Our plan is to make a quick getaway, to say a guilty goodbye to Crystal and bring our newborn daughter home. This plan was carefully crafted to make this day as bearable for Crystal as possible.
Roger and I show up at the hospital. Crystal, the experienced mom, shows me how to change an impossibly small diaper. She mentions that her Grandma, whom everyone calls Honey, would really love to meet the baby. But she’s been battling cancer and isn’t well enough to leave her home.
We find out Honey lives not far from Crystal, who lives within 10 miles of our home.
So we decide not to listen to the adoption experts about the clean getaway, and to follow our hearts instead. We ask Crystal (though she could have dictated any route home from the hospital had she wanted to, since relinquishment is still weeks away) if she would like us to take the baby to visit Honey.
She lights up. And we load the cars. Before long we all arrive at Honey’s house.
As soon as we get Tessa inside, Crystal, her mom and Grandma Honey huddle over the baby. Three generations ooh and aah over Tessa’s toes – she has the family toes. This is an intimate moment where I feel like an outsider, and I wonder if I can ever truly be this baby’s mother.
Tessa begins to cry and Crystal says to me, “Get the bottle, Mom.”
I didn’t even bring in the diaper bag! I’m not used to this. I can’t do this. I’m not a natural. We’ve all made a big mistake. I’m embarrassed. I’m exposed for the fraud I am. Who in their right mind would consider me a mother? Panic attack.
Roger brings in the diaper bag and I have a crying baby in my arms, so my moment of self-pity is over in a flash. Crystal giggles, good-naturedly cooing to Tessa: “See, Mommy has what you need.” And she smiles at me, telling me all is well.
Our glance also communicates that it’s time for us to leave. I know how grateful Crystal is that we’ve brought Honey and Tessa together. I know she will be incredibly sad as we drive away. I know I am itching to start our lives with this beautiful baby.
We gather all the stuff and say our goodbyes. I whisper in Crystal’s ear during a hug, “You call whenever you’re ready. I love you and I’m thinking of you every single day.”
She looks at me with pure love and trust in her eyes and whispers, “I know. I will.”
We finally make our quick getaway and head home. With our daughter.
This was in response to a writing prompt at the Open Adoption Roundtable, where the assignment was to “write about a small moment that open adoption made possible.”
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Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.