Read the previous article in this series: 22 Years After Placing My Son for Adoption, A Young Man Reached out to Me
There are numerous reasons a woman considers placing a child for adoption. Whether she is single or married, a teenager or not, with a good support system or not so much, the ultimate decision to abort, keep, or place is one that will haunt her for the rest of her life. For me, I was 16 years old, with a loving, supportive family and an awesome boyfriend. I was simply too young. It was 1984 and choosing to place was a forever deal—closed and sealed with no choice about who the parents would be and with no option of ever seeing your baby again. This is my story about grief and healing but most of all, about love. I dedicate this series for all birth moms, whether their adoption was closed, partial, or open, for their sacrifice and grief and loss that is so profound and so deep and complex that even their closest loved ones don’t truly understand. May you find healing and peace.
Reunion. Putting together parts to make a whole. Finding something (or someone) that is lost. There are just some life experiences that you truly cannot prepare for. Sometimes you just have to jump in and do it.
I had received an email from my possible birth son’s wife first thing in the morning to see if we could meet up for lunch that day. We agreed to meet in a town that was part way for both of us—neutral territory—at a park. I called my husband to let him know what I was doing, called my mom, and told my kids. As I got into my car for the hour and a half drive, a great peace descended upon me. For the entire drive, I was surrounded by a bubble of incredible grace and love, and I knew that this young man was my son. I had no doubt. I knew that he had some doubts, but the Holy Spirit spoke to my soul, and I simply KNEW.
I arrived at the park and realized I didn’t know what kind of car they drove. The weather had turned cold, so hanging out at the park probably wouldn’t work. As I got out of my car and looked around, a car door a few spaces down opened, and a young woman came out and walked up to me. “Are you Lisa?”
“You must be Bridget.”
“Ben’s in the car. He’s really nervous. I brought my mom, too. I hope you don’t mind.”
A smiling face waved and said hello. I was glad that Bridget’s mom was there.
I looked in the car to see a terrified young man. He slowly got out. He said “Hi,” and I suggested that we find a restaurant and that the process of ordering and eating would help things. We agreed on a Mexican place just up the block and then got into our respective cars.
Getting a table, looking at a menu, and ordering took up a few minutes. Ben and I kept glancing at each other as we sat next to each other, but we didn’t really know what to say. The waitress came and took our order. I ordered seafood enchiladas.
Surprised, Ben said, “That’s what I’m going to order!” That common trait of liking seafood helped to break the ice. To help things a bit more, I got out my special book that had the one Polaroid photo I had of my son as a newborn, his hospital bracelet, and the card from the bassinet with his name, weight, height, and birth time. As he looked at those treasured tokens, he paused. “10:13,” he quietly said.
We all looked up.
“I was born at 10:13. I didn’t tell you that I knew that, and it’s written right here. Maybe it really is you.”
I showed him my mother’s ring. One stone for me, one for my husband, one for each of my three children, and a golden one for him. “I have always loved you.”
Bridget’s mom grinned and said, “Lisa, would you like to hold your grandson?” James was 6 months old. As I reached out for him, my heart filled, and I thought it would burst. I was a grandma, and I had two sons named Ben (Ben Angus’s parents named him Ben, and I had named my oldest son Ben too). I was a mother-in-law. Each of us took turns asking careful questions as we ate. After everyone was finished, we stayed for a while, but it became obvious that we needed to go.
As we got out in the parking lot I said, “Ben, do you want the DNA test? I am willing to do that.”
He replied, “Every court in the land would convict us. There is just too much evidence for it to be coincidence. No, I don’t need a DNA test.”
Relief flooded through me. We had just accepted each other. I was not his mom, but I was. He was not my son, but he was. Now what?
“Would you mind if we took a picture?” All I wanted from this moment was a photo. Just in case our relationship didn’t work out, I would have a photo of my son as an adult with us together.
Ben agreed. I gave Bridget the camera, and we tentatively reached out to put our arms around each other. I had not touched him since he was 3 days old. I could hardly contain my joy. Bridget struggled to figure out the camera, and Ben and I gave her suggestions without letting go. Neither of us wanted to let the other go. The picture was finally taken and then Bridget’s mom offered to take one with my new family, so Bridget and James joined us. I promised to send them copies of the photos, we gave good-bye hugs, and went our way.
As I drove home and was trying to process all that had happened, I realized that the gaping hole in my heart that had been there for 22 years was significantly smaller. I was healing.
Read the next article in this series: Reuniting With My Son Has Completed Healed the Hole in My Heart
Read this author’s other series: “Silenced by Society: A Birth Mom’s Tale.“