How, exactly, do you adopt a baby from Ukraine during a war? By any means necessary. What is necessary? I will tell you what I learned from a story I read recently.
But first, I will remind you that I am a birthmother/first mother and that I write from that perspective. I write about adoption because I want you to pause for a moment and reconsider the heartwarming stories so often in the news. I want you to peer inside these stories and open the door to that dimly lit room where the birthmother resides. I want you to imagine a woman in a hospital bed, the sound of shelling, her empty arms.
Escape on foot
In this story the baby’s mother is in a hospital room in Ukraine. Bombs are dropping the morning her newborn daughter leaves with a new set of parents. But the new parents take the baby out of the hospital without getting an official discharge from the doctor. They take her even though the nurses advise against it. The baby is having trouble eating and needs special formula, and so the parents must go in search of it.
Flights out of Ukraine have been cancelled. The parents and the baby must exit by car through Poland. The bombing could intensify with each passing hour. The hired driver cancels. Then the car with the new driver gets stuck for hours in a traffic jam. Finally, the parents decide to walk. Border control officials separate them.
Leave the birthmother behind
The adoption process, whatever its particulars, is inherently designed to leave the birthmother behind. The story in the article mentions surrogacy, but does not get into the particulars of sperm and egg. The particular fact that interests me is that, even when bombs are falling, the birthmother, who may have contributed an egg as well as a womb, is barely considered. The adoptive parents tried to get the doctors to induce labor so they could take the baby sooner. Did the birthmother have a say in this? What about when the adoptive parents took the baby from the hospital without a formal discharge? What desires did she have regarding the child she gave birth to? Did anyone honor these desires?
Tell a heroic story
Things have continued to deteriorate in Kyiv since the final week of February when a two-day-old baby girl left a hospital with a new set of parents. The three of them made it across the border into Poland, trekking through the cold, the last seven miles on foot. They got a hotel and reserved a flight back to the United States. A baby rescued from war as bombs fell. This is the story in the newspaper. This is likely the story the American parents will tell their daughter about the day she became theirs. They will tell her how they adopted a baby from Ukraine. Drama. War. Rescue. Escape. What they will say to her about the birthmother left in a city under siege?