From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I was going to do adoption. But the path was not as straight-forward as I first expected.
My daughter’s birth father was involved and supportive of the adoption. But this was the first time in our relationship that he was supportive for the right reasons. It was an unstable and unhealthy relationship and I knew I wanted my daughter to have the best. I wanted her to grow up in a home with two parents who could be there for her and love her. And, I wanted to protect her from extended family members who would have caused problems in her life.
At first I connected with a family that I knew and a company out in California. But as time went on, the company’s actions were unsettling and the family started to go back on promises that they made. It all started to feel sort of “icky.” So, I knew I needed to find a new plan.
A New Family
A friend of a friend of my mom’s friend gave her an adoption card for a couple who were looking to adopt. So, I made the first contact with my daughter’s future parents and asked, “So, are you still looking for a new baby?”
Sarah and Andy, my daughter’s future parents, met with my mom and me over dinner. They were so open and vulnerable. Their nervousness was eye-opening for me—I knew this was super surreal for me, but I hadn’t thought about how it would be for them. My gut instinct felt really good about them.
My mom has an identical twin and they are both really protective of me, so they both came to my second meeting with Sarah and Andy. They laid into them with every single question you could possibly think of—like, do you drink? A lot? Socially? Andy and Sarah responded that they drank socially, which led to a 45-minute conversation about the differences between brandy, scotch and whiskey. It may seem small, but that conversation was so important to me because the couple I had previously chosen was not that open and would change their answers as we got to know each other more.
Making an Adoption Plan
After a couple months of meeting with Sarah and Andy, I figured they knew I was planning on them. On the day I officially told Sarah that I chose them, we had a special lunch date. In the sunshine on a mini-golf course, I said, “You know I picked you, right?” Sarah started laughing and crying and we both sat down. I watched as this weight lifted off of her. She was so happy. We called Andy and he got really excited. Which was great for me to hear because Andy is a really reserved person.
Sarah came with me to each of my doctor appointments. We also talked about how our relationship would look after the pregnancy. Even though I was settled in our plans, I still had moments when I questioned them. When I moved back home in the middle of my pregnancy, I started talking to my mom and realized I had a support system. I realized that, if I wanted to parent, I could. But focusing on the future I wanted for my daughter quieted my doubts.
I needed to rely on my support system during this time. My dad moved out to Montana a few months before I got pregnant. He was super helpful from a distance because he wasn’t in the mix and could give advice that wasn’t coming from being in the middle of it. My mom was really involved, but this was her first grandchild, so she had to work through things, too. We couldn’t be the support we needed for each other at this time, but my dad, my aunt and brother could be.
The First Moments
I ended up having to be induced because I was 9 days late. It was terrible! My mom, my two aunts, and I went to the hospital at 11 on Sunday night. Sarah and Andy came early Monday morning—they were there with me in the hospital all day.
After 24 hours I was finally in labor. Andy sat in the hall with the door cracked open and they were all yelling a play-by-play to him. My OB-GYN has been the OB-GYN for all of the women in my family—he actually delivered me. There is a rather funny photo from the delivery room of the doctor between my legs, Sarah holding one leg and my mom holding the other.
When Nora was born, the room got really quiet. There was a NICU team there because she had pooped in-utero and they wanted to make sure she was okay. It took us a few minutes to remember that Andy was still in the hall.
I chose to do the first touch and hold. I did skin-to-skin with her…and then she pooped on me. It was so gross! Andy and Sarah had a room across the hall from mine and they experienced some firsts, too: They gave her the first bath in the delivery room and we chose to have Nora stay the night in Andy and Sarah’s room.
The Hardest Moment
As we were leaving the hospital, Sarah and I put Nora into her car seat. As they were driving away, I said to my mom, “She’s not coming home with me.” It was so hard to understand because I had her inside of me for nine months. I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t know what that hole would feel like. I almost wanted to run after the car and yell “No!” but I just grabbed my mom and hugged her for a long time.
That was the hardest moment in my life. I almost changed my mind.
We went home from the hospital on Christmas, so they sent me a picture under the Christmas tree when they got home. Then they called and I told them I wasn’t doing okay. I asked them to send me photos every hour to show she was okay. They did, and it helped.
Healing & Growing
After the adoption, I had my mom and aunt and my identical twin for support. Weirdly enough a huge part of my healing took place with the kids of my two best friends, whom I’ve known since we were five and eight. I spent an obscene amount of time with them, just playing with them and acting as “Auntie A,” an extra parental figure. Letting me be a little bit of a mom to those kids helped me come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be the mom…but I am the favorite aunt.
Sarah, Andy, Nora and I are kind of this weird, little family. We text each other every week just telling what’s going on in our lives. They talk to my mom and aunt, too. Now it’s basically a family dinner when we see them. That’s how we treat it. We have dinner and drinks. We play with Nora—well, I’m mainly playing with Nora. We laugh and tell stories. My mom takes 500 pictures—it’s ridiculous. It feels like home with them. Which is really nice because I know that’s how Nora feels with them.
It feels like a combination of old friends and family—I had no idea that’s what it would be like four years ago. Watching Andy and Sara grow as parents has been a blast. I remember the day Nora got into Sara’s makeup, she sent me a picture of Nora covered in colors—it’s like, Dear god, how do you deal with that? Being able to see those things happening in Nora’s life, it’s amazing.
We all know, when Nora is older, these get-togethers may not happen as often because she might get older and have sports, or choose she doesn’t want to see us. So we’ve talked about it, but we’ll deal with that if it happens. Right now, we’re keeping it the same because it’s what we’re comfortable with.
Recognizing Mother’s Day
On my very first Mother’s Day, Nora was just five months old and I was so raw. We sent Sarah a card, and Sarah sent me a card for Birth Mother’s Day (which I didn’t know was a thing, but I now think is great). I shut myself in a room and did not come out. I just cried all day long. I hated it. I hated that day.
But now, the day is a reminder that I gave birth. I get to have a day. We started a tradition with Sarah and Andy. I’ve worked overnight for 3.5 years at a place close to their home. On every Birth Mother’s Day they would come into my work when the store opened with a bouquet, card, Nora, my mom and my aunt. There has always been a sting of pain with the day, but it’s also been amazing because they celebrated the day with me.
I recently moved away and I’ll miss that tradition. The move hit me hard—realizing that I was farther away from Nora, and that our traditions, especially around Mother’s Day, would change. But I am very optimistic about my future in Duluth. Doors are opening up and I am feeling more and more comfortable in my new space and at home in a place so simple and exquisite.
Advice for Expectant Parents
In any of the decisions you make, whichever option you choose is going to be the hardest choice because that is what you will live with. Whether you go with abortion or adoption or to raise a child—every single one is hard. There is no easy answer. If you’re unsure, ask the questions. Always ask the questions because there are options. There’s never only one option. Don’t feel trapped.
About the Author: Adrienne is a 28-year-old woman who placed her daughter in an open adoption four years ago. She loves playing board games with her friends and boyfriend, singing along to radio and laughing at any little thing. She spends her time at home with her roommate’s pets playing and cuddling on cold days. She also enjoys visiting her mom and family in the cities as often as she can.