Must I say that unplanned pregnancy is stressful enough? Whatever decision you make after seeing that daunting plus sign, you have quite a bit of planning ahead of you. I chose adoption, found a couple I loved (and loved me in return), and we began planning what our relationship might be like. I tried to hold a clear understanding that the adoption plan was fluid, and would most likely change once we got to know each other better. It depends on the individuals involved, but for me, it was necessary to set an extremely specific schedule and pray that the couple would hold up their end. I hoped beyond hope that I wasn’t being too demanding. We discussed a lot of options, but settled on a schedule that worked well for everyone, and decided to review after six months. Here are some techniques we used that helped us survive the first six months of our “Adoption Plan”
Figure Out the Hospital
The hospital was the first real opportunity to see how the relationship was going to work. I didn’t sign my relinquishment forms until my son was two days old, so for two precious days I soaked in every possible moment with him. However, I don’t know what it’s like to try to start a family for years. Then rely on a complete stranger to bring your child into world and not be able to participate in that. I wanted to respect my couple’s struggle for a family and anticipation that it could be happening soon. They wanted to honor what precious time I had with him. We wrote out an extremely specific schedule to be followed for when our son was born. I called them when I was admitted into the hospital, allowed them to bathe him, then they could visit all they wanted for the first day of his life. For the second day, it was only me. It was my time to hold him, sing to him, bond with him, and explain to him why I couldn’t be his mother. I needed that. The fact that they allowed me to have that day showed me confidence that they would, hopefully, uphold their end of our arrangement for the next six months.
Decide How to Say “Goodbye” For the First Time
We never say goodbye—only “see ya’ later”. The first time I gave him to his parents, after the papers were signed, is seared into my memory. My caseworker didn’t think it would be fair to let me see them walk away with him when moments before he had been mine. We decided I would leave first, they allowed me an ample amount of time before they left. The papers made it official, the first “see ya’ later” made it official to me.
Anticipate How Communication Will Work
I didn’t know how I would be after my pregnancy, emotionally. I decided to leave all forms of communication up to the couple. We planned a specific schedule, one email with pictures every Sunday for six months. Those emails were Heaven sent. It didn’t matter how horrid my week had been, once Sunday rolled around I knew I would be ok. I told myself I wouldn’t text them or call them, no matter how badly I needed to hear how my son was doing. This led to me only calling once every few weeks. Which, they later told me, was comforting to them. While they were building trust with me, I was building trust with them. Every Sunday when I received that email, I grew more and more confident that although I wasn’t raising my son, I would be able to watch him grow. When I gave them space to grow as a family, they felt assured that I was trustworthy.
Before we really knew each other, we had highly structured visits. We had one visit a month, until the magical six month mark. Until then, it started out at the adoption agency, then we met in public places for short amounts of time. After the first six months had passed, we moved visits to a “as needed as wanted” basis. We met for my birthday (my son was nine months old at the time), at their home. It was special to me that they trusted me enough to allow me into their home, their sanctuary. Since then visits are so casual I sometimes forget that our relationship used to be so fragile. We will meet for random lunches (when they are in town), or I will join them for holiday celebrations. Again, we started very structured and have since grown into a casual relationship.
These are things that worked for me and my couple. Each situation will have to be handled on an individual level, but I hope each person will try to bring comfort to the opposite party. We were structured and specific for six months, so we had enough time to build a rapport with each other. It gave me enough time to learn that they weren’t going to take him and leave me behind as a fleeting thought. It gave them the time they needed to learn about me, they learned they could trust me. Since then, we have left our adoption plan (or, as we like to call it, our relationship) open as a “come what may” attitude. Sometimes, I go on dates with my son, now five years old, just for some bonding time. Sometimes, me, my husband and the child we have together will go out with the adoptive couple and their family all together. It’s now a fantastic situation and it was built over time, one trusting situation after another. The techniques we used were sometimes inconvenient, but for us, necessary. Necessary to build a lasting and lifelong relationship with each other for the overall health of our son.