So I’m that guy who woke up one morning with no idea that in 13 hours, he and his wife would be walking out of a room with their newly adopted son.
We had been “paper pregnant” for almost two years. In adoption vocabulary, that means that we had gone through the home study and approval process with an adoption agency and were waiting for the right situation to come along and to be selected by a birthmother to have a baby placed in our home. The major difference between paper pregnancy and normal pregnancy is that the latter has a definite end date. We were losing hope as the situation dragged on.
We were currently working with a faith-based agency and we decided that our chances might be better if we went forward with a private adoption agency that a friend had used. The private agency was substantially more expensive, but they did not collect fees until the placement was in process, so this didn’t seem like a huge obstacle when we signed up.
It took a few weeks to sign up and be approved by the new agency, but soon we had a second “paper pregnancy.” We were used to the notion that nothing happened quickly in the world of adoption, so we were stunned when we received a call from the private adoption agency a little over two weeks later.
I remember the events of the day so clearly and vividly, even four years later as I am writing this. It was about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and we were driving close to home when the adoption worker called me. I pulled into a parking lot to focus on the call. She said, “We have a birthmother with a 3-week-old baby boy. She will be here in about an hour and I would like to know if you would be fine with us showing her your profile.”
“Of course, that would be great,” I said. She told us a little more about the situation and explained the financial obligations associated with it, and the phone call was over.
My wife and I were very excited. We faced other possible adoptions previously, so we were cautious about getting our hopes up for fear of building up to a letdown, but this felt different and exciting.
We went about our day and at 3 o’clock, my phone rang again. It was the adoption worker again. “We showed your profile to the birthmother,” she said, “and she loves you guys. She would like to meet you. How soon can you come in? By the way, if this works out you will need to be able to stay in town for 1 to 2 weeks while you wait for the states to finish up necessary paperwork.”
We live about 3 hours from the adoption agency’s office, so we told them we would be there at 7 o’clock that night. And the whirlwind began. We had 30 to 45 minutes to prepare our 5-year-old daughter and ourselves for a trip that would last at least a week. I went to work and tried to tie up all my loose ends there while my wife frantically packed bags for everyone. She also prepared for the event that we did adopt the baby and would need to care for him through that time period.
We were on the road in 45 minutes. The trip was filled with “what if” conversations. The most common centered around the question “What if this doesn’t work out?” But we also dwelt on the hopes and scenarios that would play out if it did work.
We arrived at the adoption agency’s office just after 7:00 that night. The adoption worker sat down with us and we spoke a little about the situation. She said that the birthmother wanted to wait to meet with us for about an hour so she could have some more time to say goodbye to the baby.
This brought about a whole new round of issues. We had packed and driven 3 hours with the thoughts that we would meet the birth mom that night and hoped that within the next few days we would get the baby. But with this new wrinkle, we were going to receive the baby in an hour. We had not been able to round up all the baby supplies we needed, so we took that hour to go to Target and pick up what we needed to take care of him through the night.
At 8 o’clock, we met the with the adoption worker again. It all seemed surreal as they walked us down the hall to the room where we would meet our baby for the first time. We walked into the room and there they were.
Our son’s birthmother was holding him and rose to meet us as we came in the door. She was a beautiful young woman. We sat down near her, and we began to talk. After a few moments, she asked my wife if she would like to hold the baby. That moment of her placing Max into my wife’s arms is burned into my memory. For the last 3 years I had been by my wife’s side through the tragedy of a miscarriage only to be followed by the hopelessness of infertility. I had tried to console her through the difficult times, but I felt powerless to take that pain from her. As I watched Max being placed into her arms, all that pain went away and I will never forget that moment.
We continued our conversations for another 15 minutes. We talked about the baby and how he had been developing over the last 3 weeks of his new life. We talked about what our communication would look like as we maintained a connection with the birth mother. The connection would be as much for her as it would be for him. The time went so fast, and when the social worker said it was time to go, we were shocked back to the reality of the situation.
My wife handed the baby back to the birthmother. She held him tightly as she stood bouncing him gently. Her heart was breaking as the moment had arrived that she had to say goodbye. She gave him one last hug, kissed him on the forehead and said to him, “Goodbye, little man. I love you.” My heart broke for her as I realized that this amazing experience that we were having was at the same time the most difficult thing she would ever do.
Then she placed the baby into my wife’s arms for the second time. This moment was so emotionally overwhelming. It was an act of pure love by the birthmother to place this beautiful baby into our arms, trusting that we would give him the life she dreamed he would have. For us, it was the end of a journey to grow our family through adoption. It had been a long, difficult time in our lives. That very morning we had woken with no idea that at the end of the day we would be holding our new son.
Words cannot describe how grateful we are to this young birthmother. This experience has continued to fill our lives with joy and happiness, and we will always be thankful. Looking back on it now, I know it couldn’t have been any more perfect. Every trial along our journey had prepared and directed us to the moment when our son was placed in our arms.