#MommyBLOGMondays....Featuring a blog post by, Nat
When I was a little girl all I wanted was to be a mommy. My mom sat me down one day when I was around 12 years old and talked to me about the fact that I was still playing with dolls. They weren’t just dolls to me, they were my babies. Samantha and Tabatha. One walking doll, and one baby doll. I loved them. I changed their diapers and clothes. I made them cozy little beds at night, I fed them, and snuggled them. I put those dolls away one day, and suddenly there I was 20 years later on my honeymoon filling out our adoption papers. I always knew I would adopt. I realized at a very young age that I could love another human deeply, unconditionally, and it didn’t need to be someone that was blood related. At a young age I knew I wouldn’t give birth to my children. It was a deep feeling, and premonition almost.
I have a very vivid memory of riding the bus with my mom one snowy winter night. We were sitting quietly beside each other and I remember my mom was holding my hand for some strange reason. I said “mom when I grow up, I’m going to adopt my babies”! My mom didn’t look at me, she continued to stare out at the snow, and she smiled, then squeezed my hand tight. She said “I bet you will Nat, I bet you will”! There was no way I could ever imagine what the future had in store for me.
Years later in my early 20’s I lost my mother, my best friend, my only parent. She lost her brutal fight with depression, and tragically took her own life on a very similar winter, stormy night. Something about that tragedy set me out on a path in which I found my husband, and best friend, and our 2 amazing little boys. Something about that loss gave me the determination and strength I needed for the years ahead.
There I was on the first day of my honeymoon, sitting up in bed, sipping a coffee, filling out our adoption papers. Everyone told me how long it would take, and how impossible it was going to be. I thought I had better get started! My husband and I decided that we would register with Children’s Aide, as well as with a Private adoption agency to be sure that we were keeping all our options open. I really wanted a male professional in the mix for my husband. I was worried how this rubgy playing, just married man, was going to react to all the social worker stuff. So, I went through the list of adoption social workers that I found on the internet and called the first male name I saw. I dialed the number, and to my surprise he actually answered the phone. I booked an appointment with him the following week. It turns out that same man would become very instrumental in our adoption process, – he facilitated both of our adoptions, without him I’m certain we would not be where we are today.
It’s true, adoption is hard to do in Canada (both our boys were born in Canada ), the process is complicated, long, invasive, scary, risky,confusing, extremely expensive and utterly exhausting. If there is any doubt in your mind, this process is not for you!!!! We started the long journey ofappointments, medical and police forms, interviews, workshops, home visits, references, bank statements, and endless questions, (including how many times we made love a week , and who brought the garbage out!!!). Once all thesesteps were completed, (and hopefully you pass all the tests), we were APPROVED. Nothing can prepare a couple for how grueling the process is. You have to be so incredibly dedicated to making it happen, to the point that it essentially takes over your life. To this day I have no idea how our marriage survived the first 5 years. I remember the day we were APPROVED. I honestly felt like I had completed a marathon, the process had spit us out the other side, and deemed us good enough humans to raise a child. I was so freaking excited.
So…My husband asks the social worker “Ok …now what? How long will it take? What do we do now?” Our social worker smiled (well laughed politley ) at us and said well….you wait!” WAIT????? What do you mean we wait? Wait for What? Aren’t there children that need a home? Well, the reality was there weren’t birth mothers waiting in a wing somewhere. The system is so complicated nobodycan really understand it, including the people whoare trying to guide you through the process. We were discouraged, and felt so depleted. But, anyone who knows me, knows I’m a fighter, and a go getter, and giving up is not in my nature! ….so I began my own search for our child.
One day, while searching the internet, I came acrossan online site www.canadaadopts.com where birth parents, and adoptive parents could meet. This was amazing to me. It was so postitive. Itwasn’t full of shame, sad stories, or hopelessness. It was a place where people came together and could connect, who are looking for the same thing. This felt really organic to me. I am happy to tell you that we were matched with both of our boys through this site. It is obviously something I would recommend to anyone that is looking to adopt, or placing a child for adoption. It’s not to say that it doesn’t come with its own challenges and risks, because it absolutley does. This process is complicated and difficult no matter what way you look at it.
