Category Archives: The Call

Open Adoption, Open Heart, And Needing More

I’ve had this post in my head for quite a while now. It’s existed in parts, none of them very well-expressed or complete in form, but I’m tired of it rattling in my head, and weighing so heavily in my heart, that I’m setting it free. In doing so perhaps there will be some relief, some comfort in just “speaking” it, or, if I’m really lucky, some guidance and comfort from those that understand — no matter which side of it they come from. Read on.  But pour yourself something cold to drink, you’ll be here awhile.

As folks hanging here for any length of time know, we’re in an open adoption with Maeve’s birthmother. Well, maybe I should tweak, for now, my description of it to call it a semi-open adoption in that our connection is through the adoption agency, through letters and photos, and an annual visit at an agency picnic. When we first began this journey, just even having this amount of contact was, for us, considered open. Not because it’s all we wanted, but because in Thomas’ own adoption, the dearth of detail is so real, the sealed records and blacked out information are the walls we face, he faces.

So meeting Maeve’s first mother, holding her, talking with her, sharing stories and details with her — it was like an adoption floodgate had opened. It was so wonderfully different than anything we’d known, so opposite of the closed adoption in our lives, the simplest way to describe it was open. Light had been let in, like fresh Spring air blowing through a newly opened window after a long winter of hatches battened down.

When I think of Thomas’ adoption, my mind conjures up stacks of paper, yellowed and dusty, banded together with elastics, placed in the corner of a Catholic Charities basement in Ohio, next to other stacks pointlessly detailing the lives of other babies born that month, that year. I see them being guarded by some governmental rule, by legislators not left dealing with the effects of decisions to keep my husband’s life — and myriad other lives — stacked tidy in a box somewhere. They’ve moved on to their next cause, and my husband’s story, his complete story not winnowed by Sharpie marker gone wild, sits somewhere. Seemingly forgotten, with no one to care about it.

But it’s not so. Someone does care. Someone hasn’t forgotten. And as the wife of someone whose origins, whose story of his very own life, are kept so mysterious and tucked away, I care. Deeply.

And this is why, when we began our own adoption journey, openness was a light leading us forward.

When we were selected by B. to parent Maeve, we learned her selection of our agency had to do with its focus on open adoptions. A few days after we were placed — while Thomas, Maeve and I remained in her birthstate waiting for legalities — we all sat down together, meeting for the first time. The emotions were so high. It was like nothing I’ve ever been close to before — or since.

We hugged. We talked. We were all nervous. We were all pleasant. We were all there for the good of Maeve. We were all humans joined by the force of this little life before us. The scope of it all was not lost on me. As I sat in the same room as the woman who just a few days earlier shared with Maeve the single-most intimate experience I can imagine — the birth of a daughter by her mother, I tried to take freeze frame images in mind. I knew that The Future Maeve wouldn’t be able to piece together that day in any tangible way other than what those of us there could share with her. I tried so hard to remember, amid my own emotional roller coaster, to pry my eyes open from the ride and just watch, for her. Just remember the images, the movements, the words shared, I told myself.

It was in that first visit that a role I hadn’t really thought about before, had come to be. I needed to be there to preserve whatever I could for her until one day she takes the information, the relationship I hoped to forge with her first mom, and forge ahead herself, her own heart and vision leading her.

Considering the enormity of the day, the joy and sadness, and all the nuances needing considering, the day’s overall tone in my mind is recorded as gentle, as special, with a genuine goodness to it. Because despite fears and nerves and complexities, and because a little new life deserved it, we had all come together.

Yet there is something I would change about that day. 

At the time, we just went along with the minimum required by our agency, letters and photos monthly until one year, then letters and photos yearly until age 18, and visits at the agency’s annual picnic. While the idea of photos and letters suddenly didn’t feel like enough at the time of our actual placement, everything was so incredibly emotional and new, and it seemed like there would be plenty of time for us all to move forward together and get to know each other through our letters and visits, and open our relationship more as time passed. After all, just days earlier, at the time of placement, we were told that B. wasn’t sure if she was ready to meet us. When we learned she wanted to meet, that afternoon’s event became my focus, wanting it to go well, wanting to be able to get across all the things I felt and wanted to share, despite being frazzled and overtired and human.

My biggest regret. I would have written out our full names, our address, our telephone numbers and email addresses and put them into B.’s hands myself. If she wasn’t ready to do anything with them then, well, at least I knew she had them should she become ready.

