Adoption - Bittersweet Tribulations
I began these postings after losing my son. The further you read this the more controversial you may find that statement, but that is what happened. In the beginning, I had to keep posts vague for legal reasons, and for a time after that loss the only one in the world who mattered to me was him, so he was the only one I wanted to write to. However, with the passage of time as happens to all of us who grieve if we survive the process, some color and meaning has returned to my world. I feel it is important to talk about because I think what happened to me happens pretty often, or something similar, and society has a void where norms and customs and platitudes for such a loss should be. As my sister said, Hallmark does not have a card for this. My husband and I may never be able to have children. For a couple of years after we married I wasn't even sure I wanted to. Once I realized I did, and he agreed, we began that long, paperwork filled, stressful, privacy violating up and down roller coaster process of adoption. We started along the usual routes, local children's homes and state care. Then we got a call from a friend, who had someone who was close to her who had an unwanted pregnancy. She is a good friend, and we were both a little hesitant at first to go further, in case something happened that could jeopardize our friendship, but she knew how much I wanted a child and how it hurt me to think I may never have one, what a good stable home we could provide, and that if it were not us this baby would be given to the state or whomever would take him, according to the birth mother. So we scrambled to find a social worker who would take on the case six and a half months into the pregnancy and the funds to cover legal costs and whatever other costs would arise, because with adoption, in addition to the thousands you know you will be paying, unexpected costs always come up. They did in this case, certainly. But that is not the story. The story is when the birth mother, E, found out we wanted to adopt, she was happy to choose us over random fate, and we got the social worker, money and lawyer that we needed because we were motivated. Slowly hope built as time went on and E did not waver in her conviction that she did not want this baby, "it" as she called him, because the man she loved and was married to was not his father. Hope built because we were getting the child we wanted, and E was getting the out she wanted, a chance to return and try to rebuild her marriage after the mistake she made. I knew it was risky, but each call, each meeting with the social worker, each week that passed was that much closer to maybe this will really turn out okay. I'm a skeptic, you see, a bit of a pessimist too I suppose, but I like to call myself a realist. Shortly before her due date E said she wanted a DNA test, just to "put her mind at ease" and be sure her husband was not the father. Red flags, alarm bells, all those cliches immediately began to operate in my head. The social worker was not concerned. She believed it really was just for peace of mind. The lawyer said it could be problematic, but not to be too worried if the social worker was not. My husband, an eternal optimist, was certain the adoption was meant to be so there were no grounds for concern. All the platitudes alarmed me more, although I took them into consideration. My husband's insistence on prefacing his notification of everyone he told with the statement that it was not a big deal, he knew it would be alright, caused me unease at good times and irked me at bad times. If there was a doubt in E's mind, then we should be worried. Who knew better than her? If she had calculated that possibility, that possibility existed and it was not one I was comfortable with. However, my friend, who was also E's friend and sometimes confidante, also thought it was for E's peace of mind. We were already financially invested and we could not get that money back no matter what happened. And most importantly, if E's husband wasn't the father as originally alleged and suspected, E did not want that baby. Even if he was the father, until the results came back that baby would be in foster care, per E's choice. I guess there really wasn't a decision to make because my heart had already made it, but my mind was not at ease. E suggested an amniotic DNA test. Our lawyer told us it was a bad idea, it could harm the baby or cause E to miscarry. Really no decision to be made there either. When Thane was born, the hospital would not allow the DNA test on their property. Until he was released we could not have one done. He was delivered by C-section, and the curtain was left up until he was out of the room. E did not want to see him. She didn't want to see us either. She did not want to name him. She did not want to hold him. She wanted us to make all the medical decisions so she signed the power of attorney as soon as possible. Hope began to build again. It was just for peace of mind. If you thought maybe you did want your baby, wouldn't you hold him? At least see him? Maybe not, maybe you were afraid that would weaken your resolve if you did need to give him up. But wouldn't you at least want some say in his medical care, whether or not he was vaccinated, circumcised, how emergencies would be handled? I am a realist, a pessimist. I held him and counted his fingers and toes, kissed his cold nose, smelled his baby smell. It was not worth any risk, because risk was no longer a calculation. This was a baby boy, and a baby is love. We stayed at the hospital as much as we could. We fed him and changed his diaper. We rocked him and sang to him. We held him while he slept. He held my finger while he slept. The chairs were uncomfortable and my legs would fall asleep unless I sat sideways and then the armrests would leave indentations in my skin. I was never happier to sit anywhere. His eyes were blue gray that first day. Over time the blue faded, leaving a deep gray behind. His lip would quiver so strongly before he began to cry, if it was a serious cry, which for him it often was, because he did not cry unless he really meant it. I cried and I meant it. He was so beautiful to me, and to hold him was such a joy, in the truest sense of the word, an uncontrollable upwelling of pure feeling that washed aside all else in the moment. I don't know when I began to love him. I don't know what moment that was. But I know it changed me forever, my universe will never be the same.