Last Mother’s Day our lives were changed forever. On that bright, blue-sky day in our home state of Virginia, laughing children and mothers in floppy hats and pretty spring dresses were out in the city’s cafés and expansive green parks. I could see them from the windows at the hospital where we stood, waiting for our nephew to be born.
But our experience was different than others in the maternity ward.
The day before my beautiful sister-in-law and my brother had arrived at the hospital in full labor excited to welcome the newest addition to our family. Tragically when they got there, they were told that their son, our nephew, had died right before he was to be born.
When he finally arrived on Mother’s Day morning, we were joyous to finally meet him in the midst of the depths of sorrow that we experienced. He was so perfect – the spitting image of his mama with the long limbs of his handsome daddy.
Nothing could have prepared us for his birth, his death, and the connection to life that deepened within all of us because of his too short existence.
Why is this part of our adoption story?
In the hours, days and weeks that followed the death of this precious, beautiful child, we realized that everything was not lost. Out of the most complete heartbreak we’ve ever known, we remembered that time is precious. A few minutes – a few seconds – changes everything. And we knew we couldn’t wait any longer.
The years that Kevin and I had spent talking about starting our family through adoption just dropped away. We had known for years that we wanted to adopt a baby as we were unable to conceive and we knew we were meant to adopt. We talked about how we would give our seven nieces and nephews another cousin through open adoption. We had already changed the diapers of children in our lives for years, wiped their tears, read to them and made them giggle with delight. And we didn’t want to wait anymore to find our child and bring her or him into our lives.
We registered with an agency, formulated our plans for an adoption, and completed our home study. In February of this year, we were approved to adopt domestically.
Throughout the past few months, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves through the intense self-reflection of the adoption qualification process. We’ve also learned a lot through stories about others who are pursuing adoption, those who are adopted and those who are the birth parents to children who are adopted. The stories people have told us in the past few months reinforce why we choose to grow our family through adoption.
We choose to adopt because we both have the desire to have a big family – one that is knitted together through birth, adoption and community. That’s how each of our parents raised us – to form relationships and make special people part of the family.
We’ve learned that we need to be tenacious and wait until a birth mother and/or father chooses us to be parents. In the meantime, we see ourselves as adoption advocates and are spending time writing about our journey, educating people about adoption, listening to others tell us about their journeys, and using all forms of media to help us find our future children.
This Mother’s Day, we are remembering that everything’s not lost and are celebrating the short life of our nephew and the joy and meaning his brief existence brings to us. We are celebrating our mothers and grandmothers and our sisters-in-law who gave us our nieces and nephews. We are celebrating the birth mothers and adoptive mothers who give life and hope to the children of our world.
And we are counting our blessings as we are searching for an infant to bring into our lives through adoption.