Before I got deep into the mechanics of actual parenting, what gave me the most agita was this whole open adoption thing. The stress was there from the beginning — like the weirdest arranged marriage you could imagine, with a baby thrown in for good measure. It evolved into a whole different kind of anxiety when we were actually paired with birthparents, growing incrementally as the due date crept closer.
After our son was born, the distance increased and contact lessened. Yet the relationship with birthmom and dad was still there, looming off in the horizon like some celestial monkey wrench, a constant (perceived) threat to our familial peace and harmony.
Our son has been told his story from the get-go, as we continually remind ourselves this transparency is for the best. But there’s always the fear of the unknown, be it far off or soon. Fear that our son will be teased for being adopted; that he’ll learn something disappointing about his biological parents; that he’ll throw the “You’re not my real dad!” grenade in the midst of an argument.
Luckily none of these has happened yet. Maybe they won’t and maybe they will. But in the here-and-now, our son chose to participate in his class Mother’s Day project by making a card for his birthmom. It involved a lovely cover illustration, a written sentiment in poem(ish) form, and a photo declaring “I love you because…”
“I love you because… you gave me to my parents!”
In that single sentence, my eight-year-old showed why all the honesty and truth-telling was so important. In that single sentence — that most basic call-and-response, fill-in-the-blank school assignment — he showed a depth of appreciation for the woman that gave him life, an acknowledgement to us that he knows he belongs, and a reminder to himself that he was and is loved… from before he was born and every day since.
This was all done on his own, without telling us ahead of time. Jon seems to genuinely enjoy talking about his out-of-the-ordinary family. While classmates have certainly had questions, he’s never taken them negatively. He in fact revels in the attention. He’s as proud as any kid to boast about his family, his life, his specialness.
But all this didn’t happen by accident. So let me take this opportunity to toot our collective parenting horn. I’ve spent a lot of time wringing my hands about things I’ve done wrong or might do wrong or what might go wrong. So I deserve this moment of pride. Pride that the things we’ve communicated to our son have fallen on hearing ears. Pride that he understands the basic construct of his adoption — that he wasn’t randomly abandoned or “given up,” but that he was chosen, sought after, and thoughtfully joined into the family he’s in.
I imagine there will be a time (or two) when my son’s origins will be the cause of sadness; adoption is inherently about loss. However, I can rest easy in that his Papa and I have laid positive groundwork, been as honest as we can be, and that we’ll always be here to answer, discuss, or vent.
So for now, I’m setting aside my worries and distress, focusing on how my son created this special moment for himself. Yes, it’s technically for his birthmom, but the act of doing it serves to reinforce his strong foundations and love-filled history.
All in all I have a happy kid, and am proud to say he had a very happy Mother’s Day.