Friday, October 28, 2011

Tricks Without The Treats

My Italian Grandfather – Grandpa Joe – who I have written about before, loved Halloween.

He was one of those characters who took great joy in all the big holidays, getting into the spirit for everything from Easter Egg Hunts to Christmas Caroling to Haunted Houses.

All the neighborhood kids in the small town where he lived always knew “Mr. Joe” had pumpkins in his garden for them (after his granddaughter had first pick, of course) and homemade caramel apples waiting for them every Halloween night back in the time when there wasn’t fear over the goodies your children were given.

And they knew, when they rang his bell and yelled “Trick or Treat” there was always a very good chance that “Mr. Joe” would tease them with a trick of his own before giving them their treat. It was always simple, fun tricks, to earn a smile . . . a quick laugh . . . before giving them the treats they were waiting for.

Such memories are part of the many I treasure when I think of my Grandfather.

I was only fourteen when he died, just two years before I gave up my oldest son . . . his great grandson. And I can’t help but wonder, at times, what he thinks of what I did. What he thinks of the fact that his only grandchild (at the time of his death) who was saved from adoption herself partly because of my grandfather’s strong belief in the importance of family, sacrificed her own child. Handed him over to strangers because she believed the tricks of the adoption agency . . .

Tricks that never came with any treats.

And that is how the adoption industry survives, how they maintain their billion dollar profits. They continually trick pregnant women who are putting their trust in them, believing them and their promises of caring only about them and their unborn child.

But it is all lies, created so they can walk away with the treat – a mother’s child and the profit they will make off of that innocent baby.

And it is the lies they tell about our babies. The tricks they pull, that are the very worst.

Because they desperately need us to believe that separating a mother and child at birth causes no harm. And they tell us this, over and over again. Doing their very best to convince a pregnant mother that her baby doesn’t even know who she is, won’t suffer at all from being given away to strangers from the moment of birth.

And it is the worst . . . and most harmful . . . trick of all.

Because it’s a lie. One the adoption industry, and certain others, hold on to even with the studies, the knowledge, the simple human instinct that proves them wrong over and over again.

Babies know who their mothers are. They know. They hear them. They feel them. They are a part of them. In everything that is so frightening and new to them at the moment of birth, there is one thing . . . one person . . . who gives them comfort . . .

Their mothers.

The medical professionals know this. When my granddaughter spent those days in the NICU, the nurses made sure my daughter-in-law (her mother) knew how important it was for her to be there, to talk to her daughter, touch her, hold her.

And not because she was just some random caregiver and it was important for her to have human contact.

But because she was her mother. She was the one person my granddaughter knew, could be comforted by. Though there wasn’t any choice but to be placed in the NICU, it wasn’t good for my granddaughter to be separated from her mother, to be around strangers, no matter how much they cared for her or were there to help her.

She needed her mother. Needed the one person she knew. And as the nurses said, the one person – her mother – that studies proved, the more contact with, the higher the recovery rate.

And her mother was there. Always there. Never wanting to leave her little girl. We had to fight with her to get a few hours sleep. To pull her away from her daughter’s crib when she was so pale from exhaustion she looked like a walking ghost.

She knew the truth. Nobody tricked her, lied to her. There was no profit to be made. No treats to walk away with. So she was told, as all mothers should be, how important it was for her child to have her mother around. How much she needed her, how traumatic it was for her to be separated from the one person she knew and could be comforted by.

But so many other babies aren’t given that. So many other mothers are lied to. All in the name of profits, in the hopes of another woman desperately wanting a child.

Babies aren’t blank slates. They aren’t these non-intelligent beings born without knowledge of where they are or who they are with. I’ve been reminded of that every day since my granddaughter was born.

She knows, even in a household of four adults and one doting teenage aunt, who her mother is. She has from the very start. None of us are strangers to her anymore. But her mother, she is the one my granddaughter responds to the most. I see it, am witness to the truth every single day.

And I wish, oh how I wish, if there was just one single message, one single lesson I could get out to the pregnant mother of today, it would be to run far away from what I did all those years ago - - sacrificing my son to strangers - - and study, watch and learn just how important mothers are to their babies.

