On his birthday last week Tea (Sammy’s birthmom) texted to let me know she’d reached Sam to wish him a happy birthday. She said he told her he was “skating w/ a bunch of white ppl. Lol.”
I wrote back, “Wait did he tell you that was his idea?! Going to a movie with a bunch of not white ppl later tonight.”
She texted back, “ Bumblebee was good. See y’all soon!”
I replied, “Can’t wait!”
Everything about our exchange makes me happy:
- She and I are texting about him on his birthday.
- He’s telling her like it is.
- She’s telling me about it, and offering her own insights.
- We are headed to see her and the family next month and everyone is talking about it with excitement.
Co-parenting across the country open-adoption style.
Fourteen years ago this week I received the call that the baby who would become Samuel was born. Both his birth mother and the son I would raise and love on were healthy and resting.
“And there’s more great news,” the adoption agency placement director said. “She wants you to call her. Do you have a pen?”
It was 5:40 a.m. and everything was spinning, “Wait? What?”
You see, for the months leading up to this day I was told she was not interested in an open adoption and did not want to be asked to talk about it again. While I was disappointed, I could not imagine the experience she was going through and fully respected her choice. Learning I was who she wanted to parent her son (because, like her, I would be a single mother and at the time I was a teacher, which she aspired to become) was enough. I wasn’t going to say ‘no’ because of her lack of interest in open adoption. Maybe in time she would change her mind?
Gazing down at the hospital phone number and instructions for handling the hospital paperwork I hung up the phone with the agency and proceeded to run around the apartment screaming my awe and joy to the ceilings. The suitcase was packed, the car seat was by the door. I had plane tickets to buy, and family and friends to contact…
But first I had to call her. Doubt came crashing into the kitchen, and sat on my lap nearly tipping me over. What if when I called her she changed her mind? What if when I arrived she and I didn’t connect? What if I wasn’t really up to this after all? Was I going to be a good enough parent? How could I presume to know how to parent a Black boy as a white woman?
I’m sure I reached for the phone 16 times. When I finally had the courage to enter into this new miraculous life, I had worked so hard for it, unfolded with care and quiet ease (at first). The hospital room phone was ringing.
I don’t even remember my awkward introduction. But I’ll never forget her first description of him: “He’s the biggest boy in the nursery. I call him Fatso. He’s scaring all the other babies cause he’s so big.”
I asked after her. Did she need anything?
“I need you to get here. And he needs a name.”
Oh right. The name.
About the Author: Catherine M. Anderson grew her family through open adoption and donor conception. She regularly writes about her experience as a single mother navigating transracial parenting on her blog, Mama C and the Boys, where this post was originally published. She also coaches families about their adoption interests, plans and parenting challenges along the journey.