Tuesday, January 26, 2010

All You Need Is Love

If I loved my child any less, I'd still have him with me.”

I stumbled across this gem in the comments section of another First Mom’s blog. It was offered up by an adoptive father who claimed it was . . . “the best quote I've ever heard.”

And there was that part of me that instantly thought . . . “Of course it is. How could it not be?”

Because this justifies, explains, and clears up any and all misconceptions about adoption. First Moms give up their babies because if they “didn’t love them enough” they’d keep them , raise them, build futures for them and become the very mother they know in their heart their child deserves.

But, that’s not what it is about, is it? It’s about all those poorly, lacking pregnant moms realizing that the only way they can prove how much they love their son or daughter – their own flesh and blood - is to give them up, give them away, to someone else more worthy then they could ever hope to be.

And then they can say they loved their baby. Because it simply isn’t allowed, in today’s world, to say I loved my baby so much that I kept him and worked hard to provide him with everything I could because that is what a mother does. Because that is the basis of parenting.

Nope – we moms who – shock, shame, aghast – did not carefully plan, research and structure the very moment our child would bless us with their appearance in our lives, are not allowed to believe, to think, for even a fraction of a second, that loving our child means keeping and providing for our child.

It’s simply not understandable, or acceptable, in today’s world. Because if we didn’t build a career, plan a future, walk into a perfect marriage with the perfect man/father, than our only true way to show our love to our child is to realize that we have to love them enough to give them away – give them up – to that other woman who is better than us, richer than us, more stable than us.

Because that is what love is.

That is what proves just what a great mom you are – by giving up your child to the more deserving woman. To the one who not only “deserves” to be a mom but has taken so much time and consideration and thought into the very process of what is best for your own child that if you dare not to give your child away to her then you obviously never loved him or her enough.

And you know, for those who are okay with giving away their child, who truly believe that it was love that made them realize that they were not good enough for their own son or daughter, they believe such comments as the one the adoptive dad shared. They believe that keeping their child would have been the selfish, uncaring, far from loving, choice.

And . . . really . . . how could it not be?

I mean, really – how many in today’s world are going to believe that a mom loves her child by keeping him or her instead of giving him or her away to another.

Cause that isn’t love . . . is it?

Love is giving up your baby. Love is realizing that the only way you will ever be able to offer anything of value to any child of yours is to accept the fact that you will NEVER be able to offer such a thing if you happen to become pregnant BEFORE college, career and marriage.

Love is giving away your child long before keeping him or her and providing them, yourself, the life you believe they deserve.

And yet . . .

Yet . . .

Ironically, where it is so hugely believed and accepted that a First Mom’s love means giving away their child and realizing just how desperately you are bound to screw up your son or daughter by keeping them, for certain adoptive parents, like the one I quoted to start this post, love becomes, and means, much more, once the adoption has come to reality.

Suddenly it takes on so much more power, means more, once an adoptive parent is involved.

Because as we First Mom’s are led to believe “Love” means giving up and understanding that it is never enough when it comes to raising our sons or daughters, it’s a different law for the “perfect” couples who become the parents to our children . . . as this same adoptive dad states . . .

The real variable is love and consistent care - NOT biology.”

Because love in adoption does conquer all, does save every child from any hardships or heartache, as long as it is offered by the adoptive parents.

For us First Moms . . .

Well we are just screwed.

Because if we were to ever have mentioned that love conquers all while we were pregnant with our children we would have been scoffed at, ridiculed, and reminded, over and over again, just how selfish we were, and what terrible parents we were bound to become, by carrying such thoughts.

I mean, after all, we had biology playing against us from the very start - you know that pesky little thing that just doesn’t matter. And so, automatically, that meant that we had to realize more, accept harder, the fact that our love for our child meant giving them up if we could not offer a two parent household with lots of toys and fancy vacations and college funds.

If we could not give them the fairy tale then we had to give them up because not doing so meant we loved them less.

But how about that adoptive dad that loves the quote about a First Mom giving up her child because of how much she “supposively” loves him.

What about his situation and his expectation of love?

Will he face a society that expects him to give up his child if, down the road, he is no longer able to provide that “perfect” life. Will the masses let him know that he doesn’t truly love his child and isn’t willing to give the ultimate sacrifice if he faces divorce or job loss or financial struggles?

Will he ever be able to step back and repeat what I quoted him if he faces a different life than what he knows. Will he believe such a thing is “great” if he is faced with giving up his two little girls who have blessed his life through adoption? Will he ever say that if he loved them less he would have kept them?

Nah . . .

Cause it’s different . . .

Isn’t it?

