We had our third visit with Brae’s birthmom yesterday. It started off a little bumpy just due to circumstances, but ended up being a complete blessing.

We met at a park that neither one of us had been to before, but that had been recommended to me. I texted her to meet us at the playground. After about 15 minutes when she still hadn’t shown up, we texted again. She said she was at the playground. I looked around. She was not. After a few more texts, she called. I could tell she seemed a little exasperated (I couldn’t blame her!). She said she was at the playground and that there were sketchy people around that made her feel uncomfortable.

Finally, we figured out that this park has not one, not two, not even three, but four (!) playgrounds. Sigh. The best laid plans…

Once we finally met up, we hugged and it was the greatest bear hug in the world. She brought her little girl, who is now 7, and is Brae’s half-sister. Brae was a little shy at first, but he and his half-sister quickly made up for lost time. They ran around the playground playing tag and hide-and-go-seek.

And, of course, little Miss Sienna was perfectly content roaming around the park on her own, throwing bark dust, growling at other children, strong-arming Brae if he got too close to her, and basically just being her sassy, lovely self.

My sister also came along, and it was the first time anyone on in our family has met Brae’s birthmom. It was extremely special for us to make that connection, and one for which I am grateful.

I am a big believer that environment plays a huge role in who we are, but especially after yesterday’s visit, I cannot deny the role that genetics plays. Brae and his half-sister are so much alike.

They look similar. They run the same, with their arms flailing behind them. They talk the same. They have the same mannerisms. They are both stubborn, strong-willed children. They are both mathematically inclined. They are both extremely organized and persnickity. They are both leaders, socially outgoing, and they speak their mind.

And I love them both.

After a rather rough tumble off the swing, Brae’s half-sister decided she’d had enough of the park, and we went to a local pizza parlor/amusement place. True to form, neither Brae nor his half-sister were interested in eating much, but they went straight to play on all the games. That gave Tygh and I a chance to talk more with Brae’s birthmom.

Events have changed such that she is no longer leaving the state to go to nursing school, but will stay in-state to go to school. A turn of events I am very happy with! We also spoke about her daughter’s recent (very common) diagnosis of a condition that has required significant attention on the part of her medical and educational team. She said that she is actually doing quite well and adjusting nicely to the new system they have set up for her.

Then, as things usually do, the conversation turned briefly to adoption. Brae’s birthmom mentioned that before every visit, her friends ask her whether she is sad to be going to the visit. Sad that Brae is with us, not her. She quickly brushes them off with, “No, not at all. Especially when I see [Brae and her daughter] together, I realize how I couldn’t have done it on my own. Adoption was the right decision.” She also mentioned that when she hears of other birthmoms who have made a decision to adopt, brought an adoptive family on board, and then change their mind at the hospital, how her heart breaks for those families. I thought that was an interesting perspective.

Then she mentioned how her daughter explains adoption to others: “Mommy found this great family who was really sad they didn’t have a baby. So, we gave him our baby. But, it’s okay, because they are really nice people.”

Brae, to his credit, has a similar take on adoption: “Mommy and Daddy were at the hospital when I was born. I got pushed out, and then I was a gift. That’s called adoption.”

At the end of the evening, there were several more bear hugs and pictures.

And in the car, on the way home, Brae piped up, “I like [his half-sister]. I’m sad. I miss her. I want to see her again tomorrow.”

That, sums up the painful part of adoption.

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