Dear Amanda and Conner,
I have no idea if you’ll ever read these words, but I have to write them.
I have to hope that, even if you never stumble across this blog or
open the card that we sent on your court day, you somehow know the way that
we feel about you.
I remember getting the call that you were at the hospital, Amanda. It
was June 28th- the day that we would meet our girl. I had
simultaneously anticipated and dreaded this day since May 16th, when I
first heard your voice on the phone. Although I was grateful to be
allowed in the delivery room when Piper was born, I was also unsure of
myself. Would I say something stupid? Would I pass out since
I’d never seen a live birth before? Would I be able to convey my
excitement about bringing home Baby Girl without rubbing salt in your
wounds? At least our case worker would be there to help us know
how to navigate this situation that most people never face…
Except that when Andrew and I arrived at the hospital, you only wanted the
two of us back there with you. Panic. I was honored that
you and Conner trusted and loved us enough to let us experience something
so special, but up to this point, we had depended on Bonni to help us know
what to say to you and how to act. Andrew put his arm around my
shoulders, and I quickly prayed for the kind of strength and wisdom that
could never come from me. Please don’t act like an idiot, please
don’t act like an idiot.
When we walked in the room, my fears were gone, and I immediately felt at
home. “Hey guys!” you grinned. Even in labor, you looked
beautiful and seemed calm.
In a few minutes, the nurse came in to see how far you were dilated.
She looked at Andrew and me, hinting with her eyes that we should
step out. We took the clue and started to leave the room when you,
Conner, looked at her and said, “No, it’s okay. They’re
family.” I wonder if you know how much those words meant.
Time seemed to stand still as we spent the next hour or so talking with
both of you and trying to wrap our minds around this huge thing that was
about to take place. Though we had met you before, those moments in
the delivery room were especially precious to me as we actually got to know
the parents of our little girl. In the moments away from the agency,
the paperwork, and the caseworkers, you became my friends and not just the
couple who had chosen our profile book. Conner, I learned that you,
like my husband, hate making decisions about restaurants. Amanda, I
learned that you and I are both somewhat obsessive about using the Weather
Channel app on our phones. It was the little things in that
hour-long conversation that made you both seem more real and made me love
When the nurse came back later, it was “go time.” Andrew and I stood
awkwardly at your head and stroked your hair as we tried to think of
something to offer other than, “You’re doing great!” Conner, you were
a natural. You knew exactly what to say and do to help your girl.
And Amanda, wow. You made labor and delivery look like a walk
in the park. I honestly expected so much anger and frustration, but
all I saw in that situation was love. I wish there was
a way for you to have stood back and watched the scene like we did.
Your relationship with each other is inspiring, and your affection
for a baby who you bore for someone else is, frankly, earth-shattering.
Those words that Conner whispered as you pushed, “Come on, Amanda,
this is the last thing we can do for her,” melted my heart in more ways
than you’ll ever realize.
Just 30 minutes after you started pushing, Piper was here. I cried
the happiest tears of my life as I took in her thick hair, her chubby
cheeks, and her perfect little body. Then I watched as the two of you
held her, and my heart broke. This was the reason why I had
been so afraid of our time together in the hospital. You clearly
loved her as much as I did, yet you knew that she wasn’t yours to keep.
You said that we deserved her, and I knew that wasn’t true.
The nurses came in and out to check on Piper as the four of us bounced back
and forth in our conversation between the trivial and the significant.
Andrew and I left for about an hour to pick up some food and to give
you two time alone with Piper. We got back to the room and ate dinner
together, and I found myself wishing (though I knew the impossibility of my
idea) that there was a way for the five of us to be the little family who
lived happily ever after.
The hospital prepared a room around the corner for Andrew, Piper, and me,
and we slowly collected our belongings to spend our first night as a family
of three. Before I went to bed, I walked down the hall to refill my
water bottle. Your door was open, and I stopped. Conner, you
were headed out briefly to get some fresh air, so I sat down in a chair
next to the bed for some “girl time.” Amanda, as I listened to you
share your hopes and dreams, as you talked about your friends, and as you
revealed your plans for college in the fall, I felt connected to you in a
way that few people will probably ever be able to grasp. Though we
didn’t always talk over the past nine months, we were in each other’s
hearts as we shared this journey. We have a unique bond: I wanted so
badly to be in your place (to be pregnant), and you wanted to be in mine
(“established” enough to raise a baby). There is no way to explain
those feelings to anyone else, but I think you know.
