Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Talk about a blast from the past.

The picture is one of my husband and I over two decades ago. In that short span of time before we knew anything of the loss of our oldest child. When our life revolved around school and friends and the innocence of youth.

That was us before the miracle of our first son. Before anyone made us feel unworthy, unable to give our own child everything he deserved.

The girl you see there is someone I have never found again. Never been able to reconnect with, have an association with.

She disappeared over twenty years ago. Became a stranger to me and those close to me after the loss of my son.

Even now. Even with therapy and support groups. With all I have done to learn the truth of what happened. With all the research and learning. I have forever lost that girl I once was.

Lost her on that day I walked out of the hospital with empty arms. When I believed I wasn’t good enough, worthy enough, for my own child. When everything I had believed and carried within me throughout my life became something that no longer mattered as I became THAT kind of woman. The kind who could give up her own flesh and blood.

There is a change, a shift, I believe happens, even today, to women who are led to believe, whether through so-called counseling or the message from society in general, that they are not good enough mothers for their children. That another woman. Someone better. Richer. Married. More successful . . . is the one who deserves to raise her child.

It’s an abuse against her self esteem. Her self worth as a woman, and most importantly as a mother.

It’s an accusation, without merit to base it on, that she will fail without ever trying. That her status, her worth as a mother, is below another woman’s. Unimportant to those that society views as worthy.

And it’s used under the excuse of doing what is best for her and her child.

Because that is what our world revolves around today. That is what so many believe . . . support.

In our loss of human kindness, we have decided that it is acceptable, even encouraged, to take away one woman’s worth to justify another’s.

We find no problem in saying it’s allowed to build up the self esteem of the woman desiring to be a mom at the sacrifice of the one who already is. No problem in creating a lifetime of doubt, insecurity and depression for one woman in a hope to chase away the same emotions from another.

And we base it on which one deserves more, by their accomplishments. Their financial worth. Their career stability.

On who our materialistic society deems as more “worthy” of a child.

I was deemed unworthy of my child. Deemed not good enough for him. A failure as a mother before I ever had a chance to try.

And yet his adoptive mother was deemed worthy of it all. She was seen as the one to be freed from her misery. Important enough to place me in a lifetime of my own misery to save her from hers. I wasn’t good enough . . . she was.

So I was sacrificed.

For her. For the belief it was worth it to end her suffering by settling it on my shoulders. By taking the woman I was and changing her into one who then knew loss, self-doubt and grieving.

Because, somehow, my being young and still in school and unmarried warranted that I take the pain while she was relieved of it.

It’s easy, as a society, to claim we have nothing to do with the loss of mother and child. To stand back and declare that our hands are washed clean of the acts that determines which woman suffers and which one gains.

But we aren’t innocent. We are the problem.

We are the ones who, in so many areas of our lives, base our decisions on who is more worthy by their power, their money, their status. Our voices are what feeds the practice. Our views that continue to accept that a mother deserves to be separated from her child simply because she doesn’t have “enough” compared to that other woman who so desperately wants a child.

You see it everywhere. Everytime someone talks about how great and brave a First Mom (birthmother in most of their talk) is for realizing her child deserved more than she could offer.

They just can’t believe how amazing she is. Are so thankful for the sacrifice she made so they, or another, could be parents.

What a wonderful woman she is. How great is it that she thought of her child first and realized he or she deserved more than she could offer.

What a miracle it is that she will take on a life now of suffering and loss and grief and self-doubt so that another woman can be happy and have that child she deserved.

Another sacrifice. Another woman forever changed. Forever left to see herself as not being good enough for her own child so that another woman could have what she “deserved” and be worthy of that very same child.

Every time you hear of a First Mom so “happy” because of her supposive choice to believe she wasn't good enough, rich enough, successful enough . . .

Every time you visit this blog, or one of the many other First Moms brave enough to step up and speak out against what society wants us to believe, I hope you will think of that picture of my husband and I. And of that woman who once was and will never be again because I too was led to believe that I was doing the right thing. That I wasn’t good enough, worthy enough, right enough, for my own child.

I hope you will remember that I was one of them. One who was sacrificed by society and the adoption industry to bring happiness to another woman while I was left with sorrow, loss and heartache.

That girl you see in the picture is the image of who I was before it was decided that my pain was worth curing the loss of another woman’s. That the insecurities, depression and grief I have lived with my entire life was worth it because it meant that couple who so desperately wanted a child of their own was granted their wish.

I was the sacrifice for another’s happiness.

I was the one who was left never able to find the woman she once was because I wasn’t worthy of being protected and cared about.

Instead, I was the one who deserved to lose because another was better than I was and deserved the happiness that came at the expense of my life full of pain.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Book Tour: The Primal Wound

For many in the world of adoption, the book Primal Wound, by Nancy Newton Verrier is well known and a topic many have discussed and debated from all sides.

It’s not a book for the faint of heart, for the weak. It’s not a book to be read if you are unwilling to open up your mind to accept a different perspective than the “blank slate” theory that is so common in the world of adoption.

But it is a book you can learn from if you are open to the lessons taught. It’s a book that can bring understanding if you accept the challenge in seeing that the old beliefs that adoptees face no affects from adoption are mere myths in the real world and that there is grief in the separation of a child from their mother.

And so in my own opinion of the book and the challenges presented, I will do my best to answer the following questions as one who also had a lot to learn and accept in that moment when I opened to the first page and began to read something that went against everything I had been told and believed through many years of my journey through adoption . . .

***In the chapter "Reunions as a Means of Healing the Adoption Triad" Nancy Verrier states "Under no circumstances should a birthmother search if there is any possibility at all that she might abandon her child again!" Would this statement cause you to not search for your child, given that life often throws unexpected curves at you and you could not completely guarantee that you would NEVER abandon your child again? After all you don't know who your child has grown into - you could have completely opposing views on life, morals, ethics or other things that could cause you to not be able to maintain a relationship with him/her. How can birth mothers who search help to minimize this risk for the adoptee?***

Had I read this book, or even known it existed, before my first step into reunion, yes it would have stopped me from searching for my son until I knew I was better prepared for what was to come. And at a point, emotionally, to be there for him in the way he deserved and let him know, with everything I could, from the very first moment, that I was never going anywhere again.

To me, it would not have been being able to guarantee to him that I would never walk away because I had already known, on the minute I found him again, that there was nothing in this world that could ever take me away from him again. But that was based on my own emotions without having a clue how important it was to him to never go through another abandonment from me. I didn’t understand then just how very important it was for me to gain back his trust and to show him, in more than just words, but actions as well, that there was ABSOLUTELY nothing he could do or say that would make me walk away from him a second time.

And for mothers who are, or are planning to, search for the child they lost to adoption, my biggest suggestion would be to prepare themselves in every way they possible can so that they do cut down on the risks of hurting their son or daughter in such a way. To get the help and support they need beforehand from therapists and support groups, to enable them to realize that it is up to them to regain the trust from their children, and not the other way around.

They need to know that, in some ways, they will be meeting a stranger. Someone they might not understand on all levels or see eye to eye with. There might be areas they find where the viewpoints and opinions they have are vastly different from those their child has gained through his or her childhood and experiences.

But none of that should ever change the unconditional love and bond mothers have with their children. It’s okay not to agree with everything your son or daughter might believe but that does not make it okay to walk away from them because of their beliefs.

They need to know and fully understand, from the very start, how very important it is to never abandon your child again. To see it from their side and understand, no matter what our experiences in the past, what matters now is their future and how we will or will not affect it.

I believe we need so much more help for mothers facing the beginning stages of reunion so that they can be stronger and healthier for their children and be there for them in the way they need. More support and understanding needs to exist so that when the hard times come about, there is knowledge in how to journey our way through so that there is no longer a threat of our children being hurt again with the loss of their mothers a second time in their lives.

The natural process of life is for parents to be there for their children. And for mothers who are finding and reuniting with the children they lost to adoption, there is an importance for them to know that this doesn’t change or alter in any way because of what happened in the past. The same expectations are still there and should never be forgotten.

