Birth Mother Regrets: Learning to Let Go

Pensive birth mother regrets placing.

This birth mother regrets her choice

They say the pain will go away. But this birth mother regrets her choice.

“If they offered to give Cricket back, would you want him?”

My mother asks me this every so often. She asked again after my last Skype call with Cricket—I think it had been a year since she last asked—a new record.

In the past, I have always started my answer with a rambling paragraph about how it doesn’t work that way. They would never “give him back” and we have no legal claim on him. Even if they lost custody of him he would not come to us—that kind of thing. It’s all true, and it hurts to have to say it. It’s not a purifying pain. I’m not going to get through the explanation of TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) and my total legal worthlessness to Cricket and then feel lighter. It is a mucky, sandpaper-like pain that I am sure that I deserve, but that doesn’t heal or clean or clarify anything. My mother does, I’m sure, understand by now that I cannot get him back. As soon as I signed TPR, I lost any legal claim on my son. We have been over this and over this and over this.

Accept the adoption placement as really permanent

What bothers me more than feeling obligated to slog through ‘How Adoption Works’ for the nth time is my mother’s refusal to accept the placement as really permanent. Don’t get me wrong, I miss Cricket and I grieve the loss of him and I have birth mother regrets about my decision. But Ruth and Nora are his parents, they will always be his parents, and I don’t think fantasizing about them leaving an enormous Moses basket on my doorstep would be good for our relationship or my own mental health.

It’s true that when he was still very small, before my son Joey was conceived, I would sometimes lie awake in bed at night, imagining that baby Cricket was asleep in the bed between Mister Book and me. It didn’t make me feel better, but I couldn’t help it sometimes. I haven’t imagined something like that in years, and I think that’s a good sign for me—having a question jerk me back to that kind of expression of grief isn’t healthy for me. And it certainly doesn’t do Cricket any good.

It does make me sad, though. Cricket is in kindergarten now. Every day I have missed more of his life. A question like that isn’t the only thing that can pull me into sadness about the adoption. Milestones tend to trigger it, and sometimes there’s no clear antecedent. I’m just sad not to be parenting my oldest son.

This time, I chose to ignore the opportunity for adoption education with my mother.

This time, I just said “Yes.”