Bringing Home Baby- Adoption Story3
I’m so excited to be sharing this guest post by fellow Vancouver blogger Harriet Fancott. I asked her if she could tell her story about bringing her baby home following an open adoption at birth. Get the tissue box ready because Harriet tells a wonderful and honest story. Harriet blogs at See Theo Run and has written extensively about her experience with open adoption. A seriously big thank you to Harriet for this blog post.
When people adopt a baby, phrases like “over the moon!” “love at first sight” or “meant to be,” are flung about, but meeting your new baby for the first time is emotionally complicated. At least it was for us. When my husband and I adopted our son at birth, we come face-to-face with love and loss, joy and sadness and our hearts burst and shattered all at once.
We met Theo’s beautiful and oh so young birthparents (and their parents) about two months prior to his birth, and then we waited in a fog of excitement and anxiety for “the call.” My mind reeled with thoughts and questions during those months: “Should we prepare the room?” “What if they change their minds?” “Look at those adorable onesies?” “Let’s choose a name!” “What if they want to name him?” “I can’t wait to be a mom!” “Shouldn’t I at least TRY to breastfeed?” “Help I need more time; I’m not ready!”
The day I received the call that Theo had been born, the mercury hit 36 degrees, and I was holed up in an air-conditioned packed movie theatre waiting for the “500 Days of Summer” to begin. When my cell phone beeped, I ran out into a crowded lobby to take the call. The birthgrama told me excitedly that our son was born, that his birthmom was fine, and we could come and take him home the following day. They wanted time to be with him. I was frantic, giddy, worried, ecstatic, and in shock. I called my husband and then in a confused haze, reentered the theatre to watch the movie! I have no idea what I was thinking.
Then, my husband and I got into high gear to ready ourselves to meet and pick up our new son. We had baby diapers, a car seat, a special baby outfit, a gift for birthmom and flowers for birth grama. We arrived at the hospital hearts hammering through our chests, sweat dripping down our backs, arms full of stuff, jittery with nerves and excitement.
We arrived to a room full of people: a nurse, a social worker, and birthfamily. Oh and a baby. The birthparents were seated on the bed. She was sobbing, and Theo was lying in the middle of the bed in a pair of oversized baby booties. I can’t adequately describe the awkwardness and pain of the moment. We felt strange and tongue-tied. We had no idea whether we should pick up the baby or let him lie there. He was so tiny, and we didn’t know him at all. Every so often, he’d emit a tiny cry and then fall asleep. We finally picked up this featherweight being who was our new son, and placed him gently into his new outfit. Then we exchanged presents and mementoes to mark the occasion.
We have photos of everyone with baby Theo, and in every shot the birthmom is crying. Witnessing her grief was almost unbearable, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. It was a birth, but it felt like a funeral. There was no reasonable thing to say or do. After an hour-and-a-half of photos and odd snippets of conversation, the family went home and left us with Theo.
We saw a lot of the birthfamily in the weeks following placement. We juggled caring for a new baby, who was up every couple of hours, with caring for ourselves and the birthfamily. It was very deep, emotional and tiring. Amid all of this, we had a steady stream of visitors dropping in to meet Theo and drop off meals and gifts. I’m eternally grateful for the support we got from friends and family. A couple of months later, our friends hosted a rip roaring Welcome Party for Theo, a kind of after shower with food and gifts that reminded us of life outside our bubble.
In terms of caring for Theo, we bottle-fed him, and he had no issues with formula, which he guzzled like a champ. Both his dad (who is a teacher so had a month off with Theo) and I spent time feeding and bonding with him. If we were going to miss out on the foundational experience of pregnancy and breastfeeding, we were going to spend as much time with him as possible. Love blossomed quickly between all of us, and to this day, I worry about over-loving him! He wasn’t a good sleeper but once he started smiling, he proved to be an extremely happy baby. To this day, aged 5, he is quick with a smile and a laugh, a great eater and still a terrible sleeper!
I wasn’t sensitive about not giving birth, so I joined the local moms group at the Mid-Main clinic and met a group of wonderful straight shooting moms who all had babies in July or August of the same year. Other than feeding, our issues were exactly the same and they were a lifeline. I also connected with a group of adoptive mothers with same aged children. I had a ton of support during that first year. Five years later, I am very good friends with the same group of adoptive mothers and keep in occasional contact with the moms group as well.
Theo knows his birthparents pretty well now. He talks to regularly in-person and on Skype. They are both pursuing their athletic and academic passions but maintain a deep commitment to being in his life. Meeting Theo that sweltering summer day wasn’t easy, but it really was just the beginning of our lives together.