By: Stacey Ellis
We stood at the nurses’ station for a second, dumbfounded. We had just heard the words, “The baby is in her room.” But previously, our adoption agency social worker told us the birthmother didn’t want to see the baby. Now we were certain that she had changed her mind. We flew all this way and we would go home with the same empty bassinet we arrived with.
We walked to the birthmother’s room, took a deep breath, and opened the door. There we found the birthmother sitting on the bed and the birthfather behind her. The little baby girl was lying on the bed before them – not in their arms but almost as a “presentation.” I ran in and immediately broke down into tears. Again I wondered how the words “thank you” could ever be enough. I hugged her and hugged him. My husband did the same.
We stared at the little girl on the bed. The birthmother broke the ice, “You can hold her!” Immediately I scooped her up in my arms and sat in a chair. I was trying to take in every feature. Button nose. Snow white skin, brown hair, long fingers and toes. She was on what is called a Bili-blanket – a fiberoptic pad that emits light. Babies’ livers don’t work for about five days – and she was a little jaundice. It was barely noticeable but since the birthmother was RH- and the little girl is RH+, they put her on it as a precaution. But she was so white; I was surprised, because jaundice babies are usually a yellow tint. I didn’t think anything of it. I was completely in my own world, sitting in a chair, with the birthparents looking on and my husband staring at me – I was an instant mom, though we had a long way to go before I’d be a legal one.
We started talking with the birthparents – the birthfather repeated how he chose us as the parents for his daughter. He said, “There was no contest. We looked at 15 letters and I knew the second I read your letter, she was meant to be with you.” I could not stop balling. Okay, I’m a little emotional – okay, I am a lot emotional, but I was so overwhelmed with joy, it just burst from me.
It took about an hour before I realized my husband Steve had not held our daughter. I said, “Oh do you want to hold her?” He was like, sure! He didn’t ask earlier because he didn’t want to take her out of my arms. I watched him hold her and I fell in love with Steve even more than I had loved him before. Steve is a natural father – gentle, loving, and was talking to her, “Oh how beautiful you are. Oh what a beautiful little lady you are.” I was still crying all over the place.
One might think that this first meeting would be awkward – well, it was and it wasn’t and we thank the birthparents for that. They were so incredibly gracious, caring, loving and spoke “our language.” As in, they think the way we think; they communicate the way we communicate; and they act the way we act. The birthfather said, “Look, I know we just met and well, we just spoke for the first time less than two days ago so we haven’t had time to talk about raising her.“
The hair on the back of my neck went up – what was he going to say? Did they change their minds? No, that can’t be – he wouldn’t have let us hold her, bond with her. Did he want us to keep in touch all the time? We want to be full parents, not just foster parents who raise her while they are the legal parents. I looked down at the little girl in my arms as he continued.
The birthfather said, “She’s your daughter. You raise her and give her everything in the world. We are not going to be contacting you or hunting you down. We aren’t going to request letters or phone calls. She’s yours, as if you gave birth to her. And when she is 18, 25, 42 –if she ever asks to meet us, then you have our cell phone number. Call us and we’ll discuss whether we are open to that and if it is a good idea for her to meet us.”
We sat there in awe. What does one say to that? All we could muster was “Thank you” again. My husband and I cared for our baby girl as if she were ours for the rest of the day. We changed her, fed her, burped her, held her, caressed her while sitting and chatting with the birthparents. They never held her or asked to hold her once. We stayed until 8PM when we realized the birthmother seemed tired. She asked the nurse to come for the baby and we said our goodbyes for the evening.
That night, after being awake for nearly two days straight, we mustered enough energy to go to Walmart, which was down the block. We knew what kind of diapers to get and what kind of formula she was eating in the hospital. Great, done. But then stood in the baby aisle trying to figure out what kind of bottles and pacifiers? What kind of wipes? Everyone said use cotton balls and water but the nurses were using the Pampers Sensitive wipes. Do we do what they were doing?
I spotted a woman with a newborn in a seat on top of her shopping cart, and two other children about ages 4 and 8 nearby. I approached holding a set of bottles, “Hi, um, we’re wondering about bottles. Are these good? We’re adopting and bringing our baby home tomorrow.” She was all giggly with glee. She walked to the shelf and picked up bottles and said, “You want these.” And then she picked up about six more items: diaper rash cream, wash cloths, towels with hoods. Her husband walked over and joined in grabbing different pacifiers than the ones we picked out. “You want these. These are the ones they use in the hospital and your baby is used to them.” In less than five minutes, we were done and off to the hotel room.
We couldn’t wait to get back to the hospital in the morning to see our daughter. Our daughter. Daddy. Mommy. All these words were so new to us. They seemed so intangible to us. We were alone in our hotel room, about to get the last good night’s sleep for the rest of our lives. But we couldn’t sleep. All we could think about was our daughter.
The next morning we arrived at the hospital with big smiles on our faces. It was 8 AM and we had flowers with us this time. (We forgot to get flowers when we first arrived.) We were greeted with a big sign on the door. “DO NOT ENTER. Check in with Nursing Station before entering.” Our hearts sank with worry. Had the birthparents changed their mind? Would we never hold our daughter again?