When we met again 10 months later at the first picnic after placement with Maeve, I sat on a blanket, nervous and fearful that B. might, in the last moments before traveling to us, need to stay away, to pass on this second meeting since placement. She was late, and as the minutes ticked by, I wrestled with my hopes and expectations, reminding myself that really I am just a third party in all this. I can work to make her feel welcome and wanted in our lives, I can follow through and get Maeve there for B. should she decide to join us — but her walking into the park that day? That had to be up to her.

A weight lifted from me when I saw her in the distance. She waved a gentle “hiya” wave, like she was meeting someone in a crowd and wanted to get their attention, a casual someone or other she’d met for lunch the week before. It was a strange and unexpected sense of famliarity I felt toward B. Like seeing a good friend after a long time. It’s a strange juxtaposition, knowing someone a short time and not that well, yet feeling an intimacy toward them usually reserved for family and longtime friends. It’s a connection both simultaneously shallow and deep — the brevity of the relationship contrasted with the depth of its emotion, commitment, connection and love. Lots of history in a little period of history.

During that visit, I asked if I’d been sending too many photos with my letters, if my writings were too detailed, too specific, too much — or not enough. (When I write B., my words come from the deepest part of me that loves this child and the woman sharing her with me. I try to share everything about Maeve that I would desperately want to know if I wasn’t in her life every day. I share everything I think her hurting mama heart might need to know. They are handwritten and many, many pages, trying to best capture on paper the living, breathing existence that is our litle girl and the life she is living. Paper doesn’t do the reality justice, but, oh, how I try.)

Her answer to my queries? She’s enjoying the letters and their detail, and laughed at me worrying so much. And as for “too many photos”? She said, and notice the quote marks, “There can never be too many.”

I was so happy to hear her say that about the baby before us. To me, it was a statement on where she stood, on her connection to Maeve. Something I could share with Maeve one day. Something B. herself could share with Maeve one day.

As for B. writing to Maeve or us, she sent a letter a few months after B. was born and placed — and it’s a most-beautiful sentiment and something so dear to us. But it’s the only letter we’ve received. She’s mentioned writing again, mentioned getting photos and a letter together. But nothing has come.

This summer was the second agency picnic since we were placed with Maeve. A few months before, I learned through the social worker that serves as the link between us, that B. was excited for the picnic and would be bringing additional family members. Thrilled doesn’t adequately describe how I felt.

We extended, via letter, the formal invite as the agency encourages, and in that letter I also expressed our desire to increase contact, to open our relationship, to let additional light shine in. While I explained we wanted to share telephone numbers, addresses, emails and increased real-life visits in her state or ours, I made clear that, should she agree, we could proceed at her pace toward any degree of openness she desired. In asking her to consider it, I explained that if she didn’t want to change the openness at this time, we would honor her wishes.

Weeks later as the picnic neared and no offical rsvp rolled in, I began to worry: Had I scared B. away? Attempts to reach her with the social worker conduit were unsuccessful.

The picnic came. This time I was determined not to sit on the picnic blanket, stomach in knots, worried whether she would join us. Since Maeve was older now and able to partake in some of the park and picnic activities, we made sure various social workers and agency staffers knew where we were in the park should B. come. Maeve had her first face painting (on her leg), she played with other children in a volleyball pit, watched the band in awe, looked in on some older children and their families playing soccer, she walked around like she owned the place, petting a dog that passed her by and nibbling lunch and enjoying time with us at our picnic spot.

Was my head on a swivel the entire time? Yes. Did I mistake other women with similar body type and hair — from a distance and in between the trees — hoping it was her? Yes. Did she come? No.

This was in June — just a few months after her sharing with the social worker how excited she was to come. I’ve since sent her a letter again expressing that if she isn’t interested in or ready for additional contact, then we respect her wishes, but me asking for additional contact was never meant to lose the contact we already had. (Of course, it’s just been two months since the picnic.) I included in the letter the information I wish I’d given her the first time we met. Address, phone numbers, emails, all the details a Sharpie marker can wreak havoc on.

Between our history with Thomas’ adoption and our love for Maeve’s first mom, I find myself in a position where all I can do is wait. Wait and continue to follow through with the commitment we made, but all the while I don’t know what B. is thinking. I don’t know how to reach her (and I don’t mean literally). I have to reconcile with the fact she may not want additional contact at this time — I cringe, because I know that qualifier is necessary for me just to type that statement.

