Did you know that you picked mommy and daddy to be your parents while you were in heaven? You saw us and you said, “There they are! That’s my mommy and daddy.” But mommy couldn’t grow a baby in her belly. She could only grow the hope for you in her heart. Soon, you met a very nice young woman named Bailey. You made each other a special promise. She promised to love you and keep you safe in her belly while she found your mommy and daddy. You were so little and needed her help. One day, she found your mommy and daddy. (That’s us!) She placed you in our arms. Then mommy and daddy made a very special promise to Bailey. We promised to love you and protect you always. Then mommy gave Bailey a piece of that hope she had in her heart. Now, mommy carries you in her arms, and Bailey carries you in her heart.
Henry loves to hear that story. It’s his story. His baby sister has a similar story that one day she’ll grow to love as well. It’s the most straightforward and honest way we can think of to explain adoption to them while they’re so small. People are often surprised that we talk to our children so early and so freely about their stories. We’ve made a conscious effort to make sure that Henry and Reese know their stories now. We want them grow up NOT remembering an awkward moment where they discovered they were adopted.
For anyone who hasn’t adopted, you’re likely to hear stories from couples who have journeyed down this road. They’ll speak of mounds of paperwork, parenting courses they attended and the emotional roller coaster ride of the whole process. All this can be true, if you let that be the memory you keep.
I like to think we’re just like everybody else. Remember your first sonogram? Remember how excited you were? Well, I remember the first phone call from the adoption agency telling us that we were approved. Remember that sugary gunk you moms had to drink to test for gestational diabetes? My version of that was turning in background clearance paperwork. My labor? The phone call we waited months to receive. Congratulations! A birth mother has selected you, but keep in mind, she can change her mind at any moment. Now wait for two more months. Good luck with that.
See? I’m just like you. I may not have gone through the physical parts of pregnancy, but I have some of the same battle scars. After we adopted Henry my hips spread about two inches. I’M NOT JOKING. I even cut my hair in what I thought at the time was a sassy mom bob. Turns out is was way more “mom” than it was sassy. After Reese came along, I purchased some expensive go-to-town sweats and suffered a long bought of postpartum depression. It’s true. Adoptive moms can have depression and dress in fancy sweats just like you!
Both of our adoptions were domestic, meaning they were conducted inside the US and both took place in Utah. As a matter of fact, Henry’s birth mom (Bailey) lives only thirty minutes away from us. I find myself looking for her when I’m out shopping.
Reese’s mom (Keely) only lived in Utah for a short time while she was pregnant. About four months ago, she moved back to her home state in the southern US. Even though she’s hundreds of miles away, I still look for her when I’m out shopping too.
The first time I laid eyes on Henry he was swaddled up and in the hospital nursery. There were two baby boys born within minutes of each other that day. Jeremy and I stood together, our faces and hands pressed against the glass trying to figure out which little creature was our son. Something drew me in closer to one baby in particular. I can’t describe fully why, but I just knew the little loud one on the right was mine. Although my eyes didn’t recognize him, my heart certainly did. I pointed to him, with tears in my eyes and said, “That’s him. That’s our Henry.” Jeremy hugged me and said, "God I hope so".
Reese came into our lives a little differently. We believed, along with her birth parents and two ultrasound technicians that Reese was a boy. When our caseworker called to tell us that Keely had given birth to a little girl, we were stunned and thrilled. (Mostly thrilled.)
Keely and Tim (birth father) waited to name her until we arrived at the hospital a few hours later. The four of us had grown closer so it felt only right that we should name this baby together. Her name is Reese, meaning lively and energetic. Her middle name is Michelle. I don’t know what it means and you know, it doesn’t really matter. It’s Keely’s middle name. That’s all I need to know.
I remain in contact with both of our birth moms somewhat. We reunited with Bailey when Henry was just ten months old. She was able to hold him and finally spend some one on one time together. We send her updates yearly and she has our blog address.
Keely and I email a few times a week and I send her updates as well. We’ve reunited with her twice since Reese was born. Keely is also a frequent reader of this here blog. (She even sent me the nicest message yesterday after reading Reese's post)
I have no doubt that my path will cross with these birth moms at some point during my children’s lives. Will it be a chance meeting at the grocery store? Will it be long awaited reunion when the time is right? Who knows? But whenever or where ever it is, I will welcome these women with open arms. They loved and carried my babies when I could not.
Be sure to visit my good friend Heinous (Jim) over at Irregularly Periodic Ruminations today. He has a touching adoption story about his six year old son Jacob. It was his idea to post together today in a tribute to our children.
(This week has been an emotional one for The Bee Family. I'm rounding the corner for regularly scheduled nonsense soon.)