Unbelievable excitement, shock, love and an overwhelming sense of fear.

I don’t know which feeling stands out more to me when I look back at our first day home with our son.

I remember waking up to his cries in the early morning. And the feeling of shock that this all wasn’t just another dream. We had gotten home late the night before, fed him a bedtime bottle, changed him, and settled him to sleep in his crib. We then sat shell shocked on the couch from the whirlwind of the previous days. I honestly don’t remember going to bed, but I remember laying there just listening to the monitor until I finally dozed off just to make sure he was breathing.

We really did have a baby in our home after all these years. Then the realization that he wasn’t ours for sure hit. We had taken him home from the hospital just two days after he was born. But his mom wasn’t scheduled to terminate her parental rights until that Friday.

In our state a mother had to wait at least 72 hours after giving birth to terminate her parental rights and once signed there is no revocation period. We could receive the call at any moment that she had a change of heart and we would have had to drive him back to our agency to be reunited with his mom.

Part of me couldn’t wait to snuggle him. Part of me was terrified to look at him for the fear of having to bring him back. Part of me couldn’t imagine how his mom was feeling. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t fully immerse myself in his first few days. Just like I knew I would regret it if I hadn’t taken the opportunity to be in the delivery room when he was born. And those times were amazing.

Our parents were, like any grandparents, over-the-moon excited to meet their first grandson. I remember us bringing him downstairs when they arrived that morning and introducing him to them for the first time. It still brings tears to my eyes. The rest of the day is a blur. I know I tried to be the calm, cool, collected mom who was OK with everyone else holding her new baby. I’m also sure I failed miserably.

I wish I could tell you some magical story about our bonding, about what we did and the memories we made that first day home. But I don’t have many. I just remember vacillating between feelings of sheer joy between fear. To be honest, bringing home our first biological child felt pretty much the same way.  The realization that no child is truly yours. You’re just getting to be the lucky one to watch them grow up. No matter how that child joins your family, they will forever bring you joy, and a little bit of terror to keep things exciting along the way.


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