Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Forever is Forever

My house is much quieter these days.

For many years, it was always a loud busy place. Full of comings and goings, of constant activity. And in the last two and a half years, since my oldest son who I lost to adoption moved back in with us, it was even more so. And better . . . so much, WONDERFULLY better. Not because I didn’t treasure and love every moment with my three younger children, because I did. I am very biased there believing I have the most amazing, wonderful children any mother would want blessing their lives.

But it was better because, for the first time, our family was truly complete. Complete in the way that there wasn’t always that constant knowledge in my heart that one of my children was always missing. Wasn’t a part of everything our family shared.

Time moves on though, and our children grow. And my three boys have grown and moved on with their lives, leaving just me, my husband and my youngest, and only daughter, in the house.

It is, I’ve realized, yet another phase of motherhood. From their young years, when they are dependent on you for everything, when scraped knees and nightmares brings them running to mom’s arms for comfort. To their older years when they begin to step away. When they groan if you dare to kiss them in front of their friends or roll their eyes at you if you even suggest you might have any kind of idea what they are going through as they start to learn who they are independently of their parents.

To now this phase, for me, when they are venturing out on their own. Their own homes, college and work. Falling in love, and for my youngest son, marriage and a child on the way. They don’t need mom so much anymore. I’m not a central part of their life. They are moving on, just as they are supposed to and I am a different role in their life than I have been in the past.

And it makes me stop to think about how when I look back and look forward, and look on what today brings, there is so much of being a mother that is never shared with a new mom, pregnant and confused. There is so much we don’t tell them about how much adoption continues on. Not only through childhood and teenage years, but into adult years as well.

The adoption industry takes so much of what an expectant mom feels in the moment and isolates it. They encourage, suggest, and even push for her to only see the “now” instead of looking at the overall picture. Of the many, many years that are yet to come, of the different phases of motherhood and all that comes with it. They hold them in whatever crisis they are currently facing, using that to convince them adoption is the best option, cheating them out of the very real fact that there is so much, so many years, so many changes, that they have ahead of them.

I can look back now and see, when I was pregnant with my oldest son who I lost to adoption, just how much I was isolated in the here and now. It’s a common factor, I know, for most mothers facing an unexpected pregnancy, struggling to see past the next day, much less the next year. And my counselor was very good at keeping me in that moment, never encouraging me to look past it at the real truth of what it meant to lose my child.

But the reality is, being a mother is forever. It shifts and changes. What you face one day will be so different a year later, a decade later. It’s the natural process of life.

And when you lose a phase of mothering, it’s gone forever. You can never get it back. Not even the best of open adoptions, most successful reunions, can ever get that back for you. It’s gone, no matter what, and it will ALWAYS affect every other phase you might go through as the mother of your child.

EVERY pregnant woman considering adoption, should be made to understand how much more there is, at the moment they become pregnant, to their child’s life than what they can possibly see at the moment. They need to know that missing out on their child in their early years will affect them, and their child, in the years to come.

And that there is absolutely nothing . . . . NOTHING . . . that can take away that loss. Because it’s a part of nature, a part of life, that is gone forever.
My oldest son is back in my life in every way imaginable now and yet that will never change the fact that there is a void there between us. A missing part that I have with my other children that I can never get with him.

And it’s because, through adoption, I lost those phases of motherhood that are such a fundamental part of a mother and child relationship. No, I do not love my oldest son any less. My feelings for him are just as strong and powerful as they are for my three younger children. Read anywhere in my blog and you will find that.

But how much I love my son or how much he loves me, can never change what we lost, that part of his life that is void of the memories parents and children carry of each other. Those early phases of being a mother. Of being there for him in every way as he first started to grow and learn to letting go a little at a time as he started to test the waters to learn who he was independently of who his parents are.

And that loss will always be felt. It will always exist between us.

There are no words I can think of to describe that “black hole” kind of feeling. And unless you have lost a child to adoption, or are a child lost to adoption, I don’t believe there is any way you could truly understand what it’s like. Understand the true magnitude of such a void in your life in something that is so unnatural to feel.

And it’s not healed with visits or pictures or letters about how your child is doing. Because the natural act of mothering isn’t there. Those first steps we take in caring for our children, so much a part of us, are absent even if we get to see our children and know about their lives.

