It’s amazing, the type of people who come in and out of your life, the paths we all take and where they crisscross. In 2008, I was a lonely college student who found herself single and pregnant. I made an adoption plan, and when the timing came, placed my beautiful baby boy into a home where he could feel secure, loved, and comfort.

While I could love him with all of my heart, and I still do, I couldn’t give him the security that his parents offer him. My soul broke into a million pieces that day, and I fell into a deep hole of depression that I was certain I would never be able to crawl out of. Day by day, I did. I’m not even sure when it happened, but one day I realized I didn’t have to force laughter anymore. I didn’t have to pretend to flash a smile or ache to go back to bed anymore. My life was beginning to form, but now I had another relationship to nurture: a relationship with my son’s parents.

Still, there was the deepening fear that each birth mother has harbored somewhere even after knowing the child is well taken care of and loved: Will the adoptive couple cut ties with me? And what can I do to prevent that?

Like any relationship, the one between a birth mom and her adoptive couple is fluid and should be able to evolve as the people do. We started our relationship formal, with a specific set of instructions of when we would contact one another. It was our “getting to know you” time frame. Once that was over, it was up in the air on what we could do.

That terrified me.

While I knew my son was loved and had everything (plus more) than I could have hoped for him, I was so scared that I would be cut out of his life. I decided that the best way for me to not overstep any boundaries was to allow them to make the first move. Only a few months passed after our “getting to know you” phase, when they wanted to meet up. I was ecstatic! They hadn’t forgotten about me. I would later learn that they never do forget. That my son (and now his little sister) are sure to say that they are thankful for me in their bedtime prayers. My son has pictures of me in his home, he asks questions about who I am, and he is curious about where he comes from. I’m lucky and grateful that his parents don’t fear that, but embrace it. It teaches him to not fear it.

A couple of more months passed; I was aching for my child. I hadn’t heard from them in a while and decided that enough time had gone by. I was going to request an update about him, hopefully without seeming needy. I sent a quick email and a few hours later received one back. Pictures, stories, and a request for another meeting. Slowly, they began to trust that I really was going to let them be his parents, and I was beginning to trust that they were going to let me be part of his life.

I think about him every day. I pray for him every morning and every night. Still, five years later, my arms will hurt to hold him. But I no longer live afraid that he will be cut out of my life. It took years of practice to figure out what relationship style would be appropriate for us. There have been a few awkward conversations, but we tried to remember that the most important thing is what’s best for our little boy. Now, I go to birthday celebrations and holiday dinners, or sometimes we just grab a quick lunch together. They come over just to say hi, or let me take him on birth mom/son dates. He comes and plays at my house, we will take all our kids and go sledding together.

It has taken a lot of work, and a lot of faith, but we are one big, happy, unconventional family. I wouldn’t have it any other way.