The closer we came to the end of the adoption screening process, the more the reality sunk in. There was a baby out there waiting for us. And my heart ached. I missed a girl I had never met. I wanted to know she was safe. With pregnancy, every little kick confirmed my children were fine. Every ultrasound printout, every time we heard their heartbeats, every time the bump grew, I knew they were safe with me, their mom. But I didn’t have that with my newest daughter. She was out there, she was mine, but she wasn’t with me. And that began to hurt.
April 1, we heard she existed, a girl waiting for us, the Nkomo family
We had to wait 13 excruciating days till we could meet her. Oh, the days seemed so long. The monotony broken only by the unexpected blessing of a shower prepared and hosted by strangers! When we saw her photo, I wept. She was mine. My daughter. But not with me. I hadn’t held her tiny body yet. I hadn’t touched her little feet. But she was mine.
My husband had been emotionally strong until those final 13 days. During the process I would tell him how my arms yearned to hold her, and he just didn’t understand it. Until we heard she was with a foster family. A foster family that lived in a town that he passes every single morning and evening when he goes to and from work. At that point, it became real to him. He had a daughter but he couldn’t go to her. He couldn’t kiss her. He had to preach at a church we’d never been to that weekend. And as we drove there, with great emotion he asked me, “But how can I go preach, how can I speak normally when my daughter isn’t with me? I feel like she’s lost, missing. How would a parent be able to live with their child gone? I feel like my child is missing.”
The day dawned bright and early. I got our two big children, our biological little flock to pose for their last picture as a sibling pair. In just a few hours, they’d have a sibling. We quickly went to look for gifts, mementos, symbols of our appreciation, for our daughter’s mother and father. A frame with a letter we wrote to her birth mother – a promise of our enduring love for her daughter, our daughter. A tie in the birth father’s favourite colour.
For a woman who had waited seven years to enlarge her family, this was a pivotal moment
We waited in that room at the crisis pregnancy centre. And her parents walked in while our children went to meet their sibling for the first time. Our daughter’s mother is beautiful. And she gave our daughter her sweet chubby cheeks. As she spoke of the reasons for not parenting, I marvelled at her strength. She hadn’t seen the one she gave birth to since three and a half months before. For three and a half months she too was probably wondering if her daughter was okay. What was it like, meeting people who were going to be your child’s parents forever, performing a task you physically and materially could never perform? How did she feel?
All I know is that she felt God orchestrated the entire event. A girl who was not meant to be born was kept going – she believed – by God. And she believed that God had made us ready, just for her little girl. Then her voice cracked as she said words that I will repeat to our precious blessing. She told us she loves her daughter but had had no idea what to do. I wanted to leap across and hug her, but was afraid we’d all end up weeping there.
And she was thankful. I didn’t want her gratitude. Not at all. I was the one who was thankful. For a woman who had waited seven years to enlarge her family, this was a pivotal moment. I knew from age 10 that someone would give me their child. And 24 years later, it was finally happening, and I told her so. My husband told her about his absolute anguish at knowing our girl existed but not being able to be with her. It touched her heart. And we told her what our girl’s names would be and why it was chosen.
Birth mothers are a special breed
Finally, the moment had arrived. Our daughter was brought in and placed in her birth mother’s arms one last time. I stood up. It was time. She held her baby then looked her in the eyes and said as she handed her to me, to me, someone she’d only met that day, “Here’s your Mommy.” I accepted her, our daughter. And I told her mother that we would always treasure her, care for her, love her. The words tumbled out, as I thought of the enormity of what had just taken place. I love my children. Only utter desperation and inability could ever make me place them in someone else’s hands. I don’t know how she did it without collapsing. Birth mothers are a special breed.
We took pictures. I had been taking pictures as she told us their story. And we have pictures of the moment I received our daughter from her first mother. I – and one day our daughter too – will treasure those pictures, pictures of the day we met our daughter’s birth mother, pictures of the day our daughter become ours.