Monday, February 20, 2012

The Little Things

Well . . .this has definitely been an overly extended holiday blog break for me.

But there’s just something about having this amazing little granddaughter in the house that seems to so easily distract me from what needs to be done. All it takes is a smile from her and suddenly nothing else seems so important. The sound of her laughter to make me forget what it was I was supposed to be doing.

It’s time, though, to get back to writing, both here and in my professional life.

There is so much I want to write here. So many posts already formed inside my head. I may have taken a break from writing about adoption these last few months but there was no break at all in living the reality of adoption.

And since the birth of my granddaughter, that reality has come at me time and time again. But it hasn’t been some big thing barreling after me. Instead it’s been the little things. Like someone standing a few feet away and randomly hurling pebbles at me. Once or twice and it really wouldn’t hurt. But after a while the sting becomes almost unbearable.

That’s been my life these past six months. Little things hitting me, over and over again, bringing the pain that is adoption.

Little things that I believe those of us who are not adopted take for granted to the point that we don’t even carry memories of such experiences.

Little things that go against the adoption belief that taking a newborn baby from his or her mother and handing them over to a stranger to raise causes no harm, no loss, no grief.

Little things that have driven home, more than ever, just what I did to my oldest son all those years ago when I gave him up for adoption.

There have been so many times when I have held my granddaughter close, looked into her eyes, and been so thankful she didn’t have to suffer the loss of losing her mother in the first few days of her life. Thankful she wasn’t taken from her family and placed into the care of strangers.

I hold her tighter, kiss her more when I think of everything she could have lost if adoption had become a part of her life. If she had been stripped of a heritage, a history that was hers the minute she was born.

And in those moments, there is always the harsh realization that when I walked in to the hospital nursery and placed my oldest son in the arms of his adoptive mother, I did to him the very things I am thankful my granddaughter never had to know.

And how do you make sense of that? How do you live with the knowledge that you are thankful your granddaughter will never know the loss your first born child suffered through adoption?

I know what happened all those years ago. I know the lies, the coercion, the manipulation that existed to make sure I gave away my healthy, white, baby boy to a couple willing to pay good money for him. But that doesn’t change what it feels like to cuddle my granddaughter as close as I possibly can because I am horrified to think of what it would have done to her if her mother had done what I did to my own child . . . to relive, over and over again, that moment when I pulled my son away from me and placed him in the arms of woman he didn’t know, left him alone with his loss while I turned away and walked out the door.

It’s a mind game that plays so cruely, becomes one of those little things that is thrown at me time and time again until the sting becomes almost too much to bear.

And yet it doesn’t stand alone.

I mean, that would just be too easy, right?

Because there are also those things, as I said, that I truly believe those of us who are not adopted take for granted.

I saw it on Christmas Eve.

It was my turn this year to host the dinner for my large, loud, wonderful, Irish side of the family.

Think busy and lots of noise. Laughter and conversations that overlap one another. Also think of a family proud to be Irish, raised to respect family and about as close and crazy as anyone could get.

Then throw in to that mix the newest family member . . . my granddaughter. She wasn’t just the new baby. She was the new “Grady” – our family name.  She was passed around, held, loved. By parents and grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Oh, she was one of us, you know. She was a Grady. An Irish girl. Maybe she’d be a painter, a writer. Maybe a sculptor or fashion designer. She cried and sounded exactly like one of her cousins when she was a baby. She smiled and looked just like her dad.

It was the start of what she will always know, always have in her life. Of those things she will take for granted because that’s just how it is. That’s normal. It’s what happens. You get together with family and they start talking about who you take after, look like, act like. It’s not even a second thought to them either. It just is what it is . . .

- - You have your grandpa’s nose - -

- - When you sing you sound just like your great-aunt - -

- - You have your mom’s green eyes - -

- - You inherited your painting skills from your uncle - -

And it doesn’t just end with family gatherings. It’s there . . . always there.
We just don’t see it or recognize it if we have never missed it.

But I see it so much now. Over and over again is the reality that all my granddaughter has is all my oldest son never knew.

Those little things . . . simple things . . . that become so important in creating our identity, our connection to who we are through who came before us.

