In a ‘wonderful, unexpected reunion,’ a mother re-adopts a daughter she had given up 18 years before.

“The hospital clock indicated that the time limit had been reached.

Through suppressed cries, I replied, ‘Goodbye sweet girl.’ I started swaddling my baby girl for the final time, paying close attention to her tiny fingers and toes, her soft belly that moved up and down like ocean waves with each breath, her little nose that crinkled when she yawned, and her spiky black hair. I mentally stored these images in the hopes that they would become permanently imprinted in my mind. As I prepared to leave the hospital without my baby child, all I had were memories of her.

I’d collapsed onto the bathroom floor months before when a set of narrow pink lines emerged on a pregnancy test. I’d always imagined myself as a mother. But not just yet. I was a junior in college at the time. I was in a committed relationship, but no plans for marriage were in the works. I didn’t have a consistent source of money. I couldn’t provide my baby with the kind of life I thought he deserved. After months of agonising over my options, I made the heartbreaking decision to construct a semi-closed adoption plan. In quest of an adoptive pair, I studied over adoption books. It was a complex procedure. ‘How can I know which parents are right for my child after looking at a set of polished family photos and well-phrased letters?’ I remember wondering. My boyfriend and I chose an out-of-state couple during my final months of pregnancy. In the end, I’d decided to give up my motherhood dreams so that my kid may have hers.

‘I will always love you,’ I kissed my swaddled child on the forehead in the hospital. Under the hospital lights, her cheeks glistened, wet from my tears. My partner sat in the corner of the room, his head bowed and his hands in his pockets.

Courtesy of Adrian Collins

‘I didn’t realise saying goodbye would be so difficult,’ he admitted. As he talked, his voice broke, and he brushed another tear away with the back of his shirt sleeve. A quiet knock came on the door. Our adoption social worker entered our hospital room with a solemn expression on her face and spoke in soft tones. ‘The adoptive parents are en route to the hospital,’ says the narrator.

‘Someday, I hope we meet again,’ I remarked as I stared at my daughter’s gorgeous face one more time. As we walked along the hospital corridor, my partner held my hand, afraid I’d pass out on the tile floor. I clung to him with everything I had. ‘Am I making the proper decision? Or have I made a grave error?’ I burst out laughing. My boyfriend tried to soothe me by saying, ‘We are doing the best we can for the sake of our kid.’ I so wanted to believe him. All I knew was that my hopes of becoming a mother had been dashed. Only, I didn’t comprehend that dreams may be recreated and reborn as something entirely new and lovely one day.

I touched my tender belly that had carried my baby girl only hours before as my partner, and I drove out from the hospital. I was broken and crying, and I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again.

Courtesy of Adrian Collins

After I’d said my goodbyes to my kid, hundreds of seasons would pass. As the years went by, my house became increasingly crowded with children. I’d married my high school love, who also happened to be my daughter’s biological father, and had three sons. I began mentoring birth mothers as a volunteer. I wanted to be there for them, answering questions and providing advice while going through the adoption process. One of the birth mothers I coached was a family acquaintance who unexpectedly became pregnant. Our connection was instantaneous. I held her hand and listened to her sob as she explained her choice to place her darling boy for adoption. I informed her about my experience as a birth mother and promised to help her in any way I could. ‘Will you adopt my newborn boy?’ she said sweetly at one of our meetings.

The time came to a halt. ‘Yes!’ I exclaimed, breaking into a smile. My husband and I desired to start a family and were anxiously excited to become adoptive parents. I never imagined that becoming a birth mother and later a birth mother’s mentor would make me an adoptive mother. Since I’d developed an adoption plan for my daughter years before, I was initially convinced that I could handle all of the duties that come with adoption. I understood a birth mother’s wishes and dreams for her child. I was able to empathise with her pain and desire to recover. Fears began to take root in my mind as the due day approached. ‘What if I don’t succeed as an adoptive mother? Will I adore him in the same way that I adore my other children?’

I stared at our new baby boy with surprise and astonishment at the hospital when his birth mother placed him in my arms. ‘Please tell him how much I love him,’ she begged, her eyes welling up with tears. I glanced at his adorable face and tiny fingers and toes as he melted into my arms. I was on the verge of collapsing as memories of my kid flooded back. I recalled my dreams for my young girl, as well as the day I’d said my final goodbyes. ‘Our precious son will know how much he is loved,’ I promised as I clutched our birth mother’s hand. I wrapped my arms around her, and we both sobbed. ‘Something for him to remember me,’ the birth mother murmured as she handed us a brown plush monkey she’d bought as a baby present before leaving the hospital. Our youngster still cuddles with his toy monkey before going tonight.

