I would never give him back

I struggle with something that's forbidden to talk about it and that will make many people think I'm a horrible person. It's something I railed against when I was pregnant, but only because secretly I'd had this certain feeling before -- and it wasn't because I loved or bonded with my own child in a way I couldn't with someone else's.

There have been days when I wanted to give him back.

There. I've said it. My sweet, smart, darling little boy who would rope the moon if it made me happy. That child I used to call Pluck and who would snuggle against me in the weak light of early morning when it was just the two of us against the world. The boy who will become the man that I shape and nurture him into.

I have thrown my hands up in surrender and hit the ground hard enough to bruise my knees because there have been days when I thought I was the wrong person for this job. Days when the scales tipped in favor of his biological parents. Days when I imagined what life would've been like had I not decided to adopt a child when I was 24 and just starting out in life.

So when I read that a woman actually did return her adopted child, it hits me like a punch to the gut. Not because I think she's a monster who treated a child like a pair of ill-fitting jeans, but because maybe she was right. Maybe those feelings are more than tired despair. Maybe what she did was selfless and brave, and what I am doing is selfish and cowardly.

Could someone else love my baby better than I do? Would he and I both be happier if I hadn't "protected the family" by tricking my sister into allowing me to adopt him? Is love enough to overcome the doubts that seem to linger too long?

To be fair, I don't blame Javi or think he has any role in the way I've felt about our relationship the way Tedaldi did. I know it's about me. I also know that I never wanted children. I never imagined myself as a woman who would do a good job raising her children with the strength, confidence, and love they need to endure our world. I often tease Billy by saying that when we get divorced, he'll have full custody of our children and I'll see them every other weekend.

But I love them, fiercely. I have gone to the mat for Javier countless times, and would gladly give up my life for him. I love him with everything I have. He's amazing and I was blessed with the chance to be his mother -- especially when I hear my sister say that if I hadn't been in that delivery room, she would've changed her mind, and I suffered through his biological father's twisted attempts to take him away from me (for all the wrong reasons, of course).

I have the belief that God gives children to the mothers (and fathers) who can handle them. I've seen it time and again -- the woman this summer who patiently and lovingly sat beside her autistic son in Javi's art class despite the child's refusal to touch any paints or paper, my friend whose son screamed every morning for years because he'd only wear an orange shirt or because she prepared his breakfast incorrectly, my own mother devotedly stationed at my other sister's bedside countless times over the years as she battled Cystic Fibrosis.

I know that God gives children to the mothers who can handle them. And I know that God gave Javi to me. Not through DNA, but He put that child squarely in my arms. I feel that every time I want to give up because something stronger surges through me and I am confident again that I made the right choice.

I don't really know if I did. I don't suppose I ever will. One of the sad things about the human condition is that once we choose a path, there's no way to go back and see what lay down the other road. When he's 30 years old, Javi may look back on his childhood and his parents and wonder why he got the short end of the stick. Or he may see my faults and inconsistencies and choose to love me anyway.

I can only pray for the latter. And I know in my heart that he is one of mine forever.

Update: Read my further explanation of these feelings here.


  • Cheryl

    This is a really beautiful post. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Mary

    The poor kid in that story you linked to. Completely haunting.

    Your post is interesting and I'm glad I had a chance to read it as it made me think. You might want to consider taking it down some day though before your kids read it, because I'm not sure that I would want to read something by my mother saying she had days wondering whether another mom would have been better. Even if I'm sure all moms feel that way from time to time.

  • Heather of the EO

    I appreciate you sharing this post so much. It's honest in a very raw way, one that's real, relatable, understood.

    Thank you.

  • Penny Williams

    A great honest post. There are so many blogs int he blogosphere that are just fluff and self-serving. You are putting yourself out here for the rest of us to benefit from your experiences, joy and pain. That takes courage, my friend. And lots of it.

    As for knowing if adopting him was the right thing, of course it was. Everything happens for a reason. You are a strong parent who understands him (most of the time) and that is a lot more than he would have gotten from most other people.

    Raising kids is tough! We all wonder if we are the right person for that particular job from time to time. It's being human!

  • steadymom

    Another adoptive mama here. Your vulnerability shines through in this post.

    I find the video and article you link to here so disturbing. As a mama of a child who has reactive attachment disorder I very well understand this lady's feelings, but I don't understand her conclusion.


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