It’s a “forever” loss. One that we will be reminded of for the rest of our lives.

I think of my youngest son, about to be a father. I think of what we will share just in the simple act of watching his own child grow and being able to look back on when he was so small. Of knowing the answers to, how long did it take me to sleep through the night? Was I this hard/easy to potty train? How did you finally break me off the bottle?

Those oh so simple questions, shared between parents and their children everywhere. Questions I will never, EVER have the answers to when my oldest son first steps into fatherhood. Moments we can never share because they are lost forever in the ugly reality that is adoption.

Twenty three years ago, I never imagined just how much and how deeply adoption would continue to affect my life, that the loss will always continue on until the day I die. Even with my son back in my life, even with adopting him back, even with those first years of a very open adoption, that loss will remain forever.

Pregnant women who feel they have no choice other than losing their child to adoption need to know the truth of what they, and their unborn child is facing. Not just in the few years to come, but for their entire lifetime. They need to know that forever really is forever when it comes to such losses they and their child will go through. And that nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever take that away.

Because, as we all know . . .

Adoption is forever!


  1. Sob :( So very, very true.

    Beautiful post Cassi. It must have been a difficult phase watching the boys "leave the nest", even though a natural phase. The letting go process is usually difficult and not all that easy!

    But how right you are when you write about what is lost is gone forever! And yes, expectant mothers do get caught up in the here and now. They may think they are looking after themselves and their child etc but most mothers I have seen hrough blogs relinquish because they cannot see beyond their baby being in their lives. They feel that to continue college etc they HAVE to part with their kids, that there is no other way. Of course the industry - agencies and so-called counsellors - encourage this view. That lack of wisdom and foresight means mother and child after mother and child are needlessly separated. And while they talk about "open" adoption relationships, they miss the bigger picture. That no matter what, no matter how much they say they love their kids, the damage is done. Forever. They can never get back what they have lost. And thus the tragedy of adoption continues to leave its legacy through family trees and generation after generation.

    Great post Cassi!!

  2. Ah Myst, yes, this new phase is a hard one but a good one too, knowing my boys are building their own lives!

    And I agree, completely, the Adoption Industry do encourage this view and it's clear why they do. Keep that desperation, that feeling of failure, and you can push even more for an expectant mom to surrender her child.

    But yes, it does affect so much more than just the "here and now." I think that is why we see a pattern so often of new First Mom's still in the beginning stages of their loss, encouraging adoption in such a great light while VERY, VERY few First Mom's later in life have any kind of encouragement for adoption. I think, the longer you live with such a terrible loss, the more you realize that, no matter what they might have told you in the beginning, it really doesn't ever go away and actually gets harder and harder to deal with as the true ramifications of it continue on and on and on.

  3. Thank you Cassi for a beautiful post. I have learned so much from your writing.

  4. Every person who plays a part in separating children from their mothers and fathers should be separated from their children and be forced to live alone on a deserted island.

    THAT will teach them the rewards of their efforts. They are evil.

  5. ((hugs)) Cassi.

    You're right, those counseling expectant mothers are not encouraging them to look into the future. I wonder if women surrendering babies to adoption perceive in the future that these issues and complexities that come along with adoption will be something that at each stage in life they may deal with and view in a different way-- a way they may view much different than they did as as a young women.

  6. Amanda,
    It very well could be that they perceive it in a much different way. I know what I see now is much different than what I perceived when I was younger and pregnant with my oldest son.

    I think it's also though that, if loss is suggested to a pregnant mom during the moment of crisis, it's set up as a temporary thing, something the mother will get over so it can be very hard to even look ahead and imagine there will be loss later on when you are assured that it will go away.

    During the years I was numb and in denial, when I did allow myself to look forward to my son's older years, I never thought of the loss that would be there because, at that time, I never had any idea it would even exist.

  7. Cassi -
    yet another fabalous post
    it is a forever void - that adoption professionals don't want to reveal. They're starting to "acknowledge" the "loss" to expectant moms, but as you pointed out in response to Amanda, they paint the portrait as a temporary thing -they gloss over it with "the peace" she'll get with visits and pictures. Peace? BAH! it's like a knife cutting through the heart. It's more inhumane than amputating a leg one little centeeter at a time - a leg that was healthy and didn't need to be amputated.

    it is forever
    your post paints the real portrait

    thank you, Cassi