Miles’ mom, sister, aunt, and cousin left yesterday, after a four-day visit.
When we all lived in the same city, we saw them every other month or so. Since moving, we returned for a visit once, about a year ago. This was the first time they came to stay with us.
Now they’re gone, and I’m reflecting on what the visit means for our relationship to Miles’ mom, his relationship to her and his sister, and our relationship to him. In the coming week, I’m hoping to work it out by writing a few shorter posts, each about a different aspect of the visit.
Overall, things went remarkably well, especially considering the potential pitfalls and tensions. For today I have just a few impressions to share.
Within an hour of their departure, I dropped Miles off for his first day of school. He didn’t seem preoccupied with their leaving. His chief concern, at least the stated one, was that he wanted me to stay at school with him. After clinging to my leg for a bit, his teacher convinced him to go through the school door, and he didn’t look back.
I returned to an empty house, empty except for me.
I wasn’t sure what would happen. I was worn out and knew I’d been feeling more than I understood. Would I collapse into a deep slumber? Would I listlessly waste my time after giving so much attention to our guests? Would I unexpectedly cry?
Instead, it just felt good to have calm restored.
While sitting at the dining room table, my hand got caught in a tiny pool of maple syrup, left behind by Miles’ two-year-old cousin.
Standing over the toilet, my bare feet pushed into the sand that had fallen out of Miles’ sister’s bathing suit after a day at Lake Erie.
As I hung the wet sheets outside on the crisp and brilliant 70-degree morning, I spotted a tendril of long, black hair. Miles’ mom’s hair.
This is the kind of relationship I have had with Miles’ birth mom since the beginning: intimate and connected, yet awkward and slightly wary.
Clamping the sheet to the clothesline, I remembered her pillowcase, the one I surreptitiously removed from her hospital pillow just moments after she placed Miles in my arms. An attachment parenting class had suggested keeping something with her scent near him to ease the abruptness of her absence. We kept it in his crib for a few weeks, never knowing if it helped him.
There’s a lot we’ll never know. With the pillowcase and the visit, did we make the right choices? I sift through the words of experts, adoptive parents, adult adoptees, and birth moms, hoping to figure out how to minimize the hurt and loss I’m told he will experience.
There’s no clear path. I pick my way through, giving Miles age-appropriate truth, love, and attention. I try to see him for who he is and who he’s becoming, not make assumptions about what this experience will mean to him. Right now, my instinct tells me that we–all of us–did something right by coming together for this visit.