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.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year In Review

January: Flashback: Figuring Things Out- There has been a lot of talk out in the adoption blogosphere recently about birthmothers and their roles in the adoptive family's life.

February: What You Should Do Today-
You should hop on over to paragraphein and read the last few posts about adoption reform and the State of the Union and adoption numbers.

March: Help Me Respond- I subscribe to Dear Abby by email.

April: How Many of You Have Children?- An innocent question.

May: Quick Note-
I do have some things to write- I just haven't been in a blogging mood.

June: Ramblings (letter to my daughter)- Little Poor_Statue,
June is going to be quite a month for me.

July: It's Done- I have moved.

August: Thankfully- I have been in rough shape.

September: Sending You Away Again- Guess who's back in school?

October: Hugs for Jana-
I've been disturbed lately by the number of troubled relationships in my little blog circle.

November: Things That Are Keeping Me From Blogging- 1. Reading all of your blogs.

December: My Daughter Is...- I started my latest class this weekend.

So that was interesting for me. I think next year, the rules should be changed to use the first sentence of the most significant post in each month. Of course, I could have done that this year (I'm sure the meme police would've allowed it), but I'm so bad at breaking rules.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Year Is Almost Over

If you need a pick me up, check out this blog which chronicles a year of giving flowers to strangers.

I finally updated my links.

There has been lots of talk of people closing shop. I've definitely noticed that many of my faves aren't posting as often. I added some random blogs I've discovered to my bottom section of links, but if any of you have found any good adoption-related blogs that you think I'm missing, let me know. I really haven't found any new adoption blogs so I wouldn't mind the heads up.

And yay to a new year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas With My Daughter

I slept late Christmas Eve morning so we got a late start. I called their home when I got on the road. My daughter answered. When I told her we'd be there for dinnertime (she checked to make sure my beau was with me) she told me that was too late and if I found a shortcut, I should take it. She then described to me in great detail a shortcut she knew. Her mom and I laughed at that.

She was excited when we arrived and immediately attached herself to my beau. That was it for the night. He was king. Pretty much every picture I have is of the two of them together- many with her smiling up at him adoringly. Even her routine picture-taking consisted of photographing him (and one of us together at her insistence). He checked in with me occassionally to make sure he wasn't hogging my time. I didn't mind. I was glad to see them enjoying each other. Her folks remarked that this was the first time she's really taken to someone I brought there.

We had a big delicious dinner followed by lots of desserts including gingerbread cookies that my daughter had decorated. Of course, she insisted that my beau sit next to her.

Then I took her to put her jammies on. She requested my beau, but he declined the request and we all laughed. I had to ask her what her routine was, and she said she didn't have to wash up unless her mommy said something. I thought that was funny and shared it with her mom.

After that she opened her gifts from us. I got her some glow-in-the-dark Silly Putty (her mom's request) and my beau went with her to see how it worked in the dark. He made her laugh so hard that she wet her pants.

She pulled out the books I gave her and asked me to read them all to her so I did. It was nice.

She asked my beau to sleep on the trundle in her room and when he said no, asked me. Her mom stepped in to decline for us both.

I didn't sleep well and was lying in the dark when I heard her waking her parents up Christmas morning. She came for my beau and I next and I came out while my beau slept. It was about 5:30.

Her faith in Santa was so sweet- of course he would get her what she asked for. Still, she wasn't overeager for the gifts. She went straight to the cookies and milk and carrots to see that Santa and his reindeer ate well. Then she slowly went to the gifts (it was the same with ours the night before- it was hours before she opened them all even though there wasn't much). I was happy to see that Santa had brought her only the three things she requested.

She tried each one out as she opened them. I was able to capture some perfect gift-opening pictures with my camera. Her folks had a few other gifts for her- mostly practical things along with a few classic toys like a slinky and a slide whistle. She tried each of those things out, too.

My beau finally came down. At first she got excited, but then before breakfast she got really cranky- the way she used to do when I first started staying over- and insisted that one of her parents be with her at all times. I made her cry when I tried to stop her from bugging her mom in the kitchen. Luckily her mom understood exactly what I was trying to do, but it was still a bit unsettling for me.

So we ate breakfast like that- her cranky and wanting nothing to do with us. I was afraid the visit would end that way, but by the end of breakfast, she was back to her happy, chattering self and insisting we stay all day.

Her mom took some pictures of us under the tree- some just the two of us, but my daughter insisted that my beau be in them so we relented.

And then we left. She gave me a big hug when I went.

I cried some after leaving. It was Christmas. It was hard to leave her.

I'm glad I went.


In other happenings, I'm loving the way her folks are supporting her beginning reading and math steps without pressuring her. And her grandmother (who came Christmas Eve) was genuinely interested in making it to next year's Christmas party. When I mentioned it at Thanksgiving, she seemed shocked that I would even suggest she come, but we talked about it a lot on Christmas Eve and she gave off the sense that she really wanted to be a part of it. And as my sister pointed out, this was the woman who was the most against open adoption in the beginning.

Yay to family!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Emotional

I'm having trouble making words today. I've had a whole bunch of posts in my head for the past two weeks, but now I can't write.

Some of it's the holiday. I actually love Christmas. I love the music and the lights and the goodwill feeling. I don't want to think about sad things or heavy topics. I just want to dance and laugh and enjoy.

Yet there are all these emotions attached, sad and happy, that are making me feel a breakdown brewing.

I looked everywhere for a specific gift for my daughter- I've been planning to get it for her for months. I couldn't find it anywhere. Turns out they sell them in a store I would never have thought to go in, but was right next to. I don't know if I'll make a special trip before tomorrow. Not being able to find it bothered me so much.

I haven't wrapped anything. I really want another day in between. I'm so tired. I just want to spend a day doing nothing.

I told two more people about my daughter this week, but not in person. I'm waiting for the response to that. It's hard to keep her a secret, but exhausting to tell the truth. I sat at our work lunch listening to the talk of kids and what they want this year and I so wanted to chime in. I've taken to saying "There's a little girl in my life who...." so that I can talk about her without lying or revealing. Nobody ever asks me to clarify.

I showed the big group family picture to my coworkers and nobody asked about her then either. I was wondering if anyone would and was relieved when no one did.

I imagine I'll post a lot next week. I'll be on vacation so I'll finally get a chance to blog about all the stuff I've been thinking about.

Until then, I hope everyone enjoys the holiday.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Conversations, Complications

The good:
My daughter: Are you coming to my house for Christmas?
Me: Well, what do you think? Do you think I should come to your house for Christmas?
My daughter: (excitedly) Yeah! You should come here for Christmas.
Me: Okay then, I'll come there for Christmas.
My daughter: And can you bring [your beau]?
Me: Sure, I'll bring him.
My daughter: Good, cuz I want to touch the ceiling.

It was nice to be invited by her. Her mom hadn't read my acceptance email yet, so they didn't know my decision.

The hard:
I was at my beau's aunt's house when they called. My daughter had lots of questions about who was there and what we were doing.

My daughter: Why didn't you invite us?
Me: (stumbling) Well, you live really far away. I don't think you could have come.
Her: Well, where does she live?
Me: Near where I live. It's really far away from you.
Her: Well, couldn't you have waited for us?

