Springs of Love contributor Gabriela shares her experience meeting her daughter’s birth mother in their open adoption. See more content in our section Birth Mom Love.

“We’ll be there at my sister’s place when we fly out to see her this summer, and it’s only a couple hours more from there to visit Laura and her family. Let’s go for it!” Somehow, I convinced my ever-practical husband that visiting the birth mom of our second daughter, Ana, and her extended family that summer was a great idea. It was a great idea. But it turned out to be well over a four-hour drive from my sister’s place to their tiny midwestern town. We nearly missed the flight out because that morning, I was on a crisis phone call with Laura after her latest love interest had pulled a disappearing act. I love our birth mom with all my heart. She trusted us with the most precious of treasures, our darling daughter Ana. Through all of her own struggles and difficulties, she saw her way to a completely selfless act of love.

But those struggles are real. No one plans an adoption because her circumstances are ideal. Any woman choosing adoption is in a time of crisis, facing an impossible decision in a rotten situation. In our dear birth mother’s situation, her mental health woes, her addictions, and the brokenness in her family of origin were all were factors in her story that led her to that time. She was 39 years old and pregnant with her third daughter for whom she was not able to care. Our baby’s older biological sisters were nearly adults then and had been raised by a relative after spending time in foster care themselves.

Laura wanted so much to be able to raise this baby. But I think the cold reality of her circumstances hit her hard and brought her to the point of looking for help. As God would have it, she reached out to the same agency we had been working with as we hoped to grow our family with another adoption.

I remember our first phone call so clearly. My husband and I were together on the phone with Laura for over an hour, and I felt a real connection. She shared some of her difficulties, her hopes and her dreams for her sweet peanut on the way.  She asked such intelligent, insightful questions about our family. The next day we all agreed to move forward with our match.

I first met Laura in person at the time of the adoption. We hugged each other tight and cried together after she signed the papers to terminate her parental rights and entrust her child to us. I then spoke with Laura’s mom on the phone, searching for any words to console her. There were none. It was just so sad for them both, even if they thought it was for the best.

We had to stay in her state for another week before the clearance came through to travel home. I brought our tiny baby to see her twice that week. She held Ana, fed her, and kissed her, and then returned her to my arms. It was heartbreaking. But it was all I could give her.

When our daughter was a year and a half old,  we all made that visit. We met Laura’s mom, our baby’s biological grandmother, and Ana lit up around her. We all played at a playground and Laura gave both of my girls presents that she had been carrying around through a few moves and a period of living in her car.  She never forgets Ana’s big sister. We heard stories of her childhood. We waited while she smoked another cigarette. We had ice cream together and realized that Ana has her birth mother’s laugh. Who knew a laugh could be genetic?

Since that visit, now years ago, we have had very little contact with Laura. She spent some time in prison, and we have not heard much since. I text with Grandmom. We share photos and I hear about my daughter’s biological family. She is hugely proud of every little thing Ana does, as any grandmother would be. I am so thankful that Grandmom is willing to continue a relationship with me. I am ready for that with Laura, too, when she comes back around, when she is ready. We all pray for her every day. Her courage and sacrifice despite very difficult circumstances are such an example to me.

For our family, adopting has been the most amazing of blessings. But there is a mystery in knowing that our birth mother’s tragedy and heartbreak brought me precious joy. God’s ways are not our ways. The last time Laura and I hugged goodbye, after our ice cream cones, she told me how happy she was to see Ana with us and to see her with such a good mom and dad who really loved her. She said that she herself had never had that, and it was what she had always wanted most. We are not perfect parents, and I understood that the compliment was made without spending more time with us to see our flaws, which all parents have. But what struck me was Laura’s awareness of a primal wound at the core of her being, having had a broken family of origin herself. Laura made sure to keep Ana from that same pain in the only way she could at that time, by making the brutal choice to entrust her to others. May God give us the grace to be the parents we need to be, for both Ana and Laura’s sakes.