It’s October 13, 2010 and I’m driving over the Lions Gate Bridge. My cell phone rings and the display shows that it’s the adoption agency. Mid-span on the bridge, it’s impossible to pull over but this is “the call”. I answer.
Just off the bridge, I’m able to pull to one side – the driving equivalent of needing to sit down. I’m told that a woman who is placing her baby up for adoption has chosen me. I’m excited. Stunned. Terrified. Abruptly, the strip has shown blue and I’m pregnant. Due in three months.
My adoption path started a year earlier and at the time it felt as though it would take forever, if it happened at all. I was single when I began the process and single women are not always at the top of the list for birth parents. In fact, in early discussions with my adoption agency I was told I would never be selected by a BC woman for adoption of a newborn – in fact they hadn’t matched a single woman with a birth mom in well over ten years. I was okay with this as I had never really experienced “baby fever”. I’d be great with an older child – but hopefully a child young enough that we’d still experience some of those early milestones together.
I decided to also consider international adoption. I could choose between four countries that had programs for single women. It was incredibly difficult to choose between a few countries to which I didn’t have any connection. I finally decided on Thailand after a wonderful visit. Putting together a package of adoption records is no small feat and it took several months to complete. Bad news: Thailand was closing its adoption program for two years! I couldn’t wait – I was feeling the pressure of getting older and worried that I might be too old to be a parent.
I soon found myself communicating with an adoption agency in Florida. It was a startling conversation. They had just started working with Canada and thought I was a great candidate. In fact, they confirmed they would likely be able to match me with a newborn within six months.
Adopting is exciting, heart-warming, and miraculous. It is sad, heartbreaking, and scary. While I was anticipating becoming a mom, another woman was grappling with the decision to give her child to a stranger. I found that aspect of adoption difficult and still do.
My relationship with my son’s birth mom began shortly after that initial call from the agency as we got to know each other via text and phone calls. I can’t express how strange and surreal it was to chat with someone who was considering allowing me to raise her child as my own. Every time I saw a text or phone call from her my heart sped up and I found it hard to breathe. I wanted her to like me, trust me, and believe that I would be a great mother to her child. I was scared she would change her mind.
As the baby’s arrival date got closer I tried to protect myself in case she changed her mind. I didn’t buy anything to prepare for the baby’s arrival – no cute onesies or sturdy strollers. When the time finally came, I chose my baby’s name – an incredible gift. My son’s birth mom never wavered or seemed unsure of her decision. I’ve often wondered if that was for my benefit when in private she was struggling. She always referred to him as “your son”.
On January 23rd I flew to Florida in anticipation of a delivery date and the next day at 3:45pm a sweet baby boy was born. My baby boy. I spent the day in a delivery room with a woman I had never met face-to-face and she insisted that I be the first person to hold our son. Leo’s birth mom never held him or saw him again. She was determined that he was my son and was scared it would be too emotional for her.
Forty-eight hours after giving birth, his birth mom signed away her legal rights and left the hospital. While I felt such joy and love for this stranger, I also felt her pain and loss. The birth of a child invokes so many different emotions – all of them intense, and in this case, complicated. We had to stay in Florida for twenty-one days before Leo and I could come home. Those weeks were the hardest I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know what it’s like to carry your own child, go through child-birth, then hold that child, but I can imagine that my journey was equally challenging and rewarding. I didn’t expect to feel such fear, guilt, confusion, love or joy. All at once!
Our birth mom did a really really hard thing. Our story is not over – we continue to have an open relationship with her. We share pictures, stories, phone calls and hopefully will have a visit soon. I’m always watching or listening for her pain but I think she believes she made the right decision for our son and for herself. She freely tells me she loves me and that I am her angel – I feel the same about her. When I meet other birth moms, I want to hug them and cry with them. I want to thank them for all the adoptive moms who received their gift.
Our family has expanded because of this baby, who is now a little boy. My husband and I will do our best to make sure he understands where he came from and that he came from love. So much love!
I’m a proud mom.