A little over a month ago, my son turned one.
There's this incredible parenting podcast called The Longest Shortest Time, and the title so perfectly reflects how parenthood feels. Moments can stretch into eons, but then, suddenly, your child is ONE.
With the recent arrival of Wee W, Corey and I gave ourselves permission to keep this first birthday to a simple minimum. Clearly, S jr doesn't know he hit a milestone, and continues to care only about putting hairballs into his mouth and climbing things. First birthday celebrations are for the parents, and while they can be super-fun, neither of us had the energy to plan anything.
Besides, the main event was S jr's birth mom coming for her second visit. It went really well and was emotional, charged, and exhausting. As to be expected, of course. Our relationship with her will likely always be complex, and that's something I'm able to understand and accept more and more.
Open adoption can mean many things, and family situations fall along a broad spectrum. Corey and I were surprised to learn that in many cases, open adoption simply means that all the circumstances are known. There isn't necessarily an ongoing relationship with birth parents. When we were in the adoption process, we decided we wanted our child to not only have access to all the information surrounding his or her birth, but also a relationship with birth parents, if possible.
Everything we do to nurture the relationship with his birth mom is for S jr. So that he can grow up knowing how many people love him and that choices were made because of that love. No mystery, no mythology. His birth mom will always be a fact in his life. From what we've researched, that kind of concrete knowledge leads to well-adjusted, healthy kiddos.
But for the parents, again, it's often very complicated. We come with baggage and egos and expectations and biases. Growing up an adoptee, I always thought of my parents as my parents. With my adopted son, I think of him as my son. A friend asked recently if I felt any distinction in my feelings for my adopted child and my birth child and it's a good question, an important question. Because for me, the answer is absolutely not. The only distinction lies in how I respond to each of them as individuals with their own personalities – the fact that one came from my body and one did not is immaterial.
I loved that my friend asked that question, and I wish our culture talked about it more. I wish we were all more open about adoption. Even though we've come a long way, I still feel like it exists within the realm of the slightly disbelieved. We see celebrities adopting, many of us have a connection to someone who was adopted or adopted a child, but open adoption is full of mystery.
Since I've been unable to glean any information about my own adoption circumstances, and with little hope of ever doing so, I remind myself that it's a privilege, it's special to be able to give S jr the access and the knowledge he will always have about his birth mom and his adoption. And I cannot express how grateful I am to share this descriptor with him: Adoptee. I look at my son and marvel at his intelligence, his sense of humor, his kindness, and I can't wait to have conversations with him.
His first year was incredible. Emotional. Exhausting. Hilarious. May the next be as full.