“I’m sorry, Noelan,” I said with tears streaming down both sides of my face. “I’m so sorry.”

It was just a few minutes before Noelan left our home to be driven to the social work office and transferred to the other family. I was sitting in the armchair, and he had climbed into my lap. Sadness filled the room; you could feel it. He looked in my eyes as if he understood it all. He knew that my weak apology meant so much more.

I’m sorry, Noelan, for the past. You’ve had an impossible start. There are so many things that should have happened for you. You should’ve been home 3 years ago. You should have been immediately settled in a family and not been moved. I’m sorry for all the pain you’ve had to endure.

I’m sorry, Noelan, for right now. The sheer act of moving you to another family will harm you emotionally. The situation you’re going to wasn’t healthy for you a few months ago, and it still might not be. I’m sorry that you’ll be disoriented and you’ll miss the family you’ve had. I’m sorry that there’s nothing I can do.

I’m sorry, Noelan, for your future. To be sure, I don’t know what your future holds. Maybe it’s a million times better than I envisioned for you in our family. I know that what I wanted for you was wonderful and that you would be unconditionally loved every single day. I’m sorry that I can’t guarantee that for you now.

These thoughts didn’t race through my mind in that moment. It’s taken me a week and a half to process this sliver of my grief, but as we were sitting there, looking each other in the eye, he understood.

He was our son for a season, and every day I loved him. I am – we are – in so much pain because we loved him so deeply.

He was our son for a season, and it was the best season. The happiness that we all had was contagious. We were a family, and it was beautiful.

He was our son for a season. And of all the days we had for those 3 months – the tickle attacks, the silliness, the playgrounds, the running and chasing, the snuggles and the holding and the singing – it’s that moment that haunts me. My son staring me in the face, totally somber.

He had climbed into my lap.. He looked into my eyes as if he understood it all. Then, with his little hands, he wiped the tears of my cheeks.

“It’s OK, Daddy.”

I love you, Noelan, and I will never forget the joy you brought us.


daddy and noelan


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