F0r some adoptive parents who are so grateful to us First Mom’s for loving our children enough to give them up but can’t imagine ever doing the same.

Why should they?

I mean, after all, their love, their lives, their circumstances are so much different and better than us lowly First Moms.

All they need is love. Love is all they need.

And to think that they would ever do such a thing to their children after they have bonded with them, know them as their mother and/or father . . . .

Well you would just have to be crazy because it would NEVER happen because they love their children and they would never give them away and cause such great risks of harming them.

Because, obviously, their love means more. Because they can love their children enough to make sure that they never suffer or feel harm.

All while hailing First Mom’s for loving their children enough to give them up.

Yep. That’s the way of adoption, isn’t it?

Mom’s who don’t fit our societal view of wealth and opportunity are told that love isn’t enough to keep and raise their children while the “hoping to be” moms who are acceptable by their financial, education and maritial status are encouraged to realize that love will be the “solve” all to give to their adopted child, because that is all he or she really needs.

Don’t worry that your adopted children might feel loss from adoption. Don’t concern yourself that they might miss their First Parents or have times when they want to be with them and wish they had never been separated from them. Because love will conquer all and will guarantee that you and your child will never have to suffer separation.

And if you hit hard times, if your life changes from what it was when you first adopted, just love your child because that will be enough to get him or her through.

But, of course, if you are a pregnant mom or First Mom without a job or stable marriage, if you can’t hope to offer your child the “best” material things at the very moment of birth, than your love means understanding and recognizing that you must give your child up because you aren’t good enough, worthy enough, or capable enough, even with the love you have for your child, to offer him or her what they deserve.

And don’t you dare question later in life if the adoptive parents will then turn around and give up their child to you if you have reached a better place that makes you the one more capable to offer that “perfect” life. Because those kind of thoughts are ridiculous and hold absolutely no merit.

Because all a child needs is love . . . as long as it comes in the way we, as a society, believe it is meant to be.

And for us First Moms, we aren’t, and never have been, or will be, part of that equation.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rogue Adoptee

The title is interesting, isn’t it . . . Rogue Adoptee.

All right, so maybe just to me it seems interesting, but I promise I have a very good reason why .

It’s the title for my oldest son’s new blog.

It’s another new step into the future he is building for himself. An early laid anchor in his desire to work with troubled teens and specialize in adoptee issues. To draw from his own experience and help others who will come to face what he has through his life.

To me, as the proud mom, I am already convinced, Rogue Adoptee, will be a blog of great brilliance. A MUST read for everyone because of the wisdom and insight that the writer will share in his experiences, thoughts, and journey as an adoptee.

But there is also that protective streak that I battle with as well. That part of me that wants to stand up and be the wall between my oldest son and the ugliness he is sure to face in his quest to speak out for what he believes in.

Because, as he warns from the very beginning, his blog is going to be one that challenges thoughts and ideas from ALL sides of adoption. In his new found confidence, he has found his right to speak out about what he believes in, what he experiences, without allowing restrictions to fall upon him.

Restrictions that have the risk of coming from both first families and adoptive families. From his understanding that both sides have very strong, deep-rooted beliefs in the truth of adoption.

But if he is brave enough to walk this path, then I have to be brave enough to give him the freedom that he has every right to as an adult. To do so without his mother putting up obstacles to protect him.

It’s one of those lessons we learn as we parent. The very real fact that we have to see and respect our children as they become adults. Allow them to have their voices, their thoughts, their feelings, without fear that anyone, especially their parents, might try to come in and silence them for whatever reason . . .

Even if that reason is protection.

And in the truth of it all, outside that natural knee-jerk reaction to protect my child from any ugliness or cruelty he might face, there is more to what I see and feel.

Because in his blog, in his belief and desire for the direction he wants, Rogue Adoptee, to take, I see a strong, confident man who believes in himself and his fight enough to speak out even at risk of upsetting others.

Who sits between two lives, as so many adoptees do, but refuses to let that restrict him on ANY side. Refuses to be held back from expressing his views, his thoughts, his experiences as an adoptee.

Because my son is strong enough, brave enough, confident enough, that he will speak his mind. He will challenge the thoughts of, not only strangers, but those closest to him as well, to finally have a voice to be heard. A voice he does not fear reaction to because he knows that the one person he must always be honest to is himself.

And so it is with the greatest of a mother’s pride that I introduce you to the next great blog in the adoption world . . . Rogue Adoptee.

It is with trust and belief in my son’s strength and confidence that I encourage all to hear his words, his beliefs, even if they may challenge your own.

