Michele Fried shares the story of a birth mother and her husband who had to navigate difficult emotional challenges when they placed their daughter for adoption.
An after hours call came in, "Torie called and asked to speak to someone about placing a baby for adoption", reported the answering service. I called her back and for the first time ever, heard a woman explain how good her genes are and how she excelled in school and that she would be a prime candidate to place a baby for adoption. I laughed and told her that I appreciated all the information but that it was not necessary.
"It’s not?" she asked, "I just want the people who adopt the baby to know that he or she is from good stock."
"That’s not what adoption is about," I explained to Torie, "It’s about finding a family for a baby and making a plan for a baby that works out for you too."
We made an appointment for her and her husband to meet me at the office. She wanted me to know that her husband was not the baby’s father and that after sixteen years of marriage, he is willing to forgive her, but does not want to raise another man’s baby.
When Torie and her husband Richard arrived at the office, they came in nervously, but soon settled into the sofa and the counseling session. It was heart warming to see that Torie’s husband, while emotional about the relationship that caused the pregnancy, wished to be viewed as the "father", supporting his wife in planning for this baby’s future. Torie and her husband learned that even though Richard was not the biological father of the baby, he was known as the legal father, and had rights as such. The whirlwind of it all seemed so much for Richard, that during the first visit to the agency, he stepped out of room so Torie could privately share the details of the conception of the baby.
Faithful to their counseling sessions, Torie and Richard arrived together, usually bubbly and simmering with stories of how things were going at home, with the kids, with the neighbors, etc. As each counseling session brought them closer to the due date, the reality of it all seemed to resonate with Torie as she became more and more emotional. With the emotion came an undeniable urge to suppress her grief as if she wasn’t allowed to feel that way. Encouraged by this new emotion, we praised her for her tearfulness, helping her to understand the beginning stages of a long process called grief and loss.
It was amazing to Richard and comforting to Torie that they could actually go through photo profiles of prospective adoptive parents to help select the parents for the baby girl about to be born. Though this birth couple carefully selected an adoptive couple, they did not agree to meet the family or even speak to them by telephone. The profile book was enough, though it was not taken home by them. Torie asked that it be kept in her file if she wished to look at it again in the future. In her file are photos waiting for the day that she, perhaps without Richard, will come in to take a peek at the baby that so closely resembles her.
Torie and Richard had a great deal to learn about adoption and it took some time to dispel many of the myths that they heard along the way. Despite our efforts to educate them on adoption, Torie and Richard chose a most unusual way to introduce their teenage children to the concept of adoption. Torie explained that she was a surrogate mother and that she and their father were having this baby for a couple that could not conceive a baby. They did not include their children in the selection of the adoptive couple, nor did they wish their children to ever see the baby. Though at the final moments of saying goodbye, Torie and Richard’s daughter arrived at the hospital and surprised them by approaching the baby, and holding her briefly. It was not talked about again, but clearly, yet silently spoken that this oldest child wished to say hello before having to say goodbye.