Quiet Blessings Rebekah’s Birthmother

Quiet Blessings Rebekah’s Birthmother

Mike and Linda talked to Rebekah’s birthmother by phone during her pregnancy, but they met her only once, when she had her ultrasound. Linda remembers that they talked for five to ten minutes and said very little. After Rebekah was born, her birthmother chose not to see her in the hospital. “She needed the distance,” Linda says. “She was afraid if she saw Rebekah she wouldn’t be able to go through with the adoption.” Instead, Mike and Linda sent letters and pictures at Christmas and on Rebekah’s birthday.

For the first few months, Mike and Linda worried that Rebekah’s birthmother would change her mind about the adoption. Rebekah’s birthmother avoided contact for a long time, afraid of how her daughter would treat her. Rebekah herself always knew that she was adopted. She says she appreciates her parents’ openness. “If they had kept it from me, I would have felt deceived—it would have been a lot more emotional for me. As it was, I was curious about it, just because I was curious.”

As Rebekah grew older, she called her birthmother from time to time, and last year she was able to visit her. Rebekah remembers that she didn’t find the meeting awkward. “My birthmom was more nervous than I was,” she says. “I really enjoyed seeing where she grew up, seeing the common ground between us.” Rebekah discovered that they both struggle in math, they enjoy a similar sense of humor, and they both approach their lives with a persistent determination. She says it was refreshing to see the quirks they share.

Rebekah also met her older biological sisters and realized the challenges her birthmother faced when she placed her for adoption. Her visit helped her understand and appreciate her birthmother’s decision. “Some people called her selfish and said my birthmom did it because she didn’t love me, but she knew she couldn’t handle having another baby,” Rebekah says. “She wonders if she could have raised me, but she did what she thought best at the time. She doesn’t regret that.”

Mike and Linda had to deal with each adoption differently.  One mother wanted a closed adoption with no contact. The second birthmother was very comfortable with talking to the family. Their two boys came to them a few years later, through an international adoption. As Linda learned, the adoption process allows each mother to be “so different, so specific about what she wants.”

Rebekah’s sisters respond in their own way, Linda says. One sister wonders why her birthmother doesn’t want to talk to her or know anything about her. “She’s had feelings about it, wondering ‘what about me?’ ” Linda notes. “I asked her if she would look her birthmother up when she gets older, and she said she would.” Rebekah’s other sister sees her birthmother and biological siblings occasionally, but finds she doesn’t fit into their way of life.

A few years after they adopted their daughters, Linda and Mike moved to a new property, but they still remember the barn that helped Rebekah’s mother choose their family for her daughter. Linda feels that God guided them through all their adoptions. Looking back, she says she would encourage her own daughters to consider adoption if they found themselves pregnant, unmarried, and lacking strong support. “A mother might think if she keeps her baby that at least she’ll have someone to love and someone to love her. My challenge would be to think toward eternity, toward the long-term.” Rebekah agrees with her mom.

Wanting To Be A Mother

Wanting To Be A Mother

I knew from the time I was four that I wanted to be a mother. However, at a young age I was told that I would never be able to get pregnant.  When Russell and I got married eleven years ago, we knew that we may never be parents.  I got pregnant a few times but just could not carry for very long.

Then, while I was in Indiana to see my brother-in-law graduate from law school, my friend emailed me and told me to call home as soon as possible. When I called, she said her sister was pregnant and thinking of placing the baby for adoption – would we like to talk to her about our raising the baby? Of course I said YES! I immediately talked to Russell, and both of us were very excited! My friend called me later that afternoon and said that her sister, Kathryn, wanted to meet with us, and that it looked like she wanted us to adopt her baby. I thought we had a few months to get ready, but imagine my surprise when she said Kathryn was due within two weeks! I don’t think I slept much for the next few days before I could get home.

When I got off the plane I found out that Kathryn would be staying with us, because she didn’t want to be alone on the other side of town and go into labor. When I walked through the front door and met Kathryn for the first time, it felt like we were old friends. We bonded so fast, it was clearly meant to be. During the next week or so she would call me to come and feel the baby kicking. It was awesome; I got to bond with Emily before she was even born. I talked to Kathryn’s belly and Kathryn and I spent lots of time just getting to know each other. I told her that she would always know where her baby was, but I never thought we would be as close as we are.

Kathryn told me I was welcome to be a part of the delivery, and to this day I am so grateful for that experience. I know most parents that adopt don’t get to see the birth, and I love her for letting me! Before Emily was born, we called Russell, and he listened on the phone as his Princess cried for the first time. When the doctor put Emily in my arms the first time I thought I was going to pass out. I finally felt like a mom! Russell came down to the hospital after we got settled in the other room, and the first time I put Emily in his arms was awesome. I had never seen him hold a baby and didn’t know how he would be, but from that day on he looked like he was an old pro at it, and he loved every second of it.

We didn’t see much of Kathryn the first year of Emily’s life, but I know it was because she was getting on her with her life, and I am sure it was hard then to see us with Emily. However, now I talk with Kathryn every day, send pictures all the time, and in two weeks we will be going down to see her family, including her parents. Emily knows all about her first family, as she has met most of them.

Emily is now almost five and is such a joy in our lives. I can’t imagine what I would do without her. I also wouldn’t change our open adoption for anything. When Russell and I first talked about adoption, I never thought in a million years that I would have this open of an adoption. I will say it takes lots of work, and lots of communication, but it is all worth it! When Emily is older she won’t have to do any searching and she will always know where she came from.

Worth The Wait

Worth The Wait

Eric and I were married in the fall of 2001. Five years, two rounds of IVF, and one miscarriage later, when it was still just the two of us, we decided to move ahead with the adoption process in the hopes of expanding our family. We filled out lots of paperwork, met with social workers and doctors, and were approved to be adoptive parents in the fall of 2006. Several months passed without any news.

