“I think his diaper is wet. You have to change him.”
With those two sentences, my husband and I became parents. We met our son’s other mother a little over a month before his birth. It all began with a phone call – a call I thought was a prank.
Our home study was almost done. Emphasis on ALMOST. I emailed the agency I wanted to work with to let the owner know that we were ALMOST DONE. My message was oozing with excitement, but her reply was short and terse in my opinion. It said, “Contact us when your home study is complete.” I was crestfallen. When a number with her area code popped up on my screen, I debated whether to answer, but something told me to hit accept.
She – let’s call her Mrs. S.- enthusiastically greeted me. I thought I was being tricked. I reminded her that she already replied to me via email. That’s when she told me that a case had arisen for which she thought my husband I would be perfect.
An expectant mother wanted a family with at least one person of color to raise her son!!! Why the exclamation points you ask? Because that’s how excited I was.
It all seemed too good to be true. We sent our adoption book and got a call back days later, as my husband recovered from emergency surgery. The mother,who we will call EM, wanted to meet us in person. She was in the south. We were in the northeast.
As luck would have it, we were headed to the region for a wedding. We added an additional stop to our trip. We flew more than two hours and drove about two hours to meet EM.
When I saw her, my heart stopped. She looked like she could be my child. When she spoke, I could hear her already-growing unconditional love for her baby. I was off-kilter.
I feel like my husband answered most of the questions and I spent the time staring at EM, telling her how beautiful she was and that she did not have to do this. No one could make her do this.
Ten years after my husband and I married,
five years after we started actively fighting infertility,
five months after we began our home study
and five weeks after we met EM, she texted us to tell us she was in labor.
EM announced the baby’s birth and my husband booked our flight. As I showered, the phone rang. I could hear the tone and I knew…
Mrs. S said EM was changing her mind and we should stay home. My husband…I don’t have the words to describe my husband, but he was not ready to hear what Mrs. S was saying.
As I tried to get through to him, EM was trying to get through to us. She told us to come, but she wanted her two days with her son – our son- because we were all family now.
We met him on a Thursday. Just moments before my husband and I smiled for our first family picture with our son, we nervously changed our first diaper at EM’s request.
I was not prepared for the moment EM was released from the hospital. I wasn’t prepared for the way her tears and anguish shook my core. I wasn’t prepared for the insensitivity: the nurse ready to wheel her out before she could kiss her sweet child, whom she arrived with, but would leave without.
Here lies the conundrum of adoption: as my heart broke for her, it swelled for us.
We left the hospital as Mother, Father and Son. We hilariously struggled to get our son snapped into his car seat, clinched our teeth as we drove with him for the first time and marveled at his presence when we made it to our hotel room.
EM had five days to change her mind. She visited our hotel twice during that time, always saying she was sure and she was ok. I wasn’t ok. I worried about her. We worried about her. I’ll worry about her for the rest of my life.
Our adoption is open. We will see her once a year. I post pictures on social media for her daily – at first willingly, then reluctantly, then happily because being a new mom and digesting adoption is hard. Our goal – her’s, mine and my husband’s – is to raise a good citizen.