I hadn't really thought about it lately- the distance. I considered it while I was pregnant. Occassionally I thought about how I would manage to get there if I were invited to a school function or something. Lately, as our adoption has become more and more open, I thought about how I'd see them more often if I lived closer. But I never thought about what my daughter might think. Now that I am so much more a part of her life, I wonder if this is something she'll be angry about. As she rolls it around in her head, will she wonder why neither set of parents considered distance?

Of course the conversation also brought the now familiar pang of knowing that had I raised her, we wouldn't have these questions. She wouldn't be asking me why she wasn't invited. She would just be there with me.

The future:
And later, I talked about it all with my beau- a myriad of things- Christmas, her birthfather, moving, siblings.

He hadn't realized that this would be my first Christmas with her. And I talked about the increasing openness and my feelings and my thoughts about the distance. And he brought up our future family.

Me: Yes, and she'll want to know her brothers and sisters.
Him: So when we have kids, she'll have siblings? And our kids will already have a sister?
Me: Yes. (I say something about the added complications and the different feelings and stuff.)
Him: Hmm. Well, at least we won't have to worry about our kids feeling unique. They'll already have a pretty unique family.

The thing is, I knew about the added complications of going on to have other children. I didn't plan to have other children. My daughter was going to be it. While I don't know what will happen, starting a family is looking like a very real possibility. And then what?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas

With all the stuff going on in my head this week, I need an entire week to blog.

But I thought I'd pop in long enough to say that today I accepted the offer to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at my daughter's house.

I'm getting teary just writing it. I'm spending Christmas with my daughter.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Christmas Party!

I removed some pictures, and will be removing the rest tonight.

Get out your tissues. My Christmas party was awesome. I didn't do much visiting, but my super critical family from all the different sides visited with each other, had special moments together, and all said the food was great and it wasn't too crowded and they all had fun. Everybody came including a few extras. My daughter and her family arrived early and stayed late and they were thrilled that my daughter had a chance to meet everyone as was I of course. My daughter was all excited about her grandparents and kept going around saying "You're one of my grandpas." and asking first about all the pictures in my home and then about all the different people there that day.


I couldn't have asked for a more perfect get-together. I'm not sure how much you all know, but I haven't seen my mom since my daughter was born and my mom's family and dad's family haven't been all in one place in about a decade. My daughter was meeting most of my family for the very first time. Plus, there were three of us there out of my parents' four children and we all haven't been in one place in ages either.

My daughter bonded with my Dad. He was really moved. He hadn't seen her since the December after she was born. He wasn't even supposed to come to the party, but they decided to surprise me. I got all choked up when I saw him coming through the door. It really did end up being my whole family.

My youngest niece really wanted to make friends with my daughter. My daughter was really shy at first because it was pretty overwhelming, but she warmed up later.

My daughter spent lots of time playing with my beau. He later said that the time he spent playing with her was the best part of the day and night.

They had a thing at school for my daughter to Christmas shop. She made her list, picked out all of her own gifts, and brought them home wrapped. She presented them all at the party. Her mom said I was first on her shopping list, followed by all her grandmas and grandpas. It was so sweet to watch her presenting all her gifts. She got me bath beads (and explained to me how they work) and she presented me with some artwork.

She also opened all her gifts to me (Can I please open these for you?):

I got a four generations picture- my grandmother, mother, me, and my daughter.




My friend, Liz, came and was kind enough to take some family photos for everyone.

And last, all the ladies (stepmom, stepsis with daughter, two sisters and three nieces, mom, grandmother, daughter's mom, and me).



I will never forget this day. What a special time!

Friday, December 08, 2006

It's time...

I already posted on my other blog, but thought I'd check in here to say that tomorrow is the big day. I'm tired and stressed and excited and wondering how it'll go.

It's quite a mix of family and even though my daughter's mom isn't worried about it all, I am. She may have met most of the guests, but it's been awhile for most of them and they've never been all in one place before.

My biggest worry is my mother. I'm afraid she'll get offended or feel left out or not be happy with something about the day. I'm trying to let go. There will be plenty of people there. I may be hosting, but it's just because there is no other family gathering so I'm opening my home up in order to facilitate a get-together.

I'll let you all know how it goes.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My Daughter Is.....

I started my latest class this weekend.

We modeled a parent teacher night.

The professor picked a classmate and started modeling the activity.

Professor (pretending to be the classmate who is pretending to be a parent at this night): And my daughter's name is....(gestures to classmate).
Classmate: Um, I don't have a daughter.
Professor: Make one up.

Then we made a big circle (by birth geography) and we all pretended to be a parent (Hi my name is Poor_Statue. I was born in ___. My daughter's name is _____. She likes to make up songs.)

And I used my daughter's name (her full first name, not the nickname we call her) and a real thing she does.

Because how do I make up a child when I have one? Yet how do I use the name we call her without crying? And will anyone know she's real? Will people ask?

I'm not sure if my professor sensed my discomfort. It was like being in a tunnel as I waited my turn, spoke the truth, then recovered from speaking the truth. He called a break right after the exercise. I was flustered, heart racing, mind racing. I needed to clear my head so I could learn again.

Will it ever feel normal? Will I always experience this anxiety at the mention of children?

It's truly awful.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Birthmother Rights

Suppose a man and I have a baby together. We do not continue the relationship and decide that our baby will live with him. I still visit with the child (of course, right?), but he has full custody.

A few years in, he decides that I shouldn't be allowed to see our baby anymore. So I take him to court and the judge determines that I am not a danger to the child and basically says, "You crazy man! Of course this child is allowed to visit his/her mother!" as all of you would say.

And he's probably mad and I'm probably mad and one of us may be a jerk and express our anger in front of our kid, but no one in the world would ever suggest that I be denied visitation just because dad, who has full custody, decides he doesn't want me to have visitation anymore.

Reverse the roles. Play with the case as you will, but the fact is that most of us consider it a given that outside adoption, moms and dads have a legal right to see their kids. And we know sometimes the parents handle it poorly. And we know that the two often have different values. And we know that there is the chance that the kid is going to be negatively affected based on how the adults handle it. Yet we believe it anyway and I think most of us would say the man I described above is a jerk and maybe shouldn't have custody at all for being a jerk.

So why is it different in adoption?

I won't get into the fallout over the Donaldson report, but Claud posted a link to this story, in which a court upheld an open adoption agreement- allowing the birthmother visitation rights and I did get into that. I went over to SOA through her link and read a whole bunch of clueless comments about how the court decision was bad because the parents will be resentful and the kid will suffer and who gave birthmothers rights anyway?

Someone brought up a divorce analogy and I suddenly went aha! It's the same thing! Parents make a visitation agreement. For no good reason, one parent wants it stopped. The court says "no way." Parents have rights, even those who are a danger get the full support of the law in an attempt to make things right.

Because in normal custody cases, the courts (and lots of regular folk) understand that children are often harmed more by being denied contact- that there is a bond and a relationship that benefits the child. And in this case, where there was no danger to the child, the clear response is upholding visitation and hoping that the adults handle it well. That's what most adults would say in any case where adoption is not involved, so why can't they get it when adoption is involved?