Normal things for so many that adoption takes away.

Takes away on top of the loss that already exists.

To see it . . . to live it now . . . I just can’t even imagine where I ever was, what I ever thought when I gave my oldest son away to such a life.

What is “better” about a life that begins with loss in the arms of a stranger? About growing up never having what so many don’t even think twice about because, to them, it’s such a normal part of life that they don’t even realize how it plays into creating who and what they become.

Adoption, even so-called successful open adoptions, start with a terrible loss and continue with taking away from children what they should just always know, count on, take for granted. There is nothing good in that. Nothing “better” about it.

Every child deserves what my granddaughter knows in her life, what my son was denied in his.

Deserves to have, if at all possible, the life, the family, they were born into.
Adoption is not a loving option.

It is an act.

An act that separates a child from his or her family, takes from them what is normal, natural in the process of growing up.

An act that should not be encouraged, praised or hoped for. But instead recognized as something that no child should ever have to experience unless there is no other option. No other way to give them the life they deserve in the family they were born in to. Give them the “little things” that nobody should ever be denied.


  1. (((Cassi))) WELCOME BACK!! So good to see the link pop up...

    And yes, you are so right. This is what haunts me too... the thing that we never think of until it is taken away so that it becomes precious; something to be treasured.

    I'm so sorry there is no off switch for adoption. Despite the good days, the sunshine we let into our lives.

    I am thrilled to hear of your granddaughter and obviously happy she will never experience what your son had to live through.

    And yes, adoption should never be encouraged as it is. I was reading a comment earlier today which went something along the lines of that adoption is wrong... sometimes it is less wrong in certain situations which makes it seem right but it is essentially still wrong because of what it means. I agree.

    Great post!

  2. I was very connected to this post - great one as usual. We also have a new granddaughter in our family and my son and her mother were not married when she was born. I looked at her, thought of my first born lost to adoption and had those same thoughts. She would have been lost to me had her mother been pushed into adoption, she would have lost so much family, not only her parents but 4 grandparents and 6 great-grandparents! So sad that so many still think this is a good thing.

  3. ***This is what haunts me too... the thing that we never think of until it is taken away so that it becomes precious; something to be treasured.***

    Myst - Yes! So precious and yet so heartbreaking when it comes from the terrible loss our children experienced through adoption.

    And I would pay good money if there was such a thing as an on/off switch for adoption pain.

  4. Carlynne,

    I have come to believe that one of the worst fears a mother can face is when her son is an expectant father and is unmarried - or like my son - married but still relatively young and a college student - because there are so many ways the adoption industry uses to leave fathers powerless and take their children from them for adoption against their will.

    And it's sad isn't it, that the reality of adoption has come to this point where we are actually grateful that our grandchildren were not taken away from their family and will never have to know that loss.

  5. AMEN!! "Adoption is not a loving option. It is an act. An act that separates a child from his or her family..."

    I'm another grandma whose new grandchild brings the realizations of the true losses in adoption. It was so hard to see the instant bond my grandson had with both of his parents immediately. I stole that from my own son... that will always hurt.

  6. "Deserves to have, if at all possible, the life, the family, they were born into."

    This is one of the reasons I so strongly believe in open records. Every person even if they were surrendered during the closed adoption period has the right to at least know the life and family that are rightfully theirs by birth.

  7. Oh, yes Susie, seeing that bond is one of the things that just really knocked me to my knees. I had believed for so long, through the births of all my children, that I really wasn't all that important and could have, as I had been, replaced by anyone.

    But then to finally see just how wrong such a belief is. To witness, right there in front of me, the bond that exists between a mother and her child, from the moment of birth,really sent me into a downward spiral.

    It is so terrible the lies mothers are led to believe in the attempt to get them to give up their baby to that paying customer.

  8. ***Every person even if they were surrendered during the closed adoption period has the right to at least know the life and family that are rightfully theirs by birth.***


    I agree 100%

  9. Myst refers to my description:

    “Adoption is always wrong, but sometimes it is less wrong than the alternatives, in such a case the choice for adoption becomes the correct one, as adoption is in such a case the least wrong, but it stays wrong.”

    I was worried a bit about you!