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My Grandson

21 Sep

In the summer of 2009, Grant was born.  His mother was a beautiful, radiant girl of 19 with long brown hair and his father was a nervous boy with pitted-pale skin, a blond afro and searching eyes.  Grant was pink and perfect when he made a very quiet and uneventful entrance into the world.  He was my grandson at that moment he was born.

The next day, the lawyer arrived at the hospital and undid all that was done.  Grant became the son of a wonderful couple who were beginning their lives as parents.  They stepped in. My son and his first love stepped out.  These teens went back to being carefree college students; Grant went home to the suburbs; and I left my heart in the hospital where it all happened.

That day’s tears came in floods while the moans of a broken heart nearly choked me. The emotion was visceral and guttural and unimaginable. I can only compare it in a small degree to grieving the death of a child. – to which it does not compare because no one died.

I waited a year before I could make contact with Grant’s mother again. I am not referring to my son’s girlfriend but to Grant’s adopted mother. Wait, using the word “adopted mother” has too many dated and negative stero-types to fit the love and respect and hope I had and have for Grant’s family. I like to refer to them as Grant’s “life-parents.” We who have had children, know that the actual birth is often joyous, but the real stuff of parenting happens afterward: diapers, doctor’s visits, clothes, school, homework, healthy snacks, reasonable limits, loving guidance, swim lessons, soccer games – it never ends. These are all the things every grandparent would want for their grandchild; all the things that his birth parents were not ready or able to provide. So, I waited because I could not let these kind and generous people see the struggle in my heart to reclaim my grandson.  No matter the logic or illogic of it, I had a battle on my hands about what to do. In my head, it was clear – he would enjoy a stable and privileged life with parents who adore him and have the resources to provide for him.  They can give him a safe and happy home with little or no chaos.  In my heart, there was a cavernous hole that echoed with despair.  He is part of our family.  How could I walk away?  The adoption was open.  Grant’s parents have a generous spirit about sharing Grant with us.  They have offered visits, pictures, updates.  I was terrified by their generosity and confidence.   The depth of my desire to have Grant for myself, to assert my rights as his genetic grandparent seemed overwhelming, totally engulfing.  Yet, I knew it was just plain wrong to try and change it.

In both my heart and my mind, I believe that children come first.  I am certain that Grant is having a better life as an adopted child than I could provide him even as a step-in grandparent.  Much of my despair was rooted in fear – as most bad feelings usually are.

When I first heard the news of my son’s predicament, I sought the comfort of my 77 year-old neighbor.  After telling her the tragic story of what they were planning to do, she told me her story of adopting her two oldest children.  “They were mine from the minute I touched them.”  She assured me that there was absolutely no difference in the way she felt about her “surprise” daughter who was born several years later.  She told me how deeply she loved all her children and that I should find comfort in knowing how much and how well that baby would be loved.  She was right.

Grant’s second birthday passed recently. It is true that time heals all. I only cried a little this time as I gazed into his beautiful face on my computer screen. Mostly I smiled and thanked those brave souls who were willing to risk heart-break of their own in order to adopt my grandson.  I am thankful for their regular reassurance  to me…”Grant is loved and cherished.”

One day, I will be able to be a grandmother for real and out in the open – complete with my brag book of photos and bags of presents for every single visit.  One day, I  may even get to touch Grant and tell him that his story was written with a very real double dose of love and generosity.