Inconsistent contact is hard. Painful even. And Maeve is only two. So right now the pain is for me and Thomas to bear. As talks with Maeve about B. occur in our home, as she points to B. in the photo album from their last visit and says her name, as she sees B. holding her and playing with her in these photos, I wonder what she’s thinking. She looks intently, proud to name the cast of characters in a very real-life situation. The possibility of contact broken breaks my heart.

Desperately wanting contact and conversations and to make more memories — wanting all of this for the child that we share with B., so that one day Maeve doesn’t face the life-sized question marks that her dad faces — and not knowing when and if a response will find its way to us? It’s almost too much to bear.

Yet it’s all countered with knowing that B. has to be ready, has to want it too. This isn’t my shot to call. She’s a primary player in this. It’s her story, too.

I do know I must keep on keeping on. I will continue to write, continue to document in pictures the life her daughter is living,  continue to remember B.’s birthday, holidays, Mother’s Day.

For Maeve. For B. For the commitment we made. For the next time we are all together. For the possibility of it all.

Still, though, having the contact, relishing in it, and then wondering when it next will appear is more difficult than I would have predicted a few years ago, sitting clean-faced and shiny-shoed in an office opposite a social worker. I would have blindly reasoned then that at least that contact is worlds more than what Thomas has. And I would have reasoned that somehow that would be enough. Oh, how wrong I would have been.

Don’t misunderstand: I’m grateful for what we do have. The letter, the visits we’ve had so far, the photos of it all, the records of Maeve’s birth, the meeting with B.’s siblings. I am. Yet, it’s not enough. Not consistent enough. Not enough for the whole of us, the whole of our family. The family of which she is such an important part.

Whether it’s the unknowns of intermittent contact or the biting coolness of a Sharpie marker in a third-party’s hand — darkness in adoption takes its toll.

Anyone from any angle able to shed light on the darkness?

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Filed under Adoption, Birth parents, Children, Closed Adoption, Discussing Adoption, Love, Maeve, Open Adoption, Parental surrenders, Parenting, Promises, Relationships, Still learning, The Call

Adoption: Employee benefits

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal discusses how increasing numbers of companies are stepping up with adoption benefits, or increasing the adoption benefits they already offer, including longer paid time off or increased reimbursement of adoption expenses.

The article contrasts the bump up in benefits for some with the increasing amount of red tape and restrictions in international adoptions. So, while those adopting overseas now may have a bit more time to spend bonding with their child before heading back to work, it’s more difficult to prepare for the time away from the office, since the restrictions are tighter and more complex, and many waits are longer.

Still, most interesting to me is the increased awareness of adoption and the need for employee flexibility and benefits — issues the article does address, including facts like this: 20 percent of companies offer adoption benefits, up four percent from 2003, according to a study this year of 590 human resource managers.

Good news, but still lots of work to do.

(Oh, and while you’re already surfing the WSJ, here’s an article on the best at-home lead tests for checking up on your children’s toys — and whether they are as accurate as  they could be.)

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption leave, Family Leave, Paid Adoption Leave, Parenting, The Call, Toy Safety, Work

Hot off the press

It seems folks over at my agency haven’t tired of me yet as they’ve just published my latest column on open-adoption parenting in their newsletter and on their website.

If a look-see strikes your fancy, ride the fresh link that’s nestled nicely in my sidebar and head to Page 10 and 11. And if I’ve got a faithful reader among you, someone might notice I’ve touched on the topic before here. It’s such an interesting one I think another tickle is worth it. After all, how often do you become a mom and meet one of the most important people who will ever enter your life — all in the same week? Not very often. I’m just sayin’.

And — even though I may regret this — on your way pause at Page 5 for a photo of Maeve and Moi during the agency’s recent adoption picnic. We were trying so hard to make the pinwheel whirl I never noticed the photographer noticing us. (The regret part is I rarely love the photographed me. But the moment captured with Maeve was so pure that I’m willing to close my eyes and hold my nose. Ya know, take one for the team.)

Just because you’re already following direction so well, I’ve got one more task for you. For those of you situated somewhere in Joisey, look here for details about an upcoming fun family event for all members of the adoption triad being held by CHATS, my local adoption group. (I’d asked for a bit of publicity in my agency’s newsletter, and darned if they didn’t oblige.) Hope to see you there!

