Five always feels like a milestone.
Five means the baby years are well behind you now and kindergarten is within your reach. Kindergarten means grade school means middle school means high school and beyond. Five means you want Sponge Bob, not Sesame Street. Five means my baby has left me and my big kid is here to stay. Five is a milestone.
Milestones are melancholy for me, even more so with my adopted children. Most of the time I feel like you are my child, period. When we talk about the differences in our skin and hair colors and textures, you are still my child alone. Even when we visit your birth family, you belong to me.
But when we reach the milestones, that bruise in my heart aches a little. That happy-sadness of adoption rears again its ugly little head. Five years ago…five years ago what? We weren’t rubbing mama’s soft round belly wondering who was inside. Five years ago we knew nothing of you until the local caseworker called with a sticky-sweet voice asking me if I had heard from the caseworker in the other county. “There’s a baby,” I guessed correctly. “Will you come get him?”
Of course I said yes, you being E’s biological brother, but then I thought I’d better call Daddy to make sure it was okay with him. After all, this was a slightly bigger deal than going to get a cat from the animal shelter without checking with him. (In my defense, we had a mouse problem.)
And when we left the hospital with you when you were two weeks old, I had the same exact sensation as when I left the hospital with the two I gave birth to as well as the one I adopted before you: “They let me just LEAVE with this baby??!!”
Years have passed and you’re not a five pounder anymore, you’re a five year old now. And on this milestone of a birthday my thoughts wander to your other parents, the ones that produced you. On the milestones, I can’t help but thinking, “Someone else should be celebrating this. You’re not really my boy.”
Adoption is complicated, my little friend. And milestones are melancholy.