So on November 5, 2009, my request for a visit was granted. The baby was actually seven months old that day, and I couldn't tell if I was bursting with excitement or scared to death. Either way, I went-they went-and I finally found the closure I needed so very badly.
When I sent the letter asking for a visit, that detailed all of the random crazy things I had thought of, I didn't expect an answer back for awhile. Surprisingly, my answer came within hours...and it was a "yes". My Aparents had requested a few weeks to get things more wrapped up with work and whatnot, and when they finally scheduled the visit I was bursting with joy. I had convinced myself that this event, this meeting, this visit was going to be the pot of gold at this really long rainbow I had been following for what seemed like forever.
I had visions of me sitting in their home being able to see the nursery and the wonderful home they had built for her, but quickly realized that this was not going to be the case. They agreed to meet at a local bagel place in a week. I am lying if I say I was not disappointed. After always having people around at the hospital, and the humiliation of signing the paperwork in the plain view of so many people, I had really hoped for some privacy for this. But as all birthmoms know, sometimes you get what you get and ya don't throw a fit. If I had asked them for privacy, they probably would have reconsidered and we might have wound up at a park or something, but at this point it became pretty clear I was never going to see their home.
The day before the visit, I remember over stressing about it. I took 6 hours of "me time" to go find something to wear, and get my nails done and whatnot. I wrote down a million questions to ask them, and charged up my camera battery so that I could take tons of pictures. I knew that they were going above and beyond what I had originally requested by doing this visit, and so I wanted to get as much in as I could, in case it was the only time I ever saw them again.
The day of the visit, I got up early, so that I could look perfect, and not like someone who had just spent the last 7 months alternating between bawling on my hallway floor and screaming my lungs out on my pillow several times each day. As I was finishing up getting ready, my husband looked at me and said, "Hug them. Squeeze them. Say whatever you need to, and then let them live their lives!". I remember staring at him for what seemed the longest time, and then getting teary and grabbing my purse and keys before running out the door.
As I pulled into the parking lot of the bagel place, I realized I did not have my questions, nor my camera. And I was shaking uncontrollably. So much for capturing this last precious moment and getting all of the answers I sought. I looked around the parking lot, and did not see their truck. At this point, I seriously though about just leaving and forgetting the visit. I think I even started my car up and was popping it into reverse when they pulled in. I had parked really far away for some reason, and I watched them in what seemed like "slow-mo" as they piled her out of the car. I giggled when I saw the monster sized car seat stroller combo they had, as I had always told them that less was more and that those got to be quite the pain. So much for taking good advice. :) I let them get into the bagel shop, and then I got out of my car...shaking like a leaf and walked to the door.
I remember thinking a million times in the short walk from the car to the door of the shop that I should just leave. That I was intruding, imposing, and I could only imagine how many different things they'd had to reschedule in their very busy lives to see me that day.
We hugged and said our hello's, and everyone sat down. I asked if anyone wanted anything, and me and L* got up to get sodas. M* said he didn't want anything, and I remember finding that so odd...to come to a food place and not want anything. It made me overly self conscious, and really threw my plan off. I had figured if we were stuck at this stupid place, that we'd stuff our faces with bagels until the sun set and everything would be perfect. Once we all sat down again, there was an awkward moment of silence. I was so furious at myself for not bringing my questions, and could feel that what I had seen in my head was NOT going to happen.
I could think of nothing charmy or witty to say, so I simply asked, "So...how is it?" M* started talking about how it was great...how he was happy to oficially be a card carrying member of the parenthood. L* looked at me like I had offended her, and replied back, "How do you think it is?" And she asked me a bunch of other really strange questions throughout the almost two hours we sat there, like if I was "happy they brought the baby"? Why would we do a visit without the baby? Nothing they did or said was hurtful, but upon closer later examination, a lot of it seemed strange.
I told them very briefly, without a lot of detail about the struggle I had had in coping. I had talked so much during the pregnancy, by choice or not, and was determined to let them do most of the talking. Neither one had much to say. And I couldn't think of a single thing I had wanted to ask them. I actually felt like an idiot sitting in the middle of that place with people staring at us. I talked about getting ready to switch fields, and going back to school, and about my desire to advocate for the positive side of adoption. M* told me that they hadn't talked to anyone in any adoption community and at that time had no plans to. They just wanted to be parents. I was going to ask them when their adoption had finalized, and make sure they were still planning on telling the baby she was adopted, but for some reason I couldn't get words out of my mouth. And they were not offering up anything without being asked. They told me how they had taken her to see their family, and I asked what they thought. The response was "What do you think they thought?" A lot of seemingly innocent questions were being met with really defensive answers. They weren't being mean, they were just acting uncomfortable. And I was slightly bothered by that. I considered these guys to be part of my extended family, and I really wasn't feeling that back. M* told me that when it was first over they used to think about me all day, every day, and now they only thought of me once in awhile. I was really offended by that for a second, and then it passed, as I remembered that they had been on their journey to parenthood a lot longer than they had known me. They were dealing with a lot of other things that did not include me.
