A couple posts back, Cristy at Birthmomtalks said she would like to read about an insecurities or doubts we had about adoption (specifically open adoption) and placement. I sat down with my husband tonight, and Steve and I talked about it. I wanted his input, too.
When we made the decision to adopt, we were very set in our decision, but we were at the point where we just knew that was the right direction for us. Before that, though, we had a lot of concerns – How would it work? How would we pay for it? What could we expect?
After we met with our agency (as well as one other one), we were concerned about the uncertainty of it all – the length of time involved with waiting, in particular. After signing with our agency, we had some worries when our agency started to have some issues with finances and had smaller numbers of adoptive families and expectant parents coming in to discuss adoption. (Luckily things improved over the months afterward. We did have to pay some additional fees, but it could have been quite a bit more.)
Leading up to meeting our daughter’s birthmom and her birthgrandma, we had worries – Would she like us? Would she meet us and continue with the match? Would our first meeting go well? We were SO nervous – like hands shaking, palms sweaty kind of nervousness! I made her a scrapbook of pictures of us with our families and our friends, and we hoped she would like it. We hoped she would continue to go through with her plan for adoption. She seemed confident in her decision and that reassured us. We really liked her and her mom and we all got along well.
In the months leading up to Zoe’s birth, we got to know her birthmom, Z, mainly through emails, but also through phone calls and a couple visits. She had allowed me to go with her to a doctor appointment (and hear Zoe’s heartbeat!) and to go to a pre-natal class. Those things definitely helped make it feel more real. We hoped she would still decide to place Zoe with us. We hoped the baby would be healthy. We hoped Z would be okay – we worried about her and how she would be after Zoe was born (not only in the hospital but in the days/weeks/months afterwards.) By the way, we did not know Zoe was a girl at that point. That was a surprise on the day she was born.
At one point, Z asked me to be in the delivery room with her and her mom. I was thrilled and so excited but a few weeks prior to the birth, she changed her mind. I worried about it. What did it mean? But I tried to put myself in her shoes and think about her feelings – it was her choice and her decision, and it was important for her to do what felt right to her. Yes, I was sad, but it was not about me.
Just a couple days before the baby’s due date, we got the call that Z was in the hospital. At that point we were just praying that she and the baby were okay. We got the message on our voicemail while we were at work. We had no way of getting a hold of her caseworker – it was after hours. We left a message but did not hear back that evening. We anxiously waited all night – not sure if we slept at all – and got a call in the morning that Zoe had been born. Z and her baby were doing well.
Driving to the hospital that afternoon was exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. We got to spend time with Zoe in the nursery. We were SO happy and it was such a surreal feeling – to be there and to be holding a little, beautiful, and amazing baby that might be coming home with us…we were in love, that is for sure. We were grateful that Z allowed us to be there and have time with Zoe. Z wanted to see us before we left for the day. She was in her room and was holding Zoe. We were happy, sad, emotional, anxious, nervous – we were all dealing with so many emotions and it was hard. We had a hard time talking through the tears. We thanked her for letting us be there. We told her how beautiful Zoe was. We gave her a letter we had written and flowers. We told her we loved her and said our goodbyes for the night. We ran into her mom in the hallway and we all hugged and cried even more.
That night was full of so much – phone calls to family and friends, emails, Facebook messages, even a phone call at midnight from my boss who thought her call would just go to my voicemail – it was just surreal. We were worried about what would happen the next day but exhausted. We hoped Z was doing as best she could back at the hospital.
The day we brought Zoe home, we did not get to see Z or her family. They had already left the hospital by the time we were asked to be there. We hoped that she was okay. We brought Zoe home that afternoon.
We hoped that all would go well until Z was able to sign the TPR, termination of parental rights, in court. We had 30 days to wait. We were in contact with her, mainly through email at that point. We were amazed when she emailed us the day after Zoe came home and sent us pictures she and her family had taken of themselves with Zoe at the hospital. They are such special pictures and something we will treasure always. We could not get over the strength that Z showed.
Over those 30 days, we were busy being new parents. We were aware that we had to wait for the TPR to be signed and that Z could decide to parent, but we focused on taking care of Zoe. We kept in touch with Z, and she did not give us any reason to think she might decide not to place her with us.
As far as open adoption is concerned, before we met Z and her family, one of our worries was what happens if you choose to be open and then circumstances change? What happens if one or both of the birthparents gets involved with something that would be harmful to the child? How would that impact the family/the birthparents/the child?
After meeting Z and her mom at that first meeting and getting to know her over the months leading up to Zoe’s birth, we were not really worried. We got along well. She was so nice, and we could picture having a good relationship with her and her family. With Zoe’s birthfather, we know his name and a little bit about him (from the adoption agency paperwork and from Z.) We have never met him or had contact with him. We wonder if we will have the opportunity to have contact at some point.
We are so incredibly happy that we have an open adoption. Sure in the beginning we were a bundle of nerves during our first visits! It was hard. We wanted Z to know how much we loved Zoe, and we wanted her to be happy that she chose us. We all got to know each other better with each visit. I think we all feel much more comfortable now.
What is hard for us right now is that Zoe’s birthmom just moved out of state for college. We miss her so much. It is not going to be anywhere near as easy to see each other for visits. We are sad about that. Of course, we will still do whatever we can to make sure we stay in contact, and we are hoping that we get to see her soon. We are sad that Zoe will not get to see her as often as she had been seeing her, but we understand. We want her to follow her dreams and do what feels best to her. It is just hard some days because we miss her.
Even though the adoption process is hard and can be stressful, we are so glad we were able to adopt and start our family. We are so grateful that open adoption exists, and that Zoe is always going to know her birthmom. She can get answers to questions she might have as she grows up and have a special relationship with her. Most importantly, Zoe knows she is loved so much by everyone involved.