To the Mother Who Chose Me to Adopt Her Baby With Down Syndrome
When my husband, Scott, and I decided to adopt a baby with Down syndrome, I played and replayed scenarios in my mind. They ranged from what it would be like the first time we met our baby to what I would say should anyone dare question our decision or say something less than encouraging about my family. I kept thinking about all the joy, the excitement, the passion that I would have for this new calling in life. But somehow in the midst of it all, I never thought about the family that our baby would be coming from in order to get to us.
Suddenly my adoption daydreaming became a harsh reality when we found out a birth mom had chosen our family’s profile and was interested in speaking with me further. I was given her email address and simply told to write to her and introduce myself. No scenario in my mind or any real experience in my past for that matter could prepare me for this moment. What do you say to the person who might choose you to raise and love her child? How do you make contact without sounding desperate? Do you share personal stories or try to remain neutral?
I don’t even remember what I first said to her, but I managed to make contact. Then things got even harder. I was prepared to feel great about adoption because I would be “saving” a child from a bad situation. But as I got to know this stranger through her words on my computer screen, I realized I wasn’t saving anyone. This was an amazing woman who didn’t need me to be the hero. She was already being the hero by choosing what was best for her baby and not what was easiest for herself. I tried to be as honest as possible as we emailed back and forth, asking and answering questions and trying to be as polite as possible. Then I got the email.
Yes, we have chosen you and Scott, so please proceed with the social worker…
This small sentence that has forever changed my life, given me the gift of my son and inextricably linked my life to the life of this stranger. We set up a time to meet in person.
Scott and I walked into our adoption agency as my mental scenarios began again. “Oh, maybe she’ll say this… then I’ll say this…” “The social worker will probably usher us into a private room where we will see her…” When we walked in the doors, there she was. Just sitting in the waiting room reading a magazine. She looked at me and smiled and said, “Bekah?” and I shook my head yes and we hugged. I felt my son against my belly through hers. And suddenly my adoption harsh reality moved into the realm of adoption pain. She was beautiful, had her life together, loved the Lord like we did and had chosen us. I felt guilty that this wonderful thing in our life was the cause of so much agony for someone else, someone real, standing and hugging me.
Our little William made his entrance into the world too early and very sick. Although he did have Down syndrome, none of his medical needs were centered around it. His kidneys and liver weren’t working properly. He needed a catheter, surgery, oxygen to stay alive. He had leukemia cells floating through his little body. We were talked through comfort care in the event that he wasn’t going to make it. In the midst of the first 24 hours with our sick baby, his mom called our room, still recovering herself, and asked me if she could come and see him. More pain… She shouldn’t have to ask. I don’t have the right to be taking this person from her. We said yes.
She came in a few hours later, stood with us over his bed and watched him breathe. After a while, she looked up at me and said,
He was a fighter, and I could feel him kicking so strongly inside of me. He will survive this…
More simple words that rocked my world. And again, from this person who I barely knew but who I could tell was also a fighter and stronger than anyone I’ve ever met. How was God using this person that was dealing with so much herself as my source of strength?
As the months went by and William got better and better, we sent photos to his birth mom. We even met a couple of times so she could see him. We eventually got to know each other a little better through emails, texts and then Facebook. Then, when Will hit 7 months old, our world was rocked again. He contracted RSV, and while he was in the hospital, he started having seizures. He was diagnosed with a rare seizure disorder that would slowly take away the abilities we’d worked so hard on in therapy. We watched as he stopped rolling over, stopped smiling, stopped moving his legs and then stopped holding up his own head. We went home to face our new normal only to rush back to the hospital a week later and find out that Will had a hole in his bladder and would need to use a catheter full-time.
I was heading home from the second hospital stay in three weeks and was updating William’s birth mom via text. I always try to sound positive and put together even now because I want her to feel like she made the right choice in giving her son to us. But she sent a text and asked how I was holding up. I answered with, “I’m so discouraged.” The response I got back, from the mother of my child, was…
It’s OK. God loves us all and He has chosen you to take care of William. He will not let you down…
… and there are no words for that emotion. I had gone from adoption being a daydream, to a harsh reality, to so much pain. Now what was it? Grace? Acceptance? Insanity? Peace…
Words from this amazing stranger. A mom like me who I love so, so much although I don’t really know her well. Small words that change the course of my life, give me hope, shape my future and strengthen me to take care of her baby, my baby, our baby.
Follow this journey on Bekah’s Adoption.
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