Contact is better for the child.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Go Read This

If you haven't read Claud's follow-up to the Donaldson report, please go do so now.

PS- I want to update my links so if you're not there and we've crossed paths, leave me a comment so I can make sure to add you.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Picture

Edit: Thank you for all the kind words. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

The Day After Thanksgiving

Her: I liked it when I was a baby.
Me: Yeah?
Her: No, I mean when I was in your belly.
Me: I liked it when you were in my belly too. You kicked a lot and I would sing to you.
Her: When did I come out of your belly?
Me: On your birthday. September 4th.

Her mom ran an errand while we had lunch at the mall. My daughter randomly brought this up then and said nothing more about it. I always wonder what's going on in her head and if I'm answering her well.

We had a fun breakfast today. She still mimics me some. I got her dressed so we could go get her Christmas portraits done. She looked beautiful. It was nice to do that and to see her laughing as she got her pictures done. They were amazing. Her mom said I was good luck because there were so many good ones to choose from. She let me pick out all the ones I liked and I got to take them home today. I was glad because they were beautiful and because her mom and I had such different taste in pictures. Then we had lunch and I got that precious time with her- just us, out in public, chatting. I kept looking for Claud because I was in her neck of the woods and wanted someone who understands to witness such a simple yet powerful experience.

We went to a different mall to see Santa. On the way we went to the post office because I had to mail in some homework. My daughter came in with me and for ten minutes, I felt like her mom. She was terrific. I was mailing a sample project with my homework and she had fun in the morning at her house looking at the project and playing with it and talking to me about school and homework and being a teacher. She wanted to know all the names of my students and was excited when someone in her school had the same name.

We took her to see Santa. I had to fight back tears. She is at the perfect age. I've never seen her with Santa. We were the first there. She brought Santa a sticker and asked for three things: a computer, a Tamagotchi, and a remote control car. Watching her expression and seeing her sitting on his lap and talking to him- all innocence and sweetness- was just wonderful. Plus, I got to hold her hand up and down all the escalators and through the whole mall as we wandered around. And she'd randomly hug me or laugh with me or share a smile with me.

They're excited about the party. Her parents aren't worried at all because they've met most of the people though they warned me that my daughter would likely be shy at first. For her part, my daughter is excited to see my mom's boyfriend. She was talking and talking about it. It was interesting to explain to her who would be there and I do think she may be a bit overwhelmed, but I still can't wait. I still can't believe it's real.

We stopped at her grandmother's house and played there and then we went home and I left. She again wanted me to stay the whole weekend though when I went inside after getting back to the house she told me to go.

I'm getting more and more comfortable with it all. It also gets harder to see her in all these ways and know I'm not her mommy. She's getting so big and I wonder where my baby has gone. But she's absolutely gorgeous.

PS- she said she wants to add numbers with her computer, she's starting to learn how to read, and she added 2 and 2 quickly and easily. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

Thanksgiving Day

After bragging to everyone about how I never hit traffic driving to my daughter's on Thanksgiving, I hit traffic- lots of it. My three and a half hour trip turned into five and a half hours in pouring rain besides.

Still, I left my house so happy and stayed that way. I wasn't worried about being late and it wasn't snowing.

My daughter was happy to see me and we moved right to play with her Batmobile. She was hyper all day. We played a game of chutes and ladders, she served us all hors d'ouevres, we played, she took lots of pictures with my camera.

It was relaxing and nice to just have a small day. Dinner was delicious of course. I sat next to her and enjoyed her laughing and smiling and stories as well as the delicious sweet potatoes.

She readily climbs in my lap or into my arms. She took of my necklace and put that on and later put on my coat (which looked like a little dress on her). She looked adorable in a little brown and pink dress with matching tights. She spent lots of time under the coffee table and we giggled about that. Any time something interesting happened, she'd catch my eye and give me a look with a little shrug and a cute expression as if we were sharing a sweet secret.

About a half hour into the day, she asked me to sleep over and was all excited when I said yes. She told her grandmother I was sleeping under her bed. They said she had been talking for days about our pajama party- so much so that she wanted to wear pajamas all day in anticipation. Today her grandmother said she thought she was so hyper because she was so excited about seeing me.

She's still wondering why I live alone. She asked me about five separate times why I live alone and though I insisted that I like it, today, on our way to see Santa, she said she'd ask Santa to get one of his helpers to marry me so I wouldn't have to live alone.

She still sings songs and we had fun singing together. We got my bed ready and she gave me a bunny to sleep with because she has a bunny she sleeps with.

By the end of the night, I was exhausted. She climbed into bed while I was getting ready and was upset until I joined her. This time she fell fast asleep right away and I was up before her. This morning she asked why I got up before her.

It was wonderful. I was happy. She was happy. Going there is such a great way to spend Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I Love Thanksgivng

By this afternoon, I will be at my daughter's house. This year will be like that first year in that it will be just us and her mom's mom. I'm staying longer this time. Usually I leave in the morning while they go pick out their Christmas tree, but this year I was asked to stick around to do things like get my daughter's pictures done.

She hasn't felt much like talking lately. She'll ask to call and then drop the phone after a few minutes. I don't mind. I remember something Brenda wrote about knowing she was part of the family when her son started taking her for granted. I am part of the family.

Two weeks after today she'll be here meeting more of my (her) family so it'll also be nice to have a quiet holiday together today before the big party. Plus, her dad makes the best Thanksgiving food ever so I'll be quite happy for the yummy food. I've been too busy this week to eat properly so I imagine it will taste especially delicious.

While you're waiting for my return, you can read about my past Thanksgivings. This will be my fifth Thanksgiving with my daughter. Of course, it's my favorite holiday.

The first Thanksgiving:


My visit went far better than I could have hoped. My sister came with me and it was just the two of us, my daughter, her parents, and her maternal grandmother. It was nice having my sister there because it balanced things out a bit. It felt like a real family Thanksgiving. We laughed a lot, and chatted a lot, and the food was excellent. My sister said it was the best Thanksgiving she's ever had. It was really fun and comfortable.

Even though my daughter is still a baby, I can finally relate to what Skye says about grieving the newborn. My daughter looks so different and she's changed so much. She doesn't really feel like my daughter anymore. When I picture her, I still see the tiny newborn she was when I said goodbye not the bright-eyed smiling baby she is now.


My sister was the one who broke down on the way home. We dealt in our typical manner by cracking jokes. She said she was having post good time stress. She was really happy to be Auntie Shell on Thanksgiving. We called my mom and I felt the guilt of dampening everyone's holiday with my choice.


My mom has actually turned out to be really great about it all. I sent her some new pictures so she said she was going to pull down our old photo albums from the attic to see which one of us four girls my daughter looks the most like. She was really happy that we were able to spend the holiday with them.


Anyway, it was a great holiday and there was talk of next year so I hope this becomes a tradition for us. I'll work on letting my own tears flow.


Things have definitely changed. I was so nervous that first year.

Monday, November 20, 2006

From Faux Claud

The post.

