The day is here.
In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday I learned I was going to become a Grandmother.
And yet, today, it’s Baby Shower time with just a month and a half until my daughter-in-law’s due date.
This whole experience of becoming a Grandmother for the first time has been amazing, wonderful, terrific . . . and so many other things I can’t even put into words.
And it’s also brought a lot of understanding I thought I knew, but am coming to see I never full realized until now. Until my own personal experience has brought me here.
Though I was too naïve with my oldest son to realize what was happening, I have never . . . NEVER . . . doubted the bonding that happened between myself and ALL my children during pregnancy. I could tell you who kicked the most. Who had hiccups ALL THE TIME. Who loved when I slept on my back and who loved when I slept on my side.
I knew every one of my children, intimately . . . in the way only a mother can . . . long before they were born. But I have never before had the experience of being close enough to someone I love to witness, as an outsider looking in, such a bond.
But I see that now. I know that now. And it is one of the most remarkable things!
And it isn’t like it is this giant, screaming occurrence that happens.
Instead it’s the little things. Those moments that come and go, that you are lucky enough to catch, that give proof to the bond between a mother and her unborn child.
I see it when my daughter-in-law rubs her stomach and, in a soft voice, asks her baby girl what she wants to eat. When her laughter fills the room because she has enjoyed chocolate and the kicks and punches against her stomach have let her know her daughter has enjoyed the treat as well.
There are the times, when we are all together, talking, playing pool, chatting, when my daughter-in-law will start singing softly to her stomach because she knows, can feel, when her baby is restless inside her and has learned that a song, no matter how off-key, soothes her.
It is just so amazing to see from this side of things. As a Grandmother so ready and excited to welcome her first Grandchild . . . her Granddaughter . . . into the world.
And yet, I also know something else . Understand something that is so important . . .
For my Granddaughter, no matter how much I already love her. No matter how much I have planned and looked forward to and been eager for her to finally be born . . . I am, and will be for awhile, a complete stranger to her.
I may love her with all my heart, love her in a way I can’t even describe at the moment, but that doesn’t change the fact that she will not know me, love me, or even trust me when she is born.
I am, as of right now, a stranger to her, as is everyone who is not her mother. She will not enter this world suddenly loving me as I love her. How can she when it is not my voice, my scent, my heartbeat she knows?
And knowing that makes me so thankful that my Granddaughter will have her mother there. That she will never feel alone or afraid in a world of strangers because her mother, the one she does know, love and trust, will be there for her. Will be the comfort nobody else can offer her during those tender months after her birth as she is learning to trust and believe in those who surround her.
I couldn’t imagine different for her and am so thankful I don’t have to. But my heart does break when I think of how many infants will never know the comfort and safety my Granddaughter will always know because adoption will take that away from them. Because so many want . . . need . . . cling to the belief that there is no damage in separating as child from the one person he or she has loved, relied on and trusted long before the rest of us have ever even become a part of their life.
And though I want to kick myself, scream at the top of my lungs, create some kind of punishment for those who caused my oldest son to never have such security in the earliest part of his life (including me and all that I robbed him of.) I’ve come to realize that sometimes you don’t know, or understand, until you have that opportunity to be on this side of things, when you are the outsider looking in, learning and seeing what you couldn’t while it was happening to you personally.
Though it would have been completely impossible to happen, if I could have lived this experience before giving up my son, it would have taken forces greater than any we know exist in man(woman)kind to rip my oldest son away from everything he should have been given at the time of his birth. To cheat him from what my Granddaughter will always have.
But, unfortunately, I can’t change history, for myself, my son, or anyone else in my family who has suffered the loss adoption brings.
And that is where another part of the understanding becomes even more real now that I am here, living the reality of being a Grandmother for the first time.
Because there is something else I can never change . . . the memory of my mother, unable, for the one and only time in my life, to be there beside me, supporting me and holding me up in time of need, because the loss she was suffering was too much for her to overcome.
When I gave up my son, when I handed him over to his adoptive mother in the nursery, walked out of the hospital with empty arms, one of the first things I saw was my mom, sitting in the passenger seat of my parent’s car, crying like I had never seen her cry before.
To this day, that image of her is still one I struggle to deal with. One that can, and has, haunted me through the years.
And yet, it took this . . . my experience with becoming a Grandmother for the first time, just as she was when I was pregnant with my oldest son, to fully realize the pain and heartache she was struggling with on the day I handed my oldest son over to strangers to raise.
