If you missed the first three parts of my adoption series you’re going to want to go back and read them. You can find them HERE.
This is one of the most heart wrenching parts of my story, and one of the hardest to share. But my hope is, that in sharing my perspective through this journey, you will come to understand the beauty that can be found in all the rest. It’s hard to look at my story, as a whole, from the outside and understand just what went on in all of the hearts of those who were and are involved.
We pulled up to the front of the hospital at 8:15. Soon, I was wheeled up to labor and delivery where they attempted to start an IV, but this baby was not waiting. Haven Delaney was born at 8:42am on July 24th, 2015. A handful of pushes and that beautiful baby was in my arms. She was perfect and I was so in love with her. We spent two days in the hospital together. Those days were not long enough. The adoptive parents came and visited and it was the most surreal thing. Seeing the way they looked at her made it so certain. This was how it was supposed to be.
Those two nights we spent together in the hospital are nights I will cherish forever. I didn’t know what to expect going into it. From all the stories I had read, all of the birth moms had immediately had their child removed from the room and taken to the adoptive parents. But I didn’t want that. I wanted that 48 hours. I wanted 48 hours of hugs, kisses, diaper changes, crying, no sleep, and prayers. I had so much support from family and friends who visited over the course of those two days, and I’m so glad they did. I was able to share this precious, baby girl with them. But I was so thankful for the nights.
Each night, I held her and prayed and cried and told her all the things I wanted her to know. I thought this would make my decision less clear, but it did not. I was faced with the reality that there was a child in my arms that I was not equipped to provide for, and more importantly, to keep safe. But, I sure did love her. For two nights, she was mine to hold and comfort and kiss and feed.
The morning of July 26th, 2015 was a hard one. What they don’t tell you about adoption is, if the weight of the decision itself doesn’t make you change your mind, the paperwork might. There’s something about signing a piece of paper stating you have no legal rights to your child, and that you’re okay with that. It’s heavy. It came with lots of tears and heartache. The reality of what was going to happen was setting in. That terrified me. I held my baby, while also putting my signature on the line, agreeing to give her to someone else.
Just stop and think about that for a minute. Pause.
I had so many emotions and thoughts, all at once. As I worked my way through and signed on those lines, I reminded myself of my choice and the hundred reasons why I had made it.
She. Deserved. More.
As the time came for us to be discharged, the adoptive parents came in with her car seat, her clothes, and all the things a baby needs. All things I never had to shop for. The things I never got to shop for, because she wasn’t coming home with me. We exchanged words of love, respect, and encouragement. We embraced each other. We cried with each other. We prayed with each other. I dressed her in her little pink outfit, they cut off her hospital bands, and I held her. I gave her one last kiss, strapped her into her car seat, and stepped back.
I was discharged earlier and was wheeled down the hall, into the elevator, through the lobby and out the giant glass hospital doors. I held her car seat in my lap. The car was pulled around to front. They put her into the car, closed the door, and drove away. I got into another car, without her, and left. I left the hospital without my baby. After all I just been through, I had nothing to show for it but a swollen body, and an empty heart that ached more than I could bear.
The next 3 weeks would be hard. They were just as difficult as I had imagined. I left the hospital, and went straight to my baby sister’s graduation party. They told me not to go, but I needed to stay busy. I needed to keep my mind occupied. At the party, I felt numb and distant. So much had just happened. Everyone knew what I had been through the last two days. Most didn’t say anything. One did that I remember very vividly. A child, who had no business knowing my situation and should have not been told to start with, walked up to me and said,
“So I heard you gave your baby away.”
That was it. On the outside I was composed, but on the inside I was crushed. My heart sank. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to run and hide until it all disappeared. Normally I have grace for the naivety of children, but not that day. It wasn’t the last of the comments or the pain. It was just the first. Every time someone asked me how many children I had, I didn’t know what to say.
“One, well I have two but not really. One really isn’t mine. But I wasn’t a surrogate, I just couldn’t care for her, or keep her safe, so I gave her away. She isn’t really mine at all.” was what went through my head. Sometimes I would say one, but it hurt. Sometimes I would say two, but then I felt the need to explain, even though I owed no one an explanation. When I gave an explanation, I got the crazy stares. The “I didn’t ask for your life story.” stares. Or the “This chick is nuts.” stares or better yet the “How do I even respond to that?” look. I didn’t understand it, or know how to respond, so why should they?
Over the course of the next three weeks, I had several visits with her. We would get lunch, hang out, and spend some time exchanging awkward conversation. Because, it was awkward. There was no manual to follow. No instructions. No examples to follow. I know the adoptive parents had to have been scared out of their minds. In North Carolina, the recant period (if I remember correctly) is 7 business days. This means that, at any point within those 9 days after signing her over, I could have changed my mind. I could have said I wanted her back, and they would have had no choice but to comply. Despite that, they let me see her anyway. This helped a lot. I don’t know that I would have be able to stick with my decision had I not been able to see her. Seeing how happy they were and how head over heels they were for her made it so much easier. Holding her made the pain a little easier. I saw her maybe 3 or 4 times during their three weeks here, as they waited for approval to take her out of state, back to meet her family. On the day they left, we met one last time. My family and I loved on her, and on her parents, said our goodbye’s and they left.
On my way home, I got a phone call from the local sheriff. There had been some paperwork left at my door. After all that had just happened, I did not need anything else to deal with. I had no idea what on earth it could be. I got home, walked to my door, opened my screen, picked up the paperwork, and stood there. My jaw dropped. I was being served. Her biological father had sued me for custody and was demanding that she be released to him immediately.
The next year was not going to be easy. But it was going to be worth it.
Stay tuned for Part 5: The Fight