As the hubs and I cruised up I5, on Friday I had a sudden revelation.
“Hey, how many times have we made this drive, headed north, in our attempts to…how would you say it…”
“Build a family?
“Yeah. How many, do you suppose?”
We pondered it for a bit, mulling over the bittersweet memories that were surfacing. A lot of driving north full of hope, a LOT of times. First there were the many, many trips to Portland for the IUIs that did not work, and never could have worked. Then the trips to the top fertility clinic in the NW for IVF, so many trips that even if we sat down and intentionally tried to count them, we still couldn’t. Then the embryo transfers, second, third, and fourth, each time sent home with reassurances that our embryos were A++ and we should go home thinking optimistically. The miscarriages that required us to make the trip north to resolve it, even in our grief. The consultation last spring where we learned an egg donor was our only option for getting pregnant again. The interviews of three more fertility clinics, then a fourth in Washington. Next were the drives up to the adoption classes after we decided genetics didn’t matter to us but parenting did. And finally, this long awaited drive north to meet our expectant mother.
It was a gorgeous day Friday, somewhat uncharacteristic for mid-April in Oregon. The straight shot up the freeway offered us a crystal clear view of Mt. Hood to the east much of the way. We held hands off and on during the drive up; we were well of what the other was feeling, and we rejoiced in our special connection where words don’t really need to be spoken in order to convey our emotions to each other.
We joked a lot on the drive about what not to say or do. For example, the hubs best piece of advice to me was not to bum rush our expectant mother, cradle her stomach, and whisper creepily, “My baby, my baby,” upon first meeting her. Wise words. My recommendation for the hubs was to go into the meeting viewing it from the perspective of our emom,* in order to help filter out any dialogue that might make her sad or give her cause to wonder if she chose the right couple. Questions to avoid might include, “So, you’ve placed a baby for adoption before? How did that go?”
When we arrived at the meeting place, our adoption coordinator was waiting for us on a bench outside. A few minutes later, our emom arrived, and my heart felt like it was about to pound out of my chest and fall to the ground at her feet. We needn’t have worried, Carrie** proved to be very friendly, outgoing, and open about her life. We were seated quickly at the restaurant, and there were no awkward silences or need to scramble for conversation topics. Our chat was very natural and flowing, and we talked for an hour before ordering, simply because we were so excited to learn about each other! Carrie is the type of person I could easily be friends with, even outside of an adoption scenario. We share many of the same interests and hobbies. The conversation revealed a woman with integrity, determination, goals, and courage. The topic of adoption or even the baby itself did not really occur until the last 15 minutes of our 2 hour and 30 minute meeting, after our adoption coordinator redirected all of us back to the issue at hand. We learned that she would love to have the hubs and I in the waiting room as soon as she went into labor, but that she did not want any company in the delivery room. That was a bit disappointing, because I was really hoping she would invite me in to witness the birth. I would love to be in the room and be a support for her, and I could also witness my son*** being born. I did not have a labor experience with E, straight to emergency C-section, so to witness my second child being born would be a miraculous experience for me. The hubs got to see the whole C-section so I think he’s good for the rest of his life regarding babies making their way into this world. The truth is, my needs and desires around that issue are not top priority, or actually any priority. The woman in labor calls the shots, and that is how it should be!
We also learned that her doctors believe they calculated her due date wrong and she is actually two weeks further along than they previously thought. Also, she has a number of risk factors for a preterm birth (37-39 weeks) one of those being that after her last pregnancy the doctors told her never to get pregnant again because it would be dangerous to her body. Also, at her ultrasound this week, the doctor estimated that the baby weighed nearly five pounds, much bigger than a baby would be at 32 weeks. So this week I’m going to pack our “go bags” and install the infant child seat in the car. That’s probably a little hasty, but I feel like it’s a reasonable amount of paranoia for someone who gave birth to their baby three weeks early, with zero warning (that would be me.)
We are going to meet again this week, and her mother will be joining us. She and Carrie are very close, and while she supports her daughter’s decision, it’s very important to her to meet, and to approve, the couple that will be adopting her grandson. If circumstances were different, she really wanted another grandchild (this is Carrie’s sixth baby). But circumstances are what they are, and as far as I’m concerned, a child can never have too many people that love them, including grandmas! We plan to let her mother know that we have no intention of shutting her out, we will share pictures and letters and probably even make an occasional visit. When we began exploring adoption, the idea of maintaining contact with birth parents or other biological family members seemed terrifying and I wanted no part of it. Over the past several months I’ve learned so much about adoption, and the way it works best is when there is no “mystery” about the birth family. Research has proven that kids who know their genetic history right off the bat are much more secure with their identity, part of which is being adopted. That doesn’t mean co-parenting with the birth parents or staying in constant contact all the time. It really just means that all the parties (adoptive parents, birth parents, child) are aware of each other, and the birth mother doesn’t spend her life wondering how her baby is doing. And the baby doesn’t grow up wondering why they were placed for adoption, and having no idea how to create a genetic-based family tree in high school biology class. It’s a win-win for everyone, most of all the child. As it should be.
The next meeting should be sometime this week, and I’m confident it will go just as well as the previous one. Everything is moving along exactly the way it is supposed to, on track to a successful adoption. However, the hubs and I continue to proceed with cautious optimism rather than outright excitement. Adoption is a tricky business, one that we have absolutely no control over. We are both just trusting that God is on the job. When we put our trust in Him, we know that things will work out the way they are intended to, even if it doesn’t turn out the way we want.
We should know much more tomorrow, and even more after the next meeting! Please keep checking back in, because things are going to be happening quickly and we may have changes or updates every day to report!
*emom: adoption jargon for “expectant mother,” a term considerable much more appropriate than “birth mother” until the baby is actually born.
**not her real name, changed to protect privacy
***for the sake of simplicity, I have chosen to refer to the baby on the way as my son, although this is technically not true until the baby is born and the papers are signed 24 hours later.