The question (anonymous of course):

Got a question: So a woman places her child for adoption, after all the extra counseling you all are calling for, and 6 months later she comes back to get her kid because she changed her mind. In that 6 months, the prospective "adopters" have been paying for everything for that baby, including medical insurance and all the extras, plus whatever assistance they paid for for the natural mom before she gave birth. Do you think the mom shouldn't have to pay them back anything for what they shelled out for her care and her child's care? Cause it sounds to me like you're trying to set up a situation where irresponsible women can drop their newborn off with a babysitter/cash cow for a couple months while they hang out and do whatever. Is that what you're saying?

I have an idea: Get rid of adoption AND welfare, and everybody take care of what comes out of their body or doesn't on their own. No WIC or other handouts. If the "infertile" have to deal, then so do the "fertile".

Claud's terrific response:

Got an answer:

You're pretty clueless. First off if you had bothered to read up on the subject here or almost anywhere truth telling, then you would KNOW that most moms aren't looking for a way to go hangout and do whatever. Granted there are SOME who do have priority issues, but the vast majority if given a chance WANT their babies and are willing to raise then, they just don't feel that they can. So take the less than ideal situations that surround the pregnancy, and then add in the seductive nature of adoption as wrongly promoted by the industry and media, and before you know it you have a willing "birthmother" made to feel that doing anything less than placing her child would be tantamount to ruining both their lives and breaking the poor adoptive parents hearts.

What is proposed is actual TRUTHFUL information not the sugar coated crap. Tel a woman about the pitfalls of relinquishment, show her the studies, give her facts on mother child bonding, make sure she knows that SHE is worth something to her child not just replaceable with a better version with more money. Give her the resources to assist in parenting if she needs it..affordable day care, living, job assistance, medical care...you know all the stuff that a socially responsible society does for the venerable in appreciation that child are worth SOMETHING, that families really do have value.

THEN keep the prospective adoptive parents AWAY from her while she decides and gives birth, Give her time to feel what it is to hold her baby, be a mother, decide if she CAN do it, maybe her reasons do change...OK, so she thinks she still needs to place. SO she signs, say at day 8 of the child's life.

Now we have a 6 week revoke period. This is now a legal risk placement. If the prospective adoptive parents decide to take in the child, then it is with the knowledge that she can still revoke the consent to adopt. If the parents decide that they cannot take the emotional and financial risk, then the baby can be placed in interim cradle care supplied by the agency. A decent agency would protect all the rights of those involved at this point, give the mother ample time, give the child loving care, and not inform the adoptive parents of anything about a possible placement until the deed is done.

So now mom gets to try on living a life of an exiled mother without her child. Here's where the emotional stuff gets heavy and if she can live this way and not want to die, then so be it. Yeah adoption is the answer.

BUT if she really cannot handle the emotional hell hole then THIS WOULD BE THE TIME TO FIND OUT..not in two years, not in 20 after her life is ruined..but NOW in the first two months of the babies life when, looking back, all she needed was a bit of time to face a new life for herself and realize what being a mother means.

AND if at that point, the agency feels that they are not getting their money worth with her as she is not supplying them a product, then perhaps they could work out a decent livable arrangement where she is able to repay them in time..though if half the agencies STOPPED the millions in advertising they did, they would have more than enough to assist in allowing a mother to be informed and take some time.

And if we are going to brow beat a woman because she has no idea what she is facing, to gather her strength and resources, to e to terms with change, to allow the natural love for her child to grow, to give her internal mother bear time to roar..then, really, this is not a society that I want to be part of.


And sure, if you can make that happen..I'm game. Dump it all.

Now, any more questions?

Yay Claud!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

In the News

Yay to the article and yay to Jenna though my excitement faded once I read the responses. I still have a hard time believing that people like that exsist. They are so cruel.

In other news, I talked to my daughter and her mom. Mom always wonders how the other people in my life feel about our situation. I was pleased to report that my new beau's family is absolutely okay with it and that they think an open adoption was the right way to go.

My daughter was telling her mom's dad all about her other grandpa (my mom's significant other). Yay to family.

I'm so glad I'm in an open adoption yet so sad that people are so clueless about it all.

How can it possibly be more traumatic for a child to return to his/ her biological family in those first months than to be separated from the biological family for life?

And please don't get me started on all the "don't have sex" comments.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Are You Crafty?

Anyone have a use for vintage baby clothes?

Look-Alike

This is only slightly adoption related.

I was surfing this morning and the fishy pictures on Jana's blog led me to a bunch of look-alike pictures by this guy. He's on a mission to photograph 200 pairs who look alike but are not related. There are more pictures here if you'd like to check it out.

So of course I was wondering about my look-alike. I do have the kind of look that gets a lot of people saying "you look just like this other person I know" but other than being mistaken for Punky Brewster when I was 12, I've never really seen my match.

But I've seen a match. An uncanny one.

I used to work at the Renaissance Faire and the first year my (ex)-fiance took me there, my breath stopped. One of our fellow gamers looked just like my daughter's birthfather. I saw this man for the next three years and spent many days working side-by-side with him and every time it got me. For the unaware, my daughter's birthfather is not from our country- in fact he's only been here once when I was pregnant with our daughter. Seeing his twin so often was difficult.

I wish I could get them in this project. I'd love to see them side by side- same build, same hair, same mouth, same glasses, same mannerisms.

Monday, November 13, 2006

On The Burner

Right now my house is keeping me busy, but there are some posts in my head and some notes on paper:

1. Responding to Wraith's comment about Numb3rs.
2. Updating to include an offensive Criminal Minds episode.
3. Getting Suz to come to my party.
4. Clearing up my whole picture thing.
5. Talking about birthmother guilt as it relates to communicating with other triad members.
6. Being an informed mother in relation to our lost children.
7. Updating my links.
8. Including a link for an "About my blog/ Where I stand/ What is my purpose" for all the stumblers that Claud mentioned awhile back.
9. Relationships and adoption.

I should have tried the blogging in November thing, not for the prize, but for the forced writing. Plus, I'm loving my link visits to those bloggers who did take on the challenge.

Friday, November 10, 2006

List-Making

I imagine you tugging at my shirt as I cook.

Sitting, helping me make the list of things I need.

I imagine you there, my daughter, nothing more. Just another child in the mix.

I imagine taking pictures as if it wasn't a major event. Not worrying who is offending who. Ordering you to sit and smile for a picture without feeling as if I have no right.

I imagine you stirring cookie batter. Throwing flour at each other. Curling up for a bedtime story before lights out.

I imagine it uncomplicated. Family you know. Family you see. Family I will teach you about in my own way.

I imagine holding you in my lap. Saying "This is my daughter" without my stomach tightening.

If I had kept you it would be different. If I had kept you, I'd be holding you know. If I had kept you, I wouldn't feel this weight. If I had kept you, I'd be smiling with you. If I had kept you, I'd be smiling always.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Religion and Adoption

As another person who was raised Catholic, I can relate to many of the feelings Suz described in relation to her pregnancy. I felt like a sinner, I felt tainted, I felt like God was punishing me.

I, too, received confirmation under odd circumstances. I didn't even go to church at the time though I did teach CCD. Later, I was my stepsister's confirmation sponser.

We went to church every Sunday when we were children. After my father left, we didn't go as often. My mother, also raised Catholic, was having difficulty with the whole "divorce is a sin" mentality. Today she volunteers at an LDS church and though she finds their services odd, she loves the people. At 13, I moved in with my father who didn't practice religion at all. I occassionally went to church, but I stress the occassionally.

