Nearly three days after a call interrupted Sayoko boarding a plane, she returned to the airport.
Sayoko and her husband had spent the three days teetering between hoping the birth mother would reconsider and praying for the mother to have the necessary physical and emotional resources to parent.
The couple tempered their excitement when Sharyn from Heart to Heart Adoptions in Utah called and said Vera* wanted to meet them. This did not mean the birth mother had decided to place. This only meant she wanted to meet them.
Sayoko had a relationship with her five-year-old’s birth mother.
She appreciated the deep love and conflicting emotions involved with adoption. So with no guarantees or expectations, she bought another ticket and drove to JFK International Airport.
“When I landed,” Sayoko said. “I meet Sharyn, an amazing lady from Heart to Heart. We were going to eventually spend a LOT of time together. She drove me to the hotel where we were meeting Vera and the notary.”
By this time, Vera had said she wanted to sign adoption papers and expected the legal documents to be available. However, she wasn’t available.
For several hours Sharyn, Sayoko, and Lydia, the notary, waited in the hotel lobby.
Most notary publics cruise in, review the forms, notarize them according to legal standards, and then leave. Lydia brought her husband, Chief, and then didn’t leave. They waited in the hopes that Vera would come. She didn’t.
“I don’t know what I would have done without them,” Sayoko said of all those who waited with her.
Sayoko didn’t want to pressure anyone to place her baby. Even waiting for Vera felt like she was coveting another woman’s child.
“Chief told me his story,” Sayoko said. “He was adopted as a baby, and he and his adopted brother had the best childhood and lives. What an amazing man. We talked about how he felt lucky for the childhood he had and the great parents he was blessed with.
“I asked him if he ever connected with the birth family. He never did. He never felt a need to find a biological family except to tell them ‘Thank you.’ His words were so helpful. Whether or not we adopted this baby, I was grateful for his beautiful story. Maybe having him there was God sending me a little sign.”
Finally, the four new friends said good night. Sharyn contacted the birth mother the next morning. The woman said she was going to work.
“I felt so bad,” Sayoko said. “This woman had just given birth and was going to work. Who was going to watch the baby? I wondered if I should at least offer to care for the baby that day.”
Eventually, Vera decided to call out of work. She was going to come over to the hotel and meet Sayoko. Lydia and Chief came back to the hotel. Sharyn was sure Vera said she was coming.
“We waited. Sitting in the lobby, watching the doors, five hours went by,” Sayoko said. “My new friends sat with me. Lydia and Chief. Sharyn ordered us lunch and helped me find another ticket home. This was the lowest point for me, but I had my friends. Sweet Lydia, the best notary in the world, handed me her business card and said if I needed anything—a ride to the airport—anything to call. Chief was so kind. I’ll never forget them. Never. They were so kind.”
Late in the afternoon, Sharyn suggested that they swing past Vera’s home before going to the airport and make sure she was okay.
“I didn’t want to seem to pressure her by meeting her. I wanted this to be her decision. I told Sharyn I really wanted to support whatever decision the mother was making. I just needed to be set free.”
Sharyn entered the home first and asked if Vera wanted to meet Sayoko.
“I walked in. There was no furniture except for a TV sitting on the floor and one chair,” Sayoko said. “ Vera was sitting on the floor nursing the baby.”
The two women spoke. “Your baby is beautiful,” Sayoko said. The beautiful mother stood up and handed the baby to Sayoko.
“I was overwhelmed. I wasn’t expecting the placement to happen at that point. Meeting Vera and the baby at this point was so bittersweet. I immediately loved Vera. I loved her for what she was going through. I knew one of us would cry that night, and I felt like crying just thinking about it.”
Since the placement, Sayoko and Vera have messaged one another nearly daily through a computer app called HeartsConnect
“She feels at peace with her decision,” Sayoko said. “Although it is really fresh. For us, it seemed like a long, drawn-out process. But for her, it was just a short time to spend with the little girl. I’m glad she had that time. I’m dedicated to the open adoption and allowing Vera to watch the little girl grow. They will both know—mother and daughter—how much I love them.”
If you missed Sayoko’s first trip to meet the baby read it here.