I thought I was ready to step out of the adoption closet about a year or so ago. And I am still out of the closet, sort of. But then something happened that I’d sort of resigned myself to not seeing happen. About the time I decided I couldn’t take being in the closet anymore, I’d reached out to my son. He’d been the legal age to establish contact for 3 years. When he came of age, the real battle for me began, a war within myself of whether to disrupt the reality that he’d known up to that time and insert myself into his present reality. I fought arduously with my own conscience about whether or not I had the right to do that or not. Eventually, it just came down to recognizing that, whether he or anybody else ever acknowledged me as such, I was the parent in the situation, and therefore, the responsibility for establishing whatever relationship was to be was up to me. I had the history of knowing my child more than he had of knowing me.
So I reached out. And didn’t hear anything back for months. It was a long 21 years getting to that point. It was even longer knowing I was one step closer yet with the possibility I was even farther away from actual contact. I was facing that he may well choose not to want to know. And I live with the possibility that at any time he could shut it all down. And I live in fear of that, if I’m being honest.
Since the moment he walked out of my life by means of his adoptive mother’s arms, having him back was all I ever wanted. The letters, the pictures that the adoptive parents sent me up to his 18th birthday were my lifeline, the only thing I was really living for, if I’m being honest. For 18 years I lived, holding my breath from update to update, wondering if they would choose to withdraw from the agreement.
I have not been able to put my finger on why I keep a low profile in my public social media life. It’s because my son is linked to me there. That much I do know. And my adoption closet does not contain just me. I don’t know how he feels about being adopted. I don’t know how open he is with his peers about being adopted. I don’t know if he’s ready to have a face and a name put on his adoption experience. I don’t know how ready or not ready he is to come out in the open about his own life living with adoption. And so, out of as much respect for him as I can possibly show for him while, at the same time, fighting for the rights of those with whom adoption will affect in the future, which is something I believe in so strongly my bones actually quake with it, I walk a delicate balance with putting my own face on adoption. I’m even struggling with the picture on my “About” page. I want it there because it’s the last place on earth where my life, for once, made sense…my child was with me there, and I was with him, and we were together, in a safe place. But, again, he is part of my adoption story, and he has a right to his privacy. Yet it’s my truth…that’s MY baby! He will always be my baby, my child. I have not asked him for permission to post our story. I have not come out of the closet as an activist with him. I have asked him about so many things, how he’d feel about this and how he’d feel about that. But I haven’t asked him about this. I must. I know it. But I haven’t.
Before he contacted me, it was just me, needing to come out of my closet and reveal the truth of my experience while I was in my prison of suffering in silence. But then when he contacted me, it all became real that he has a say in this too. For some time after he contacted me, I didn’t post much about the current state of adoption because I became aware of the dilemma that I’d been in all along. Did I have a right to be out of the closet when he may not be a willing participant? These are the things I now struggle with. It’s a new set of moral dilemmas I now face.
There are things I was hoping to address with him in person. As yet, that is not an option. This is not his fight unless he chooses to make it his fight. But I don’t get to look him in the eye and tell him who I am, tell him the fighter I’ve become as a result of my own experience with adoption…not yet, anyway. And so, I walk this tightrope and try to keep this delicate balance with the 2 things that rock my world and quake in my bones the most.
I wish I knew the right answer, but I lost the right answer when I lost him to adoption. Nothing in my world has ever made sense since.
So what do I do?