I always liked the idea of finding a religion that more closely matched my beliefs, but I've continued to cling to the ritual of the Catholic mass. During my four months of army training, I was the only one in my unit who went to church every Sunday (it was an inter-faith church). I attribute those weekly church visits to getting me through that training. It was comforting. On our only overnight pass, I stayed at a home kept up by a local church. Still, it was the ritual and tradition, and familiarity that gave it meaning.

After college, I looked for a church. I tried the local Catholic church but found it too unfriendly. I tried a more distant and progressive Catholic church, but found it too progressive. As a singer, I wanted the traditional Catholic mass songs. I no longer try going to church, but I am hoping to attend midnight mass (Christmas Eve) at the previously mentioned local church. Again, for the ritual- because it will be the only holiday tradition left from childhood.

When I chose adoption, I mistakenly assumed it was the right thing to do according to the Catholic church and was surprised to see how much disapproval I faced for my pregnancy. I experienced none of the coercion or begging for my baby that other women have described. Instead, I found myself very alone.

I experienced far more pressure to parent my daughter than I did to relinquish her. I think the ultimate effect was similar- I was just extra determined to prove that I was making the right choice.

My pregnancy came in the midst of my church-searching but I was too ashamed to show up pregnant for mass. Blame it on that Catholic guilt.

I did feel God's hand in my story even though I would describe myself as very unreligious. I do believe in God. That's the extent of my thoughts on the topic of religion. I keep it private. I don't regularly pray, I don't quote scripture, I don't do much. I see religion itself as an interesting academic topic, my belief in God as a comfort more than anything else, and tend to look down on the outspoken religious types (sorry, I need to be honest.) Nobody fed me a religious line during my pregnancy so I don't feel like I was influenced to attribute my experience to religion. Still, in the end, I felt like God stepped in.

Not that He got me pregnant, not that He put our families together, not that He intended my daughter to be raised by someone else, but that when all the choices had been made, He stepped in to make it work out okay.

I felt this most profoundly in the hospital when I gave birth. My entire pregnancy was filled with uncertainty and doubt and turmoil along with a great big lack of support from anyone. Just a couple weeks before my daughter was born, I didn't think that it would go through. There were so many scary things involved. In the end, my hospital experience was incredibly beautiful and I witnessed my family interacting in ways I hadn't seen in over a decade. It was truly heartwarming and amazing and beautiful. I definitely felt like God stepped in to help make those few days okay.

Once I left the hospital, my mother took me to visit various relatives (another unprecedented occurence and one that has not been repeated.) While visiting my paternal grandmother, the women swapped family birth stories.

My daughter was the only firstborn on either side of the family and in three generations who was born without complications. Every other firstborn had been born with life-threatening problems. My daughter was perfectly healthy and so was I. I felt God's presence there.

I understand all of the arguments for disagreement and all the arguments about having to believe the flipside as well (that God made all those other family babies born ill). I understand the argument that religion becomes an excuse or a crutch. I understand that my Catholic upbringing has a lot to do with my current views on religion. I come from a very religious extended family.

I don't have any justification or sound reasoning to explain how I feel and I have to say that on a day-to-day basis, I completely agree with all the naysayers. All I know is what I felt during and after the whole process. If it's just my way of giving myself peace over my decision, then so be it.

I don't generally attribute my decision to God's will and I don't generally feel comfortable discussing religion at all (just this blog entry is tough). Unless it's at a purely intellectual level, I won't talk about religion in person. Still, Dawn asked and so I answered truthfully. Make of it what you will.

Adoption and Numb3rs

I love crime dramas so I Tivo all of them. I was recently catching up with my shows and I started an old episode of Numb3rs.

It started with a story about a female teacher running off with a student. Already tough for me because I am a female teacher. The episode was pretty lame and turned out to be a two night story. Lame or not, I like to know how it ends so I turned on the second half.

The teacher and her student were on a crazy crime spree- robbery and murder and the woman in particular was extremely cold-blooded.

Turns out that at the age of 15, after running away from home and having an affair with a married man, she found herself pregnant and was coerced into giving her baby up in a black market adoption.

Her crime spree was her snapping over the loss of her daughter and attempting to murder everyone who played a role in her loss. At the end of the episode, she finds her lost daughter, goes to the house intending to murder the mother(?), decides against it, and runs again. She dies by grenade in an attempt to run down the officers who found her and to take them down with her.

Other than shedding light on the horrors of black market adoiption and I suppose the idea that the grief is lifelong, this episode was so awful and so full of stereotypes and another way to guarantee birthmother silence. I was so upset after watching.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

For Halloween

Just got off the phone with my sweet chatty daughter. She was the red Power Ranger for Halloween. She 's a budding feminist.

Um, First

Just looking at stats. I'm most interested in the referals part. I like to know who's sending people my way and in what context.

I'm the first entry on google for "adoption, birthmother denial". I don't think I like that much.

Things That Are Keeping Me From Blogging

1. Reading all of your blogs.
2. Stressing about the content of my blog.
3. Teaching.
4. Learning about teaching.
5. Getting my required nine hours of sleep.
6. My beau.
7. My new habit of turning off the computer occassionally.
8. Buying a new car.
9. Stressing about the money involved in buying that new car.
10. Getting my apartment ready for my Christmas party.


I haven't had my Christmas party in several years, but my closest sister recently moved clear across the country so I'm reviving it.


When she lived closer, it was her chance to see the local family for the holiday. One of my other sisters would come with her kids. My dad and stepmom came when they still lived here (they have also moved clear across the country). Assorted aunts and uncles would come and go. A couple of my close friends would come.


My daughter and her family have never come.


My mother (who also lives far, far away) has also never come. I actually have not seen my mother since my daughter was born. That was also the last time she saw her other grandchildren (she did get to see my daughter this past May in her home state).


I planned the date around my sister who lives far away. She is staying with me. These plans were made way back in August. I mentioned it to my daughter's family. They made their plans to come definite back in September.


My stepmom is trying to plan a trip home to make it for the party. She decided this back in September as well.


My mom's long-time boyfriend has undergone several major surgeries in the past couple of months. This has been really stressful for her. The holidays are also really hard for her because she misses the big family holidays from my childhood. My sister and I decided to fly them in for the party. My sister is also flying in our maternal grandparents.


With these additions, there is no question about whether or not all the aunts and uncles and sisters and children will come. They will come and everyone will stay.


And I have a beau who will be meeting much of my family for the first time. Along with my daughter who will be coming to my place and meeting aunts and uncles and cousins for the first time.


All in my little apartment.


I used to make tuna sandwiches, put out little bowls of chips, and provide plenty of drinks. That was the extent of my party cooking. I always made it clear that there would be nothing substantial served at my party.


With all these people coming and the several nostalgic attendees, I am definitely planning to make some of our traditional holiday foods (with some help from mom). You see, there are no more family get togethers at the holidays. They started fading when my parents split 17 years ago and now with everyone spread out all over the country and due to my generation of relatives marrying and having babies and starting their own holidays, the "let's go to Memere's house" holidays no longer exist. My holiday party will be the only family holiday gathering all year.


