The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.
How do you feel after a visit?
After a visit. What a painful, horrible, amazing place to be. In the beginning they were different, these visits. When he was still an infant, in the precious 6 weeks before I moved clear across country, visits had a whole different air. They still needed me [it could, successfully , be argued that they still need me now, but that’s a whole different ballgame].
I went with him to his first two doctors visits, a time when I was still numb. We would visit afterwards, with me given the freedom to even feed him. It was nice. Leaving was hard, but I lived less than 5 miles away, chances are I would see them again within a week. After was not difficult, aside from how empty my house felt, my body felt.
My next visit, when he was 6 months old, was different. There was a rushed hesitance to my existence – and I know that thought is hard to understand. I was there, I had to be there for my sanity. I watched mom bathe babe, clean his ears, clip his nails. I longed to do those things. I took a video of him wiggling. Yet I knew time was fleeing, moving too slowly. It felt as if every second I was one second more removed from him, yet every second took ages to pass, a pain welling within me. I was polite, making myself busy helping with dinner. I was guarded. I was hurting, even still there. At the end of the night, I watched mom rock babe to sleep, and I could no longer take it. The tears came fast and furious, again a rushed hesitance. I wanted them to know how I was hurting, to see my obvious love for him, but I did not what them to see my pain. After all, he was [is] still legally my child, and I did not want them to think I would do the unfathomable and rip Monkey from his life.
I ran out of their door without so much as a goodbye, sobbed achingly as I searched for someone, anyone to understand. There was no one. Eventually I did reach out to T, telling her why I left and that she did not need to be afraid. Sadly, I think this night is what ignited her fear to begin with – she now knew that the pain was soul crushing, illogical sometimes.
My next visit came when he was 2. There was not much to this visit, I scarcely remember details – aside from a picture I have of him with a Mohawk. Rocker child, indeed. There was a birthday present, though it scarcely seemed enough. I only remember this as the visit before the girls, when his nursery had been converted into a playroom. After, again the emptiness. The self-hatred, the loathing. I could have been his family, his whole family. There was always the feeling that I could have raised him.
My last visit, he was 3. It was, by far, the best visit, but with the most whiplash after. It’s the visit where I took him to the zoo, alone. It was as close to being his mom as I had ever been, and reminded me in so many ways that I could have done it. The doubt creped in, the nagging resentment. I was utterly heartbroken, yet at the same time amazed. I was glad to have had the day with him, even if I was scared I would mess up.
After each of the last two visits, there has been a lingering awkwardness between T and I. We get along face to face, I am genuinely interested in her family. Then I jet away, leaving on a plane back to where I came from. I know that she can see the pain in my face, the breaking of my heart, as I walk out the door. It is palpable, the distance between she and I. I know that Monkey doesn’t recognize me, but the hours I spend with him play back in my head, over and over. Did I do my best to how him how much I love him? To calm her insecurities? Did I do everything in my power to close the distance between us? After the last visit, it was all I could do to stop looking in my rearview, seeing Monkey sleeping peacefully in his seat after a great day together. Instead, he was sleeping in his house, without me. Alone. After the visit, every time, I have felt bone crushingly alone.
With Love Always,