While working as a domestic infant adoption caseworker, I'd routinely jot notes in my journal while sitting in my car outside of the hospital. The intensity of my feelings were too great to be bottled up inside me. This is one of my private journal entries, written in 2013.
"For years, we’ve struggled to conceive a child.”
I remember this family had shared this with me months ago, fighting back tears.
“We are choosing to adopt because we just want to shower a child with love, security, stability and opportunity."
I wonder if they realized that this is also many birth parents' wish.
She’s 14 years old. He’s 15.
Her friends don't yet know, as she hasn't begun to show.
They stood next to their gym locker, discussing their options.
After class, they call the agency to learn about adoption.
She’s schizophrenic, and doesn’t understand reality.
How’d she get pregnant?
She does not cry.
I want to cry for her.
We are sipping lattes, hot chocolates and tea together.
Me, pre-adoptive parents, birth mom, birth dad and the pregnancy counselor.
The unborn baby is also there.
Hidden underneath skin, clothing, and shame.
We discuss plans for the baby.
What gets to hold her first?
(the hospital social worker asks)
My best friend is a professional photographer, can she take photos in the hospital?
(the adoptive parents ask)
I'd like you to be the only one in the room
(the expectant mom says pointing to the pregnancy counselor)
Who will leave the hospital first?
The birthmom? Wheeled away without the proof of her labor.
The birthdad? Silenced by cultural myths and misunderstandings of his role.
The Adoptive parents? Proudly showing off their newborn, abandoned child.
The logistics, the emotions, the questions, the fears.
I strive to advocate for this pre-verbal baby (the soon-to-be adoptee) at the center of it all.
I hold the baby for a little while and tell the newborn,
“I understand this is traumatic for you.
This arrangement is peculiar; however I believe it to be the best option.
These parents have agreed to make sure you know who your birth parents are, and for that I am grateful."
I hand the baby back to the birth mom, who snips off some hair as a memento.
The nurse asks me to sign on the dotted line, where it says “Legal Guardian.”
I sign as though this is a transaction and I’m the middle man.
I go home mired by confidentiality,
my mind is doing backflips
I settle in to my bathtub and close my eyes,
when I receive a text message:
"Birthmom 'K' is in labor. Likely to deliver tonight. Call pre-adopt parents to let them know. See you at the hospital."
All in a days work.
Amidst the chaos of creating an adoption plan in the most respectful and thoughtful way for all parties, I remember that none of us really had a choice in our birth. Adoption or not. What is it that those without the ability to speak our language wish they could say? I work so hard to advocate for these adopted newborns, but who is advocating for the babies born and raised by their biological parents? Hopefully, their biological parents have their best interest in mind. However, I know this is not always the case.
Birth is complex. Perhaps it's the complexity that makes it beautiful.