When our son was born, I was there.  This is not unusual in itself, as most mothers are present when their children are born.  I’ll never forget the emotions of the moment, the overwhelming surge of love, and the terror of just how much of a responsibility it was to guide this tiny, new-birthed person through the years to become a good man.  The only unusual part is that I watched his birth from behind a thin curtain.  For I am his second mom.  His First Mom couldn’t”t give him the stable home she wanted him to have, and so she gave him us instead.  And easy choice?  Not by any means.  But a loving one.

Her journey towards adoption started in high school.   She had to write a research paper on abortion.  And through that process, she decided that if she ever had an unplanned pregnancy, abortion could never be an option for her.  She just couldn’t do that to her child.   And so, two years later, when she found herself pregnant and very much alone, it wasn’t an option.  She had just two choices:  parent alone, or place for adoption.  It didn’t take long for her to make a choice.   And by the time she was 12 weeks pregnant, she’d made up her mind.  Adoption.

She moved in with friends of her parents, and asked if they had friends who would adopt her baby. She didn’t want to pick strangers from a book – she wanted people with history, people she could really get to know.  And that is how I got a phone call, the memory of which still brings tears:  “Our friends’ daughter is pregnant, moving in with us, and looking for someone to adopt her baby… are you interested?”

And so we met.   Over the next weeks, we spent time together – not really talking about the future, but just getting to know each other.  Then we sat down together with our friends and talked about every aspect of this possible adoption:  what kind of contact would we have?  What if the baby had medical problems – did we still want to adopt?  We spent a few hours talking, and then she gave us the little shoes that the pregnancy center gave her when they confirmed her pregnancy.  They symbolized the baby (a boy – she was sure from the beginning) and she’d had them on her dresser as she waited for him.  As she gave us the shoes, she said she wanted us to wait for him too, and be his parents.  Yes, there were more tears.

So over the next five months we spent about two days a week together.  We went to the zoo and shopped for baby clothes.  We went to doctor appointments with her and were there when ultrasound revealed that he was, indeed, a boy.  She put headphones on her belly and played a C.D. of us singing and reading children’s books.  We tried for months to find a name all three of us liked.  I rented a super-strength breast pump and starting pumping.  (The human body is amazing – after several weeks, I was producing colostrum and, with the help of a Lactaid, was able to breastfeed him – even though I hadn’t given birth!)  And we ate a lot of chicken together (no pickles and ice-cream cravings, thank goodness!)  We reassured her that it was o.k. to change her mind about adoption.  We would be o.k. if she did.  She was only obligated to make a decision she could live with –not to us.  She reassured us that she wasn’t going to.  She could hardly take care of herself – there was no way she could give him the life she wanted him to have: And besides, she still had things she wanted to do before she raised children.  No, she wasn’t going to change her mind.

And so we were there when he was born, and after a few minutes with him, she gave him to us for an hour, still covered with the mess of birth and wrapped in hospital blankets.  It can’t have been easy for her, but she asked us, believing it would be best for him that the mother who bakes the birthday cakes and throws the parties can also tell the birth story first-hand.  And then we went home and left them for their first day together.  The next day, Saturday, she called and asked if we wanted to come see him and meet her mother, who had flown in the night before.  We went in for an hour, and left them for their second day.  On Sunday, when he was about 50 hours old, she signed the adoption papers and we took home our son.

We did a lot of e-mailing at first.   She moved back to her home state, and started classes in the fall.  I needed to know that she was o.k. and she needed to know he was o.k.  There were some fierce emotions on both sides.  It wasn’t easy, and I’m sure I hurt her in the process of trying to find my identity as mother.  But it has worked out really well.  As I became secure in my role as Mommy, I wanted her to be involved – to know about his milestones and special moments.  She is an amazing, brave woman, and should be an important part of his life.  We had a great visit between the families when he was nearly 2, and I hope there will be more.  We live far apart now, but continue to stay in touch.

Knowing her, and walking this path has changed my heart towards open adoption.  It isn’t something done out of obligation, but love.  I love my son, as does she.  And I believe he deserves to know the full story of who he is.   And his first mother (he calls her “Aunt”) is part of that story.  She’s not his Mommy – I am.  But she is still his mother, and gave him not only the gift of life, but his quirky grin and her mother’s wide feet.  I don’t want him to wonder about the questions that can haunt adopted people.  I want him to ask – any of us – and be given loving, truthful answers.

When I became pregnant, she sent me a wonderful card, excited that he was going to be a big brother.  And when I had my second child, something else about adoption made sense to me in a new way.  Love isn’t a limited quantity that must be removed from one in order to be given to another.  I have two children.  One is first, the other is second.  Stating their order in no way implies their importance;  my love for both is equal, profound and beautiful.  If I can love two children, my son can love two mothers.  And he should – we both love him.