It wasn’t until I taught my girls to ride a bike, told them about the sun and moon, said bedtime prayers, took them on vacations and went to zoo that I realized what I’d been missing by NOT parenting my son.
It wasn’t until my second and third born were teens, asking questions about boys, sharing life goals and dreams, that I discovered I didn’t GET to hear these elements firsthand from my son. He had a mother, one I chose, to inform, and was beyond that stage of adolescence already.
It wasn’t until my kids went to college, had dated a boy or two, went on trips alone and decided some elements of a career path that I sensed I’d not experienced the same, life-forming events with my son.
But I chose this, and here’s why:
Open adoption constructed a bond
It added several elements I didn’t have at the time of my crisis: maturity, a home of my own and financially stability. My son never had to live a day without his functional, emotional, spiritual and social needs being met.
Our adoption was being retrofitted
It was being built with time, truth, interaction, celebration and love. He saw my mode of transport in life—one that shared rest stops with his—to create a uniquely experiential journey toward the future we’d share in our own, customized way. My life wasn’t fully without him, but it wasn’t fully with him either. I got to express my love in various ways, as did he.
After 26 years, I can see a portion of what God has formed as he is a college graduate and a gainfully employed adult capable of making his own life decisions. He is a considerate and wise family member, as well as friend. I’ve watched him transform before my eyes! I celebrated his healthy growth, success and development. He carried the ring in my wedding, while his mother was one of my bridesmaids. I’ve tucked him in bed once, made him a birthday cake, shared countless meals and even received a Mother’s Day video text. Recently, he journeyed with my family to Ireland, as a gift for his college graduation and hard work. After the once-in-a-lifetime trip, I made him a photo book and photo magnets for his fridge. Not long ago, he sent me a picture of his tool locker at work. I cried beautiful tears as I noticed the photo magnets that reflect and display what truly is important; memories and quality time. The symbolism, placement and location was not lost upon me.
He’s been given the chance to receive incredible amounts of love—tools—through my extended family, as well as his own. And from where I sit, I GET to be gloriously stuck being in love with him, just like his mom and family are. I am incredibly thankful for the commitment his mother made to me, for her brave display of courage, strength, love and perseverance. Without her, my journey through grief and loss would indeed lack the elements it needed for successful growth. In hindsight, I can see how God provided the tools we needed through the committed, unique mission of our adoption relationship.
And while my nest sits empty now, I can appreciate and reflect upon the fullness of our story. Grief and loss are not to be hidden, rather, they become a foundation to build upon, not to diminish the pain of separation, but to embellish the space that exists. To give attention and encouragement to the functioning life, rather than dwelling on hindsight or hypothetical. How else will I see the soul remodeling that is constantly occurring if I don’t look forward to measure the progress
God is working on new projects all the time, so I’m anxiously staying tuned.