Recently I wrote about my largest mountain I have ever encountered-the hardest thing in my life. There is a song I am listening to right now because it brings it all back instantly. If you’d like to hear, click HERE, (it is a soft rendition of James Taylor’s “Close Your Eyes” or if you want to check out the album that I listened to night and day right after I went through this, it is called “Golden Slumbers, a father’s lullaby”. I picked it up from the library and my family thought I was crazy but my counselor told me it was a good way to mourn.
This is a heart-wrenching story with a bright ending. Still makes me cry though because I love my children…each and every one…with ALL that I am. I would do anything for any of them in an instant.
I lay with my eyes closed, balling like a baby as I held my just-born child-I could feel him, smell him, and hear him breathing. So real…. And I opened my eyes and there was nothing…. It was the most painful feeling-I can’t even describe. I had lost babies before-ones that were anywhere from 2 weeks to 4/5 months gestation. The pain was greater with each miscarriage I had. The hardest being when I had a dear friend tell me she “knew how I felt” after she had just had an abortion. I couldn’t speak to her for months and she didn’t know why I was so angry. I wasn’t trying to get pregnant with these babies-I was one of a minority of women who are both incredibly fertile, and yet, had several issues that made it difficult to carry a child. Each child and each birth was a miracle! I had four live births out of 10 pregnancies. (I had a hysterectomy a few years ago due to other issues so I can’t conceive any more).
About 8 years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful little boy, with my mom on my right and my child’s adoptive mother on the left. Each detail is unforgettable to me and I’ve never spoken of it to anyone. It was a troubling time in my life where I couldn’t decide which side of the fence I wanted to commit to staying on. I loved God but I had felt so betrayed by everything in my life. Only a month before, I had an argument about my life and trying to change it back around with my older brother, whom I was living with at the time, along with his wife and son. I was so angry and hurt at the suggestion that I give up MY child inside me for adoption-having carried him by then for 8 months…a long 8 months of hell on earth. It was a miracle honestly, in and of itself, that he had made it without miscarriage, especially with all the emotional drama in my life at the time. He was protected…God knew His plan for this child. I slammed the door to my bedroom yelling behind me “I’m NOT giving him up for adoption, but I’ll pray about it!” (I pretty much screamed this.) And then I went and balled on my bed as I complained to God how awful this idea was.
Somehow, during the night, my heart changed…completely 180. I woke up and realized my brother was right-this child would be better off with parents (plural) who could care for him and give him a good life-not one with a single mom…conceived out of difficult circumstances. But then, maybe I would “trick” God…I wanted a whole lot, after all! A stay at home mom (since I couldn’t be), dad with a good job, mixed races (since he was mixed), Christians…similar to me. I’m sure there was more, but I can’t recall. So, I got on the phone with a counselor at the local pregnancy center that had known me since I was born. She gave me the number of an adoption agency in Tacoma-across the state.
I called and the coordinator just happened to be driving to Spokane at that moment. She said she could meet me for coffee the next morning. And while on the phone with her, I got on their website and began browsing profiles, skeptically. Then I saw them…I asked about this couple and she said she had actually thought of them. They were perfect-exactly what I’d said I wanted for my baby. Wow! I balled…this was really happening!
The next morning I met the adoption coordinator. She said if I was serious, she was going to talk to the people who I had seen online-they had been waiting 5 years to have a child! Wow! They were both close to my age. When she contacted me next, plans were made and the intended parents flew over (across state) just to meet me at dinner. They were excited and since I’m the type of person that sets her mind to something then follows through, I had no question or doubt in my mind-they were this child’s true parents. Made sense now that I look back. I had so many risky pregnancies and had almost lost this baby twice already but he was a fighter. Fighting for his life…to grow up and live a full life with his adopted parents. (I won’t mention their name here due to the nature of the circumstances.) They wanted it to be an open adoption so he could know me and know that I loved him! (That was new…never had heard of such a thing, but okay.) And when they told me the names they had picked out and I gave them my list, we had picked the same name!!! I had spelled it “Nathaniel” and they had spelled it “Nathanael” (biblical spelling). This was too crazy! And of course, being pregnant, so full of emotions…but now happy and exciting ones.
My doctor only found out right before I was scheduled to be induced. He was supportive-he had seen all I had gone through. I have so much respect and adoration for that doctor. He was the same one who delivered my daughter two years later and then who found my cancer and removed everything. During the birth, my mom was kind enough to stay with me since I had no husband to do this with. The adoptive mother was there as well. The first night after I had him, Nathanael kept his new parents awake (I slept and was emotionally okay at the time, having been through the birth of two others before). Nathanael actually wasn’t fussy, but you know how new parents are whenever the new baby makes a squeak or takes a breath.
