When filling out our adoption paperwork, my husband, Alan, and I discussed how much contact we were willing to have with our child’s birth mother. I had heard beautiful stories about open adoption from a couple and their child’s birth mother at one of the classes we took, and wanted a relationship like the one they had. Alan thought I was crazy! He said he would consider sending photos, maybe some e-mail, and agreed hesitantly to one phone call a year. Little did we expect the love we would both feel for the young woman who was going to come into our lives.
About three months into our wait, we were put in contact with a woman named Jessica who was expecting a baby boy in a few months. We began to fall in love from our first e-mails back and forth. By the time we met, Alan and I knew we wanted to have this amazing person in our lives.
That first meeting was filled with tears and hugs. Jessica presented us with a poem a friend’s mother had written, called “My Baby, Now Yours.” Many emotions surged through me as I read it. It was her way of confirming she would place her child with us. We discussed openness, and she said she wasn’t sure whether she wanted a relationship after the baby was born. We told her we could just see where this all took us and go from there.
Jessica’s parents were not comfortable with the idea of adoption, so we told her we would like to meet them. I was a ball of nerves at that meeting. I believe we all were; this was territory none of us had been in before. Jessica’s dad was funny and helped lighten the atmosphere; for that I was thankful. At one point during dinner, he said, “There is only one curse in our family genes,” then took off his hat to show us his bald head. “But nothing a hat can’t cover,” he said, replacing his cap as we all laughed. Jessica’s mother was quieter and more reserved. I knew this must have been painful for her.
We were grateful that we had so long to get to know Jessica, and our relationship continued to deepen. At one point, someone from our agency called. He was concerned about our meeting her parents; calling directly, instead of through the agency; having her stay at our home. He told us we needed to cancel the second overnight stay we had arranged and to start carbon-copying the agency on all our e-mails. The agency was worried that Jessica was feeling pressured. This is something we never wanted, so we agreed to hold off so that Jessica could speak with someone at her agency. A few days later we got a call reporting that Jessica had said she wanted to spend time with us and was not feeling pressured at all. Needless to say, we resumed spending as much time with Jessica as we could.
Through the months before my son was born, we continued to ask Jessica if she wanted contact with us after placement. We told her how much we wanted her and her family in our lives. Although I knew she felt close to us, too, she said she still didn’t know about contact.
The final month of pregnancy was hard for Jessica. She was ready to get it over with. When it was finally time, we met Jessica’s dad at the door of the hospital. He kept saying, “This is so weird” as he led us to her room. I laughed and told him that I have never had a baby any other way, so I didn’t have much to compare to this experience.
Jessica remained strong through a difficult delivery, and when Caston was finally born, he was absolutely perfect! I was beyond words as they cleaned him and weighed him. Could this really be my son? I wondered if Jessica would be able to follow through now that this beautiful boy had been born.
Alan and I had booked a hotel, not wanting to overstep our boundaries, so I was amazed when a nurse pulled me aside and said Jessica had told her to let me stay with Caston all night, because she was exhausted. I held my son all night, falling deeper and deeper in love.
More relatives came to visit the next day, and we tried to give Jessica and her family as much space as we could. And then, around 10 P.M., Jessica called my hospital room and said she was ready for me to take Caston for the night. I will always remember this moment, for it was our true placement. As she handed Caston to me, I saw her tears. I began to cry as well, and hugged her and Caston. I told her how sorry I was that the best thing in my life was the hardest thing in hers. I took Caston back to my room and sobbed.
After Jessica had signed the papers the next day, we again asked if she would like to see us again. She said she thought she might be able to see us in a few months or so. We did see Jessica a couple of months later. That visit was tougher than any of us had expected. But it reaffirmed that we loved her and wanted our son to know the amazing person who had brought him to us.
From that day on, we have seen Jessica often. Caston is five now, and we still have no visitation schedule, no certain number of pictures to exchange, none of that. Jessica is family. We have shared bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, and birthdays, and we expect many more family celebrations to come.