I’ve recently spent a large chunk of time moving files from an old laptop to a new one as my old computer is getting ready to die off. If you have ever had to transfer files from one computer to another I am sure you can feel my pain in knowing that there are hundreds of emails/documents saved on a computer from over the years. When I considered what files/emails from my laptop really needed to be saved from my massive collection onto my new laptop it occurred to me that the most important thing on my computer are the original email contacts we had with our son’s birth parents and social workers that transpired two and a half years ago.
So needless to say, in copying these email files from one computer to another I’ve taken much time in going back and rereading these early correspondences, many of which have brought both smiles and tears to my eyes.
There was that very first, memorable email from the birthfather asking my husband and I to answer several detailed get to know you questions. Our responses that followed were to help both he and the birthmother decide which adoptive parents to choose for their son (they had narrowed it down to one other couple from our agency and us and I assume the other couple got the same questions as we did.) I will never forget that night writing out our answers. We had been out late at a special event and we left the event early (at 10:30pm – clearly before baby came home when we could stay up past 10:00pm) so that we would be able to write out our answers before the next work day. I felt like it was the most important “paper” I’d ever had to write. My husband and I worked separately, each writing our own emails. We spent a good bit of time reflecting on our answers as we wanted to be sure the mails represented each of us accurately. Our answers were candid, honest and well thought out all at the same time. I remember sending the emails and thinking, “Well if they don’t pick us then it truly isn’t meant to be because we couldn’t have been more ourselves in those emails.”
Then there were the pictures attached to a later email. Two images were the very first glimpses of what our birth parents looked like and one was of the baby-to-be’s sister. We had agreed to adopt their baby before even seeing one picture of the birth parents. (When adopting, looks of birthparents are not often a high priority item on the checklist in comparison to other items like drugs use during pregnancy, health of child and race of child.) I remember being so relieved at seeing their picture – they were “normal” looking. Later, in a separate email I had sent out, was a picture of our first family photo of my husband and I holding an ultrasound picture which the birthmother sent to us. Until that point, being matched didn’t seem real at all even though we were to be parents in only 3 months. I was beaming in the picture even though moments before I was bawling my eyes out in joy. I still tear up simply thinking about that moment!
There were occasional email updates from our son-to-be’s birthmother on how the baby was doing; some of which informed us that the baby was strong and perhaps we should consider naming him something that means “strong.” At one point she nick-named the baby “kicks-a-lot” which made us smile (and still holds true to our son’s active character today.) Since everything was so distant for my husband and I – we weren’t pregnant, feeling the baby move, or seeing my pregnant belly expand to remind us daily that parenthood was getting closer – these emails meant a lot to us and helped us feel like other expecting parents.
Other emails included things like coordinating our first meeting in New York state with the birth parents; scheduling a tour of the hospital for the four of us (birth parents and adoptive parents) which took place when we visited them before the birth; talking about circumcising the baby and asking how everyone felt about the procedure since the baby would still be under our birth parent’s custody and insurance at the time the circumcision would occur. There were many emails going back and forth between my husband and I and various social workers from both New York and California – all of whom would play some part in completing our adoption. In many cases the social workers played the middlemen handling questions and/or concerns of both parties: the adoptive parents and birth parents.
Occasionally there were small gaps of time between correspondences between us (my husband and I) and the birth parents and social workers which seem insignificant now, but at the time these gaps had me gasping for breath and praying that nobody had changed their minds about the adoption.
It was interesting looking back at all the mails after the adoption. Even though I remember there being so much uncertainty at the time the emails were sent, I know what a bonding, unique, amazing, exciting, stressful time those months were for all of us. As hard as it was to go through it all, I wouldn’t trade that time period for anything.