Our first surprise was the showering of gifts we received from family, friends, and even strangers as we prepared for our quick placement. Our second surprise was when our baby was born a girl after we were all expecting a boy! Now on to the third surprise - experiencing the joys of open adoption.
I have been struggling with how to write this post. I'm not sure how to put into words how the next few hours and days played out. It was our first glimpse of what open adoption looks like and it was beautiful. So bear with me as I fumble through.
Baby Girl, who still didn't have a name at this point, was a few hours old and all three of us were working through a flood emotions. I kept thinking that I wanted to say and do the right things in terms of relating with Emily, but I had no idea what those right things were. Did Emily want space? Or did she want us all together? Should we offer to leave her alone with Baby Girl for a while? As the questions kept pilling up, I realized there was no way for me to know the right answer. I just needed to trust God and let go of all the 'what-ifs'. In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist tells his disciples that God must become greater, and he must become less. I felt this same impulse in my heart. So for me that meant not being selfish - not thinking about my happiness first. It also meant not having any expectations about what I thought would happen in the coming days. This was something totally beyond my control.
I told Emily that we would take our cue from her. I asked if it would be alright if I just checked in with her every so often to see what she wanted. She loved that idea and we all began to get settled in to a routine. While Emily recovered, she sent us to the nursery with Baby Girl to get her bathed and checked out - another amazing and selfless act on her part. We got to watch her get her first little bath (which she loved) and just marvel at how adorable and perfect she was.
Then the hospital found a small meeting room on the nursery floor that we could use as our home base and we brought Baby Girl in there to hold her and brainstorm names. It was at this point that Sheldon took this video that we will certainly show all her future suitors.
Over the next few days, we took turns with Baby Girl. Sometimes Emily wanted some alone time with her and other times she wanted us to take her. But on that first night something amazing happened. We were all in Emily's room together and we just began chatting. We talked like friends do.
We talked about life. We talked about our hopes and dreams for Baby Girl. We talked about how amazing it was that God brought us together. And we talked about the hope of the Gospel. We even bonded over small things, like our mutual enjoyment of stand-up comedy. These conversations continued and blossomed over the next few days as we were all bonded together by one very beautiful baby.
This might seem like a strange surprise, but let me explain why it was for all three of us.
Less than 10 days before we had been complete strangers, all crying out to God for the different struggles in our lives and in very different places in our lives. But in just one moment (the birth of Baby Girl) all our fears and differences seemed insignificant in light of our new family - Emily, me, Sheldon, and Baby Girl. We connected over this new life that we were prepared to share and Emily and I were able to pour into each other's lives in ways we had never imagined. What a surprise to find out that we were not only gaining Baby Girl, but also a new family member in Emily.
It was during this time that Sheldon and I felt that we finally understood the importance and beauty of open adoption. I think that many of us have a view of open adoption that is fearful. We may fear that it will be co-parenting or that birth parents will just show up at our house any time they want. There are just so many unknowns. But if we are able to put all those doubts and fears aside and just love one another as God calls us to we see what a blessing open adoption is for us as well as our children.