I remember watching his tiny head emerge into the world followed shortly by his shoulders and the rest of his body. His birthmom chose me to cut the umbilical cord, and I remember nervously holding the scissors, afraid I would cause more pain. But after a clean cut, the nurses quickly whisked him away to be cleaned, weighed, and examined.
I stayed by the birthmom’s side still in awe of what I just witnessed. I noticed her aunt motioned for me to go over and be with my son, but I could not move. My feet felt glued to the floor. I looked at the birthmom, then over at my son, and back to her. Her aunt motioned again, and finally her nonverbal language cut through my trance. I left the birthmom so I could go be with my son.
I remember in that moment; my heart was torn. We had spent four months listening, loving, and praying for our son’s birthmom. I knew I needed to shift my love and attention to my son, but I felt like I was abandoning her during one of her darkest moments.
The nurses took my husband, myself, and our son to another room shortly after he was born. As excited as I was to spend time with my son, I worried about his birthmom. I wondered if it was hard to watch us walk out of the room. A heaviness hung in my heart for her, unsure of how to move forward in that moment.
She chose for us to care for our son throughout his hospital stay. We were not patients, so we could only get a room if they had any extras available. Despite an overwhelming number of babies born that night, they had a room available, but it was next door to the birthmom’s room.
While we were enjoying our son, his birthmom and her family were on the other side of the wall grieving. Our greatest joy was their greatest sorrow.
Our adoption agency advised against us having visitors at the hospital. While the hospital stay is a joyful time for the adoptive parents, it is a very difficult time for the birthmom and her family. They are preparing to say goodbye to a baby that has taken residence in their hearts and her body for nine months. A celebration on our end would just be insensitive.
The morning we were planning to go home as a family of three, my son was with the doctor and nurses for a while. I could hear him crying in the hallway. Once he was back in our room, I held him and comforted him. Then I started to cry. A few tears led to a steady stream of tears for over ten minutes. My tears that had started because of my son’s physical pain, turned into tears for his birthmom’s emotional pain.
She would be leaving the hospital with empty arms, and would not feel him living inside her anymore. She wouldn’t be there to see him roll over, crawl, or take his first steps. Later that morning, she would have to place him in the arms of an almost stranger and watch as they walk out of the room.
As I sat surrounded by my sea of Kleenex, I realized how hard it was going to be to take my son away from the woman that gave him life. I was excited to bring my son home, but I was also devastated for her loss. I knew that we were doing the right thing by taking our son with us, but now, I was not blind to the high cost that she would pay.
In the world of domestic adoption, I think birthmoms get a bad reputation. People criticize them for getting pregnant, and then criticize them for choosing adoption. In the world’s eyes, they are wishy washy girls that can’t be trusted.
We fail to recognize that these birthmoms are broken women just like the rest of us. But they have the courage to realize that they may not be the best parent for their child. They go out of their way to choose a family that can care for their child in a way they cannot.
Before we left the hospital, the birthmom wanted to see her son one last time and say goodbye. As she sat with him on the other side of the wall, I prayed for her. I prayed that she could say her final goodbyes and that God would give her the strength to follow through with what she knew was right.
Thirty minutes later, we went into her room with her mom. We expressed our gratitude to them both. We took precious pictures to document the complex friendship that developed from this adoption. Then the birthmom placed our son in my arms, we said our goodbyes, and left the room.
Had I not grieved for her hours earlier, I don’t think I could have walked out of the room with my son. Every year as we celebrate my son’s birthday, there’s always a moment when my heart grieves for his birthmom. In that moment it’s as if God’s saying,
“Remember who helped make this gift possible. She dreamed big dreams for her son, and chose you to parent him. Remember that she is the one who chose life for him, so that he can experience another birthday. You are his mother, but so is she. You get to relish in his life every day because of her. Honor her today as you celebrate his life.”
If you know of a woman that has placed her child for adoption, take the time to honor her. Thank her for her sacrifice. Acknowledge the enormity of her decision and the courage she needed to follow through. Give her a hug and tell her how much God loves her and sees what she has sacrificed so that others can experience great joy.
Our children’s birthmoms have become a part of our family. They are a part of us because their children are our children. These women gave me the gift of motherhood, and I will be forever grateful for them and their sacrifice.