We posted our info on the site. We opened our whole lives to the internet. We felt so vulnerable, and really scared. We made an email address, and toll free number where potential birth mothers, and families could contact us. And we waited. We had a few emails from potential birthmothers, we had some very strange emails that were clearly scams… and then one day while at work my husband forwarded me an email. A birth mother had contacted us and asked that I call her. Terrified, is the first emotion that comes to mind. I went home and picked up the phone and dialed the number, I remember I still had my coat on, and my purse over my shoulder. We talked for a long time. We talked almost every day for 5 months, until our son was born. Both of us trying to comfort the other. Trying to build trust, and ensure the other person that we will keep our promises to each other. This birth mother was very involved in making sure that we had good plans for her baby. I know I was scared, but everyday I would try and put myself in her shoes, and try and fathom the fear and uncertainty she was feeling. The truth is, I can’t, and never will know what that feels like, but I know I tried my very hardest to be patient, kind and compassionate. A friendship of sorts grew, but in my gut there was always a feeling of fear. Our amazing friends, and family were so supportive, but they worried about all the things that could go wrong.
A few months after we connected with this birthmother we got a call from our CAS worker to say we had been matched with a little girl. She was ready to be adopted and we had 2 days to decide – however, that same evening I went to check the mail and there I found a letter with a note from the birthmother I had been talking to. In the envelope was the ultrasound, the little baby boy she was carrying in her tummy and it was at that very moment I knew that he was meant to be with us. I just knew.
Our first born son was born out of province, premature, 2 days after Christamas. We got an a plane, and went to him. He was 5lbs when he was born – and went down to 4 lbs within 2 days. His birthmother was struggling emotionally when we arrived. She was so conflicted, tired, frantic and scared. The next month was the most stressful days of my life, even more scary than the day I lost my mom . My husband stood day after day beside that little incubator, as I ran around the town meeting with lawyers, social workers, and tried the best as I could to support this young woman. There were such extreme highs and lows. All the while this little baby struggled to thrive. After several weeks of being in the hospital with the baby, sleeping on cots, and trying to look after everything, and everyone, the doctor told us we could fly home. Our family and friends were all waiting to meet this little boy, who we all loved so much. My husband was beyond amazing during this time, I remember feeling a love so strong for him as I watched him become this little boys father. I was torn, I was so happy to be a mommy finally, but I had this intense sadness for those we left behind. I worried sick about the baby’s birth mother. Who would look after her? Would she be ok? This was beyond hard for her. We all knew deep down in our hearts that it was a tragic loss for her. It felt unfair to be happy, and celebrate the baby, when people were suffering such a loss. Our little baby boy was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. I honestly had never felt a love this intense in my life. I remember flying home, and looking at the baby in my husband’s arms and feeling terrified that I loved something this much, my heart actually ached. My husband was so attached, and in love with him. We were back in Toronto. And now we had to face the 16 days to go by where the birth parents could change their mind. Each day passed like it was a month. The sweet little baby was so tiny, and sometimes not well, we were exhausted, terrified, and anxious. On day 16 our birth mother called and said…..you know I have 11 hours to change my mind……the clock ticked, and ticked and finally we could breathe. We were officaly parents to this amazing little human.
About 2 years later we started thinking about having another child. We were open to adoption again, but also open to a a biological child. We had challenges getting preganant, and inevitably we entered into the hell of fertiity. After a long while I asked for an exploratory surgery, where they discovered I had stage 4 endometriosis. Adoption is tough, I have to be honest. Although it has brought us our family, there were parts that I thought would literally break my heart. But Fertility treament was the single most awful expereince of all. We started our 4th invetro. I sometimes add up all the money we have spent and have no idea how we did it. I was months away from my 40th birthday. My body was tired, and we knew that it was a possibility that we may only have one child.. But our son begged us for a baby brother. So, we gave it one last shot. We also decided to put our profile back up on the site and left it in God’s hands.
