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One of the best parts of the holidays is getting to spend time with your family and loved ones. But what happens when you have to choose between family members? How can you possibly decide? This is exactly what one birth mother was forced to do.

I have heard many times that the bond between a mother and son is one of the most special bonds there is. It’s not that a mother-daughter bond isn’t special, it’s just different. I love my daughter very much, but the bond that I have with my two boys is a completely different feeling.

My oldest son, Josh, is 21. He recently enrolled in a training program out of town that will eventually take him out of the country to help people in need for nine months starting in June.

My youngest son, David, is 4. At the time of his birth, I was in one of the worst places in life I had ever been. It was my love for him that helped me make the decision to place him with loving parents in an open adoption. As much as it hurt to do it, it was for him.

The first month of training, Josh was not allowed to come home so that the students could get used to not having parents around. I missed him terribly. He had never been gone for any long period of time and it took some time for me to adjust. About two weeks ago, after he left for training, I received a call from him letting me know that he would be home Easter weekend. I was so excited. I went and bought everything to make all his favorite foods, and I also made sure to have some of his favorite snacks in the house as well. Then I started to count down the days.

A couple days after his call, I was looking at my calendar to see if there was anything on there that I was missing. Then I saw it. My heart sank immediately. I had also scheduled an Easter visit with my birth son, David. How could I forget, much less miss, that?? What is wrong with me?? How could I possibly choose one son over another one?? My heart was torn in a way that it had never been torn before. There was no way I would be able to do both. Of course, I knew the decision I had to make, but could I? With Josh coming from out of town, I knew I had to reschedule my visit with David. I had never cancelled a visit before; they are always one of the highlights of my life.

It took me a couple of days to grasp what I had to do. And then, it took a couple more days to actually send a text to my son’s adoptive parents. It brought up so many old feelings from relinquishment that I was a bit overwhelmed with the thought of cancelling. I knew David’s parents would understand; that wasn’t the issue I was having. I felt like I was abandoning one child for another. What made it worse is that my mind jumped into the conversation my heart and I were having. This created scenarios of things that I have actually never thought about as a birth mother. I was trying to rationalize with myself as to why I had to cancel my visit.

First I thought, “David won’t miss me like Josh will. I raised Josh pretty much alone and David has parents that he would miss, and I just wasn’t one of them.” Then I thought, “Josh loves me like David never will. I am 100 percent Josh’s mom and David doesn’t and never will again belong to me since relinquishment.” My emotions regarding my children are something I have never been able to mask or hide.

So, with a heavy heart, I finally decided to go ahead and send David’s parents a text letting them know that we would have to reschedule our visit and why. I explained what my heart was feeling and what my brain was telling me that I should be feeling. I even mentioned to them that I knew David wouldn’t miss me like Josh would and that I didn’t think David really cared much if I was or wasn’t around. After I hesitated for a couple of minutes, I finally hit send and waited for their response to my text. I was so worried that it would be a whole month before I got to see David again. Or, in some way, that they would think David really didn’t mean anything to me at all. None of these thoughts were true. In just a few minutes, I heard the buzz of a new text coming in. I took a deep breath and read it. This was the response I got back from David’s amazing parents:

“Hey, no worries. You need time with Josh so we can easily pick another weekend. And remember, your book is in our nightly rotation, so he hears your voice at least once a week. And we talk about everyone who loves him just about every night after books. We talk about you and how much you love him. And we also talk about Josh, Logan (my 25-year-old daughter), and Emily, Brooke, and Christian (my three beautiful grandkids). He hears it so much that he will say how much you love him. And to give you a bright side to look at, you get to see both your boys in the next week or two. Definitely two good reasons to be happy.”

Tears started rolling down my face as I read their texts. I knew that on occasions they talked about me, and that there have been a couple of times David has asked about me. My insecurities got the best of me and I doubted everything. But after reading their text, I was at ease. It was a huge burden lifted off my heart.

I have been on this adoption journey for almost five years now. Even though I know there may be a dip in the road after that stop sign, I can’t let doubt and fear rule which way I turn. I have to turn in the direction that is best for all my children. This is one reason why I chose this path for David – he deserved so much more than what I could give him at the time of his birth. I have finally been able to realize that I don’t have to choose between one son and the other; they are both aware of how much I love them and miss them when they aren’t with me. And they always will be.