Over the next several weeks it seemed adoption kept popping up
in my life - Dateline stories, newsprint stories. I also participated
in a colleagues research project which involved watching a
video about adoption. That did it. I decided to begin my journey
into adoption on the web.
I found an extremely informational site. The first word of advice
was to talk to individuals who have had experiences with adoption.
It turned out that a family living just a block away from my Aunties
house had a positive experience. I decided to move forward with
the same agency with which they worked. The agency primarily arranged
open adoptions because of their belief that ultimately, it is healthier
for the child. I attended an informational meeting and learned all
I needed to get started.
I filed my application in early August. By September I was registered
for the required adoption class. I learned a lot about the history
of adoption in this country and why, if done well with a lot of
counseling and support, open adoption was critical to a childs
development and a birth mothers future. I was also challenged
to reconsider my judgment of birth mothers. It is amazing how we
so quickly and easily cast judgment about others whose experiences
we know nothing about. I admit I was one of those people. How could
a mother give up her baby? But the class included a two-hour panel
discussion with birth mothers who told their stories. It was a very
The third step in the process was the state mandated home study.
It was grueling. Sometimes I resented the scrutiny. After all, no
one needs state approval to give birth. But I got over it and got
through it. I was approved and ready to move on by early February.
I spent the remainder of the month putting my profile together.
Once my profile was complete I could be picked in a matter of days
Sure enough, I received a call in early March. It was a baby girl,
due April 8. We drove to Pittsburgh and met birth mom. We cleaned
out the extra room and painted it pink. I was completely surprised
with a lavish baby shower at the College. Baby now had everything
she needed from Looney Toons to a portable playpen. But then, we
waited, and waited and waited.
Finally, the dreaded call came. Baby went home with mom. Mom changed
her mind. In adoption lingo its a disappointment.
Disappointment hardly describes the experience. For me, it was devastation.
My friends and family kept me going with their positive attitude.
I tried hard to believe that my baby was on her way.
Then came Mothers Day. It caught me off guard. I decided I
was going to stay home alone, brood and maybe eat ice cream and
watch Lifetime for Women. But Lifetime was sponsoring a mothers
day marathon. I turned on the TV to a scene with adoptive parents
in the delivery room with birth mom. The weight of all my grief
came crashing down. I turned off the TV, unplugged the phone and
cried. I had a talk with God, too. It went on for hours, but I was
forced to pull myself together to go to my mothers house that
As I walked in the door, my mother asked where Id been.
Someone whose name I did not recognize had been trying to reach
me all day. When I returned the call, I met Gale, an adoption caseworker
from an agency in another state. Gale called to tell me about a
little boy who had been born the night before. His birth mom picked
me over a married couple. Gale knew I had a preference for a baby
girl but she had heard a lot about me from my caseworker after the
disappointment and she said she just felt like this
was my son. Gale gave me all the details, including the fact that
birth mom had checked out and gone home without knowing if I would
agree to parent the little boy she delivered the night before. Theyd
waited all day trying to reach me directly.
I could barely process the information I was hearing. All the
while I was losing faith and blaming God, it had already been done.
I was overwhelmed with humility and awe. I hardly responded, but
I took down the information and we agreed that I would think
about it overnight and call her in the morning.
Late that night I was awakened by the thought that that little
baby was in some hospital all alone. Thats when I knew he
was my son.
Kim Jackson is the associate dean of academic services
and director of multicultural affairs. She is also the proud mother
of baby Che.