***I ask help from birthmothers such as myself who have spent most of their lives, remaking themselves since the adoption of their child. I find that my self confidence came slowly and with considerable study and determination to reactivate my earlier joyfulness, energy and that desire to make a difference in my life. I believe that I found and followed some very powerful dreams and that overall I have felt fulfilled in a way that was important even though the importance in my later life did not include other children of my own.

As I now am meeting my son after 42 years, I am finding that my self confidence frequently feels as though it is melting away or drifting out of reach, leaving me drained and a stranger to myself. I am very fearful, because the person my son is meeting is someone who no longer exists....yet is manifesting herself into the now me. I know very few birthmothers and I believe that dialogue in regard to self confidence is something essential.

This request for comment from birthmothers is actually based on Nancy's book completely. In Chapter 13, The Reunion Process, she outlines what she sees as Barriers to Positive Relationships. I have fear, I have guilt, I have shame, I have rage, I have anger and I work constantly on not letting them dominate me. I have made much progress with guilt and with shame. Anger I am trying to just accept. Bottom line, I want myself back. I want to take back my power so that future relationships not only with my birthson but with my husband will not be grounded in the sandy soil of self doubt.***

I can hear your struggle in this question and relate so well with it.

The emotions that come after reuniting with our children can be like an onslaught of emotionally charged darts that we are paralyzed from being able to duck out of their way. I know it’s a battle with everything you are feeling. A constant fight not to let the many different feelings you are going through become such a part of who and what you are that they become ALL that you are.

I’m not sure if it helps, but I’ve known many first moms, myself included, who have felt as if they were strangers to themselves after reuniting with their children. I think part of that is because, in some way, we spend so much of our energy trying to create a life after the loss of our children and then feel as if we are taken back to the women we were when we were pregnant and gave birth once we see our children again.

I believe you do have it right in finding support and some self confidence in talking to other first moms who understand what you are going through. Finding great support groups or just a group of others you can reach out to when you need to can go a long way in helping you through this time and reminding you that what you are feeling is normal and that so many of us have been there, are there, and know the kind of struggles you face.

There are so many of us out there who have an understanding of your experience. I hope you will reach out to those you come across during this part of your journey.

***IF an adoption HAD to happen for reasons beyond the scope of this question, and you could CHOOSE when and how that adoption occurred, please describe the adoption process that would do the following (in priority order): 1) support the child and 2) support the mother and 3) facilitate the best possible relationship between any involved adoptive/first parent(s) and child. Include in your answer details like the following: age at which adoption occurred, description of transition from mother/father to adoptive family, ongoing relationship between the families (if any) during the years when child is a minor, and relationship during the years when child is an adult.***

I have to start my answer to this question with two points before going on. First, for the most part, I’m going to answer this in the reference of domestic, versus international adoptions, though some of my answers will reach to all areas of adoption. And second, I will have absolutely NO mention of the practice of private adoptions and Domestic Infant Adoption as I firmly believe these practices should be illegal here in the states as they are in many other countries.

To me, IF an adoption HAD to occur, my vision of the kind of process I would like to see would be . . .

1) Support for the child . . . First and foremost, EVERYTHING should be done, every step taken, to keep the child with his or her mother or within his or her family. The ONLY reason I believe an adoption should occur outside of a child’s family is if there is a guaranteed threat or proof of abuse or harm to the child. If there is absolutely no way at all that a child can stay within the family in any way then, to me, supporting the child would include having an advocate for that child that is in no way associated with anyone who might profit or gain from adoption. One who is trained and very well educated in what is best for children, and only in what is best for THEM.

This advocate would be the voice they are not allowed to have. A person of trust who is commended and held in high esteem ONLY if they prove their every action is because of their belief it is in the best interest of the child. They don’t answer to state agencies who hope to reach adoption quotas or adoption agencies who want to make more money or adoptive parents wanting to adopt. They answer to the children only and have ONLY their interests to guide them. They would not be punished or rewarded for making certain choices within the realm of what others desire for their own gain. They would not be encouraged to push the process in one way or another. Their one and only purpose would be to represent the child who is unable, or not allowed, to speak for themselves.

2) Support for the mother . . . This one I struggle to answer because I believe if there is ANY way to support a mother than there is no need for an adoption to take place. Outside of true and serious threats of harm to a child, any support offered to a mother AFTER adoption would have more than likely helped more in the prevention of the adoption ever needing to occur in the first place.

So, I guess my answer to this would be, if a mother was failed prior to adoption and not given the support she and her child deserved, or even if a mother did threaten true and serious harm to her child, the support following an adoption should consist of, no matter what the case, allowing the mother to grieve and process the loss of her child, even if the adoption remains open.

She should be given the care and consideration to be able to react to her loss in the way she needs to instead of being expected to “act” in the way that others want her to. There should be a continued encouragement and support for her to overcome whatever obstacles she faces so that she can still be a positive presence in her child’s life. And she should never be expected or told that she can no longer be a mother or view her child as her own.

NEVER, not even in the worst of circumstances, should she be cut off from ALL contact with her child. Even when there is threat of harm to a child if there is physical meetings, pictures and updates on how her child is doing should be a must and should never be denied her.

3) Best possible relationships between first families and adoptive families . . . This should never be expected for anyone to accomplish without professional help in some way. To let two parties struggle their way through such unknown territory is wrong and prone for problems.

There should be programs provided for all sides and mediators involved to insure that when problems and questions arise there is help to work through them.

No two situations are the same so there can’t be a blanket answer for this because it’s part of human nature that some relationships just simply “click” better than others and some have outside forces and situations that call for a different approach.

But supporting the best possible relationship needs to be a priority that is not taken lightly, nor expected for any party to try and figure out on their own. We need more research and study put into finding the best way to handle these sort of relationships and true training of individuals who know and understand the complex situations that such relationships can and do bring up.

To allow one side or the other to simply throw in the towel and quit should never be allowed or accepted. Support should also include having other avenues when such feelings and frustrations arise, help and advice from outside sources who are responsible for guiding the way through such situations.

And in every step of this it should be stressed over and over again that the better the relationship between the two families, the better environment and security for the child caught in the middle. The best, and most important support, I believe, in this situation, is to always have a source to serve as a reminder of exactly why it is so important to continue to foster and nurture such relationships, even when times are tough and it would seem so much easier just to quit all together.

As for age of the child, I think such support and help should occur no matter what age the child is. And for transition, I really just can’t find any answer that can ever make it any easier on a child to be separated from his parents. Yes, there should be consideration so that no child is simply yanked from one life and tossed into another but, truthfully, I don’t think any kind of transition will change the loss a child feels from being separated from his or her mother.

And as for relationships, I think I pretty much covered my answer previously in reference to when an adoptee is a child. As for an adult, they are they are old enough and mature enough then to guide and direct their own relationships. The only input and influence we should have at that point in their life is to always let them know that we support them no matter what they do and that we understand that they do have and always will have two families in their life and that we will never, EVER expect them to have to choose between them.

In all of this . . . in all the questions and answers . . . I don’t’ have any guarantee how, if at all, there will be changes in our views of adoption or an understanding between all sides about what is truly best for adoptees.

But I do hope that discussions and debates such as this one will at least make us more aware of some things we never knew or never thought of in the world of adoption and that maybe, just maybe, in this tour, there will be something, some tidbit of knowledge, to learn from and carry with us from this point on.

To read more and follow others thoughts and answers, continue to the next leg of this book tour by visiting the main list at The Open Adoption Examiner.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yes, I Gave Up My Baby

I’m a First/Natural Mother, not a Birthmother.

My situation was not a loving, selfless act. It was an act of fear and desperation.

And I did not place my child for adoption . . . I gave him up.

I put my name on a piece of paper that the law viewed as a willing testament to my desire for my son to be separated from me. I placed him in the arms of someone who was a complete stranger to him, allowing another woman he had no bond with at the time to take my place. And then I walked away and left him alone with her, in those precious early days of his life when what he needed most was the sound of my heart beat, my voice. My familiar smell and the comfort of knowing he was loved in my arms.

If that isn’t giving him up, than I don’t know what is.

In our culture, an illusion is created by the adoption industry. A pretty little wrapping they use to try and hide away the darker truths and painful losses that come with separating a mother and her child.

