It’s an incredible honor to introduce and amplify another birth mom’s heart and transformational story. Be moved, changed and encouraged by guest author, Stephanie Davila, as she gracefully recounts the intricate details of her open adoption journey.
This story begins like many other journeys into motherhood, with two pink lines read over a bathroom sink. However, this was not my first tip toe onto this particular path. Twice before I had seen those pink lines and twice before I had ended my journey too early. But this time was different. This time I was not burdened by overwhelming shame, fear, and panic. This time I was free from my imagined prisons. I knew there was a different choice to be made.
Being the mature 22 year old that I was, I of course ignored this issue for a full 12 weeks. Perhaps because I was then left with less options or perhaps because my extreme intellectual abilities overcame my emotions and left me with the practicality of compartmentalization. Whatever the reason, at 12 weeks pregnant, I finally decided it was time to address the issue at hand and pursue my decision into adoption.
Being adopted myself, I was in the unique position of already having an agency in mind that I completely trusted. It was important to me, even while I was not making Christian decisions in my own life, that my child be raised in a household founded in the love of Jesus. My family (or adopted family if you like) raised me not only with the morals of the Bible but with the encouragement and excitement of building a personal relationship with Jesus. Thus, I knew this agency was the perfect choice for my unborn child.
My boyfriend (now husband) went with me to our first adoption counseling appointment. We had counseling every week, discussing every possible choice we had. Did we want to parent? Should we get married? What about our parents or family raising the baby for a few years until we were ready? With each question, another possibility arose each less attractive than the one before. So, we moved on, into the hope of adoption. Do we want a family member to adopt? How close of a family member: a sibling, a cousin, a distant relative? All perfectly viable options but all left us with the sense that our baby would still be perceived as exactly that: ours. For months we discussed at length option after option, and after each a decision was made to more forward towards open adoption.
Open adoption: The gold standard. We could stay in touch in a variety of ways with the adoptive family while still maintaining the distance we desired. So now a whole new set of questions. Exactly how distant did we want to be? How many visits a year would we prefer? What about social media? Or email? Or did we simply want a letter every year with updates and pictures? What did we want from them while in the hospital? Never ending questions in a never-ending packet full of options deciding a future for a baby we did not plan and had never met. How could we possibly get all the right answers?
Finally, only a single decision was left. Who would be the parents? Enter, the magical book, full of couples describing their lives and politely not asking for our baby. Each couple had made a scrapbook page and filled out the same tireless questionnaire. Each couple hoping beyond hope that their story, their choices, their desires would catch the eye of a mother who had a baby to give. As we perused the book, we could feel their excitement, for some their pain and for a few their desperation. After all, we all understood the emotional war that led to the decision to be a part of the book. The quiet hopeless hopefulness of waiting for that life changing phone call.
We were told to pick two families: A first and second choice. My boyfriend asked which family had been waiting the longest, but our counselor refused to answer, not wanting to sway our decision. We read extensively every scrapbook page and packet for all 12 families. Only then making our choice. Interestingly, we both chose the same family. They had been married forever, with jobs reflecting our own. Their answers in the packet lined up perfectly with ours. Even the scrapbook page was our style. They were us in the future. When we presented our choice to our counselor, she was elated and informed us that in fact this particular couple had been waiting the longest. Truly a divine match. The next step was to meet. A quick hour-long meeting to try and get a feel for them in real life so we could officially decide if they were going to be our child’s parents.
My anxiety presents by suppressing my true self and bringing forward a quiet, shy, overly submissive character. My normal loud, sarcastic, joyful personality is no match for the stomach knots. This occasion was no different. From what I remember neither my boyfriend nor I said much. We did not really ask questions or express our opinions. The fear of rejection loomed in our minds. Afterall, they were free to decide we were not the right birth parents for them. Our counselor did most of the talking. She knew the kind of experiences and family we wanted. She was an incredible advocate. Stamping down the anxiety driven quietness and leaving us with a good impression of the way this couple wanted to raise our child.
Once again, we decided to move forward. This couple was the right fit. Although how could you truly tell after talking with someone for an hour that you wanted to engage not only on a lifelong journey with them but gift them with the beautiful blessing of parenting your child? We took the chance, trusting God had saved them specifically for us. We chatted over email for the next month before our next meeting.
Time was edging closer and closer to my due date. We met again. Another packet. Another list of questions. When do you want them to come to the hospital? Do you want them there for delivery? What about right after? Or maybe the next day? The logistics of thinking through when we wanted to introduce them to their child while simultaneously discussing the procedure of signing our parental rights away felt like a mine field. Our counselor reminded me time and again that this baby was mine until I signed those papers. I got to make every decision. I was in control. I could change my mind at any time about anything.
More time rapidly passed. My due date looming. The desire most women get towards the end of pregnancy never came. I knew the longer I stayed pregnant, the longer I got to keep my child. I adored feeling his kicks and hiccups, knowing his routine inside my body, hearing his heart beat every week. But the time finally came. My sweet babe needed to enter the world and start his own journey. A journey of love and hopefulness outside of myself, outside of my care.
The hospital was not easy. I survived 12 hours of a Pitocin induced labor only to be met with little dilation. An epidural was had. Another 12 hours passed. Even less dilation. A quick decision led me into an OR, my doctor waiting with a scalpel. Some tugging and a lot of pressure. The quiet room suddenly filled with the sweet cries of a baby boy. My heart rejoiced.
The next day, we invited his parents to meet him. Their overwhelming joy filled our room. Even the sun seemed brighter around them. They sat under the window in complete aw of my little bundled boy. I hold onto this moment, a snapshot in my minds eye. This is how I will always picture them. Even after eight years have passed, I still see them perfectly. Cradling my sweet baby. Our sweet baby. My imagined future for him ending while his story began.
…Touch base next week to read part two…