The day I signed the adoption papers giving Jeffrey the life that he deserved, one I was fairly certain I wasn’t capable of giving him at sixteen changed me. For years I wasn’t the person I was supposed to be. I allowed myself to be shamed into silence and in turn I didn’t enter into friendships openly and honestly. There was a part of me that I kept under lock and key for so long that I wasn’t being all that I could be. Periodically I would trust someone enough to break down my walls a little but it was rare. I liked the anonymity of living in a big city and getting out of a small town where I was ‘that girl!” but my heart never really recovered. There was a void in me that caused a great deal of insecurity and I believe caused me to lack confidence in myself and in turn make some bad choices. For all the promises I made and broke over the years the most important one, the one I made to a bright eyed, dark haired newborn baby, I kept forever. “I will love you forever, never will a day go by that I won’t think of you” I have no idea how other birth moms feel or have felt but for me, I never gave up the worry that comes with parenthood. In thinking about him everyday of his life and not knowing if he was OK I worried a lot. I hoped his Mom kissed his skinned knees and tucked him each night and loved him more then anything in the world. I also felt an unmistakable guilt over the births of our girls. Almost as if I didn’t deserve the happiness or it somehow diminished the love I felt for the boy I couldn’t hold. When Jeffrey contacted me a healing began. His love and acceptance built a bandage for my troubled heart and allowed me to forgive myself for not being in his life. Knowing that he was happy, that he had a good life should have been enough. I didn’t dare ask or expect more but what happened between us was a natural progression that neither of us could have prepared for. It didn’t take away from my love for my children or he from his parents but it added to and enriched our lives in a way that has made me feel complete. I finally felt in the drivers seat in my own life, confident of who I was and owning the decisions I had made along the way, right or wrong because they had brought me here to this moment. Jeffrey and I conversed for about seven months. I talked about him to everyone who would listen. He in turn was probably feeling a little of what I felt for all those years. Unsure of who he was, not certain of how to embrace this craziness he had been thrown into without hurting his family. It was like navigating a country road without a compass. The maturity he continues to display in regards to all the decisions that were made regarding him, affecting him but without his knowledge makes it easy to forget that he is the child in all this. His faith in goodness and his kind spirit has helped guide me. We decided that Edmonton would be the best place for us to reunite face to face. With both of our families in Truro it would place a lot of unnecessary pressure on us and it was important that the reunion be about us. Mother and child. If I was asked to describe this process I would liken it to climbing a mountain. Slow and steady on the way up, marveling at the views, taking smalls steps, taking care not to fall, holding your breath sometimes because you are not sure what step you should take next, all the while knowing that the beauty was in the climb. Jeffrey landed in Edmonton on a beautiful Friday evening in September. Kirk and I had decided that I was going to go get him at the airport. Any advice that was given to me by well wishers all suggested the same, that the initial reunion should just be Jeffrey and I. The day of I was a complete mess. A bundle of frayed nerves. I couldn’t eat, hadn’t slept and my nervous stomach had me in the washroom every five minutes. Kirk poured me a glass of wine while I talked to a friend on the phone. I am not sure how many times he refilled it but my nervousness subsided, as did my ability to drive safely to the airport. Kirk insisted on driving but was going to stay in the truck. We arrived a bit early so Kirk parked and decided to walk me into the airport and keep me company but leave before Jeffrey’s plane landed. Plans are plans but even the best laid plans sometimes fall apart mid flight. Kirk was so excited for me, so thrilled to be a part of my life changing I couldn’t imagine him not being there when Jeffrey stepped off the plane. The waiting was excruciating. Kirk and I waited as close to the doors as possible, hand in hand, giddy with anticipation, as friends and family were reunited one by one. The plane emptied quickly at first and then slowly a passenger or two here and there descended the stairs. Kirk was hilarious through it all, keeping me upbeat, trying to convince me that the young Asian guy coming down the stairs was probably my son, or maybe the Hawaiian guy, or perhaps the 70 year old plaid loving granddad. After what seemed like an eternity my boy came down the stairs. He was bubbling over with excitement about the baby that he helped deliver on the plane. He detailed the account of the events that unfolded during the flight that led to him assisting in the birth of a bouncy baby. We were astonished and intrigued. It turned out the story was bogus, but a great ice breaker. Something weird happened and it happened very quickly, twenty years faded away until there was nothing separating us. What could have been, and should have been weird was quietly comfortable. Two hours and several cocktails later nobody would have guessed that years and miles and questions had ever separated us. Well wishing friends wanting to share in our excitement met us at the restaurant intending to have one drink with us and move on. It was an exciting evening for everyone and next thing you know we were all at their home bar, with all the makings of an all nighter! There was dancing and laughter, memories that would last forever. As the sun was coming up Jeffrey’s head lowered unto the bar and his eyes closed in much needed slumber. Somehow I helped maneuver my stocky, over six feet tall boy up the stairs and to a bedroom where he could catch a couple of hours of sleep. At twenty years old I tucked my boy in for the VERY first time. I stepped outside the door and tears of complete joy spilled over my cheeks. All the Kings horses and all the Kings men couldn’t have put me back together again but finally, for the first time in twenty years I felt complete.