I believe all birth mothers feel like they are on the outside of their child's lives at one point or another. As my son has grown older I have come to accept this constant feeling that envelopes me. I'm not exactly sure how we go through different phases on our journey or what makes us move into these phases, but I have noticed very clearly a change in these kind of feelings within the past year.
When my son was a baby our connection was undeniable. It is still very much a special connection, but he had lost someof the innocence that comes with being a baby. He didn't have to deal with titles or what other people (including his adoptive parents) felt about our relationship. He wasn't confused by anything, nor did he worry about anything other than what he felt. It was clear he felt a comfort in my arms that he did not feel so fully anywhere else. He spent countless hours sleeping in my arms, or just looking into my eyes. It was as if nothing else mattered and he felt safe, and at home close to me. While I still believe this is true, things have become a little more complicated with age.
Now my son considers the feelings of others. He wonders about the different names people call me, my daughters, my parents, and other family. He worries about how his feelings will change things. While he is still too young to fully communicate all of this, as his birth mother I have no doubt these things are going on. I see it in his eyes. I can feel it in his heart. He wants to be everything I know he feels for me, but he is hesitant at times because of these things. I have had to reflect a great deal on this to understand what is going on, but for me, this explains why at times I feel like I am on the outside looking in.
There are other obvious reasons, given that I do not live in the city where we visit him. It is not my home that we spend our time in. I am not the parent who makes daily decisions for him, and I do not take part in each and every aspect of his life. However, I feel that as the years go by the fact that this is the way adoption is, should not change the fact that I gave everything so that he could have this life. I gave my heart. It is painful to feel as if I am simply an onlooker into the world of a family I have nothing to do with, when the reality is that without my love, they would not be a family.
As holidays and milestones approach, I think of the pictures I receive each year and the stories I hear. I await these again this year and the bittersweet feeling that follows. I am beyond blessed to have these stories and see these pictures, but they are real reminders that I am on the outside looking in. I will not experience these things with him, and my daughters will miss another special event with their big brother. What hurts even more is knowing that if we were to spend a special holiday together, we would still be there on the outside looking in.
We have so much love in our relationship and my son is an amazing gift. Him and I share a special bond. I see it also with my daughters. The pain I feel is never by anything he has done, but rather the circumstances that surround our relationship, most of which is entirely outside of my control. So I will carry on! I enjoy all the moments we share and choose to not let the painful ones hurt me too much. While there is often sadness within my joy, I would not trade it for a world without the love of my little boy.