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.


  1. Please don't be hard on yourself. The "balance" you speak of has a constantly-shifting pivot point. What's comfortable to discuss one day may be intolerable the next and that's really no fault of your own, it's just human nature.
    It can be comforting to have a sip of the "fog" every now and then just to get away from it all. Like alcohol, taken in moderation it can be theraputic, a little break.

  2. Cassi,

    Please don't beat up on yourself! You're entitled to feel however you feel, and act however you want to act. You have NO RESPONSIBILITY to educate the world. I'm just so grateful that you sometimes choose to do so, since I've learned so much from you. But you're also entitled to just have a life without taking on that responsibility all the time! You've given enough -- more than should be allowed -- for adoption's sake. You have no obligation to give more.

    Yes, be true to yourself. Choose to fight the battles that you want to fight, and when you want to fight them. But if you choose to lay down your arms FOR ONE LITTLE BITTY BIT of normality, then you have every right to do so. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.


  3. "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 get this totally, it is hard to be the freak who gave up your kid. As others have said, do not beat yourself up. I have a great realtionship with my son I lost so many years ago but even he drank the adoption koolaid.

    I figure it is better to keep my mouth shut (even with him) because I doubt anyone will get it.

    Life is way too short.

  4. Hey Cassi,

    I don't blog - can't bring myself to do it - and in many respects you are way ahead of the crowd. When I think of the millions(?) of mothers who've lost their child/ren to adoption and yet I only have 20 or so bookmarked I can't make very good sense of it. I guess this is just to say, that while I'm not much of a writer, I do paint a lot and I guess if I have a blog it will be just pictures and few words. It just seems like such a big hump to get over - to feel like I can come out of that shell at all.

    I am grateful that you choose to write about adoption in a public sphere; to tell "our" side. I also understand the need to pull in once in a while and just let things be. Personally, if I could go back to denial there are days when I would be there in a heart-beat.

    You and the other women blogging about this subject give me much needed strength. Don't be down on yourself for taking a break now and then.


  5. Cassi, you don't owe anyone anything, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from you when you choose to do so. Praying you feel more at peace. (((hugs)))

  6. Oh Cassi,you again have written how I feel A LOT of the time. I admire you more & more for your honesty even though you seem to be angry at yourself for it. Someone sent me a quote the other day that I feel I need to share:

    "Doubt is the greatest gift, - it's the space between two certainties.

    Any change on its way from one place of stability to the next one, passes through a period of doubt. Your old perspective has to disintegrate, and doubt comes in for a visit - even if only for a moment, before the new perspective takes root. Doubt is your greatest gift, because from doubt you can go anywhere.

    I often get asked if I were to do things all over again, would I place my son for adoption? I HATE this question I REALLY do. It always sets the "wheels" in my mind, into motion. I finally have come to the reality that that question is a catch 22. I am damned if I do & damned if I don't. If I say yes, then I look like the horrible mom who gave her child away..again. If I say no, then I am undoing two whole family's existence..mine as well as my adoptive family's. And all out of "selfishness". But hey, no pressure there!

    I finally came to the conclusion that I choose to be positive when contemplating an answer. (I still refuse to give a definitive one) For me to say that I would change my decision, means I would have to choose between my 2 boys: My son I placed for adoption & my 4 year old now. Right here, right now, I can say, I wouldn't change my decision, for doing so would have taken me down a path that would have lead me away from the life & son I have today. I wouldn't give that up for the world. To go back & change things, would be asking me to deny my 4year old son. By asking the above mentioned question, it is almost as if I am being asked to choose between my sons. How wrong is that really? I can't embrace one son without somehow denying the other. I would never deny either of them, yet am almost required to do so somehow by society's standards. So I choose to be thankful for the life I am living. I can't change the past & it is what it is. I can however find a healthy way of coming to terms with it, however long that may take. For me that includes allowing myself to go back & think about "what if" as you did. It's ok to visit that place, I just try hard not to take up permanent residence there. My family needs me here & not there.

    Then again, that is my answer, for.. TODAY! God help me if I have an emotional day where something reminds me of my oldest son! You can only guess what my answer might be then...I really do detest this cross we bear..this life of living in between one existence or another..the constant limbo... All I have ever wanted is to just "be". Still working on that though...

  7. "By asking the above mentioned question, it is almost as if I am being asked to choose between my sons."

    Let's take this scenario:

    A relinquishing mother gives up her 1st child, but then goes on to have her 2nd child. The age difference between the one is 2-3 years, or even less. It is obvious she gave birth again because of the 1st child.

    Would the mother still have chosen to give birth to her 2nd child - if she had KEPT the 1st?

    There never was a choice to begin with. There wasn't two children to begin with.

    One "caused" the mother to desire another birth. Without the 1st one, the 2nd wouldn't exist.

    So where is the choice if the 2nd wouldn't have existed at all?

    There are some mothers who say children are irreplaceable. True, children as individuals are not replaceable. How about their roles? Are those replaceable in the sense of "I wanted to raise Child 1, but couldn't, so I'm raising Child 2 instead and hope Child 1 will contact me in the future"?

    There are other mothers who will say "The 2nd child had nothing to do with the 1st. The 1st child was given up. The 2nd child was born. The 2nd child has nothing to do with the decision of the 1st child."

    That's a lie. The existence of the 2nd child correlates to the loss of the 1st child.

  8. Hugs to you and a thank you to Mei Ling. I am not sure I agree with her suggestion that a second child has nothing to do with the first. I must think on this. My first and second child are 12 years apart. My second child almost never existed becuase of the first. (Maybe in a convoluted way that is the same as what Mei Ling suggests). In my case I chose not to have additional children due to what was done to me and my first child. It was a LONG hard road to decide to have the second 12 years later. Must ponder more.

  9. Thanks all for putting up with my pity party. Though it's hard to put it into words just how it happens, your words, support and encouragement help in so many ways and remind me that there is good in this journey simply by the people I have, and continue to, meet along the way.

    As for having other children and that feeling sometimes of having to "choose" between your children. I've been there and twisted those thoughts over inside my head and it's a terrible thing to even try to deal with. I've learned there is no answer, one way or another and I can't allow myself to try and come to terms with something that is so impossible to come to terms with, no matter what the answer.

    I do believe, without question, that becoming pregnant twice, so close together, and so soon after losing my first son was related to his adoption. I now, all these years later, can see where I was trying to feel an emptiness that wouldn't go away, that I was learning, the hard way, the truth that no child is replacable and their loss can never be made better with another child. So yes, losing my first child to adoption did directly relate to having my two younger sons so soon afterwards but that still does not change that I cannot process, deal or give myself time to think of what would have been because again it puts that feeling of having to choose heavy on my heart and that is something I just can't ever do.

  10. Your journey is my journey.

  11. i am very very late in reading this post...
    but it sounds to me like

    you're trying to be perfect

    and that is just an unrealistic expectation of anyone- of family, of co-workers, of friends, of yourself

    your friends know YOU
    they know and understand this part of you that you struggle with

    and we / I will love you anyway for who you are

    no one fights every single battle

    we have to pick the ones that
    a.) are worth fighting, and
    b.) the ones that we have the strength to fight.

    don't kid yourself into thinking that others don't retreat
    we do
    you just aren't allowing yourself to see it

    wishing i had seen this and replied sooner,
    but that would've made me perfect?

    {{hugs}}my dear amazing friend!