I stood in the parking lot of the hospital and loaded my one-day-old baby girl into the back seat of our car, headed to our other daughter’s preschool graduation. Yes, we took our 24-hour-old baby to a preschool graduation. Totally normal, right?
Less than 20 feet away sat a young woman in a wheelchair, sobbing. Her beautiful red hair, stained dark with wet tears. Her hands were shaking, and her arms were empty. Her body frail and unwilling to move toward the car that would drive her in the opposite direction, toward a place she called home.
We were two mums standing in that parking lot. One grew this precious baby inside of her body, protecting and nourishing her. The other mum was chosen and entrusted to raise her from this day forward. Both loved her even before she took her first breath.
Less than eight weeks earlier, we were strangers. This sweet baby brought our lives together, but in that moment, we both were both overcome with feelings of guilt, fear, and insecurity. I wondered if I would love this baby girl as much as I loved her older sister, a child that I carried and birthed. I worried that she too might not love me the same; would she grow up to choose the woman who birthed her over the one who raised her? Would she feel thankful for this family? Would her birth mum call us later today or tomorrow or in 29 days to say that she changed her mind?
Meanwhile, her birth mum, Becky, feared that she might be misunderstood for choosing adoption. Would this baby grow up resenting her? Would she really be allowed to be involved in this baby’s life? Would we raise this child, her child, the way we promised to?
Was this really the best decision — for Becky or for any of us?
Looking back, it feels like a miracle that we survived that brief hospital stay. When a baby is born, we think of it as a celebration. Those sweet first hours shouldn’t be bathed in fear, hesitation, and awkward conversations. But what if they are? What if the hospital doesn’t know which woman to call mum? What if they ignore the adoptive family or the birth mum? What if the birth father is hovering and everyone is on edge?