There is no question that those who profit financially from adoption have had many years, decades worth, of study and research and learning on how best to convince a woman that adoption is the answer. The only true light at the end of the dark tunnel she faces in an unexpected pregnancy. They know how to play on her weaknesses. Which fears and insecurities to go after. What works best to show her that loving her child means losing her child.

And after they are done with her, after she has lost the most vital part of herself, she, often times, walks away repeating, as if reading from the same script, exactly what she was told while she was pregnant. Hailing herself on one end by standing proudly on the pedestal they placed her on, declaring she made the loving option by placing her child for adoption. That she gave a great gift to another couple. That she knew she couldn’t be what her child deserved and gave him or her the kind of life she could only wish for them to have.

And yet, on the other end, she is diminishing everything she is as a human being. Denying, as was done to her while pregnant, her own qualities and abilities. She places herself in a position of being “less than” for her own child, her own flesh and blood. Not being good enough, smart enough, educated enough, right enough to deserve to be a mother. Every time she declares that the adoptive parents are better than her for her child, she lowers herself to a level she doesn’t belong, or deserve.

She takes the punishment of her sins, her mistakes. Allows herself and others to see her as “undeserving” of her child because of her failures while casting a glowing light to that couple who did everything right and so deserves the “gift” of her son or daughter.

She was viewed as a failure as a mother before ever being allowed to try and is then encouraged to acknowledge this and praise it. And if she does . . . if she repeats the script, says what is expected, continues to deny her own worth and ability to parent her child while giving all the glory to the couple who had what she believed she could not offer, she is regarded as a saint. Respected for her selfless act. Hailed as a hero. Given love and praise by others in the adoption world for being so brave and wonderful.

As long as she continues to deny her own self worth and proclaims such a traumatic loss was worth it, she remains on the pedestal she was so methodically placed on while she was pregnant.

And it is a powerful drug to be up there. To be seen as such a good “beemommie.” It reaffirms that you did the right thing. That you really weren’t good enough for your own child. That you gave up everything because you recognized and accepted your own failures, mistakes and sins that caused you to be unworthy of being a mother.

It can make you believe that the loss you still feel deep in your heart is worth it. It can cloud the reality of the fact that the loss can, and often does, get worse, not better with time. Chase away the later questions of “Why?” and “How could I?”

Being viewed as a great soul for giving up your child goes far in chasing away the harsher truth of believing you failed at being able to provide your son or daughter with everything they deserve in life. That as a mother, you weren’t capable or able to care for your own flesh and blood. That somebody else was better than you for your own child. Your own baby . . . that part of you that can never be replaced or forgotten.

Somebody else had what you didn’t because they deserved a “gift” and you deserved punishment.

And it makes me so damn angry!

Not at the First Moms who hold on to the top of that pedestal and need that powerful drug to chase away the harsher truths. And not even at those who praise and hail them as wonderful, selfless saints who were so brave to see and accept what failures they were as mothers and lose their child to someone “better.”

No. My anger is at the adoption industry that feeds it into our culture, into every area of our society. It’s their manipulative disgusting ways that anger me, leaving me wanting to scream and yell, pull my hair out and knock my head against a wall.

Because they know what they are doing. They understand fully the importance of keeping a First Mom “happy” with her decision, encouraging others to prop her up and praise her loving sacrifice.

They know the truth. They know the very real risks if a First Mom begins to slip and question what happened. If she starts to look deeper into her experience and face it in a different light.

There is no question in their mind what happens when adoption is talked about in any way outside of their “positive adoption language.” Outside of the very carefully orchestrated counseling they offer. The “sunshine and roses” image they feed into society.

And they are terrified of that. They fear what would happen if more and more people begin to see adoption differently and talk about it in the honest painful truth it is. Because they know it will change everything for them, especially their overflowing, grossly earned profits.

And so they continue to use First Moms and adoptive parents and adoptees and society in general. They feed to us what they want us to believe . . . desperately need us to believe. They do all they can to make sure their illusion withstands all else and is never questioned, especially not by the First Moms who they took so much from before they ever even gave birth.

They still have complete control over so many. They still have the say in what we believe, what we say and how we handle such terrible losses. All so they can continue to profit in the worst of ways.

And what is left with those First Moms who are led to degrade themselves and their own worth in order to keep up the happy illusion of adoption? What happens to them if they begin to realize that they were good enough for their child? That they deserved to be a mother. That nobody was better for their child.

What happens to them when they realize nothing . . . absolutely nothing . . . was worth losing their child over? That everything they have, they would gladly and eagerly give back if it meant they could go back and never have to face that moment when they believed loving their child meant losing them?

What happens to them when they slip off that pedestal and begin to see different truths, harder realities that they were encouraged not to acknowledge for so long?

The sad truth is, these moms are failed all over again.

Because if they aren’t happy, accepting of the very painful loss of their child, they are again not good enough, wrong in some way, selfish, bitter, angry . . . whatever adjective you want to label them with. Again they fall to that level of being “bad” when they could be so “good.” And all for the simple fact that they refuse to live any longer in the cloud of belief that dictates they weren’t good enough to be mothers but they could still succeed as long as they behave as good “birthmothers.”

And once they quit doing that, they are again viewed by so many as the same failures they were back when they faced an unexpected pregnancy. Because only First Moms who repeat the same script we all hear over and over again are worthy of respect and love in today’s world. Only they make others feel good about their own situations. Keep up the happy image of adoption. Chase away the truths that linger just below the surface.

First Mom’s who follow the path that is expected from them find that redemption they feel they must have for their actions. Redemption so many have no problem offering them because it justifies their beliefs, their feelings. Gives them an excuse not to look deeper into the reality of separating a mother and child.

Because to actually look past the illusion the adoption industry portrays, gives light to a completely different knowledge that so many fear and know, on some level, makes no sense.

How can it when it involves such a tremendous loss for mother and child? When it makes no sense to see ANYONE happy and grateful for losing a son or daughter, encouraging others to follow in line with the same grief and suffer a lifetime of the same separation? How can it when the statement, “I gave you up because I loved you,” is such a complete contradiction in terms that in any other logic it would never be accepted.

We need to change our way of thinking. We need to change the views we carry and the expectations we place on expectant moms facing an unplanned pregnancies and First Moms who have lost their children.

We need to take the control away from the adoption industry. Refuse to believe what they claim is real and look into our own common sense, our own feelings and knowledge, to understand the true ramifications of adoption.

We need to be honest in everything we say to any woman considering adoption. Forget the “Positve Adoption Language.” Forget adoption plans and loving options.

Those terms represent nothing of the true act of giving your child up for adoption. They offer not even a sliver of the painful truth that actually occurs in believing, or being led to believe, that you are not good enough for your child. In the empty hearts and empty arms First Mom’s walk away with. In the forced situations we place our babies in with those who are strangers to them at the time of separation. And in the very real fact that the loss, the grief, the pain, doesn’t ever fully go away. It might come and go at times. Feel better one year and worse the other. But it never truly leaves a mother who has lost her child and very often grows stronger and more powerful as the years go by and the loss becomes more and more real with no end in sight.

We need to use honest language and refuse to be a part of the manipulative lying terms the industry wants us to use. Not for our benefit but for their own and at the sacrifice of so many wonderful women and children who are a victim to their words and actions.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Thanks

Tomorrow I will sit down with my family around the table.

Tomorrow I will be so thankful for all my children, for the joy they have brought to my life. I will be thankful for another holiday that we share again as a complete family.

I will be thankful for my husband sitting in his place at the end of the table. So very thankful that he survived his terrible scare this summer. That he is still here, a part of us, sharing another moment for us to remember and treasure as the years pass.

But tonight, with the pies baked and the turkey ready to go into the oven first thing in the morning. In this brief silence before all that is to come, I am thankful for the many wonderful people I have come to know through my adoption journey.

Thankful for their presence in my life. For all they have done for me, taught me and given me in the years since I first reunited with my son.

I’m thankful for the amazing first/natural mothers I have come to know. For their support and understanding. For everything they have offered even in their lowest times. Even in my closest friends I have never found anyone who understands the loss, knows how it can change us, make us into somebody completely different than we originally were, like the first/natural mothers who have come into my life.

