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Becoming Mothers: Mom via adoption — “I saw my daughter be born”

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Cue L&O voice: In 2001, my husband and I were hoping to become parents via open adoption after 6 years of dealing with infertility. This is our story.

I pray that raw eggs won’t harm the baby because Crystal and I have just put a large dent in a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, which I made in her mother’s kitchen while she endured sporadic contractions. The eating of said dough either causes or coincides with stronger and more frequent contractions. It is now rush hour, and finally time to head for the hospital.

We’d been warned that hospitals can be inhospitable to adoption situations, but we find nothing of the sort. Nurses and doctors are curious about our arrangement with Crystal, the woman who may make me a mom within a few hours, and seem unfazed by the presence of my husband and me. They even give me a hospital bracelet to match Crystal’s.

Near midnight, a walk through the halls accelerates Crystal’s contractions. She can’t have an epidural until the baby is awake, which is indicated by a certain heart rate. But she is allowed a mild sedative, which eventually gives way to the epidural.

Even with the painkillers in her system and contractions wracking her body, Crystal has the presence of mind to tell me, “If you want your family to be here for the birth, you’d better call them now.”

I’m dialing as she finally gets her much-desired epidural at 1:30 am.

Within 25 minutes, my parents and sister arrive at the hospital.


The most popular song that spring is U2’s Beautiful Day. And the front page, top-of-the-fold headline in that morning’s newspaper is “Brilliant Debut.” It may be referring to the Colorado Rockies’ season opener, but for us that day’s front page will always be about our first child’s birth.

Crystal allows us to be in the delivery room. I get to “help” by holding a leg, and Roger does double-duty by videotaping and one other important thing.

I had never been present at a birth before, and I am so grateful to Crystal for allowing us witness this miracle. As the baby crowns, the first thing I see is a ridge on top of a head – which brings to mind a Klingon. Come to think of it, we don’t know much about the biological father. Could we love a baby that’s half Klingon?

It turns out that the ridge is just the umbilical cord (an honest mistake; how many mothers get to watch their child be born from such a vantage point?) and within seconds we see that the baby is very teeny and well-formed and gooey and ohmygoodness – IT’S A GIRL!

At 2:45 am, Roger completes his second duty by cutting the cord. The nurses whisk the baby away to assess her health. I am already proud because she earns 9 out of 10 on her first test, the Apgar.

Roger and I are mesmerized by this baby girl (we can’t bring ourselves to call her our daughter yet), but we are also pulled to attend to Crystal. The doctors are cleaning her up from a fairly easy delivery. She insists we hold the baby first. After all, she says, we are the parents.

We invite my family back in to meet the baby, and we all coo over her. Crystal insists we choose the name. We christen her Tessa. Crystal is happy because a ‘T’ name goes with her son’s, Tyler.

Crystal holds her daughter, our daughter, and she and her mom marvel at the small wonder, too. It’s a time of coalescing, of bonding. We adults become, at the moment, permanently united by our love for this newly minted human.

Crystal has nearly a full day in the hospital with Tessa to say hello and say goodbye. She teaches me to change impossibly teeny diapers right before we load up our cars to go home. Turns out we go to Crystal’s home first to introduce Tessa to Crystal’s dying grandmother.

Then we head to our home. With our baby girl.

Lori is a mom via open adoption to Tessa, now 11, and Reed, 9. She and her family live in the metro-Denver area. She writes regularly at and her first book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, will be published by Rowman & Littlefield and available in mid-2013.

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson May 8, 2012

    Love this. You have forever changed my views on open adoption and are such a leading advocate for it. Such a beautiful story.

  • comment avatar JoAnn May 8, 2012

    What a great story, Lori!

  • comment avatar Susan May 8, 2012

    A beautiful story Lori. You were so blessed to be a part of the birth and then take your baby home. I agree with Amber – you are a leading advocate for open adoption. Happy Mother’s Day!

  • comment avatar Sarah May 8, 2012

    What a beautiful story. It sounds like Crystal was very kind, I love that she had you and your family all there to see the birth because that is such a wonderful moment. Thank you for sharing.

  • comment avatar Melissa D May 8, 2012

    Such a beautiful story and thank you for being the (lovely) face of healthy open adoption!!!

  • comment avatar Seriously?! May 8, 2012

    Such an amazing story. It reminds me so much of our day.

    It truly is such generous gift our birthmothers have given us…in allowing us to see our daughters being born. It truly does unite you and the hours together, birth family, adoptive family, and newborn, are incredibly beautiful moments shared between all.

  • comment avatar Lisa - Laughing Yoga Mama May 11, 2012

    Big sloppy wet tears!!! So touching and beautiful. It’s amazing what an open heart, open mind, and open adoption can bring.

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz May 11, 2012

    I’m honored that each of you has enjoyed our joyful day with us. Thank you!

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