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!