This guest post is by Shari Guess, an adoptive mother and author of Once Upon A Baby, A Tale of Adoption.
It seems impossible that this coming September it will be 10 years since my life was forever changed.
That’s when a precious newborn baby boy was placed in my arms by one of the most courageous and loving women I will ever have the pleasure of knowing and I became a mother for the first time.
I remember that moment as if it were yesterday. Until then, I had changed only three diapers in my entire life – and put two of them on backwards! To say that I felt incredibly humbled, awestruck and awkward in that moment as my new path was laid out in front of me, was the understatement of the year!
After years of infertility and the diagnosis of an auto-immune thyroid disease, one of several medical complications that left my husband and I childless, we began to consider other options.
I had always known somewhere deep inside that I might never have biological children of my own, and in this way I was blessed in that I did not spend years of my life grieving about what could never be. I do know that this part of the experience is so vastly different for everyone and for many it is such a painful time.
Our introduction to adoption and our son’s birthmother
My heart is so heavy for those in this stage of their journey. My personal experience at this point was that by the time the “hammer” fell and the long-term prognosis of infertility was pronounced upon my head, I was ready to take some action in a positive direction, plain and simple. Adoption just seemed like the next logical and right step forward for our family.
Our son’s birthmother, Susan, had initially decided to parent the child she conceived with her high school sweetheart, having the support of her family in any decision that she would make. As the pregnancy progressed, it became evident that the relationship she found herself in was not right for her, nor was it what she believed would bring all that she hoped for to her child.
She had always had a deep-seated belief that it would be best for her child to be raised in a two-parent home and when her dream of ‘happily-ever-after’ was dashed she turned her heart heavenward as she sought deep within for guidance.
Toward the end of her pregnancy she had what she would describe as an unforgettable spiritual experience that told her that the child she was carrying was not her own. It became readily apparent to her what path she would follow.
Our introduction to Susan happened very quickly. We received a beautiful card with a personal letter from her through our agency asking us if we would be willing to accept and love her child as our own. In utter shock we replied immediately that we would be overjoyed!
From infertility to open adoption
We met with her and some of her family at our agency on Thursday and by Monday our child had entered the world. Though we were informed immediately, my husband and I did not feel that our place at that hallowed time, directly following the birth, was at the hospital.
We had a lifetime to spend with this blessing from Heaven. We felt that the first 48 hours belonged entirely to his birth mother and to her family. We felt that most sacred of all times was hers alone.
Placement Day was a day of immense love, intense grief and, in a quiet way, a celebration to end all celebrations! It was as much about my love for this amazing birth mother as it was about the joy of this child. We laughed, we cried, we hugged and we prayed. Together.
When our child was placed into my arms, Susan instantly became family forever! How could I view it any other way?! We were two mothers sharing one great purpose, one great cause and one great love. I could never think of myself as a mother without thinking of her alongside me in the same thought.
It was in much the same way I accepted my infertility that we became accepting of open adoption. In that special someplace deep in our hearts Susan had always been part of our family, as had our son. It was just pre-destined to be this way!
Opening our adoption
We opened our adoption a little at a time over the years — usually guided by what Susan and our agency were comfortable with. We took the time to build a true friendship on top of the love that already existed. A little give and a little take. There was respect for space, respect for boundaries, and love beyond measure.
My sweet husband warmed to open adoption a little more slowly but as he also slowly opened his mind and heart, he was rewarded beyond measure.
Today, Susan and I are the best of friends. Our adoption is fully open and we see each other regularly to celebrate our son’s successes and milestones together. Our family feels so blessed that through our open adoption we not only had a child join our family, but a birthmother and her family!
We love them as ours. Can you ever have too much of a good thing? Can a child ever have too much love?
I think we all know the answer!
Shari Guess is the author of Once Upon A Baby, A Tale of Adoption, a new children’s book released through Higher Ground Press, LLC, with a focus on Latter-Day-Saint adoption. She and her husband Walter are the proud parents of a son who came into their lives through adoption, and live on a ranchette in rural Texas with a small herd of rescued Great Danes and other farm animals.
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