Tuesday was Little Man’s first birthday. Keith had planned to take the day off so we could go to the local children’s museum. Then we were going to take dinner and cupcakes over to a friend’s house, because she and her girls cannot attend his big birthday bash on Saturday.
The day dawned yucky. Lots of snow and blowing. But, my husband is a truck driver and not to be thwarted! We traveled downtown to a mostly-empty museum where Little Man enjoyed the carousel, the playhouses, and then an hour or so in the indoor playground. Because there were so few children there, he got to splash all he wanted in the water table and discovered the sand table. At the sand table, he played for a long time, and just as I thought to myself, “Wow! He hasn’t eaten any sand!” in went a handful of sand!! Then he discovered the grown up drinking fountain for washing out his mouth (which he loved, by the way).
He also go to go up the stairs and down the slide quite a few times, which he also enjoyed. After a brought-from-home lunch, he promptly fell asleep, so we bundled him back into the car and came home. I laid him in his crib, started his birthday dinner of chicken and noodles, and called my mom.
The phone beeped while I was on the phone, and I noticed it was our adoption lawyer. Well, we found out last week they actually still owe us a refund, so I assumed that’s what it was. I clicked over to a new secretary telling me that Little Man’s birthmother had contacted them that day and wanted updates.
She then claimed they didn’t have any, which was a lie!! I told her to double check and then call S back and inform her they would be in the mail that afternoon. The secretary also said S had given them her new address, phone numbers and email address and wanted them to give it to us. She wanted to hear from us. I asked the secretary to email that information to me, hung up, and called Keith in from shoveling the driveway.
Wow. I had the most unexpected reactions to this. I promptly burst into tears at the thought of renewing our relationship with S.
And then I became scared. She had changed her mind, again, about having contact with us. What else had she changed her mind about?
And then I wanted to bundle Little Man into the car and drive to S’s and let her see him.
And then I wanted to bundle Little Man into the car and drive far, far away.
I was most stunned by my mixed and overwhelming emotions. Suddenly an open adoption was back on the table. But I had convinced myself that we were going to have a closed adoption, and I had spent almost six months creating my adoptive mother self in a closed adoption.
Now I need to create my adoptive mother self in a more open adoption.
Thank God for our social worker, who I immediately called (once I was calm enough to speak – my emotions were so overwhelming all I could do for a bit was cry. I was so grateful LM was napping!). I told her what was going on, what my reactions were, and I wanted to know if I was normal (ha ha ha – like there is such a thing as “normal.”).
After talking to her, Keith and I formed a plan of action, and I felt better.
I went on to decorate cupcakes and we went to our friend’s house. We had a nice dinner and little birthday party and came home. While Keith gave LM a bath, I sat down and wrote out an email to S.
I sent 10 pictures from that day, his birthday, and I told her how glad I was to hear from her (which is the God’s honest truth).
We have since communicated through emails. She should have received his 3 and 6 month updates. I never did a 9 month, which I explained in an email, but told her I would send it next week with his 12 month (which I wanted to do after his family birthday party this weekend). She said she’s looking forward to it.
The details of our communication are private, of course, and parts of her emails thrill me while parts make me want to cry all over again.
But here’s what I hadn’t been prepared for: the insecurity that struck when the lawyer called.
I know that I am Little Man’s mother. I am the one who has fed him and loved him and nurtured him and taught him and held him and been there for him every day for the past 52 weeks and 3 days. He calls me “mama” and seeks me out when he is confused or upset or tired.
But having steeled myself for a closed adoption over the past six months, I had given myself permission not to forget S, but not to compare myself to her – not to think about the fact that I did not give birth to him. That all came crashing back Tuesday afternoon. Because now I am all too aware again that there is another woman in his life that is a mother to him.
And don’t take any of this the wrong way; I love S, I respect her, and I am grateful to her. But I am also a little jealous, because she gave birth to the perfect baby boy that I am raising. And what if we did make a mistake? What if she shouldn’t have placed him for adoption? What if, combined, we have ruined his life?
I’m confident that isn’t the case. We haven’t ruined his life. And our choices, made independently of one another, yet uniting us into this situation together, were each made for our own reasons. But Little Man had no say in this. He had no choices.
S is concerned that one day LM will hate her, because she chose adoption for him.
I’m concerned that one day LM will hate me, because I didn’t give birth to him.
Our concerns are so parallel, but so different.
I can only pray that by reestablishing our relationship Little Man’s life will be richer and better and more whole.
Adoption is hard. I see people entering into it, I hear their conversations and read their blogs, and I just want to shake them. Do you see how hard this really is? Do you know what you’re getting yourself into? You can’t do this just because you want a child!! You have to do this because you want to love a child – and that child’s first parents (whether you get to know them or not). You have to be willing to lay all of your heart and soul on the line – you have to be willing to love fully and deeply, knowing that your child could reject you – you have to live with the knowledge every day that there is a woman out there living without the knowledge of her flesh and blood. Do you realize that your family will be centered around loss – loss of a dream, loss of a child, loss of biological connection, loss of information?
Am I a strong enough mother to allow my son to have a relationship with his first/birth/biological/real mother? And what would I do if she said she made a mistake, or regretted her decision? How do we live with that – together – all of us– her, me, Keith, Little Man, his half brothers and sisters? How do we heal from that? Can we ever heal from that? Can we form such a relationship that S never thinks that? Can I convince her that I am good enough to be her son’s mother?
Adoption is hard. It is not for rescuing a child. It is not a solution for infertility. It is not a way to feel better about yourself. It will not save your marriage or make you complete. It will change your world, though, that I can guarantee.
I have had to have serious talks with myself almost every moment since that phone call, reminding myself that I owe it to Little Man to deal with my questions – my fear – my insecurities. I am his mother. And so is S. And we will figure out what that looks like for our family.
And as we embark on this new leg of our journey, I can only pray we – I – don’t screw it up too bad.