Not long ago I faced my future and my past, face-to-face, in the life of another woman. It was at a 1st birthday party. A birthday party for a little girl with Ds who had been adopted. A girl who had been adopted by a family that had hoped to adopt MY little one with Down syndrome. The birth-mom, birth-grandma and birth-sister were all at the party, as were Lauren, Ada, Adrienne (our respite provider for Ada) and me. There was talk that the birth mom "Amy", may not come to the party as she didn't like crowds or being around people she didn't now well. But she was there and when we sang "Happy Birthday" to her/their baby, she was overcome with emotion and left to go sit in her car. That simple shift in Amy's demeanor while anticipating the singing of the song and then hearing "Happy Birthday dear Baby" took her by surprise and took me right back to a place I once envisioned myself. I went out to her car to talk to her, knowing that I may never be in that situation again-one in which I was watching another person (very different than me, yet the same) show me my feelings. It was both surreal and life-affirming.
Could that really have been me? Did I really come "this" close to writing an adoption plan for Lauren a.k.a. Anna a.k.a. Emerson?? Yes, I did and frankly I am okay with that. We don't always get to choose what we take on in life or what we want. But, I chose Lauren. When Amy left the party to collect herself in her car, I knew that a piece of me went out to the car with her. That shadow of emotion spoke so directly to me because i've thought about it a hundred-million times. How could I maintain a relationship with a family that was raising my daughter? Would I look forward to the photos and updates or would they break my heart over and over again? How would I feel if she got hurt or, for that matter, got picked to be in a calendar?
After leaving the hospital with Lauren we were able to stay at a friend's home while we sorted out the details of the adoption plan. So much was up in the air as the 2nd family we had chosen was out of state on vacation and we were not well-informed about inter-state adoption policy. We did not plan on taking Lauren to our home as we didn't want to confuse our other children about what we were doing.
We left the hospital on Friday and knew that on Sunday, the social worker would come pick up my baby to take her away, to, eventually, meet up with her new family. My baby would be taken away in a strange carseat and I didn't know when I would see her again.
It was truly more than I could bear. Having gotten to just that point, I don't know how some mothers have the strength to go forward. There is nothing selfish about adoption on either side of it. I sat in that friends home holding Lauren and howling with tears of pain at the thought of sharing her with another family. My heart was literally melting away in little piles at my feet.
My love for this little person was so real, so intense, so life-altering. I found Lauren to be the most precious little person I had laid eyes on in a very long time. Holding her and gazing into her sweet face erased all of the fears I had about Down syndrome. She was here and perfectly formed and meant to live. And I did not want her to leave me. I did not want to get pictures of her with another Mommy and Daddy, with toys that we didn't own or wearing clothes that we hadn't seen before. I didn't want someone else telling me what she was doing or what she was working on. I wanted that all for myself.
While Amy seemed mostly at peace with her decision, I know in my heart that I would not have been; it would have haunted me and hounded me for...ever. I needed to chose Lauren so that I could become a better version of myself and open myself up to a world where the possibilities were unknown, yet, endless. I truly admire Amy for giving this family a most treasured gift and my heart goes out to what might be a daily struggle for her to reconcile her decision. Her-their baby is beautiful though, loved by many and given the choice of life. That is perfect.