You’ve made the decision to make an adoption plan. You’ve filled out all the paperwork. You’ve chosen the family to raise your child. You’ve attended all your doctor’s appointments, created your post placement contact agreement and now we are all just waiting.
I always refer to my hospital experience as the “hospital bubble.” I think I could have lived in that bubble forever. I went into labor at 11:30pm on July 11, 2012 and after many long, intense hours of labor, I had the most beautiful baby girl. Her parents came in to see her and the look on their faces the moment they saw her is imprinted in my mind forever. It is what confirmed that I was making the right decision. I had never seen such genuine love and happiness in someone’s eyes like I did in that moment. She deserved that. She deserved parents that were so excited and happy that she was finally here. I don’t know that I ever felt that way. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her so much, but I don’t think I ever felt excited or happy. For the next two days, her parents and my family all spent their time at the hospital with me. The hospital staff was so understanding and accommodating. The baby was in my room some of the time and with her parents some of the time. They really let me take the lead in the hospital and that felt really good. They never let their anxieties or worries show, even though I’m sure they had many. We had a really great time bonding in the hospital and coming together over our girl. It was a bubble I never wanted to leave.
So while all of that sounds amazing (and it was!) I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you that it was also the HARDEST and most painful experience of my life. The best way I can sum up the hospital experience is, I came in with her and I walked out without her. No matter how much counseling you receive and how sure you feel about your decision, I don’t think anything can prepare you for the emotions you will experience. My counselor was right when she said that your heart will start to betray your mind. My mind was made up, but my heart felt a love and a bond like nothing I had ever experienced. It is confusing. Normally when you are making the right decision it feels good. But in this case even the right decision feels terrible. It is the day that your heart gets ripped from your chest. I asked to spend an hour alone with her and I spent that hour holding her and crying and telling her that I loved her and that I wished things were different. I needed that alone time to feel the depth of my emotions and have the opportunity to tell her everything I wanted her to know. I didn’t want my emotions to put a damper on her parents’ experience and I needed that privacy.
On the last day at the hospital, I wheeled her bassinet over to her parents and we hugged and we cried. In that moment I felt an emotional pain like I had never felt before, a pit in my stomach and an ache in my heart. I had to leave without her. I had carried her for 9 months and now it was time for them to carry her. My hospital bubble popped. Just like that.
But then her mom whispered something in my ear and nothing has ever brought me more peace than what she said to me that day.
“THIS ISN’T GOODBYE, THIS IS UNTIL NEXT TIME.”
This wasn’t the end of our story. It didn’t stop here. It was the reassurance that they really did care about me and they really were committed to having an open adoption. They had what they wanted, but they still wanted me.