She wakes up to the sound of somebody asking her if she would like to hold her baby. It takes her a moment to remember where she is: in a hospital bed, where she’s been for hours that felt like weeks. She nods weakly, exhausted, in a daze, and the baby is wrapped in a blanket and placed in her arms.

Her baby.

He’s real – he’s a he. He’s not a combination of swollen ankles and nausea and gentle kicks in her abdomen. Part of her, an overwhelming part of her, had tried to pretend that this day wouldn’t come, because she knew she would have to decide when it did. She took things from day to day. Looking too far ahead only brought on a rush of panic. How could she possibly decide?

But maybe, deep down, she already made the decision. She held onto the business card, after all. It was still in her wallet, untouched since the day she picked it up at the pregnancy testing center.

With her son dozing in her arms, she reaches over to the side table and takes the card from her wallet. She flips it over and reads the phone number on the back.

Call now for your free adoption consultation.

She can only hope it isn’t too late.

***

One minute, she’s talking to a woman who explains that she works with a national adoption agency. She says she has already had the baby, and she wonders why she waited this long to call. Is it already too late to place her baby for adoption?

To her relief, the woman tells her that it’s going to be okay. That just means she should start looking for families as soon as she’s ready.

First, the agency worker explains how the process will work. For many women, it can take months from beginning to end, but in this case, everything will be condensed into a matter of days, or even hours. The first step, she says, is finding a family.

Before she knows it, she begins receiving family profiles with pictures of couples and single parents who want to adopt. She picks one, but the agency worker can tell that she is uncertain. She sends more, five at a time, until the mother finds one that she likes.

They appear young and happy, with nice smiles. They already have a 3-year old they adopted, and they spend a lot of time travelling to exciting places with her. They went to Hong Kong, a place the mother has always wanted to see. The husband’s favorite book is the same as hers.

They live several states away, but the agency worker tells the mother that it’s not a problem. Within minutes, she is on the phone with them.

They exchange introductions and pleasantries, and then, briefly, there is silence. She doesn’t know what to say to the strangers on the other end of the line, so she just says everything—everything she has been unable to say. She tells them how she always wanted to have kids, but not now, not when she can barely support herself. She talks about how the last nine months have felt like a dream, and how her dreams feel more real than reality.

And she’s had dreams about the baby. In those dreams, she hears his joyful laughter and his cries of hunger. She feels his affection as she kisses him goodbye, followed by his loneliness while she juggles work and school. She feels her love for her baby and her fear that she simply can’t do enough for him. Every dream is a good dream and a bad dream at the same time.

She knows she’s not making sense, but somehow the couple on the phone understands. Their voices are calming and reassuring, and they say all the right things. They promise her that the dreams of her baby being hungry and lonely will never become reality – he will only know the dreams of smiling and affection and love. She hears that love in their voices, the love for a baby they haven’t met yet, and she knows they mean it.

The next day, they are there in her hospital room. They look a little more tired than they did in the pictures. The wife’s hair is matted down on one side from falling asleep on the plane ride. There is a coffee stain on the husband’s shirt. They look more human this way.

She lets the husband hold her child first, and the infant fits snugly into his arms. While he cradles the baby, the wife approaches her bedside. On their way to the airport, she says, she stopped to get a small present.

Out of her purse, she retrieves a small dreamcatcher. As she hands it to the mother, she tells her to hang it over her bed, where it will keep out the bad dreams and let in the good. Then, she joins her husband to greet the baby.

They all leave the hospital together, and as the mother talks to the couple holding her baby, she can’t help but think they already look like a family. She brushes away the tears at the corners of her eyes as they exchange their goodbyes and make plans for when they will see each other again. At the same time, she can’t help but smile, the bad dreams already forgotten.

***

(While this story is a fictional account, it represents a dilemma that many new mothers face. For any number of reasons, a woman may not realize that adoption is the right option until very late in her pregnancy, or sometimes even after she has had the baby. At that point, she may be wondering: is it too late to give my baby up for adoption?

Should you find yourself in this situation, remember that adoption is always an option. There is no time limit or age limit for when you can put a child up for adoption, especially when you are doing it in the best interests of that child. Do not hesitate to contact us for information and assistance, and remember that it is never too late to make the decision you feel is best.)