As we are walking in the house my husband Bryan excitedly says, “The red light is blinking, pick it up, it might be someone important!” Underneath strewn clothes and luggage is an answering machine used for one purpose, calls with an 800 number from prospective birth mothers, nurse mid-wives, doctors, pregnancy crisis centers and anyone who might have information about adopting a baby. Although our search for an infant is well into the third year, I don’t want to pick up the phone today. Bryan is home for just two days; I have missed him terribly. He travels extensively as a marine engineer and is on his way to Japan for a ship overhaul after working in Louisiana for three weeks. I have been answering calls for months feeling nothing but disappointment and frustration. No, today I just want to enjoy our short time together and forget the difficult roller coaster ride we share.
Our journey toward adoption began when we circulated 4000 Dear Birthmother Letters stating our desire to adopt a child. Almost immediately this brochure found its way into the hands of a beautiful blonde Russian woman who approached us with a proposition we hadn’t considered. She offered to be a surrogate mother. Both Bryan and I had mixed opinions about this option. I think I was keener than he to accept her proposal because I felt it was providence. Galina was from Kiev, Russia the city my deceased father had immigrated from at the turn of the 20th century, plus the fact she looked exactly like a picture of my mother which hung in our family room for years.
We located a professional team at a center for surrogate parenting to help us with the details. Galina, Bryan and I spent months visiting a variety of legal, medical and psychological programs which included an infertility specialist, sperm laboratory, psychologist, attorney, and hospital. Each step was costly, time consuming and waiting became commonplace. Finally after about six month’s preparation we were ready for the big event, the first artificial insemination. Three days before the scheduled procedure Galina called with the horrible news that her twin brother had died in Russia. We didn’t know she had a brother.
After a gap of months, that we assumed was due to her mourning, Galina was ready to plan another attempt. This time her cycle of ovulation was to fall when Bryan would be overseas. He was emotionally and physically exhausted but agreed to fly home in the middle of his job. Again we were eagerly anticipating a baby coming into this world. It was not to be. Galina left us a devastating message on our answering machine that she couldn’t go through with it and that we were not to contact her for several weeks. We were both left in a state of shock. Our funds were depleted and we had lost a year of our lives.
Although discouraged, we began studying open adoption. We took classes, read books and watched videos. Visualizing our desires we made a photo scrapbook for prospective birthparents.
Unfortunately there were two more experiences that were hurtful and debilitating: One young woman who lived in Wisconsin convinced us we were the perfect parents for her unborn child due in four months. We traveled to meet her and were met by a social worker who was bewildered and confused. Apparently the birthmother was telling another couple the same thing and had been doing so for months. The second situation involved me driving by myself all night through a terrible rain storm (Bryan was out of town) to visit a woman who also said she wanted us as adoptive parents for the baby she would soon deliver. After weeks of indecision she decided I was too old to be a mother.
At this point I was almost ready to give up our dream.
I notice the clock reads 4:00 pm. “Oh, I guess I’ll answer it,” I say with trepidation.
A melodic voice clearly announces “Hello Bryan and Kay, I hope you are not out of town. I am Nurse Fisher calling you at noon on October 7th. We have a birthmother who has looked at the letters of several couples and she has chosen you to be the parents of her child. Please call us as soon as you get this message.”
We are stunned to silence. Slowly we come to our senses and Bryan says, “Call her back immediately!”
My heart is pounding as I am dialing the number. When the nurse answers I anxiously say, “We are delighted with your news. Tell me, when is the baby due?”
“Oh honey, one of our patients, a young woman of 15, has given birth to a baby girl this morning. How soon can you come to the hospital?”
We are smacked in the face with the knowledge that over night we are about to become parents! Our adoption counselor has told us we never know how or when a baby will arrive and we need to be prepared. Fortunately we believe her and we have a crib, a rocker and changing table. Bumping into each other we check off the layette items necessary for a newborn to leave the hospital. After quickly packing a bag for ourselves, and arranging animal care for our three cats, we grab the car seat and drive several hours to our destination.
As we approach the pale green maternity room I am thinking, “It begins now, the most gratifying experience of my life. At the age of 54 I am about to be a mother for the first time. I wonder how long it will be before I again get 8 hours sleep.” Around the corner I see a lovely teenager sitting up in bed. I feel an instant connection with this young woman. We have heard from other adoptive parents that they love their birthmothers immediately. I didn’t believe it until today! She feels like family; I want to hug her and cry.
The baby girl is nestled in the acrylic bassinette. My heart swells as I touch her sweet head filled with thick, straight black hair. She looks up at us with her eyes wide open and purrs like a kitten. I feel her say, “I’ve been waiting for you. So glad you are here.” For a long time I have felt the presence of a soul wanting to come to me. I am sure this is she.
It has been 15 years since that incredible phone call. We enjoy an open adoption with our daughter’s birthmother and grandparents. There is not a day that goes by I don’t think of this special woman with love and gratitude for her unselfish decision. The path to Mariah may have been paved with bends and bumps but it led us to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the gift of a precious child.