The night passed uneventfully, and I began to think about how the two of
you would be going home to a new “normal” in just a few hours. I
started dreading those last moments in the hospital. Finally, around
2:30, both of you came down the hall. This was it. Andrew and I
stepped out of the room to give you the space that you needed with Piper.
We held each other tightly and prayed for the words to say as we waited for
you to come out. About five minutes later, the two of you entered the
hall with Piper, and all the tears that I had been holding back came
flooding out as I looked at your faces. I never guessed
that goodbye would be so hard. Amanda, I’ve thought that you
are unbelievably strong throughout this entire journey, so seeing you
dissolved by emotion was almost unbearable. It would have been wildly
inappropriate to take pictures in the moments that followed, but the scene
will forever be captured in my mind as you handed Piper to me for the last
time and as you, Conner, hugged my husband like there was no tomorrow.
In those moments, every word I had rehearsed was gone. Each of
us knew that there was nothing to be said which could possibly convey the
feelings we had. In shaky voices and through blinding tears, we all
said how much we love each other. Amanda, you asked me to “take good
care of her,” and I promised that I would. Then the two of you walked
around the corner and back to your lives. I still cannot fathom
how a day can be so joyful and so gut-wrenching at the same time.
Andrew and I walked downstairs to the hospital’s chapel, where I buried my
head in his lap, and we both sobbed. I have never seen my husband cry
like that before. I had thought that I would be filled with guilt
when you two went home without a baby, but really I was just overcome with
sadness like I haven’t ever known. I was sad for you because of the
difficulty of your decision, and I was sad for us because I felt like we
had just lost two people who, in a matter of days, had come to mean
everything to our family. “Be still and know that I am God,”
the walls of the chapel read, and this is ironically the verse tattooed on
the wall of our bedroom at home. Both of us found it difficult to “be
still,” because our hearts were so heavy for you. We prayed over and
over for God to give you peace, and I still pray every day that you’ve
As I got ready the next morning, I burst into tears all over again, and I
wondered how many days would pass before I woke up without crying for you.
In the weeks since we have been home with Piper, time has slowly
eased the hurt, but I don’t think of you any less. I have never once
doubted that you would change your minds about the decision you made, but I
have felt an unexplainable stillness in knowing that if you did, I would be
okay because as much as I care about Piper, I care about the two of you
Every night before bed, we tell Piper how many people love her, and the two
of you are always at the top of the list because you will always be her
parents, too. I can’t wait until she is old enough to ask
questions about the picture of the four of us on the wall in her room,
until she wonders how she got her beautiful black hair, and until she makes
the connection that her middle name is the same as her birth mother’s.
I can’t wait for that day because then I get to tell her, once again,
the story of two people named Amanda and Conner who loved her so much that
they made the greatest sacrifice two people could ever make.
People say that you can’t understand true love until you have a baby.
Although I don’t fully agree with that statement, I do believe that
I’ve experienced a fuller and deeper kind of love because I met you.
In your words, Conner, this situation was just “meant to
be.” Through our whole adoption journey, I have been the
most worried about our relationship with our child’s birth parents, and
that has actually come to be the most beautiful part of it all.
You named our sweet girl Grace when she was with you for nine months, and
grace has absolutely been the theme of our song. “Thank you” seems so
inadequate for expressing the gratitude we daily feel for your selfless
gift- Piper. Somehow I hope you know just how much you mean to us,
not just for giving us a daughter who we could never have on our own, but
because of the truly strong and special people that you are. I love
you and respect you both, and because of you, my heart is full for the
first time in years.
Mary Rachel Fenrick
Mary Rachel Fenrick recently became a mom when she and her husband adopted their daughter from an agency in Oklahoma City. God used infertility to not only teach them more about himself, but to bring them a perfect baby and two wonderful birth parents. You can read more about her journey on her blog, the Fenricks.