out holding the little princess in his arms. He explained that Rachel wasn’t ready to see us holding her baby girl, but that she wanted us to bond with her. As his words registered, I felt both joy and pain. We did bond with our little miracle there in the waiting room with Chad offering us words of beautiful sustainment.

It was, again, a delicious moment, but I just couldn’t get Rachel off my mind. I asked Chad if he thought it would be okay for me to go into Rachel’s alone. He agreed that it would be a good idea. I left my Chad and my husband together with the baby in the waiting room, and went quietly into Rachel’s room. I climbed in the hospital bed next to her, and we cried together. That was one of the most sacred moments of my life.

We left the hospital that evening so that she could have some alone time with her baby girl. We were still unsure whether or not Rachel would choose us to adopt her child, but we were completely in love and smitten with her.

Early the next morning I got a phone call from Rachel, she explained that she needed some rest, and asked if I would come sit with the baby for a few hours. I was humbled to have been asked. She explained that, out of all the people she could think of, she knew that I was the person she wanted to be there to tend to her precious little girl. I was able to spend four hours with her that morning and I studied every detail of her.

It wasn’t until the following day (48 hours after Rachel first arrived at the hospital) that she informed us that she did indeed plan to move forward with her adoption plan, and that she wanted us to adopt her little princess. We were extremely emotional, and our hearts overflowed with joy. We also felt an equal amount of guilt and grief, knowing that we were the beneficiaries of what was bringing Rachel so much pain.

While Rachel was taking care of some paperwork in her room, and we waited in another, a nurse came to us to ask about our vaccination preferences. Once again I said that was a question for Rachel, not us, since she was still mother to this sweet baby. The nurse was quite pushy, stating that whoever was taking this child home needed to be the person making those decisions. I calmly but firmly said, “Then if it’s my choice, my choice is to have Rachel make that decision and I would sustain her preference.” The nurse left a bit frustrated, and I was okay with that. My first priority was to protect Rachel.

The adoption was finalized, and our little girl became part of our family. She is now almost three. We love her birth mother so much. Only recently have I come to realize how much my sustainment in the hospital meant to her. That day so long ago, when the nurse was pushing us to make parental decisions that weren’t ours to make, I had forgotten that Rachel’s mom was sitting on the bed behind me. She went back to Rachel’s room, and told her what had happened. Rachel later told me how much she wanted/needed to make all the hospital decisions. She expressed how much she loved that I fought for her rights as a mother.

We are not perfect, but I am grateful that we listened to our hearts as to what was best for Rachel, and her little girl at the time. We were guests at the hospital, and all hopeful adoptive parents should be wise to remember that. Expecting parents need to be allowed to make their own decisions, and control their own situation while they’re at the hospital. That is their time. Whatever they need should be respected and nourished. We were blessed to be there for the delivery of both of our children, but we would have been okay with not being there if that was what they needed for closure. Closure is not only important for the expectant/birth parents, but it is important for the adoptive parents— for the relationship of all in the adoption triad. If closure and peace doesn’t take place, the relationships become unstable. Hopeful adoptive parents should always put their needs aside at the hospital, and protect the needs and hearts of the expecting parents. Always.

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