I saw her two more times, Stuart thrice. Each time was a little easier, a little less unspoken stranger danger flying round the room.
We leave Orla with the golden light of parental love all around her and can confirm with surety she is a blessed little girl. But let’s not deny this one: in Stuart, we take some equally golden love away.
There was a lot of earnest talk about ‘family of choice’ versus ‘family of origin’ around the three tables we met at and it seems to me that, yes, it is a mature society that allows it’s members to make those choices for themselves and their dependants.
But in the last few years I have witnessed first hand the long-term primal wounds that can be created by being deliberately separated or even estranged from blood love. You can rationalise the absence all you want, you can throw as much impressive intellectual rigour at the debate, but when the dust settles there it is: the unspoken absence.
My greatest hope is that Stuart (most definitely part of my own family of choice) will be given the nod to make a primary and regular contribution to Orla May as she grows, that he will have permission to share not just his baby batter, but his unconditional blood love to the little girl it helped create.
From where I’m sitting, seat 8A at the moment in fact, there’s no downside for Orla May that I can see.
Happy ending? Happy beginning for sure.