I'm excited. I'm even excited about preparing some traditional holiday foods. I can't wait to see everyone and I really hope all the friends and extended family make it that night.


I'm also a little nervous....about creating enough room in my apartment for seven kids and 27 adults....about having my apartment look good enough to pass inspection among my critical family members....about subjecting said beau to all the new faces to celebrate a holiday he's never celebrated.....about having enough food and drink and the money to purchase that food and drink.....about navigating my very conflicted feelings about having my mother here....about mixing up all these different family members (mom's side and dad's side are about as different as you can get with my far away sister and I probably falling somewhere in the middle)...about someone's feelings getting hurt.....about the gossip that is so prevalent in my family.


And I'm nervous about having my daughter here. She's met pieces of my family and friends but other than the low-key visit with my fiance's family (who are mostly of the school of thought that says I am no longer a mother) it's never been in my environment and it's certainly never been so many people all at once.


She is my daughter and I imagine most of my guests will be thinking of her as my daughter. Will someone say something wrong? Will her parents be prepared for any kind of comment? Will my daughter be prepared? Will my guests scrutinize her parents to decide if they meet with their approval? Will they scrutinize me? Will key guests be hoping for more attention from her and her family? Will she get along well with her cousins (my local sister's five children)? What kinds of conversations will the kids have? What kinds of questions will they have? Will I be so focused on my daughter and her family that I will make the rest of the family feel unimportant?


I'm mixing up lots of people who have never met, lots of people who haven't seen each other in many years, lots of people with less than ideal relationship histories. They are all my family, including the very few friends who got an invite. I stopped playing peacemaker toward the end of high school. These days, I am mostly a loner, including when it comes to my family. I know this baffles my daughter's parents a bit. I know they wonder why I'm so distant from my family, especially my mom.


It'll be interesting. That I know for sure. And I really am excited about it. Overall, I think it'll all work out just fine. I'm glad my mom will be around to help me prepare. I'm glad I am in a position to host a family gathering. I want everyone to get to see my daughter. I want her to meet more of her family. I miss the big holidays, too. This is my chance to have one.

Friday, October 27, 2006

How I Get Pictures of My Daughter

Until my schedule allows me to write something more substantial....

My daughter's parents have always done pictures the same way. They set up an account on kodak gallery (then, Ofoto) to upload all their digital pictures and then they share all the albums with me by email.

Benefits to me:

  • I get so many pictures.
  • I can order extras to give to my mom or my daughter's birthfather.
  • I can get larger prints or wallets of my favorites.
  • I feel like part of the family.
  • I get to see everything.
Benefits to them:
  • no cost
  • no difficult choosing
  • quick and easy

I really do think this is the greatest way to do pictures in my situation. I get all the pictures so there is no question about what I can handle. In the beginning, I sometimes wondered what the rest of their family thought about having pictures of our visits thrown in, but I don't anymore. I really do feel like part of the family.

Her first year, they sent an album (shared by email) every month. These days, it's more like 4-5 times a year and mostly around vacations, birthdays, and holidays.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Good Reason for Me to Be Anonymous


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere is:
1
person with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Still Here

Just needing to focus on other things at the moment. Plus, I spend all my time reading all of your blogs so I can't keep up with my own.

And I did end up talking to my daughter on Sunday though she wasn't in much of a talking mood. Still, I feel a bit better about that.

They're coming here in December for a family party I'm having (yikes!), I'll be heading there for Thanksgiving, and they invited me for Christmas (cuz I don't have any family left here) though I doubt I'll accept that one.

Been thinking about lots of things adoption-related lately, but I'm not really ready to write about it.

Still, it's all part of my healing and growing and expanding so I do want to write. Just not sure I have the words yet.

That and I'm way too busy right now.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Oh sweet morning

I am beyond overwhelmed with school and school and life.

And I definitely shouldn't read angry emails before work.

Haven't spoken to my daughter since her party. I haven't even touched the pictures I took which is so unlike me.

I need the next two weeks to be over.

I'm starting to understand why so many birthmothers closed down their blogs. The angry emails are a lot to take.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

To add to the recent discussions

I know the primal wound thing keeps coming up. You can add me to the list of people who own the book but have never read it. I did use parts of it for my research.

As for the whole trauma thing, unlike a lot of others out there, the "all adoptees are traumatized" myth was the one I was hanging on to at the time I found out I was pregnant. I was working in a residential program and seeing the trauma firsthand.

In my research, I found over and over again that by adulthood, things level off. Several researchers even suggested that lots of the data is inaccurate because adoption just hasn't been studied enough and so adoptees were always given the trauma stigma instead of being aided through the grieving process.

So anyway, my concluding paragraph: (keep in mind that this was a paper written for future educators)

Finally, although certain developmental tasks are complicated by adoption, it should be emphasized that research shows that by adulthood, adoptees turn out just like the rest of the population. They have the same varied ethnicities, personality traits, interests, and abilities as non-adopted people. They are as unique and individual as the rest of the population. There is enough stigma surrounding adoption without adding to it by upholding the myth that all adoptees are destined to have psychological problems. Instead, the additional challenges should be recognized as a normal part of identity development in adopted adolescents.


Oh, and if any of you have a good reason to want to read the whole paper, you can email me. I'm only being cautious because of plagiarism and copyright issues. Authors can't even quote themselves or refer to their previous research without a citation so I'm a little eh about posting or sending out too much.

Back to My Research Paper

I didn't forget that I promised to share my research with you.

I just got busy.

I got the paper back. With an A.

We had to include an annotated bibliography. Here is one of my entries:

Brodzinsky, D., Henig, R., & Schechter, M. (1992). Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for
Self. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Based on Erik Erikson’s life cycle, this book combines research and anecdotal evidence to show how adoption affects those adopted from birth through adulthood. The authors stress that the importance of adoption in a person’s life will change over time and will be different for individuals. There is some bias against other triad members and some of the information is outdated, but this book is one of the only research-based books on the psychological experience of the adoptee.
My professor commented that it would make a good doctoral thesis. Maybe you? she wrote. I laughed a little. I never told her why I chose that topic. I wonder what she's thinking. Maybe one of you would like to do a doctoral thesis on this.

Anyway, maybe I'll post highlights. I'm too busy/don't have the energy to sum up the whole paper for here.

Oh, that B-word

Just a where I stand.

1. I'm just not that interested in the debate.
2. I use the word birthmother when I write because more people know what I'm talking about.
3. I almost never call myself a birthmother when speaking.
4. I'm not really sure which term I like, though I'm partial to first mother these days.
5. I usually just say "I have a daughter...."
6. I think of myself as a mother.
7. I have no problem calling other people whatever they'd like to be called, refraining from certain word use when in certain company, understanding why the term is so loaded.
8. I guess it just doesn't make my top ten things that fire me up about adoption list.
9. I lack sensitivity/interest in other name debates, too.
10. The most disgust I ever felt at the use of the word birthmother was when reading Lois Lowry's The Giver.

And as an aside, my blog title came from a poem written by someone from a private adoption group. Her poem so nicely (heartbreakingly) summed up the way we are both mothers and not mothers that I stole the term not mother for my blog.