Don’t do as I did and believe their lies, their tricks.

Believe instead your worth, your importance to your child. And know that he or she already knows you, trusts you and finds comfort in your touch, the sound of your voice.

Don’t put your baby through the trauma of separation from you. Love them, hold them, keep them and cherish them.

Give them the most important need they will ever have in their life . . .


Thursday, October 20, 2011

San Antonio Surprise

I am so far behind in just about everything these days, especially the blogging world. But it is all for a very good reason . . .

My granddaughter decided she didn’t want to wait around for her September 19th due date. She figured the hot summer days of August were more to her liking. And since I told her not to come while I was away in San Antonio at the Adoptee Rights Demonstration, she picked that as the perfect time to make her debut.

It was a sixteen hour drive, in the middle of the night, to get us from San Antonio back home to Colorado. We were on a dark Kansas Interstate, six hours left to go, when she was born. My youngest son, the wonderful man that he is, took a picture just a few minutes after she was born and sent it to us. And there she was, naked and screaming, and as beautiful as ever.

We celebrated. We cried. And we counted down the hours left till we reached the hospital.

And today . . . my granddaughter is almost three months old and absolutely perfect. Though she was six weeks early, she was born healthy and strong and spent less than a week in the NICU. From there she came home to our house, with her wonderful parents (my youngest son and daughter-in-law) and has reminded me every day just how truly amazing it is to be a grandmother.

Every day she changes. And every day I am so thankful for her.

And in all the congratulations and well wishes since her birth I have been asked, only once, if I regretted going to San Antonio and missing the birth of my first grandchild. And my answer was exactly as it still is now and will be in the future . . .

No. I don’t, and never will, regret it.

But it’s hard, I have found, to get it to make sense to others in the same way it makes sense inside my own head.

Because I do wish I could have been there when my granddaughter was born. I would be lying if I said otherwise. But I wasn’t there. I can never change that I wasn’t there. And if I wasn’t meant to be there, through fate, God, or whatever force you might believe in, than I was meant to be in the next best place I could have been.

I could have been anywhere, doing anything, with anyone, when I learned my granddaughter was on her way. But I wasn’t. I was somewhere that meant something to me. Something beyond anything I could even try to explain.

And it’s beyond the fact that I finally had a part in standing up and speaking out for the Adoptee Rights that I believe in. (Though I am SO disappointed that I missed my booth time and solemnly swear to do double time next year in Chicago.) It was who I was with. The wonderful people I was surrounded by, that made the experience something I know I will forever be grateful for.

The fact that I was excited to become a grandmother was never a secret with anyone. Those who knew me, knew I couldn’t wait for my granddaughter to be born.

But there was a special group of people, who I consider friends in every way that matters to me, who understood, over and beyond, how adoption added another layer to my feelings. Understood even where I couldn’t explain it.

They just knew, without any explanation necessary, that the birth of my first grandchild held something over and beyond what was expected. Past the normal excitement and joy of welcoming another member into my family.

And it was those friends I was with when I learned my granddaughter was on her way. This group of wonderful people who I never even knew - just a mere five years ago - existed. Who are some of the most giving, understanding, loving and loyal human beings I have ever had the honor of crossing paths with.

Outside of my husband and my other children, they were the first to know my granddaughter was on her way. The first tears I shed were on the shoulder of a wonderful woman and adoptee who I think was actually crying before I was. The first hugs and congratulations came from those who, through their own stories and experience, their support and friendship, held me up and kept me going during some of the darkest times of my life when it felt as if adoption had beaten me down as far as I could go.

And even in those last couple hours on the road, when the hospital seemed so close and yet still so far away, it was those same wonderful people who were the first to call (outside of my family) and to know my granddaughter had been born just a few hours earlier.

No. There are no regrets for where I was, what I was doing and ESPECIALLY who I was with when my granddaughter decided it was time to make her entrance into this world.

What there is instead is a story to share with my granddaughter as she gets older. She will always know where I was and what I was fighting for when I found out she was coming earlier than expected. She’ll always be told about the wonderful people who were the first to know she was on her way. And she’ll always have her own personal tale of how she became our San Antonio Surprise.