That’s what adoption is… in its most simplest form.
We have been given the gift of a daughter. Lyla Estalene was born at 12:23pm on Monday, January 15, 2018. She was born 3 weeks early. She is a tiny warrior already, weighing in at 4lb 3oz at birth and measuring 17 inches long. Fast forward nearly 3 weeks later and she has grown to 5lb 7oz 18 1/2 inches long already!
She is healthy. She is beautiful. She is perfect… that is… absolutely perfect for our family.
I have learned a lot through this journey and I know I still have so much more to learn.
There have been so many “unexpecteds”… but the most unexpected of all is how much my heart has grown before we were actually placed with our daughter.
We were matched with Lyla’s birth mother the day before Thanksgiving. Instead of feeling joy, we felt scared. So very, very scared. To trust another woman… a stranger… to keep her word that she did believe we were the right people to parent her child. Scared to believe that we were actually good enough for her to pick to love and to raise her child. Scared to trust that God is in control and will work everything out according to HIS good plan.
So, we decided to keep the match private and navigate these feelings and insecurities with our families and close friends to help us.
It grew more exciting as her due date got closer. It was so very hard to keep my heart shut off from hope. Hope and belief that she really was to be our daughter. I finally gave in and began to pray daily for this birth mother and for this baby girl she was carrying. There is something to be said about the power of prayer. When I’m praying for someone, I become connected to them in a way that I cannot explain… and the walls I had built around my heart following our fail in August began to crumble down.
We got the call on a Friday afternoon that Lyla was going to be induced 3 weeks early because she had stopped growing in-utero. We were actually in the process of packing up our car to head to a cabin up north for the weekend… so we quickly unpacked and began to pack to travel for the birth of our daughter instead.
As our adoption consultant says- it was another weekend of “very high highs and very low lows.” Our emotions were flowing all over the place. Excitement. Fear. Incredulousness. Doubt. Once again, we relied on our prayer warrior friends and family because it just became too much for us to pray as we were living out these waves and feeling every single one.
We hopped on a plane early Sunday morning and met our birth mother for dinner that night. The nerves I felt about meeting her completely melted away the second I hugged her. It felt very natural to be near her. It felt very natural to talk with her and share in her excitement (and I did sense some fear too) about the birth of the baby girl the next day. Most importantly… it felt very natural to LOVE her.
We were invited to be at the hospital and in the delivery room for the birth of our daughter. Never having given birth myself- I was terrified! And I knew this was an event I did not want to miss. Once again, it felt so very natural to be around our birth mother and support her that it didn’t even phase me to be in the delivery room. I even had the honor of cutting Lyla’s umbilical cord. From the beginning, our birth mother was very inclusive of us in the entire process and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Our birth mother requested to spend the first 24 hours with Lyla alone and we respected that. As hard as it was to not be near her, hold her and get to know her habits and her cute little sounds… we understood the importance of this time her birth mother needed with her. Still, we worried until we received the news we had been waiting so long to hear… she signed the paperwork. She truly did believe in us and she wanted us to parent this child.
Panic hit the next day as we learned that Lyla would need to stay in the hospital one more night and our birth mother may wish to stay as well. Fear that we would be kept from visiting Lyla for another 24 hours overtook both of us. Looking back at this moment, I feel very foolish. Emotions were flowing out of my control. The situation was out of my control. And even though parental rights had been terminated, fear once again took a grip over me.
We did visit Lyla that day in the hospital. And we spent quality time with our birth mother before she discharged. I will forever remember my time with her that day. She loves Lyla… and yet, she placed Lyla with us. That takes bravery. That takes strength. And I promised her, Lyla will know she gets her strength from her birth mother.
As we said goodbye to our birth mother, emotions once again swept over me. I was a wreck. Another one of those “unexpecteds.” I didn’t want to see her walk out of the hospital. I wanted her to stay and to remain a part of… our family. As she handed me Lyla, I felt so selfish. Again, another one of those “unexpecteds.” Here, she was giving me the most precious gift. She was acting so selfless… and I was taking… so selfishly.
I had been told that the love you will feel for your birth mother is a love like no other. I didn’t understand until we were placed with Lyla. But now I know. I am forever grateful. I will forever love her.
The most unselfish gift that we can give to her in return… is to love Lyla fiercely and forever.
*Note: We will not be publicly posting pictures of Lyla until finalization is complete in 6 months. Thank you for respecting our decision during this time.