Today My Son Turns Twenty-Two
Is it possible? Have I really been a mother for twenty-two years? I always thank my son for making me a mother, a dream I chased for four years before I found him, born in Tennessee, air-lifted to New York City to a life so different from the one he would have had.
“He is so lucky to have you,” people always say. I am so lucky to have him. I tell him, “You are my teacher.” Born with more problems than any one person deserves to have—severe infantile eczema, ADHD, learning disabilities, asthma—he has had many struggles, as have my husband and I.
When they brought my son to us on a dark, rainy evening in the hospital parking lot in Tennessee I gasped at his beauty. His birthparents did not want to meet us, too saddened by the loss and unable to face the moment of relinquishment. The lawyer brought him to us. I pressed him to me marveling at his perfection. He came with a package of diapers and a case of formula- no operating instructions!
We drove into the night, not knowing where we would stay, having gone straight to the hospital from the airport. We came to a “Family Inns of America.” How perfect. For a mere fifty dollars a night we had the honeymoon suite, complete with kitchen and Jacuzzi. More perfect! I remember the sound of him sucking down the first bottle we fed him. These are moments you never forget! The sound of his life force brought tears to our eyes, as did the relief of the search for our child being over.
This is how we began our life as a family and the wait for his birthparents to sign the papers for us to adopt him five days later. Drunk with the sleeplessness of having a newborn, we drove around the area, taking in the Christmas trees adorned in bows, the beauty of the Smokey Mountains and twang of the soft southern accent in Tennessee.
This is how adoption went twenty-two years ago. They signed the papers, we went home and began the task of parenting. We did not discuss open adoption. We did not stay in touch. Together we have encountered grief and loss, both his and ours. It has forged deep bonds.
Would it have helped to have an open adoption with contact and information that we did not have? We will never know, but as I read of all the change and openness that now exists in adoption I know it would have made it different and certainly eased the loss of biological connection for him.
On the eve of his twenty-second birthday my son has just been offered his first job opportunity. I am very proud. It has been a hard won battle to arrive at this moment. We all have something to celebrate! And we will!