About Me

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I placed my daughter in an open adoption in 2002. I started this blog in 2004 as a place to journal and eventually I became part of a community. The community has moved on, but I have decided to come back.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Motherhood

I'm reading the current issue of Oprah. In it she interviews Christiane Amanpour from CNN.

Christiane talks about how the birth of her son changed her- the overwhelming feeling of protectiveness, the increased concern about her own life.

I related so much to her words. She talked about how during her pregnancy, she was determined not to let motherhood change the types of assignments she took. Yet, it did. And she was unprepared for the overwhelming feelings.

I was, too. The sense of protectiveness I felt toward my daughter took me completely by surprise and I definitely value my own life more now that she is in the world.

Motherhood changes things and some of those things are universal.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Legs

The first thing we did was sit on the floor to pass a ball around.

She was shy this time. The picture I have of her in that moment is of her ducking her head.

I sat the way I usually do- one leg indian style, the other bent behind me.

She watched my every move.

I don't remember what she said, but she wanted to sit like me. She kept trying to bend her legs exactly the way I had. Each time she would look up at me with her big eyes and a shy smile to see how she did. Then she'd try again. After several minutes of this and lots of creative positions, we resumed our play- passing the ball.

Maybe she's practicing her sitting for the next time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Round Belly

There is a roundness to my belly. Not the kind that comes from too much beer or fatty foods, but the kind that comes only from occupation- a rite of passage, a battle scar, a reminder.

On the bad days, it reminds me of all that I've lost. A reminder of the carefree life that came before it, a life of mini-skirts and cute tops- enjoying the heads that turned as I walked by, a life of fitted dress clothes in lovely fabrics and beautiful colors that marked my passage into adulthood. I was coming into myself. I felt good.

But the loss goes deeper and my belly reminds me of that, too. A reminder of another life. A daughter. Growing within me. A tiny miracle.

The reminder is with me, but she is not.

In the beginning, my belly was barely noticeable. A stranger on the street would never have known- in fact her future parents first reaction was "You're so tiny!". Those close to me could tell. If I turned just the right way so that the fabric in my shirt hugged its outline, they knew. My sister marveled at it.

I tried to hide it for awhile- not really by choice, but because I learned early that people were ashamed. They would rather have me pretend. I bought pants and shirts in larger sizes and cried each morning as I tried to dress in a way that wouldn't reveal my sin.

As my belly grew larger and more noticeable, I tried harder not to be noticed- a trait that has stuck. I kept my eyes low to the ground praying nobody would stop to talk to me, to ask me about the little life growing within.

When I went out, I imagined every eye going straight to my naked fingers as their own shook at me in condemnation and disgust. But it wasn't just that I was unwed, it was what I had planned- to give away my own flesh and blood, to shirk responsibility for my actions by passing it on to someone else. Surely I could not love my child if I was planning such a thing. And so I became selfish and unloving in their eyes- not just those of strangers, but those of the people closest to me as well.

And my belly grew. The rest of me filled up to help support the added weight. A beautiful round basketball.

What is left reminds me of good things, too- sleepless nights in bed feeling precious kicks. Oh how I loved that full and occupied belly! Nothing short of magical- to feel sweet life within. Strange shapes and bumps- I rubbed my belly constantly- sometimes I still catch myself doing it.

On difficult days, I would pat and talk in soothing voices- calming myself and my baby at the same time. Some days I was angry that I was alone. Some days I wished there was someone else to share the joy of tiny movements- to lay a head on my belly- to marvel at the activity.

Before that could happen, my belly was emptied. Soft pouch taking the place of taut sphere. The invisible baby made her way into the world. The memory is bittersweet.

I went home without her. But I kept the belly. A reminder. Of loss and joy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Teary

I still haven't recovered from my visit.

This one just left me feeling lost. Not just lost in my adoption world. Lost overall.

Plus, I couldn't write about it in my adoption group without crying.

I just want my life to settle down.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Tough Weekend

This was a tough visit. I'm not feeling up to details today, it was just tough.

On an I-can't-believe-it note: my daughter's mom saved the lifebook for me to read to her last night. I was really shocked. She hadn't said anything to me about where or how she was going to share it, so I was really touched that she saved it for me to read. She planned to have me read it to my daughter as her bedtime story.

Since last Thanksgiving, my daughter's mom has me read my daughter a story and put her to bed. I really love getting to share that special time with my daughter, and every other time, my daughter has been thrilled.

This time, she wanted her mom to read her a story. She didn't want her mom to leave her- even before she knew that her mom was pulling out the lifebook.

It was sort of sad and very much the trend of the day, but I was glad in a sense, too.

I thought it was better to share the lifebook with her together. The three of us sat on my daughter's bed with my daughter in the middle.

We didn't actually end up reading it. My daughter was really into looking at all the pictures so we went through all the pages and talked a bit about what was in all the pictures, but didn't actually read any of the words.

It was hard.