We welcomed our son into our house and showered him with affection. My biological boys, who were three, five, and seven at the time, adored their newly adoptive brother, smothering him in kisses and taking turns feeding him a bottle. My thoughts often drifted to my daughter as I relished in parenting.

Courtesy of Adrian Collins

The phone rang a few weeks after I adopted my son. It was my daughter, who was twelve years old at the time. She hadn’t forgotten about me after all these years. ‘Would it be acceptable if I came to visit? I’d like to see you and meet my brothers,’ she pleaded. My heart swelled with love and happiness.

I eagerly anticipated holding my daughter in my arms on the day she and her adoptive parents arrived. Her beauty struck me as a car came up in our driveway, and a small girl with long flowing blond hair and light blue eyes stepped outside. My husband and I raced to our kid and grabbed her by the shoulders. We told her, ‘We love you.’

Courtesy of Adrian Collins

We had a wonderful weekend together. She pushed her brothers on the garden swings and played tag with them. She was holding our infant boy in her arms. In a tea shop, we drank lavender tea. We went dress shopping at my favourite clothing store. I treasured every precious moment I spent with her. ‘Let’s vow to keep in touch,’ we said as we parted ways, and she went back to her adoptive parents’ house.

We corresponded over the next couple of years. We had a phone conversation. We paid a visit to her hometown. She came to be with our family on her own. Everything changed when our daughter turned 18.

Her adoptive parents had stopped supporting her relationship with us, we discovered. She’d been told she had to choose between her biological and adopted families. There was no middle ground or room for bargaining. I was perplexed by the adoptive parents’ change of attitude and called them right away, appealing to them to regard all of us as essential members of our daughter’s lives. But they refused to budge, withdrawing all financial support for our daughter and declaring that they regretted the adoption entirely. They disowned my daughter and turned their backs on her. I was angry because I felt betrayed. They had been entrusted with my kid, and now they had abandoned her. The agony of watching my daughter go through grief was almost as bad as leaving the hospital without her.

My husband was the one who suggested re-adoption. ‘We can look after you,’ he assured her.

Courtesy of Adrian Collins

Our daughter needed to consent for an adult adoption because she was eighteen. We would, in effect, become our daughter’s legal parents. While adult adoptions between parents and foster or stepchildren were rather prevalent, adult adoptions between birth parents and birth children were uncommon at best.

After months of thought and prayer, our daughter decided to be re-adopted into our family. While inside a pizza buffet, my husband informed our four boys that they would soon gain a big sister. They said in unison, ‘Yay, we finally have a sister!’ before excusing themselves to have another slice from the buffet. She was already a member of the family to them.

My daughter wore a vibrant teal dress for the adoption hearing, while the boys wore collared shirts and khakis. Outside the courtroom, I nervously clicked my heels, unsure if I was doing the best thing for my kid. My concerns dissipated as I turned to meet her. Since I carried her in my womb, I recognised my heart had been attached to hers. I pledged to provide her with the most incredible life I could and will go to any length to fulfil that promise. I wouldn’t be able to care for her at birth, but I’d jump at the chance to do so as an adult. I looked to my daughter and grinned as our names were called to enter the courtroom. I said, ‘It’s time.’ ‘OK, mum,’ she responded with a smile. ‘Mom’ had never sounded so wonderful before.

Courtesy of Adrian Collins

I’m still amazed at the journey that brought us together today as I sit across from my five children. Our most well-thought-out ideas might sometimes be customised to something bigger than we imagined. I’ve learnt to accept adoption as a beautiful aspect of my life over the years:

I am the biological mother of one adult daughter.

I’m the biological mother of three adolescent sons.

I am the adoptive mother of a rambunctious eleven-year-old boy.

I can still see signs of hurt in my daughter. I wish I had the power to heal her deepest wounds and undo the years of isolation from her. Instead, all I can do is unconditionally adore my daughter and tell her, “I’m here.” During her times of doubt and hardship, I can walk beside her. While I can’t make up for the eighteen years of her life, I didn’t get to see, and I can cherish the new ones we’re making now.

My adopted son and his birth mother enjoy an excellent relationship. He enjoys seeing his birth mother, with whom he laughs and shares stories. My kid adores spending time with his aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, and we recently celebrated his half-first sister’s birthday.

My biological boys are protective and loving of their little brother and adoring their elder sister, with whom they each have their unique relationship.

I’ve given some thought to my decision to develop an adoption plan and become an adoptive mother. Not everything went according to plan, but that’s OK. All I can do now is accept the adventure and see how it has transformed me. I gained strength, endurance, confidence, and courage, which resulted in a beautiful and unexpected reunion with my daughter and a loving relationship with my son. When things didn’t work out the way I planned, I gave myself a little more leeway. Every morning, I discovered, there are new mercies. I learned to welcome new dreams and be grateful for them.”

Courtesy of Adrian Collins

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