I took a moment in time that I am celebrating, loving and enjoying, and yanked it away from her. I not only allowed some other woman to become my son’s mother, I also allowed another woman to become my son’s Grandmother. A place in his life I truly had no right stripping from him or my mother, his grandmother.
I did that. And not only did I do that, I have now come to realize, through my own experience, just how wrong it was to deny my son and his Grandmother such a relationship.
I either heard it or believed it all then though . . . how wrong it was for me to expect my parents to raise, or even help me raise, my son when they had already raised me. How selfish I was being to even believe they would help me, to even consider accepting their help.
And yet, now . . . I get it! I would do anything for my Granddaughter. There is nothing you could ask of me that would be too much when it came to the health and happiness of that little girl. I would give my all, sacrifice everything I had for her . . . just as I would have done for any of my children.
I now understand . . . though my mother’s support, because of her experience, was silent support . . . my belief, my argument, that they would help me, support me, be there for me, because they loved me and their grandchild, was exactly right.
I was right, without doubt! My mom, because she is me and I am her, was feeling exactly as I do today. She loved her Grandson before he was ever born. Would have done anything for him, not because she was forced to by my own selfishness. But because she loved him, loved me. Because he was her Grandson. Because he was a part of her and a part of her child. Because she wanted, and always has, what was best for me and for my children.
I understand that now. Understand something that even all our talks, our understanding of where we each were back then, of how our experiences played such a huge part in that time of our live, could never fully make me see until I walked in those shoes, became the Grandmother who could never imagine, never think of losing her Grandchild to strangers.
I couldn’t do it, and honestly, don’t know how my mom did.
If I were to lose my Grandchild, I fully believe it would be the end of me.
And it hurts and tears me apart to know that, if my daughter-in-law had come across different feelings. If she had decided to give up my Granddaughter, whether my son, the dad, or the rest of the family agreed, we would have no say, no ability to keep our Granddaughter, daughter, niece in the family.
She would be lost to us forever because the law decides that strangers are better for her than we are. The law says that although she is our family, a part of us, loved by us, it doesn’t matter, because we don’t matter.
And that is such bullshit. (And yes I did it, I actually used such a word . . . a word that doesn’t even come close to my feelings at the thought of my Granddaughter being taken from us and given to strangers.)
My mom (who would leave most adoptive parents in the dust if she were to go through a Home Study to determine her worth) had absolutely NO RIGHT to her own Grandchild. Strangers held more right than she did to her own flesh and blood.
And strangers hold the same right to my own Granddaughter. They do. You would be a fool to question it.
I love my Granddaughter. I can’t wait for the chance to hold her in my arms, to love her and spoil her like a Grandmother is supposed to do.
But none of that matters to the law, the adoption industry, and many adoptive parents.
Because to them, I mean nothing. To them, strangers have the right to take away my Granddaughter if that is what her mother decides and I have no say, no legal rights to fight. Nothing to save my family and keep it intact.
I am, as a Grandmother who is already crazy in love with her Granddaughter. As one who would give everything, sacrifice whatever I have for her, nothing in the eyes of so many. Especially those who are so eager to profit or gain off of the very thought of my Granddaughter’s birth.
Because she is another infant born to young parents without successful careers, stable incomes or healthy bank accounts. Because I lose, my son loses, my entire family loses if, for any reason the adoption industry was able to convince my daughter-in-law she was not worthy . . . good enough . . . for her own child.
Because my Granddaughter . . . a healthy, white infant . . . is a hot commodity in today’s world. A product desired, bought and sold in what is reality for so many. And if just one thing, one small thing, had gone different, she could be on the selling block with so many other infants, a price tag on her head and a promised life of never knowing, never growing up with having the experience of being part of a family that has loved her, wanted her, and known she was a part of us, of all we are, from the moment she was conceived and began her journey into this world.
I am so thankful I will be able to celebrate my Granddaughter entering our family instead of mourning the loss of her as so many Grandparents are forced to do in the world of adoption. And because of her, and so many other infants born to mothers society deems “not good enough” my fight will continue, even stronger, to fight against a practice that needlessly destroys families.
Today I will eat and drink, play games, laugh and share my happiness with friends and family while always remembering the many families who have lost so much because of adoption. Who were never allowed the chance to celebrate a wonderful new life because their child/grandchild, brother/sister, niece or nephew was taken from them to be presented as a “gift” to a couple deemed more worthy.