When You Love A Child You Leave Your Needs Behind

When I talk about my husband and his beautiful young son with people, there is a question that is inevitably asked. Sometimes it is kind, sometimes it is disapproving and sometimes it is only curious, but it almost always comes up. Why doesn’t my husband have his son living with him? And subsequently, now that we are married, when are we going to have him come live with us instead of his grandparents. I have one very clear and succinct answer, my step-son lives with his grandparents because it is the best place for him to be. Let me elaborate.

I am a product of multiple families. My birth mother was 15 when she had me and she and my grandmother put me up for adoption immediately. I was raised by my adopted parents until I was 12, then a single mom until I was 17 after which I lived with my dad and my step-mom. As an adult I have met and become close to my birth family as well including two half brothers.

Now, I have a step-son who lives with his grandparents. My husband and I visit him regularly and are an active part of his life, however, we are not raising him. The truth is he has a better life with his grandparents than we could give him at this point in ours. The same was true when I moved in with my dad and my step-mom, they were in the position to give me a better life than my mother. I have a niece who was adopted by another family, we still see her and are part of her life, but she has a more stable family than she would have if my brother had kept her.

I grew up believing that the more people who loved a child the better off that child would be. In my case and in the case of my step-son I have absolutely found that to be true. When it comes to raising a child there is no room for judgement or shame whether self imposed or imposed by the society in which we live. It is okay for us to not be able to do something alone, even if that something is parenting. It does not make you a bad parent to ask for help.

The moralistic notion that giving up a child to someone who can and will raise them better makes you a bad person or means that you don’t love your child is dangerous for the child. If my birth mother had not given me up for adoption, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college. I would have been raised in a household that was unhappy and in the case of my grandfather, abusive. Instead I grew up safe and graduated college without debt and now have the love of four different families.

My step-son is being raised somewhere where he can play outside on acres of land. His cousins are with him almost everyday and his great grandmother lives right up the street. He is safe and happy and gets more attention than my husband and I could afford to give him with both of us working full-time jobs. Eventually, we would like to have him live with us, when he is older and we are more financially stable, but for now, the best option is to let him be where he is and not remove him from a beautiful life just because we have been told that we are supposed to raise him ourselves no matter what.

Ultimately it shouldn’t matter who is raising the child, so long as the child is loved, and sometimes the most difficult decisions are the ones that look like the easiest. I believe it is our responsibility as a society, not just as individuals, to keep children safe and to love them. This means not shaming one another for making decisions that we may not understand such as choosing to let a child go to another home. Accepting our limitations as individuals is one of the most important things we can do, for ourselves and for our children, and at the end of the day what is best for the child should not be decided by morals and ideals imposed upon individuals by society, but by what will be the best decision for the child. Period.

About the Author

Clara is a lifelong writer who recently became stepmom to an energetic seven-year-old boy. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Alabama and has written on a variety of subjects including social issues, politics, and music. A yoga practitioner and foodie with a deep passion for health and wellness, she seeks to use her education and experience to help individuals create better lives for themselves and their children. Clara is currently living in Atlanta with her husband and her 80lb ridgeback mix. Clara is a member of the PedSafe Team

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