Our adoption attorney said to me, “You’ve got such a great positive attitude! I’m really impressed." “You should see me sobbing when I’m not on the phone with you,” I laughed. Then I thought, God, if she thinks I have a positive attitude, who are the other adoptive parents she’s working with?
But I was trying. I was trying not to cry all day; I was trying not to worry every second; I was trying to distract myself for more than four minutes at a time. I was trying a lot. And frankly it was all very trying.
The fact was that in twenty days our child was due to be born. We had been matched up with Clara, the birth mother, three-and-a-half months earlier. And throughout that time it had been a rollercoaster of emotions, mostly positive. But three weeks earlier we started having some issues.
Our weekly calls, scheduled for Wednesday mornings, were going unanswered. Despite our agreement that this time was convenient for all, Clara wasn’t answering. Initially my response was to call repeatedly on Wednesday, and then try again on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. But by week two, I realized I was borderline stalking her. So I backed off. But I wanted to continue calling on Wednesdays, to prove to her that we were reliable and followed through with our promises.
Working with Clara those few months had been a bit of a tightrope. My husband and I felt like we were in a four-month job interview, always trying to “sell” ourselves. This assessment was no reflection on Clara. It was more our desperation to reassure her that she chose us for the right reasons to adopt her child. Even though we both openly chose each other, and our first few phone conversations we both talked a lot about fate, that doesn’t change the fact that regardless of how much we feel this is our child, Clara could at any point decide to parent the child herself or find another family to adopt them. Forget the fat lady, it ain’t over until the baby’s born and the adoption papers are signed.
To say this had been an eye-opening learning experience for us is an understatement to match all understatements. Never before had I lived so much in the moment. Never before had I prayed so hard, not just for “our baby” but for patience and understanding and acceptance. Acceptance is a big part of this whole adoption process. You have to just accept that you have no bearing on the final outcome. You’ve made your wishes known, we’d like to adopt this child, but fate, God or the powers that be will ultimately decide where this child is supposed to go.
That was, by far, the most difficult part for me. Giving up all control. Even to Clara. She had far more control throughout this whole process than we did. We certainly weren’t going to coerce or cajole or manipulate her into choosing us. We wanted an open adoption; we wanted to maintain some form of contact with Clara throughout this child’s life. Primarily, I wanted to be able to look into my child’s eyes and tell them with an open heart that both their parents and their birth mother decided together that this adoption was the best for them.
In the end, our budding concerns were valid. My husband and I flew out to California within a week of the scheduled due date and remained there for three weeks waiting. We had awkward dinners with Clara; she ignored most of our attempts to meet up; we had one ugly scene where I burst into tears feeling so helpless and hopeless and she announced, “Well, maybe I don’t want to adopt to you after all!” Things were spiraling down quickly, but we had to see it through to the end.
Then, one night at dinner we got a text, I have a daughter. What did that mean? Did she have a sonogram? Did she give birth? I spent the next hour texting back and forth just trying to find out the details. When she stopped responding, we starting calling the hospitals. The original plan had been for us to be there for the birth, but now we had no idea what was going on. We were finally able to confirm she was at the hospital and had given birth. Was she keeping the baby? We still had no idea
It took another 24 hours of us not breathing, not sleeping, feeling sick to our stomachs with fear with dread, but finally she admitted to the social worker that she was not going through with the adoption. To say we were devastated doesn’t do it justice. But in hindsight, we’d been preparing for this for almost two months. As the birth mother she had every right to change her mind, this was her child, we just wish she’d been able to be honest with us.
As heartbreaking as it was, in hindsight, we needed to be there in California, getting rejected and feeling despair, so we’d be in place for our real daughter’s birth three weeks later in Texas following a destiny-can-only-explain-it, last-minute adoption match-up. Fate certainly has a funny way of putting you in place for your life to happen, and sometimes it can be a painful journey. But in the end, it was all meant to be and our daughter is the love of our lives and we will forever be grateful to her birth mother, who answered all of our prayers; especially for acceptance.