Then, in January of 2007, we received a phone call from our adoption agency.  There was a birth mom who wanted to meet with us!  So, on a very cold evening in early February we went to the agency and met with Maria and her dad, Karl.  Maria was only 16 at the time, and her mom had passed away the previous year, so she really was not in a position to care for her baby boy, due in the beginning of June.  After talking with her, we prayed about it and felt that God was calling us to stand by and encourage her, as well as possibly adopt this baby.

Maria asked me to be her birth coach, so we went to birthing classes together!  Eric and I made several visits over the next few months as we waited for the baby to arrive on the scene.  We chose a name together with Maria.  We readied the nursery and all we would need to bring baby home.  However, while the father of Maria’s baby did not want the responsibility of caring for a child, he also did not want the baby to be put up for adoption.  He was a teenager as well, still in school, and wanted his mother or Maria to care for the baby.  We weren’t sure if he would show up in court to fight the adoption, but we still felt God’s hand in the situation and we wanted to continue to be a part of Maria’s life.

The big weekend finally arrived!  At 40 weeks, Maria was induced.  Twenty-six hours later, through an emergency C-section, baby boy Caden made his way into the world.  He was beautiful!  All the nurses on the baby floor assured us that he really was the most handsome baby there…and we believed it!  We spent five days at the hospital, helping Maria as she recovered from her C-section, and spending time getting to know this beautiful, amazing little boy that we hoped would one day be our own!

We brought Caden home from the hospital and spent the day with him before bringing him to his foster parents’ home.  They would be taking care of him until everything was official.  We kicked things into overdrive, making sure that we had everything we needed to bring this baby home.  In the meantime, Caden was staying with a great foster family!  They loved him and took great care of him.

Several months later, we finally had the court hearing.  Caden’s birth father did protest the adoption, to the point that several times Maria was ready to give up and give in.  However, when we went to the court hearing, the judge ruled that Caden’s birth father had “failed to assume significant parental responsibility” in parenting Caden and so involuntarily terminated his rights.  We finished in the courtroom just after 5 pm and then headed to the foster parents home to pick up Caden.  We had a placement ceremony there, where Maria symbolically gave Caden to us.

That was over two years ago now.  Caden continues to grow and learn – about himself, his surroundings, and his family.  We have an open relationship with Maria, and we live fairly close to each other, so we get to see her throughout the year.  We send pictures, Caden’s artwork, and letters to her on a regular basis, as well as birthday and Mother’s Day cards to her.  In every way that counts, Maria has become family to us.  She made an amazingly difficult sacrifice in allowing us to raise her child, and we are thankful every day for her, and for the opportunity that we have been given to be parents.

We may have waited much longer than we originally planned to start our family, but this little boy was definitely worth that wait!!  We love our family of three and can’t wait to hopefully add another child to our lives through adoption sometime soon!

“We prayed for this child and the Lord has granted us what we asked of Him.”
~ 1 Samuel 1:27

A Dream Come True

A Dream Come True

Every young girl plays with baby dolls, dressing them, diapering them, and whispering softly in a language that can only be understood by the feminine gender.  And almost always, the baby doll has a girl’s name.  It’s part of who we are. We dream of having a little girl of our own.  I had the same dream as a child, but I never could have imagined that it would be fulfilled through adoption until thirteen years ago.  Now not only do I have a beautiful daughter, but I know and love the young woman who gave birth to her.  Our arrangement is known as an open adoption.

Today, open adoption is a much more common thing.  At the time of my daughter’s birth, I really didn’t know what OPEN meant.  Should children know they are adopted?  Would she be confused by knowing her birth family?  Would we share parenting responsibilities?  I quickly received answers by asking professionals in the adoption field.  No, my daughter would not be confused by knowing her birth family, because she would always know that she was adopted, just like she would know she has aunts, uncles and cousins.  She would come to love her birth family because they are part of who she is.  And no, we would not share parenting responsibilities.  Open adoption is a final and legal commitment that does not allow birth or adoptive parents to change their mind or to co-mingle parenting responsibilities.

My daughter was born in our local hospital, and her birth mother invited me to be there with her.  This isn’t always the case, but my daughter’s birth mother was very generous in her willingness to include me in everything.  She felt comfortable with me because we had known each other for many years.   In an open adoption, the birth family chooses the adoptive family.  What a privilege to be chosen!  After delivery, birth mother and baby shared one day together in the hospital before the case worker came to witness the signing of the adoption papers and we left the hospital to start our new lives.  The memories of that day are bittersweet.  So much joy and so much pain rolled into one.  No one can underestimate what a difficult day this is for any birth mother.  I know that the assurance that she was doing the right thing is the only way birth mom could get through it.

After leaving the hospital, our daughter’s birth mother was always welcome to visit.  Once again, that is not always the arrangement.  Visitation is something that is discussed prior to the baby’s birth and decided by the birth family and adoptive family.  Some birth mothers choose not to have direct contact with the adoptive family.  They would rather communicate through an attorney or possibly an adoption agency.   Our family is probably at the opposite extreme.  Our two families share the bad times (illnesses and death) and the good times (holidays, birthdays and weddings).  There are a variety of options; the families can choose whatever feels right for everyone involved.  Over the years the amount of contact we have varies because life is always changing for all of us.  Sometimes we see a lot of each other and other times, not as much.

As I look to the future, I am optimistic that the careful and creative plan made by my daughter’s birth mother will only be a benefit to all of us.  Of course, my daughter has questioned why she was adopted – any child would.  But because of an open and honest approach to adoption, her questions can be answered truthfully and her future is bright!

Abortion Wasn’t an Option

Abortion Wasn’t an Option

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.