I do think it was good to have the first time go like that. As honored as I felt to be able to be the first one to share it with her, I imagine it's a lot to take in so I think it was good to have the first time be a pictures only time. We did have to introduce the idea of a birthfather while we looked at the pictures. Her mom and I got a good laugh out of that because my daughter's reaction was "What?!?". We laughed that we were thinking the same thing.

Anyway, I did have fun. It was just tough.

Oh, and my daughter just looks so amazingly adorable. I couldn't stop looking at her.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

This Is It

Sunday I visit my daughter.

I hadn't mentioned it yet, but I got a signed Dora book for her in Chicago. I can't believe how emotional it was to get it. I really just wanted to cry as I watched the guy signing it. I did end up going outside for awhile right after so I could try to pull myself together.

Sometimes those little things hit the hardest.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dear Katie Cook

I'm the girl with the pink dog.

You asked if there was a story behind it. I should have been prepared, but I wasn't.

For starters, you're my kind of artist. The comicon was for my fiance more than me. I loved your work.

So what's my story?

I have a daughter. She's almost three. I placed her for adoption at birth.

I have an open adoption which means that I still see her. She calls me by my first name. Her parents just explained to her who I was, and I'm nervous about seeing her again. I'm going there next Saturday. It'll be the first time I've seen her since her parents told her that I was her birthmother.

For my birthday this year, my daughter picked out that little pink birthstone dog. She has one with her birthmonth and we spent a lot of time the day she gave it to me playing with our dogs. My heart was breaking as my daughter explored their sameness. She doesn't look much like me, but there are moments that are unnerving. She definitely has my smile. It is so strange to see yourself reflected in a child's face.

I'm not very good at keeping in touch. I hate the phone. I have no reason to- I just do. I decided recently that I would start sending postcards. I plan to feature that little pink dog in all the postcards so that my daughter will know they are from me. I'm so thrilled that you were able to include it in the drawing. I'm even more excited because "Gronk is love." The drawing is a perfect expression of our relationship and I made sure to get a "Gronk is love" pin to attach to the frame.

Besides that, I bring my daughter a book every time I visit. I love to read so it was my way of sharing something I love with her. Sometimes I bring her one of my childhood favorites, sometimes I mark a holiday or milestone, and sometimes I just bring her a book that caught my eye. When yours is published, I will definitely get it for her.

My daughter's mom collects artwork from random artists. I don't think she's found any yet for my daughter's room. I plan to give my daughter your print and custom drawing for her birthday next month. I think they'll be a hit.

I don't think I could have found a more perfect place to stop at Wizard World. Thank you for doing great work and for being so friendly and kind.

So there is a story behind the dog. It was a gift from my daughter.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Searching

A touching story about a football player searching for his birthmother.

Side note: I'm going to be away until next week.

On Luckiness

Imagine your beloved father (or any other loved one) is dying.

The illness is brief enough to spare your father a long drawn out death, but long enough for all of the family to say goodbye.

You go home to your own family one weekend, fearing that your father will pass while you are gone. He doesn't.

You go back on that Monday and have some precious final moments with him. Everything you've wanted to say to him was able to be said. Everything you wanted to hear from him was heard.

If your father had to die, this is exactly how you would have wanted it to be.

You are telling a friend about those last few days with your father- all the words that were said, all the moments that were shared- and your friend replies, "You're so lucky." Perhaps they follow it with "that you were able to spend his last moments with him." or "that he died peacefully." or "that you had a chance to say 'I love you'."

Now there may be a part of you that does feel lucky. You may feel grateful that it was the way it was. But I imagine your friend's comment feels like a slap across the face. What's lucky about losing your father? How dare someone tell you how lucky you are in a situation so filled with grief!

And so it is with adoption.

That is why I cringe to hear those words.

Like it or not, there is grief in adoption. It doesn't go away. It ebbs and flows, but it is there- maybe resurfaced at a baby shower or the sight of a pregnant woman. Maybe it comes up around the holidays. Maybe it is there when you look at your child's face and either do or do not see yourself reflected in it.

Put "That's really nice" in front of any of the above comments, and the sting is lessened.


Mommy, Can I Say Goodbye to Her Now?

I bought my daughter a little pink dress in Michigan. I sent it along with the lifebook (addressed to her parents only) and a separately mailed postcard of my dog hanging out on the couch (addressed to my daughter).

I got a phone call last night. My daughter thanked me for the dress and pictures. She told me about her day, asked me where my mom and dad were (again!). She then told me that she couldn't drive to my house because she didn't know where it was. Too cute!

After a couple minutes she asked her mom to say goodbye. On other days, I might have been hurt. Instead I thought it was really funny. I told her mom I thought it was funny. Her mom said she usually just hands the phone off when she no longer feels like talking.

Her mom and I chatted for quite awhile. It's been a long time since we talked like that and it was really nice to reconnect with her again. Nothing about my daughter- just life in general.

She did tell me that she loved the lifebook, that it was beautiful, that she never could have found the time to make something so nice. I was so glad. I was really nervous about what she would think. What a relief to know she liked it! No word on sharing it with my daughter, but I'm happy just to know that she approved.

For some reason, I feel so peaceful about that part of my life.