I consider so many of you my dearest, closest friends even if we have never met face to face. You have been my strength when I had none. The shoulder I needed in my tears. The unquestioned understanding I sought for so many years.

I know there is so much I would have struggled to survive through if it weren’t for your wonderful presence in my life.

And I’m thankful for the many adoptees who give so much of themselves. Who also reach out, even in the midst of their own struggles, to offer help and concern for others. Who fight for change even in the face of ugliness. Who show their strength every time they speak out, insist we listen and they not be ignored.

One of my greatest lessons in this adoption journey has been the warm hearts of the adoptees I have come to know, like and respect. When I first learned of the childhood my son suffered, when I first desperately sought something, anything, to help him understand that his dad and I were there for him and that he could trust us, it was your help, your reaching out, that encouraged me, guided me through that time.

I don’t know what I would have done without you and I am so very thankful to have you as a part of my life.

And last, but definitely not least, I am thankful for the great adoptive mothers who I have come to trust and respect. Who, without even knowing it, broke through the harsh anger I carried and brought me to a place where I was more open to listen and learn, to understand from the other side. Who opened my eyes to the ups and downs of their own journey through the world of adoption.

I know my blog can sometimes be hard to read. I know there are times when my posts sound as if I am lumping all adoptive parents into one big ball of frustration and anger. But I hope you will always know that I am thankful for the support and respect you have offered. For your own personal insights that have taught me so much, led me to see things past my own personal experience.

I’m thankful for the one who can always put a smile on my face with her stories. For those of you who have given me a knowledge about international adoption I never would have known. For your dedication to your open adoptions even when it isn’t easy and faces the challenges that come with it. And for the fight you face when you speak up for change and your dedication to continue on, not for yourself, but for your children.

I’m thankful for your strength and courage to face the side of adoption so many don’t want to see. For the challenges you have presented me, forcing me to grab onto my own strength and courage, look past my own fear, and learn from your side as well.

There are so many wonderful people brought into my life through this adoption journey. So many amazing friendships that continue to grow and bless my days. Though one my greatest wishes is to never know the pain and loss and grief that have been so much a part of me, my son and my family, I am thankful that I do not have to face this alone. That there are so many of you out there who make me laugh, make me think, offer support and care, and remind me, all the time, of the greatness that does exist in this world.

And, ultimately, give me so many reasons to be thankful.

You will all be a part of my prayers this Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dear Anon

In my post, Is Silence Golden, you left your opinions without any other way of identification other than the name you claimed . . . “I agree with Anon. You are delusional.”

So in my grandness of delusion, and because you dared to suggest my son had done any wrong in what has and is happening to him, I am answering you here instead of attempting to fit it all into the space of a comment.

**Being adopted myself, I sought out and met my birth father, but NEVER would dump my adoptive family for them.**

As an adoptee, I would usually give you a wider understanding in what you have to say but not when such a statement at all reflects on my son and insinuates in any way that he was in the wrong for any action he took.

Regardless of your situation with your birth father and your adoptive family, you have no right to ridicule my son for his experiences and the choices he made. He did not “dump” anyone. He was failed in so many ways by his adoptive family. Failed by those who were supposed to love and care for him. His life was one of abuse and neglect. He was not protected from the harshness of life by his adoptive mom but was instead forced by her own hand to face them in the worst of ways.

My son does not, and will never, deserve to have those like you attempt to sit over him in judgment. Unless you have lived the life he has, you have absolutely no right to ridicule the decisions he made. Until you have faced his pain, you have no reliable voice in how he should or should not handle his relationship with his adoptive mother.

To expect him to remain in a relationship with those who abused him simply because they are his adoptive family is wrong in so many ways. Nobody deserves to live a life of abuse or be degraded to “dumping” those who were the abusers.

** This is just atrocious in my opinion and a testiment to why closed adoptions work for some.
You and you alone have made me just choose the "closed" option on our current adoption

What is atrocious to me is that you would try to use my son’s experience to give you an excuse to have a closed adoption for your child, especially since, perhaps, if his adoptive mom had not broken her promise and closed his adoption when he was five years old, his first dad and I would have known what he was going through and been then for him at a much earlier age.

If his adoption would have remained open as it was supposed to be, maybe my son would have missed the time in his life when he felt so desperate, so without hope, that he turned to cutting himself in his pain. Maybe he would have known and understood that even in his darkest times he still had parents who were there for him, who would help him instead of condemning him to the expectation that he had to “behave” for his adoptive parents. Maybe he would have had parents in his life who did not believe, as you do, and expect him to be perfect simply because he was adopted.

If your confidence in yourself and your parenting ability is so weak that you feel you must have a closed adoption then that is a choice you must live with but that is not something you will ever put on mine or my son’s shoulders.

**Crazies like you.
This just makes me sick. Where in this world would this kind of behavior be acceptable?
Just a grandious manipulation all around.
No one in this situtation is a winner, just a bunch of loosers

Well, since I have never claimed to be 100% sane, I suppose I can let your crazy statement slide. But as for the rest of your statement, I just don’t even know how to respond to you since having such beliefs just makes no sense to me.

Abuse, of any kind, should make you sick. The behavior of a mother treating her child in such a way should be what makes you question acceptable behavior. I can understand there are areas adoptive moms and potential adoptive moms feel the need to stand up and defend each other. But I can never, and will never, understand defending the horror my son faced .

You can disclaim many things about adoption. You can believe the pretty picture that exists for society to believe. But to so cruelly and outright justify abuse against a child from the hands of a mother in the way you have is to me, one of the most disgusting actions a human being could ever take.

How dare you question me or my son or our actions. How dare you make excuses for his abuse. He matters more than that. He is an amazing human being who deserved everything and yet faced so much of the worst kinds of hell.

How dare you minimize that in any way!

If you want to try and discredit me with your attacks that is one thing but to try to do the same to my son and his experience shows a very cold heart inside of you and a lack of any kind of caring soul.

Perhaps you would like to live a life being hit with branches from trees, being denied your inhaler, the very medication you need to keep you breathing, because you angered your adoptive mother. Perhaps you’d like to know what it feels like to be thrown into a wall. To be told you will never amount to anything. To be left for weeks at a time with no money, no food and no knowledge of where your adoptive mother is. Only knowing you upset her so she left you.

Maybe you should face that kind of hell and then come back and toss your judgments around.

How dare you!!!!

**Yes, because giving your child up in the first place is such a "champion" thing to do.
Wow, do you want a gold star for that

From you . . . I want nothing. Absolutely nothing.

And I know giving up my son was the worst thing I could have ever done to him. Do you not think I don’t live every day with that failure? Face it every morning when I look at myself in the mirror? Feel the pain of it with every moment my son hurts from the life he had.

I don’t want a gold star. I don’t want anything except for a way to help my son get through this. To heal. To believe in himself and the amazing man he is.

You can keep the gold star for yourself and your obvious concern for human kind because coming from you with your beliefs, it would mean nothing to me or to my son.

Friday, November 20, 2009

And So . . .

He called her.

And now . . . I still have no answers. No idea of what to think, what to do.

Is there hope or fear in what she had to say?

I hate this! I hate having to see my son go through this. I hate knowing this is what adoption – the amazing loving option – brought into our lives.

And I want someone, anyone, who told me adoption was the “best” choice for him, that it would give him the better life, the one I couldn’t even hope to offer him, to answer me now. To stand in front of my son and explain to him why they believed being raised by his adoptive mother would be so much better than staying with me. Why facing this is what he deserved, what gave him the perfect life.

Because I still don’t have answers. I don’t’ have any idea what to think, what to do. And DAMNIT, I want somebody, anybody, to tell me how this ever was the best thing for my son.

And it’s hard to explain even what is bothering me about their conversation. I keep typing and deleting, trying to make sense of it here while it still doesn’t make full sense in my own head.

Because I know, in honesty, I face two fears . . . one of my oldest son being lied to again by his adoptive mom. The fear that she is “presenting” a side of her that is not real to bring him back into her life that will then change and place him again in an abusive relationship with her.

