When Jackson was 17 months old, we lost all contact with his birth father, "A." He had visited Jackson three times (not counting the social worker bringing Jackson to meet him when he was discharged from the hospital) by that point. The last time we were together, we met at a Children's Museum, had a wonderful day, and promised to meet up again soon. We even sent pictures over text of the kids sleeping in their car seats after our big fun day together. Then he stopped responding to all texts, emails and phone calls. Just like that. Luckily, we are in touch with his parents (at his request, he urged them into our lives, and we are so thankful that he did) and they finally passed on the message that A decided he did not want to be involved in Jackson's life anymore. They gave their impressions as to why, but because I have not talked to A, I do not feel comfortable speculating publicly. I was not prepared for the feelings I would have in this situation.
My first, gut level feeling was sadness. Intense grief. We love A, and Jackson is a piece of him. It was our pleasure to share the amazingness that is Jackson with A. It's clear that Jackson takes after him in many ways. The thought of Jackson not having that connection with his biological father broke my heart. I still cry when I think about it, the pain is that deep for me. I remember saying to my mom over the phone soon after we received the news that no, A was not just busy, he had intentionally stopped responding to us, "Mom, I don't get why I am so sad about this. I can't seem to shake it." She said, "Honey, your dad did the same thing essentially." Oh yeah. Shit. While the situations are completely different, as a child, I felt abandoned by my dad. I still do in many ways. Whether he actually abandoned me, whether he really loved me...or not...were not important pieces of information as a young child. All that mattered was that I would go a year or more without talking to him and I often waited three years at a time to see him. On a deep level, I was not feeling Jackson's sadness, I was feeling my own. As I processed it more, I was also feeling sadness as Jackson's mom. Because now it is ME who will have to try and explain to him why A stepped out. It is ME who will have to try and help him understand that A loves him, even if he can't show him that love right now. And it is me who knows that no matter how many times I say those things, Jax will feel what he has to feel. I can't protect him from this.
Which brings me to feeling number two in this story. Anger. Raging, burning anger. Because he is hurting MY son. Yes, I know he is technically "our" son (with A obviously included in that "our"), but when someone is hurting him, he becomes MY precious baby to protect. How dare he step out and leave me to pick up the pieces? How dare he leave me to answer questions that only he can answer for this sweet boy? How dare he NOT want to see this little boy who wears dimples and a smile just like his, whose laugh brings joy to everyone he meets, and whose sensitive heart most certainly has some origin in him? I just don't understand it. He is rejecting our son. And I don't approve. Not one little bit.
These are feelings I did not expect to experience in these ways going into this whole adoption thing. The power that birth parents hold over our children is staggering. At the beginning of the process, I knew expectant parents held power over ME. I knew that it was they who would decide if I was worthy of being a mom. I also thought I knew that once papers were signed, the power was all mine. I could make this hypothetical child into anyone I wanted to. I could raise him my own way. Looking back, I'm not sure how I missed this. I saw birth parents as a beautiful addition to my child's life and didn't think to prepare myself for what would happen if his birth parents actually hurt him. And of course, I could never have known how vulnerable my heart would be. I am at Jackson's mercy. If he hurts, I hurt. If I even think there is a chance he will hurt, I hurt.
Nope, I did not expect this at all.
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