Open and Shut

IMG_3970I 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.


10 thoughts on “Open and Shut

  1. I am so sorry to hear what has happened to August.My heart aches with his sadness. He is a bright sunshine in this world and I for one have been blessed to know him. I may live a long way away but I still think of the first time I met August at Len’s home and we spent the day together. What a joy August is. His birth mother may not feel it but she is the one who is missing out on the life of August. What ever happens, August and and your family are in my heart forever.

  2. One can never have too many fans. August knows he is loved, and when his eyes meet those of another and he shouts a name, his energy is transmitted.
    She made a move, and all he needs to know is that the “move” is too far for visits at the moment. He only deserves love, and this may be a form of it, as strange as it may appear; he will rebound; he deserves love and will find resilience in those who love him.

  3. Samantha I am saddened at the outcome of what should have been an exciting visit for August with his
    birth mother. Children are very forgiving and resilient. If and when the time comes for his birth mother to want to be in his life again he will be there with open arms. His strength will come from all the love that has
    surrounded him his whole life.

  4. Just the other day Sammy told me August seemed sad — perhaps something completely different from the above event — but I asked Sammy what he did when he saw his friend was sad, he said, “I told August that I loved him.” That’s all we really want as mothers — to have our children loved and for them to be capable of loving others! August is loved — sometimes it’s not from those that we expect — but it’s the love that’s “earned” that is the most telling….

  5. Ah, the Open Door adoption. We just moved into the same category with one of the birth parents in our constellation, and it’s such a big big loss. But like you say, we keep the door open in the hopes that one day the person will feel welcome back in.

    Sounds like you gave August exactly what he needs during these times: steadfast love and foundation, as well as the space to feel and process his full range of emotions. Wishing you both well.

  6. Open adoption is hard. Perhaps the reality of such long gaps was too hard for her. One can only imagine. We have a less formal openness and so far it works. I would be so sad, and sad for my child. My heart goes out to you.
    Some day maybe there will be an openness that works for her and for your family.

  7. this made me cry and even though you know his birth mom may be going through some struggles, he cannot possibly understand anything other than she is rejecting him. with time and age, he may grow to understand this. he is so lucky to have you as his mother.

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