Happy reading — and come on back if you’ve got something to say!

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption Websites, Birth parents, Children, Community, Family, For fun, Latest AFTH column, Maeve, mamagigi, Open Adoption, Parental surrenders, Parenting, The Call, Writing

Dear 2005 Me


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Here’s my contribution to The ‘Dear Me’ Project. 

Dear 2005 Me (a pre-mama mamagigi),

I know that right now you are aching to be a mother and most times it feels like it will never happen, and that no one understands the hole in your heart.

I know that right now your daydreams and even your nightdreams are filled with hopes of sharing your life with a child. And with these dreams come snippets of a happiness like nothing you have felt before. I know that when you wake up, the gleeful butterflies will slow to an uneasiness in your gut as you remember it is not yet your time and it was just a dream. And even though you have never truly known the happiness in being a mom, you know it exists because in those dreamy moments it teases and taunts you, giving just a taste of its blissfulness. And I know that in your most lonely and angry and restless-with-the-waiting moments, it seems like that happiness will never find you in a permanent way.

I know that so far your journey has been long. I also know that now, as you wait for your phone to ring and your life to change with “Hello?” you are asking yourself all sorts of questions about when and if and why not and how-come-it-hasn’t-happened-yet. It’s okay. You’re human and this is natural. But please do not let these questions haunt you and eat at your soul.

I know that you wake each morning and the first thought in your mind, even before you have silenced the alarm clock, is whether today will be the day. I also know that, in the dark of night, when another day has passed with no news of a child to fill your arms, you drift to sleep, slowly and painfully, tears of helplessness wetting your pillow and stuffing your nose.

I know that you struggle with the insensitivity of some of those around you. Although this insensitivity is infuriating, try to find comfort in knowing it will teach you to always try to be gentle to others — for you know not what they endure, deep in their core, at night when the lights are low.

I also know that you mark each passing day in the calendar of your mind, making hopeful promises that motherhood might arrive by Memorial Day. Then Mother’s Day. Then your birthday. As these dates come and go, you begin to hope for July 4. You find yourself anticipating such holidays and social events with the notion you will have a little one to share them with. I wish I could convince you to simply enjoy these days for what they are. But I won’t try, because although it hurts so very much and you so desperately want these milestones to come, sometimes we just have to hurt.

I know that sometimes the passing days marked by a dull routine of work, then home, then work, then home are too much to bear. And I know that sometimes you must leave your desk and find a bathroom stall to quietly cry away the moments you cannot handle any other way.

I know that you have prepared a nursery with every detail a top priority. I know that walking by the room and its still rocking chair and empty crib do not hurt as much as if the room was still an office chock-full of papers, with a computer, file cabinet and desk. Instead, it is chock-full of hope. Because having a room with baby accouterment means surely a baby will come. After all, forever leaving this room unoccupied would be an evil trick by the universe. One you know you don’t deserve. I know how once in a while you go in there and sit in the creaky rocker, and try to feel the energy of the baby you hope will one day be there to keep you awake in the wee hours of the night. It’s okay to do that. Sit, look around, take it all in. You have made a loving home — a womb of your own — for a child that will come. I promise.

I know that as seemingly everyone around you is giving unsolicited advice about being patient, relaxing and going to a movie “because it will be the last one for a long time,” you want to tell them where they should really go. Because you cannot believe they don’t understand that movies are the very last thing on your mind. You squelch the urge to scream that they have no idea what it’s like to have something so personal as becoming a mother depend on so many circumstances you are not part of. You want to tell them they take for granted these gifts that have come easier to them.

I also understand that you wish these people could simply acknowledge your heartache and sit silently with you for a moment. That this would be so much more helpful than following their “I know” with “but” and some sort of look-on-the-bright-side language.

I know, gigi, I know.

I know that in the dark and lonely moments when there is nothing to do but hear the silence of all the telephones around you, you will question whether your profile is open enough, whether your letter — to a brave, still unnamed woman who will choose you to share in her child — is good enough, caring enough, real enough, strong enough, soft enough.

I also know that when you reach out to your social worker to ask whether your profile has been shown and to talk about the wait that seems so unbearably long and sometimes even disorienting, you will not like the answer you receive. You will not like being told to be patient because the right baby will find you. I know that these sentiments are hollow to you and instead seem more appropriate for a bad bumper sticker or stale fortune cookie.

