The Replacement Child

Two weeks after we lost Sarah and Benjamin, we received a call that we were matched on the adoption front. Double A and I had mixed emotions at the time. Of course we were thrilled at the prospect of finally bringing a child home with us, but at the same time, we were still in such deep mourning, not to mention shock. Our heads were all over the place. On some levels it didn’t seem fair to the twins for us to explore this opportunity. And at the same time, our longing to parent our children made it clear that we needed to. On our way home from meeting the Mother, I remember telling Double A, if this works out, I certainly hope people don’t say to us, “See, everything worked out after all.” That adoption fell through, but the sentiment remained.

Baby Boy arrived some seven months later, and while no one said it outright, I got the sense that in the minds of some family and friends, that all was now well and right in the world. Fast forward to the Little Guy’s arrival, and the everything happens for a reason/doesn’t it all work out in the end thoughts were echoed time and time again.

For some reason, there’s this notion of the “Replacement Child” after loss. As if having another child erases all of the pain and suffering we, as bereaved parents, go through in losing a child(ren). As if having another child could make up for of the child you lost. These children are our family. They are the children we fell in love with the moment we discovered we were pregnant. Children for whom we had already developed hopes and dreams. Children we thought we’d be able to meet, watch grow, and build lives of their own. They are not replaceable.

The Replacement Child isn’t always a new child. I know of parents who already had living children at home before their loss being told, “at least you have another at home.” Really? Would someone say that to a sibling if their brother or sister died? Or to a child if one of their parents died? I don’t even think someone would say that to the parent of an older child who had passed. So why is it OK to say that to the parent of a child lost through miscarriage or stillbirth? Let me be clear, it is not OK to say this. Ever.

Today is the second anniversary of Sarah and Benjamin’s birth and passing. Two years later, and the wound feels just as fresh. The grief just as deep. And our love, and longing for them to be here alongside us remains just as strong. We are grateful for our boys we have at home, but they are not replacements. Just much welcomed additions.

Have you experience Replacement Child “Syndrome”? How have you dealt with it?



5 thoughts on “The Replacement Child

  1. Thank you for saying this. I truly think most people are impossibly uncomfortable with the idea of a bereaved parent’s unending, unbearable grief. They want to tell themselves we are “healed,” “better,” whatever. That way they don’t have to worry about us anymore. The problem is that these comments trivialize the pain that endures any time we live without all of our beloved children. Of course we’re grateful for the children we have and of course we constantly grieve the ones we can’t hold in our arms. Thinking of you and remembering all of your precious children.

  2. Nodding along with all of this. There is no such thing as a replacement, be it parent, sibling, friend or child. Thinking of you and Double A today.

  3. This completely hit home for me. While I love my daughter, I often think of my lost angel. Especially at night when I am rocking her to sleep. I am so grateful to have her, knowing what a miracle life truly is, I still miss my angel just as much. Sometimes I feel I am silly to mourn after so much time for a baby that I never met. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone. My heart breaks for all of the families enduring through losing a child or children. Your strength to put words to these emotions is amazing!

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