As you might know, in every state, in adoption, a birthmother has the right to change her mind for a set period of time known as the “revocation period”. In New York, for instance, a birthmother has 30 days after she signs the papers to decide she wants to parent. It’s fair, I think, because it’s not the kind of decision you want to find yourself regretting if you have decided to make an adoption plan for your kid.
In Florida, there is no revocation period, which means that after the birth mom signs the papers she cannot change her mind. That’s awesome for an adoptive parent, and why a lot of people try to adopt in Florida.
The one thing is that the birth-mom can’t sign the papers until 72 hours after she gives birth. It makes sense ethically, since right after birth I don’t think anyone is in their right mind to sign anything.
I spent three days in the hospital with the birthmother for as she delivered the baby and recovered. She didn’t really have anyone to be there with her, so I was happy to be her support person. I also took care of Lina from the minute she was born, which was incredible.
My stepmother came too, although she didn’t sleep there in her room like I did. So the three of us just sort of hung out, held the baby, talked and generally kind of got to know one another. The birth mom is a wonderful young woman who had no opportunities in life. She’s smart, gorgeous and has my exact same sense of humor, oddly. We loved her and she clearly loved us, and the attention we gave her. The nurses helped me feed and bathe Lina and I think the birthmom liked watching me become a new mom to her baby. She was generous and helped me too, with diapering and feeding tips. It was fun and sweet and intimate, and I’m so glad we all had those three amazing days.
But the night before the birthmother was to sign the papers at noon and leave the hospital– and leave Lina with me– she just broke down emotionally. She was crying hysterically, and told me to take the baby into the other room and leave her alone. After all that closeness, I just was sort of rattled. She wouldn’t talk or look at me, even though she was just a few feet away in the other room. It was awful, and I felt terrible for her. And I have never, ever felt stress the way I did that night and the whole next morning, because it seemed like she was going to change her mind about the adoption.
My stepmother came to the hospital the next morning, and I told her what was going on. She and I just huddled together on the couch in the adjoining room, holding Lina for hours and wondering what was going on in the birthmother’s room. I’ll never forget the look on my stepmother’s face– those wide eyes that reflected my own anxiety, hurt and bewilderedness.
Then at about 11 am, the birthmom asked to see the baby. Both of our hearts dropped.
I took a moment, and a breath. Then I realized, all of a sudden, that the wonderful, sweet, unlucky young woman we had come to know and love wouldn’t give up her child without saying goodbye. I wasn’t sure, but that’s what came to me. I was still nervous, but that thought rattled around in my brain as she kept the baby in her room for about half an hour. My stepmother just said, “How do people go through this? How?”
Then at around noon, the door to the birthmom’s room opened. She had changed out of her hospital gown and was dressed in a pretty flowery dress. She was holding the baby in her arms and was looking down at her with this truly beatific smile on her face.
She slowly walked over to me, gently placed Lina in my arms and said, “you are going to be a wonderful mother.”
I was stunned; my stepmother burst into tears, jumped up said ,”That was so beautiful!” I stood up and hugged the birthmom and said, “YOU are a wonderful mother.” We said we loved each other, and I did and I do. Then my stepmother hugged her, and later told me that the birth mom said to her, “don’t worry. Tittsy’s going to be great.” Even in that moment she was thinking of me and not herself. All I wanted to do was to take care of her, too, but I know that isn’t possible or even helpful. But I will always love her.
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