I haven’t posted on here to now because I’ve been desperately holding out hope that L would change her mind this week. That in taking Saul back she would realize that she isn’t fit to parent him, that he was being consummately loved and nurtured in our home, and that he should be reunited with us. And in the midst of these hopes, I have been so very angry. And I worried that my anger spilling out (as it’s had to be simmered down to a quietly boiling rage because Bram needs a present, positive, and loving pomo) would compromise any chance of Saul returning to us. But with each passing day, and with each passing communication with L, it becomes increasingly evident that he won’t be coming back to us. She is the most manipulative person I have ever known. It turns out that so much of what she told us was lies. She is committed to perceiving herself as a victim, and she seems to have demonized us in an effort to justify her actions. Everything is about her. Her and her ex. Never about her children. Never about the child we love so much.
As gut-wrenchingly devastating as it is that he won’t be coming home, knowing it in my heart gives me the freedom to stop censoring myself, to take the actions necessary to ensure Saul’s safety, to prevent L from doing this to other families in the future, and to begin the long-work of healing our family from this crushing loss.
My heart aches as I write this blog post. While I can appreciate any birth mother’s desire to raise her baby – and though in so, so many cases, that’s in the child’s best interest – I cannot wrap my head around how L could have sent us home with Saul for nearly a month to assimilate into our family as our son, as Bram’s brother, before suddenly asking for him to be returned. And beyond that, how she could sit across from us a little over a week ago and be reassuring about our arrangement. How she could continue to text us encouragingly into the night even after telling our social worker that she wanted Saul back. I struggle to understand how, as a mother, she could do that to other parents. Knowing what I know, I cannot conclude that this is best for him.*
Adoptions fall through about 20% of the time. We were prepared for that possibility. But 99% of those reversals happen at or before the hospital. Less than 1% of failed adoptions are reversed once the baby leaves the hospital with the adoptive family, and even those usually happen within the first few days postpartum. So to wait three weeks into the placement? That’s extremely rare. Our adoption agency has never had a case like this before and neither has the court system where Saul was born. Did L know that? Or did she feel like this was a perfectly normal thing to do? Does it even make her sad to have so deeply ignored our pain, especially when we had worked so hard to minimize hers?
We trusted L. We confided in her. We worked to bring her into the fold of our family. And now, she has shattered us. Once again we are faced with the grim prospect of grieving another lost child, another child that will never be with us through milestones, holidays, and the dailiness of being a part of our family, one of our children.
From where I’m sitting there are only two ways that I can read this situation:
The first possibility is that L truly wasn’t sure whether she wanted to place or not. And if this was the case, she had an obligation to be honest with us about her feelings. Instead, she led us to believe right up to the very end that this was her choice, a painful choice, yes, but a choice that she was confident about. We would have walked this road with L. We would have respected her decisions. We would have held him in our hearts as “hers” long enough for L to find her way to this place. But instead, we brought him home as “ours” and became deeply and irrevocably attached right away. I nursed him at my breasts for nearly four weeks growing his tiny body with the milk of my own body. R has worn him and rocked him through every sleepless night of his first four weeks. Our bodies ached with the daily work of attachment parenting a newborn. Bram underwent significant shifts in his schedule, in our attentions, and for what? So that we could, ostensibly, nanny and wet nurse her child while she led us on? While she wallowed in the muck of chaos that she had explained to us her life had become?
Or the other possibility, the most horrific notion, is that L always knew that she didn’t intend to place him permanently. That she knew by choosing an adoptive family that she could have financial and emotional support through the pregnancy and birth and that, with little consequence, she could back out at any time that it was convenient for her to do so. I had to assume that this wasn’t the case, though there’s now more than enough evidence to suggest that this is exactly what has transpired. To point, there’s reason to think that she’s done this to other families in the past. And it’s my feeling that only a mentally ill person could have such a break with reality to think that it’s okay to treat other people that way. A compassionate human wouldn’t just play with people’s lives in this way. We have worked so very hard to cultivate a family based on trust, integrity, and mutual respect. The sickness that we can sense coming from L’s home life makes us very scared for Saul’s long-term well-being. The history of domestic violence with Saul’s father, the references to drug and alcohol use that L made in the hospital, the scarce family resources already being split among three existing children. All of this makes us worry for Saul. We could have given him a better life: Two focused, devoted parents; Access to excellent healthcare, schools, activities, peers; An extended family network of friends and relations to carry him through and to teach him how to be a gentleman in this tumultuous world. And now, we worry what path he’ll find himself set on by the time he’s a young man. The son we hoped to raise in him will surely be gone, and will the man in his stead find himself happy in his childhood? In his life? I certainly hope that the answer is yes, but I have my doubts.
So as I write this blog post desperate with missing his perfect sleeping form on my chest, content from nursing in our dark, quiet home, the only peaceful environment that he’s known since birth, I think about all of the emotions that I’m trying to process right now: Deep sadness, fear, grief, shock, anger, love, exhaustion, worry. I feel like our perfectly full little family has been violently torn apart. And there’s nothing I can do about it but watch. What impotence I feel as his parent to be unable to protect him from the whims of his other parents. L has violated us with her dishonesty.
My heart is also so sad for what Bram is losing. He had become so attached to this baby brother and had begun self-motivated rituals of looking for and kissing the baby when he woke up in the morning and from naps. He loved nursing tandem with the baby and rubbing baby’s feet and hands. I know that children are highly adaptable and this will fade for him, but I worry that he feels insecure or thinks that we’ve “sent the other baby away” and could do the same thing to him.
I think I’ve said all that I can muster at current. I don’t expect that L has the capacity to see things from our perspective, but I do hope she’ll take the things we’ve communicated to her into consideration as she moves forward. And I certainly hope that if she is pregnant again in the future, that she will never put another family through the absolute hell that she’s put us through. We’re taking steps at current to secure that hope.
Most importantly, we are in love with Saul, with the tiny person he is now and with the beautiful man I pray that he will wind up being. He will always have a seat in the spirit of our family.
With the heaviest of hearts,
* The only way this could be right for him is if L decided to use this opportunity to truly change her life. To stop feeling victimized by everyone, and to stop using the sense that she’s a victim to justify absolute selfishness and deceit. To stop using people the way she does. To truly think of his needs, and work to meet them. And we pray every moment that she’ll do this.
.missing what we had together.