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Even Happy Moments Conjure Pain

Adoption for me has never been a moment that happened in the past. It has infiltrated every moment of my life. As a birth mother, there has never been a space within my heart where my birth son, my firstborn child, did not exist. I worked for a school district where I would search the student database looking for boys with the same date of birth. Nothing turned up. I looked every year until he would have graduated. Each year I was disappointed. Each year I wondered how he was celebrating milestones. I wondered if my birth son shares the same interest as his little brother?


My youngest son graduates today. As he prepares to walk across the stage, signaling the end of one stage of life, a flood of memories comes to mind. His kindergarten continuation ceremony, little league basketball, soccer, and swim lessons. His middle school dances, new friends, honor roll award ceremonies, and eighth-grade continuation. His transition to high school and becoming too cool to have me call him Honey Bunny, requiring me just to call him HB. Teaching him how to drive and watching track and field replace the other sports. When I finally agreed to let him live with his father in another state for his final two years of high school. Those moments culminate at the end of his childhood today. I am filled with emotions complicated by being a birth mother and never witnessing my firstborn son's milestones.

As I prepare to celebrate my youngest son's graduation, my heart is full of joy, and my tear ducts are loaded. Regrets that I never had these moments with my firstborn share the same space as my joy. However, today, I am determined to live in and celebrate the now. I celebrate the high school graduation of the last of my three children. His determination, compassion for others, intellect, and smile warms my heart whenever he flashes it. Today I do not want my duality of being an adoptee and a birth mother to overshadow just being HB's mom.

Takeaways as a (birth) mother:

  • Joy and regret can exist simultaneously, and as a birth mother who has other children, it usually does.

  • Each time a child I raised reaches a milestone, I think about my birth son and the milestones I missed.

  • I have never been void of thought about the son I relinquished 35 years ago.

  • Being a mother is a hard job.

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