I fear her claims of no longer drinking, of his adoptive family, with a history of doing all they can to avoid one another, suddenly so close they love get-togethers with any chance they have, and her claim that his cousin and step-siblings, from her second marriage, are now upset because he doesn’t talk to them (though they have all had the information to get a hold of him and haven’t done so and were not viewed as close by my son) are games she is playing because she still sees it as a competition. A need to prove who is the “good” family. A battle between who my son wants in his life, instead of understanding he will always have two families that are a part of him, no matter what happens.

I fear she wants him to feel as if he has to pick the “better” side because she talked of how wrong it was, and how angry she was, that his first father and brother (my husband and youngest son) ever made that first step at reunion by going to the restaurant where he worked almost three years ago (when he was almost nineteen.) That she tells him after everything we have done to her that she wants nothing to do with us or ever speak to us again and is worried about how he is doing and how we are treating him, especially since he has come to the decision he no longer carries a belief in God. (Just not in the mind set to link to it right now, but there is a previous post on my blog about why my son lost his faith in God.)

But there is also that second fear, born in my own insecurities, that she will be able to show that we are terrible people and that he isn’t happy with us and that I will again lose my oldest son because I am still not good enough for him or have failed him in some way or just don’t know what it is to be what he needs.

And so that makes me no better than her because it is her insecurities, I know, that bring about much of her actions as well. And I hate it.

I hate it.

I hate it.

I hate it.

I dream of relationships like Dawn at This Woman’s Work has with her daughter and her daughter’s first mom. And I find myself wondering, what if . . .

What if it had been that way?

What if his adoptive mom and I could have formed such a relationship?

When my son and I first reunited, I had visions of the moments his adoptive mom and I would share. This was before I knew of the abuse he had been put through. When I had not yet let through all the pain and anger I carried from her closing his adoption when he was five.

But I used to think of that, imagine family celebrations together, holidays shared. I could see us together when he got married, when his children were born. I created fantasies of a bond we would create in the joy of watching our son together, growing and living, becoming a man and starting his own family. And I did this, even during my realitzation and decision to speak out about the darker truths of adoption. Even while knowing that I needed to make a change for other moms and understanding what happened to me when I went through the clutches of the adoption industry.

And even now, there have been times when I have let myself believe that someday, somehow, maybe she will beat her addiction. She will reach out to our son and let him know that she wants things to be better. She wants to do what is best for him, and we will find that chance again at having a relationship between all of us, a part of the ups and downs of our son’s lives. Being together as moms, sharing how much it means to watch the milestones of our child.

I want my son to have all of us in his life, in a healthy, good way. I want to stop fearing that he will face more abuse from his mother. That she won’t push for him to choose between his families and will allow him to have both in his life. And that her games won’t take him away again, convince him that I am the mom who couldn’t offer him what he deserved and that he must choose between us instead of be allowed to have both of us in his life.

I want this confusion, this doubt, this fear that both of us are hurting him, denying him of what he deserves because of our own selfish actions, to end, to be a memory, replaced by a life where my son can happily say he has two moms in his life to watch over him, without ever facing more abuse, uncertainty, or feelings like he is trapped between us, forced to go one way or the other.

I just want something!

And I want to know why any one of us deserved this? Why did we have to be the ones who know about adoption? Why was it our lives that it had to come into, change forever? Why couldn’t we just be a normal family where these things never even were thoughts to be had.

Somebody just tell me, PLEASE! Where am I helping, where am I failing? Am I letting my own selfish desires harm him in the same way I get angered at his adoptive mom for what she does? Are my fears controlling how I react to what she said, restricting me from seeing good in what might be to come?

I just want an answer, an explanation I can understand. I want to know that this time what I do, the decisions I make, won’t set my son on another path of pain. I’ve already done that to him before. I can’t do it again. But I don’t know if I already have or am setting it up for it to happen to him in the future.

I can’t put him through it all over again. I can’t let my actions cause him harm for a second time.

But how in the world do I know how to avoid this?

Damn! I just hate this! More than I can ever say.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is Silence Golden?

It’s been over nine months since this happened – Closing The Door.

Nine months of silence from my oldest son’s adoptive mom.

After that last night of horror, she just disappeared. There were no more phone calls. No further contact. Not a single hint that she was still around.

Only silence.

Silence in which I have gone from worry, to anger, to hope and back again to worry, starting the process all over again.

It’s hard to even explain what it was like. In those first few months after the last call. I sat on pins and needles, afraid of the next one to come. Dreading the time when his adoptive mother’s number would pop up on caller I.D. Bracing myself for whatever lay ahead next for my son to have to face.

And then, as the months passed and we heard nothing, there was a shameful part of me that was so grateful for the silence, thankful we had some peace. It was like the break we needed. The chance to take a deep breath, settle down into a normal sense of life and not have to fear every phone call might bring about another round of my son having to face yet another onslaught of attacks and abuse.

But even then, it was impossible to feel completely settled to put it out of my mind for long. Because DAMNIT, she’s his mom too. He’s her son too. And that should mean something. Shouldn’t it?

And how does anyone find some balance between that need to protect your child, to want them safe from such cold attacks while knowing this is your child’s mother, adopted or not. She is a part of him. A part of who he is. A part that just went away. That was no longer there. Another abandonment for a young man who never should have faced such a thing.

It’s that weird mix of being thankful she’s not hurting him while fearing he is being hurt. It’s trying to find that balance of protecting my child while feeling helpless to protect him from her silence, her disappearance from his life.

And how does anyone ever find an answer to that? How can you ever know if you are helping or harming your child?

I look at my son and feel that love I have for him. That unexplainable “mother” emotion that swells for my children and I wonder how it is she could ever go almost an entire year having no idea what is happening to him. How he is. Cursing her for not being there for him, while thankful she hasn’t had a chance to abuse him further.

And how in the hell does anyone put that into anything that makes sense in their mind? How do you fear contact while hoping for it?

It makes no sense. Not in my mind.

And yet that has been where I have wavered for the past nine months while hoping, with everything I have, that maybe, just maybe, this long stretch is because she finally got help. That she finally realized that the best thing for her son . . . our son . . . was to give him a healthy relationship with both his mothers. A mix of both families who love and care for him and want whatever it is that is best for him.

Maybe . . . just maybe . . . she took this time to fight her addiction. To learn how her abuse when under the influence of alcohol affected her son, hurt him in the worst of ways. Maybe, the possibility of losing him pushed her to do whatever it took to keep him in her life because he’s worth it. Because he’s her son.

And now I sit on that edge of finding that out. Of again hoping that “this time” it will be different. That “this time” she will be the mom my son deserves and won’t attack or abuse him but will let him know just how much he means to her and how desperately she wants him in her life.

Because she called. This morning on my son’s cell phone. He didn’t answer so she left a message.

And so he came to me this morning, telling me he wanted me to hear something but that I had to promise not to worry about him. And I promised (with my fingers crossed behind my back.)

I knew then, as he held his cell phone out, pushed the buttons, that his adoptive mom had called so I wasn’t surprised when I heard her voice. But I was worried and hopeful and wondering and praying that this time was different. And, yes, even in that small part of my mind, there was a part of me thankful that, since the call had come in before nine in the morning, that she was, more likely than not, sober.

She told him she had been thinking of him. That she missed him. She asked him to call her and said that if she didn’t hear from him, she hopes he has a great Thanksgiving, Christmas and Birthday (he turns twenty-two at the end of December.)

Hearing that, part of me hurt for her because I have been there with my . . . our . . . son. Missing him. Thinking of him. I know the feelings of not knowing what they are doing. Of wondering how they are. If they are okay.

But I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t have a way to contact him. To talk to him. She did.

With that aside, though, I find myself now praying for the best, while fearing the worst.

As of this morning, my oldest son didn’t know if he was going to call her back or not. But to see the truth of why, is so hard to deal with. His response wasn’t one of not wanting her in his life or no longer caring about her as his mom. It was one of fear. Fear that she would attack him again. Fear that reaching out to her would start another round of abuse like the one I wrote about in February.

So I sit here now wondering, worrying, hoping and praying. I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know what the outcome will be. I fear my son will call her and she will go after him again, hurt him like she has done so many times in the past.

