My wife and I are infertile. I’ve long since come to grips with this, and as such, I understand there are some aspects of a fertile male’s life that I will never experience. For example, I’ll never get to put my hand on my wife’s tummy and feel a kick. I’ll never see a child that shares the same DNA as we do*. I’ll never have the “delivery room” experience, or get cut an umbilical cord.**
*This is probably for the best as our collective family health risks would likely make any biological child one big, genetic time bomb. Put it this way: if there is a charity walk to support it, you can probably find it somewhere in our families.
**Also for the best as I’m irrationally weird about belly buttons. Just typing this sentence makes me uncomfortable.
I am completely, perfectly, 100% fine with not experiencing these things. Through the wonder of adoption, we have two healthy and happy children who are more beautiful than anything my flawed DNA could ever hope to be apart of. We are blessed beyond reason. We’ve talked about adopting again, but I’ve been firm in wanting to be done.
Or so I thought.
* * *
On a typical Tuesday morning (July 23, 2013), I’m sitting at my desk doing some work. My wife calls and ask if I want to take an “early lunch”. Looking at the clock on my PC, I see that it’s 10:29 am.
I am far from hungry, but I can tell that my wife wants to talk about something.
We agree to meet at home in 15 minutes and I head out the door. I arrive home fully expecting to hear some job-related news. Her department has been having some issues, and I’m wondering if she was fired. Or if she got fed up and walked out. Maybe she was offered a vacant management position.
We step in the house, and she tells me “_______________”.
Yeah, I have no idea what she said – either exactly or paraphrased. It was something about a phone call from Florida. But the message was this:
The birth mother of our son is pregnant and has chosen to place the baby for adoption. Our adoption agency wants to know if we would accept the placement.
And just like that, I got to experience something I never thought would happen to me: being told “You’re going to be a father” completely and totally out of the blue.
According to my wife, my initial response was “So you’re not fired?”
* * *
The next 20-30 minutes are a bit of a blur. The baby is going to be a girl. My wife always wanted to have two girls. She’s a giddy, teary, excited mess. She wants this.
I think of my son, picturing his beautiful face. There is no way I could ever look into his deep, dark eyes and say “Well, buddy, Mommy and I had a chance to adopt a baby sister – your biological half-sister – but we said no. Sorry, little dude.” As much I was done – had you asked me 45 minutes earlier, I would have told you that I was more likely to grow a third arm than have a third child – this was a no-brainer for me.
When we called the agency’s case worker back to say “yes”, she said “Well, that was fast!”
Of course it was fast. We’re talking about my daughter.
* * *
I’ll admit it: I’m in shock. As I type this, I still am in disbelief.
Oh yeah, there’s one other little tidbit from that first conversation with my wife that I haven’t shared yet: this baby girl’s due date is August 19. 2013. We don’t get nine months. We don’t even get nine weeks.
This is a serious game changer for us. With our previous two adoptions, we were able to plan and save. I don’t know if you know this or not, but adoption is kind of expensive. While my wife’s employer has some adoption benefits, it barely puts a dent in what we need. Can I fit three car seats in my sedan? We don’t have an open bedroom so somebody will have to double up. There are a thousand other things that change. The classic parenting joke of having to switch from a man-to-man to a zone defense. Knowing that I may not sleep through the night again until 2014. May not dine in a restaurant with my family until 2015. May not be able to retire until 10 years after I die.
But it will all work out. It will all be worth it.
This is my daughter.
* * *
As you are reading this, we’re sitting in a rented vacation home in Orlando, Florida – that’s where our daughter was born. We’ve actually been here for a while. We believed the birth mom would go into labor early, and since we were driving from our home in Nebraska*, we decided to take advantage of a weekend to get down here.
*Yeah, that drive was not exactly a breeze. 1,400 miles with kids that apparently are incapable of sleeping in a car – no matter the time of day. All I know is the person who thought to put a DVD player in minivans will forever hold a fond place in my heart. I’m sure the drive back with a newborn will be much better.
We took placement today (Saturday, August 24), and baby was discharged from the hospital into our custody. Now, we hang out here and wait for our ICPC clearance to leave Florida and reenter Nebraska.
Waiting for paperwork to process may sound like a real drag – especially to adoptive parents whose lives can feel like one giant form, but this is different. This is relaxing, stress-free time. This is bonding with a baby, and spending the quality family time that politicians preach about (before they go sleep with their mistress). In short, this is heaven with take out food and a swimming pool.
* * *
I know most of my friends are probably reading this with their jaws dragging on the floor.
Trust me, I can relate to the disbelief you’re feeling.
