The house was bustling with happy noise. Holidays with my in-laws are a mighty event. There is an incredible amount of food all homemade with love; wine and coffee abound. Love is in the air, as cliche as that sounds. The Hubby has a remarkable, and close family; something I have always longed for, and admittedly, something that excited me when I first began dating him. A family who ate together regularly. A family that was genuinely interested in one another’s lives. This past weekend was no different. We had just finished dinner, and I took to the couch to observe. There was conversation falling around the room; hockey, laughter about a joke, discussions about movies, some politics. My kids, Potato and Girlie ran around the room, completely hopped up on sugar, bounding from any adult they slammed into.
As I watched the scene fall before me, a curtain closed, and another opened,
“What would this scene look like if he were here?”
These questions, like the traditions we carry out with Potato and Girlie, are part of each and every holiday, every time family comes together like this. I anticipate them now; where the thoughts used to bring about tears and the inability to deal with some specific days, I now embrace the thoughts, and the wondering. I cannot change what has been done. However, I can still wonder, and I will always wonder.
The morning activities would have been different. There would have been three baskets, instead of two. There would have been high fives, and laughter as they found their eggs hidden in the yard carefully by The Hubby and his brother. There would have been another seat at the table, and another mouth that would have happily (or maybe not) gobbled down the ham. Maybe he may have helped with the cupcakes the night before. Maybe he would have jumped on us in the morning, begging us to see if the Easter Bunny left a trail of eggs for him. Maybe he’s too old for that now, but would have laughed as he figured out the ridiculous spot his Easter basket was hiding. He would have lounged in his PJ’s with us until we all got dressed. He would have likely played Freeze Tag with Potato and enjoyed the walk we took to the playground. Maybe he would have proudly toted a specific toy or item from his Easter basket around, like Potato did.
It would have been so different.
The lingering feeling of regret and loss seems to have a finer sting during the holidays. The holiday is a time for family. It pays a bittersweet tribute to the way my life is and knowing it may not be as it is now, if I had been in a place where I knew my rights were within my ability to be exercised. I can’t take any of that back, it’s something I am constantly aware of as I think of all the things that could have been. Yet, the reality is: my loss is painted in brighter colors during the holidays. It takes on a much more articulate, poignant perspective, always. These events make me more acutely aware of all, even the tiny moments, that I miss.
Adoption should be inclusive, not exclusive. It should be a family event, and I mean beyond the day the papers are signed. Adoption never has stopped there, and it never will. Some may not agree with me, but I am existentially an generally unaccepted extension of The Kiddo’s family. I am not “their” birthmother. I am the woman, who brought my son into the world, and through one decision or another, relinquished into their home, thus creating their family. Without me, they would not be the family they are today; just as I would not have the family I do today, if it were not for The Hubby’s parents. Together, we are all family, in one form or another. We are all just one unique variation of a dynamic modern family.
More then ever before, I truly feel resolute about the necessity of adoptions being completely open. Sure, we may not have the fully open adoption that I’m talking here; a complete welcoming of the woman and her family that brings the child into the world, so that you are able to participate in motherhood, or parenthood. Yet, I wonder why we are still fixated on old insecurities, and recycled cliches. We’ve come so far as a culture and society, it can’t be too much of a stretch to think we could be open minded about a new dynamic such as this. We should be advocating for fully open adoption, and I believe it should be a requirement for couples wishing to adopt. There should be no secrets, no exclusion of parties; those things are occasions we attempt to avoid in a loving relationship. Adoption should be a loving relationship, it’s supposed to be, anyhow. It should be the kind of relationship where you sometimes love each other so much it hurts, and sometimes it annoys you. It should be the kind where you excitedly call one another to share some completely nonsensical but important news. It should be the kind of relationship where love abounds in every corner, and where you would protect everyone involved, no matter the cost. It should never blind another out of fear. It should always strive to include all of the parties who made that family, a family.
As I watched my own loud, completely boisterous family, I set all my what if’s and maybe’s aside. I know the reality, and thinking of what could have been doesn’t always help. Instead, I quietly allowed my heart to sigh for a moment, and wish my own son, wherever he was, whatever he was doing, a Happy Easter.
Whether he was physically with me or not, I am always trying to include him in my family, because he is very much a part of my family.
Every single day.