by Erin Gallagher
It is so surreal to think that just one year ago, during National Adoption Month, my husband and I were beginning to look over the paperwork from a home study that would eventually help make us a family. Each adoption story is so unique. One common theme I have learned from our personal story as well as other stories, is the need to have faith throughout the entire process. Your faith will be tested and tried over and over again. But the end result is worth every doubt, worry and tear. Many people arrive at adoption after years of longing to have a child.When the day finally arrives that you are holding your baby, the rush of joy and absolute love is unlike any emotion you have ever experienced.
For years we agonized over whether our family would grow beyond the two of us after several heartaches and losses. However, through the gift of a remarkable woman, God blessed us with a beautiful baby girl. This was not the “typical adoption story”, but then again, what is the “typical adoption story?” Our daughter’s story is as unique and beautiful as she is.
On a Thursday evening in March our adoption consultant sent us a picture of an adorable B.O.G. boy in another state. After finding out that B.O.G. means “Baby on Ground” and seeing the beautiful photo, we asked her to submit us to the birth mother. Since the baby was being discharged the next day, we were advised to keep our phones on all night and have a car seat and suitcase ready just in case we had to fly out immediately. As you can imagine we did not get much sleep and going to work the next day was not easy. Later, we received a text saying that the baby boy was actually a baby girl and asked if we were still interested.(Ummm...Yes!!!)While driving home from workthe next daywe heard the news that we will never forget hearing: The birth mom had chosen us as her baby girl’s family!
We bought plane tickets immediately after being told to fly out on the following morning because in that state the birth parents have to wait 72 hours to sign consent. Her birth mom signed consent on our favorite holiday, Saint Patrick’s Day. We knew then that this wasn’t just luck but God’s answered prayers. When we flew out we only had her birth mom’s consent and we prayed that we’d have her birth father’s consent soon. We arrived in the early morning and drove about an hour to the “Nanny’s” home to finally meet our baby girl. Nothing could ever prepare us for the overwhelming amount of emotions that arose when we first saw and held her. Many websites, adoption classes, professionals, and friends warned us prior to meeting our baby girl. They told us, “Don’t feel bad if you don’t bond or feel attachment immediately when you adopt a child.” However, after meeting and holding our daughter for the first time in that sweet nanny’s living room, we felt an instant connection to her.
We had a difficult time finding a place to stay with such short notice because it was prime vacation time for spring breakers where we were. With the help of some old family friends we rented ourselves a littlehome in a retirement community about an hour outside of the city. We werenestled up in a quaint RV surrounded by cacti lit bystrands of holiday lights. We could hear the faint sound of a cover band singing “Sweet Caroline” where the 50+ community partied it up nightly at the Tiki Bar down the street. Having a new born baby raised some eyebrows in the little community, but our friends and “temporary neighbors” couldn’t have been more welcoming and generous.
The wait for the birth father’s consent proved our love and bonding to be even truer. Those two days in our “desert home away from home” waiting for the birth father’sconsent were the longest hours ever, filled with tears and baby kisses. We were afraid to be too excited about our baby. Mike said, “I didn’t know how much I loved her until having the fear that she might not come home with us.”
The following day we got the call that her birth father signed. He wanted us to know that he was a good man and that this baby was made out of love. We can’t even comprehend the heartache it must have been for him to make this choice after only learning about the adoption plan the previous day.
The day after we got a call from the lawyer asking if our birth mom could meet us and see the baby. Although we were very nervous about meeting her, we were more grateful that we would get to meet the woman who gave us the greatest possible gift anyone could ever give another person, as we were under the impression she wanted a closed adoption and we feared we would never meet her.
Meeting our daughter’s “Tummy Mom” was the next best thing to meeting our baby herself. The moment she walked to our table we embraced each other with tears. It was as if we knew each other forever. “Momma S” is a beautiful, intellectual, spiritual, bubbly, amazing woman. After she video chatted with the birth father privately, we talked for an hour about her birth, horoscopes, what their passions were, and the activities they enjoyed growing up. She shared the birth story- a miracle and surprise of itself. The day she was born “Momma S” said she wasn’t feeling so great. After taking a hot shower she sneezed and her water broke. She could feel the baby crowning when she reached down. She called 911 and the EMTs had to break down her door to help deliver in her living room. (Way to make an entrance, little one!)
“Momma S” showed us pictures of our daughter’s two-year-old adorable half-sister. She said that our baby girl had her eyes and forehead and his ears. We took pictures with her to put in the nursery and adoption book. She mentioned that she felt guilt making this choice but now feels a sense of relief meeting us. I reminded her of our gratitude for her selfless love and gave her a bracelet with baby girl’s birthstone, which stands for peace. We only hope that we left her with peace of mind and heart that she made the right choice and a concept of how much we already love her baby girl. We opened the door for communication to share milestones and photos with her, and she was very happy to hear that we wanted to include her. She gave us a letter to give to Baby when she turns 18 and told us to read it first. After explaining that we will let her know when she is developmentally ready about her adoption story and that she will know she is adopted immediately and we asked her what she specifically wanted her to know. She restated that she just wants her to know how much she is loved and how much she was wanted. We couldn’t have asked for a more loving and generous birth mom. We are truly blessed that her birth mother, who loves her so much, would break her own heart for her chance at a life she could not provide.
When we look at our daughter, we don’t even remember that she didn’t “come” from us. We loved her with our whole hearts years before we even knew she existed. Like any road walked in life, adoption can be hard at times. But no matter how hard it may get, we know that with the love we have for our child and with the love both her birth parents have for her, that we are all connected to each other by our deep love for one special little girl. We absolutely love adoption because through it we became a Mom and Dad, but also because it showed us that miracles can and do happen.