Needless to say, the next day they were exhausted. My doctor recommended we all stay one more night, after he looked at me. When no one was looking, he told me he was prescribing me an antidepressant and I looked at him like he was crazy. He knew something I hadn’t quite figured out yet. So, that night, I decided to hold my birth child-not because I needed to, but because I knew he would sleep quieter and I could change his diapers and let his new parents get some sleep one last night before setting off on their new adventure as parents.
All night I held this child, as natural as anything. And when morning came, I gave him back to the new parents. The doctor came and released all of us. I helped them figure out their new car seat and watched them drive off, away from the hospital. The adoption coordinator was the one there for me who took me home. Guess it wasn’t my family’s cup of tea. It was a silent ride. Walking a tightrope of emotion that I didn’t know how to handle. A child I was attached to for 9 months was gone. I knew it was good and right…but in so many senses, it felt wrong-empty. I couldn’t help the bond I had and that night holding him had grown that feeling even more. He was beautiful…a perfect life-just as much a miracle as every baby born.
She dropped me off and honestly, I think I blacked out a lot. It was tough, I know that. The thing that I do remember was how I started out this post…. The heaviest and saddest and worst night of my life. Coupled with the fact that I had lost custody of my older kids just months before because of the father of this baby and the poor decisions I had made amongst multiple other factors. Their dad was harsh and cruel and told me he had felt I had taken the “easy” way out (yes, he said that). Ha! If he had chosen to allow a child a better life and sacrifice his own selfish desires to have them, I bet he’d feel different…just musing. Guess that is neither here nor there.
That first night back, I felt like I was holding Nathanael-I could feel him, smell him, and know he was there in my arms. Then I would open my eyes and he was gone…I couldn’t sleep. I balled straight through that night. At one point I also asked God to somehow help. The pain I felt was too hard-too unbearable. I wasn’t strong enough for this. All of a sudden I felt like I was cradled. I know you’ll likely think I’m crazy, but this is what I felt. I knew that my God was reaching his arms down and holding me…even if it is figuratively. It helped give me strength. It still hurt beyond what any human words could ever express, but it helped me go on.
The next day I spent with my older two kids-now 4 and 6 years old. We went to the library and I picked up a CD called “Golden Slumbers-A Father’s Lullaby”. I was compelled to check it out. On the way home I listened to it, with my kids in the car. I don’t know how much they understood. They hadn’t met Nathanael-their father thought it best that they not meet him. I get that. They have never to this day met him (their father’s choice, not theirs). I heard the song I mentioned above-You Can Close Your Eyes, and I lost it. I pulled over and balled like a baby. My babies cried with me-they knew I was hurting. They loved me and I loved each and every child-all 3 that I had had.
After that experience, I still cried constantly for the first few days and when I wasn’t crying, it was held back in the back of my throat. One night I remember arguing with myself, just after I had talked to Nathanael’s mother on the phone, about how I was supposed to be there-I was his mother. It wasn’t fair. This was just a stage in the grief process.
By the way, I only took the anti-depressants for one day and they made my heart drop to about 30 beats per minute and feel like I had a truck parked on my chest and I said “no thank you.” 😉 Threw them away, much to my Doctor’s dismay (apparently it’s bad to just go off anti-depressants like that). But I did find an awesome lady through Catholic Charities who counseled me and helped me so much! I continued to see her less and less throughout the domestic violence treatment I went through and all that. There are a few more stories in there but maybe another day. For now, I want to end this post by reiterating what an awesome and miraculous thing adoption is. People taking in a child and choosing to love them as their own. Not that it is a greater love than you would have for your own flesh and blood, it’s just different. Choosing to love someone unconditionally vs just loving unconditionally because they are your child. It is similar to how God loves us. He doesn’t HAVE to, He chooses to. We didn’t earn it-He gave that gift to us.
Not to get all religious and preachy there, but I want you to know how amazing this story was and how something that was started in so much bad ended up for so much good.
Today, Nathanael is a smart little 8 year old boy. I got a birthday card from him-he drew on it and wrote on it. I have seen him approximately 3 times since his birth as they live a ways away. And, you never know how, when, and if I’ll see him again but I know his parents are doing an amazing job of raising him.
I love you, J and T! And I love you too, Nathanael!