By: Erin Paterson, Adopt4Life Community Parent
It was a warm Thursday afternoon in June unlike any other. I was riding in the back seat of the car anxiously watching the trees zipping by along the highway. I was in a strange city I had never been to before, only seen on a map. My husband was in the front seat making small talk with the adoption lawyer we had met for the first time that morning over breakfast. She was basically a stranger and we were about to share the most intimate of moments with her. A moment we had dreamed about for five and a half years but had almost given up hope would come.
We had been up late the night before getting ready. Booking our flight and car rental, making sure all of our paperwork was in order. We had laid out everything across the living room floor. Not only were we trying to pack for ourselves, we were packing for a baby. What do you pack for a baby you've never met? We knew she was 6 pounds 11 ounces when she was born but that was little help to us when trying to figure out which of the miniature pieces of clothing would fit her.
Jostling in the trunk of the car sat the black suit case full of newborn diapers, burping cloths, bottles and the white cotton ducky PJ's my husband and I had picked out together. As we turned down the long dirt driveway we got our first look at the foster home the baby had been staying in for the past five days. A one story bungalow clad in white siding surrounded by a large burgundy deck, a grove of trees of in the distance. A fresh surge of adrenaline started pumping through our tired bodies propelling us towards a moment that would simultaneously be the scariest and happiest of our lives. As we stepped out of the car the foster parents emerged from the house and greeted us at the top of the wooden steps. As I shook hands with the foster mom she said, "Come on in and meet your daughter". Time slowed down as my thoughts paused on the word "daughter". Those few words turned out to be incredibly important on my journey towards becoming a parent.
I always knew that there was enough love in my heart to give a child. I knew I was great with kids and had the ability to be a good mom. Yet I struggled with the moral questions surrounding adoption. Would the baby be better off staying with her birth mom? I had a hard time understanding how someone could not want that which I was so desperate for. Did I deserve to be her mom? Being a mom had always been a dream of mine yet a small part of me felt adopting a baby was selfish. Would the baby bond with me and accept me as her mom? My biggest fear was that my baby wouldn't form an attachment with me. When I walked up those stairs to the foster home I was carrying all of those fears, and more with me. Hearing those words, come on in and meet your daughter, helped me take the first tentative emotional steps towards embracing my role as her mom. It was the first time someone had called the baby, our daughter. It was the first time someone had acknowledged that we, were her parents and that I, was her mom. Once I heard someone say that out loud it gave me permission to step into that role. For those words I will forever be grateful.
We entered the house through the front screen door with the foster parents leading the way. We walked down a long hallway, past the kitchen and into living room where we were introduced to the baby, to our daughter. We were surrounded by strangers as we picked her up for the first time, swaddled in a polka dotted blanket with only her face showing. In disbelief that this moment had finally come, smile on our faces, tears in our eyes.
Later on we dressed our daughter in the ducky PJ's we had picked out together. They were so big that we had to role the sleeves up three times so we could hold her tiny hands. We sat on the couch next to each other, holding our daughter, staring into her face, stunned by our fortune and good luck. We were finally parents, I was finally a mom.
Erin Paterson lives in Toronto with her husband. They are proud parents of one child through private adoption.
She is writing a book about her experience with infertility and adoption. To learn more visit her website at Erinpaterson.com