Adopting is scary. The initial thought of raising someone else’s child is as far as many get. But if you see past that and realise that creating a child and giving birth isn’t what makes you a mummy and daddy, then maybe it’s the right path for you.
If you proceed then you will have many things to consider, one of which will be contact and the possibility of meeting your child’s birth parents. This instills fear into many, admittedly myself included. But it is one of the best things we have done and it is a big part of what underpins our daughter’s adoption journey. Here is our story…
It was thrust upon us one Thursday, ‘how about you meet the birth parents next week?’ the cheery social worker trilled. She delivered it in such a matter of fact way, but nothing could detract from the enormity of those few words. I instantly felt the blood drain from my face. My stomach flipped and I felt distant from reality. Of course we knew this moment was to come. Throughout the adoption process you discuss how birth parent meetings are encouraged, so that you can ask questions and they can have some peace of mind and closure. But most importantly so that you can tell your child you met them and this is exactly what they were like. How they presented, the colour of their eyes, the tone to their voice, the way that they dressed, whether they were tall or short. To bring the description you have on paper to life. To make the photographs your give your child more real. To turn the fantasy into a person. As I reentered the room I could hear details being discussed, times and venues, it was so rigid, so controlled. Yet this was huge, another first in our adoption journey and the butterflies were already swirling with a vengeance.
As we compiled our questions and gathered some photographs of our precious girl I wondered how they must be feeling. Were they as anxious as we were? Did they have any questions for us? Were they excited to meet us even? Or were they angry, angry we took their baby away, and did they want her back? My dreams filled with possible scenarios as each night drew us closer to the day we would meet the people who had given us the greatest gift in the creation of our daughter.
I think my biggest fear going into the meeting wasn’t the possible hostility, or feeling the inevitable guilt that I had somehow ‘stolen’ their daughter. It was that I would see them every time I looked at Little Pink’s face and studied her perfect little features. Until this point so many people had commented on the resemblance she had to me and I relished in these moments. Each time it reaffirmed I was her mummy and she was my girl. This was suddenly at risk and the thought was almost too much to bear. What if I saw them? What if that gave me the constant reminder she wasn’t really mine? It was the first real wobble, did we really have to do this?
Waking up on the morning of the meeting I allowed my mind to wander. I wallowed in a daydream where I could just roll over and go back to sleep, to start again and pretend it was just another normal day. But it wasn’t. This was big.
As we dropped our precious Pink off with her grandparents I was aware of her sweet babyish innocence. Too young yet to be aware of her story and the enormity of this day. The day we would talk to her about in years to come. I briefly felt a pang of sadness for the journey she had ahead and then a fierce need to protect my child. A million emotions surrounded my fragile mind, but I plastered on a smile and with a cheery wave bid everyone goodbye. It was time.
With trembling hands I opened the door and there they were. Just people. But people which held such power at this moment. People that would shape our lives forever. I managed a weak smile and we sat down in silence. Those split seconds where no body spoke felt like they lasted a lifetime. All I could hear was by heart beating faster and faster, until the moment was broken with birth mum letting out an almighty sigh. I looked up and our eyes locked. And I saw her. A scared little girl in an adults body, my shield fell down and I felt her hurt. She was grieving and it cut deep.
Birth Dad sat quietly, avoiding eye contact and trying to shrink into the corner. He shifted awkwardly in his seat, still no one spoke. Luckily Little Pink’s social worker broke the eerie silence and gently prompted us into our questions. I heard my voice. It sounded high pitched and shaky. Not me at all. After a slight pause and a subconscious pep talk I continued. And it was just fine.
We all spoke, about their likes and wishes for their birth child, we assured them we would always cherish Little Pink, and tell her her special story. We shared photos and had a picture taken all together. A picture that now sits proudly in our daughter’s life story book, to illustrate the tale of the day we met her birth parents. Everyone is smiling and it gives our daughter an important message, that her birth family accept us as her parents. That photo is priceless in her acceptance of her adoption. I am extremely glad we have that image, to us it is so very powerful.
As we said our goodbyes there was a split second where I thought birth mum might hug me and if she had, I knew in that moment, that I would have hugged her back. I would tell her that it would all be alright, her child was safe and forever loved. But she didn’t and the moment passed. It was time to go.
After much trepidation I can honestly say I am so so glad we met Little Pink’s birth parents. It allows us to bring their personalities into the stories we share with her. They are more than just grainy photos in a book, they are real people who created our daughter, she deserves to know all she can. And they deserve to have their stories told. They are not bad people, they are people who did not have the childhood our daughter is fortunate enough to be experiencing. They made some poor life choices, but not from a place of malice but for simply not knowing any better. Children trapped in adult bodies. Expecting them to raise a child was simply beyond their capabilities. I don’t feel guilty for taking their child, I feel relieved that the cycle has been broken, and blessed that we are the right parents to raise this beautiful girl. I will always consider them, think of them on special days, but I don’t see them in her face. I see us. Her voice is her mummy, her mannerisms her daddy. Genetics are only half the story.
I am so happy we have this tale to tell. To tell her they loved her but couldn’t keep her and care for her the way every child deserves. But that she is a lucky little girl, she has two sets of parents, her birth parents who created her and fought for her until the end, and us, mummy and daddy who love her to the moon and back, and who will always protect her, now and forever. And really, how many children can say that?
Love from Lauren