Hello and Goodbye: The Bittersweet Enormity of Adoption
My stomach is doing uncomfortable flip flops.
I sit on one of the couches in the airy third floor hospital lounge, but it's impossible to get comfortable. From time to time I get up and walk around just to be doing something. When I'm not walking or glancing at the door, I'm sending text messages to Chris.
10:50 AM [ME]: I signed all the papers. The attorney now in with K having her sign everything. OMG. This is really happening.
11:01 AM [CHRIS]: I'm at my desk. Having a bit of trouble breathing.
11:01 AM [ME]: me too
11:20 AM [CHRIS]: Anything?
11:20 AM [ME]: Still waiting
11:21 AM [CHRIS]: This is nerve-wracking.
11:21 AM [ME]: What about this entire experience hasn't been nerve-wracking???
11:22 AM [CHRIS]: Bonus wracks for being so close to it happening. I'm sorry I'm not there with you.
11:22 AM [ME] I'm sorry too. But you'll be here tomorrow and we will just get to hang out without anyone else around!
Two hours earlier I arrive at the hospital to find K watching television and the baby laying next to her asleep.
"You just missed her being awake," says K.
"That's OK," I reply. "I'm sure she'll be awake again soon."
"Do you want to hold her?"
I nod as K hands her to me. The baby doesn't even stir during the hand-off. One little hand peeks out of the top of the swaddling blanket.
"How are you?" I ask K.
"I'm OK," she says looking at me and then back at the TV. "I'm OK."
Again, I wonder if she is trying to convince me or herself that she truly is OK.
"Are you sure?"
She nods her head.
I try one last time. One last time I'll say it and then there's no going back for either of us.
"There's still time to change your mind," I say.
The statement...a question really...hangs in the air between us for a minute before K says, "No. I'm OK. I'm OK."
She looks back at the TV. I look down at K's baby in my lap. Sleeping. Content. Unaware of the pact being made and confirmed by the two women who love her more than anyone else in the world will ever love her.
Finally the attorney arrives. A pretty woman with dark hair in her mid-thirties. She smiles broadly as she introduces herself to K and to me. She coos over the baby announcing that she has a 5 month-old at home. After a few minutes of chit-chat she turns to me and says, "So, have you and your husband chosen a name?"
"Esme Louisa," I reply.
"That's beautiful," says the attorney with another big smile.
"Unless you changed your mind and there's a name that you like," I say turning to K hoping, even though I love the name we've chosen, that K will tell me that she's changed her mind and would like to have a part in naming her baby.
She shakes her head, "No. I'm OK. That's pretty."
Esme Louisa it is.
And then the attorney is leading me out of the room explaining that I have to be in a different part of the hospital while K signs the papers. She leads me to the lounge, pulls out a huge packet of papers and proceeds to go over each one with me. I'm sure that I'm supposed to read each one thoroughly, but I can't seem to focus properly because I'm so nervous. So, I nod a lot. Finally, the attorney announces that she needs to go review all of the documents with K, which will take a while. I try my best to read everything per the attorney's instructions, but just end up locating all of the places I'm supposed to sign and, with shaking hand, do just that.
The lounge is empty but for me. People come and go from the maternity ward, but no one stops here.
The minutes drag by.
Then at 11:32 the doors open and there is the attorney with a big smile on her face.
K signed the papers.
The attorney gives me a quick hug. I hand her my signed papers. We return to K's room. The moment I see K is so terribly, horribly bittersweet. She is crying. Big tears. I want to hold her, to tell her that it's all going to be OK. I want to adopt K along with her baby. She is so young and scared. She needs someone to take care of her. Seeing her cry and knowing what we've done...I am so heartbroken for her. So happy for me and Chris, but so heartbroken for her.
Part of me just wants to take it all back. To un-sign everything and go back in time to before we even knew about K and her baby.
I walk to her thinking that I will put my arms around her, but she thrusts Esme Louisa in my direction and turns away.
I can't blame her. I'd probably turn away from me, too, if I was her.
The attorney, oblivious to K's pain and only interested in my joy, jumps in front of me with a camera and says, "Smile!"
So, I do. Then the attorney says, "Give me your phone and I'll take some pictures for you."
So, I do and she does.
"How about a picture with K?" says the oblivious attorney.
"Well, I think that's really up to K. I don't want to intrude on her privacy," I respond.
K is not crying anymore, but is still obviously shaken by what has just happened here.
"Oh, I guess I always think that everyone wants their pictures taken. It's such a happy occasion!"
Not for K.
This attorney really is clueless.
I look at K who says quietly, "I don't think I want my picture taken."
"I understand," I reply. "That's totally fine."
The attorney looks confused and disappointed. She puts her camera away. Finally, she announces that it's time for her to go. She congratulates me again, makes some vague noises in K's direction and leaves us.
I am wrung out and have no words left to text my husband so I simply send him this photo:
And then I sit on the low pink couch with my daughter and her mother. One of us is sleeping soundly while the other two contemplate the enormity of what we've just done.
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