Sunday morning, April 1, Carey and I “woke” to go to the hospital to meet the kid, his birthmother and birthgrandmother, and Tina, our social worker. I didn’t really wake up because that would require first falling asleep. Even though we were exhausted from all our travels, I lay awake a good portion of the night. Still, I was so thankful for an extra night before meeting the birth family and baby. I was a mess in the airport the previous day. I think I felt more overwhelmed than Carey did by the possibility of being parents in less than twenty-four hours. I vacillated, worried, and simply freaked out several times. My lack of preparedness was slapping me in the face. What little rest we did get on Saturday night energized us just enough to engage in conversation as moderately normal adults. We showered, dressed, packed some photo books we made of ourselves, and grabbed the one item we owned for a baby: the stuffed monkey Carey bought in Costa Rica we named, Señor Mono.
We drove to ShaadZee Bakery, bought breakfast pastries for everyone we were about to meet, and then headed to the hospital. As we sat in the parking structure, we said a brief prayer, thanking God for this opportunity and asking for a clear sense of whether we should go through with the adoption. While we were in Costa Rica, we agreed that if we were going to adopt this child, we had to be on the same page — we gave each other veto power if something did not feel right. We decided to leave Señor Mono in the car because we did not want to communicate that we would be adopting if we truly were not. It would have been too painful to look at that monkey if we brought him in thinking we would give him to our child, but in the end did not actually adopt that boy.
Since Carey works in the Labor and Delivery unit at Kaiser Walnut Creek, she is especially familiar with the hospital and she led us up to the Mother/Baby unit. Tina met us in the hallway and brought us into the room. There we met the birthmother on the hospital bed, recovering from her C-section, with her mother, grandmother, and aunt surrounding her. A hockey game — Peguins vs. Flyers — played on the television, though no one paid any real attention to it. I forgot to mention in my last post that in her great wisdom, Tina recommended one of us speak with the birth family on Saturday. Carey called them while we were at the airport, breaking the ice. When we entered the room, we already had a foothold of relationship, however small, to begin this journey.
Everyone acted cordially as we introduced ourselves to each other. A palpable nervousness hung in the room. We were all wondering if Carey and I would adopt the child or not. The birth family questioned whether we were safe, if we would include them in the child’s life, if the baby would know them. They did not know much about open adoption, which gave us the opportunity to talk about why we chose this route. We want our child to know where they come from and how they were placed for adoption as an act of great love. In our reading about open adoption we have become convinced that this process is very healthy for the child, the adoptive parents, and the birth family. The child will always know why he or she was placed for adoption. They will know who they look like. The adoptive parents will be able to answer the many normal questions adopted children ask. Birth families know that their kids are safe and loved.
We showed the birth family some photo books that we had made, giving them a better sense of who we are. They passed them around and looked at pictures of our lives the past few years. We asked the birthmom why she chose us and she said when she saw our profile she sensed we were close, that we would be together a long time, and she liked that we go on adventures. The family reiterated that she made the choice by herself, but they all supported it.
After some time together, the birthmom solidified her decision for us to adopt the baby by looking at her family and declaring, “Yup, they’re good.” She then asked for the baby to be brought in. A few moments later the birthgrandma wheeled into the room a beautiful, healthy, redheaded boy. We were immediately gobsmacked. The birthmom invited us to pick him up. It was an act of amazing generosity, a tiny gesture symbolic of her magnificent gift to us. We continued to speak, answering questions. We explained in clear detail that we are Christians and will raise our children in the faith and will love and accept them even if they choose to walk away from that faith at a later time. Carey also gave some disclaimers that she worked for Kaiser and previously knew the birthmom’s story having consulted with her colleague about the birthmom’s care, but Carey made it clear that she never saw her chart. The birth family said that when they showed our profile to the hospital social worker, she said, “I know them and can’t say anymore,” so as to not influence the decision. They quickly deduced that Carey must work there. This is the social worker who first recommended the Independent Adoption Center (IAC) to us so many months ago. Once again we sensed God at work or play, take your pick. Not only did the birthmom deliver where Carey works, she also spoke with the one social worker in the hospital that knew our agency and could recommend it. Of all the social workers to be on call, she was on duty. Of all the agencies to recommend, she referred them to the IAC. Of all the families the birthmom could choose from the IAC, she picked us.
We excused ourselves with Tina and the birthgrandma so that we could give the birthmom some space. The hospital moved us into the nurses’ office where we conversed for a few more minutes. The birthgrandma left us to talk alone. Tina asked us what we were thinking. As we held the boy who would soon be our son, we looked at each other and without needing to discuss anything further, we agreed to adopt him. I remember the growing peace I felt as we spoke with the birth family, which is a great surprise considering how stressed I was the day before, how little sleep I had the past two nights, and how awkward I usually feel meeting strangers. But I had a prayerful sense that this boy we were holding was in fact our son — the child who we had prayed for and desired. We knew when we met him that he was the one we wanted.
After saying yes to Tina, we took our first pictures of our son who still had the name his birthmom had given him. We sent this picture to our parents with the message: “Say hello to your grandson.”