One of the best and worst days of my life was the day I became mom to little LT. I remember the guilt slowly starting about a month before placement. As the anticipation of becoming a mom rose so did the pit in my stomach. Whenever I’d get antsy and think ‘this can’t happen fast enough!’ immediately the thought would come that this is her time. Her time to be his momma and I shouldn’t will it to go by faster. Hello guilt. A feeling I’m definitely not a stranger to.

April 6th we received a text. ‘I hope you’re ready…’ she was at the hospital and going to be having him in mere hours. We sped to the hospital (yes, speeding ticked included) and made it to the hospital shortly after he was born. She invited us in and we rushed to hug her and greet her family. Then RW told us to go meet our son. He was perfect and so very familiar. It was as if my soul let out a sigh and said ‘THERE you are. I’ve been waiting for you’. We reluctantly picked him up despite wanting to snuggle him to pieces. There was our son. He felt like he’d been meant for us all along. Ty and I didn’t stay long at the hospital. We gave her another hug and let her know we’d be close for when she wanted us to come back over.

Leaving the hospital was surreal and so very painful. That little miracle was still inside and we were climbing back into the truck to leave. Despite that pain we knew this time was theirs. RW had told us she wanted a closed adoption (which luckily has changed into an open!) and they were loving on this sweet little babe not sure if or when they’d see him again.

Sleep was scarce that night. Our minds were racing and we couldn’t wait to see RW and LT again the next day. When we woke up Ty went for a run and I took my time to get ready. Right as I finished dragging my flat iron through my hair for what had to have been the hundredth time a text came inviting us to come visit. Luckily Ty showered quickly and we hurried to the hospital. RW lay in the bed with her mom sitting next to her watching TV and we were able to cuddle LT and give him bottle. Every few minutes Ty and I would exchange looks. Looks with the meaning ‘We should go… it’s her time.’ After a handful of those we did. We knew we’d see her in a few hours as placement had been scheduled and again, it was her time.

The following morning we met the caseworkers at the hospital and signed papers in one room while RW signed in hers. She had requested that we sign at the same time. We sat quietly barely daring to speak as we waited for the door to open. After what felt like an eternity, there was a knock and in walked a very somber caseworker. She explained that RW was not going to come in and do the physical placement. It was too hard for her. Instead, she had selected her mom and sister to assist. It sounds silly to say this but it felt like rejection. I had built up this moment in my head since the day she announced she had chosen us.

In walked in her mom and sister. They were holding LT and you could tell it had been a painful morning. The sadness in their eyes was a direct window into their hearts. Not only was RW in pain but also these two women we also loved were hurting and it was directly related to us. We hugged and tried our best to lighten the mood. The caseworker sat nearby and took pictures with our camera as we talked and showed them the gift we’d brought for RW and asked if they’d relay the information.  We talked about how we’d send them pictures and they’d share them with RW as they felt it was appropriate. We said our goodbyes and hugged and cried and cried. They left the room and we sat in awe. Shortly there was a knock on the door. RW’s father wanted to meet us and say goodbye to his grandson. We shook hands and watched as this big tough guy’s eyes welled up and snuggled our little boy. Never before have I seen a grown man hurt like that.

I remember each time I looked in awe at LT that first night I thought about RW and often times I cried. There I was telling everyone I could that we were finally parents and all I could think was how we’d taken her baby. Despite her having chosen adoption I felt like we were the direct cause of her pain. On the 2nd day of parenthood she sent a text expressing her gratitude to us. I cried as I read it to Ty and was suddenly reminded of a quote I’d read months prior. “You are part of her plan. You’re not the cause of her pain but part of the relief.”  I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t still feel some guilt but I understand better why. I love her with all my heart and when you love someone like that seeing him or her in pain isn’t easy. Our hearts ache together but now with open adoption they also rejoice together in watching our little man grown and explore.

I wish I’d known more of what to expect emotionally on placement day and I wish I’d know my own expectations better. So I ask you, what are your expectations for placement? Is it magical? Is it all smiles? And more importantly, how will you handle it when it turns out differently than your dreams?

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