Romper

I Told My Partner That I Placed My Son For Adoption

Courtesy of Jody Christopherson

It's far from a secret that I'm a birth mother. I've done a solo show about my experience, written about it online, and was "out" to all my friends and family while I was pregnant. Then I fell in love. See, placing a child for adoption is a little bit like going to Mars. And only, like, two people you know have ever been to Mars, and lots of people went to Mars in the '70s, but Mars was WAAAAY different back then. It was a lot more hostile, and you weren't allowed to tell anyone you'd been to Mars, and you weren't allowed to go back for at least 18 years, if ever. (Maybe I've carried this Mars simile too far? Welp, too late now.)

Going to Mars isn't the worst part. Mars even has a few things going for it these days. But it's the fact that almost no one else has been to Mars.

The first few times I tried to interact with crowds after relinquishing my son, I really did feel like an alien. I didn't know how to talk to anyone. I didn't know how to have a conversation about anything but my kid, and I didn't know how to have those conversations in two-minute, party-sized nuggets. I left a show at intermission because there were too many people I knew there and they had too many questions for me. For awhile, social interaction had to follow a very specific formula: we sit down one-on-one; I unload on you for about half an hour; and then we can talk about other things. Short of that, the experience could be practically traumatic.

Courtesy of Kacey Stamats
He knew about my son, but I don't think we'd really gone into it before. I told him how losing my son had knocked me on my ass for awhile. I told him about feeling like an alien.

Very, very slowly, through time and repetition and therapy and the unending compassion of my friends, I became someone who could go to parties and not want to die. I still felt like an alien, though.

When I started dating Patrick two years after becoming a birth mother, I didn't know him that well. Patrick played a lot of creepy guys onstage, but offstage he was kind, gentle, even a little shy. His voice and smile were sexy as hell, and we more or less jumped straight into spending every other night together. Even as we spent more and more time with each other, even as I was very clearly falling for him, I thought to myself, "Gee, he's kind of quiet. Is this going anywhere? Sure hope I don't hurt him."

Patrick is the kind of guy who has earplugs waiting for you at the next sleepover after you mention his snoring. The kind of guy who does the dishes because he knows you hate them. The kind of guy who stays in bed with you all day to watch dance videos online. I really, really liked him. I just had no idea what we were doing. He admitted that he didn't either, "but," he said, "you're special to me and I'd like to be special to you." I melted.

Courtesy of Jody Christopherson
Patrick hadn't been to Mars, but he had been to the moon. He knew about getting knocked off the Earth's surface for awhile. I didn't feel quite so lonely with him as I did with other people. Actually, I didn't feel lonely with him at all.

So three weeks into whatever our relationship was, we were lying in bed and chatting in the dark. "I have a hard time meeting people I connect with like this," I remember saying. "After I became a birth mother I didn't know how to talk to anyone." He knew about my son, but I don't think we'd really gone into it before. I told him how losing my son had knocked me on my ass for awhile. I told him about feeling like an alien.

"Yeah," he said, "I was the same way after my dad died."

"Were you with him when he died?" I asked.

"No," he said. "No one was. He called my mom to tell her he thought it was time, and he died while she was still on her way. I think that's why he let go, because he knew that everything was gonna be taken care of. He..." His voice stopped for a second. "His body was still warm when she got there." We lay there in the shock wave of that sentence for a minute. "I haven't thought about that in a while," he said.

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I don't feel so much like an alien anymore. Part of that healing comes from time, and from watching my son grow into an amazing little man (he's almost 4! Four!), and from telling my story over and over and watching the ways in which people see themselves in it.

I remember having my hand on his chest while he told the story, and how warm his chest was, and feeling the memory catch in his chest before coming out. "Thank you for sharing that with me," I said. We put our arms around each other and tried to breathe through the huge leap of intimacy that we'd both just taken.

Patrick hadn't been to Mars, but he had been to the moon. He knew about getting knocked off the Earth's surface for awhile. I didn't feel quite so lonely with him as I did with other people. Actually, I didn't feel lonely with him at all.

A week later, we said "I love you," and soon enough, he moved in with me and we got a kitten. (Her name is Sophie.) Later, we both described that night as the point of no return, the moment when we straight-up fell in love. Grief is funny sometimes.

I don't feel so much like an alien anymore. Part of that healing comes from time, and from watching my son grow into an amazing little man (he's almost 4! Four!), and from telling my story over and over and watching the ways in which people see themselves in it. But another, undeniable part of that healing comes from having someone at home who's been to space.