But I also hope and pray that maybe it will be different this time (the same hopes and prayers I have had for so long.) But, maybe, this time, she has come to that point where she has realized just what he means to her and is ready to build a relationship with him that allows him to have all his family included.

Maybe now we can be what it is our son needs from us. We can come together and give our strength, our support to him so that he can face a future with a good relationship with both his moms.

I hope for the latter. I hope, with all my heart, that if he calls her back, she will be different. She will have changed. And my son will have all that he deserves.

But I fear the opposite of that. I fear he will face more hurt, more pain.

I fear he will again be left with facing a division in his life when what he deserves, what he should have, is a unity between all who love him. Between everyone who he loves and needs in his life.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Power Over Others

**Birthmother's are birthmothers. Plain and simple. They gave birth, and that was the extent of their mothering. It's not a slur. It's the un-candy-coated truth.**

I just read that little jewel on an adoption question and answer forum.

Doesn’t it just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Reinforce the whole vision of how great and wonderful adoption is?

Do you think anyone in those adoption agencies are warning pregnant moms that they will either be viewed as saints or sluts by the majority of society? That the majority of those they come into contact with will never view them as normal, everyday people? That they will be the “other” moms. The ones who actually gave up their child when the normal response to that kind of loss is, “I could never do that.”

See, because we are seen as different. Whether you like us or hate us, most don’t understand us because they can’t relate to what they know, deep down inside . . . that it is an unnatural, painful and unending trauma to lose your child.

Especially, I think, for some adoptive moms who have suffered great loss in their own desire and love for a child. Whether it be through miscarriages, still births, or early deaths, they have felt that mind-numbing, life changing loss that comes with losing a part of yourself. They know it, in their own form, understand how it has the potential to drag a mother under into the dark waves of hell if she lets it.

But instead of using that as a reason to ask how it is the adoption industry can produce so many moms to give up their children and experience that pain, they instead do whatever they can to diminish, change, or discredit our loss by making us into the “others.” Those moms who, for whatever strange reason, just aren’t capable of feeling the loss of a child in the way they have, and are nothing more than the vessels who gave birth to a child meant for another woman.

Another first mom, Myst, puts this into great clarity in her most recent post, Adoption and Hypocrisy. Where she challenges the fact that adoptees and first/natural moms alike are denied the right to mourn and feel loss through adoption. That they are expected to move on, get over it, and accept what the adoption industry has stated should be the “normal” reaction for those caught up in the web of separating mother and child for unnecessary reasons.

We are expected to be different. Expected to be the “other” who doesn’t feel or mourn their loss in the same way children and parents do when they lose each other in any other scenario. If we show anything that goes against the happy, go-lucky perfect image that society wants to see we are labeled and discredited with disrespectful titles such as bitter, angry, ungrateful. Whatever it takes to deny what we feel in order to keep the belief other’s carry with them.

And the saddest thing is, it is the adoption industry itself who put the first fire to these restrictions on first/natural moms being allowed to regret, grieve and mourn the loss of their children. In this post, Adoption Then and Now, there is a clear and distinctive explanation for how the industry poured all their sunshine and roses into the media in an attempt to sway society to see it as they wanted, to jump on their side so they could continue the profits they were gaining by separating mother and child.

It is through these actions that the contrast of saint or slut first come to life. Here is where it has found its life, its ability to weed its way through the thoughts of society to become not only accepted, but held on to with such a strong, unfaltering force.

Because now, in almost every area of our life, adoption is fed as the most “loving” option a mom facing an unexpected pregnancy can do. It’s portrayed as a “choice” she won’t regret. A loss she will get over. A better chance at a wonderful life, for herself and her child, never known had she not given up the most intimate, dearest part of herself . . . her own son or daughter.

In our world, in the realm of those who benefit from adoption, it’s much easier to accept the good, to allow what we have been “told” to be our driving force. It’s a smaller sacrifice to lower a first mom to nothing more than “the one who gave birth . . . the extent of their mothering” than to try to grasp why so many first moms are speaking out so strongly about their losses. Stating, without wavering, how deeply adoption has affected us.

Because, I believe, to question that, for many, would mean having to question the very process that brought so many adoptive mothers their children in the first place.

And nobody wants to really believe that their happiness was gained on another’s tremendous loss. Only the very strong and confident are able to step back, see the true picture of what adoption is, and accept it without letting it diminish their role as parents to their adoptive children.

Not too long ago, Malinda over at Adoption Talk, posted a blog entry titled, What Does “Gotcha” Mean to a Birth Mother . As a first mom, part of my response was . . .

**To me a "Gotcha Day" is like dancing over someone's grave.**

It was, plain and simple, bared and true, MY feelings whenever I hear an adoptive parent refer to a “Gotcha Day” for their child and/or children. I didn’t mean disrespect to anyone. I tried to make sure I left it clearly understood that I was speaking for myself and nobody else. And yet, I still upset an adoptive mom who felt as if it was villainizing adoptive parents by stating such a thing as “dancing over someone’s grave.”

And the thing is, who would blame her for feeling that way? Especially since she stressed, herself, how she was trying to learn as much as she could, and came back even after that and continued to try to learn and understand what others had said.

But, is it really all that surprising that, perhaps, the very fact that my answer didn’t fall into line with what she had been told to expect, made her feel as if I was turning ALL adoptive parents into villains? I didn’t sing praises about adoption. I didn’t talk about how great it was or at least mention that it was the best for my child.

Instead I said everything, not expected, from what is fed into society. And so generated such a response because it isn’t what so many are told that first/natural moms might feel. It goes against all the “happily ever after” rhetoric that the industry feeds into the media.

It is, in every way, a complete contrast to what so many have been told is true for so long.

And in that, I have a respect for this adoptive mom because she didn’t pull from her arsenal the typical bitter, angry, ungrateful accusations that so many do when faced with a contradiction. She didn’t exactly do a complete turn around and proclaim with all her might that what I had to say might have any true meaning or influence in her view of adoption. But she also didn’t react with that instant need to discredit and disbelieve what I did have to say after her first original “villain” comment.

But, there are so many others that do just that. So many, like the adoptive mom I quoted, who do dig into their arsenal and find whatever they can to make first moms who talk about the loss and grief seem like the weird ones, the outcasts. The strange occurrences that do not fall into line with what society expects of them.

And yet, as odd as it sounds, and as much as it might be straying from whatever true meaning this post is supposed to hold . . . to some first/natural moms there is a great importance put into what adoptive moms have to say and share about them, that keeps them firmly in line with what society expects from them.

I know because I used to be one of them. I used to fight so hard in my denial to hold on to the very tips of the pedestal my so-called adoption counselor shoved me onto that every bit of “like” that came from another adoptive mom’s mouth gave me just a little tighter hold on that edge I was slipping from.

Whenever those emotions I fought so hard to keep back began to threaten an appearance, all it took was a quick talk with an adoptive mom, to shove them back down where I could pretend, for a little while longer, that they didn’t exist.

And I was ruthless in my quest to keep it all hidden away, even if it meant looking down on a not-so-good “beemommie,” in the eyes of the adoptive mom.

Because see, that is where I gained my justification to continue in my denial, by being praised as the good one and compared to what another adoptive mom viewed as a “bad” first mom. I was still redeemed, still accepted, okayed, loved, for accepting the fact that I wasn’t a good enough mother for my child and somebody else was.

I continuously found my self-worth in being praised by adoptive moms who “wished” their child’s first mom’s were more like me. The perfect first mom, who wouldn’t even dare to refer to herself with such a title but would, instead, use nothing but the birthmother title the industry had tagged me with.

The perfect “birthmother” who expressed no regret, no pain, no loss. Who behaved and acted exactly like it was expected and portrayed by the industry, hoping to keep their profits up and growing.

I was good! I was loved! And everything I was feeling deep down inside . . . all those threatening emotions shoving me off the pedestal . . . were silenced, buried, because adoptive moms liked me. They respected me. And they hailed me with their praises instead of pummeling me with their insults.

If only they had realized how I was using their praise to make me feel good just as much as they were using my supposive happiness to make them feel good.

