A View From the Other Side

Adoption STAR’s Director of Adoption Kathy Crissey shares thoughts sparked by a recent trip to a hospital to visit with a birth mother.
kathy crissey
As an adoptive mother who has adopted internationally, I did not have the experience of spending time with any of my children’s birth parents. We will never know anything about them or what their thoughts, feelings and emotions were on the day my children were born.

I recently had the gift of spending time with a birth mother while she was in labor. Another staff member was present in the room as well, as was the prospective adoptive mother. I felt honored to be present with the birth mother as she did the extremely hard work of giving birth. Labor is a word that’s typically defined as follows: “to exert one’s powers of mind or body; physical or mental work.” In my opinion, there is no harder work done in life. Because this labor eventually led to a C-section, only one of us could be present with the birth mother in the delivery room. It was the prospective adoptive mother that was ultimately chosen, which makes sense given her important role in this child’s life. While I did not get to see the birth itself, the hours leading up to it were ones that I will never forget.

For the birth mother, having the support of three other women during her labor was huge. For the adoptive mother, being present at the birth of her adopted child was an experience that she will always remember. For my colleague and myself, being allowed to be present at such an intimate and special time was an honor. For the new little one who came into this world, he will always know the story of his birth and will be able to hear about it from from several different perspectives.

From his birth mother, he will learn how much love and courage she has. From his adoptive mother, he will know the excitement and anticipation of his birth. From my colleague and myself, she will know that these two women came together to welcome him into the world and that he is very much loved and cherished.

Stories are part of who we are. There are few stories more important than the story of our birth. For most of us, we are told over and over again about the day we were born. For those children abandoned or placed with no openness, these stories remain a mystery. I am again reminded of the importance of openness in adoption and of the sharing of these stories. I am in awe of the strength, courage and selflessness it takes to bring a child into this world and then to make the decision that placement is the best possible choice for this child. I am blessed to be doing the work I am doing and to witness this strength and courage again and again.