Yet somewhere, deep in your mind, you know there is some truth in her counsel: The wait is the wait is the wait. You cannot change it. I understand that this powerlessness is the hardest part for you. I know you don’t want to admit there actually is nothing else you can do, that your own motherhood really is out of your hands. Yet part of your brain keeps trying to remind you of these things. (Yes, this is a corner of your brain you are not especially fond of these days.)

I know how thrilled you are at becoming a mother through adoption. After all, your husband was adopted and choosing this avenue for parenthood has always been in your master plan. I also know that when you were writing that master plan on the cocktail napkin in your mind, you just didn’t count on the waiting and powerlessness of it all. It’s not like you to want to wait, after all.

It’s like when you were a kid, and you begged and pleaded to cut your long hair into that little chopped pixie of a do, and your mother warned you about rushing such things. Rather than listen, you hurried into your neighbor-beautician’s chair. Or that time when you used some of your Christmas shopping money to buy paper dolls for yourself. That didn’t go over well with mom, did it? Well, those were supposed to be lessons where you learned about instant gratification.

So, gigi of 2005, try to remember those lessons because they are important. I know, I know. The waiting is not easy. But this is not hair and paper dolls we’re talking about.

I know you have had to make a hard, numbed-over place inside yourself to hide behind when someone seems ready to say something ignorant, weird, thoughtless or hurtful.

It’s like when people apologize to you as you excitedly share the news you are adopting a baby. I know that you just wanted these people to smile a heartfelt smile and say, “Congratulations.” Not because they feel it’s the right thing to do but because in learning of your news of impending parenthood, they sincerely want to offer their best wishes. Because, after all, you are on your way to being a mother! I know you ache at not being considered a parent-to-be.

I know you don’t understand when people express concern or even disgust about how your child won’t look like you, as if this is what parenthood and familyhood is all about. I’m sorry to tell you that isn’t resolved in 2007: You still won’t understand why people say such things to other people. Frankly, you still won’t understand how folks can feel that way in the first place, but to each his or her own. Just know that matchy-matchy still doesn’t matter to you. Never has, never will.

I know all of these things gigi, because I am you. I am sorry you hurt right now and feel like there is no end to the pain. I know you question whether your phone will ever ring and your heart will ever feel full from all the boo-boo kissing you are so desperate to do.

But I am two years wiser than you — and there are things I can tell you, things you should know, things that might ease your wait, your pain. The most important part of my message can be summed up in six words:

Your wait will be worth it.

Gigi, you will become mamagigi and there is nothing else like it. Nothing. Your heart will fill in ways you never knew it could. Your smile will be wider, deeper, brighter. Your laughs will be heartier, louder, snortier. Your love will be boundless.

And that stale fortune cookie about things always working out and the right baby finding the right family? Well, let me put it this way: As long as you have waited (which, by the way, isn’t so long in the scheme of things), the 2007 You would double it, triple it and more — without a second thought — if it means the child that makes you a mother is this little girl Maeve.

She is so wonderful, so perfect in all her babyness and sassiness and smartness and silliness and tenderness and juiciness and outgoingness — yes, you are making up words in the future — that you will wait however long it is you must wait — for her.

I promise you, gigi, your phone really does ring and this little one really does exist. She really does arrive. She really does make your life so much deeper, full of meaning in ways you didn’t realize were lacking.

And when she reaches over and gently pats your arm tonight, then your chest, then your shoulder, and with each tender toddler touch she coos, “Mo-mmy” … “Mo-mmy” … “Mo-mmy,” as if she is just confirming who you are, you will smile in your soul and answer “Yes” … “Yes” … “Yes” every time.

I promise you, mamagigi-to-be, she is worth a million more forms and fingerprints, hundreds of home visits, countless more seconds, minutes, hours, days and months spent waiting, and all the tears your eyes can silently shed in the dark of night. I promise.

Knowing Maeve, loving Maeve, mothering Maeve — these are rewards worth waiting for.

So hang on, gigi, and dig deep. Believe in yourself and know you are good enough. Know your letter is heartfelt and real enough that a courageous woman will choose you. And you will meet her and thank her and love her, and need her to be part of your life forever.

And the daughter she will share with you?

Well, she is simply beyond all of your wildest daydreams and nightdreams.

I promise.