Hugs for Jana

I've been disturbed lately by the number of troubled relationships in my little blog circle. Some over, some recovering, but either way it seems this a year of relationship crisis.

Of course, I ended my own relationship this year. What some of you may not know is that I feel really connected to Jana's story. While our situations are certainly not identical, for a long time I couldn't read one of her C stories without thinking of my fiance. In fact, I think her blog may be the first place I actually admitted my relationship problems online.

I'm thinking about her a lot these days and hoping she can find peace at the other end of her current journey. At the same time, I've had a few recent reminders of my own saga. I've written here and there about it and at times, in anger, I've posted more than I thought was kind. Now though, I feel like a more appropriate amount of time has passed and I also feel the need to get it all down.

Plus, I'm happy. I have no regrets. I can't believe I stayed as long as I did.

And yes, at times I miss him. We were engaged. There was love there. In fact there was a time I thought I'd never feel at home unless I was in his arms. We had fun. I felt like he accepted me. I felt like we were meant to be together. And then, when things got bad, I felt like it was good enough. I passed the troubles off on the idea that all relationships have problems. I wondered if anyone else would accept me the way he did. I decided I was difficult to deal with. I blamed myself for being to picky, for not being loving enough, for being too focused on my career.

Meanwhile, my friends and family were biting their tongues. I was engaged. They know the rule about keeping quiet just in case it works out. But they saw it. I did have one friend who was straight with me. She supported me during the times I wanted to make it work while still letting me know that she really didn't think I should marry him.

It took me a long time to leave. It was bad almost as soon as I moved in. Still, at first, I treated the engagement like a commitment and I was determined to make it work. It was good. I fell in love for a reason. I kept loving him for almost twelve years for a reason. A part of me felt like we could get that back. It was hard to accept that we never would get that back.

Then there was the family. I love his family and in the end, losing them was the hardest part of leaving. It's still the hardest part. They have stood by their son (understandably) in the end and the truth has been twisted some. As for my family, I was concerned about my pride. A failed engagement. The acknowledgement that they had been right all along. The embarassment.

It was hard to leave. It was hard to see just how bad things had become. It was hard to admit failure, to give up on my dream, to start fresh again, to contemplate the thought of dating again.

I cried most of the first few days after I left (and in the weeks between telling him and leaving him). It was even harder than I anticipated. There were days that I wanted to go back. I felt very alone. There were so many reminders of him and us. There were so many loose ends to tie up. It was overwhelming and emotional and scary.

I've had some contact with him since. He's emailed. He called on my daughter's birthday. I keep my replies short. I don't call back. I don't banter. I made a rule that I wouldn't do it because I know I'd fall back in. Things would be good again and I'd get sucked back in and I'd convince myself that this time it would work and I'd completely forget about how unhappy I was and how awful he made me feel.

Feel free to insert a big long psychoanalysis here about relationship personalities. I just think of how easy it is for me to sink into this docile people-pleasing self-hating woman when I'm in a relationship. I can be strong and successful at work. I can hold my head up high everywhere. In a relationship, I take turns taking care of my partner and allowing myself to be lessened. A mixture of wanting to save him and feeling like I'm not worthy of better.

It's been about three months.

I feel like I'm flying.

Some days I look around and think that this is my life- mine. I'm not answering to anyone. I'm not apologizing for my dreams or shortcomings. I'm making my own decisions.

I feel worthy.

I've started standing up for myself more often. I'm able to keep up with life's demands. I actually look forward to coming home at the end of the day. Monday is no longer my favorite day of the week. I have time for friends again.

The biggest thing though is that walking-on-eggshells feeling. The criticism. My fiance left me lots of love notes and at times he was so sweet, but the biggest part of our relationship was the criticism- I talk too loud, I work too much, I don't know how to interact with my students, I don't sleep the right way. Sometimes I still find myself apologizing- for taking too long to back into a driveway, for parking too far from the store, for talking to my sister on the phone, because my friend called, because I need a few minutes to myself, for my taste in music, for talking about my daughter, for being sad, for every little thing. And then I am reminded that I no longer need to apologize. I am so glad that I no longer need to apologize.

I am learning that there is nothing wrong with who I am. I am also learning that people will support me in self-improvement without making me feel like there is something wrong with me. I can still try to become a better person without feeling like there is this urgent need for me to reform.

The best thing about the time I spent there is that I really learned what I value. Maybe my values are different from yours (because they were so different from his) but at least now, as I mix people into my life, I really know what's important. I always had a rough idea but these days, I know for sure. And finally, I'm living according to my values and it just makes me feel better.

I am happy. And people have noticed. I've noticed. And so for Jana and for all the others, I don't have the answers for you but I do have plenty of support in whatever you do. There is better.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Taking A Picture

Lots of folks wondered why I didn't just ask someone to take a picture of my daughter and I together.

Well, it certainly isn't that I haven't thought of it or that I haven't done it before. I've also taken Jana's suggestion and just held my arm out and pointed (they always come out awful but I love them just for me).

The thing is, it isn't as easy as it sounds to ask. I never would have suggested that adoptive parents do this if it wasn't an issue. Outside the blogosphere, I've talked to other birthmothers and it's a pretty common issue.

There is a power issue in adoption. I really don't care how great the adoption is, the fact is, adoption creates some very unfamiliar relationships and scenarios. It is extremely uncomfortable for me to ask my daughter's family to take a picture of the two of us. Maybe it shouldn't make me uncomfortable. Maybe they wouldn't think anything of it. Still, no matter what I tell myself, I feel like I'm overstepping, like I'm trying to deny her adoption, like I'm being greedy, like I shouldn't be drawing attention to that special bond we have. Sometimes I imagine that it must be hard enough for her mom to see us together and watch us together without asking her to capture those moments on film. I'm also tired of asking. I've asked so many times and it's always awkward and my daughter is becoming far less willing to sit for a picture so I feel like I create a major situation for a picture when I should be just enjoying her.

I want her mom to see those pictures to be as important as I do. When my daughter is older, I want to be able to go back and show that I was there. My daughter already pulls out the photo albums when she's feeling sad or confused and I want her and me to have evidence of those visits during the hard times. I just don't want to be the one who always has to ask. I want her mom to say, "Let's get a picture of the two of you together." I want her mom to support that need.

Visits are hard even if they are good. The fact is that though I share my daughter's biology, I am not her parent and that while her mom is her parent, she doesn't have that biolgy. Now imagine these two women with oppossing gains and losses trying to navigate an afternoon with the child they share. It's hard.

Do I tell her no?

Do I correct her?

What are the rules here?

What is she thinking?

What do I call her?

Is this going to offend?

The questions apply to both of us and the pronouns can refer to almost any of us three. It's overwhelming. It's tricky. There are few models to help us figure out how this is done.

And so asking for that picture is a big deal for me. It's just one more thing to wonder about while I'm there. Because even though things are good now, there are plenty of stories of crazily closed adoptions and my daughter's family was never interested in an open adoption and there is always that fear that someday I will offend them and they will no longer feel it's worth the effort or in my daughter's best interest to keep me around and so it's just one little thing that I wish they would do so that I wouldn't have to ask.

