It’s September 11, the nation’s anniversary of that tragedy in New York that forever changed the landscape there and broke so many hearts all across the globe Children lost parents, parents lost children, and “never forget” became a worldwide rallying cry.

Most American adults old enough to vote remember all too well where they were the day the Twin Towers fell. Whether or not we knew someone lost in that attack, we all shared in the nation’s collective grief. We struggled with the denial, not wanting to think such a thing could happen in our country. We got angry at those who had wrought such destruction. We bargained, with votes in subsequent elections, over who could keep America safer in the future. We mourned the thousands lost that day, and our nation dealt with a deep sadness that lasted for months and years to follow.

Three of the victims who died on United Flight 175 that day were two adoptive dads and their three-year-old son, David Brandhorst. Forgotten by many, though, were the compounded losses suffered by David’s birthmother, Michelle… until she shared her story in a lengthy comment she posted on the Sparks from the Anvil blog, an excerpt of which appears below.

One Birthmother’s 9/11 Story

(Adoption) was not something that I decided spur of the moment. I made the decision to allow Dan and Ron to raise David as their own son because I felt in my heart they would be great parents, David was meant to be their son. I was a recent college graduate, with a son, and knew that it would be difficult to provide for both of them and pursue grad school and a career. I am not ashamed to say that I was having problems, but was able to be rational about what would be in the best interest for everyone. I went to have an abortion 2 times and I could not do it– call it divine intervention or something.

I anguished over my decision, my heart hurt more than words can explain. I had the opportunity to be with David after his birth. I was not hidden away in another ward of the hospital. I cried the whole time… surreal is the best way to describe it. I asked to keep his sleeper, but the (staff) said it was not allowed, against hospital policy. The nurse saw me crying; she brought it to me, later. She saw how much that would mean to me. I still have it, and his bracelets, his cap, his charts, etc. All of things that a mother cherishes, and keeps packed away for years.

After (placement), I decided to detach, or shut down for my own mental health. I was regretful, and second guessing (quite normal to do so). I didn’t know how to feel or what to do with those feelings. I even sent them a few emotionally charged e-mails, followed by the apology e-mails. Postpartum hormones made it worse. It was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make, and the most painful experience.

(Fast forward 3 years…) That morning of September 11 was an ordinary day, beautiful. I had just started my teaching job at the school. I remember a student ran in my room and said we were under attack. There it was, on the many TV screens: the horrific site, the smoke… it was enough to make my stomach hit my throat. I watched the events unfold with my psychology students. I was horrified, not even knowing how it would impact my life.

Sometime after midnight, there was a knock at my door. I answered, half-asleep, and it was my parents. My dad moved to the side, my mother had this look, of sheer terror that I will never forget. (She) said in the most distraught voice “oh, missy… David.” I fainted, fell into my dad. He grabbed me before I hit the ground. I will never forget that feeling. I never want to feel it again. and it remains blurry as to what happened after that. I kept saying no, no, crying loud, screaming no …no…

Time seemed to be warped, if that makes sense? I called Drew, his biodad, first thing in the morning, the call that was the hardest for me to make. I was on auto-pilot and don’t know how I made it through those first few days. (The adoptive dads) had called and left a message on David’s birthday, for me to hear his voice… It was the best. I still have that old answering machine. And I still have (their last) e-mail, sent Sunday, Sept 09, 2001, with a pic, but only one picture was attached.

I will never see my son David turn into the wonderful young man that I know he would have become. I know that he was an old soul (look at his eyes; take a hard look at those eyes… you’ll see it.) Everyday he and his dads are in my thoughts, and the pain does not go away. He was brought into all our lives for a reason. I think about what could have been and how he could have grown to see that person that I am, and the rest of our family. I did not give him up because I wanted to. I wanted the best for him, and having him and losing him has taught me more about life than anything else.

David’s spirit will always be in my heart. I am proud to have brought him into this world, to touch the lives of those close to his 2 dads.

“Never Forget”: an Open Adoption Mantra

There’s no question that the phrase “never forget” has become a national rallying cry. It reminds all Americans of the importance of honoring 9/11’s losses in the years that have followed that tragic day.

Because while life marches on, it is the remembrance of our past sacrifices that gives deeper meaning to the future’s gains.

And this simple truth applies also in the complexity of what is known as open adoption. Every open adoption is an ongoing acknowledgement of the sorrow of great loss, and  the hope of new life.  By continuing to honor those whose sacrifices made each open adoption possible, we affirm the never-forgotten value of each member of the adoption triad– especially the adoptee.

By listening to the adoptees’ experiences, we all can grow from their perceptions of the adoption plan made on their behalf.

And by keeping our open adoption promises as long as we have life, each parent validates the faith placed in each other, from Entrustment Day forward.

Never forget.. Never, ever, ever forget.

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