Monday, July 27, 2009

Adoption Part 1: Total Heartbreak

I posted this series (three posts total) a few years ago on my old blog so if it sounds familiar you probably read it there. I have done some minor wordsmithing (mostly to be consistent with how I refer to certain people on this blog) on it but it is otherwise the same. Also, you can thank Desmond Jones for me posting these. He asked, and I am happy to oblige.

We were selected by a 21-year-old college student in Michigan to parent her unborn child. Susan (no real names used in this story, just pseudonyms) had already had two other children, one whom she was raising and one she had put up for adoption. If memory serves correctly, all three children had different fathers. I definitely remember that the unborn child had a different father from the other two.

She was about four months pregnant when she chose us. As part of the adoption, we paid for her living expenses throughout the rest of her pregnancy – rent, utilities, food, maternity clothing. Due to the baby being breech and the doctor being unable to turn it, a C-section was scheduled for a Monday. We made arrangements to fly in the Thursday before and take Susan to her doctor appointment on Friday and also to the hospital on Monday for the birth. We met Susan face to face for the first time on that Friday morning. She was a beautiful young woman, well mannered and bright. She had her 3-year-old son with her. He was cute as could be. We took her to her appointment and watched her son while she met with the doctor. Afterwards, we took Susan and her son out for lunch at Applebee’s or Chili’s or some such place. While taking her home we were slowed down in traffic due to a small accident ahead of us. As luck would have it, someone rear ended us as we came to a stop. The officer on the scene asked us to pull onto a side street and wait until he finished with the first accident so he could deal with ours. The damage to the rental car we were in was minimal, but the rental car company required a police report so we waited. We spent a good portion of the afternoon chatting with Susan and her son. All seemed well.

I don’t remember how we spent our time that weekend while waiting for the arrival of our child on Monday. The next memory I have is our going on Monday morning, very early, to pick Susan up to take her to the hospital for the scheduled C-section. Her son was staying with his father as had been prearranged. When she checked in at the hospital she put my name down to receive the second ID bracelet (she, of course, had the first) allowing me to go to the nursery and visit with and care for our child. We stayed with her up until they took her to the OR. The doctor came in and checked on her at one point while we were waiting with her. Susan introduced us as the adoptive parents of her child. The doctor asked her some pointed questions about being sure that she was going to give up this child, and how hurtful it would be to change her mind later. She insisted she was sure, and I had every confidence that she was answering honestly.

Finally, it was time for Susan to head to the OR. We would soon see our new baby. W and I sat in the waiting area trying to be patient as we waited for our baby. Finally, after what seemed an eternity a nurse emerged with the baby and headed for the nursery. We were told that we could follow them down there and soon see the baby and hold her. A girl! We had a baby girl! Susan had already told us that she had no name for her baby and would put whatever name we chose on the birth certificate so we knew that her name was Victoria. When all was settled in the nursery we took a look at our beautiful baby girl. She was the most beautiful little girl I’d ever seen. We couldn’t hold her just yet. She was just a bit jaundiced so they put her under a special light. I don’t remember if it was later that day or early the next that we first got to hold her, but I remember being terrified that anyone would let me hold such a delicate little thing. I was so afraid I would break her somehow. From then until she was discharged on Wednesday, W and I spent almost all our waking hours at the hospital most of that time with baby Victoria. We visited Susan in her room a few times over those three days. She seemed depressed, moody. She came to the nursery to see Victoria only once. On Wednesday afternoon, Victoria and Susan were both discharged from the hospital. As far as I know, Susan made no attempt to see Victoria that afternoon.

By the time we arrived back at our hotel, there was a message from the social worker handling the adoption. Susan had changed her mind and decided she wanted to parent Victoria. We would have to keep Victoria overnight, and the social worker would bring Susan to the hotel to pick her up the next morning. I was crushed, devastated. Although I had only known this little girl for three days she was without a doubt my daughter in my heart and in my mind. The thought of giving her back was unthinkable, but there was no alternative. The thought of keeping her overnight was almost unbearable. We took photos, many photos, that night of our beautiful little girl. I don’t think I slept that night at all. I remember lying in bed watching Victoria sleep. I remember getting up with her and feeding her and changing her diaper. I remember sitting and holding her and wishing there were any way in the world I could keep her. But I could not keep her. She was not my daughter. She was Susan’s daughter, and Susan wanted her.

On Thursday morning, the social worker came to our hotel room. She came in and spoke with us for a while. I don’t remember what she said. I do remember that she asked if we wanted to come down to the lobby and speak with Susan. I said no, because I knew that my emotions were too raw, that I was too likely to say things that were better left unsaid, particularly in so public a place as a hotel lobby. After some very tearful goodbyes, the social worker left with Victoria. The room seemed mighty empty after that. We packed our bags and left. We headed to the airport to change our tickets and fly home. I don’t remember why, but we couldn’t get out that day and had to stay in a motel by the airport that night. We had the rest of the day to do nothing. We watched TV. We talked. We cried.

On Friday, we flew home. We let everyone know what happened, the same people we had told in joyful anticipation about the upcoming adoption. We spent the weekend mourning our loss. I returned to work on Monday morning. It was much too soon.

Victoria is now almost 11 years old. I have not seen her since she was three days old. I still think of her often, wondering what she is doing, how she is doing. I often think of Susan also. I hold no ill will toward her. She is a mother. She is Victoria’s mother. I wish them both well.


Summer said...

I know the urge to be a mother and to have it in reach then yanked out away must have been awful. I'm glad you were successful adopting N.

Desmond Jones said...

Thanks for this, Truey. (Sorry, I was away at camp when it first posted, so I missed it; yeef)

Heartbreaking. That bio-maternal connection is a strong one. 1F still has her days of wishing she could be raising her daughter. . .