Three weeks later we were contacted by our youngest son’s birthmother. Weeks later we met, and soon we were emmersed in another relationship with a birthmother who had made the very difficult decision to place her baby for adoption. I attended all her doctor appointments with her. She was staying very close to us in the city which allowed us to see each other several times. We filled out more paper work, and met with our social workers and made a birth plan….and waited. We attended an ultra sound together and learned that she was carrying a baby boy. We named him together, and we waited. I was extremly lucky to be able to attend the birth of the baby. Together, with a few members of her family we welcomed the baby into the world. The moment the baby was born I felt this warmt, weight, and feeling of light I had never expereinced before. One of the family members grabbed my arm and said “we are not alone in this room, something, or someone bigger than us is here”. I felt it too!!!! In that moment I felt a feeling of love, hope, compassion and power. I felt my mother’s love all around me, around us. Something was there to let us all know it was ok. At that moment I could see everyone’s mouth moving, talking to me….but I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying. It was like I was watching from the outside of my body. Maybe I was in shock…I don’t know. The doctor was passing me something and smiling, showing me where to cut the cord….then suddenly everything was very loud, and I felt very overwelmed. I started to cry, and although I was so happy to see the baby, I knew my relationship with the baby’s birthmother would change. I started to panick. A few hours later the social worker at the hospital came to tell me that she had left, she had gone home and that she said good bye. My heart sank. I started to cry, and didn’t stop until the next day. I had no idea how much I would grieve her, she was always part of the baby and now she was gone. I had grown to love her, and care for her. The one thing that bonded us was here now, and she was gone. Nobody in any of those meetings, workshops or sessions ever tells you about that part. There is nobody to help you though the difficult feelings of massive happiness, and intense sadness all at the same time. It’s very confusing, and all the while you wait the 16 days, and worry, and pray, and hope that everything and everyone will be ok. And every second you look down at the beautiful baby and can’t believe how insanely perfect he is. And your love grows so quickly and intensley, you worry. and you pray. And your little boy falls deeply in love with his baby brother, and your heart aches. and you pray.
Our adoptions are both semi open. We share emails, photos, and stay in contact in different ways with both boy’s birth families. The boys know how much their birth families love them. They know they are loved. Nobody gave them away, but made very difficult decisions at the time of their births, and placed them in our arms and lives, to love them and give them a better life. That decision is one made soley out of love. I felt it and saw it wih my own eyes and heart. I’m hopeful our story helps people realize adoption is pretty magical. And those who decide to make the agonizing decision to place their baby for adoption are beyond courageous, unselfish, strong, intelligent, brave, loving human beings. There are many parts of our story that I can’t share in this forum due to individual’s privacy. This is only my story from my perspective. I know our birth mothers and families stories may look, or feel much different. Regardless, I know, more than anything else, that the unique love of those 2 incredible women, made it possible for us to be a family, and feel a love beyond anything I thought existed. And although there were many ups and downs and we were and are far from perfect… grateful, and graditude is the one strong feeling, and word that resinates for me. I am forever changed, and know without a doubt that a mothers love proves to be stronger than anything else that exists.
Often our oldest son and I will lay in bed at night and talk. This is the time when he will talk to me about things on his mind, or heavy on his heart. These are precious moments and I gobble them up. Sometimes he will ask me questions. He loves to hear the story of the night he was born. He often needs reassurance that his birth family are ok. He has a soft heart with that kind of thing. Each year he gets older, he asks more questions, and those questions get tougher. Recently, he asked me if it was ok if he calls his birth mother “mom”? “Of course” I said, “she is your mother, we will never take that way from her”. You grew in her belly, you grew in my heart, we are both your mother, and we both love you very much. He said, I’m lucky to have so many people that love me.
About a month ago, our little guy asked to see a picture of his birth mother. I showed it to him, and waited while he looked at it. I realized I was holding my breathe, trying to prepare for what he might ask. He studied the picture for what felt like a long time…and then suddenly he said” mommy you aren’t going to believe this, but we have matching eyes”. I said “Yes, you do buddy! It’s true, they totally do have matching eyes. It always makes my heart happy, and comforts me somehow. Although she is gone from my everyday life, I will forever look into my son’s eyes, and be reminded of her, her strength, her love, and her courage. The kind of thing that changes you in the most amazing way… forever.
“Not flesh of my flesh, not bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart but in it.” - Fleur Conkling Heyliger