We had a daughter

I drove my son and his friend to the park on Monday. It was a rare sunny day in this spring of never-ending stormy showers and we were happy to get out of the house. During the drive I listened to their simple, disjointed conversation in the backseat. I overheard my son say as he stared out the window:

“We don’t have a baby anymore. One day we had a baby. That was all.”

He said it so matter of fact, I admired him. Maybe I’m even a bit jealous of the distance with which he can say those words. Its been almost two months since I placed the baby I called my daughter back in her mother’s arms and I still struggle to say the facts. One day we had a baby. Now we don’t. That’s all.

Four year-olds are resilient. His nightmares stopped the week after she went home, I think. Or at least he stopped crying in the night “I don’t want them to take my baby sister.” I would hug and kiss him and tell him that neither did we, and I’d stay long after he fell asleep again, feeling the breath of this much larger and longer child than the one I just relinquished.

When the morning would break we’d explain to him that this was a good thing. Her mom needed us when she couldn’t parent. She had asked us to be a family for the little girl she couldn’t give that too, and we’d said yes. We’d ohhed and ahhed over ultrasound pictures and been there during labor, when no one else was. “And you were such a good big brother! But the great news is that now she can be a mom to her, so we had to give her back.” I’d grit that last part out, hoping to believe it more and more myself, each time I said it. And that answer seemed to make sense to him.

It is great news, now that she can parent.

I had a conversation years ago, before we had started our homestudy, before we’d officially decided to pursue adoption, about priorities in adoption. It is one of the most paradoxical arrangements, that something could be so tragically mutually beneficial for the parties involved. Mercy for all, a second chance at life for her, and second chance at parenting for us. But that in an ideal world, something so redeeming wouldn’t be necessary. That as adoptive parents, our desire beyond all else should be that the child could be placed with their biological parents.

It is a thought almost impossible to hold in my head. And it’s a reality we have to face daily now. Ten days after she was born, our daughter’s birth mom revoked her consent. Adoption, her plan b, was not necessary after all.

“The great news, is that now she can parent.”

Yes, this is great news, I repeat, as tears stream down my cheeks.