If we're friends on Facebook or Instagram then you've likely already seen the news, but as of Wednesday, May 11th, 2016, I am officially (legally!) Toby's mom! I can't even begin to tell you how overwhelmed I am with relief, happiness, and gratitude. I've been in Toby's life since he turned 1, and he's called me "Mom" for the past 4.5 years. In May 2014, just before Linden was born, Mike and I made the decision to pursue a step-parent adoption for Toby. I'm not going to get into the details of the process because it was long, frustrating, scary, and exhausting. But after 2 years of hoping and wishing and waiting, we were able to meet with a judge and we completed the process privately in his chambers with our parents present. I cried and I cried and I cried with Toby in my lap. There are truly no words to describe that feeling.
While we had originally made the decision to move forward with the adoption on our own (without Toby's knowledge), we felt like it was important to make sure this is something he would want. It's undeniable that it would be in his best interest, hence our decision, but at 7.5 we thought he was astute enough to understand what was going on. So we sat him down one afternoon and explained everything to him, and while there were plenty of tears shed while discussing everything, he said he wanted me to adopt him. From there we finalized our court date and traveled to a nearby county to be heard as quickly as possible. That day came Wednesday!
The night before, as he was kissing me goodnight, Toby said "I can't wait for tomorrow, mom" and I probably cried a solid hour after. It was overwhelming.
While Toby somewhat understands the situation, he'll grow more and more aware of the importance as he matures. He understands the foundation of the situation with his birth mother and why we had custody of him, but of course we plan to be open and honest with him by giving him the appropriate amount of information for the time. I've often feared that he may grow to resent me at some point, feeling as though I had taken the place of his birth mom, but all I can do is take it one day at a time and prove to him how devoted of a mom I am. It's also important for us to recognize that while adoptions are such a happy thing, they're almost always rooted in some type of trauma, loss, or heartbreak. Toby gained a forever family with me, but he also lost something with his birth mom. I'm going to do my absolute best to navigate the situation with grace and patience and understanding. I can't promise to be perfect, but I'll always be there to listen to him.
This adoption was important for so many reasons, but one that always got me: I've had several nightmares where something tragic has happened to Mike and not only did I lose him, but I lost Toby, too. I just know Linden and I would not be the same. I also wanted Toby to know that despite not being biologically related, he's still my son and I would do absolutely anything for him that I would do for Linden. And well, this next part, too:
For some slightly more bittersweet news: Mike and I have decided to separate. This actually isn't a recent occurrence, and we've been living apart for some time (and I consciously made the decision to adopt after the separation). Neither of us have tried to "hide" that we've separated, but we both agreed that we wouldn't really make a big to do about it until after Toby's adoption (for two reasons: the dreaded question of "But what will happen to Toby?" and so we could learn how to co-parent separately, with at least a little bit of privacy). Our marriage has ended gracefully and without incident. We just learned how to live without one another since our schedules became so incredibly opposite. We had a very very hard third year of marriage last year, and despite our best efforts, I don't think we quite ever got over it. We fought for our marriage for a while, even in therapy, and we really did make a great team. But we were able to look at our marriage objectively and we realized it just wasn't the best thing for either one of us any longer. I don't regret a single second spent with him, or fighting for our marriage. I am so grateful for the gifts he has given me with these boys, and the past (almost) 7 years we had together. Our entire past 6.5 years has been documented on this very blog, so it's certainly sad to see it go. But I've been happy since - sort of "finding myself" again I guess? It's hard to shuttle the boys between us, and I try to busy myself when they're gone, but we are taking it in stride and so far we've been able to co-parent incredibly well. Mike is living barely a mile away now, so even though it's not a "perfect" situation for the boys, they'll be able to see him often. (Yes, that means they both will remain primarily with me.) I don't think of this time as the end of my relationship with Mike, but simply the start of a new chapter. I know that's so cliche and corny, but it's so fitting. Learning to be a single mom this past little while has been interesting too, but I'm overcome with gratitude for my incredible support system. I simply ask that y'all allow me some grace and time to figure out how everything operates as a one-woman show around here. I've been a bit slow on the email lately, but I promise it's not from lack of effort!
Please send only congratulations as it's a very wonderful and exciting time for all of us, Mike included. One of my biggest fears about "announcing" our separation was being inundated with "sorries" and "sympathies" - I know they mean well, but I promise our marriage ended on good terms, amicably, and we're both destined for new things. I know coparenting won't be without it's challenges and speed bumps, but I'm hoping we can make the best of it.