A Place in Her Life

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Eight weeks doesn't seem like such a long time.

But, of course, when you're checking your email every day — actually, several times a day — desperately seeking a reply, eight weeks is interminable.

Our relationship with our youngest son's birthmother has been the proverbial long and winding road, twisting most recently into a declaration that we are on a sort of break. It was her decision, and one we had to respect but also had to explain to our then-four-year-old son who had become conscious not just of her place in his life but her presence.

We had had regular visits since he was just weeks-old, the existence of which didn't necessarily register with him in ways we could understand, that is until only recently—right around the time she gave birth to her second child, his birth sibling, a baby boy she was choosing to parent. We did our best to explain who he was and why visits for her were becoming increasingly challenging.

When she told us we probably should not continue with visits lest he become confused or feel angst when she could not come, we felt the loss—for him, for us, for our other two sons who had never had the benefit of any birthparent contact. And though she still wants photos and updates via email, it isn't the same, isn't what it once was or could have been.

When too much time had gone by without contact, I reached out. I waited eight weeks for a reply, and then an apology and an announcement: a new baby, a daughter this time, another baby she is choosing to parent, is able to parent—and another explanation I needed to provide to my son.

And as I sit from this vantage point, my now-five-year-old son with a grin at times so big his face can barely contain it, I think of her, of her life filling up, of him, her first, becoming less of a focus. I can't speak for her since I will never be able to fully understand the enormous sacrifice she made when she created his adoption plan, but I think of her—a lot. And I think of this beautiful boy who will have much to process and eventually reconcile as he endeavors to understand if not forge his place in her life.

If you ask my son what words come to mind when he thinks of his birthmother, he says he loves her. He then asks— fairly quickly — when he can see her again.

I wish I knew enough to offer him answers — today and tomorrow and decades hence.

But I don't, and I don't think I ever will.

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