In my 30 years of working with expectant parents, I had never, as far as I know, attended a birth of a woman who was surrendering her baby for adoption. I knew it would be a very emotional experience. Heather did attend Sarah’s birth on Wednesday. Janice stayed with her after her birth till late that night. That left me to be with Sarah during her postpartum at the hospital for the next 2 days.
I left my house feeling very anxious. On my drive to the hospital, I was thinking of the words I needed to say. How I needed to listen to Sarah and not speak. I was especially anxious about being there when the ladies from the adoption agency were to come. When I got to Sarah’s room, the deputy, the one that I know, was with her. We have done births/postpartum together a few times. She was very nice and supportive to Sarah. Sarah held baby girl, Rebecca, whenever the baby was in the room.
I noticed when the baby was taken to the nursery, this would trigger Sarah’s emotions, and she would start to cry. I would hold her and just let her cry. As the morning passed to afternoon, Sarah and I had opportunities to talk. She shared with me some of the reasons that lead her to make the decision to release her baby for adoption.
She will not be there to care for this baby. Sarah wants to do everything she can to help this baby have the best life possible. She has two other children. A relative has custody of them. One of her children was born premature. That child has some special needs and is in programs to help his developmental delays. Her relative just couldn’t handle a newborn in addition to the other children. This is one of those moments when I know God put me in a particular place, in a particular point in time, for His reasons. I very carefully shared with Sarah that I had a special needs son. That I know first hand the tremendous strain that is put on a family in caring for a special needs child. That I understand her reasons for releasing her baby for adoption.
By mid afternoon, the ladies from the adoption agency had not arrived. The deputy had been on and off the phone during the day. She told me that it looks like it will be tomorrow before everything is cleared for the adoption agency to come. As I leave, she cannot tell me exactly when Sarah will return to the jail. The deputy recommends that I come to the hospital tomorrow by 8 a.m.
I am on the road to the hospital early the next morning. During the drive to the hospital, I am thinking I know that this is going to be a very difficult day for Sarah. I know that I cannot break down and cry. I must be steadfast. I hustle up to Sarah’s room upon arrival at the hospital. There is not one deputy, but two, in Sarah’s room. They check their list to make sure I have clearance to come into the room. I am told that the ladies from the adoption agency would be coming between 9- 9:30. The papers would be signed, and then the “inmate” would return to the jail.
The time waiting for the adoption ladies to arrive was spent letting Sarah talk about whatever she wanted to talk about. I held her when she cried. She asked me to dress the baby in the going home outfit that Birth Behind Bars had given her. I took pictures of Sarah and the baby.
The adoption ladies arrived about 9:40. They explained the proceedings that were about to occur, and that they would be taped. We were told that everyone in the room was considered to be a witness. The deputies explained that they could not be official witnesses, but had to remain in the room.
So that left me to be an official witness to the releasing proceedings. New territory for me. I said silently to myself, “Let me get me through this. No tears.” When all the papers were signed, the adoption ladies said, “We need to take this form that releases the baby to us to the nursery.” A few minutes later, the nurse came and got Rebecca for a last assessment before releasing her. Sarah went into the bathroom to change into her inmate uniform.
The adoption ladies came back to the room. The deputies told them that they couldn’t come back into the room. They were told that they were cleared only to come in for the signing of the legal papers. Next thing I know the deputies have placed a call to the jail, and I hear one of the deputies say, “Here, the Lieutenant wants to talk to you.” And he puts the phone in my hand. I am told, “The deputies will take the inmate out of room and to their car to transport her back to the jail. You will stay with the baby, as you have clearance to be in the room. You will hand the baby to the adoption people after the inmate has left the hospital.”
All I can say is “OK...” and again I thought, “Help me through this.”
The nurse brings the baby back to the room. Sarah is sitting in a wheelchair and is being handcuffed so she can be transported through the hospital, and out to the car to be taken back to jail. With tears in her eyes, she holds the baby one last time, kisses her on the forehead, and hands her to me. Sarah asks me to leave the room before she does. I look at the nurse, knowing that hospital protocols don’t allow me to step outside of the room with a baby that doesn’t belong to me. The nurse whispers, “Go to the room next door.”
Holding the baby, I sit in the dimly lit room, next to the room that was Sarah’s. I expect the ladies from the adoption agency to come through the door any minute. Ten minutes roll by. I stick my head out the door and ask a nurse at the nurses’ station, “Is someone from the adoption agency coming to take the baby?” She checks with the nurse who had been with Sarah. I am told that a voice mail has been left on one of their cell phones. The nurse tells me she will try again. As I close the door and turn my attention back to the room, I see a rocking chair in the corner of the room. I sit down and begin to rock Rebecca. Fifteen minutes later, the adoption lady comes through the door with a young couple. I am introduced to them. At this point, I am not absorbing much. I introduce them to Rebecca Faith. The mother says, “Hello Sweetheart.” and I hand the baby to the mother. She holds her Rebecca and looks into her eyes and says, “You are too beautiful.”
I tell everyone that I must leave and exit the room. As I walk down the hall, I let out a big sigh. Knowing I had just placed Sarah’s baby in the arms of the mother that would parent her, was an unbelievable process that I never thought I could do.