Laying across my son's bed with him beside of me. Both of us on our backs, fingers entwined, alone without any distractions. A quiet moment at the end of a tough conversation that I wasn't ready to have. That's when he whispered it.
Sometimes y'all don't feel like my blood.
It's a sharp punch right in the chest and I lose my breath for a moment. I realized I've been walking on eggshells for nearly 10 years. Not wanting him to feel different, not wanting him to feel less loved or less wanted, not wanting to show preference, never wanting him to be the outsider.
Every adoptive parent has to make a choice: either tell your child another woman gave birth to him or pretend otherwise. Both choices have their consequences.
I chose to never keep my son's birth a secret from him. The questions began a few years ago. Why am I your son if my Nahnee had me in her tummy? Why are they my brothers if they aren't your sons? Why did my Nahnee give me to you but keep my brothers?
The answers have been simple. Age appropriate. Teetering on the edge. There's a hidden question that he's groping for, that he'll find. Inevitably. With maturity comes the heartbreaking quest to pin it all down, to keep pushing into the dark, to know everything.
Soon enough, he'll uncover the answers and I'll tear at the decisions I can't take back. I kept no secrets, and so my child is always searching. The weight of it propels him forward and forces him to wonder: Am I one of them?
Is blood is irrelevant? Why am I here and not there. Who were they? Where do I fit? Why don't I fit there? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?
There's an answer that involves loss and pain and sadness. There's another answer that involves hope and forgiveness and faith. And honesty.
He's slowly moving into the dark, reaching out for the variables that will lead him to himself. When he finds them, my affirmation will be: You belong right here with us. You are etched into our bones, and we have shaped you in ways DNA can't fathom. We aren't just your blood, we're your marrow.
The questions will get tougher, but my legacy will be honesty. Honesty and love. Pure and endless, transcending birth and blood. Love that soothes the scars that form.
Lying there together, fingers entwined, I said to him: We're greater than blood. We're family. I pray everyday that will be enough.