It has been a while since we left Florida and I couldn’t end the year without a bit of reflection on our most recent visit.
Every palm tree, every strip mall, the Walgreens where I would go to buy formula, they all mark Rory’s birth story. They connect to a time to when my reality shifted and I walked a path based on instinct and faith. Moving one foot in front of the other towards my child.
And so, another visit with ’s birth mom and his birth siblings in the books.
Maybe, just maybe, this is how it’s supposed to be.
The excitement and joy that exuded from all of us as we approached each other. Two families coming together to create our own version of family. The whole thing felt like a family reunion. The nerves were gone as was the anxiety and we all fit together. Our family dynamic makes sense. I understand that in some ways this was an easy visit for me. Rory is of the age when he clings to mama.I would be lying if I said I didn’t take note of this. I would be lying if I didn’t say that it didn’t make me feel good.
I know I am mother- but I am human and as mother in this beautiful, strange, unique position I admit that experiencing my child loving on me helped.
I brace myself for the hurt as I prepare for these visits. I brace for the sting. For the moments when I see the strong resemblance between child and first mother. I am so obviously not his biological mother and that is obviously amplified on the occasions when we are all together. The uncanny resemblance between R and his birth mom and birth siblings. The moments of feeling like a complete outsider. Like I don’t fit it (which is something my dear son will deal with throughout his life being raised by a white family). Moments of me questioning who I am and how I fit into this equation. But then my child clings to me, looks to me for comfort, and quietly says my favorite name, “Mama”. I wonder if his birth mom is the one who feels on the outs. And what that must be like.
I was so relieved when my boy clung to me. He did not want to go to her. He only wanted his mama. And that was satisfying. That is not an easy thing to admit. My satisfaction came with a price.
Will it always be like that? Will one of us have to hurt so the other can feel good?
Birth siblings. Rory. His brother. His sister. All less than 2 year apart. The love was palpable. The connection between them. It was incredible. It took my breath away.
At times, as they were running and laughing and carrying on together, I couldn’t help but feel like R is missing out. It looked as though R was plucked from the 3 musketeers. It made me feel very sad for him. Not only do they look like they belong together, they acted like they belong together. I saw a gorgeous connection that I can hope to honor as they all grow up. As the three of them chased each other with abandon, laughing and carrying on- it was how it should be.
Anyone who knows R knows that while his smile is infectious- he doesn’t give those smiles away. Not many people know how to get him to smile. E and I are pretty darn good at it. The only other person with that magic is-his birth sister. She showed him who was boss and when she said smile, R obeyed with that genuine spectacular smile that belongs to him and him alone.
I was not prepared for the love and connection and investment I have in R’s siblings. That seems so ridiculous to write. But during the adoption process, I had tunnel vision, so focused on my child- not the family that would come along with him and make my heart stretch and grow in inexplicable ways.
But I’m all in now. I’m all in on R’s siblings. His brother and his sister.
I love those children. Not as my own, but as who they are in our version of family.
R’s brother. The way Rory looked at him. It was a wonder. The stark differences between these boys, only 1.5 years apart. What R’s normal is compared to his brother’s normal.
R’s brother had to grow up too fast. I know that I baby R. I still carry him far too often, jump into help when I should be encouraging self sufficiency. He’s doing great and he keeps up with everyone- but I know there are times where I simply don’t want him to grow up. Or maybe I’m trying to protect him from any trauma or grief he may eventually feel associated with his adoption.
His brother has lived a very different life. Even his little shirt buttoned all the way up to the tippy top. He had the appearance of being far older than R. He has the appearance of being grown beyond his years.
Last year, I found myself taking R’s sister alone to the bathroom. I was struck by R’s birth mom’s trust in allowing me to do so. But perhaps it’s just part of this adoption trifecta. She trusts me with her children. And as silly as it sounds, it was an honor to take R’s brother to the bathroom this visit. As we walked through the dark to the bathroom he held my hand. He listened. He expressed fear that I would leave him in the bathroom. I promised him I wouldn’t leave him. He asked if we could stay at the gardens longer. He asked if I could take him to McDonalds. He asked when we would be coming back. He asked if we could do this again. He asked me to tell him all the things we could do together. I wonder what it’s like to view this world through his eyes? I wonder if he is old enough to register R not being around. Does he miss R? How does he feel about us coming and going? We swoop in with presents. We plan a day. We treat the kids to whatever they want. This is not R’s normal. But these are special days. These are days when we provide for all for so many complicated reasons; Look what we can give R. Look at the life we have given him. Look at our happy family. Let us give because we have and you have not. Let us give out of kindness. Let us give to avoid having to say no. Let us give out of guilt. We give and we give. This is not our normal, but this is how the visits go.
Or maybe this is our normal. Maybe this is exactly how our lives were meant to unfold. I’d like to think so. It’s a messy kind of magical, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Cheers to 2017. Cheers to adoption. It is a privilege, and my greatest honor to be part of it.