I thanked them again for taking the time to visit with me, and for sending me pictures and emails. The only thing that really struck me as odd was when I asked if they would start sending more than just one pic of the baby, maybe send me a family or group picture once in awhile. I explained that it was easier for me to see them all as a family, rather than just the baby alone. And then L* got really upset, and demanded to know what I was going to do with the pictures. That really caught me off guard. I backpeddled, and told them that whatever they wanted to send was fine.
And L* looked very unhappy and uncomfortable about being there, so that was making me even more nervous. She did tear up, and tell me thank you many times over, and some other nice things, but she overall did not look happy about being there. I couldn't tell if it was being with me or being in public, and at that point I was ready to go. I was really starting to feel like this had been a mistake.
And then the baby woke up. She sat up and stared straight at me while we were all talking. Stared me down. Didn't move, didn't blink. And that really unnerved me. I couldn't help but think that perhaps she recognized my voice, because she wasn't looking at me with the "Oooh...someone new!" look...it was the "Hey...I know you!" look. And I melted.
M* asked me if I wanted to hold her, like he already had several times since we had gotten there, and I had kept telling him no because she was sleeping. Her Mommy said that the baby was probably hungry, and I said I'd hold her after she was fed. As they pulled out the bottle to feed her, I couldn't stop staring. I couldn't move. I was in shock. Partly because she was so big...my goodness. I had always joked when I saw her pictures about how she was so big and well fed, and that my own three kids looked like those kids on TV that eat on our 23 cents a day. And my last child had been born a preemie due to some umbilical cord complications, so I was used to him being smaller and doing things slower. But here she was, at seven months sitting, and smiling, and giggling, and staring a hole straight thru to my soul. It unnerved me.
But at the same time, it was like she was telling me she was ok with all of this. I watched as she giggled at her Daddy, and sucked like crazy while her Mommy fed her,smiling the whole time, and for the first time in months....I felt peace. Real Peace....not the temporary kind that would come and go on some days. This was...FINALLY...the real deal.
At this point, her Dad looked like he was getting that "been in the restaraunt too long" feeling, and I figured it was now or never. I picked her up, hugged her, and sniffed. And sniffed. And sniffed. I knew it would be the last time I ever smelled her little baby smell, and there was great comfort in it. I held her sitting on my lap for a few minutes, and then said it was time to go. I pulled her to me really close and let the tears fall silently, and breathed her in a few more times, whispered a few things, and then placed her lovingly back into her mother's arms. We were all weepy, but there really wasnt much to say.
I knew that this was probably going to be it. They had mentioned that they often thought about going to dinner with us, or doing something together, but that won't ever happen...at least not for awhile. They keep their lives to themselves, and aren't ready yet to include us in it full time. Or even part time for that matter.
I could really feel like I was getting ready to fall apart, so I did one more round of hugs, and told them goodbye. And I walked back to the car with tears sitting in the bottom of my eyes. I sat there for a long time...watched them get back into their car and drive away. And I waited to cry. But I didn't. I wanted to...but the tears would not come.
I started the car, and as I made it to the end of the parking lot, a huge epiphany of sorts hit me. I had found closure. I had felt peace the entire pregnancy that they were meant to be her parents. I had not cried the entire pregnancy regarding that. After placement, I had fallen apart...broken into pieces. All of the kind words from people about "the great thing I had done", or the "amazing gift I had given" had been no consolation to me. But as I watched the three of them get into their vehicle I was sitting face to face with my purpose...They were a family. And it was real. And it was final. And it felt FANTASTIC!!!! I had seen it with my own eyes, felt it in my heart. And I didn't hurt anymore. That's why I wasn't crying...the sadness was not in the the reality of what had happened, it was in the not seeing it for my own eyes. People's words didnt help me...but watching that little bit of real life unfold was all the closure I needed.
Don't cry because it's over...Smile because it happened!!!!