7 lbs. 12 oz. 21 inches long.
I know I say it every year and I’ll probably say it for the rest of my life, but it really is surreal that Dustin is already 8 years old. This birthday is… I lack a word for it… maybe it’s because he’s now 8 and around here, “8” is like entering “manhood” or something. I know Dustin will be getting baptized now and my fellow LDS friends and family have informed me that the baptism usually takes place the first Saturday of the month following the child’s 8th birthday. So, if that’s correct, I wager Dustin will be getting baptized on February 6th. I can only assume that’s the reason I feel this way, but it’s a large realization that my baby is no longer a baby anymore. To think about that and then immediately rewind 8 years to this moment in time, I was 16 years old and Dustin was about 8 hours old. A short while later, Sandy (my social worker) came into my hospital room with what seemed like an enormous folder of documents to sign. (Later realizing it really wasn’t n enormous folder, it just felt like it). The second she walked in, it hit me like a semi and I started sobbing. I clutched onto Dustin so tight, I’m surprised I didn’t squeeze him to death. I knew what I was doing was right and I truthfully did not have any doubts, but knowing that the second I signed those papers, there was no turning back… killed me. You know how people say that when you have a surge of anything… emotion, adrenaline, fear, anger… that your heart beats really fast and blood races through you? I thought it was odd at that moment that the exact opposite seemed to be happening. I could swear my heart was stopping. My chest felt hollow, as if there was no heart to begin with. Sandy was extremely caring and respectful. I was so scared of this moment, because I had heard horror stories of social workers insensitivity when it came to signing the relinquishment papers… that they tended to throw the papers at you, get it done and get out. That thought scared me more than the papers she held, because I didn’t think I could handle even the slightest shift in emotions or I’d crumble. She came into the room, obviously making a conscious effort to set aside that folder and come over to me. She gave me a hug, then looked at Dustin and told me how beautiful he was. I can’t be sure, but I almost think I saw tears in her eyes. At that moment, I felt like she really did care and this wasn’t just her job. I felt comforted by her presence, which surprised me because I had prepared to hold my breath the whole time. The nurse that had been caring for me that morning came into the room. I was warned ahead of time that there would have to be a “witness” to my signing and this nurse that had been so loving and caring to me had volunteered to witness me signing my parental rights away. She was crying before she even walked in the room. She stood across from the bed. Seemed like she was intentionally giving me space, which I appreciated. Sandy then handed me the papers and a clipboard and gently placed them in my free hand, because I refused to let go of Dustin. I sobbed. I couldn’t breathe. At this point, my heart was pounding and my hands shook. I cried and held him as tightly as I could, hugging him, breathing in the sweet scent of his hair and looking at his face, knowing that the second my name was scribbled on that paper, he was no longer mine. I took a deep breath, relaxed as much as possible, took the pen and signed the line at the bottom of the page. Everything was a blur after that. I don’t remember if it was just one paper I signed, or two or three? I remember signing my name once and after that, my memory leaves me. I’m not even sure that I remember them leaving the room, although it’s a vague. I’m not sure that I remember anything other than burying my face in Dustin’s body, my tears fall all over him. I know that I kept trying to wipe the tears off that kept falling on his face and the blanket wrapped around him, but after a few minutes, I gave up and just let the tears fall on him.
I was blessed to have such supportive people around me that day. I remember feeling scared that people were going to judge and make it more difficult. Not that their judgment would have made a difference at all, but I don’t think I could have handled even the tiniest bit extra on that day. The staff at Orem Community Hospital gave me the best experience possible out of the scariest experience of my life. I wish I remembered their names. Magui and Geary were more than wonderful in agreeing to let me take Dustin home with me for a day and a night. I don’t know if I realized it then, but I realized later on that it was something they certainly did not have to allow. They could have easily refused and taken him right that second. The second I signed those papers, he was legally theirs and could have easily brushed me aside and not had to look twice. They didn’t. They allowed me to take him home, before even seeing him themselves. I took him home and spent time with my family, a few choice friends and every moment possible. My brother and his (now wife) girlfriend came to see me and Dustin. They held him as if they were holding the newest member of our family. My brother talked to him like he always does with little babies. His goofy “hello little person” in the tone of voice only people who know him can imagine. It made me smile. I remember thinking it said a lot about Heather that she came on this day, barely even knowing me at that time. She barely knew me and she didn’t have to take the time out of her life to come support me in this, but for some reason she did. She held Dustin and I felt an immediate connection with her. She cared about him and she cared about me and I knew she was going to be part of our family, even if 8 years ago on that day, she didn’t even know it.
