The Day We Met Our Son’s Birthmother

This guest post is by Brian Esser, an adoptive father and attorney.

I recently wrote about how our first birth mother knew my husband and I were the right dads for her baby. Well, there is a sequel.

A little bit before our boy Keith was 2 1/2, we decided we were ready to adopt again. And when our profile was done, we told Keith our plans.

“Keith, would you like to have a baby brother or a baby sister, maybe?”

He was up on my husband’s shoulders as we walked him to his daycare.

“Um, I would like…” he said, drawing it out. “A quesadilla.”

Six months later, when we got the call about a potential match, Keith had by then warmed to the idea of a sibling.


We were selected by a 21-year-old woman I’ll call Vanessa.

She suggested we meet at a restaurant place near where she lived with her parents, and she only had one stipulation: We had to bring Keith.

Now, a 2-1/2-year-old in a restaurant can be a nightmare. But Vanessa was right.

She needed—and deserved—to see us in action as parents. So on a chilly but bright January day, we set out for Connecticut armed with a selection of Hot Wheels cars for Keith.

As someone getting involved with open adoption, you are always warned that you will fall hard for your child’s birthmother.

“Keep a clear eye,” we’d been warned, “for any red flags. You may ignore them because you just want the situation to work.”

But it is impossible not to fall for Vanessa, a sweet, smart young woman with a flair for dramatic makeup and ever changing hair colors.

If there were any red flags, they were on our end—were we too square for her?

Fortunately, Keith is cool. After picking at pizza, they bonded over a late-ordered basket of fries, the perfect answer to the shared craving of two-year-olds and pregnant women everywhere.

Vanessa told us that she was in college but wanted to get out to pursue her true passion of being a hairstylist and makeup artist.

She had felt pressured into going to college by her parents, she said, and had no choice in the matter.

Her true passion was cosmetology school, which she planned to attend once her baby, a boy, was born.

As she talked, I noticed her watching Keith play with one car, a purple 1971 Dodge Demon that matched one of her eye shadows.

“That’s my favorite color,” she told him. He smiled and responded: “Beep beep.”

At the end, they hugged, and my husband says he remembers thinking that was the first hug between our boys.

Vanessa is family to us now, and we can talk about that first day, with its awkward pauses and sudden breakthroughs.


She told us that seeing us with Keith confirmed we meant what we’d written in our profile: “With us, your child, like Keith, will be encouraged to pursue any and all interests, whether they be sports, the arts or, heck, nuclear chemistry. Whatever your child needs to live his or her best life, we will move mountains to provide it.”

She’d come from a world where boys weren’t supposed to have purple cars and people were supposed to go to college even if they didn’t want to.

Seeing Keith and his Dodge Demon, she told us, she just knew we meant it.

“I knew you would let him have whatever life he wanted. He can be whoever he wants to be.”

Brian Esser combines his experiences as an adoptive father with a dedication to providing the highest quality and personalized legal services. His law practice is focused on adoption, reproductive law, and estate planning for families of all kinds.

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