Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences and perspectives.
By Jennifer Watson
“Wow…” I say softly to the bundle in my lap, “you are a very tiny little person.”
The very first thing I ever say to my daughter.
I’m sitting on the low, pink couch next to K’s hospital bed. The baby lays along the length of my thighs. One of my hands gently cups the back of her head (her little head barely filling the palm of my hand at all) while my other hand rests gently on her tummy.
My hand covers her entire body; she is so little (I learn later that she is 5 pounds 9 ounces…pretty much the smallest a newborn baby can be without needing to spend some time in the NICU.)
A teeny face peeks out from between a pale blue/pink striped hat and the swaddling blanket. The face has dark skin (I’m surprised that her skin is paler than I had expected) no discernible eyebrows yet, barely visible eyelashes, a broad-ish nose, and a sweet heart-shaped mouth.
She is sound asleep.
I look up to see K watching me with her daughter. Her face is unreadable. I have no idea what she must be thinking as she watches me hold her baby. Of what she thinks of me. Of knowing that tomorrow may be the day that she gives her daughter to me forever.
“She is so beautiful.”
“Yeah,” K replies in her deep yet breathy voice.
I look back down at the tiniest person I have ever held. She sleeps deeply. I imagine coming into the world is a fairly exhausting process.
“Is it okay if I take a picture of her?” I ask K.
And so I pull out my phone, click one picture and send it to Chris. And then one more as the little bundle stirs.
I finally notice that the social worker is taking her leave of us, but not before she introduces me (“And this is the adoptive mother”) to the day nurse who has come to check on K and the baby.
The day nurse nods at me, but says nothing seeing me holding the baby. She, in fact, looks at me with an expression like she smells something bad. If I weren’t so mesmerized by the baby, I’d probably be really upset by this woman’s obvious dislike of me or perhaps her discomfort, but at the moment I can’t let myself get upset. The social worker and K don’t seem to notice me getting The Stink Eye from the nurse.
Soon the social worker makes her escape and Nurse Stink Eye makes several more visits over the next 30 minutes to check on her patients and, no doubt, to make sure I haven’t dropped her little charge.
Before she signs off from her shift, Nurse Stink Eye announces that they have some tests to run on the baby, transfers her from my arms into a waiting hospital bassinet, and whisks her from the room.
I look at K.
Now is the time.
I have to talk to her and say what’s been in my head since the moment I found out that I was coming to Florida to meet her and the baby. So I get up and sit on the edge of her bed.
“This is weird, isn’t it?” I ask her.
“Yeah,” she answers solemnly.
We look at each other for a minute saying nothing and then I hear myself saying the thing that I’ve been dreading saying, but knowing that I can never move forward with any of this if I don’t, “You know…you can still change your mind. We haven’t signed any papers.”
She stares at me for half a minute.
“No, I wouldn’t do that,” she says finally in her strangely deep yet breathy voice. “I wouldn’t ask you to come all the way down here and then back out. I’m not that kind of person.”
I look away, not able to speak. This is so hard. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for K. What she must be thinking or feeling.
Finally, I look back and say, “I know. But you can still change your mind. Chris and I will be okay if you do. We’ll be fine.”
“No,” she says, “I’m okay. I’m okay.”
But I don’t know if she’s saying it to convince me or to convince herself.
“Okay,” I nod, echoing her. “Okay.”
And again we look at each other in the awkward silence following what is the real agreement between us. No adoption agency people, no papers, no attorney, no social worker.
Just the two of us. Here in this room together.
Making a pact that she will give her baby to me and I will take care of her baby for the rest of my life.
We are okay.
“So,” I say breaking the silence, “do you have any questions for me? Anything you want to know?”
“No, not really,” she says, “they told me a lot about you.”
But before I can say anything else, Nurse Stink Eye returns with the baby and hands her to K giving me another withering stink eye look, which I choose to ignore. Instead, I look at mother and daughter. They look perfect together. She looks right holding this little baby.
This is so hard.
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The teeny tiny bundle who went home with Jennifer in 2011 is now a tall, energetic 7 year-old who loves her two cats (Kubo and Beetle), pizza (preferably Domino’s), playing on the school playground for two hours every day after school, swimming, tennis lessons, painting, telling the world’s worst knock-knock jokes, soundly defeating her mom in Qwirkle and Uno, her special lovey (Purple – a size 2t fleece jacket), and her favorite doll (Margaret). She wants to be an astronaut when she grows up.
Jennifer Watson writes about her journey in her adoption blog In The Present Moment. This piece is from March 4, 2012 when her daughter was 6 months old. Today Jennifer Watson is certified SoulCollage® Facilitator and the owner of Soul Unfolding. She facilitates personal growth workshops around Rhode Island. She is also wife to husband and #1 Awesome Dad Chris, artist, writer, crazy cat lady, movie buff, and an avid reader.
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Carrie Goldman is the host of Portrait of an Adoption. She is an award-winning author, speaker, and bullying prevention educator. Follow Carrie’s blog Portrait of an Adoption on Facebook and Twitter