Is it OK to Have Our Baby Shower Before the Birthmother Has the Baby?
Sure, if you and the expectant mother (that’s what she is) are family or close friends, and you’re throwing the shower for her. Otherwise, what are you celebrating? It’s her pregnancy. Her child. Her tomorrows. Her right to parent.
Unless and until someone else’s child becomes yours, the child isn’t. Regardless of your hopes and dreams, how long you’ve waited, how much money you’ve spent, how many people you’ve told, how much you’ve prayed, or how badly you want a child.
Even if you’ve been “matched.” Even if your coworkers chipped in and bought you a combo infant carrier/pack-and-play/changing table. Even if you set up a nursery or hand painted an ornament or bought “I’m the Big Sister/Brother” shirts for your kids. Unless and until you become the parent, you aren’t. And you have no more right to resent or complain about or pressure the parents of a child you hope to adopt than you do to resent or complain about or pressure random parents you see at the playground to terminate their parental rights, so you can raise their children. For. Real.
I had just picked up my car keys and was heading out to bring our first child home from the hospital when the phone rang. It was the social worker telling me not to come. “N” had changed her mind and decided to raise her daughter herself. What?! I didn’t hear anything she said after that. I don’t even remember hanging up the phone.
My husband and I had spent time with “N” and her other daughter. We all hit it off, and we pledged to get the girls together regularly so they’d both grow up knowing their sister. I had been up the whole night folding onesies and organizing tiny washcloths and baby bath supplies. My heart was brimming. We had everything ready and friends and family eager to visit. It all felt so right. How could this be happening?
At some point I became aware of the cold, hard kitchen tile beneath my cheek where I lay in a sobbing heap. I could barely breathe and wasn’t sure I wanted to. The pain was searing. We were losing the child we had waited so long and painfully for. We were losing our daughter.
But really, we weren’t. The baby was never ours to lose. We weren’t her parents. We felt like we were, but feelings don’t change facts.
A pregnant woman (or expectant father) is not obligated to terminate her parental rights. She is not obligated to place her child for adoption. Unless and until she decides different, the baby is hers. Period.
I ask any prospective adoptive parent who is feeling impatient or resentful to think about how badly you want a child. Deep, deep in your bones. Assume she wants her child at least that much. She is the mother. The child’s mother. Unless and until she decides otherwise.