Sunday, February 15, 2015

Flowers In The Snow (An Adoption Birth Story) - Conclusion

To read the first two parts of this story, please go here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

For Joah.

By the time we arrived at the hospital, it was early afternoon, and what had begun as a promising morning had turned into a glorious afternoon.  Even in the city, it was hard not to notice the singing of the house sparrows and the warm breeze as we walked through the hospital's concrete parking garage.  What a wonderful day to be born on, I thought.

Our social worker, Mary, met us at the hospital and was a bundle of nerves. Your unexpected arrival had created a bit of a stir in her day, too!  We all hugged and gathered our thoughts, and the peace that had been with me through the day seemed to descend upon us.  Pushing your brother in his stroller, we made our way through the corridors and anxiously searched for the nursery.

I will never forget the first moment that I saw you. You were swaddled and sleeping, and I pushed my face against the glass window that felt like one final hurdle yet to be crossed.   "May I hold him?" I asked.  Not yet, I was told. We still needed her consent. So all I could do was watch you from a distance and offer a prayer and a promise to be back soon.  

"Can we see her?" we asked.   "Yes" Mary said, "but you will not find her in Labor and Delivery." She had requested to be moved to another floor in the hospital, one far from the sound of newborns and rejoicing families.   "Was she doing okay?" I asked.   The birth was hard, we were told, and I did not ask any more questions.  

We left your brother with Mary for the moment and walked to her room. The lights were dim inside, and we tapped on the doorway.  She was awake, resting, with her mother by her side.  We walked in and, with very few words, hugged her mother and then her.   "He's so beautiful," was all I could say, and she nodded. Her mother talked of how proud she was of her daughter, how strong her daughter had been, how happy they were that we had come so quickly and that we were going to be his parents.  I struggled for words but could do little more than say thank you.  

She gave her permission for me to hold you and to do whatever I felt best as your mother.  I returned to the nursery and Mary explained the situation to the nurses, who then looked at me with a smile and ushered me through the door and around the glass window that had been the final barrier between you and me. "Wait here," they said, and your father and I sat down in the two plastic chairs provided to us. Seconds later, I was holding you for the first time.  You were four hours old, and I have been with you ever since.

I asked if I could nurse you, but I was told it was against hospital policies considering we still had not completed the paperwork that gave us custody.  So, instead, I pulled back your swaddle and placed your body against mine.  Your father and I studied your face, and we agreed that you looked like her.  "He's going to have a great smile," I said, as I studied the proportions of your mouth, nose, and eyes. "He looks a little like a bug," said your father lightheartedly, and we both laughed.

A few hours later, it was time to leave and tend to finding our lodging and getting settled for the night. We found our way to the hotel where I fed your brother and put him to bed. Then I kissed your father goodnight and returned to the hospital and that plastic chair, and you and I snuggled skin-to-skin until late into the night.

The next morning, your grandmother arrived, followed soon after by the arrival of your grandfather. They watched eagerly through the glass as your father and I held you up to the nursery window and shared with them the name we had chosen.  They beamed with pride.

Throughout the day, your father and I would visit her.  Gradually, the conversation became easier, and we talked about her return to school and swapped stories about the trials and tribulations that come from having college roommates.  We met her father and her sister, and the more we talked, the more Tom and I began to feel attached to her and her family. They were so loving and so close, and it was obvious that they cared about her deeply.  Yet, she seemed tired and a little too quiet, and at times, it felt like the only thing I could hear was the unspoken.  Her mother, in particular, seemed to be struggling, and with each conversation, we could sense that this was not a decision that she wanted to accept.  Yet, she loved her daughter immensely, and she told us that she was determined to show that love by honoring her daughter's wishes.

A few hours before her discharge, it had been arranged for her to go to the nursery with her family to see you while your father and I were not there.  Her parents had told us earlier that they were insisting that she see you one last time before she left the hospital and she eventually had obliged.  We were told that she had looked into your face and shed a few tears but said nothing.  I truly believe that as she looked at you, she gave you her blessing.   Soon after, your father and I made our last visit to her to say goodbye.  "I promise you I will make sure he knows how much you love him," I told her as we held each other tightly and cried tears of sorrow and gratitude.

Shortly after she left the hospital, we were escorted out as well.  The nurse insisted that, according to policy, I leave in a wheelchair, holding my newborn in my lap. As I was wheeled through the hallway, all I could think of was how she must have felt being wheeled out in a similar manner...but with empty arms.   Your father and your grandparents walked beside us, and as Mary pushed your brother in his stroller behind me, she kept commenting on how, in thirty years of doing adoptions, she'd never experienced one quite as perfect as this one had been.

We walked out the hospital door and into yet another warm and lovely day, but this time, the breeze was brisk and carried the tell-tale sign that our brief winter reprieve would soon end.   A couple of hours later, we were home.  As I walked up the sidewalk to our front door, I noticed that during the two days we'd been gone, the hyacinths had made a premature appearance, and I thought about how such delicate little flowers would soon be forced to face the brunt of a winter not quite ended.

I never saw her again after that day. We sent her letters and photos, and we were told that she graciously accepted them.  The weeks turned into months and by the end of summer, you were officially ours forever.  Your father commented often that he was surprised that we never heard from her.  It all had seemed so perfect, he said.  Mary had said it as well.   And I agreed.  It had been perfect, because in my heart, I believe that she was trying to follow God's will, as were we, and by doing so, how could it have been anything less than perfect?

But sometimes, the perfect love that comes from following God's will can only be borne of pain, and too often, it is the pain that is left to linger.  Like a flower in the snow, perfect love can be fragile and fleeting and before we've even had time to fully appreciate it, it is gone. But for the moment that we are a witness to it, we know that we have seen something beautiful and that we have been blessed. We know that God has given us a glimpse of heaven in a world far from it.  

Going home.
February 17, 2011


  1. Oh so many tears as I read this story. Thank you for sharing!! You write so beautifully and I hope Joah loves reading this one day. I love that picture of him and you together the day we went home from the hospital He is so alert!!

    1. Thank you. I shed a few tears writing it, and am blessed to be able to share our story.

  2. Beautifully written. heart breaks for the birth mother, but rejoices for the wonderful family born through adoption. Thanks for sharing these very touching memories, which really bring alive the essence of adoption.

    1. Thank you. Joah's birthmother taught me what "a love worthy of agape" really means. It was a lesson I will never forget.