Adrenaline energized Sayoko as she maneuvered her hastily packed carry-on through the security line at New York’s JFK airport.
“We’d planned on driving down to Florida and meeting with the birth mother a day before she gave birth,” Sayoko said. “All that went out the window when the baby was unexpectedly born at home and then taken to the hospital to be examined.”
Hurrying to meet the newborn child, Sayoko booked the earliest flight available. Her husband and five-year-old would follow as soon as they had boarded the dog.
The security official cleared Sayoko’s ID, and the excited woman was hefting her bag onto the conveyor belt when the call came. Sayoko stood still. The line behind her stalled. Travelers shuffled impatiently as Sayoko tried to process information from the phone call.
Sayoko retrieved her bag and turned back to the airport employee who had just waved her through.
“I didn’t know what to say. I had to tell her I wasn’t going to board. I had to tell her what was going on. She was kind. She immediately said, ‘Of course, you can leave the line. We will open the door to let you out.’”
Discouraged and less energized, Sayoko hoisted her carry-on bag back onto her shoulder and started down the long corridor toward the exit.
The call that turned Sayoko around was from Darla at Heart to Heart and a social worker working with that birth mother. After giving birth at home, the woman was transported to the hospital and was having second thoughts about placing her baby for adoption.
“Maybe now’s not the best time to come,” was the message Sayoko received.
“Fortunately, I hadn’t checked any bags,” Sayoko said. “That’s the one good thing that happened that day.”
The adoptive family was told to keep their hearts open. The birth mother hadn’t made any definitive decisions. She was overwhelmed mentally, physically, and emotionally by the older children she was raising. “Give her time.”
“The next day, we didn’t hear anything,” Sayoko explained. “It was a long day, and the fact we didn’t hear anything meant no one had been in to see Vera.* After another day, we felt the child would not come to her home.”
Sayoko and her husband knew the pain of a disrupted adoption.
“We had a baby in our homes for six weeks,” Sayoko said. “placed through a different agency, not Heart to Heart, and in that state, the laws allowed the birth mother to change her mind up to a certain time. That was hard.”
Sayoko spent time with her five-year-old son, a little special needs child they had adopted as an infant. The bond Sayoko felt for the birth mother of her older child helped her empathize with birth mothers.
“I knew that my happiest day would be her (birth mother’s) hardest day,” Sayoko said. “It is hard to be really overjoyed and happy when you see her struggle.”
As Sayoko and her husband waited for a definitive answer on their adoption, they felt for the birth mother.
Little did they know that they would meet a man adopted 84 years earlier who would help them. Read here about the unexpected story of an adoptee who found peace by giving Sayoko support.