The link between locations and memories is a fairly universal concept. We put monuments in spots where important things took place.
Growing up in Virginia, I remember the chill I felt when I saw a play at the Ford Theater or when I visited the battlefields. In biblical times, the children of Israel would place a pile of stones as an altar to mark places where the Lord answered their prayers, gave comfort, or rescued their people.
For a caseworker, there is never a place more filled with landmarks and monuments than a hospital. It is in hospitals where we do the real heavy lifting of adoption casework. This is where we advise, advocate, facilitate, comfort, support and do the most counseling during the adoption plan. A lot a feelings need to be heard, questions answered, situations considered, ethics minded, and then there are the children. The babies we have seen brought into the world, loved on both sides, and placed in the arms of a hopeful family. We stand witness to life changing moment, and landmarks to these moments can be found every where you look in a hospital.
I don’t go to hospitals for work very much anymore. I stopped doing casework several years ago, but around Christmas time, Gift of Life brings Christmas gifts to the hospital staff to say thank you for all they do. As I deliver these little packages of cheer, I find myself going back through the same familiar sterile doors.
My travels took me back to some of the hospitals that held my “first” in my adoption career. I visited the hospital where I facilitated my first signing of adoption paperwork. It was the same hospital where I had my first completed adoption from start to finish. I also stopped by the hospital where I had my first disrupted adoption. These patient rooms, waiting rooms, hallways and outside benches echo with memories of casework.
There is one hospital I hold dear. It’s the hospital where I did my first paperwork and completed adoption. I had some of my favorite birth moms there. And it was in this hospital where I was able to be a witness to a truly lovely adoption story.
In that hospital, I saw one women’s brave choice bring redemption and healing to the horrendous act that got her pregnant in the first place. Her selfless story is the picture of the mingling of joy and grief that comes with adoption. One of the members of the couple that took placement of her child had overcome great struggle themselves in surviving cancer. Every trial and tragedy in those lives converged in that beautiful placement. This hospital is where I got to watch tears of sorrow being turned to tears of joy. I’m humbled to be a small part of such a beautiful story.
My Christmas travels brought me back to that hospital 7 years later. They have recentlly renovated the building, which I am sure is necessary and the staff are grateful. Part of me is a little sad to see it change. I wanted it to keep the wallpaper from the early nineties and the mauve carpet. Keep it just as it was when I watched great things happen there. But that’s just silliness.
As I deliver Christmas joy, I walk through landmarks and monuments of the historical moments in the lives of our families and our moms. I think of the altars that could be put up to prayers answered, Gods protection, and his comfort. I think of our courageous mothers, the kind families, the social workers, the nurses, and others I saw change lives in these walls. Monuments everywhere, and I am honored to know their history.