Love,
2007 You

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Filed under Adoption, Birth parents, Children, Family, Love, Maeve, mamagigi, Parenting, Promises, Relationships, The Call

Introductions, of sorts

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Meeting Maeve: Her ‘Wave’ Hello

In one phone call a year and a half ago this week, I became a mom. And almost exactly 24 hours after receiving The Call that would forever change my life, I met my daughter.

My husband and I watched her get wheeled into the hospital nursery where we sat with anticipation. She had only been in this world a little more than two days, and she had just spent the last moments with her birth mother as the only maternal force in her life.

Still clad in her hospital-issue pink blanket and medical bracelet, she was about to meet us, another set of parents.

Days later, after we returned home from a hotel stay in Maeve’s birthstate while we awaited the legalities of waiting periods and signatures, I wrote a note to a good friend who also was waiting for The Call that would change her life. It was a hard letter to write, knowing that my experience was exactly what she was waiting for. But in all our planning and dreaming during the process and while we waited for word, we had agreed that we wouldn’t let the difficult emotions in not being placed affect our ultimate happiness for the one who would become a mom first. We both acknowledged the pain it would cause, yet we understood that we had shared the journey and we planned to share the destination together, too.

And so I wrote her with a heavy and cautious, yet full and fulfilled heart, and hoped our promise would hold.

(Her wait would not last much longer. Our daughters are three weeks apart.)

And speaking of heavy hearts, that day, of course, was more to us than the start of our family. It was bittersweet in that we left the hospital with a child and another mother left without her child. The note below was written as a chronicle of our experiences those several days because I feared that, in time, they might fade from memory. (It has been edited to protect Maeve’s privacy.) Perhaps I wrote it then from Maeve’s viewpoint because I wanted to record the days’ events as simple and straightforward as my memory would allow. This is what came of those desires:

***

Dear ‘Aunt’ Maureen,

My mom has told me so much about you in the little time I have known her, so I thought I should introduce myself.

My name is Maeve, although my indecisive folks still don’t have a middle name for me. I was born three minutes after midnight Sunday — 12:03 a.m. July 24.

I was born 7 pounds, 0 ounces, and 20 inches long. Scored an 8 and 9 on the Apgar test. I look like the lightest of cocoa milk, mom says, with the deepest rose-colored lips that form a little puffy heart when I sleep.

I have soft, black, straight hair. It’s short, though, and seems to have a slight wave, so maybe it will be a little curly when it grows. I have good lungs and like to test them out every once in a while. But really it’s just for fun, because I get to watch mom and dad run around trying to make me as happy as can be.

I stayed in the hospital with my birth mom until Tuesday afternoon, when these two very, very nervous and frazzled people came to meet me. I was wheeled into the hospital nursery after spending quality time with my birth mom, who also would leave the hospital the same day as me. She was not yet sure if she wanted to meet my adoptive parents.

I know my mom will tell you some funny stories about how the nurses insisted she sit in a wheelchair to leave the hospital with me, or how she and dad had to pass muster of the “carseat nazi” (as she was introduced to them) before they could leave with me.

They lived the next very strange couple days in a hotel, just staring at me, feeding me (I eat a lot and very fast), and making sure I keep breathing. I initiated them very quickly in the how-to’s of diapering. I don’t think they’d thought about things like cleaning the umbilical cord area (gross, mom says) until I came along.

I snorted a lot. At first they were worried about it and kept looking it up in Baby 411, a book they received from my aunt, mom’s sister. I know mom would recommend it to you because when The Call comes, she says you’ll be surprised how much you suddenly have to look up “just to be sure.”

Thursday morning, mom woke up feeling sick and shaking, and had to keep herself from throwing up. I think it was because it was our last day in the hotel and if ever things could change for the three of us it would have to be that day — since my birth mom still might decide to parent me herself.

After all, mom had just spent days memorizing every inch of my body, including finding a tiny, light-colored birthmark on my back that eerily matches one on her own back.

(I think she might love me too much already.)

The phone in the hotel rang a lot. It was my mom’s parents, my dad’s parents, friends and other family wanting to hear about every little thing. Some even asked my folks to find a hotel e-mail account to send photos. Wow, it sure seems like there are lots of people waiting to meet me!

One phone call on Thursday came earlier than expected, which had my parents thinking it was to tell them they needed to bring me back. Instead, it was to say that my birth mom was on her way to sign the papers and that she had decided to meet them after all.

