On Saturday, we met up with Brae’s birthfather’s side of the family. This was our fourth visit since Brae was born, and it was by far the best yet. Brae’s birthfather showed up. He didn’t make it last year, although his family did. It is the third time he has seen him since he was born.
We met at a local amusement park, and then went to a kid-friendly pizza joint. Brae hadn’t napped, so he was a little grumpy/shy at first. But, slowly, he started warming up to the family. He and his birthfather, and Tygh, even went on a few rides together.
My husband is amazing. I think he feels a mentoring relationship with Brae’s birthfather. I watched as Tygh and Brae’s birthfather stood talking, and walking, for much of the visit. I was dying to know what they were talking about, but I was too busy corralling Sienna from knocking people over through the crowds. That girl has about a 5-foot radius wherever she goes. Love her.
Later, I got a chance to ask Tygh about his chat with Brae’s birthfather. Brae’s birthfather said that he had first learned of Brae’s birthmom’s decision to choose adoption through friends. They were broken up at the time, and not speaking. He said he signed the adoption papers because he thought was the way to win her back. When she went into labor, she didn’t tell him. He said that hurt.
But, he said, it has all turned out for the best. He said that he couldn’t provide for Brae in the way that he would want to. He said he is so thankful that Brae has two parents who love him so much.
I first met Brae’s birthfather the day Brae was born, in the hospital. He didn’t say much. He held Brae for a little bit, and then left. He was 19.
The second time I saw him was 2 years ago, when we had a visit, at the zoo. Again, he didn’t say much. He played with Brae a little, but we could tell he felt a little awkward. He was 21.
Saturday was the third time I saw him. It was the first time I actually had a conversation with him. He mentioned that his life went downward after Brae was born. He lost his job. He and Brae’s birthmom weren’t speaking. He went through a series of bad relationships. He fell into a depression. He said the adoption, and losing Brae’s birthmom, broke him.
But, he acknowledged, he’s now in a better place. He’s engaged to a beautiful girl. He seems happy and content. He said the pain of placing a child for adoption has caused him to wonder whether he could have another child. But, he spoke of how he hopes that he and Brae can have a relationship as Brae gets older. He said that adoption was the best decision for Brae. He is now 23.
Adoption is a rare animal. It brings together two families in crisis and creates something beautiful. We are forever connected to Brae’s birthfamily, and we were complete strangers when we met. In many ways, we still are.
There is also a pendulum of pain. There is enormous pain for those struggling with infertility and who choose the adoption path as the way to start their family. But, when that baby is born and placed in your arms, that pain seems to flee. Or, at least it escapes into the background for a while. But at that same moment, when that baby is placed in their arms, the birthfamily’s pain seems to just begin. All the emotions that hid in the background during those 9-10 months come rushing to the forefront.
I told Brae’s birthfamily that I couldn’t possibly understand what it was like for them to watch their first grandchild be handed over to complete strangers. I hurt for them.
Although I tell Brae that what his birthparents did was a gift to us, I know that is not why they did it. They did it for Brae. They had to. If they did it for any other reason, they probably would not have gone through with it.
I cannot think of any bigger display of love than to recognize when you are not equipped to care for a child, and then to love that child so much that you choose a life for them that you want, but cannot, provide.
I am honored to be a part of the adoption experience.