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Reflections on Two Moms

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Maggie Vink: I couldn't help but think about my son's birth mother recently.

woman thinking

Apropos of nothing, a rambling farmhouse sat on a busy corner of a busy street in a busy town. White paint chipped and peeled from the ancient wooden siding as if it were trying to escape and somehow adhere itself to an edifice more worthy of its crisp, clean color. Overgrown bushes, trees and plants wound across the property like a ball of yarn dragged and hopelessly tangled by a cat. Inside, only hints of the grand house it once was remained ... the wooden frame of what must have been a circular fireplace, original glass doorknobs and an iron claw-foot tub.

Twelve years ago, that old farmhouse was my home. Despite its rundown state, I loved it there. I spent hours tending to the yard. During the years I lived there, I revived countless climbing rose bushes, huge stands of lilac and a gnarled old wisteria that looked half-dead but sang with beauty in time.

There's no way I could have known that as I was sprucing up that old farmhouse, out on the West Coast, my son was being born.

Was it sunny that morning when my son's teenage birth mom went to the hospital? Was she alone, or did her teenage boyfriend go with her? Did she have her own mother there to hold her hand? I assume she was scared, but that she also looked to the future with the bravado of youth. She hadn't come from a life filled with sunshine and roses. Her bedroom probably wasn't lovingly decorated in white and yellow (as mine had been at her age). Her family probably didn't sit around playing board games and laughing on Sunday nights. She didn't go to school dances and cheer at Friday night football games.

Instead, her life was filled with far too much responsibility, abuse, drugs, drinking, instability, poverty and violence. Did she have an inkling of what was to come in the years ahead? Or was she as unaware of me and the need for me in her son's life as I was of her and the need for her son in my life?

At 1:43 PM, a 5 pound, 1 ounce miniature of my lanky boy was born. Did she kiss his tiny feet, checking each perfect little toe? Did she cuddle him in her arms and cry with exhaustion and happiness? As I do now, did she watch him rest and wonder why he always bends his right index finger when he sleeps? Did she comment on how his low forehead is an exact replica of his dad's? Did she notice that his eyes have his dad's shape but her color?

Did any little piece of her heart guess that, years later, another mother would cuddle her son, read him bedtime stories and kiss him goodnight? Did she ever wonder who would finish writing this beautiful chapter she'd started?

I respect her for the brave things she did for my son. I'm grateful to her for this beautiful child who brightens up my home with his laughter. But I'm also angry with her for not being able to shake her addictions and care for her child. I'm saddened by all the inappropriate people, places and things my son was exposed to while in her care. I'm sympathetic because I know enough of her background to know that the task of parenting was nearly impossible for her.

I know so much about her past, and details of why her parental rights were terminated. I know about her childhood and the difficulties she had. Yet she knows nothing about me. I have no idea how often she thinks of my son ... her son ... OUR son. Does she long for him? Does she worry? Maybe she takes the opposite stance and she's grateful he's no longer in her life. There's no way for me to know.

She and I are the bookends of our son's youth. Though are lives are connected by mishap, trial and happenstance, she and I are two sides of the very same coin. And one day, when he says he's really ready for it, my son and I will be looking forward to finding her again.

next: Mommies Who Drink
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anon April 30, 2010, 3:56 PM

Why do you care about her? The kid is yours now,not hers. She gave him up?

amber April 30, 2010, 4:21 PM

She cares because she loves her son…and no matter what, that woman gave birth to her son..

Beautifully written article, the bookend analogy that you made was so true and well described. You’re obviously a very smart woman and a loving mother. I would say that it’s perfectly natural to wonder all of those things, even if you may never know the answer. She may be the other side of the coin, but you were the one who made the change. A change in his life, and your life. Enjoy eachother, I know you do.

Maggie April 30, 2010, 4:54 PM

Anon, Valid question. And Amber nailed the answer perfectly. My son loves his biological mom and misses her very much. And while I harbor some anger over her actions (and inactions), I love and respect her, too. My son has room in his heart to love both of us… and I think that’s the way it should be.

Anonymous May 1, 2010, 4:43 AM

I too had an adoptive dad, (biological mom) and wonder every day about the bio. dad. (unknown name date rape case). Was he really a monster or just a drunk college student? Would he have wanted to know I exist?

Then there’s my husband who was forced by family to give up his son for adoption since they felt he was too young to handle it and it sent him into a twenty year spiral of depression. He thought about his son every day. And only when he found him, did his depression lift but he aches that he missed watching his now adult baby grow up. His son does show some anger and attachment issues and we wonder if the adoption played a role.

I think about my teenage cousin who was adopted since her bio. mom had drug issues and couldn’t handle it. Two days ago, her adopted mom died of cancer leaving her to lose a mom twice. What is going to be the repercussions of losing so many people at such a young age.

While I think adoption is necessary, I also feel that if there is any hope to keep biological ties there, even if at a distance, it will help the emotional attachment issues that most of these adoptive children deal with.

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 4:16 PM

Good site! Good and fun reading. I’ve got a small observation to offer about funny t-shirts.

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