Finding a way to celebrate the birth of the child I placed for adoption has been a personal struggle of mine since his first birthday. Each year I realize that it is getting better and easier, but the anxiety leading up to the anniversary is still very real. I almost tell myself, “It’s July. Get ready to be sad!” 

Ironically, our birth son was born on me and my husband’s 15th wedding anniversary. Yep, I’m an older, married birth mom for those who didn’t know! We had to plan a Cesarean section due to health issues and when the doctor told me the date he needed me to come in to the hospital, I just laughed. Of course! My husband was going to get out of celebrating a pretty big anniversary because I would be on a surgery table. What luck! I still jab at him about this from time to time.

I may joke about it here and there, but in all honesty with our birth son being born on our wedding anniversary, I have had a hard time finding joy in even that. We’ve even considered having a recommitment ceremony in the fall months just so we can have another day to celebrate. That day now belongs to him.

The week leading up to his first birthday was the first time placement truly hit me. I stood in the store trying to find the perfect card for him. How do you say, “Happy birthday, Son . . . but not really?” It sounds harsh and I truly do not mean it that way. It was just my reality at that time. I struggled with it for days and finally called my closest friend and asked her to message his parents and tell them that I just couldn’t celebrate his birthday with them. Being the amazing family that they are, they understood and sent me nothing but love.

His second birthday was a little easier. I had just come from visiting him in his home. We were becoming family through adoption. We were able to pick out a gift for him and send it about a week before his birthday. I sent a text to his Mom telling her to give him extra snuggles for us and I left it at that. Still no celebration, but the tears were lessened by our growing relationship.

This July he turned 3. I wanted to make something sentimental for him. I started making a “we are alike” book of photos. As I made the book, my anxiety grew. It was too personal. I started to become angry at myself for not going to Amazon and just choosing a gift for a 3-year-old . . . but I knew that was not what he wanted. And it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted him to have something he could keep. I texted his Mom and told her. Once again she was amazing and reminded me that it was okay, that a gift does not define my love for him. On his birthday we had a Skype session. He showed me all of the toys and gifts he had received and told me stories about his party. He included me with no prompting from his parents. He wanted me to be a part of his world. I can’t tell you how special that is to me and our family.

Next year will come. Will I have anxiety? I’m not sure. I’m hoping that if I do I can get through it as well as I did this year, if not better. Maybe next year we can share it together. If not, maybe we will be able to make a little cake and sing him Happy Birthday through Skype. The way I look at it is that we are making baby steps towards our healing. The sadness is being erased by great memories we’ve shared together. I just know that without his amazing parents, I might still be standing in front of the card aisle wondering if it would ever be a day of celebration for us.

Here’s to next year’s accomplishments and birthday!