This is a follow-up to my post in December
, when my son was knee-deep in boot camp. Those days were among the hardest times of separation because there was no way to look in his baby blues or have a conversation. There was no phone or email allowed for 13 weeks. When we reunited again … it was exhilarating. That happened when he locked eyes with both his birthmother and me as we watched him practice for boot camp graduation. What a moment to share with her. We were giddy.
Now, we are six months into this journey as a Marine family. We’ve had many more meaningful hellos and goodbyes as he took each new step in his training. Each time we said “goodbye,” I knew we’d see him again in a month or two. It kept me sane and upright. And, also, thank goodness, we could communicate by phone via talking and texting.
But, yesterday, oh yesterday … we said “goodbye” to him as he boarded a plane for Japan. For two years. No longer could my denial mask this reality. There I was, heart wide open, in front of the open box. I cried noticeable, visible tears in the airport lobby, surrounded by strangers. The world went away as I looked in his baby blues and said “goodbye” for potentially two years, to my beautiful child.
Help. I am not upright. I am not sane. Is it harder on adoptive moms to say goodbye to their children? Is there any connection to years of infertility to this unbearable feeling of loss? I am not sure. I only know that I am going to miss my only child with more intensity than I have ever known.
Again, I am reminded of his birthmother and the pain she must have felt when she said goodbye to him and placed him with us. I’ve known her for 20 years. I thought I knew her pain. But, no, I haven’t known it … and maybe even now, I still don’t know it. I do know, though, that NOW I can feel the gravity of the loss, of the missing, of how it stabs the heart to say “goodbye.”
I am stunned at the connections between this loss and adoption. I can now understand how birthparents deny for decades that this experience ever happened to them. Because, I admit, denial is at play for me, too … denial allowed me to be happy when he was home in the days before he left, denial is blocking out the length of time or the distance apart. Denial has a bad reputation, but as a coping mechanism (at least for me right now) – bring it on.
With our openness, I know there is another person in the world who loves and misses the same person with the same intensity of a mother’s love. So with that thought, and maybe a little denial in my pocket, maybe I can face the day. Day dreaming, too, that before the day is out, maybe technology
will allow me to look into his baby blues, and say “hello.”
I have created a personal fundraising page in honor my son, Eric. During May, make a $20 donation to Adoption Network Cleveland in honor of 20-year-old PFC Eric Christo Schellentrager -- U.S. Marine and adoptee. Click here
to donate now.