Adoption Didn't Make Me A Mother
I wanted to be a mom and adoption seemed the best way to do that only I discovered, even if the legal papers said I was mom, it didn’t make me mom. People always wanted to know where my children’s real parents were. And honestly, my children wanted to be with the parents that had given them life. I wasn’t that parent.
I discovered that trauma, even in young children, is not easily gotten rid of regardless of how “resilient” people tell you children are. Trauma changes them and sometimes, the effects take away too much from them.
I thought my son was doing well as a young adult. I thought his time living in residential centers and all the therapy work he’d done (and we’d done) had paid off. He still had some lingering issues with relationships, but he was managing.
He joined the army and seemed proud to be a soldier and happy to serve his country. His superiors and unit buddies agreed. My son made them laugh. He was a hard worker but full of joy and everybody loved him. He served a tour in IRAQ and considered re-enlisting after his time of service was up. But he chose to come home instead-it’s what his birth family thought he should do.
He found civilian life difficult but he seemed to be adjusting. He’s agreed to try some therapy at his girlfriend’s urging. He was struggling with their relationship and at times, was violent. He’d told me of his plans for the future and the farm he’d hope to own.
But it didn’t happen. The darkness inside of him that he’d struggled with won and at the age of 22, he ended his life-and destroyed mine and damaged so many others. It’s been 17 months and I still cannot believe this full of life young man, my boy with so many dreams, is forever gone.
I had to plan his funeral and it was hard. Since he had reunited with his birth family (though he made it very clear that I was his mom, not his firstmom), I invited his other family to help with the funeral. At first his twin didn’t even want me to list his firstmom in the obituary-he referred to her as he “mother of abandonment”.
But somewhere along the way, things changed. I sat at my son’s military honors service knowing I’d never see him ever again. His coffin was draped with a flag that had lain over him for 24 hours. I watched the soldiers remove it from his coffin, fold it, and place it into the arms of the mother who’d abused and neglected him. I watched the solders remind me that I wasn’t a mother.
I discovered later that his twin brother had set this in motion. He was also a soldier. He has disowned me and returned to his birthfamily. He says I killed his brother. His child, who I watched being born, no longer calls me grandma and will grow up not knowing who I am. It’s as if I never existed, or was only a piece of the past.
The army did retrieve my flag and the soldiers, who violated military orders as a favor to a friend, were disciplined. I felt bad for my son’s first mom, to have to feel that pain of having that flag removed from her. But I couldn’t leave it there, not knowing what I know. It’s not what my son would have wanted. Now we are forever divided.
I always thought it would be okay to have two families. I told myself it would, though sharing my sons with another mother was difficult to accept. But his first family had other ideas and now they only have one mother, and it isn’t me.
- Nancy Crawford