(as best as you can outside a hospital delivery room door) of my first grandchild. Samuel James was brought into this world only to leave too soon with his adoptive parents. His birth parents, two good-hearted teens dealing with the tumult life sometimes brings, chose to place their little boy with an equally good-hearted couple who had been yearning to adopt for some time.
The day Sammy came was one of the giddiest highlights of my midlife, my heart so open it felt close to bursting. The day after, or rather, the evening of the day before Placement Day, was the hardest thing I'd ever experienced. Not the death of a marriage, not raising kids as a single mom, not an early miscarriage between my first two children, not kidney stones, not job loss; but the giving up of a child--my birth grandchild. On that day I learned that a heart could keep beating after shattering to bits.
You fall in love on day one and still in love, must say goodbye. So far the sadness has been staunched because his new parents, embracing an open adoption, have kept up a blog with photos and an occasional get together (I've seen and held Sammy twice since he was born; Christmas and his blessing day).
It is one of the sweetest experiences, and still, there is a sadness that lingers in a corner of my heart. Do I wish things were different? Daily. Would I try to change it if I could? No; the bond between Sammy and his new parents is set.
I've come to a place of gratitude for the sacrifices made. The birth mother, and my son, who gave up someone they loved. The adoptive parents, who gave up their privacy to allow our family into their lives. Sammy's birth relatives, especially his birth father's siblings, who want to so much to keep in touch with their nephew.
What touches me most about that day when Sammy was born, was watching his 16-year old father protectively follow him and his nurse down to the neonatal observation room (that's what I call it; don't know what it really is) and for the next hour and a half, keep his hand on his naked son as he lay in the bassinet being observed for vitals. The tears that trickled down his face, the exhaustion from the long birth night and the emotions of the weeks and months before. The way his large hand cupped around his son, the love he was giving him while he could. I'd never witnessed this side of my boy, and it moved me beyond tears.
On Placement Day I was driving with my youngest daughter, tears streaming down my face, and she said something to me I will never forget; with wisdom beyond her years, "Mom, just remember, this may be the worst day you've ever had, but it's also the happiest day Emma and James have ever had." Just that unexpected turn of phrase, the circumstances seen in that light, opened up a crack in the clouds and let some rays shine through. It lightened my grieving heart with the possibility that this family would love this baby boy with all their heart.
And so it seems to have become. The times I've seen Sammy with them, he's happy and devoted and completely trusting. And so are they. It's remarkable really, the love an infant brings into this world. The power to open hearts. And that's what this experience has left me with. The desire to keep my heart open no matter what shows up to break it. Because despite the pain and sadness I would not trade this experience for the world. It has been worth every moment, just to get to know Sammy, his birth mother, my son in unexpected ways, and Sammy's new family.
So thank you God, for bringing Sammy into this world to share with so many. Thank you Sammy, for being your amazing self, thank you Jaycee and Jason for loving this baby more than yourselves, and thank you Emma and James for your love and generosity.
Names have been changed for privacy reasons.
Credit: Photo courtesy of emmasheart.com/shop/images/footprint.png