Friday, April 22, 2011

The Prodigal Rants Again

I'm to visit my son tomorrow. It will be the first visit in quite a while. Last month Athena and I were both ill and desperately needed time to recover. Our previous visit had been near the beginning of the month. This visit, obviously near the end of the month, marks the end of nearly three months without visitation. In short, it's been too long. When last we were to see Festus he had developed a vocabulary of about eight words. I don't know what I'll encounter when I see him tomorrow. The truth is this visit has been filling me with some dread.

My son is talking. He is able to communicate. Quickly he'll be developing the ability to create complex ideas and in just a few short years he'll be regularly delving into abstraction. I shudder at this. I haven't had the chance to be proud as I haven't seen it yet. Had you asked me a year ago how I'd feel about this I'd have been happy and delighted to finally be able to communicate with him in ways that I can understand. Now I am terrified of two monosyllables; "why", and "no".

"Why". Why did Athena and I place him into the only home he knows? Why didn't we parent him? Why do we feel the way we do about children and, thus, him? These are all questions that I've answered theoretically to myself and many, many other people. But they have a different ring when I can see the face and hear the voice that they matter to the most.

"No". No, you don't have the right to be in my life anymore. No I will not accept a relationship with you. I don't believe your answers to my questions. They aren't good enough. They don't make enough sense. They hurt me too much. You have hurt me too much. I know I'm putting words into his mouth. I know he may not say some, or possibly any of these things to me or Athena. But I am very good at playing the "Worst Case Scenario" game. In most of my worst imaginings the apocalypse is a welcome reprieve.

The real point is that I now see that I will actually have to face what my son has to say about his experience. Again, theoretically I have done this and made my peace with it. But as any parent, birth-, adoptive-, step-, foster-, grand-, or traditional, can attest children have a way of jarring you despite your best plans and preparations. This is often a good thing. Children are excellent at living in their present experience and frequently call us to do the same. Frankly many adults, myself especially, can use all the help we can get in that regard. But there are still times when that notion is rather terrifying. My hope is that tomorrow I will be in the present instead of worrying about some dreadful confrontation with my son that may never occur. I hope he can help pull me into the present, so when I hear him speak for the first time, he is all I hear.


  1. I can only respond through the veil of my own experiences but as an adoptee (who is NOT your son) and who may be atypical... I have a few questions that may be helpful in preparing (or may not) for such a questioning.

    Didn't you, I mean, didn't you want to keep your son? Wouldn't you want things to have been different? Wouldn't you have wanted him to be with you?

    Any explenation that involves not wanting your child feels unspeakable ouchy to me (but not necessarily your son.) And if you did want your son but your emotional and life issues were in the way.... wouldn't you want a world in which we tried to better meet peoples emotional needs so that they could keep their children?

    Can you envision a day in which when a person is pregnant (or a future father) were asked, "What is in the way of parenting?" and whatever response the person gave they were then told, "We are here to help you work through those obstacles. We believe in you."

    I don't understand why, if you wanted your child, you wouldn't want to work for a world where we could help people overcome the obstacles they have to being the parents their children need.

    And if you didn't want your child, I don't know how your son will really deal with that. I don't know how I would ever deal with that.

  2. first it's good to hear form you again!

    I hope you enjoy the visit and your time together.

    you know, it will be quite some time before he will understand enough to formulate any of those things. the wonderful thing about your relationship is, by the time that happens, you will already be such an integral part of his life, not some theoretical abstraction.

    still, it's hard, as I can only imagine.

  3. And I don't know how I would have dealt with finding out my bio mo had wanted to parent me. I think it would have been more upsetting to me. As an adult I understand my mother's inability to cope with keeping a baby at that point in her life and am quite satisfied with how it turned out for us all.

    Iam ...I can't even imagine having to answer questions you or your son's parents may someday be asked. It's my hope you're all able to figure out the approach that works best for your son. Good luck, sincerely.

  4. I hope it went well and you were able to be in the present and not worry too much about the future.


What do you think? I'm curious.