Monday, April 30, 2012

Alex's Adoptive Mom Shares on the Birth Story

I often wondered what it was like to witness Alex's birth from Kayla's perspective.  I asked her to write about the birth story from the perspective of the Adoptive Mother. Here is her powerful and personally touching story:

"I laid in bed in a dark hotel room waiting for the alarm clock to signal it was time- time to go to the hospital, time to meet my daughter.  The thought made me giddy and anxious at the same time.  Was this really happening?? 

The events of the previous four years played in my mind, and I was reminded of the hope, pain, disappointment, joy, depression, and longing that had kept me on an emotional roller-coaster with no end in sight.  But there I was at the end, and it was only the beginning.

Before I knew it, I was in a pre-op room dressed from head-to-toe in blue scrubs and holding the hand of the most beautiful pregnant woman I had ever seen.  Just two months before, I met her for the first time feeling so blessed that she chose life for the baby girl growing inside her and chose us to be the parents.  That day she told us that she knew she was “the vessel that God was using to carry the answer to someone else’s prayers.” 

I will never forget those words.  Ever.

The nurses wheeled her into the operating room and told me they would come get me when it was time.  My husband and I held hands and prayed for a safe delivery, a healthy baby, and peace for our daughter’s birth mother. 

A few minutes later, a young nurse with an excited grin appeared in the doorway and led me toward the operating room.  We walked down the long, sterile hallway and tears welled up my eyes.  Surreal.

Not all adoptive mothers are in the delivery room.  Since Brittany was having a c-section, she was only allowed to have one person in the operating room with her.  Her mother?  Her best friend?  No, she selflessly invited me to witness the birth of my daughter.  Words cannot describe how grateful I will always be for that gift. 

When we entered the brightly lit room, Brittany was on the operating table and all I could see was her beautiful belly.  I quickly moved to the other side of the curtain where I found her face – calm and reassuring.  I felt so guilty that her demeanor was reassuring me when I wanted nothing more than to make sure she was okay.  I did the only thing I could possibly do to help bring her peace- I placed my head next to hers and whispered a prayer in her ear.  I knew our Heavenly Father orchestrated every step of this journey, and I knew He was there with us now. 

In keeping with the laid back vibe of the Florida Keys, the doctor and anesthesiologist made small talk and dished out clever jabs at each other, making the rest of us chuckle and wonder if they were focused enough on the task at hand.

 After a few minutes, the nurse told me I could move to the foot of the bed to have a clear view of the first moment of my baby girl’s life.  An intern had my camera, and I was armed with my cell phone camera – ready to capture the beauty and perfection of life.  Briefly, the mood in the room changed, the small talk and jabs subsided, and my heart sank.  The doctor asked for a vacuum and I prayed again. 

Then she was here.  There in front of me was a perfect, crying, pink, beautiful baby girl.  Tears flowed and the love that I already had for her multiplied infinitely in my heart. 

I wanted so badly to hold her, to kiss her nose, to snuggle her into the curve of my neck.  But the nurses took over and began cleaning, suctioning, and checking every inch of her little body.  I stuck my pointer finger out and let her wrap her tiny hand around it.  I was smitten.

I turned around and saw Brittany with a tear rolling down her cheek.  Was it joy?  Was is sorrow?  Was it fear?  I went to her, held her head in my hands and repeated the same words I had said to her many times before: “thank you.”  Those two words do not even come close to expressing the feeling in my heart.  You say “thank you” to the cashier at the grocery store, you say “thank you” to your hair dresser when you leave the salon, you say “thank you” to a stranger who holds the door open.  There should be something more significant to say to the woman who gave you the gift of motherhood- who, through the will of God, blessed you with a child.  But all I could say was, “Thank you!”

The nurses finished cleaning and examining the baby, wrapped her up like a burrito, and took her to Brittany’s face.  She said how beautiful she was and we exchanged smiles.  Then the nurse put the baby into an incubator and got ready to head out of the OR. 

I wanted to hold her.  My heart was aching, I wanted to hold her so badly. 

