My daughter’s ninth birthday is just around the corner. My tiny brown haired beauty and I shared three sweet days together before she was placed in the loving arms of her adoptive family. There were many struggles throughout my pregnancy, but getting to know her soon-to-be family was the easiest part. I saw their profile as it was stacked among the many hopeful families wanting to adopt and I felt at peace. Their smiles displayed a joy that was so profound, it made me want to jump into the picture and hug them both. That’s how I knew they were to be my daughter’s family.
I begged my counselor to schedule a meeting with them as soon as possible. With compassion, she explained to me that they did not want to meet any birth mother or be told that they had been chosen until the papers were signed and it was official. Furthermore, they had experienced several “adoption miscarriages” when in the end, the birth mothers chose to keep their baby. I pictured them with their newly decorated nursery sitting empty and I wanted to help fill it with life.
In tears, I told her that I could not give my child to strangers. I had to meet the couple who would raise my child. She assured me she would do her best, but that if meeting an adoptive family was that important to me, I should begin to look for other prospective parents. Two days later she called to tell me the family had reached out to the agency at the very moment she was reaching out to them. They called to tell the agency that after many years, they were ready to speak with a birth mother, if any birth mother wanted to meet them. I did not question again whether I was doing the right thing. It was that moment that made me erase coincidence from my dictionary. Between the goose bumps and tears, I was overwhelmed with joy.
Meeting the family was harmonious. We agreed to a semi-open adoption, which allows contact between the two parties through the agency only. Each year, I receive a two page letter and a photo album detailing her life and adventures. I read them every year on her birthday and I remain in awe of her. Despite growing up far from my influence, we share many traits. So when I’m asked if I have any children, my heart responds, “Yes, I have a daughter!”
However, telling people that I have a daughter is misleading. It’s a deeply personal story that deserves more than a simple “Oh, I had a daughter nine years ago but she doesn’t live with me, she lives with another family.” It surprises me how often I say something in passing and then the small talk becomes a three hour conversation about how important all those photo albums are that I have piled up in my bedroom. It’s with great difficulty that I attempt to describe the feeling of having someone so incredibly important to me live their life without knowing who I am. She is the biggest piece of my heart and yet she is so disconnected from my daily life. I have moments where her void simply cannot be filled. Then I look at those pictures of her summer trip to the Ukraine or of her dance recitals and I am once again filled with joy.
I do not regret for a single second the decision I made to give my daughter a chance at a life that I could not provide for her. Choosing to make an adoption plan for her was carefully considered and laboriously carried out. Adoption, the beauty and even the heartache, is something that changes all who experience it. It gave me purpose and it gave my daughter not one but two loving families. Until we meet again, I’ll celebrate her birthday, as I do every year, and hope that she’ll look at what I’ve done with my life and be proud.
- by Rachel Roberts