prodigalApril 15, 2013
This is not a post I’d ever entirely expected to write. I mean, I’d found Rowan on facebook a year or two ago after last seeing him the day before his 16th birthday, before we had Mara, and then talked to him intermittently on the phone throughout the next year. But his phone number changed and so did his address and he never responded to my friend request, and so we went through more than a year of silence. I knew he was out there somewhere, thought of him graduating and getting older, turning 18. A month or so ago, I looked for him on facebook again, saw that he was now living in our town, and sent him a message saying I hoped he was well, that we still think of him often, that I regret some of the choices we made but that being a parent of any kind is hard and that I’m sorry he had to be our test case and that we couldn’t always give him what he needed. He wrote back something sweet and suddenly we were friends.
Last week I picked Nia up from her after-school program because her worker was coming over. As we were driving home, I stopped at the stop sign two blocks from our house and there was Rowan ready to cross the street in front of me. We recognized each other simultaneously, I rolled down the window to ask where he was going and whether he wanted a ride, and he hopped in. (He was going “over by where I ran away from you that one time,” because this kid is nothing if not honest, as I noted when he did run away from us that one time!) He of course didn’t know anything about Nia, but they said hello and he was kind and chatty in his questions to her. He was happy to meet Mara, too, and immediately wanted to check on the animals he remembered, cuddling our dog while he talked to us a little about what he’s been up to as he reconnects and now draws back away from his birth family and what his recent life has been like.
Our worker showed up within 20 minutes so we can’t have talked long, and then Rowan was off again with directions on how best to walk as far as he needed to walk. He’s taller than I am now, but he grinned and hugged us, asked Lee to help him apply for college even though I know that’s a job that will mostly get delegated to me. Our awesome worker got to meet him for the first time and didn’t think there was anything odd about us seeing him and just bringing him home. It just feels right to have had him here, to have found some small way to let him know that he’s still connected, that the girls know about him (and have more questions they want to ask next time) and that we haven’t forgotten about him. Lee and I reminisced and laughed a lot that night after the girls had gone to bed, just like we had a lot of good memories to talk about with him in that short visit.
I am so grateful that I got the chance to be a sort-of parent to Rowan. We never were paid a cent for the time we spent with him because it was always considered visits or respite, never even got mileage reimbursed for all the times we drove to the other end of the state to pick him up from his residential treatment center even though we were supposed to get that. And yet at that time in his life, we were the only adults he interacted with who weren’t being paid to do so, and that ended up being worth far more than anything the state would have given us. That he has some warm memories from his time with us, that he’s held onto photos and letters and gifts makes me so happy. It means we did what we wanted to do in showing him we cared for him even if we weren’t able to meet our original goal of becoming his family through adoption. I didn’t use the “mom job” language we use with the littler kids then, but I got the idea that we could reach out to him, feed him, connect with him meaningfully. I know it meant something to us and I now know for sure that it still means something to him. Lee and I have been so lucky and so loved and it just amazes me.