Oh, the awkwardness I felt in that photo! I so badly wanted to bond with Turkey-man properly, doing some skin-to-skin time, but I kept wondering if I even had the right to do so. I knew loving a child not yet your own was risky, but I was not prepared for the other scenarios that come with being the Prospective Mother.
For this week’s Tuesday’s Trials post, I want to focus on some of the difficulties that many of those who adopt through the domestic, infant route face. It goes way beyond just the love.
There are many decisions that needed to be made after the birth of a child; ones that I had opinions about, but had no right to express them. There was first the decisions about who gets the bands and can come get the baby from the nursery; may they provide the initial vitamin K shot and antibiotic eye ointment?; immunizations?; circumcision? Etc. All things I wanted, but none of which I had the right to vocalize.
We were fortunate that both of the birthmothers asked our preferences and deferred to what we wanted, but it was difficult making those decisions known. In my heart, I wanted to back off my relationship with Mama-A and Mama-D, knowing they had a tremendous final decision to make. I did not want my emotions to sway their decisions. I knew all of us had to live with the implications of their decision for the rest of our lives and wanted to make sure they felt free to make the decision for themselves.
So, when they asked our opinion on things, I had a struggle on my hands. My insides longed to be free to make those decisions for our prospective children, but I also wanted the birthmoms to make the decisions for themselves in case they chose to parent. I did not want them to live with our decisions if we did not end up being the parents.
Probably the most difficult moment came with Little Flower. Where we live, there is a 72 hour waiting period before the birthparents can terminate their rights. With Turkey-man being born via c-section all 72 hours were able to be spent in the hospital given that Mama-A was there recovering. Little Flower was born the traditional route, only giving Mama-D a 48 hour admission. The question became what to do with Little Flower during the gap.
They gave Mama-D the option of staying at the hospital as a guest, meaning they would give her a room to stay in as long as they did not need it, but no meals or services would be provided. The other option was that Mama-D could choose to go home, either taking Little Flower home with her or leaving her in the nursery. If Little Flower stayed, we did not have bands so we would not be able to be with her. Little Flower would be laying in the nursery with neither her birthmother nor adoptive parents there to attend to her cries. The thought of that broke my heart, but again, I had no right to speak up.
I remember suggesting hubby and I go for a walk while she and her mom discussed the options. I desperately wanted Mama-D to stay, but I did not want my emotions to be readily evident. Thankfully, she chose to stay.
In the end, there was nothing that we would have decided differently than what happened. Thankfully, we have been blessed with wonderful birthmothers who valued our opinions as hard as it was to express them.
Walking that tightrope, trying not to sway the birthmother’s decision was tough. It’s a balance between wanting to identify as the baby’s mother and respecting the fact that I was not yet allowed to assume that role, reminding myself that I was merely the prospective mother.
Although I tremendously value being able to be a part of our children’s lives from day one, it comes with an awkward wait when you are in that gap between birth and the termination of parental rights. For us in the open adoption world, it became one of many times where we work in collaboration with the birth family, trying to do what is best. It was a complicated time-frame, but the mutual respect that was built between us has served us well in our continued relationship. I do not miss that awkwardness, but I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to experienced it!