In that, at least I can say it was an equal sharing of bullshit between us.

It was a fair balance of denial for all of us!

And, now, I do believe I have completely lost any true direction for where I hoped this post would go.

But somewhere in there I hope I did make some kind of point that the statements such as the one I quoted are “par for the course” if you are a first mom who dares to speak out about anything other than what the adoption industry has portrayed about the way you should feel.

I hope some will see and understand that we aren’t different, we aren’t the “others.” We are moms who have lost tremendously in our lives. We suffer, just like other moms do, when we lose the most important, vital parts of ourselves. We miss too, the diaper changes, the late night feedings. The story times. The healing of scraped knees. The field trips and family vacations. We feel those losses too. Just as deep as any mom who no longer has their child in their arms to love, care for, and give everything they have to offer to.

We aren’t different. We aren’t strange. We’ve just faced and lost to the strong fist of the adoption industry that gains its strength from our government, from society in general and from the adoptive parents who won’t, or can’t, allow themselves to see that our loss, our child’s loss, is as great and life-changing as that deep part in their heart and soul tells them it is.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Aware Or Beware

We know what this month is right?

Outside of November. Outside of Thanksgiving coming up. Outside of Christmas approaching , quicker than we expected, or might even be ready for . . .

It is, as it is every year, National Adoption Awareness Month.

The time set aside supposively to heighten the awareness of children in foster care waiting to be adopted. To shed adoption in it’s typical positive, glowing light, so couples everywhere will stand up and help a child in need.

It does sound good in the way it is worded.

Who in the world would not support such a thing? Who would ever question such a noble campaign to help children TRULY in need of a family to love and care for them?

You would have to be a pretty cold-hearted monster not to jump on that bandwagon and join in the festivities.

. . . EXCEPT . . .

. . . yes, I know, shocking that I would have an “except” to all of this . . .

The meaning of this month and the actual reality of this month are two different things entirely.

Where it might be stated that this month is only about raising awareness about foster care children, it, as always seems to happen, spreads its way into all forms of adoption. Muddying the waters, as the industry likes to do, so that every adoption is seen as a great rescuing effort executed by amazing couples saving children from lives of doom and gloom.

And their “awareness” falls short of what everyone, involved in adoption or not, should be knowledgeable about.

That’s my biggest problem with this month – the lack of true “awareness” that is actually offered while continuing to circulate the sunshine and roses stories.

I would just love to see honesty come from this time. I’m not seeking an excuse to try and discredit the love and dedication of adoptive parents. A denial of the sad truth that there are children in our world who truly are alone and deserve a family. Or a justification that any child should have to remain in a life of abuse or neglect.

But portraying only happy, wonderful stories of adoption, for whatever reason, fails adoptive parents, first/natural parents and adoptees alike. And worst of all, it fails those children truly in need and still waiting for a family to give them the security and love they deserve.

In 1990, the National Adoption Awareness Week was expanded into a full month and yet how much change has it really encouraged? Nothing has truly differed in the two decades that have passed. Children in foster care are still being overlooked. There continues to remain a ratio of over thirty couples waiting to adopt every one infant born. Corruption continues to exist in the International world and laws remain that literally leave mothers with NO choice.

And the adoption industry continues to profit billions of dollars, mostly unregulated, while thriving under the support of our very own government.

At this rate, we could have National Adoption Awareness Month into the next Millennium and there would still be nothing changed.

If we don’t make a conscious effort to also address the more difficult truths, we will never get anywhere. If we don’t address the reasons why adoption happens to begin with, acknowledge where so many have been failed and left with no other option but to lose their child forever, we will continue to spin our wheels without any positive outcome to the fact that so many children are left without the stability of someone to love and care for them.

If we want to have a TRUE month of awareness than we need to address issues such as NO child should ever be expected to give up their past to become a part of a future with another family. Their records should never be falsified or locked away from them, denying them the basic human rights the rest of us take for granted.

Lack of support, marital status, or financial strain should NEVER be an accepted reason to separate mother and child. Every mother, in every country, should be given the tools and help to keep and raise her child unless there is a solid case of the child being at risk for abuse or neglect.

And if there is that risk, and there is NO other choice but to remove a child from their mother’s care, than the importance should become one where a child remains within their biological family, their home-country, their own heritage and roots.

Adoption should not be an option. It should be a last choice. That final step that must be taken because every other resource or opportunity has been thoroughly explored and determined, morally and ethically, that it fails ONLY for the benefit of the child.

And even then, drastic changes need to be made. Hopeful couples should be required to be educated and well informed about any issues their children might face. Support should be mandatory for any adoptee from any situation that offers them the freedom to feel and react in the way they want without ever having to fear judgment or lack of support.

Adoptive and first/natural parents alike, should have no choice but to be made aware of the importance of always supporting and encouraging an adoptees right to know where they came from. Their family’s history. The talents, traits, and other quirks that tie them to so many that came before them.

Corruption, profit and deception, in adoption of all types, needs to be demolished. Honesty and true understanding of every truth that comes with separating a child from their family, their past, their roots, needs to not only be acknowledged, but accepted and understood before one can even be allowed to step a foot into the adoption world.

Our adoption awareness needs to be redirected, changed from where it resides today into a new perception.

If we truly want to make a difference than we need to start with building the “awareness” that adoption, as it exists today, fails children in so many ways. It does not make them most important, center on what is best for them and their future.

It doesn’t, because it can’t. And it never will as long as a child’s past is not respected. Falsified and denied records are allowed. Support is not offered and family is not preserved before separation becomes reality.

Until then, brace yourself, prepare yourself, and know the month of November might mean many things but it does not, and cannot, mean a true awareness of adoption and all the realities that come with it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ying And Yang

The more we think we know, the more we have yet to learn.

You know, sometimes these phrases irritate me for no other reason than they are right and make complete sense.

Yep, the more I thought I knew, the more I had yet to learn. Which, in return, means, even now, knowing more, I have no choice but to prepare for even more that I still have to learn about myself, my adoption journey, and my life in general.

And to think, there was a time in my life when I thought my education ended after college.

In honesty, I’ve been ready to pick back up on my blogging for awhile now but decided there was no reason to rush. It is my blog after all, so I knew it would be here when I got back to it.

And coming back now, is coming back with an understanding . . . a.k.a . . . learning . . . of something I have struggled with, without fully ever recognizing, for a large part of my life.

And, ironically, since I talked about an old friend I met in my last post, it was another old friend that, without even knowing it, helped to push me that final step into realizing that since the time I first gave up my son all those years ago, I have, in so many ways, lived two different lives.

One life that involved adoption.

And another that avoided it as much as possible.

For many, MANY years, during the height of my denial, I never allowed my life with adoption to ever come to light. I kept that part of me firmly tucked away. Refusing to see, feel, or admit how much it affected me, my family, my fears and insecurities.

There was no shifting from one to the other during that time. I kept busy with my family, my work, my friends. Never admitting to myself, or anyone else, that there was more to me and who I was than what I was showing on the outside.

I was class mom, soccer mom, PTA president, published author, caring and loving wife (my blog, my story – if husband disagrees, he can get his own blog), drinking buddy, shopping friend and hostess of candle, cookware, jewelry and even lingerie parties.

I was also insecure, depressed and grasping desperately for some meaning of who and what I was.

And then the denial started to slip away and my other reality threatened to return.

I fought it though for as long as I could, but ultimately, everything crashed around me and I had no choice but to accept, recognize and live my other life.

That is when support groups, therapy sessions, adoption forums, and this blog came into existence for me. It was then that I began to research and learn everything I could about adoption. It was then I allowed the pain and grief to finally come through and freed myself from their chilling grip.

It’s also when I began to shift between my two lives instead of bringing them together as one.

You can see the pattern in my blog, if you look. The months of being active, writing, sharing my experiences, my thoughts, my anger and my grief, followed by months of silence. Of my slipping away. Ultimately, letting go of that life to live my other one.

Makes me sound crazy, I know. But I have already come to terms with the fact that sanity isn’t exactly my specialty anyhow, so I can handle it.

