A Birth Mother’s Story: Celebration and Pain
The past few months, we’ve been on a journey with Ashley Mitchell – speaker, writer, and adoption advocate. Ashley is sharing her story with our community and we are so grateful. As a birth mom 10 years post-placement, Ashley is uniquely placed to lead conversations about adoption, post-placement care, and ethical adoption. Today, Ashley offers us part 3 of her journey as a birth mom.
A family was picked, a plan was in motion, and it was time to meet this little baby that was causing quite the fuss!
A few days before delivery I sat down with my case worker and we went over, in great detail, the paperwork involving the relinquishment of my rights. Everything that gave me any legal claim to my son…gone with one signature. One of the most important pieces of this process for a birth mother is clarity. Remembering always the reasons for your decision. I would encourage every woman that is thinking about placing to go over the paperwork, get a concrete understanding of relinquishment. It is a really big deal!
My case worker was a wonderful woman. We did not continue our relationship after our time in the hospital.
It was too painful to see her again after what I experienced, but I am grateful that she took the time that she did to go over all the fine print of that paperwork because she was right. I didn’t hear a damn word that she said at the hospital and I needed to be of sound mind to understand what was about to happen.
Nothing could prepare me for the reality, but I was glad that I knew what I was signing before I was in that moment, under so much pressure and emotion. The birth father had signed his papers a few months before, so I was literally the last thing holding the parental rights in my control.
I sat nervously on the couch in my parents’ family room waiting for the hospital to call, to tell me that they were ready for me to come in to deliver. I was hungry and scared. I wanted to talk with my mom about what was about to happen to my body, my emotions. She didn’t look at me, didn’t talk to me that morning. We all had to deal and process this in our own way. I knew she loved me and she was going to be there at the hospital but that was all she could do. I don’t blame her for that.
For weeks, I had been telling myself that I did not want to see him after delivery. That as soon as that baby was born, I needed to be able to pass him along to the loving arms of his mother….or I never would have been able to let him go! I was so afraid of getting too attached. How ignorant of me. I was already attached. There was no escaping from that! I was his mother.
I invited his amazing family to join us in the hospital. It was so hard to have them there in those horrific moments of grief but I wanted them there. I wanted to see them bond with him, feed him, change him, love him. It offered some peace to know that they did truly love him.
I sat in the delivery room alone for most of the day. A few visitors in and out but everyone left me alone for the most part. Either they were trying to be respectful or they couldn’t handle the reality of the situation. I would have given anything to be pacing the waiting room with them.
I looked around. Faces of strangers. Nurses and my doctor doing everything to make me comfortable, to prepare me for what was about to happen.
I was becoming a mother. Any minute now my first born would be delivered into this world. How is this my life right now?
I learned something so sacred and special that day. There are very few things in this world that are more precious and more amazing to a mother than hearing their baby cry for the first time. The second he came into this world, I wanted him close. I couldn’t even stop myself…I wasn’t going to do that…I wasn’t going to hold him…I couldn’t help it. They placed my son on my chest and he cried.
That sound, that precious, sacred sound filled the room. My heart was breaking. I knew that I was sharing that very first cry with someone else. That cry wasn’t just for me. I knew that out in the hall, listening and waiting through that door was his mother. I know that when she heard the very first cry of our son, she wept.
I spent my brief days in the hospital with constant company. It was a non-stop revolving door of people coming in to meet me. “The woman that is blessing our family”. It was wonderful and exhausting and sad and joyful all at the same time. But at night…at the end of the day when everyone went home, it was just me and my son. I held him in those late hours of the night. I cried over him and prayed over him and begged him for forgiveness. We had hours of conversation. Those sacred conversations are burned into my heart. Those nights…those were the moments when I was his only mother. When I didn’t have to share him. Those are the moments I go back to, even now almost 12 years later.
As we were preparing to leave I was broken and grieving. I signed my paperwork and kissed him goodbye.
Goodbye. He wasn’t dead. It felt like it.
I walked out of my room and down the hall in darkness and pain. I was in shock…did this really just happen?
At the end of the hall was a celebration. A family full of love and excitement and balloons. There was light and color and energy.
I locked eyes with his mother as I prepared to turn the corner, and at that moment I hated her.
My father carried me from the hospital that day. A grown woman, a mother. Broken.
That is adoption. Celebration and love and family and hope…built from the deepest pain and grief of a mother.
Stayed tuned for Part 4 – rebuilding the pieces and the great importance of post placement care for Birth Mothers.