During National Adoption Awareness Month, I will introduce you to numerous guest bloggers, highlighting many parts of the adoption journey. This rounds out One Woman’s Personal Adoption Story, written by RG Adoption Consulting’s, Rachel Patten. If you did not read Parts 1 & 2, I encourage you do to that first – you don’t want to spoil a good cliffhanger by jumping right to the end. And trust me, it’s a great story.
By Rachel Patten
…before I left, I told her we loved her and this baby girl so much.
I met my husband in the waiting area where we sat and waited, waited to hear, I feared, that once again our hopes and dreams had been broken.I received a phone call from the director of the agency and she told me the birth mother was struggling and didn’t think she could move forward.
I broke into tears, I couldn’t believe I had let my guard down once again only to end up empty-handed.
She had said she would like to discharge with the baby and sleep on her decision, then possibly sign tomorrow. I had heard those words before, and I knew if she left the hospital with the baby, that the adoption was over. I was told to sit tight and wait for a call to let us know if we should head back to our hotel.
We sat and we sat for what seemed like hours. I truly have no concept of how much time passed. All the memories and feelings of our previous failed adoption came flooding back. My husband sat beside me and held my hand; he was choking back the tears, trying to comfort me. I can only imagine what he was thinking, the man who fell in love with this baby girl upon first sight.
The phone rang and I just couldn’t. I knew I needed to answer and just rip the Band-Aid off but I couldn’t stand to hear the words. What sounded even worse was listening to a voicemail, hard proof of our loss. I answered the phone on what was likely the last ring.
A woman started talking on the other end of the line and it took me some time to register who it was. It was her sweet aunt that we met the night before the delivery. She told me how much she loved us and how the birth mom had really struggled with this decision.
I can’t remember much, but I do remember her congratulating us. That’s when “the ugly cry” came.
We were told to go into her room; I tried to fix myself up as much as possible. With swollen eyes and red noses, we made our way in, the room was quite full. She was actively signing paperwork with the social worker and hospital, which was a bit awkward. Her sister and kids were also there and we made small talk with them while things were wrapped up. She seemed good. I can only imagine what she had been through in the last several hours, but she seemed solid. She was not teary; she was a little quieter, a little shorter and was anxious to discharge.
Three Hearts – Birthmom, Adoptive Parents, Baby
The pediatrician came in just after signing to talk with us. Our daughter would need to stay another night in the hospital for an echocardiogram. She had a heart murmur they felt was severe enough for further observation.
The birth mom loved her baby up fiercely before she left. She asked if she could come back the next day to see her. I knew it was going to make it so much harder for her if she came back, harder for us as well, but my answer, of course, was yes. I loved this woman with all of my heart and the sacrifice she had just made for us, for her daughter, I would forever be indebted to her.
The next morning, we headed back to the hospital early for the echo. Turns out, her murmur was so faint she didn’t need it afterall. We were discharged on Christmas Eve, truly a Christmas miracle!
I believe with all of my heart that we were meant to have this baby girl, that due to a much bigger plan, her murmur was the reason she became our daughter.
I called the birth mother to let her know we would be discharged soon, and she came to say her goodbyes. As hard as signing day was, once again saying goodbye was the most difficult. She wanted to leave the hospital with us. She stared at her sweet baby girl with loving sad eyes. I gave her a huge hug and told her how much we loved her and to check in any time.
What happened next will never leave my memory; my heart shattered into a million pieces when she fell to her knees wailing.
I didn’t know whether to scoop her up or go away, I had no clue what would be most helpful, and tears poured from my eyes. Her sister waived us away and went to comfort and help her up; we walked to our car full of guilt, not happiness.
We received a message that night thanking us for being so kind and apologizing for her emotions. Of course, I told her no apology was necessary! She said she knew we would take care of her and love her fiercely to which I assured her was 100% true. We fell in love with her all over again as we snuggled her with no one around. Her sounds, beautiful hair, elfish ears, sweet smell and beautiful smirk- our baby girl.
