Just the other day I blogged about the beauty and blessings of open adoptions. Our adoption story with Madison's birth and her birth parents is one of great beauty and peace. We love her birth parents and feel blessed to have them in our lives.
Thomas' birth story is a little different. His birthmom chose to not have ongoing contact with us or him, even though we desired it. We don't know why she chose to close the adoption, but we guess that it was easier on her heart to not have to think about him and picture her gorgeous son be loved on by another mom and dad. That's just a guess on our part and we could be wrong, but I know when we talked on the phone to her shortly after she delivered Thomas, she told us she was sure of her choice in us and that made her feel good. We never had any contact with her after that phone call.
Periodically I would google her and see if I could figure out where she was. She was a native of Louisiana but would sometimes live in Houston, which is where Thomas was born. Last Friday I googled her and was shocked and grief stricken to have found her obituary. I felt sick to my stomach and broke into tears. A woman who I never met, yet love her flesh and blood son as a gift from God, had died 2 years ago and now Marc and I would have to tell our innocent son.
Adoption, regardless of how beautiful ALWAYS involves loss and pain. Thomas has always grieved the fact that he did not know his birthmom like Madison does and has fictionalized the missing pieces of his birth. These things are painful to him and to us. I have hurt watching Thomas try to grasp why his birth mom didn't want to watch him grow throughout life or share in his development. I am impotent to explain why she chose to make his adoption more difficult in our estimation. Perhaps it was easier for her, but ultimately made our adoption experience with Thomas much more difficult and trying.
Yesterday, Father's Day, Marc and I sat Thomas down and gently told him that I had discovered his birthmom's obituary. He didn't know what an obituary was and when I explained it, I saw the tears pooling in his eyes. I held him and rocked him just like when he was a newborn and he wailed, sobbed and shuddered with grief. His grief is so multi-layered that I have a hard time grasping it. He is grieving for what he never knew, what he wanted to know, what he will never know. He doesn't remember her voice, her touch, her scent. He has so many unanswered questions that will remain unanswered forever. He hasn't begun to even reconcile that these are now facts he must deal with. For a child nearing adolescence, their world is confusing enough without throwing in to the mixture adoption, death and infinitely unanswered questions.
Telling him about his birthmom's death was by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a mother. I've heard the words from someone else's mouth telling me my mom and dad were dead and it was horribly painful, but telling my fragile son about his birthmom's death was much more painful. It ripped my heart out and made a lump in my throat that hurt so badly I could barely catch my breath. I hated the fact that I had to hurt him with this news. I hated the fact that his birthmom died and put me in this position. I know that is irrational, but her track record of making poor choices during her pregnancy and subsequent decision to close the adoption compounded Thomas' struggles and ours as well.
We went to the nursey yesterday and let Thomas choose some trees. He chose two apple trees that we will plant in our yard and create a small memorial rock garden to his birthmom's memory. He'll be able to see it from his bedroom window and I hope it provides him some comfort. I want the trees to bear lots of apples, thrive, grow tall and sturdy and be beautiful....all the same things I want for Thomas to embody in life and I'm sure the same things his birthmom wished for him.
Life can be so beautiful and yet so full of sorrow. His birthmom gave him life, not necessarily the best start in life, but life nonetheless. I am so grateful he is my son, even given his added struggles and feel hopeful that this is just one more sorrow in his life he will overcome, move forward from and become wiser and stronger. For me however, shaking my irrational anger at his birthmom's death may take some effort. I suppose my process of grieving the loss will be to let go of the anger and frustration and move forward into peaceful acceptance. I can't do anything about the situation except support Thomas and understand this may send him reeling for some time to come. Only time will tell.
9 months ago