Upon hearing this, my mother had to keep from throwing up her insides. She was both scared and happy at the same time. (Boy, you adults sure are complicated!) I wish I could talk, so I could have told them there was nothing to be nervous about. I had just spent the last 10 or so months with her and she is a kind and gentle woman.)

In a strange city, they stopped at the best store they could find — a Barnes & Noble — to find a special photo album for my birth mom. They wanted to explain to her that it was symbolic of their promise to send her photos and letters very often — and that they planned on filling it for her.

Dad stayed with me in the car while mom looked around inside. She found a pretty, light green one with embroidered flowers made from tiny pastel ribbons. She liked it so much she bought two — one for my birth mom and one for me. That way, if my birth mom ever sends us anything, it will go right into my album and I will always know we each have the same book.

Mom nervously fidgeted at the register, unhappy with the gift-wrap choices. She didn’t seem to think anything was going to be good enough for the very important person she was about to meet. She chose the best they had while rambling something to the cashier about ‘meeting her daughter’s mother’ and ‘the store needed more options’. Her hands were shaking when she paid. (I think she might have scared the cashier.)

By now, all the paperwork was signed and my birth mom was waiting for us. I would definitely be going home with my new family today.

We arrived at the adoption agency. Mom was trying not to cry and dad was carrying me in the carseat carrier. He definitely was calmer than mom, who I am learning is very sentimental. I think this meeting was very special to her.

We entered a small white room with white wicker furniture and floral seat cushions. My birthmom stood up and shook my parents’ hands and hugged them both.

They sat and talked, at first idle chat, as they all watched me look beautiful (which, mom says, is evidently very easy for me to do) in my carrier, set on the floor between them.

Mom asked my birth mom if she wanted to hold me. She seemed surprised my mom would offer. “You wouldn’t mind?” she asked. “Of course not,” my mom said. My birth mom held me for a while and it was really nice.

Later, when it was time for me to eat (I do like my bottle every three hours, after all) mom and dad asked my birth mom if she would like to feed me. Again, she seemed surprised they’d asked, but said she’d love to.

She touched my face and looked at me a lot. I noticed mom and dad were watching intently too, because these were some very nice moments for all of us.

My birth mom gave me a stuffed puppy with floppy ears and soft fur. It sits in my room on a bookcase where I can always see it. She really seemed to like the photo album my parents gave her. She asked them if she could please send me Christmas and other cards. My parents said, “Yes! Please, please write anytime you want. You are always a part of her and we want her to know her story.”

My mom and dad learned that my birth mom chose them as my forever family because she really liked that my dad was adopted too. She said that as I grow up and have questions, dad would be a good person to help me.

She really must have thought hard about what she wanted for me. (Moms are like that, ya know.)

When it was time for everyone to go, my moms hugged and my new mom said, “Thank you soooo much” to my birth mom while trying to hold back tears. But it was too late for that, she was already a blubbering mess.

(My mom later said that “thank you” felt strange and empty because they were just words and hardly enough. She asked my dad how to adequately thank someone so strong and so brave for sharing their child with you.)

As they hugged, my birth mom said, “Oh, please don’t cry, I will cry too. And I was doing so well.” But she also started crying and they just held each other for the longest time.

Then mom and dad drove me to a place they called home. I met more family: a grandma and grandpa were waiting in the driveway, and soon my aunt, another grandma and grandpa, and a great-grandma arrived.

I also met a cousin! (I can’t believe I have a cousin!) He brought me a drawing with a note that says he loves me. He’s four. I know I just met him, but I really think I love him too.

Mom doesn’t put me down much, but dad says she’s had just about 10 hours sleep since Monday when they first learned about me, and she should rest. Sometimes when her “feeding shift” is over, she doesn’t wake dad. She says it’s so he can continue to sleep, but I think it’s also so she can stay with me. She runs her hands over my face, my hair, my toes. I think she still can’t believe I’m here. When she does finally sleep, she wakes up later worried it was all a dream.

My mom wants me to tell you, ‘Aunt’ Maureen, that she can’t wait for your phone to ring too so we can all celebrate together.

Please say hi to ‘Uncle’ Paul, who I hear is a really fun guy and is very tall — so I look forward to riding on his shoulders! (And don’t worry, I’ll share my dad’s shoulders with your new baby, too.)

We’ll all have so much fun.

Love, Maeve

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