One of the topics that seems most fascinating to our friends and family is that we had the amazing opportunity to meet our future son’s birth parents before his upcoming September birth. How was it? For both parties I can assure you it was equal parts terrifying and amazing.
P and I flew to Florida to meet Em and Ed at the beginning of June. We also used the weekend to try to familiarize ourselves with how things will go in September for the birth of the baby. There are so many unknowns with adoption, and life is further complicated by interstate adoption law, which can keep us alone in the state of Florida for a week or two after baby is born. We wanted to see with our own eyes in what hotel we would stay to make sure we could survive there with a newborn for a while. We also wanted to visit the hospital where Em will deliver. It was exciting to see all of these places, but nothing could have prepared me for the emotional afternoon of finally meeting Em and Ed.
The plan was to meet at the local Red Lobster for lunch and then travel together to Em’s doctor’s appointment to see an ultrasound of the baby boy growing in her belly. As P and I sat in the restaurant, I don’t think I have ever been so nervous. Poor P was as terrified as I was, but was trying to be so strong. One of the many, many reasons I love him. He’s my rock.
Because of traffic, the social worker arrived a few short minutes before the guests of honor, leaving us very little time to calm our nerves. The taxi pulled up and out stepped the people who will change our lives forever. I’m not overstating when I say that time stopped for a second. Em and Ed approached the restaurant carrying their one year old son, D. D took my breath away, and as I looked at him through the restaurant window, I imagined how this baby that Em is carrying would be. I felt like I was looking into a crystal ball and seeing the future with hope. This amazing couple chose us to be parents, and growing in her belly was our son.
I hugged Em when I saw her, and she hugged me back. Two women forever changed; two strangers who will forever be connected through the tiny life she so bravely and lovingly decided to carry to term. In case I haven’t made it clear enough, Em is my hero.
I asked Em nervously if this was the strangest first date she had ever been on. She responded yes. I then told her I didn’t know whether to cry or throw up. She joked that she had been so nervous all day that she threw up just before she got in the taxi and that she didn’t recommend it. That broke the ice, and I immediately loved her for making a joke when we all so needed to laugh.
I was fully aware of the weight of this meeting. Much like I did on my wedding day, I tried to mentally record every sentence and every nuance of our hours together. This time we had with Em and Ed is something I want to share with our son someday. I was so emotional, I only ate a bite of my sandwich and spent the rest of the time reveling in the excitement of this new relationship-one of the most important relationships I will ever have in my life.
The conversation started out light. Ed is such an open and outgoing personality that he put us all at ease. He is funny and light-hearted, and he adores his son, D. The social worker guided the conversation in order for us to learn about the interests and talents that they have, so we can share that with the baby in the future.
I should stop here to say that this is a semi-open adoption. We will share letters and pictures throughout the life of this baby via the agency, and Em and Ed’s identifying information will be shared with him when he is 18 if he wants it. Em, Ed, P and I also discussed our openness to meet as the baby and their son,D, grow up so that the brothers can know each other if they wish. Open adoption is the healthiest choice for all parties, and we are so happy to say that Em and Ed are people that we are happy to take this journey with.
As we continued, we discussed the hospital plan, where Em invited me to be her plus one in the delivery room. Because she is having a c-section, she can only have one person with her. When I asked Ed if he was okay with that, he generously responded, “I saw the birth of my son. You should see the birth of yours.”
My heart leapt, and I felt the tears well up in my eyes. It really took all I had to keep it together. Because this day was an unquestionably defining day in my life, and I didn’t want to cry through it. Dear friends, you know I am a crier.
Next came the topic of naming the baby. In adoption, the birth family has the right to put whatever name they want on the birth certificate. When the adoption is finalized a few months after placement, the first birth certificate is sealed and a new one is issued. On this second certificate, the adoptive family is listed as the parents and a new given name of the adoptive parents’ choosing is listed for the baby. When Em and Ed were asked if they had thoughts about naming the baby, they said that they were happy to let us name him from the beginning of his life. They were excited to hear our choice of name for the little one, and they loved it. We will share that with you down the road-I promise. From now on with Em and Ed, we refer to the baby by his name, and that brings us all such joy.
After a 2 hour lunch, we all felt much more relaxed. P and I got to hold their son D and play with him. He was simply adorable and such a happy baby. Em and Ed have raised him so well. As we were leaving the restaurant, we took lots of photos together for our memory albums. We will keep one in the baby’s room so he can always know that he has a first and second family who love him very much.
After photos, we all made our way to the doctor’s office. After a bit of a wait, we were told that Em was not due for an ultrasound today. She wouldn’t accept that. She was so amazing and determined! She told the doctor that the adoptive family was here and that we couldn’t return until the birth because P had to return to Europe for ankle surgery and would be in a cast for weeks. (All true!) She begged and begged him. He finally melted and said yes. We all exhaled.
I sat next to Em and held her hand. P and Ed stood in the doorway with little D with watch because the small room was at capacity. All of the sudden, we heard a heartbeat. We all eagerly looked to the screen. I heard P say, “There’s something there!” After so many disappointingly empty and unfruitful ultrasounds in our past, we were finally witnessing our son wiggling and dancing for us in Em’s big, beautiful belly! I kissed her head and said thank you with tears in my eyes. She smiled at me from ear to ear. I was shocked and elated. P looked giddy. Just like that, the ultrasound was over.
I think we all have an idea of what it will be like to see our baby on an ultrasound for the first time when we decide to start a family, and I guarantee you that you never pictured it to look like this. For all of us, it was perfect. Em and Ed found loving parents for their unplanned baby, and P and I found Em and Ed, the most open hearted and loving first family we could hope for for our soon-to-be son. It was a moment in time that I know we will all remember forever, and it brought us all much needed peace.
When we left the doctor’s office to say our goodbyes, we had a hard time leaving. We wanted to stay with them and the baby, but we had to go. The day went so quickly. We took more photos, hugged goodbye, and then P and I left for the airport to fly across the country.
As soon as P and I got to the airport, we ordered a much needed drink and wrote down absolutely everything we could remember the day and about Em and Ed; their talents and dreams, their kindness and generosity, our impressions and experience. We didn’t want to forget the details. One day, when the baby isn’t a baby anymore and he asks us about his first family, we want to be able to tell him everything about this special time we had together preparing for his arrival. We feel also very lucky that if there are questions we cannot answer for him, that we can ask his first family directly. That is the beauty of open adoption.
We are still pinching ourselves. This match couldn’t be better, and we simply adore this family. There really are not words to describe the emotional enormity of a meeting like this- how the doors to your heart just fly open and nothing seems the same again. I am grateful every single day to them, and I will remain grateful to them every single day for the rest of my years.
He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood. ~desha wood