I didn’t sleep the night of January 12th because the next morning, I was meeting Magui and Geary at Social Services to give them their baby. I sang songs to him and rocked him in my arms. The same songs my Mom always sang to me when I was growing up to help me sleep. It was silly, but I specifically thought maybe if I sang those songs to him, he would keep them in the back of his mind for the rest of his life and he’d know me. He’d know me because of the songs I sang. Isn’t that silly? I talked to him and asked him to remember me. If there was any way in his little tiny body that he could somehow remember my voice and remember this moment, I would have peace. People always say that babies never forget the sound of their mother’s voice and I still wonder if that’s true. The next morning came too fast. My parents were ready. I couldn’t stop crying. I wonder if lack of sleep was adding to my emotions, but I was shaking so bad I couldn’t even put Dustin in the car seat. I sat on my parents bed, because my legs were failing to hold me. I held Dustin and cried. My Dad sat next to me and put his arm around me and a hand on Dustin and he cried. He hugged me and we cried. My Mom cried. They helped me get him in the car seat and we went. It was Sunday. Social Services (and Sandy) had specially agreed to open the doors to let me do this on that day, because I felt like if I kept him even one day longer, I wouldn’t be able to piece my heart back together. We got there way too fast. We went inside and waited in Sandy’s office. We held Dustin and cried and Sandy took a few pictures of the four of us together. Just my Mom, Dad, me and Dustin. Then she told me that Magui and Geary were down the hall with their worker and that we could take as long as we wanted with Dustin. We cried and held him for a while longer and I told her I wanted to do it. I held him and we walked down the hall. It makes me laugh now thinking about how long that hall seemed. I’ve been in it many times since then and it really isn’t long at all, but at that point it loomed in front of me as if stretching on forever. We finally got to the door and I knew they were inside that room. As we walked in, I saw that they were both crying already and I cried more. This time, I was smiling. The feeling that overwhelmed that room swept over and into me the second the door was opened. I walked up to them and held him out, taking the blanket off his head. Magui looked at him and cried more. She hugged me and cried more. Then Geary hugged me and they looked at Dustin. It’s surprising to me that in that moment, I didn’t feel the slightest bit of pain, or fear, that I had prepared to feel. I was smiling. I was truly happy. Any doubts that I may have possibly had before that moment were completely gone when I looked at their faces. I KNEW they loved him in that one second and I knew both of them would go to the end of the earth to give him everything he needed and I knew that if there was such a thing as “fate”, he was meant to be theirs.
It still amazes me how many supportive people I have in my life. Maybe I didn’t fully realize it until after I got involved with birthmombuds and have had the opportunity to hear other birth mother’s stories and experiences and how (too) many of them had/have no support at all. In a very selfish way, it’s made me more grateful for what I have. When I feel sad about the fact that I don’t get letters and pictures from Magui and Geary anymore, like I thought that I would every year, I remind myself that a lot of birth mother’s have a lot less than I do. I feel like it’s terrible to even say that. I wish that all birth mother’s had at least as much as I’ve received, but I find myself feeling grateful. It seems to really sound bad when I put it that way… but at least I know what I’m trying to say and it’s not intentionally snotty. Magui and Geary sent me SO much more than I ever imagined the first two years of Dustin’s life. I have two full scrapbooks (the books themselves, Magui hand made for me) and the best gift they gave me was the ability to write to Dustin however often I want. They put no limit on the letters I could send him and that means more to me than almost anything. It’s painful that I don’t get to see him grow up, even through the pictures that I expected I’d be able to, but at least he can get my letters and hopefully will never have any doubts on how much I love him.
It seems sort of random, but it’s been going through my mind since Friday night when I stopped at Heather and Christopher’s. Heather was letting me use some of her wrapping paper to wrap Dustin’s birthday presents and she was talking to me about Dustin. It’s amazing to me that she’s as supportive as she is. She’s really sort of the only person that asks me questions about it and asks me how I feel. It might not be the sentimental “cry on my shoulder” type conversation, which I’m not very good at anyway (unless it’s someone else crying… not me!) but it means so much to me that she cares. For my birthday this year, she gave me a necklace from “The R House”, which long story short, is related to adoption and the jewelry is sold for adoption purposes… I did all I could to not cry (although I still DIIIID) when she gave me that. It wasn’t so much that she bought me a gift, or the fact that it was really cute… it was just a small silver tab with the word “Love” engraved in it with a couple small beads…. it’s the fact that she bought THAT necklace because it was related to adoption and the word “Love” was meant for me and Dustin. She has just always made me feel like she cares. Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW that my family members and my friends and people around me CARE about it, but people don’t really talk to me about Dustin or about the adoption the way she does. Maybe it’s the fact that she does NOT pity me and say stupid stuff like “that must have been so hard” or “I could never do that”. She doesn’t say useless things to me, like most people do. Although I realize that when people say things like that, it’s just because they don’t know what else to say that would be appropriate, so they say the first thing that comes to mind… aside from knowing what their intentions are… it pisses me off every time I hear it. I would MUCH prefer you not say anything at all. I’d rather the subject be complete brushed off, than give me a half assed sympathy that does me no good. She’s just never made me feel that way. Maybe it’s because she was there. She may not have been there for Dustin’s birth, or for me crying myself to sleep every night for over a year, but she held him. He was real and I’m sure she felt the pain I couldn’t hide on that day. I didn’t mean for this to be a long sappy tribute… I just want to say “thank you” in writing even if she doesn’t read this, because it’s not as easy for me to express in person.
Well… I’ve made it through another year and I’m sure I’ll make it through the rest of the day. I have my coffee and fuzzy slippers and don’t have to think about work at all today. I plan on watching cartoons, taking a bath, dropping Dustin’s birthday presents off at Social Services and pray that Magui and Geary have the magical ability to make the trip to pick them up so they’re not late (:( Ugh) and then head to Harmony’s for the rest of the day with no specific plans other than to play Super Mario Bros and possibly paint our toenails. I’ll go see Jake, Jairus and Kaitlyn when they get out of school too. A dose of niece and nephews will be good for me today. At least some of them. Then I am VERY much looking forward to my 5:15 appointment with Jessica to get my hair cut. Today should be a good day.
Happy Birthday Dustin.
“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be”