We Will Tell You the Truth and Stand By Your Side

I recently opened an email from  my youngest son’s birthmother: I’m pregnant. Due in August. And this time I’m going to keep it.

My youngest son is just a few feet away—two-and-a-half years old—playing and blissfully unaware of the magnitude of what I am reading.

It was one of those moments in life when the world seems to swirl and hum busily around you but you are no longer a part of it. I looked over at my son and thought to myself, “How am I going to explain this to you? How am I going to help you understand that almost three years ago your birthmother made an adoption plan for you; and now, just a short time later, she is opting to parent?”

His birthmother is in a different relationship than she was three years ago, one to which she is committed. She is also now well over 18 years old and legally within her rights not only to make her own decisions but to resist and even reject the well-meaning, practical suggestions of parents or guardians. But something tells me these explanations will be small comfort to a child who may wind up thinking, “Why this child and not me?”

I then thought that like everything else in the parent-child relationship, my son is going to take his cue from me and from his father. If we couch this situation as one of loss for him, then that is how he will perceive it. Conversely, if we praise his birthmother for making a selfless, brave decision for him, which happens to be precisely how we do feel, he will come to see it that way, too.

But then that just seemed too simple, too neat, too wrapped-up-with-a-bow perfect—the ending to a Hollywood movie.

So, how will we explain this to our son? To start, we’ll tell him the truth—at every juncture and in answer to his every question in a way that is sensitive to and commensurate with his age and maturity. Much will, of course, depend upon the level of interaction and depth of his and our relationship with his birthmother. Seeing her and his birth sibling on a regular basis may prompt a different set of questions and concerns than a less open situation would.

Photo Credit: Len DeAngelis

In this circumstance, so many platitudes seem to apply: Live in the moment. One step at a time. Time will tell. But platitudes become platitudes because they have helped others negotiate life’s difficulties and tragedies, have offered comfort and reassurance. They are perhaps trite only because they have been used so often. But in truth, in this situation, we are going to have to live in the moment and take one step at a time. And like everything else in life, only time will tell how this will impact him.

There is no way to prepare, no way to script what we will say to our son—today, tomorrow, or in ten years. The only thing we do know is that we’ll be there—to listen, to talk, to hold his hand, to stand by his side. It’s the job of every parent in every situation—the simple and the complicated, the mundane and the extraordinary. As parents we often feel that might not be enough; but ultimately—and thankfully—it truly is.


10 thoughts on “We Will Tell You the Truth and Stand By Your Side

  1. You sound like you are on the right path with all your thoughts! Honesty and love will conquer all! The birth mom loved him too much to allow him to suffer one single day of anything less than the best, so gave him up to you! A year can be a long time when healing from any problem…and once your son is grown, he will understand that! The important thing is to know how lucky he is that she loved him enough to know what was right for him…and that you are all lucky enough to have become a family! God bless all of you, I can only imagine how tough it is to know the birth mom and keep in touch while raising your son.

  2. This is one of those “Because I know, who else needs to know…from me?” versus learning on one’s own, in due time. Often questions are asked that deserve another question in response; “Why do you want/need to know?”
    “Where do babies come from?”
    “Do you need the recipe now? Are you going to make a baby now? How about toll house cookies. I have a recipe for that. Would you rather make toll house cookies?”
    At some point you may be asked why you didn’t say something sooner, and need/want to know returns, not to avoid or excuse, but to ease into Life.

  3. Beautifully written Samantha. The challenges of life never end. They keep us going, thinking and learning. I know that this will be another “circumstance” that your family will resolve with love, understanding, strength and patience.

  4. That’s how you explain it to him – God knows what he has planned for us long before we are ever born. God chose us for you and you for us.

    And depending upon how things evolve – it may never be an issue for him – he has something he wouldn’t have if she’d have kept him: Oscar and Edgar. 2 big brothers, who were also adopted, who absolutely adore him!

  5. What a great gift you continue to give him. Your love, support and understanding. A role model for all of us parents.

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