Once upon a time, there was a reader who longed to hear a modern adoption story. Perhaps they were weary of the infertility journey and longed for assurance there was still another option? Or maybe she found herself facing an unwanted pregnancy in a state that limited her options and felt desperate for another alternative? Whatever the reason, we all love a good story, now and then, so here’s one about how modern adoption can (sometimes) change lives for the better, even in the most unexpected of ways.
Growing up, Mallory had always known about adoption because her dad had been adopted. It wasn’t something he talked about, much. He hadn’t ever known his birthfamily and being that it was all closed adoption back then, he’d never dared to ask his adoptive parents, because adoption just wasn’t discussed. His adoptive parents had died in a car accident when Mallory’s dad was in college, and it was only after the funeral that he’d found papers in their safe that referred to him as having once been “Baby Boy Smith.” There really wasn’t much more to go on than that, so he never searched. But he always wondered if the large, distinctive birthmark on the left side of his brow had anything to do with his birthmother’s choice not to keep him? When Mallory had to provide family medical history for her summer camp registrations or for school sports physicals, on her father’s side of the form, she’d write “unknown– adopted” which made her kind of sad, in a way.
Some secrets can be hard to keep.
She graduated from high school and went on to attend the state university, where she began dating someone she’d met in her freshman English lit class. Things got hot and heavy for awhile, but Mallory found out he was involved with another girl off-campus, too, and they went their separate ways. Weeks later, Mallory’s period was late, and the next month, it didn’t come, either. Busy with classes, she assumed it was due to the stress of school and the breakup, but a visit to the campus health clinic eventually revealed the dreaded news: she was pregnant. Mallory was terrified, and told nobody for awhile. Eventually, she confided in her roommate, who convinced her to contact the father. That was a bust; he was transferring to a school out-of-state at the end of the semester and told her to “take care of the problem” herself and not contact him again.
At the semester break, Mallory went home and broke the news to her disappointed parents,. Her mother offered to raise the baby for her, while her dad suggested her aunt in Minnesota might know of a clinic that could still perform an abortion. It was her brother’s girlfriend who uttered the three words that changed everything: “what about adoption?” She’d never thought of that, but now, she did, and the idea stuck.
As it turned out, modern adoption was nothing like her dad’s adoption experience back in the old days. Mallory learned that modern adoption didn’t require her to be banished to a maternity home or to hide her pregnancy in shame. She didn’t have to involve the baby’s father, given that she was in Texas and they weren’t married and he hadn’t wanted to participate. Talking with different Texas adoption agencies convinced her that she wanted to work with an agency that did full-disclosure open adoption, like Abrazo.
A modern adoption story isn’t like it used to be.
Mallory got to decide which couple she wanted her child to grow up with, how much contact she wanted to have with them during pregnancy, and what sort of relationship she wanted to continue after the adoption. She was able to see the doctor of her choice, to decide how much counseling she felt was optimal, and whether or not to consult with an attorney about her legal rights, She was able to receive financial assistance from the adoption agency to help with her living expenses, and to make her own decisions about how she wanted the hospital experience to be handled.
The couple she chose to parent her baby were so much like her family, they got together several times before the birth, and her parents joked about adopting them, too. Mallory got to visit their house and even help decorate the nursery with them. (Her father marveled at that, saying his whole life might have been changed if he’d grown up knowing his birthparents and adoptive parents had that kind of connection.) Mallory’s mother was overjoyed that her daughter having a modern adoption story would enable her to still get to be a first-time grandmother.
Having the adoptive parents present in the delivery room to witness the baby’s birth was Mallory’s choice, for seeing their joy helped balance the grief of her own loss, in her mind. She treasured the hours she spent alone with her newborn son in the days after the birth, and she cried buckets of tears the day she signed the adoption papers (and for some days afterwards, truthfully.) Friends urged her not to look at baby pictures nor visit with the adoptive family, but for Mallory, being assured of her son’s wellbeing was the one thing that she found truly healing.
Give yourself a peace that passes understanding.
When the adoptive family invited Mallory and her parents to join them for the baby’s baptism, they accepted with gratitude, feeling just a little apprehensive about whether the adoptive parents’ other relatives would welcome their presence, but they need not have worried. We are all part of one big, loving family through adoption, the pastor reminded everyone who was present, as he sprinkled the sacred water over the head of a baby who was so dearly loved by them all.
Yet the most unexpected gift of Mallory’s open adoption was yet to come, when an older woman approached Mallory at the coffee hour following the baptism, She quietly thanked Mallory for having had the courage to choose adoption for her baby, saying she’d never forgotten the shame her late sister had experienced when she’d endured an unwed pregnancy in a town not far away, Their parents had forced her to place a much-wanted baby boy for adoption all those years ago. For decades, she said, her sister had searched the faces of young men in public places, hoping to find her son, yet never successfully finding that gorgeous baby boy with a distinctive purple stork kiss that had left her forever hopeful about her chances that they might reunite, one day…
In real life, there aren’t always happy endings, of course. Still, a modern adoption story has amazing potential to bring about unexpected miracles for everyone involved: even when you least expect it.