Today is CJ’s birthday. As the years have gone on I’ve felt more and more detached when I send my little birthday emails, but not in a bad way. In a way that has allowed me to move on.
I’ve had many debates recently with people who believe I’m brainwashed or complicit with forced adoption purely because I’ve accepted what happened and I’m no longer upset by it. Just this morning someone tweeted me to say I had Stockholm Syndrome simply due to having come to terms with the fact that while it was still a forced adoption, it was absolutely done for the right reasons. Personally, I believe I have suffered enough years of guilt, shame, and trauma from losing my sons to adoption to allow comments from others who have different views of my own situation to affect me; so, I try to politely agree to disagree. Yet I have not come away from this journey unscathed and even today, while I parent Ava, I’m still hugely affected by the pain of losing CJ and RJ, but it now manifests in a deep routed belief that either I can never be a good Mum, or to be a good Mum means being Ava’s shadow to ensure she doesn’t get hurt, which I know is stifling her.
I’m not naïve to the differences between myself and other birth mums. I know that those who have accepted, come to terms with, and moved on from their experiences are few and far between. A rarity. I understand that for many birth parents’ birthdays, Christmas and other occasions will always be an upsetting and possibly even traumatic time. Rightly so. For a long while, before I met the boys again, I would wistfully think of them and the few memories I had of them. I’d wonder what they would be doing. I’d daydream about how I would have celebrated with them on that day. It would be a very painful reminder of the loss I’d gone through. However, now when I think of the boys on their birthdays, I don’t get quite so emotional. I no longer have images dancing around my head of how we would spend the day if they were with me. Now, I think of how they will spend the day with their Mum and Dad, but only briefly. It may sound harsh to admit that on their birthdays, though I may acknowledge the day to them and send them an email, just as I do at Christmas, I don’t think of them much at all past that point. At least, not as the people they are now. I mostly think of the boys as they were when they were born. Thinking of CJ in the time I had him with me. It’s much harder to remember RJ as he never came home, and all my memories include someone I’d rather not remember at all, so I find his birthday a little harder but for different reasons.
So, while I may have accepted what happened, I was still once that young and vulnerable girl who never really spent a birthday with her first-born son and spent the whole time with her second son hiding the abuse she was facing. So today, and on every occasion, I think of her and I think of the little boys she loved so much but couldn’t raise. These occasions belong to them now, the versions of us in my memory. But they will forever be a part of me.