A New Mom’s Personal Reflection on her J Journey and Dreams for Her Son
It’s funny the things that stick with you. I recall, so clearly, landing at O’Hare Airport on December 5, 1989 and the snowy tarmac that welcomed us on our first day in this new country. So much so that any memories from before that, almost feel like they are from a different person. I also remember very clearly how my journey with JCC Chicago began, with my Bat Mitzvah at age 15, alongside half a dozen other children of refugees. It was the level of religion that our parents could embrace, building an out and proud Jewish community, something they could never do in the former Soviet Union.
These are some of the things that I have been reflecting on as a brand new parent, trying to figure out how to help my son build his Jewish identity. My wife and I talked about having kids from early on in our relationship. Right after we got married, we started trying. We worked with a specialist for about five years and realized that our family was meant to be built through adoption. It took another year, but in mid-May, we finally got the call that we were matched with a birth mother who was due July 4. On June 4, our adoption counselor told us that birth mom wanted to make the match official and to start working with our lawyer on the placement paperwork. We were overjoyed and emotional to have at least a couple weeks to prepare for our baby, cleaning, prepping, etc. So, imagine our surprise on June 6, when I get a text from the birth mom that she is going to the hospital to have the baby- 48 hours after being matched. Needless to say, the cleaning didn’t get done and we were on the first flight we could find to Connecticut to meet our baby.
As cheesy as it may sound, we learned the true meaning of love at first sight that day. All the concerns we had as adoptive parents about bonding with the baby neither of us birthed, went completely by the way side the moment they put our son in our arms. I could finally appreciate my wife’s constant trope about waiting for our time; patience was never my virtue.
At this point, we began walking the fine line of bonding with and embracing that this was our baby, while agonizing over the legal risk of the birth family changing their minds. We spent time getting to know the birth mom and how she made this decision that was so difficult for her and amazing for us. We treasure the time we had with her and that we have her words and picture to share with our son so he can understand all the love that made our family. It’s the love of his birth mom, making the difficult decision for him and what was best for his life. And, it’s our love for this baby that we have waited for; the baby g-d meant just for us.
Now I’m in the middle of maternity leave and making plans to return to work. We toured Florence G. Heller JCC Early Childhood Center and we immediately felt embraced and at home. We are excited for our son to start his J journey soon. It will be fun to see what will stick with him as he reflects on his journey many years from now. My greatest hope is that he always feels the love that built our family.
Olga is the Manager, Emergency and Financial Services at EZRA Multi-Service Center. Olga and her wife, Maryann, live with their son in Evanston.