In honor of November being National Adoption Awareness Month, Portrait of an Adoption is hosting the fifth annual acclaimed series, 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences.
By Alexis Del Cid
My son turns 9 next month. It’s always a wonderful day for all of us; filled with parties, gifts and fun.
It’s also odd because it’s not the anniversary of when we first held him. It’s not the anniversary of when we first learned he existed. It’s not the anniversary of when he was “officially” our son. It’s not the anniversary of when we finally became a family.
All those milestones would come gradually after his birth, over the course of our international adoption from Guatemala. The process lasted about 9 months. It was a short wait for an international adoption. We will forever be grateful for that. We have friends who have waited years for their children to come home.
With each birthday comes a wide range of feelings. Joy is only one emotion. Sometimes it’s mixed with a twinge of sadness that I was not there to hold him and kiss him the moment he came into this world. Other times I forget he never came out of my body. I always think of his birth mother on his birthday.
I have questions. I wonder what she is feeling. I wonder if it is a day of sorrow for her. Or is it just another day that has little impact on her emotionally? Was her choice one filled with grief or was it matter-of-fact?
I also have feelings of pure relief: Relief we got him home. Relief it all “worked out.” I thank God.
Perhaps these feelings are unique to me. But I suspect other parents in other families built through adoption feel similar emotions. Maybe when my son is an adult, I will share these feelings with him, but I’m conflicted. Why risk loading him with his mom’s baggage, when we all collect our own baggage over the course of our lives? But what if he appreciates knowing? For now, I am sharing these feelings here. He may or may not read this years from now.
To my sweet, sweet boy:
If I could have been there on the day you were born, I would have done anything to be there: to welcome you, to kiss you, to see your first breath, to hear your first cry.
As it would turn out, we would not even know you existed til almost two months later. When I saw your picture in the email from our adoption agency, I cried and laughed and printed it and cried and laughed some more. I touched the picture of you, hoping you would come to life in my hands.
My next question: Where is he now? Who will love him til this process is complete?
It would be a foster family.
My son has a foster family.
The most beautiful, loving family we could ever dream of caring for you.
Your first family, who held you when you cried, put you down for naps, read to you, played music for you, took you for walks in the stroller, held you in their arms when we were thousands of miles away, giving you all your bottles and snuggles; all I yearned to do for you.
But what about her?
I still wonder about her. Your birth mother. Your first mother. The woman who made a choice that I can’t imagine ever having to make. She chose to give you life. She chose to part with you, so you would have a chance at a life better than she believed she could give you.
Forever I will wonder:
Is she okay?
Is she safe?
Is she happy?
Is she haunted?
Is she alive?
Is she well?
Is she thinking of you?
Is she regretful?
Is she at peace?
Is she wondering about us?
Does she want to find you?
Is she afraid to find you?
If she meets you one day will she want to take you back?
If you meet her will you love me less?
Would you feel I was less your mother, after meeting the woman who created you and carried you for 9 months?
I know those last few questions are selfish ones. But I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit to having those feelings. Maybe they are typical. Maybe they are a sign I am flawed. It doesn’t matter. It’s the truth. Anyway, we are all flawed.
How many times I have looked at her picture!
The one picture we have… of her holding you in her arms. I study her eyes. I search for clues. I want to reach through the camera and hug her and thank her and tell her I love her, I think of her and am so thankful for her choice every day.
Because at one point in your life— for the first nine months inside her– you were her son. Legally, technically, biologically, you were hers for a time.
She carried you and delivered you and made the choice to place you on another path She trusted the universe, God, and ultimately us– with the baby who is now our son.
I wish I could ask you how it all happened.
I wish I could tell you:
He is safe.
He is loved.
He is good at math and we don’ t know where he got that.
He has a voracious appetite.
He has a strong will.
He has adorable dimples.
He loves to read.
He is sensitive and funny.
He is shy until he warms up.
He talks in his sleep.
He is perfect.
He is smart.
He knows your name.
He sees your picture.
He knows you loved him.
You are not a secret, you are celebrated.
He is proud of his heritage.
He is proud of his story.
If he ever wants to find you, Birth Mother, I promise we will do everything in our power to find you. And when I inevitably feel insecure and my old “what ifs” bubble up, I promise to push those feelings and fears away.
But what if you don’t want to be found?
We will respect those boundaries. I promise to tread lightly into those waters. Even if you ultimately don’t want “to be found” by us— Please know our son will know you still love him.
Only a heart filled with love could make such an impossible choice years ago.
I wish I could write a line of closure in this open essay to my son and his birth mother…
But there is no closure on a story when the story spans so many lives and ultimately generations.
Even when I am long gone and our son has his own children or grand children– the story will continue; a footnote in the family tree for those looking at it on paper. But for us- it is so much more.
So with each birthday, these are my thoughts and my promises to my son and his birth mother…
Alexis Del Cid is a morning news anchor and talk show host for KCTV5 in Kansas City. She lives with her husband, son and their giant dog, Buster. She volunteers as a board member with Just Like You Films; a non-profit that works to end bullying in schools by reaching children through film. She also loves reading and water skiing and making people laugh, which she does regularly on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
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