Read Part 1 here.
We received the call that T~ had chosen us on a Tuesday. Two days later, we were in a car with our agency’s director, making the 3-hour drive to T’s aunt’s house so that we could meet her and the family. I remember seeing all of the redbud trees lining the highway–I had never really noticed them before.
We arrived late in the morning. We met with T~ and her parents first, but her aunt and brother were eagerly waiting outside. They would come in and talk to us before it was all over. The meeting was definitely a bit awkward, as could be expected. The agency director and the local volunteer who had been working with T~ were both there, and helped the conversation along. T~ wanted to know if we smoked, and was pleased that we didn’t (incidentally, I don’t think that she would have gone through with the match if we had–she had already backed out of two different matches with two other agencies because she didn’t feel comfortable with something about each of those situations). We asked her how she felt about circumcision (we knew which way we were leaning, but decided that we would go with her wishes if she had a really strong preference–she wanted the same thing we did). Her parents asked us how we felt about the “possibility” of the baby being biracial (she was hiding a lot about the birthfather from them). Her brother asked us some questions about our religion that related to race (I was really impressed that he had done some research). The volunteer asked T~ if she had picked out a name for him. She said she didn’t want to, that she wanted him to always have the name that we chose for him. They asked if we had chosen a name–I found out later that she was thrilled with the name that we gave him, since it had some special meaning to her. Actually, when we arrived at the hospital after his birth, it was already on the little card in his bassinet.
Probably the most difficult part of the conversation, for me, had to do with ongoing contact. Our agency does not generally do fully disclosed adoptions. They facilitate communication. After the adoption is finalized, they stop monitoring the contents of any communication, so you have the option to open the adoption fully at that point (that was very new to them when we adopted). We told T~ that we would send letters and pictures for her. She told us that she didn’t want them. And she had no intention of writing to us. She didn’t even want to see N~ once he was born. It broke my heart. I told her that I would write and send pictures to the agency, anyhow, so they would be there if she ever changed her mind.
That was a Thursday. T~ was induced the following Tuesday. I went to work that day, then went crazy waiting to hear something from the agency. Finally, mid-afternoon, I got a phone call. N~ had been born. And T~ wanted us there as soon as possible. We weren’t ready–our agency’s policy was to not have the adoptive parents around for the first 24-48 hours so the birthmom had a chance to spend time with the baby without the influence or interruption of the adoptive parents. Because she was so adamant, though, they told us to come. I saw my son for the first time about nine hours after he was born.
Happily, I also saw T~ at the same time. She had changed her mind about seeing him. We spent some time together, during which he passed his first meconium. And her family gave me my first test of motherhood–they handed him, tarry diaper and all, to me to change.
In T’s state, a mother is discharged from the hospital 24 hours after a healthy delivery. But they won’t discharge a child that is being placed for adoption until the termination of parental rights has been signed–72 hours after birth. That meant that N~ was going to have two days alone in the hospital. We all discussed it, then got permission from the hospital for Sean and I to rent a hospital room for those two days. During that time, T~ came back twice to visit him–the first time was to bring her brother, who couldn’t make it before she was discharged, the second time was just because she wanted to see him one last time.
We were there when T~ was discharged, and it was difficult. Reality was definitely hitting her. She cried and kept asking us, “You will write? You will let me know that he is OK?” We promised that we would.
Two days later, after a tense wait, our agency director and the local volunteer came into our hospital room to let us know that the paperwork had been signed, and to complete the paperwork on our end. The volunteer had a strange look on her face. She asked to hold my son. As she sat there rocking him, she told us that T~ had never mentioned the birthfather’s name to her. Signing the paperwork was the first time she had seen it. It was someone she knew. With tears in her eyes, she told me that she had worked with the birthfather several years ago (this woman was a public social worker). She was careful not to disclose anything that she shouldn’t, but she kept saying that, if someone had told her years ago that she would be in this situation, completing an adoption on that young man’s child, she would never have believed it.
“He is so lucky to have you. He is so lucky that he won’t have that influence in his life,” was all she could say. (Incidentally, T~ agreed with this. She ended the relationship shortly after becoming pregnant and, to my knowledge, has never spoken to him since. All she would tell us about him was his height, that he played basketball, and a few other private details. I have never seen a picture. She has never said his name to us. She refuses to discuss him.)
N’s birthfather is a perfect example of why I don’t believe in forced openness in adoption. We did have to go to court to have his rights terminated–he wouldn’t sign the paperwork. Not that he wanted to parent. And he didn’t come to the court hearing where his rights were terminated. Of course, he was otherwise engaged. My understanding is that he has been otherwise engaged a couple of other times since then.
Approaching N’s first birthday, we called the agency and asked if they could see if T~ would give us a way to contact her directly (we had been sending letters and pictures up to then, as promised). They got us an email address. A couple of days before his birthday, I was able to email her and ask if she would be interested in a visit. She was thrilled at the idea, and we were able to have a joint birthday party for him at her parents’ house.
Things kind of flowed from there. As time wore on, we abandoned all shreds of secrecy. We have been out to visit them several times. And, of course, the road flows both ways. They have been to our house on several occasions, too. It has been over 4 1/2 years, and the relationship is always evolving. I can’t say that it is always perfect. Our contact with T~ has definitely diminished with the births of her two subsequent children. We currently don’t even have a way to contact her directly. I still call her parents, but even they don’t always call back anymore. I sometimes struggle between wanting to maintain a close relationship with this family that I have grown to love, and wanting to give them their space. Because, ultimately, it is her decision to make, and I want to respect it. But as long as I feel that continued contact is healthy for my son (and I have NO reason to feel otherwise at this point), the lines of communication will always be open here.
So there it is, the story of N’s adoption. Minus a lot of my emotions. I guess that there are some things that I’m not willing to put out there. At least, not yet. Suffice it to say, he is my son and I am his mother. He made me a mother. And I would give my life for him.