Every night as I make my way to bed, I stop to check on Harley. His room is dimly lit, and I shake my head because I can’t seem to talk the boy out of keeping his lamp on all night. Without fail, my foot finds a stray Lego, and I have to strain to keep a yelp from escaping my mouth. I make sure it isn’t embedded in my heel, then toss it onto his dresser. My hand hovers above his chest, feeling the natural rise and fall as he breaths. It’s strange to see such an energetic, spirited body so still.
Harley stirs at my touch and pulls his favorite stuffed animal in closer to his chest. Rico is well loved, and I think of how his birth mother has a stuffed penguin matching his. Gratitude washes over me and I kneel at his bedside. Strands of ginger hair lie haphazardly on his sun-kissed face. I brush them aside and etch every curve, every freckle, every lash, and every line into my memory. He is changing so quickly, and I can’t keep up.
A pup sneezes and looks at me as if I’m the reason he has been pulled from his sleep. Our two dogs love Harley more than me or Josh and have taken to fighting each other for space at the foot of his bed. His protectors. One pup urges me for a quick belly rub and I oblige before he circles and settles in. I kiss Harley’s soft cheek and his lashes flutter open. I whisper, “I love you, Bug” to which he quickly replies, “I love you too, Mama.” Harley then rolls over and I hear his breath even out. Asleep again. I stand up and go to bed.
This moment was brought to me by adoption. A photo of his birth mom sits on a shelf in his room, and he pulls it down often to talk about how much he loves Sadie. It was such a hard road to parenthood, but it has opened the door to such beauty. Adoption was meant to be our Plan A, the way we were meant to become parents. As cliché as it sounds, there isn’t a day where I don’t look at my son and have tears well up in my eyes. My head can’t wrap around how he came to us. His birth mother placed him in my arms. She trusted me with her son. She knew, before I did, that I was his mother.
These pieces of my life, these seconds, wouldn’t exist if adoption weren’t a part of our lives.