PostHeaderIcon My Baby

By Jael Strong

Jackson is not my biological son. I started taking care of him while he was still a baby, but didn’t secure any legal rights until he was six years old. This has presented a variety of challenges over the years, but it has been the most amazing experience. He still has a connection with his biological family, and in many ways this has helped him to understand who he is. But I also want him to know that, though we are not biologically connected, we have a strong bond with deep roots.

My family and his biological family have known each other for four generations now, but I didn’t know Jackson’s birthmother very well. I didn’t really get to know her until she was pregnant. I didn’t think much of our interaction until the first time I saw Jackson.

Jackson was only a few days old the first time I met him. It was late August and it was a very sunny, hot day and our families were getting together to eat at Olive Garden. I remember seeing him in his carrier as we entered the restaurant. I know I ordered food, but I don’t think I ate a bite. I sat on a bench seat at a long table, surrounded by twenty-five friends and family, and held Jackson throughout the entire meal. I remember how soft he felt and how quiet he was. I whispered to him little things that popped into my mind, cute things about the food and the people around us. Everybody said, “She’s never going to let him go!” And I didn’t.

Jackson loves to hear that story. It isn’t a dramatic story with sordid details. It’s a simple story, but it tells him that I loved him from the first time I saw him. It tells him that he has a huge family that cares for him and for each other. Stories about his past, our families, his early years mean a lot to him because they help to shape his identity and sense of self.

It is so important that our children attain a sense of belonging and tradition. Our children need to see themselves in those around them; they need to feel that they occupy an important place. When we tell our children stories from our past and theirs, it breathes life into their history. It is a simple gift we can share and it reaps large rewards. In Jackson’s case, hearing that uncomplicated story of our first hours together brings a smile to his face that tells me that he knows that he has a large, loving family and that he will always be my baby.

2 Responses to “My Baby”

Leave a Reply