How I know my daughter's my daughter: a birth story

BlogHer Original Post

March 4, 2004

My daughter Alex, a little less than 24 hours old. Photographed March 4, 2004, at St. Joseph's Hospital, Houston, Texas.

My husband and I adopted Alex almost five years ago. While I rarely write about my daughter's adoption, I am open about the fact that she came to our home via an open domestic adoption, and am always more than happy to discuss adoption with couples who are considering growing their famiies in the same manner.

One of the most common questions I get is: "what if I don't feel like the baby will be mine? What if they put the baby in my arms and she doesn't feel like my baby?" Clearly, no one can definitively provide an answer that can be guaranteed to be 100% correct in each adoption case; however, in response, I usually share Alex's birth story, and it often eases minds. And so, I share it here with you, in the event you have a friend who is in the process of adopting, and has the same concerns.

As I mentioned, Alex came to us via an open adoption, we means that we have a relationship with her birthmother. This wonderful woman was generous enough to invite us to be present at Alex's birth. It was a really cool experience -- I'd never seen a child born before -- but it was actually what happened immediately after Alex was born that made the event absolutely unforgettable.

So the baby was born, and she was upside down in the doctor's arms, and he was cleaning all the birth gunk from her face and neck. At this point, I was sort of numb, and my first thought was that it was not possible that this little, tiny child was going to come home with us in a couple of days.

My second thought was that this baby was the most beautiful shade of cerulean blue I had ever seen in my life.

Alex's birthmother asked, "Doctor, why isn't she crying?"

The doctor replied, "I don't want her to cry just yet. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her throat. Just one second."

The doctors and nurses kept doing their thing. I wasn't nervous, because they seemed pretty calm. And just as I was wondering if I should be nervous, the doctor said:

"Okay, she's going to cry ... now."

And Alex inhaled. She just took this great, big, huge, breath ...

... and she turned pink. First her arms, then her hands, and then her legs and her little face and chest. And as corny as this may sound, it felt like we'd just witnessed her soul, which had been waiting in the delivery room with us, flying into her body, and giving her life. And I was convinced, at that very moment, that this little girl was meant to be ours, and had we not been waiting there for her -- had her birthmom decided not to place her, or if there'd been another adoptive family in the room -- a different soul would've entered her body, and she would've been a totally different person.

And then she started to bellow.

Anyway, Alex has proved me right every day since. She's just .. well, she's just like us, I suppose. She gets our senses of humour. We're such a tight-knit family. We're a team. We fit.

So, I guess the point of all of this is that when you adopt, you have to believe that God, or Allah, or Fate, or the Universe or Whatever You May Believe In has a plan. And so for those of you out there waiting to be matched to your child, or waiting for that fateful call, trust that the child you bring home is meant to be yours and yours alone.


Alex, at 4-3/4 years old (the "3/4" is very important). Photographed December 6, 2008, at home in Houston, Texas.


Karen Walrond is a writer and photographer in Houston. You can see more of her work at Chookooloonks.


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