Because I believe in him, his words, and in the fact that, although I may not always be able to protect him as I want, I will always be proud of him for standing up for what he believes in and understanding that his voice needs to be heard, HAS to be heard. And nobody ever has the right to take that away from him.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vacation Time

Six a.m. in the morning is when we head out for our family vacation. I really should be packing and going through the last minute details. But I wanted to say a few things first . . .

Thank you everyone for the kind words on my last post. I'm actually very happy to report that my oldest son pushed me right out of my funk when he came home yesterday with two pictures for me that he was able to get ahold of while he was staying with his adoptive mom (sadly without her knowledge.)

For me, images of how my son looked growing up ended with his Kindergarten picture. I have a decade long void of knowing what my son looked like. I never saw another picture of him until three years ago when I first found his page on MySpace.

So to get those pictures of him was the most amazing, most wonderful thing that could have happened. I sat and stared, and still do honestly, at them. How could I not with the glimpse into his childhood?

And now we are off for the first part of our vacation where he will meet his great grandmother and aunt and uncle and cousins for the first time. And I will collect more pictures to carry us into the future.

All in all, it's a great feeling to have tonight.

And one I am excited to continue, so just one more thing before I go . . .

There were some great points made in the comment section of my last post that I am hoping to respond to as soon as I get back, but in the meantime, please venture over to Myst's blog for her latest post, What Does It Mean To You?

It is definitely one worth reading.

Take care and see you soon!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Funk

Life is busy. Running me in many different directions.

I’m still working on a response to lovely Jennifer and one of her blog posts.

I’m still in the midst of my yearly “after Christmas” house scrub.

And I am a mere two days away from our family vacation for a week.

And yet, even with all this activity, all this “to do,” I find myself caught in an odd funk – for lack of a better word. It’s no where near the depression that used to settle in on Christmas night and last far into the New Year.

No. That was much different. And much harder to deal with.

Up until a few years ago, when I reunited with my son, the month after Christmas was always the darkest part of my year. It was the time I mourned, for many years without even understanding why, the loss of my son, born just two days after Christmas. It was the dark hike back through those memories of a Christmas spent with my parents, still happy and laughing, still unable to grasp what was about to happen to me.

And then the morning after Christmas, waking up and heading immediately to the hospital after my water broke, taking that first step into the moment in my life when my son and I would be separated.

That depression was hell! Something I hope never to have to experience again.

This time, though, it’s just merely a “funk.” Nothing as serious or emotionally draining as the past. But still there and holding on for the moment.

And it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is causing it.

I run it through my head. Is it that I wasn’t with my oldest son for his twenty-second birthday?

But no, that doesn’t seem right. He’s up in the town where he grew up, visiting, until tomorrow, with friends he hasn’t had contact with for awhile. Rediscovering that part of him that is so important to who he is and that he kind of simply walked away from for the past year and a half.

Yes, he has been staying with his adoptive mom. And yes, I’ve worried that the ugliness might start again. But, in reality, I have found myself actually very happy and proud of the way my oldest son has handled the situation.

For the first time in his life, he has found a confidence in himself and who he is to be strong enough to stand up for himself and to let others know that he will not allow them to treat him in certain ways.

He has found his voice in letting his adoptive mom know he will not listen to her talk bad about anyone in his family. To share with her his own personal feelings about how adoption and his childhood has affected him without backing down when she has challenged and disagreed with him.

He has confronted his adoptive uncle, letting him know that it was wrong that he used a taser gun on him when he was only fifteen. Finally putting words to his anger and hurt, standing up for the fact that he was just a child and his adoptive uncle had absolutely no right to do such a thing to him. That he never did and never will deserve such treatment.

And, most importantly, he’s reconnected with old friends and old memories, no longer living in the mindset that he must give up one life for another and instead slowly finding his way into bringing both his lives together.

So, on that end, I see great steps into a better future for my son, something that brings me joy, not sadness.

But the “funk” is still there. And I still wonder . . .

Part of it, I think, started on Christmas night (darn the timing) when my husband and I spent hours talking with my sister-in-law.

As our family can do while we are chatting, we ran through a wide range of topics. Unfortunately, one happened to fall back to one that I have now learned I still am not totally able to discuss without reaction . . .

My role in the abuse my son faced through his childhood.

It was one of those moments when the tears just fall, silently and non-stop. Like a dam is broken and they just come, not one after another, but in a flood you can’t stop.

And it hurt . . . just as it hurts now to write about it.

I can’t describe it. Can’t even try to illustrate an image of what those moments are like, of what the pain is I feel inside. It’s just there.

And ironically, it seems to hit, as it did that night, whenever someone tells me that I need to forgive myself for what happened to my oldest son.

