What would you do if you found out that the birthmother of your 7-month-old child was pregnant with another baby? And that there was a good chance you were going to get the phone call asking if you’re ready for another adoption?
While we haven’t received that call yet, we’ve become aware that our daughter’s birthmother is 15 weeks pregnant. In all likelihood, she won’t keep the baby. Apparently, she is too embarrassed to tell us. We’d thought about this situation in the abstract, but only as occurring a few years down the road, when we would be ready for number two. This, however, is a little soon.
Our confusion on the issue must pale in comparison to our daughter’s birthmother’s feelings. After giving the ultimate gift to my partner and me, struggling through a difficult process, she again faces the same situation, almost a year to the day.
Life is difficult and, for some, presents unmovable roadblocks to success. We offer no judgment. My partner Don and I live as gay men and, while we can speak to our personal experiences, we cannot judge anyone else’s journey. And while many around us are quick to condemn a mother who, within one year, offers a child up for adoption and then finds herself pregnant again, one must live in her life for more than a moment before passing such harsh judgment.
We received the news of her pregnancy on our official adoption day. As we headed to the courthouse, many of our friends wished us luck. Luck, I thought, was a kind sentiment, but not something needed for this hearing. After all, wasn’t this just a formality? Suddenly dangerous ideas started swimming in my head.
My partner is the adopting parent (a single parent in the eyes of the law), as there is no such thing as gay-couple adoption in Ohio. And, since he has the real job and the health insurance, the baby would legally become his responsibility. This fact doesn’t bother me because I, ever the optimist, know that these insane laws will be gone in a few years. Birth certificates can always be amended. But we weren’t in some future legal utopia; we were seated in the family courtroom in a very red section of a red state.
The hearing went smoothly, even though our lawyer did miss a filing deadline and no one seemed to be able to identify exactly when our daughter was born. We were told the judge loves to take pictures with happy families after every hearing, rejoicing in the completion of the adoption process. He didn’t take a picture with us. But that’s okay. We took our own pictures outside. That’s when we learned about the prospect of another baby.
Life is funny. Babies are born every day. Crazy people get TV shows that highlight their needless (and abundant) fertility. And yet, when faced with the prospect of a newborn, or more precisely, with the choice of a newborn, we take pause. It’s a luxury we take for granted. Many people (like our birth mother) face daily gut-wrenching decisions. We have the time to stop and think. It doesn’t make the decision any clearer — or any easier — but it does shine a light on how lucky we are every day.