Chris Mayer

Photographs seem to mark many monumental life events. Eciah moments are only imprinted on the heart, as priceless memories.

Two years of infertility and pregnancy loss had left me and my husband broke and broken hearted, but still hopeful that we would become parents through adoption. We completed a ton of paperwork and our home study, and we were prepared to sit and wait for however long it took. Expecting years, but hoping for the best. Just two months after receiving our court approval to be considered as adoptive parents, we were chosen by a young couple to parent their unborn child. I was thrilled, and hoped to be 8 weeks away from becoming a mom. Honestly, I was terrified down to my core that it wouldn’t work out, and we’d be left broken hearted again. In an ironic twist of fate I had also just found out that I was pregnant again too.

Four weeks later I had formed a tentative and unfamiliar relationship with A, the birth mom.  And suddenly baby boy was born. 4 weeks early and my cautious fingertips reached to him minutes after birth.  But, he was not mine.  Would he be?  Could he be?  I have pictures from this moment.  I spent 4 days with him in the NICU and A in her room, and sometimes both of us with baby boy.  My husband and I waited, barely breathing or speaking, as the birth parents spent time with baby boy in the NICU to say their goodbyes to him.  Then we stood by, after saying a wildly inadequate “thank you”, and watched, as she was wheeled out of the hospital in a wheelchair, in tears, clutching nothing except a white stuffed lamb that I had just given her, in place of a shiny, new baby boy.  Our greatest joy could not possibly exist in the same moment as her deepest sorrow.  There was no joy, only sorrow.

A few hours later we found ourselves driving home with baby boy securely strapped in his car seat.  I have pictures of him leaving the hospital with us, in his “going home” outfit.  He wasn’t ours.  Sure, we had permission to have him, but he wasn’t OURS.  In our state birth parents are not allowed to sign parental termination of rights until the next morning.  So, in the meantime, we held the baby, fed the baby, changed the baby, photographed the baby, and entertained a steady stream of visitors as family was in town for another event.  Time seemed to stand still.  Nothing was happening, but everything was happening.  I had a baby in my arms, another growing in my belly, but I still wasn’t a mom.

The next morning at 9am I received a phone call from our social worker.  My heart dropped, mouth went dry, and legs swayed.  “No worries”, she said.  “Signing is still set for 10am.  I’ll call you when it is done.”  We held the baby, fed the baby, changed the baby, and breathed here and there, as my in-laws looked on.  11:00 came and went.  My heart was sinking, yet racing, as fear trickled in.  (I should add, my husband was calm, as he and birth dad shook hands a month ago, so in his mind it was already a done deal.)  Just past 11:30 the phone rang again.  It was our social worker.  “It is done, they are confident in their decision.  Congratulations.”  The air whooshed out of me, and my heart filled with love and joy for my boy, yet sadness and sorrow for another mom.  In that moment, I became a mom.  My labor was over.  There are no photographs of this moment, this eciah that changed our futures forever.   I don’t need them.  My heart takes me back to this moment in time, tears and all.

Three months later the state of Arizona recognized, finalized, and legalized that baby boy was indeed ours, and that we are a family, forever.  There are many photographs from this day and the celebration that ensued.  Those in attendance may have thought it an eciah day for us, but it wasn’t.