Return the Child

When I read Carol’s heart-wrenching, raw story about her son, I immediately thought of a friend of mine who had gone through something similar and thought Carol gave words to a tough situation that my friend struggled to express. There were many nights of heart ache and struggle for my friend when they lost a little girl they had been taking care of for over two years. Carol’s story brought my friend’s struggle back to the surface of my memory. If you have ever experienced anything like Carol, then you know this experience is one of the hardest a mom can go through. 

Our beautiful babyGraham

I stood there…exhausted.  Staring at nothing in particular and everything in general.  It was all a blur; fuzzy, like my thoughts.  

Shock does that.  Moments earlier I held my infant son in my arms, cradling him, cuddling him.  Now my arms were empty.  The ache in my heart was like none I had ever experienced.  It only exaggerated the pain in my empty arms. Nobody could ever take that pain away except my son – back where he belonged.  

I buried my tear-stained face in his blankie.  Sobbing seemed to bring a bit of release.  I needed to deter my thoughts.

Watching the airplane turn on the runway took every ounce of stamina to hold myself together and not spring through the security doors to chase after it.  I deliberated between watching the aircraft until it was a speck in the sky or escape to my car to be in private.  Choosing the latter, I wondered if the fountain of tears would ever stop.  When would the pain of this loss be tolerable?

Does anyone ever recover after losing a baby?  It does not matter how you lose a child, the impact and grief are the same.   I could not deny it.   He was gone – forever.  

I was his mommy for a year

A year had passed since we adopted Seth.  When the phone rang that day I had no reason to suspect anything unusual.  My husband answered; and as I watched the expression on his face change rapidly, I did not like what I was observing.  He called me over to share the receiver.

“I am getting pressure from my parents to raise my son so I am going to have to get him back.  I am prepared to hire an attorney and you know you will not win.”  The words had been rehearsed and seemed too easy for her to say.  A couple sentences, that’s all it was — a couple sentences that tore our hearts out.

“I’m afraid you don’t really have a choice,” our lawyer informed us.  The law was clear.  If we chose to fight, there would only be more agony and great expense.  “I will set it up for you to return the child as soon as possible.”


RETURN THE CHILD as soon as possible.  I screamed on the inside.  I cried on the outside.  No, this just can’t be happening.  We loved Seth.  He was ours.  The bottom of my world dropped out from under me.  I loved him and cared for him. He was part of our family for a whole year.  I could not imagine life without him.  I was his mommy.  How could she do this to us?  How could she possibly love him like we did?  What about Seth?  He would be torn from his parents, his home.  Surely he would feel the rejection.  What path would his life take now? Nothing prepared me for the pain of relinquishing my son to someone who had not wanted him!  But we had no choice.  “Return the child.  Give him back.”

He handed MY son to her…

I watched from a distance as my husband handed him to her.  It was in slow motion.  I watched his hands leave the child as he lifted our son into her arms.  He was handing our son to a stranger.  I wanted to run and grab him but I was glued to the floor.  I felt petrified.  I thought I was either going to faint or throw up.  My hand fluttered to my mouth for a moment fearing I might scream out.  How could I go on?  Where would I get the strength?  This just could not be happening.  Please God — let this only be a dream.  Tomorrow I will wake up and everything will be normal again.

Our sonGraham

When someone says it feels like her heart was in her throat, that is accurate.  My heart became so heavy it felt like there wasn’t room in my chest cavity to hold it.  The heaviness moved to my throat and even my extremities, weakening my entire body.  I was fearful that my heart would implode, exploding on the inside from pressure, and yet wondered if that would bring some relief to the overwhelming state of heartbreak.  My loss consumed my thoughts.  Even when I was not thinking about it specifically, something would trigger a memory and the initial impact was felt once again.

In the months that followed, every time I saw a new baby or watched a child playing, I would cry.  I could not go down the aisle in the grocery store that sold baby food without breaking down.  Every time the telephone rang, I was hoping it was that ‘woman’ saying she had changed her mind.  Days turned into weeks, then months…….. then years.  That was over forty years ago.   I’ll never forget our little boy.  

HeadShotCarol Graham is a charismatic speaker whose stories bring hope. She inspires transformation and healing by using her own compelling life experiences to engage and connect on a deep emotional level.  Through laughter and tears, her audience learns how to move forward without denying the past. Carol is not your typical speaker; she is animated, high spirited and effective with a gift to connect with her audience who always leave with new inspiration. 

Carol has survived the challenges of major illnesses, devastating personal losses and financial ruin more than once, yet has refused to become a victim. Her goal is to share with others how to survive and thrive.

Carol hosts a bi-weekly talk show “Never Ever Give Up Hope” in which she interviews people with remarkable and heart-warming stories of how they overcame overwhelming obstacles and achieved success. “Never Ever Give Up Hope” has an international audience in over 50 countries.

Carol is the author of a fast-paced memoir, Battered Hope, the blog Never Ever Give Up Hope, a regular contributor to several blog sites and has been published in three anthologies including a best-seller.

In 2015, Carol received the Woman of Impact Award from Focus on Women Magazine as well as Author of the Year for her memoir, Battered Hope. 

In addition to motivational speaking, hosting a talk show and writing, Carol is a business owner, a wife, mother, grandmother and together with her husband have rescued over 30 dogs.

Connect with her on social media in whatever way you like best!
More About Carol and her blog.
Carol’s Podcast where she interviews others who have overcome life’s struggle.
Check out her memoir on Amazon.
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  • Heartbreaking, yet so beautiful. I am so sorry you had to go through this.

  • Marisa Ulrich

    Heartwrenching and beautifully written. God bless you.

  • Christina Graham

    I am so so sorry. I couldn’t even imagine.

  • Wow. This is heartbreaking. I can’t even imagine it. This story really makes you put things in perspective. We can’t take one minute with our family for granted. Beautifully written.