I followed as the nurse pushed the rolling incubator towards the door.  My heart was overjoyed at what was before me, but breaking with what was behind.  Brittany had cared for, talked to, and bonded with the child that grew in her womb.  How did she feel laying on the operating table, cord cut, and physically separated from her baby for the first time in nine months?  Lord, give her peace.  Please Lord, please fill her heart with peace.

I put my hand on the incubator and headed toward the waiting room where a new father was waiting to meet his baby girl.  After years or prayerful faith, we were finally a family of three."

7 comments:

  1. First of all, I have read your story and I just feel deep sadness for you. I'm so sorry that you lost your husband - your grief at your awful loss shows through.

    However, as an adoptee, I do have concerns about this:

    "That day she told us that she knew she was “the vessel that God was using to carry the answer to someone else’s prayers.”

    I am a Christian but I can tell you now, that if my first mother had thought of herself as a "the vessel that God was using to carry the answer to someone else’s prayers", I would have felt diminished. I would feel as if I were just a gift to be handed from one woman to make another happy rather than a human being in my own right. When reading your blog, I felt it even more so because the tone does comes across as making Kayla happy rather than Alex though I know that is not your intent.

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    1. Hi JJ,

      You are right, that was not my intent and I never made my decision simply because I thought I could make someone else happy. I did find comfort in the fact that the situation that I was in could be made into something good. As for "the vessel" comment, at the time, that was how I reasoned in my mind the idea of what I was doing. I was a broken person shrouded in more grief than anyone could ever realize. I was doing all that I could to ward off the feelings of suicide that came up almost daily. So, if that helped me get through then that is what it did. I would never suggest that any birthmother should look at herself that way nor it is what I 'preach'. This blog is my personal recount of the experience and nothing more. I certainly wouldn't set myself up as an ideal to be modeled after. I just want to help someone out there know what it was like to go through this my own perspective. Alex has a whole journal full of 7 months of love letters, explanations and encouragements from me. Believe me, she knows she is much more than just an answer to someone's prayers and I rejoice in the fact that because I am still in her life, she gets to see me as much more than just a woman who was going through a hard time and couldn't take care of her. I hope that helps. I am sorry this took so long. I never realized that you'd be hurt by the lack of response. I apologize.

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    2. I wasn't hurt by the lack of response, I was more disburbed at the response below who seemed to give the impression that a birthmother thinking of herself as a vessel would be the ideal situation.

      Obviously, you saw my comment on another blog and I mentioned my response on there because she was talking about your blog, not because I was upset about you not replying. Btw I've replied over there if you want to read it.

      As I said above, I can see you love your daughter dearly. I know that you were going through a terrible time with the loss of your husband and I do actually feel sadness for you reading the blog. I live on the opposite side of the world and I sometimes wonder if you would have made the same decision if you lived here.

      Just with this,
      "As for "the vessel" comment, at the time, that was how I reasoned in my mind the idea of what I was doing"

      I know it is a coping mechanism but it can be a dangerous one for an expectant mother to use.

      Btw I am glad to see you have changed the name of your other website from "The Vessel" to something else

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    3. Hi JJ, I did read your comments on the other blog but I will respond here. Monica and her friends have taken to Twitter to defame my character and paint a very different opinion of me based on misconception and assumptions. You can read all of it for yourself but I just don't and won't participate in it. That is final. I need to focus my time on what is important not try to defend myself to people who really don't want to hear what I have to say.
      If the circumstances were different I might have parented Alex. It is hard to say. It wasn't that I lack financial resources, I was not in an emotional state to be able to take on a new challenge, especially one that involved a new baby, a little girl grieving the loss of her father, a father who shouldn't be in her life all while trying to make sense of my life having lost my husband and feeling like God deserted me or was somehow punishing me for doing something wrong. I had a lot to work through. This blog is only a snapshot of the details. It is an organization of my thoughts for a book called, 4 The Love of Alex, which is what we named the ministry after. I have a well-tenured board for the ministry that has spent a lot of time in the Pro-life movement and while 'The Vessel' meant something different to me, I didn't know that it had a generally very negative connotation and no one thought it would be wise to try to fight that. My friend Michelle was not referring to me as a vessel, meaning carrying the baby. She was referring to me in the biblical sense of carrying God's message. Not the same thing. I do a lot of bible teaching based on my experiences and mostly not around adoption to be honest. That is what she was referencing, which you wouldn't have been able to tell from the post, which I understand.

