Until I watched the video I hadn’t remembered that Bryan spent Easter weekend with us before he came back permanently. I knew that we spent a day or two with him (I have pictures of all three boys in the tub during that break), but I forgot that he actually got to come to our house in Ogden and stay for a while. I don’t remember what it felt like to see him leave; in fact I don’t even remember who picked him up and took him back to Ruth. I think at that point I was numb to all the coming and going. I can only imagine how confusing it was for a three-year-old.
Preston, Cole and Bryan during Easter Vacation - 1999
After Bryan came to live with us we spent the next six months getting ready for his adoption to be finalized (and adjusting to being a family of five!) We had to meet with the social worker again (luckily we had the same one so we didn’t have to answer all the probing questions this time) and complete another home study. It still felt weird to have someone watch us interact with our children to see if we were fit parents or not. Those visits were never really comfortable; tolerable, but not comfortable. I felt that if there was one thing out of place in my house or if the children did something wrong then it would lessen our possibility of the adoption being finalized. Those visits were very stressful!
But being a new mom with three little boys also brought different challenges. Because the boys were so close in age, when I had all three of them together in a grocery cart people would ask “are they triplets?” or “don’t you know what birth control is?” or “are they ALL yours?” or “Wow! They are really close in age, did you plan that?” I know people ask questions for conversation but I have learned over the years not to assume something about someone or their children because most likely you will put your foot in your mouth! (I am as guilty as the next person for doing this.)
One of my least favorite remarks people say when they hear my children are adopted is: “You got your kids the EASY way! You didn’t even have to get stretch marks!” Ohhhhhh, this one really burns me up! (People say this to me even now and it is so annoying!) For people who make this comment I really don’t want to give them the courtesy of a response, I mean, what kind of response am I going to give them except for a kick to the shin or something like that? (I want to do that, but I don’t.) I am half-tempted to just pull up my shirt and show them my nice “non-stretch mark” stomach just to make myself feel better. Okay, I would never really do that, but I think about it sometimes. And just for the record, I DO have stretch marks on my arms from carrying the boys around, so I show them those! Someone told me once (after we had been trying for several years to conceive) “you just don’t want to get pregnant because you don’t want to get fat.” That one hurt, a lot.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t long to know what it felt like to have nine months to prepare for a child that would someday have your eyes, your husband’s chin and grandpas’ nose. I wanted to feel a baby kick, feel him hiccup, see him on the ultrasound, feel my stomach expand to fit his growing body, and oh how I longed to hold a brand new baby right after birth and hear him cry for the first time.
Some days I feel robbed of those memories. I don’t have any pictures of me with my children at the hospital (I feel blessed that Ruth gave me pictures of the children when they were infants). I missed the first three years of Bryan’s life and the first eight months of Cole’s life, so I don’t know what they were like as tiny babies, if they slept all night, when they first crawled or what their first words were. But I digress.
All of those things I missed still hurt, but then I realized, I have the rest of my life together with my children to make new memories. I am the one who gets to tuck them in at night. I am the one who gets to hold them, kiss them, hug them, and read to them. I get to watch them grow up. I can’t compare my pain to Ruth’s pain – it is a completely separate entity. Her pain and loss are now my joy and future (and how is THAT fair?)
I don’t feel like complaining anymore, what else can I ask for? I get to be their mom.