Lindsey Redfern and her husband, Josh, are the parents of four adorable children who were adopted. Lindsey is a blogger and the editor in chief at Adoption.com. She discusses with us her experience of connecting with expectant mothers considering adoption.
As I have chatted with couples who are hoping to adopt for the first time, there seems to be a question that each one eventually asks: “What do I do when an expectant mother considering an adoption plan for her child contacts me?”
I think back to the first time I met my oldest son’s birth mother, Nicole. Parked just outside of her house with flowers in hand, my heart was beating so hard that I thought it would explode out of my chest. I wanted to burst into tears and laugh uncontrollably at the same time. I was shaking. I was so nervous. I looked at my husband, Josh, and said, “I can’t do this. I can’t go in.”
“Get out of the car,” he said with a smile. “We can do this. Let’s just go meet her.”
I’ve never felt more vulnerable in my whole life than when we were waiting on the front stoop of her parents’ home for her to open the door. I heard her grasp the door handle and turn. As soon as I saw this stunning young woman, all that fear and anxiety melted away. Nicole was nervous too. We were all in this together, and a beautiful love story was just beginning.
Over the last eight years, as this love story continues to be written, I’ve learned that the magical key to communicating with my kids’ birth parents is that there isn’t a magical key. There’s no trick. It’s just like every other worthwhile, meaningful familial relationship that I have. These relationships take trust, honesty, authenticity, thinking the best of the other person, thinking of the needs of the other person, forgiveness, regular contact, and unconditional love. Tamra Hyde, a dear friend of mine who placed a baby for adoption 18 years ago, often says, “Having a relationship with a birth mom is a lot like having a relationship with a human. You've done that before.”
Several months ago, I received a video chat call out of the blue. I answered it and was literally face to face with a woman who was wondering if our family was the right family for her little girl. Her name was Sage and she was due in two weeks. She had heard that we were hoping to adopt from a mutual friend on Facebook. There was no time to put on airs of perfectionism or even a little lip gloss. There was only time to be me—raw, honest, and with unbrushed hair. We laughed a ton, but she asked me some tough questions about finances, visits, and naming her daughter. Once again, there was no prep time to carefully craft the perfect response; there was only time for pure honesty.
The next morning, close mutual friends of ours arranged for her to surprise us in our home. I literally walked out of the shower with wet (and still unbrushed!) hair, threw on my favorite unicorn sweater, and came down the stairs to see her vulnerably standing in my front room. She was holding a clever sign asking us to be the parents of her baby girl.
Although we had just met, our souls recognized each other immediately. Everything about the situation screamed awkward, and yet there was this overpowering feeling of unconditional love.
Just 13 days later, Sage trusted me to hold her newborn baby girl in the delivery room.
Sage recently told me, “It's so crazy. All my life I was searching for my home, my safe spot where I was accepted, loved, and felt that feeling of coming home. When I met you in person it was like coming home. It was safe, it was love, and it was like everything I had been missing had been hiding with you and Josh.”
I wonder if we would have been able to form such a close bond so quickly if I had not been so open to being so openly honest with her and her with me. I’m so glad I answered that phone call!
So, my response when people ask me what they should do when an expecting mother contacts them, my answer is this: “Say hello and just be you.” There’s no magical answer because no one does you better than you. The person on the other end of that email or phone call is wondering if you are their heart connection. I truly believe that this connection is only found through honestly being yourself.
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” —Dr. Seuss