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    4. "If the circumstances were different I might have parented Alex."

      I don't want you to think I was judging you, because I wasn't. I just feel sad because I got the impression from the blog that you didn't really get what I feel was proper counselling to address all those other sad things going on in your life. Hopefully, I am wrong, it is just that I know other bmoms who have said that their underlying situations were never addressed - that their situation was a bonus to the agency rather than something to be addressed and overcome if possible.

      If your ministry is helping those to explore their situations in a way that many agencies don't seem to be doing, then that is good.

      As for your friend, I'm pleased to hear that. It is just that I do know of online APs who do think of their child's parents that way and have actually said that they are telling their children that their bmother were a vessel that God used to get them to where they belong.

      So perhaps you can understand the aversion towards the word "vessel".

      Also, I can see a few posts talking about your ministry for bmothers without actually knowing what it is about. On another post, you mention in your reply a little bit about what you are about but I can't see any posts actually outlining your actual policies on helping expectant mothers. Perhaps I have missed reading that post; otherwise it might be a good idea for a post to actually say what you are all about.

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    5. Did I get proper counseling? No, not at all. That isn't even what I take issue as much as the ones doing any counseling in any case are people who have a monetary stake in the decision. That to me is wrong. Even though my adoption counselor was a nice person and wanted to help, I still had the idea in the back of my mind that always made me wonder if the agenda had anything to do with it. For me, the biggest issue I have with birthmothers and adoption is lack of emotional suppport and aftercare. I have been in the business world a long time so when I take my birthmother hat off and put my business woman hat on I see why it is the way it is. Aftercare for birthmothers does not drive revenue. Businesses will never put buckets of money into something that does not have a return on investment, that is unless there is another driver, Public Relations. By putting myself on a stage I get to tell the people who could actually make a difference what is wrong, I even have a few ideas on how to fix it but that is a whole other discussion. Putting my birthmother hat back on I can tell you that it is practically a crime to let someone try to heal from something like this all alone. In fact, it doesn't happen. There is a lot of emotional damage that gets done when someone isn't allowed or afforded the opportunity to grieve properly. I didn't get that and I don't want someone else to have to go through that when I have something in my power to change it. I feel the exact same way about the abortion industry. For two sides so vehemently opposed to one another they certainly have a lot of similiarities in how they treat women who are facing a crisis pregnancy. "Here, make a life-changing decision and then go away because we're done. You're not sad, you made the right choice for you, stop crying." I feel like both sides say the same thing. We know what the results are. If I can bring awareness of a need for emotional support and aftercare and if I can bring it to the people who will make the industry respond then I think I have done my job. In the meantime, I mentor the precious women who contact us and I help them feel supported by someone who cares about them not just their "Decision".
      Going on your vessel comments from Aparents, I can tell you that every aspect of the adoption arena has done a terrible job of honoring the birthmother. All she seems to be is an absent voice and a person someone judges by a certain set of circumstances and nothing more. I am much more than what happened to me, I am much more than a decision I made and Alex deserves to see her birthmother for ALL that she is not just a woman who carried her because Alex is more than a baby who was adopted.
      You have helped me, you know. Whether you realize it or not. In fact, this whole awful thing this week has helped me. As for the communication on what we do, it will be on the new website but in the meantime, you are right. I have to put something up there. The "raising up the voice of the birthmother" is not actually what the ministry does, it is what I do by speaking at events. I want to be clear, I am not proposing to represent anyone. I am trying to encourage others to come into public view and share their stories by being out there. No one is doing it. I have to take that down off of our page though so it is not confusing my speaking with the ministry. Thanks, JJ. I am going to speak at a conference this weekend so if there are comments, I may be pretty delayed in getting to them. Have a wonderful week.

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  2. Hey Britt,

    Not been around for a while, busy busy busy. I hope to oneday adopt a baby girl in this exact same way. YOu are a special vessel :)

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