And I can also handle the fact that it’s okay, and actually healthy, to merge my two lives. To enjoy, dread, love and hate them as one.

I can be the good wife (yep, had to bring that one up again) right along with being the author of this blog. I can host parties and answer questions in the adoption forums. And I can enjoy, laugh and be happy for everything I have while never forgetting or denying again the pain adoption has brought me.

One person. One life. Created by many different experiences.

And though I won’t mention her name, I hope, at some point, that old friend of mine will read this, recognize herself, and know how very thankful I am to her, even though she never knew how much she helped.

But it was amazing help. It was a sense of freedom, for lack of a better word, to have someone who I could share both of my lives with and face nothing but a continuing - and refound – friendship with. With her, there was laughter and reminiscing over old pictures and signed yearbooks. Catching up on family, careers, likes and dislikes. And even hosting a party in which I now find myself quickly building a great collection of jewelry.

And yet there has also been a sharing of the grief adoption has caused myself, my son, and the rest of my family. Of the way it has shaped and affected our lives. And it hasn’t come with just a simple nod of the head from the other side, a gesture of listening without caring. Instead, it has been exactly what you would expect between two old friends . . . conversation with questions and answers. An attempt at understanding from both sides, not just one or the other.

And most important of all, a continuing connection, instead of my long-feared chasing someone away, through phone calls and texts, getting together for a glass . . . or two . . . or three . . . of wine. Meeting for a few hours for a “girls’ night out.” A friendship, in every way.

And in that friendship and the support and love of so many I have met through this journey, including many of you who may be reading this now, I know I have the strength to accept all parts of me into one full life. I might cry, might laugh. I might have up days and down days. But I will have it all together without having to separate myself, my wants, desires, likes and loves depending on which life I happen to be living at the moment.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Toe The Line

I slipped away again.

It seems to be a pattern with me. The silence. The backing away. Over and over again.

And I don’t know why it keeps happening.

Nothing even really triggered my last bout. I just was there . . . toeing that line of denial. So tempted to take that final step back into that state of mind where I once pretended that I knew nothing of the pain and loss adoption has caused in my life, my son’s life.

I see so many wonderful first/natural moms, adoptees, adoptive moms, who don’t quit. Who speak out day after day, week after week. And I envy them. Wish I had their strength. Their ability to not back away even when I know it’s just as hard on them to continue to step up and speak out. To face the other side of adoption that so many refuse to see or acknowledge.

Why can’t I do that? Why do I always back away when I know I shouldn’t?

And I cheat not only myself, but the amazing friends I have made along the way as well. Those who have stood beside me through all my ups and downs, have never left me alone when I have suffered. And yet, I do that to them, back away, remain silent, stop reaching out when they need me to be there for them just as they have always been there for me.

I hate that. I hate that I am that kind of person. That I just go away without explanation. That I still live so close to that line of denial that I can’t change that part of me that I know I should.

Sometimes I just want to scream . . . at the world . . . at God . . . at whoever will listen. I want to tell them that I don’t want this. I don’t want the pain. I don’t want the reminders. I don’t want the truth of adoption on my shoulders, in my heart . . . part of my life.

Sometimes I just want to be normal. I want to be that woman who did it “the right way.” The one who partied in college. Found a man she loved. Got married after graduation. Built a career. Bought a house . . . and then started her family.

I want to be one who has never known shame for being pregnant. Never lost a child. Never faced the lies of open adoption. The ugliness of learning my child had been abused and I was helpless in saving him.

Sometimes, I just want my reality to go away. To leave me alone so I can pretend that I am a good person, worthy of everything I have accomplished. That I deserve to laugh. To brag about who I am without having to worry that the shadow of adoption darkens that somehow. Takes away from all of it.

Sometimes I just want to take that flying leap over the line of denial. Slip right back into that place where I lived for so many long, long years, and pretend as if I know nothing of pain and loss. Of shame. Of being accused of being bitter and angry because my feelings are not what others expect.

You know, I slipped so far this time around that I sat just the other night at an old friend’s house. One I had known since Elementary school. And I said nothing, when we were talking about adopting my son back, when she told me that she knows lots of adoptive parents and all of their children are so happy and have absolutely no problem at all with being adopted.

I just nodded, of all things, when she talked about how great she thought it was when one of the adoptees had an opportunity to meet his first mom but decided not to because he was so “well adjusted” and “happy” with his adoption.

And I did it because I just wanted to enjoy my time with an old friend. Because I didn’t want her to suddenly back away and look at me like so many others do when I speak out about adoption. I talk so much about being strong and speaking out and educating whenever you can. And I didn’t do it.

Instead, I said NOTHING. Nothing when I knew better. Nothing about the other truths that exist out there. I let her believe that it was just my son’s experience. A little black spot on adoption. That nobody else feels pain. Feels loss. I allowed her to live in that world I try so hard to get others to see past. I had an opportunity and I not only let it pass me by . . . I purposely stomped on it. Silenced it. Ran from it. All so that I could just be “normal” for a space in time.

Normal . . . it’s something I know I will never be. Not in the ways I view it in my mind.

And I need to stop allowing such a need to control me. To set me back, silence me.

I need to find a balance. A balance that allows me to be okay with laughing and enjoying myself while still having that strength to speak out about adoption. I need an acceptance that adoption did happen to me, to my son, my husband, and my three younger children. That it will never go away. Never disappear.

But it doesn’t have to rule me in such a way that I don’t allow the other side of me to show, and experience, as well. That I don’t continue to feel that I have to give up one “side” for another.

There has to be a way to balance it because I know, deep inside, that I don’t want to be that person I was who lived in denial for so many years. I don’t want to be one who doesn’t stand up and speak out when I know there is so much to be changed.

I want to be me. Someone who knows and understands how deeply adoption has affected myself and others. Who faces that fight to make changes, educate, and never allow the fantasy to live. The friend who is there for those who have been there for her. And the woman who can still hold her head high for being a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a person who has gone down different paths than others but still survives to tell the tale.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Miracles and My Love

The picture is of my husband and I. As cliché as it sounds, he has been the love of my life for over twenty years. We’ve had each other to rely on, hold on to, during the many ups and downs we’ve faced over the years.

He is also the first/natural father of my oldest son and I had planned on writing a post for Father’s Day about how adoption has affected him too. Left him with his own struggles and pain through the years.

But then life threw me a curve ball I didn’t expect.

A late night visit to the Emergency Room late last Wednesday night, and an unexpected turn of events, changed everything I had planned during the week while slapping me in the face to remind me just how important my family, ALL of them, is in my life.

I took my husband to the Emergency Room that night, expecting him to be administered some fluids and sent home. What I did not expect was test results coming back, my husband’s body shutting down and a quick, desperate rush to put him on oxygen, IV’s and so many other vital, life saving and monitoring devices, in the flash of an eye.

In one second in that tiny room, my husband and I were laughing with one another, joking about the late hours and what we would do once we left. In another, a swarm of nurses and technicians flooded the room, moving me aside as they quickly attached my husband to a myriad of machines in a frantic effort to keep him alive.

In the time leading up to Father’s Day, when I had planned on writing the post about first/natural fathers and the loss they too suffer through adoption, I instead found myself afraid to leave my husband in Intensive Care. Facing the very real and frightening fact that I almost lost him. That I am not, and probably never will be, prepared for a life without him in it.

I am thankful today that he is home with me, with our children. I get to hear his laugh. See his smile. And my children will still have their dad in their life who can push when he needs to but is also one of the first to laugh and joke and bring so much happiness to our lives.

In those first moments in Intensive Care when self pity worked it’s way in, I beat up on myself, on God, on anything and anyone who took my husband for granted and threatened to take him from mine and my children’s lives.

Life really is unexpected and unscripted. You don’t know what each new day will bring.

And it sounds so simplistic to say to cherish every day to be thankful for those you love and love you back. And in real time, real life, we rarely do that.

But then certain turns take us to a point where we again are reminded how amazing it is to have such love, such understanding and care that is shared within a family.

This was my turn to remember. My turn to hold tight to my husband and our children and realize just how lucky we are to have each other. To love each other. And be everything we can, and are, for each other, for as long as we possibly can.