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. 

Letting Go
By Susan Dutra

One day in the early Spring of 2012, after months of dreary skies and cold weather, I awoke to the most beautiful day.  The kind of day where you just have to be outside with the sun on your face. I decided this day deserved a trip to the ocean, so I packed up the diaper bag and off we went!

My plan was to be outside near the water and just soak up the beauty of the day.

The “we” in this case being myself and baby B. For a variety of reasons, B’s young Mom, who was the relative of a friend, was unable to care for him.

My husband and I had been taking care of him for three to four days a week, ever since his birth a few months prior.  I was only working part-time, and we wanted to help, so we jumped in where we could. We had become informal foster parents, essentially.

I managed to find a great parking spot on a street downtown, then began the unloading process that’s necessary when you have a baby with you- stroller, diaper bag, baby, toys, etc. Once all that was set and we were ready, I suddenly hesitated. In which direction should we go?

In that exact moment of hesitation, it occurred to me that now EVERY decision, EVERY experience was truly ALL up to me. Not just for that day of course, but for every day he was with us, I was now responsible for him, his safety, his happiness, his comfort, his nourishment- every big and little thing.

It was up to me to make sure he had as many ‘good’ days as possible, ones filled with love and laughter. The weight of that responsibility was profound and unfamiliar… and extraordinary.

A seed was quietly planted in my heart and began to take root right there on that curb.

I decided on a route for us and we began our adventure. We strolled along streets, went in a few little gift shops, and took-in the smells and sights of the waterfront like I’d wanted. We sat quietly together enjoying the sunshine and warm breezes.  If ever there was a perfect day, this was it.

As the afternoon waned, it was time to head home so I packed us up and began the trip back. My husband was home from work by then, so I cooked us some dinner and talked about my day with B. A few bites in, much to my surprise, I heard these words pour out of my heart and across my lips-

“We’re done with IVF.”

You see, I was now forty, and we had spent years ‘trying’. Years filled with soul-crushing disappointments, doctors, shots, tests, blood-work, bad news and lost hope. Years that grew within me a fear (a fear that often resembled terror) at the very real possibility none of this would ever work… that I’d never have a child to call my own.

(My husband had a son from a previous marriage, and while he was a very supportive and willing partner on this journey, I was clearly in the driver’s seat of this pursuit). We were approaching our last chance – a final round of IVF was only a few short weeks away. Despite all this, I knew I wanted to let go. To let ALL of that go. Just like that.

As my thoughts unfolded, I told my husband how I wanted to stop chasing the dream of the baby l thought I needed — the biological one that I would carry and birth. That there was, right in front of us, THIS child who so clearly needed a mother’s fierce and unconditional love. A love I knew I already had for this child.

I said, “HE is here, and HE needs us. “

The fact that I was NOT his mother and that I probably never would be in any legal sense, was completely irrelevant. The mother-love that revealed itself within me that day was what I had been searching for my entire life.

Pregnancy, and all that I had so desperately prayed for and chased after for so long … suddenly didn’t matter, at all.

I felt no sense of loss as the words leapt from my mouth. Not one moment of regret at what I might be ‘giving up.’ And that fear that had haunted me for so long, that had guided decisions that strained my marriage and shook my faith, that fear was now inexplicably gone.

In its place, faith and hope, and a confident calm, returned. I trusted both the God that is within each of us that speaks through intuition, and the God of miracles and answered prayers.

From that day forward, our time with B seemed to grow longer each week, until eventually he was with us all the time. We made a room for him in our home and we prayed he would always be with us.

We spent time with his birth family almost weekly, sharing and growing through this unique experience- becoming a family, for each other and for B. We arranged visits with his birth mom and tried to support her and their relationship as much as possible.

As the months went on we seemed to have a routine that was working for each of us, while giving B the stability and care he needed. And at the time, that seemed more than enough, given the circumstances. In fact, it was more than I’d ever hoped for. We continued to fall deeper in love and dream of a “forever” with B in our lives.  Life was good.

And then, a few months later, we got the phone call that changed our world. B’s Mom reached out, and after a very tearful and emotional conversation for each of us, she asked if we would adopt her son. She was relinquishing her parental rights and wanted us to become his forever parents.

In a million lifetimes, I could never explain the shock and joy both my husband and I felt at her request. We were overwhelmed, humbled, and deeply honored. It was something we never asked about or really even thought would be possible, and yet, miraculously, here it was. We were elated and so immensely grateful.

We very promptly filed the necessary paperwork with the court and then held our breath and waited. A few months later, with the support and blessing of our son’s mom and birth family, our miracle materialized. On January 25, 2013, at 10:15am, B’s adoption was finalized, just one month shy of his first birthday.

I believe God whispered to me that sunny day and opened my heart to HIS plan. A plan, as it turns out, infinitely more beautiful and complicated and amazing than any plan I’ve ever dreamed of.

I was a mother searching for her child, but it was only when I stopped chasing after MY idea of what that looked like, that my child was able to find me.

Bio: I am a wife and mother to our beautiful son. I became a Mom later in life and appreciate every minute of the gift of motherhood as a result. Adoption turned out to be our path to parenthood, and now I am so grateful for my infertility. God had a bigger plan for us that I never dreamed of. We live in Southern Maine and enjoy the coast and all it has to offer, especially hermit crab hunting in the summer months! I am a substitute teacher who loves to craft and sew and spend as much time as possible with my friends and family.

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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