Introducing Harper to his baby sister was adorable; he took to her right away. She was quickly absorbed into the family and as the onlygranddaughter on my husband’s side, it was fun to watch the adoration from all around her. I had checked in on Christmas Day and sent a sweet message to her birth mother but received no reply. While this was completely understandable, I wanted to let her know that we were still thinking of her and that Nova was truly the best gift we could ever receive.
The Story Doesn’t End There
Nearly a week after adopting our daughter, Nova, I received a call from the director of the adoption agency. She was calm but asked if I was sitting down.
My stomach immediately sunk.
I was by myself running an errand and was in the car parked. She asked if I wanted her to talk to me like an adoptive mom or an employee. That was when I knew it was bad. I told her I wanted to know everything.
She informed me that the birth mother had faxed over a revocation of consent from the hospital. In the document, she stated that she felt she had signed under pressure or duress. She had signed due to the fact that we had been too kind to her and her children, and she felt she had to proceed with the adoption.
I was shocked, I truly felt that the adoption wasn’t going to happen and when it actually did, I was in awe. This was just unbelievable to me. At any point, I would have understood her deciding to parent, but this was just too much for me. I worked in adoption so I understood the grieving process and what that looked like, which was clearly what she was experiencing, especially during Christmas time. Sure, we had bought her coffee and breakfast, but nothing that would have influenced her decision to place. All we had wanted was what was best for this baby girl, no matter what that end result was.
I had protected my heart for so long. I had waited to give my love fully, and finally, when I had, this happened. I knew with clarity that I had not pressured or put her under duress. I was sick at the thought that she would say that. I decided to call her.
I wanted to talk with her mother to mother. I wanted her to know I had heard the allegations and I was appalled. She answered and was quiet and cold. I told her I had received the fax and was shocked. I told her I knew she had made this decision with a sound mind and that I felt the allegations were false, she did not deny it. I said that I knew she was grieving and I respected and understood that. I said I wasn’t mad and I loved her regardless, but I truly felt this little girl was meant to be with us.
I didn’t have the money to hire an attorney, but I told her that we were prepared to fight this. We felt she had revoked her consent due to grieving and post-partum, not because she truly felt she had been pressured. I made sure she knew I loved her and her aching heart, but if she chose to hire an attorney she would make this an adversarial relationship and I would no longer be able to continue our open adoption.
She needed to know.
We hung up and I had no idea how things would fall. For weeks I waited for that call or letter in the mail that said our adoption had been contested. My heart wanted to love this sweet girl fully, but I wasn’t sure if I should once again protect it with the possibility of losing her. I chose to love her fully, whatever may happen.
The first month went by and nothing had happened. I decided to act as though it had never happened and proceed as I’d always hoped our relationship would go. I texted her, checking in and asked if it was okay to send her the first month of pictures as I had promised. She responded right away and said absolutely.
We never spoke of the “incident” again. Things took a little bit to get back where we had left them at the hospital, but it happened and once again our relationship grew. As we approached our finalization date, I got a bit nervous about the possibility of something popping up last minute. I had to remind myself to breathe often. I knew no matter what happened we would get through it, but honestly, I wasn’t sure how much more I could handle.
Finalization came and went without issues (well besides us being seriously late). Finally, this baby girl that we had wanted for so very long, that we had fought so hard for, that we had dreamed of, was ours. We were officially a family of four!
The older they get, the less I’m bothered by talking with other moms about the birth of their children, their experiences breastfeeding or questions I get about my kids. I’m still asked where I got my kids from and they still get their hair felt, but it doesn’t bother me. I feel like it’s my duty as an adoptive parent to help educate and do it kindly. Some people know nothing outside of their race and if my family is their only exposure, then I sure as hell better make it a positive experience if at all possible. My children are my everything and no, I don’t view them differently than I would a child born to me. However, I know that they are different and we celebrate those differences, we do not ignore them. But just for the record (or for people that are curious about how they may feel about an adopted child), no I could not have loved a child born to me any more than I do my children.
From the second I held my babies, they had my whole heart; I didn’t have anything more that I could have ever given.
Rachel is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker that has worked in adoption for the last fifteen years. She recently joined the RG Adoption Consulting team as a consultant. For her full bio click here.