I saw some back and forth last night on Twitter about an ad for Kay Jewelers that focused on adoption. Of course, this immediately piqued my interest, and I headed to YouTube to check it out.
One could say that it's nice for a mainstream company to finally recognize alternative family-building choices. Except that Kay did absolutely nothing to portray adoption accurately.
The ad features this polished, picture-perfect couple who are waiting in an "adoption center" to meet their daughter. After the husband surprises his wife with a piece of jewelry (from Kay, obviously), they turn to greet their social worker – who delivers them a perfectly healthy, happy baby girl. And then everyone lives happily ever after. The end.
Maybe that happens to some people. But here's an alternate and perhaps more realistic look of the day a couple becomes parents through adoption:
After getting no sleep the night before, Joey and I wake up and shower quickly to prepare for our 90-minute drive back to the hospital. I tie my hair back in a knot and do my best to cover the dark circles under my eyes. My mom makes us breakfast before we hit the road. I text T (our daughter's birth mother) to let her know we are on our way. We arrive at the hospital and head up to T's room. We spend some time just hanging out with her while she eats and gets her pain medicine before all of us head up to the NICU to see K. Today is better than yesterday, as T and I actually get to hold her – each just for a moment. T holds her first, and when she passes K over to me, she whispers, "Thank you."
While down in the NICU, we encounter some issues with the nursing staff and their attitudes toward T. We head back up to T's room shortly after – T to meet with the social worker from the state and J and I to talk to hospital administration about the lack of empathy toward our daughter's mother. I can hear T crying to the social worker behind her hospital room door as I rage on her behalf to one of the clinical managers.
J and I head down to the lobby and wait for T's dad and our attorney to arrive, as T's social worker tells us we can't return to her room. I am sick to my stomach with nerves and emotions. I can't eat. I can't cry. I just sit and stare at the clock. T calls. She wants to know why we haven't come back up to sit with her. I relay the message from the social worker, and she says, "Forget her. Come back." We do, and we stay there – T's dad, our attorney, and his wife joining us until it's time.
T heads up to the NICU with her oldest daughter, who has just arrived, to see K one last time before the paperwork is complete. The rest of us head to the cafeteria for dinner. T's dad graciously pays for our food, and I try my best to eat. Then, before I know it, it's just J and I. Our attorney heads upstairs to begin the TPR process with T, along with T's dad and our attorney's wife who both serve as witnesses.
It was the longest wait of my life. I can't even begin to estimate how long it lasted, because it felt like eternity. When our attorney's wife came around the corner again and I saw her face, I burst into tears. Tears I'd held in for days. Tears of joy that we were, at long last, parents. And tears of complete and utter anguish over what had just happened in that room.
I don't think I stopped crying at all that night. I cried as I wrapped my arms around T and said good-bye. I knew we would see each other again, but this was different. This was the end of one chapter. I cried as I walked into that NICU room and learned for the first time the hurdles K would need to overcome in order for us to bring her home. And I cried the whole way home, helpless that I couldn't stay that night and be by my daughter's side.
There were no picture-perfect moments the day I became a mom. My hair and makeup weren't polished. There weren't freshly-pressed clothes and sparkly jewels in black boxes. There was not a healthy, smiling baby resting comfortably in a social worker's arms.
There was just emotion. Pure and raw, those feelings that I felt that day will live within me for the rest of my life. Joy. Heartbreak. Anger. Sadness. Fear. Relief. All balled into one. THAT is what an "adoption day" is like.
But I guess that doesn't make a nice jewelry ad, does it?