A few weeks back Marcel met Tree.
Tree met Marcel.
We met at a park, and played baseball and alligator.
After an hour or so, we all parted with hugs. Sam was there too. It was all good.
It had been a few years since the donor had been in this hemisphere.
Marcel was beyond easy about all of it. He knew for a few weeks prior that Tree might be in town, and wanted to meet. Marcel agreed to that, and suggested a playground.
In Marcel’s mind Tree is someone who had love in his heart that helped to bring Marcel into the world. To Marcel a donor is a person who helped to make you happen. When Marcel saw some eggs on a leaf in a pond over the summer, he wondered if a donor had helped to make the eggs that might become a fish one day. At dinner every night, when we all share what we are thankful for, Marcel says; “I am thankful for Mommy, Sammy, Uncle, and Tree who wanted to help make me…” Or some variation.
After Marcel met Tree he started to identify as a brown boy, instead of as a white one. Marcel said out loud; “Mommy I am brown. I am brown like Sammy, and you are not brown.” Did seeing Tree in all his gorgeous brown glory allow a switch to be thrown in Marcel’s identity box? He had seen many pictures before, but was always stumped when I would say; “Marcel you are brown and creamy because you are from Mommy and Tree.” In Tree’s arms, and holding his hand, Marcel felt the brown skin in his own gorgeous body come to the surface and dance. Marcel wanted to claim his Tree self now too. I have always shared with him things that I know he shares in terms of gifts, or physical traits, but to see it, and touch it was very different.
Of course this made me grieve for the loss of our trip to visit Sam’s first family this summer. I want so much for Sam to have the same opportunity. And, I also remind myself that the boys are their own beings, and have their own stories and needs. My job is to keep listening, and providing every opportunity I can to meet those needs. I have more and more confidence that I am listening to my boys beautifully, and they know it.
A few weeks later Tree and I had dinner. At one point he says to me “You are so proud of Marcel.” He paused, smiled at me and then said; “I am too.” I found myself melting in this unexpected way. Sharing pride in Marcel with him was a relational moment I never have as a single parent. Uncle and I have something like it. And I share amazing connection and joy with friends and family for sure. I might have it with members of Sam’s biological family one day. I may have it with a life partner one day. But at that moment, it was a profound first.
We talked about race, life dreams, creativity. We talked about brothers, life stories and parents. We connected, and all the time there was this connectivity that was gentle, and understood. It was a connectivity I never embraced like this with him before. I didn’t know I could. We have both grown a lot in the last few years. We were two very different people than the ones who met, and made this miraculous life choice that resulted in Marcel.
I invited Tree to share his experiences as a donor here on the blog. (He of course agreed to his picture being posted here.) He expressed interest in that. It occurred to me that some of you might have some great questions you’d like to ask him to consider or speak to if he felt willing and able. I don’t know when or in what way he’ll choose to respond–but asking questions always gets me thinking about things differently anyway so have at it. You can post questions, or email to me, and I’ll pass them along.
As for questions you have of me–please keep them coming. I’ll continue to write about all of this, as my time and my heart allow. I’d also like to offer him the podium now. I’ve had my turn..