Two years ago today, we spent the day in a hospital with the family that had chosen us to raise their son. We had sat through ultrasounds together, laughed over Chinese food and had met at the hospital late one night the previous week for a false alarm. This was the day, though, we all knew it. It was an emotional day, moving from laughing together to sitting quietly in the tension of the moment.
She had considered an abortion, she told us, but quickly decided she wanted her baby to be adopted instead. They sat with friends and family and looked through adoptive family profiles and unanimously chose us, because, they said, we seemed like real people, like we didn’t have it all together. I will always be grateful for what must be our obvious flaws, because they brought our son to us. :D
We walked the hospital, we ate together, and then once her epidural kicked in, she called for us to come and sit in her room. We made her laugh, we talked about music, about movies, about the baby. When his arrival was imminent, we waited in the hallway, tense, excited, trying to hold lightly to a baby that was ours but not ours, not yet. After an eternity, we heard him cry, and we cried too. He was precious, perfect, and we knew her heart was breaking.
Minutes later they wheeled him out to the NICU for his heart to be monitored, and they took a minute to let us see him. His grandmother asked the nurse to hand him to me, and in a second, in a single second, I was a mommy again and he was my baby. “These are the parents,” she told the staff, in an act of generosity that is beyond my understanding.
The next two days were a whirlwind of emotion, being family together, knowing these were their final hours with him. They had a relinquishment ceremony where they read blessings over Tristan and handed him to us, and we gave her an engraved necklace and a poem I had written, and again, we cried together.
People ask us why they didn’t raise him, and they had their reasons, some that I know and some I never will. I can say with total confidence that it wasn’t for a lack of love. They made a choice and they made it for him, to give him the kind of family they wanted him to have, despite it breaking their hearts. Over the last two years, we’ve met at parks and restaurants, exchanging texts and emails, and they have told us that seeing him with us reassures them that they made the right choice, that they’re so thankful for us.
Today, my 2 year old woke up singing, and I am thankful. I am unbelievably thankful for a young woman and her loved ones who chose life for this beautiful little one, my singer. Happy birthday, Tristan! You are so loved.
- photo credit Shelley Paulson