“‘You can stay with us,’ she said. ‘You can stay in our room. I don’t want you to have to go home.’ The midwife had just come in and explained to me there weren’t any nesting rooms for me, the adoptive mom, to stay in overnight at the hospital, but there might be room the following night. Arlo was just over an hour old, and everyone was still on a high from his anticipated, but dramatic, entrance. I wasn’t sure what it would be like staying with Arlo’s mom in her post-partum room, but I accepted. ‘Are you sure?,’ I said. ‘If you don’t mind, that would be wonderful.’ You see, I didn’t want to leave the hospital and lay awake all night thinking about how they were all doing, wondering if Arlo was taking his first feedings well, if he was warm enough in his bassinet, how Angie was feeling. If I was allowed, I wanted to be there.
As an adoptive mom with one open adoption already, I had prepared myself to know that in this, our second adoption journey, I may not experience openness like we have with our first son’s mom. I had told myself that every adoption looks different, and so does the level of openness. I may not get to be at the hospital for Arlo’s birth. I may not hear his first cry. I may not get to meet him until he is several days old. I may not get to see Arlo and his biological parents interact and may never get to tell him that I saw firsthand how much they love him.
But shift change happened, and it was time to leave the delivery room. I was there when the nurse helped Arlo’s mom up from her bed for the first time. Pushing the bassinet, slowly so as not to disturb him, I walked down the hall and turned the corner, right alongside Angie in the wheelchair. We all got situated. I lifted her bag onto the bed for her; the bassinet near her shoulder and mine. She held Arlo, and he melted.
When she slipped into sleep, I lowered her bed and dimmed the lights. I set my alarm to wake Arlo for feedings and tried to sleep. I couldn’t. I was in awe of what had happened: her strength, her resolve, the joy and relief on her face when he arrived; the skill and knowledge of the hospital staff in those intense moments; his curly hair and healthy, persistent cry.
The next morning, my husband, Ryan, and our son, Fletcher, came to visit. Arlo’s mom encouraged us to take a family photo. She cut up her grapes to share with our 2-year-old. I dressed him in the outfit she had brought him for hospital photos. When they left, she and I put foot masks on and talked about Arlo’s ancestors and family heritage. We talked again about her labor, and she teased me for almost crying from her first contraction at the hospital.
The time we had together wasn’t something I expected, but I wouldn’t spend those hours any other way. It wasn’t weird. It wasn’t awkward. It was just two moms spending time loving the same son.
The truth is, the relationships I have with my sons’ birth moms have blessed me as much as raising their boys has. The greatest gifts I have ever received came to me from two women I barely knew, and I can never repay. This experience has changed me in a way I never imagined.
Open adoption isn’t always easy. Like any relationship, it takes effort from all sides. Because this open adoption isn’t only mine, I asked Angie what it means to her: ‘To us, open adoption is opportunity, courage, strength, and faith. We put our biggest miracle into loving arms, knowing each [adoptive] family has its story and reason [for pursuing adoption]. In the end, we are all brought together for the same reason. The reason is to celebrate the joy of our son, Arlo, in everlasting love.”
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kacie Schulz, a wife and mom living in the upper Midwest, who writes about open adoption and the journey to their family. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more inspiring stories of open adoption:
‘I’m leaving for the Army! I can’t be pregnant!’ I just turned 18. I had no clue who my baby’s father was.’: Teen mom has ‘beautiful’ open adoption, ‘They burst into tears when they saw her. I knew I’d made the right choice’
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