The last four months of 2015 have been extraordinary. As a Birth Parent Advocate these last 2 ½ years, I have been blessed to be part of dozens of birth and adoption stories. Each one amazing and beautiful. Nothing could have prepared me for the adoption journey of baby Ray, his birth momma and adoptive family. In the sadness and grief, I was given the amazing gifts of faith, hope, and love.
Little Ray’s birth didn’t go at all the way anyone expected or planned for. He was rushed away from his birth mom (she never even held him) and taken to a special hospital 30 minutes away. He was on full life support and not expected to survive the weekend. Birth mom was returned to prison within hours of delivery, adoptive parents stopped in their tracks as they were traveling from out of state to meet their new son.
This sweet angel did survive the weekend. In fact, he did very well through a long, difficult surgery at just 11 days old. What a miracle! Birth mom and adoptive family wrote to each other, encouraging and loving each other as only they could do. This sweet baby brought together two families, who otherwise would never have crossed paths. Adoptive mom keeping birth mom updated with letters and pictures – this baby has TWO mommas to love him and pray for him. I was awestruck to watch the bond between these mothers, who just a few months earlier did not know each other at all.
Even more than that, Ray brought together hundreds of prayer warriors and supporters. Most of whom did not know each other or the families involved. Baby Ray, in these few short months, rallied people from all over the country, and maybe even beyond. A group of strangers all standing together in faith, hope, and love for one common cause. I can personally say that the unity could be felt right down to the deepest part of my soul. In adoptive mom’s own words, “I could so, SO feel the prayers and love today!”
When it became clear that his little body just had no fight left, and his time on earth was quickly coming to an end, I was witness to the most astounding strength and love I have ever experienced. Adoptive momma and daddy came to him and held him in their arms as he went to heaven. Even in their deepest grief, they remained so full of gratitude and love, it was beyond humbling. One text from adoptive mom read, “I’m thankful he’s been mine his whole life!”. Another one full of love and concern, “Will you have to tell <birth mom>? I’m really worried about her.”
And then the dreaded phone call to the birth mom. Once again I was blown away by the magnitude of love, kindness , and compassion of the prison staff as I could hear them caring for birth mom. I said the gut-wrenching words, “Baby Ray has gone to heaven.” Her first response (after lots of crying) was, “Tell <adoptive momma and daddy> that I am so sorry and I love them.” Through their broken hearts, each of these parents wanted to be sure the other was OK.
Anyone who knows me has heard, at least 100 times, that I have the Best. Job. Ever. Daily I am humbled and thankful that I am allowed to share in the journeys of my birth mommas and their adoptive families. After the rollercoaster of these last four months begins to settle, I come to know, without a doubt, that this isn’t a job. This is a life – my life and my heart is forever intertwined with countless mommies, daddies and babies. Little tiny baby Ray has become my greatest teacher, for he has shown me that this is not merely a job. It is the Best. LIFE. Ever.