“I’d like you to be the parents for my daughter,” my heart pounded in response to the immediate realization of who was on the other line. That sentence. Those words. I had daydreamed about this moment, but actually hearing them took my breath away. I was filled with the most confusing, exhilarating rush of emotions. Never before had a phone call so quickly pierced my heart with such a barrage of conflicting feelings. I felt extreme joy, sorrow, excitement, and fear all at once.
My husband and I had been waiting for this phone call for what felt like an eternity. It represented what we hoped would be the final stretch of our long journey of the adoption process. We desperately longed for a family—we’d walked through years filled with fertility treatments, negative pregnancy tests, and many tears. We had watched most of our friends start their families easily and quickly and who were now on baby number two or even three. We longed to be a mom and dad and give a child a safe, loving, and full childhood.
This was the call we knew could make us a family.
They were the words we had hoped a birth mother would say to us. I tried to speak clearly through the tears that streamed down my face. How do you respond to a statement like that? How do you convey your gratitude with a sense of gravity that a situation like this deserves?
We knew this story would have a dramatically different ending for this brave girl on the other end of the phone call. We would walk away with a bundle of joy. She would walk away with a burden of grief. How do you convey your instant love, affection, and ache to comfort? She had been so courageous and selfless in making this choice. I desperately wanted to somehow translate my fierce determination to cherish the flesh of her flesh?
Washington Irving perfectly captured the essence of my tears, “They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” At that moment as I held the phone to my ear and the tears flowed freely, I wondered if she could hear them? I hoped she could.
The phone call was brief but it changed our world forever.
The next day we were on a flight across the country, and less than 36 hours from that phone call we met this sweet girl in the hospital. We were astounded when we were told she wanted us with her for the delivery. That evening as our daughter came into the world, the doctor indicated that our birth mom wanted my husband to cut the baby’s umbilical cord. We all knew this gesture was devastatingly symbolic. More than separating flesh from flesh, it was a severing of hearts.
In deference to this courageous girl who had stoically and silently delivered our hopes and dreams moments before, we quietly left the room. In those next moments, the collective tears we cried were sacred.
It was a harrowing, sleepless night waiting to hold our daughter for the first time. The adrenaline of the situation only amplified the tumultuous feelings of joy, anticipation, and lingering fear. What if we came all this way to leave with an empty car seat and empty hearts? Would she change her mind?
Holding our daughter in the nursery and giving her her first bottle were moments we will never forget.
Both our hearts swelled and burst in a final explosion of love that would leave us altered for life. But we still had to wait for the legal process to be completed so we were directed to leave the hospital and wait until the papers were signed that evening.
That day will forever be the longest, most harrowing of our lives. I remember being unable to eat and my heart seemed to stop each time my phone made a sound.
Finally, we were told to return to the hospital and waited for news that papers had been signed. When our social worker called us, time stood still. We didn’t see our daughter for hours after the fact, but when we did, it was a holy moment. The hospital kindly gave us a room for the night and we spent it marveling at the precious baby in our arms.
The next day we left the hospital as a family of three.
When I think back to the days, weeks, and months that followed, nothing can quite top the moment when we received that first, life-altering phone call. It set in motion those next few days when our lives were forever changed and we became a family. And I’ll always cling to the hope that the girl on the other end could sense my tears and that they relayed the acknowledgment of her overwhelming grief and our unspeakable love.