See, I know all the reasons. I have searched, researched and searched again for the answers. But that doesn’t change it. That doesn’t ever take away my actions, my role in placing my son in the arms of the woman who would go on to abuse him.

In my heart, in those weaker moments when the tears flood through, I know the truth. I know the reality I will forever live with . . . I will never be able to forgive myself for something that caused so much pain and grief for my child.

And truthfully, I don’t believe there are many mothers who could.

Imagine, moms, if you learned, whether intended or not, an action of yours caused your child physical and mental harm. Imagine looking into your son or daughter’s eyes and knowing the pain you see there, in some way, with or without reason, began with you.

Could you forgive yourself? Could you listen and obey those who told you that you had to?

I can’t.

The best I can do is continue as I have been and learn, day by day, how not to let that guilt, that grief, control every aspect of my life. I can make sure that I still smile and laugh, treasure the amazing wonders I have been blessed with in my life.

But I just can’t see ever being able to forgive myself for my part in what happened to my oldest son.

And so I’m sure that is part of my “funk.”

And I am also guessing that is why my guard seems to be down more than usual so that some of the things I have read through the adoption blog world have hit harder than I usually allow them to do. Broken through that protective wall I have had to learn to put up so that I don’t personally feel or take offense to everything I stumble across.

Because when you start to let the words and beliefs of others affect you personally, you take on more emotionally than you should. You react in ways that do not protect you or your feelings and become too closely involved in how others might or might not feel.

And when that happens during a week like the last week or so has been, it can definitely cause some hell.

It seems like, for some reason, the New Year has begun with the gates being opened and the challenges in adoption pouring through without check.

From an amazing First Mom who fights tirelessly for what she, and so many others, believe in, being labeled with such horrendous titles as mentally ill and damaged to another great First Mom who has the kindest and gentlest voice I have ever known being accused of being hateful and bitter.

And the God and adoption belief revisted over and over AND over again. Adoptive moms who hold themselves to such a level that they actually believe “God” willed their adoptive child to them. That they are so special, so much better than another woman, that he would gladly cause loss and grief for one mother so that they could finally have the child they deserved.

Who in the world actually believes this? And how can they? I wish, for just a second, I could get in that mindset, understand it long enough to have some understanding of where they are coming from, how they created such a belief that entitles them to God’s graces while denies another.

Where in the world is that born? How in the world can anybody see themselves as that great and deserving?

I just don’t understand it. And I know I never will.

Especially not when, on a certain blog I probably should have avoided after the first read, the writer states that she isn’t supportive of more support for pregnant moms in need of help and yet believes that it was God’s plan that she be blessed with her son.

So, in other words, you have restrictions on helping your fellow man but believe that God sees you as worthy enough to be “blessed” with a child that another mom must suffer the loss over.

And just how does that make sense? Where in the bible, or any Christian writing, is this a part of what we are taught, believe in, or are led to follow?

Yeah, it’s been one of those weeks.

Children are “gifts” given to adoptive parents. First moms are simply women who spread their legs and must deal with the consequences of their actions and those of us who speak out about the darker truths are the rare few who have simply had bad experiences and know nothing of what we are saying. Nor should we be taken seriously in any manner because adoption is the best thing ever created.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Like I said . . . I’m in a funk.

And yet, what has hit the hardest is a recent discussion (my version of it) between First moms on another blog.

It isn’t that I am surprised that we are many with many different experiences and opinions. Or that even among us First moms there is anger and misunderstandings.

Those things I already know and have come across plenty of times before.

No. For me, it’s that old part of myself I see in the First Mom’s who so proudly exclaim how happy they are that they gave up their child. How they made another couple so happy by giving them a child. How they wanted better for their son or daughter and knew they couldn’t give it to them.

I hear in their stories an eerie echo of mine, and so many others, stories. A sad note to the fact that the adoption industry always has and always will use the same tactics to convince woman that they are not good enough for their children, that another woman is better, and that they are good and worthy of praise for making the “loving option” and being happy about it.

It’s not that I believe every First mom who is happy with their adoption is in denial or will suddenly turn around and regret losing their child.

It isn’t that I believe that if I stomp my foot and demand they believe what I say that they should do just that and suddenly realize and declare that they were coerced and manipulated into giving up their child. Such a fit doesn’t work for my twelve-year old daughter, it sure as heck isn’t going to work for me.

No. It’s in their stories. In what I read of what happened to them. In the relationship I can find in the woman I was for so many years. The woman who had to, for her own survival, believe she did the best thing for her child, grasp and hold on desperately to being the “good beemommie” because the alternative was an emotional time bomb I wasn’t able, prepared, or willing to face.

