Birth Mother and Adoptee, Stephanie Davila, shares part two of her story. If you missed last week’s post (Part 1) you can read it here. We are honored to be sharing Stephanie’s words and story with you today. Be moved, changed and encouraged as she gracefully recounts the intricate details of her adoption journey.
After leaving the hospital, we made our way to the adoption agency offices. We still had to sign the papers that severed our rights to be his parents. Sitting in the office, together we cried. A silent outpouring of tears dripping down my face and into my lap. Trying to stop them was impossible. How could I purposefully give my motherhood to another? Why was this the obedience God was asking of me?
I knew in my heart this was the best path for my child. I was confident in the Lord’s provision over his life. Even in my disobedience He had given me such a gift. A tiny baby to grow. The biggest blessing that started me on a path back to Him. This gift of motherhood would forever change me. This choice, a decision of placement, brought me back into a space where I would not survive without Him. I was not strong enough to withstand the heavy grief that was before me. I needed Him.
Never before had I understood the weight of a signature. Never before had I chosen loss. I had always run from pain. The physical pain of doctor’s visits. The emotional pain of rejection. And yet there I sat, embracing the suffering because of my overwhelming love. A deep desire to provide my child with the best life possible. A life I knew I could not give him.
I signed the papers, officially ending the daily expectations of my motherhood.
As Christians, funerals are a bittersweet ritual. Both sadness and joy abound. We grieve the loss of life but delight in the beauty of a heavenly accent. We understand that this life on Earth is short and we spend most of our time with our family in heaven. Thus, is adoption. Our babe spent 4 short days living in our care but will spend the rest of his life with his new family.
His new grandparents joined us for the entrustment ceremony. Like a funeral, we remembered and acknowledged the life our baby lived with us and celebrated the official transition into his better future. There was a pamphlet with a semi-terrible photo, family members gathered, and a speech was given. More significantly, there was a physical passing of responsibility from one mother to another.
I started off the ceremony by holding him. Bible verses were read. Declarations of hope were said. Then his new mother joined me. As I placed him in his new mother’s arms, I also passed on part of my motherhood. The part that held his schedule, the ability to kiss his face whenever I wanted, to decide what he gets to wear every day. The part I could not pass was the intense love. An overwhelming protectiveness. The desire to see him grow, change, and thrive. I share that part of motherhood. But the part I got to keep for myself was the remembrance of physically holding my child inside my body. I have a scar to remind me that he was once a piece of me. A piece I let go. A piece that lives on in another mother’s home.
Not only was motherhood exchanged but his name changed. Our counselor had encouraged us to name him so later we could mourn his loss. When I let go and placed him in his mother’s arms, he became theirs. His body and his person were no longer defined by our expectations. He, in every way, was theirs.
Our faces half smiled with tear-stained cheeks for picture after picture. Different combinations of family. Different positions. Some unspoken understanding these moments needed to be remembered. We would never again be this close to being his parents. Slowly we would fade into the background. Only the memories of those 4 precious days would remain.
My own personal grief, being the one left behind, will never quite fade. I will always long for the motherhood I lost, for the child that lives in my heart but not in my home. Leaving the hospital without your infant is an immense feeling. Ordinary couples are filled with joy, anxiety, and excitement. They gently place their baby in the car and drive ever so slowly and carefully home. But there was no baby for me to take home. All that was left was emptiness.
My body was empty. My soul was empty. My arms were empty. And yet my body still reminded me of his existence. I was supposed to feed him. I was supposed to nurse him to sleep. Instead, I wrapped myself tightly, laid in bed, and wept.
Grief came crashing in and I did my best to ignore the waves, but maternity leave was lonely. My own mother had left for home. My boyfriend was in the middle of finals week in college. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t work. I could barely lay flat. So, I busied myself with creating a baby book. I printed all our pictures and posted them around the house. I needed to see his face. A face I could no longer touch. I needed to remember the gift of those 4 days.
After a couple months, I returned to social media. Immediately, I checked his mother’s Facebook page and was met with picture after picture. Our agreement was that I would reach out first, when I was ready, for updates. His mother was so sweet. Sending me extra pictures and sharing his developments. Her joy was evident.
He no longer felt like mine. His life had moved on without me. In just a few months, he had grown and changed so much, I could no longer see that sweet babe I had once held. The Bible describes it as joyful sorrow. The feeling of hope and peace through the pain of loss. I knew my son was where he needed to be: with his family. And I was right where I needed to be: in the arms of my savior. No turning back. No turning back.