I do want to apologize to you for not letting you know about this sooner. But as you may remember, we got burned once by a failed adoption. Even though we had absolutely no reason to believe it would happen this time, the simple truth is that until the relinquishment papers are signed, the birth mom has every right to parent this baby. So we wanted to be guarded and protect ourselves. Neither my wife nor I had any desire to go through the pain of having to tell everybody in our lives that we got our hearts broken. Again. Therefore, we decided to wait until she was born and her birth mom had signed the relinquishment papers.
I hope you can understand why we had to keep it a secret.
Besides, everybody loves a good surprise.
* * *
Alexandra Grace Paris Feit was born at 3:54 am on Thursday, August 22. Lexi, as we will call her, weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20 inches long. She is a perfectly healthy little girl with a full head of silky black hair. Her birth mama needed an emergency C-section*, but is recovering well. We understand that she was released from the hospital today.
*Almost a week past her due date, little Lexi was in no hurry to be born. We were told that she was hanging on to her birth mama as the doctor delivered her.
Her birth mom chose her first name (from the two finalists we had narrowed it down to). Her first middle name (Grace) is the name of her great-grandma (my wife’s grandma) who is very dear to us. Her second middle name (Paris) was given to her by her birth mom, and is the name of her grandpa (her birth mom’s daddy) who shared a birthday with Lexi.
Lexi’s big sister Jamie is over the moon, and wants nothing more than to hold her and kiss her. Lexi’s big brother Cameron doesn’t quite grasp what is going on yet, but we’re sure that he will be a wonderful (and protective) big brother.
My beautiful family
How about you tie the tubes in your mouth?
Feit Can Write · September 5, 2013 · Adoption · adoption, Birth Mom, Birth Mother, family, Mother, motherhood, Open Adoption, Parent, rude comments · 19 Comments
I need to step outside of my comfort zone for a minute. I’m typically not one to cause friction or publicly call somebody out, but I’m feeling like it is warranted and necessary. Consider this both a public service and a preemptive strike.
As you may recall, we are in the process of adopting a baby girl born two weeks ago. This little girl is the biological half-sister of our adopted son. In simpler terms, our two youngest have the same birth mom, but different birth dads.
Given this information, and the relatively small gap between their births (a little over 17 months), we have had to field some uncomfortable questions from friends, family, co-workers, and others.
You can probably guess some of the things we’re hearing. Things like “She knows what causes that right?” or suggestions that we should take the birth mom a box of condoms. When we shared that our daughter was born via C-section, more people than I care to think about have asked “Did they tie her tubes while they were in there?”.
My wife and I struggle to process how rude and insensitive these comments are. It is disappointing, insulting (and rather infuriating) to hear them from people we care about.
I honestly believe that these things are said with good, honest intentions. We simply do not have people in our lives who are intentionally rude and insulting to us. It’s likely these things are said jokingly, or in reaction to the sudden nature of this placement, or any number of other reasons.
But trust me, we do not appreciate these comments.
First and foremost, you’re talking about the birth mother of two of our children. I’m going to defend her like I would my own mom, my wife, or our children. Mess with the birth mama and you’re messing with me.
It may be hard for non-adoptive parents to understand the protective loyalty I have for someone I’ve never met (as is the case with both of our birth moms), but you need to understand: without these women, without the sacrifices they made, the pain they endured, and the other things you and I cannot fully appreciate, I have no children. No family. Nothing. The gratitude – the eternal, never-ending thankfulness I have cannot be underestimated.
It is very easy for those on the outside to look at the choices birth moms make and judge. Why did they get “knocked up”? Why do they have babies they “cannot keep”? How could they possibly “give up*” a child for adoption? Again?
*Seriously, if you’re still saying “give up”, please stop. Switch to “placed for adoption” or “chose to place for adoption”. Yeah it’s a little more work for your brain, but those extra words don’t sting nearly as bad.
I look at this two ways:
1) Look at your life. What choices have you made that others have judged? How did that feel? I know I’m not perfect. My family and friends love me in spite of many of the things I’ve done and said.
2) Instead of focusing on the negative, celebrate these women. Instead of choosing abortion, they chose to give life to these wonderful, beautiful children – all while enduring a difficult social stigma. The greatest days of our lives – the days we took custody of our children – were the worst days in the lives of their birth moms. We try to never forget that.
But mostly, I think about the birth mom of our son and baby girl. She is a beautiful young woman (early 30s) with lots of life to live. Who knows what her situation will be in six months or six years? Quite simply, she has done absolutely nothing to warrant losing her ability to have children.
Nobody has the right to suggest that her ability to reproduce be taken away solely because she blessed us with two beautiful children. Not me. Not you. Nobody.
I can’t tell you what to think or how to feel about the choices our birth moms have made. But I am asking you – politely, yet very, very firmly – to keep those opinions to yourself. My children will be raised to honor and celebrate their mom and birth mom, and they do not need to hear any rude or disparaging comments about them.