Oh, how I wish I could post a giant photo of our baby’s beautiful birth mother and tell you guys her name and everything great about her, but her privacy must be protected. I hope for a day in the future where adoption is more commonly understood and birth mothers won’t have to feel the sting of judgment of their choice and be fearful of posting about their adopted child on social media. Today is not that day; however, I can still tell you our story of being matched with her.
A Monday in April, 2015
We got an email from our social worker asking if we wanted our profile book to be presented to an expectant mother. The reason they were asking was because our preferences were slightly off from this particular case. She told us the reason, and we decided that it was such a slight variance in what we wanted that yes, it was fine, we wanted our profile book to be presented to her along with the rest of the families’ books. This would occur two days later.
My husband was at work. I received a mysterious email from the social worker asking if I had a minute to talk and if I could conference call her with my husband. I called him at work and of course, we wondered which piece of news we were about to hear. We figured she wouldn’t need to conference call with both of us if it was that we weren’t chosen… right? Or maybe we actually were chosen? No, no way. This was like, really soon. I got the social worker on the line with us and she said congratulations, that we’d been chosen! My husband immediately started laughing and saying “Yes!” over and over. I could just see him fist-pumping through the phone. I was just sitting there with my mouth hanging open. I managed to get out, “Like… chosen to meet with her or chosen to actually be the parents?” and the social worker said something sobering like, “Well, we tell birth mothers that they can meet with one family at a time so they’ll meet you and decide if they want to proceed…” then added, “But she chose your book out of all the books, so she obviously really likes you guys, so be happy.”
I asked a few questions; I can’t remember what all I said, but I remember asking about how long the expectant mother had been working with the agency. The social worker said she had been in contact with the expectant mother only a few weeks, and she had found out about the baby pretty late into her pregnancy, about 24 weeks. The expectant mother was currently on partial bed rest due to some early contractions so there was a chance the baby could come sooner than later. We then hung up with the promise of scheduling the meeting soon.
The Subsequent Days
Surreal is the best way to describe it from then on out. A teenager we had never met was going to decide if we would become parents or not. Our faith (my husband’s always had been stronger than mine) had us hoping God had his will all wrapped up in this too. Teenagers are, by nature, finicky, but what we took from the social worker in the coming days and many questions I had answered was that she was pretty solid in her decision to place for adoption. She felt very strongly about doing it.
It was also interesting because I had been experiencing what I’d call an overall softening of my heart in the past year. In researching adoption, in seeing profiles of kids in foster care, shedding tears over everything, putting yourself in the adoption community and defending the adoption choice to naysayers and explaining the process to your family, it just had softened my heart.
Our social worker said this was pretty incredible because she couldn’t think of a more appropriate case for us. The expectant mother was 17 and wanted to go to college after her senior year in high school. She wanted open communication. We did too. As far as the expectant father, he was a year ahead and going to college in the fall. He did meet with the social worker once to do paperwork, but was not going to be coming to the meetings. She said he seemed to be a “perfectly polite, normal boy.”
Our meeting was scheduled about ten days after our initial call. We wanted to meet her so badly; it felt like forever. We were meeting at the agency and everyone was to bring lunch for themselves. It wouldn’t be as awkward as I was imagining it to be because the social worker would be there to help steer conversation, and it was really just about getting to know each other. Still, I was super nervous. My husband, who naturally holds more self-esteem than I do, was nervous, but if I were a ten on the nerves scale, he was a five.
What happened that morning is something that was quite appropriate, but also a very cruel joke I think God played on me. I almost did not make it to that meeting.
I had been having trouble sleeping the past few months (maybe prep for a baby in the house?), and so I’d done everything from buying Melatonin to earplugs. The night before I had worn earplugs, and apparently those suckers worked great because guess who didn’t hear her alarm going off? I have not had an experience like this since college, you know, when you turn your alarm off in your sleep or hit snooze 50 times don’t make it to class? This same thing happened on the day I was supposed to meet the expectant mother because I had the earplugs in. Normally my husband gets up and walks our dogs first thing, and then he hangs around eating breakfast or checking fantasy football or doing God knows what downstairs for a bit. This day, he didn’t come upstairs to shower and change for like, over a full hour! He comes in the bedroom door and I’m in bed, groggy and waking up, and I look at him and I start yelling, “Oh my God! Oh my God! What’s going on?” It was like in Home Alone when the family realizes they’re going to miss their plane.
In a complete panic, I race up to the shower, but realize, luckily, we had built in an extra half hour that morning because we wanted to go together to find stuff at the store for a little gift bag for the expectant mother. We were going to stop on the way to get little goodies and a card. That is all that saved me that morning. I said, “Go to the store, get whatever; I don’t care anymore.” I knew it would not be the cute female-made bag I had envisioned, but I told him to go, and I’d get ready.
We got to the agency right on time, and the social worker told us this wasn’t her first rodeo. She had told the expectant mother to be there 15 minutes later than us, factoring in traffic, etc. Thank God. We walked in conference room with her and waited, trying our best to look parental, whatever that means. The expectant mother was going to come through that door in the corner any minute now. I was dying to know what she looked like and what our future baby may look like.
When she finally came in, my breath caught in my throat. The best I can describe it is it was like meeting an angel–a living angel. She looked beautiful and her personality was everything we could have hoped for–sweet, kind, good sense of humor, etc. During the meeting we went through our profile book again to give more detailed captions behind the pictures. We talked about her likes and hobbies, her favorite shows, just basic “getting to know you” topics. There wasn’t much business talk. No talk about the hospital or ultrasounds or anything like that. Which was fine. In this open adoption we needed and wanted to know her. She would be a part of our lives from now on. Now, 18 months later, we still love her. I feel a bit maternal toward her as well, maybe because she’s young, but she has her own mother. I don’t need to be that for her. But I do feel the need to protect her always. To make sure she’s OK. I feel like in our eyes she can do no wrong, just like our little one.
In our hour long meeting, we also realized some cool coincidences. We had some odd things in common. I don’t think they’re coincidences; I think they’re signs that tell us this is meant to be. She had two dogs and one was the same breed and had the same name as one of our dogs. Her due date was the same due date as my mom’s due date with me when she was pregnant. She also took an uncommon language in school, one that’s not offered in many schools, and my husband had also taken it. They’re still the only people I know that took it.
When we all got up to leave and were going to hug her goodbye she hit us with, “Oh, by the way, it’s a boy.” That’s how we found out the sex of our baby. Just like that. We were flustered and managed to react with, “Oh! Ok, great!” and hugged her. Such a nonchalant way of finding out a major piece of news. Funny in hindsight.
When we walked out to the parking lot, we stood by our car and tried to absorb what just happened. I hugged my husband and started to cry and told him, “I feel like we just met an angel!” He had to go to work the rest of the day and I was going home to wait, yet again, for a call from the social worker. We were supposed to hear later in that day whether she wanted to proceed with us or choose a different family. Luckily, I only waited about an hour. She wanted to proceed with us. We prayed many prayers of gratefulness and hope.
After a few more meetings with the expectant mother, and much prayer, our baby boy was born about month later.