In honor of November being National Adoption Awareness Month, Portrait of an Adoption is hosting the third annual acclaimed series, 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences.
I Never Legally Adopted Jaxson, But I Am His Mom.
A family friend named Anna was sent to prison for a probation violation while pregnant with her fourth child. She gave birth to a baby boy in 1995 while in prison. She was a single mom; her parents were deceased, and her three siblings did not want to take in the new child.
So...I offered to take the baby, raise him as my own and love him as my own child.
I picked the baby boy up from the hospital the day he was born. For about six months, I would drive to the prison once a month to take the baby to see his birth mother. These visits were very hard on me and the baby. We stopped visiting after six months due to continuing difficulties..
I had to go to the court to get him a legal last name so I could enroll him in school. His birth mother and I had agreed on names... I got to pick his first name – Jaxson -- and we agreed that he should have both of our last names so that when he got older, he could choose which name he wanted to use.
Although I had not formally adopted Jaxson, I explained to the Judge that this child should have my last name as part of his name since I was raising him. I didn't want him having to deal with the stigma, as I did, of not having the same last name as the mother who was raising him. The Judge agreed. Jaxson’s last name is hyphenated. (Her last name-my last name).
Anna was released from prison when Jaxson was three years old. I was terrified that she would show up at my door and want her baby back. She called and wanted to keep him for a day and show him to her family, and I gave him to her. I was terrified that she wouldn't bring him back, but she did.
She never asked to take him again. She was sent back to prison for another violation within a year and was not released until he was six years old.
Jaxson was about five years old when he started asking questions like "what if my other mother comes and wants to take me away?" When his birth mother was released from prison the last time, she told me that I could keep him, because she had no idea what she would do with him.
Before starting middle school, Jaxson wanted to know why his private parts looked different than his friends, so we talked about it, went to a doctor and had him circumcised. He was a little angry at me for not having it done sooner. I explained to him that it was his body, and I waited until he was old enough to make that decision for himself. He didn't want his dad or grandpa there for the surgery, only me, his mom.
He has met his siblings by his birth mother -- two brothers and a sister. At about age fourteen, Jaxson started giving me a little bit of trouble...just boy stuff and hormones. I asked him if he wanted to go and meet his other mom, and he said "No, you are my mom." Jaxson just recently turned eighteen, and I love him dearly just as if I had given birth to him.
I never legally adopted Jaxson. Every time I filed papers to adopt him, his birth mother refused to sign the papers. She called me when he was sixteen and said she would sign adoption papers, but she wanted me to use her attorney and to pay her a fee. I could not agree to her terms, so now that he is eighteen, we plan to make it all legal.
I had a twelve-year-old daughter when I got Jaxson. It is amazing how much alike they are for not being blood related - they could pass for brother and sister! Maybe it is because they were raised by the same mother.
When I said I would raise this child and love him as my own, I never really thought of it as loving someone else's child. I am not delusional, and he is my child in every sense other than the fact that I did not give birth to him. In the beginning, I really enjoyed people telling me how great I looked for just having a new baby! :)
Raising a son has been a whole new experience for me, almost all wonderful! Little boys can be so sweet! When Jaxson was little he would tell me that he loved me past the moon and the stars and that he loved me more. I went through Boy Scouts with Jaxson, was at every baseball game he played, took him and his friends camping and swimming ... I taught Jaxson and his friends to drive and had the sex talk with them about babies, child support and STD's.
There were times when I had to explain to Jaxson why his other mom didn't come to see him. It was difficult, but I always told him the truth. He knows he has two moms - the one who gave birth to him and the one who raised him. I told him his other mom had gone to prison and could not raise him there. I also told him after she was released from prison that she was trying to get her life back in order.
I do hope that someday he will want to meet her again. I have no fear that he will love her more. He will be amazed by how much he looks like her. He used to tell his friends "my momma is an Indian." I have dark hair and brown eyes while he is blonde with blue eyes, and then he wondered what tribe he was from, and I had to tell him "Baby you are from the white tribe." But he seems to fit in to our family just fine.
I have changed the names of all involved to protect privacy of my son and his birth mother.
Sara is the third of nine children born to her mother, and she describes herself as the compassionate one. Loving someone else's child comes easily for her.
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