And it’s my fear of websites they have created to support other pregnant moms who might be considering adoption. Websites that do not touch on the darker sides. Do not give voice to the other risks, like the First Moms who have suffered through depression and PTSD from the loss of their children. Who have learned, as the years go by, that the pain not only doesn’t go away, but can very often get worse with time.

And there isn’t mention of adoptees who have lived the life of adoption. They don’t mention the struggles they face, the rights they are denied. Nothing is said of the different experiences adoptees face or the challenges they may experience growing up and as adults.

And so I fear for those who are yet to come and ache for those who have already walked down the path.

Because you hear in their words what they went through. You hear of the First Mom who was preparing herself to single-parent her child and, at first, refused to meet with LDS Family Services as her mother suggested but then gave in to her mother’s begging and agreed to meet with them and after that meeting knew within 12 hours that she “adamantly” wanted to give up her child for adoption.

And of the mother who, when pregnant, went to stay with her sister and met an “amazing” woman who had been trying so desperately for six years to have a baby, who had already gone so far as to set up a college account for the child they so desperately wanted to have and realized this woman was better for her own child than she was.

Do you hear what I hear in these stories?

My heart breaks for them when I, from this side of my journey, after learning all I have about how the adoption industry works, see the same pattern, the same tactics, the same manipulation used on women who are so capable, so loving and so deserving of their children.

And that is where I find it so hard to live with. These women who are so much, have so much, can offer so much, not only don’t realize just how great they would have been as their children’s mothers but, in turn, are also encouraging other mother’s not to realize their own strengths and abilities as mothers to the children they might currently be pregnant with.

You read what they have to say and you see intelligence, caring and love and you know, you just know, they should have been given every opportunity to raise their children because they show the ability to do whatever it would take to give their sons or daughters everything they could.

And it’s hard to know they will never get that chance and don’t see in themselves how very much they deserved that chance.

These women aren’t addicted to drugs or alcohol. They aren’t prone to abuse or neglect their children. They are exactly what you would expect a good mother to be – genuinely loving of the tiny lives they were blessed to carry and nurture to life.

And yet, not only did they never get a chance to put their qualities and abilities to use for their children, they truly believe that they never were good enough for them and that somebody else possessed “better” than them that made them more worthy of raising their child and them grateful that they did.

I know I have hit on this very thing so many times over the past couple months but I can’t seem to get away from these feelings, this sadness for these amazing mothers who should have been given every chance to keep and raise their children.

When will we understand that they not only needed, but deserved, every ounce of support we could have given them to be the best parents possible to the little ones they carried inside of them.

When will we realize that offering that hand in the beginning to these amazing women who already show every sign of being great parents will guide them into a future where they are able to offer their children the “good” life they desire for them without them ever having to suffer through the loss and grief that adoption brings with it.

Why do we punish these women? Why do we believe it is better for them to give up their children to someone who is deemed more deserving instead of helping them at the start so that in the end they will be self-reliant, capable and the best kind of mothers they can be?

When I read their stories. When I hear them proclaiming over and over again how much they didn’t have compared to how much another woman did have, my heart breaks and my anger rages.

Because they deserved more . . . their children deserved more.

They were never, and I believe never will be, neglectful, uncaring mothers who don’t give a damn about their children.

On the contrary, they are mothers who loved so much, who cared so much, that they believed they weren’t good enough and set themselves up for a lifetime of grief under the belief that their child deserved more than they could give them.

And what exactly did they get in return?

In my opinion . . . absolutely nothing.

And that’s where I get stuck and struggle with this “funk” in the midst of all the busyness in my life.

Because how can we support this? How can we allow this to happen?

So many have suffered . . . so many more will follow the same path.

So many, MANY mothers who show from the start just how truly amazing and capable they are, are being encouraged to give up their children. To not see their true worth and ability in the light of another who can offer “more.”

And, because of our societies beliefs, because of what the adoption industry pours into so many areas of our lives, these mothers are left with the expectation and the need to be happy with what has happened to them. They are led to believe, through so many areas in their life that they made the right decision by believing they were not capable to give their own child the very same love and dedication they showed from the very beginning, before they ever held their child in their arms.

Yeah, it’s a “funk.” One, I know, was brought on in more than one way, AGAIN, by the reality of adoption as I know and see it.

I know I will work through it. I know I will go away for the week with my amazing husband, all four of my children, and laugh and enjoy and remember everything that I do have in my life that makes me happy and thankful.

But I also know that for myself and everyone else who has stepped into the adoption world, there is always another fact that we can never get past . . .

The fact of just how adoption has affected us and will continue to affect us as we stumble our way through this journey that so many don’t, and never will, understand.