This is the third post of "30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days," a series designed to give a voice to people with widely varying experiences, including birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents, foster parents, waiting adoptive parents and others touched by adoption.
We Realized That We Couldn't Wait Any Longer
Written by Michelle Mercurio for Portrait of an Adoption
Last year on a bright, blue-sky Mother’s Day morning in Virginia, our lives were changed forever. Among the moms and grandmothers walking the hospital corridors in their floppy hats and pretty dresses, we looked broken and undone dressed in clothes we had put on 36 hours earlier to rush to the hospital. We paced the floors, not making eye contact with the people pouring out of the elevators with celebratory baby girl and baby boy balloons.
We were waiting for our nephew to be born, but our experience was different than others in the maternity ward.
My sister-in-law had what most would call a “perfect” pregnancy. She went into labor on May 6, 2011, two days after her due date. She and my brother went to the hospital when it was time, excited to welcome their first child to our family. Tragically when they got there, they were told their son, our nephew, didn’t have a heartbeat.
He died right before he was to be born.
When the baby, James, arrived on Mother’s Day morning, we were joyous to finally meet him in the midst of the depths of sorrow that tunneled to our core. He was perfect in so many ways –- the spitting image of his beautiful mama with the long limbs of his handsome daddy.
Nothing could have prepared us for this experience. His birth, his death, and the connection to life that deepened within all of us are still with us every day. James is missed in so many ways.
And in many ways, he is at the heart of our adoption story.
In the darkest hours, days and weeks that followed the death of this precious, beautiful child, we came to realize that everything was not lost. Out of the most complete heartbreak we’ve ever known, our extended families grew even closer and our communities became part of the family. A few minutes, a few seconds, changed everything. We were all reminded that time is precious and love is far-reaching.
The years that my husband, Kevin and I had spent talking about starting our family through adoption just dropped away. We realized that we couldn’t wait any longer as time wasn’t waiting for us. We had known for years that we wanted to adopt a child, as adoption had touched both of our lives from early on: Kevin has a birth brother with whom he now has a good relationship, and I grew up next door to my best friend’s family, which is comprised of both adopted and birth children.
We both have the desire to have a big family; one that is knitted together through birth, adoption and community. Kevin and I talked about how our seven nieces and nephews would gain another cousin through adoption. We had already changed the diapers of children in our lives for years, wiped their tears, read to them and made them giggle with delight. And we didn’t want to wait anymore to bring a child into our lives.
We registered with a local agency, formulated our plans for an adoption, and completed our home study. In February of 2012, we were approved to pursue a domestic infant adoption.
Over the past few months, we have learned so many things about ourselves through the intense self-reflection of the adoption qualification process. We are learning to go deeper to connect with others who would like to adopt, adoptees, and birth parents who choose to make an adoption plan for their child.
The adoption stories we’ve heard are joyous, hopeful, loving, angry, caring, forgiving, sorrowful, open, wistful and amazing -– much like life. We continue to seek out ways to learn about all aspects of adoption and are spending time writing about our journey, educating people about what we’ve learned about adoption, listening to other thoughts and viewpoints, and using all forms of media to document our experiences.
We’ve learned that the choices surrounding adoption aren’t all happy or sad, and we must consider all stories when making plans on what is best for our future child.
Our nephew is at the heart of our adoption story not because we lost him, but because of the love and connections that grew in our hearts because of him. We know now, more than ever before, that we would be compassionate parents who would fiercely love and protect a child to help him or her grow into an amazing adult.
We also know now that the love that made our friends and communities part of our family will fit well with the merging of families, traditions, backgrounds and futures that adoption will bring into our lives. We hope to extend our family a little more someday soon.
We hope a birth mother and father who are making an adoption plan will choose us to be a part of their child’s story. And we’d be honored to be a part of their story as well.
Portrait of an Adoption is hosted by Carrie Goldman, author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear. If you have a story you would like to submit as a candidate for next year's series, please email it to her at email@example.com.