"Hold on Tight"

Having Joseph has helped me put everything in perspective. But before the adoption was final, it was the ride of my life.

feeling anxious during adoption finalization

My husband, John, and I were at the farmer’s market one ordinary Saturday when my cell phone rang. It was our agency telling us our son had been born last night, he was healthy, and, by the way, how soon can we get there? Just like that, I was a mother, even if my son was two time zones away.

Less than 24 hours later, we called our agency from baggage claim at our destination. There, surrounded by an infant car seat, a portable crib, and suitcases stuffed with toys and baby clothes, we heard that we shouldn’t go to the hospital. The baby’s mother wanted more time with the baby. The news sent me reeling. Was she changing her mind?

I had never spoken to her. She had chosen us only a month before her due date, and John was the one who was home when our agency placed the conference call. I felt so helpless that I didn’t even know this person who had such control over our lives.

The next morning we heard that she was to be discharged, and we were to meet her at her house. We got there before she did. As each car drove down the street, my stomach flipped as I thought, This is her! But they all sailed past. No birth mother. No baby. I panicked.

But then she arrived, holding our dreams in an infant seat covered with a blue fleece blanket. We hugged on her front steps, then I lifted the blanket and gazed in wonder at this tiny, precious being.

She invited us inside and we sat down to talk, eager to get to know each other. She was already struggling to raise three kids. If love was the only thing the baby needed, she said…but she knew it wasn’t. She wanted to explain why she’d chosen us. John and I had carefully selected the best pictures we had of ourselves for our Dear Birth Mother profile, but what charmed her was the one of us wearing funny wigs that we’d thrown in on a whim. That’s what cemented the connection for her.

All too soon, it was time to go. Her state requires a 72-hour waiting period before a birth mother can sign the papers, so I spent another night worrying that she’d change her mind.

I needn’t have. Early the next morning, we got word that she’d signed. My worries fell away in an instant, but I wasn’t prepared for the sadness I felt as we drove to her house. It only got worse when I saw how beautiful she looked holding our son. When I left with him, I felt like I was walking away with her heart in my hands. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Our life is so ordinary, so normal now, that I’ve been able to put those first anxious days into perspective. What felt so scary turned out to be nothing at all. Our wait on the birth mother’s doorstep was caused by nothing more than her need to stop at the pharmacy. And her request for more time with her baby at the hospital? Since she had to wait to sign the papers anyway, she decided there was no reason to rush. I wouldn’t trade that roller coaster experience for anything. After all, it gave us Joseph.



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