“I don’t care how many times I get the call for a foster placement, panic will set in. It always does.
‘Mrs. Torres, we have a 4-day-old baby at the hospital that needs placement tonight. Can you do it?’
It was 2:30 p.m. and I was on my way to school to pick up my 4 children. Our evening was jammed packed with errands and sporting events, but I had learned to say yes despite the chaos. It would all work out, I just needed to breathe and put aside the pain we knew from foster care.
Transitioning Our Foster Son
Five months prior, we decided to take a break from fostering. We had recently transitioned our foster son we’d had for 18 months to an adoptive home where he would reunite with 3 of his siblings. Although we were overjoyed he was with his siblings again, it didn’t take away the grief we experienced from the loss of his daily presence.
With that pain still present, we knew what we were signing up for. I just didn’t know the type of pain we would experience this go round.
Arriving At The Hospital
Back to that chilly January evening… I left to pick our daughter up from the hospital. With a few hours between the placement call to the time I left, friends and family were dropping baby goods off at our house and we were throwing together a make-shift nursery. By the time I got to the hospital that evening, I was running on fumes. Exhausted from the emotional roller coaster thinking about how much life is going to change bringing a newborn home.
I pulled into the parking garage and rushed in to meet the caseworker in the lobby. I quickly signed the placement papers and was directed upstairs to the NICU where our baby girl was waiting. I held the empty car seat across my arm and buzzed the nurses’ desk announcing who I was and our baby’s name. The door began to open and it was then I made eye contact with a young woman being wheeled out of the maternity floor, with no baby in hand.
I knew in my heart that young woman was our baby’s birth mom. My heart sank.
I had been so caught up in how our life was going to change, and everything we needed to do to bring this baby girl to our home, I failed to pause and think about her birth mom. How devastated she must have been. The healing her body would go through without the gift of a child to cling to, and the emotional turmoil she would experience alongside postpartum hormones.
That moment came and passed so quickly, but the feelings I could not shake. We were walking into a story of brokenness which made us broken too.
Meeting Our Daughter
I walked on to the NICU and after proper sanitizing procedures, our daughter was handed to me. As she was placed in my arms, I immediately fell in love with her. I always wondered what that moment would be like. The moment a baby is placed in your arms that you did not carry for 9 months. Would it be different from my biological kids? I found out at that moment… there is no difference. This precious child would rely on me in the same manner my other children did. The love is the same.
After getting her medical history and instructions, I placed her in her car seat and drove her home to meet the rest of the family. As joy-filled as we were for a new family member, I couldn’t shake the image of her birth mom being wheeled out of the hospital. I was relieved to know I would meet her a few days later at a family visit.
A Selfless Decision
She was so gracious to let me stay and visit with her. We exchanged pleasantries and I wondered how she could be so kind to someone who would eventually walk out the door with the child she just birthed. But, it was the beginning of a relationship and her graciousness is not lost on me.
Over the next few months, there were moments I thought our daughter would be able to reunite with her birth mom. We worked hard to make that possible, but in the end we became the parents of our beautiful daughter. Her birth mother made a very selfless decision in one of the most trying times in her life. Although that’s not my story to tell, it’s her story, what I can say is I never want to experience that moment again.
Although we knew the decision she made was the right decision, it didn’t take the devastation away. A mother’s dream shattered for herself so the dream she had for her child would be possible.
Beauty And Pain In Adoption
People often look at adoption as a beautiful act of love, and it is… but adoption is also built on a foundation of pain, loss, and hurt. That doesn’t just go away after an adoption is finalized. It’s still there. All the pain. All the loss. All the hurt. Just sitting under the surface.
There’s not too many days that go by that I don’t think about our daughter’s birth mom and her final words to me as I sat next to her in the courtroom. It reminds me of the great responsibility I have raising our daughter.
In the final moments with our birth mom, still holding the legal title of mom for our daughter, she looked at me and said, ‘I know this is the right decision because you are the family I always wanted for myself.’
It was beautiful and painful. I squeezed her hand and told her I wished things had been different for her and that her daughter would live a life free of the burdens she had to carry. I promised her we would stay in touch and told her I loved her. And I do. It’s one of the most painful parts of adoption; loving the birth family in their moments of grief and being joyous at the new life that is joining your family. It’s not either or. It is both. Adoption is beautiful and joyous, and at the same time grievous and painful.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Torres. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her blog. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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