I have checked my email two dozen times this morning hoping each time I click on “Inbox” there will be a note, a sentence even, telling me she has changed her mind, that she made a mistake in what she wrote last night—that she wrote it in anger, frustration, or sadness and that the light of day has made her realize this is not a relationship she would ever want to sever.
August’s birth mother, when his adoption plan was created, initially requested six visits per year. We settled on four and have been steadfast in adhering to our agreement. Even when she was not able to come to a visit, we continuously endeavored, sometimes amidst our own frustrations, to find a work-around that would make sense, understanding that our son’s positive contact with his birthmother is a gift unparalleled.
It hasn’t always been smooth—far from it. The most recent attempt at a visit ended up heart-wrenchingly sad: a four-year-old boy, eager to see his birth mother, understanding precisely who she is and why it’s important that he see her, deliberately and thoughtfully garbed in a Christmas sweater and dress pants and armed with a handmade gift, wandering through the food court of a nearby mall, hand-in-hand with his mother who was watching the minutes tick by far too fast with his birth mother nowhere to be found.
When the only reasonable option was to leave, lest we prolong the inevitable result, August cried. I lifted his forty-five pound body in my arms, and between heaves and tears he said, with the full force of his four-year-old sense of injustice, not to mention cause-and-effect, “She lied to me. I don’t ever want to see her again.”
I brought him to the car, gave him kisses and some water, and then we talked. I told him she didn’t really lie, though it may seem that way to him. Something happened and she couldn’t come. I asked him to please consider seeing her because not seeing her would hurt her feelings. He said she hurt his feelings, so we paused.
By the time the ride was over, August consented to seeing her again. I allowed him to dictate the terms: the zoo in the summer. I proposed the plan when we got home and in return received an email in which his birth mother–in two mere sentences–declared she was not going to see August anymore.
I read her words too many times, thinking it was quite possible I was misreading them, that they were an illusion. When it became apparent that they weren’t and that her mind had been made up, I had to tell my son.
From the outside looking in, especially for those who know and understand the inevitable bumps with which such relationships are often strewn, this may seem as though it will ultimately be in our son’s best interest: If someone no longer wants to or can’t participate in a relationship with another, forcing it can only lead to disappointment and heartache.
But as an adoptive mother, August’s mother, I know the benefits and the potential benefits this relationship has—had–for him, for us, and for August’s brothers, both of whom never had an opportunity to even meet their birth parents. I know and understand the loss.
But at this moment August feels the loss, and for him my heart hurts. My wish then can only be that the love he feels from his family, his friends, indeed the world, will help to ease that loss, understanding full well that when we’ve had something—someone–in our life and then suddenly we don’t, that easing is the best we can hope for. Filing is not an option.
August is a light in and to this world, a gift; and his birth mother gave him a selfless and tremendous gift in not only making an adoption plan but spending the time she could with him afterward. I cannot presume to know the battles she faces, the pain in her life. My hope, though, is that one day his presence will bring her comfort and that she will seek him out.
He will be here, and we will walk with him, toward her—when she is ready.