And yeah, there's all that birthmother angst that tells me I don't have a right to ask, too. Because I can get it all intellectually and I can keep working on being stronger and more assertive but it's not exactly easy to fight all the societal pressure and stereotyping and shame that has been building all of these years.

Update: Suz's post pretty much corroborates my fears. She may not agree, but I think so. That's the message that's out there- it's a competition, people need to choose sides, there's only enough room for one kind of mother. You get the idea.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Little Healing

I have a metal basket in which I toss mail, photos, stationary, and other random papers. It fills up quickly and so when it overflows, I grab the whole basket and sort and toss.

Much of what is in it has been in it for years- stuff I'm saving or need to file.

I haven't cleaned it out thouroughly since the move.

I felt like purging today so I went through each slip of paper, each sticker, each card.

Lots of love notes and drawings from my ex- toss, toss, toss- finally ready to let go.

And then a card. One that caused grief. A mother's day card from my ex, modified in bright red marker so that it no longer read mother, but instead read Birthmother- just like that, capitalized and red.

I remember the mixed feelings when I opened that card- cognizant of the fact that he was trying not to repeat the same blunder of the previous year when he didn't acknowledge me at all and I spent the day in bed, crying- yet disappointed that the man I intended to marry couldn't let me be a mother for even one day.

He needed to remind me on my most difficult day of the year that I wasn't really a mother, that I had no business being recognized like any other mother. His attempt to acknowledge me was ruined by that bright red marker reminding me that my daughter was no longer mine.

I looked at that card for mere seconds- not even long enough to read the store-bought sentiment it held, and then I tore it up and added it to the pile of trash.

I will no longer invest myself in someone who denies my motherhood.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Birthday Visit

I arrived at the party a few minutes early. My daughter ran right over and jumped into my arms. I was glad she was happy to see me. This year, they only had a kids party. It was at a gymnastics place and turned out to be really great. I took lots of pictures and video despite the fact that I was sort of separating myself from the other adults. I decided that I don't get the opportunity often so I wanted to take advantage of it.

After the part, we went back to the house with my daughter's godmother and grandmother. The adults chatted while my daughter napped. After her nap, my daughter opened her presents. She's at a weird age for gifts. We played a new game she got which was fun. During the game, my daughter asked me to sleep over.

After the game, we all went out to dinner. I switched seats with her dad because she wanted to sit next to me. It was nice because there were enough adults that I could focus on her part of the time. I still want a picture of us together. Looking into her face is indescribable. She has my smile and it is so uncanny to look at a child and see yourself. She shared her ice cream with me.

We went back to the house and she got ready for bed. She still won't let me read to her but she did want me to listen while her mom read. After the story, they were having a little moment so I stepped out. A few minutes later, her mom came down to inform me that my daughter didn't want to have a sleepover if she was going to be sleeping alone.

I changed and went into her room. She asked me to move the bed next to hers. She asked me to sing for her and then she sang for me. She said she was going to stay up all night to wait for the sun to come up. Finally, she asked me to rub her back and she went to sleep. It was emotional.

The next morning she woke up smiling and woke me. We went downstairs and played. She wanted to know why I hum all the time (she sings her own made up songs all the time and every time I hum she mimicks me). She wanted waffles for breakfast. Her mom said she only asks for waffles when I'm there and that she must associate the waffles with me. My daughter was grumpy the rest of the morning. I did help her get dressed and brush her teeth to go to her swim lesson. She was giving her mom a hard time. We did it together. I watched her swim lesson, said goodbye, and left.

I have lots of mixed feelings and thoughts about this visit and I know there's some stuff I'm forgetting, but I wanted to write this as soon as possible.

I'm glad the birthday visit is over. It's the hardest. Plus, once again, I didn't get a single picture of us together. If there is anything I wish adoptive parents would do, it's to make sure they make a point to get one picture of the child with the birthfamily. I'd give up all the others just to have the one to remind me that I was there.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More Telling

This is my year for telling.

I went out with my ex-fiance's brother's girlfriend (did you follow that?) and she mentioned how much more open I am about my daughter since I moved out. She recalled that for a long time she didn't even know that I had a daughter even though I lived in the house with the whole family.

But anyway, last night I had to break the news to someone's parents (no, I won't give you any background here on that scenario).

It went better than anticipated, but the person wasn't satisfied.

The person: "Well, my parents got really quiet. I'm sure that's not the end of that discussion."

Me: "Well, I don't really expect anyone's parents to be completely okay with it the first time."

The person: "Well, I guess I can only see it based on how I am about it. Once you told me and explained it, I was kind of like 'oh, okay, makes sense.'"

There's a lot of backstory to this post, but nothing I'm ready to share here. I just wanted to document this.

And I did talk to my daughter late on the night of her birthday. It was good. She was cute. I can't wait to see her next weekend. Her mom and I chatted for a really long time after. I like that we are talking like friends again.




Monday, September 04, 2006

Adopted

Last night I was watching a CSI rerun with a friend.

One of the characters said, "It's not like I'm asking you to adopt her."

My friend turned to me then apologized: "Sorry, everytime I hear anything about adoption I can't help but think of you."

I said it was okay. I really meant it.

Everytime I hear any variation of the word "adoption" I think of me, too.

Happy Birthday

More than once I've been caught staring into space.

The tears produced by an early morning yawn started to give way to real tears but I pushed them away.

It's beautiful out today. The rainy weekend has passed and today the sun is shining.

My plans have been random. Pick stuff up from my ex's house, get groceries, meet junior high friends for a late lunch, come home to do lesson plans and other work-related stuff.

Other than an email from the one friend who will never forget this day, I doubt I will hear from anyone else. I have nothing special planned. Other than the last minute lunch plans, I'll be spending the day alone.

I'm glad for it.

Although a part of me is wanting something, I think the alone time is needed.

I wonder what you are doing today. I suspect that you are on your way home from your yearly vacation. I'll call later.

I wonder if anyone realizes that today is your golden birthday- you are turning four on the fourth. It's a special one.

Your birth feels so long ago. Yesterday, watching the rain, I felt nostalgic. I sometimes prefer rain on your birthday. It matches my mood. The sun reminds me too much of that day. I think of saying goodbye. Sun glistening on teary eyes.

It is strange, birthdays.

For the most part, we don't think of the mother on a person's birthday and yet in the adoption triad, the mother is a shadow over the whole day. The birthday is a reminder of all that was lost, of that transition, of one woman passing the torch of motherhood to another- of everything that had to happen to create our type of family.

How do you explain it to someone? How do you explain that this birthday is different? How do you tell people that birthdays are sad in my world?

I hope yours is happy.

I hope you know that I am holding you in my heart today.

I hope you know that there are people all over the country, many that you've never met, who are thinking of you today and sending you sweet birthday wishes.

Happy Birthday to my baby girl, my little miracle, that little piece of my heart.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

How Do You Do It?

I decided to catch up on my reading today. I went through my list of links and eventually got to Suz's recent post about "getting over it" and how her husband doesn't understand why she can't.

I had a similar reaction to someone who already commented: it's hard enough when random friends and family don't understand that the pain doesn't go away, but when it's the person you've chosen to spend your life with, that's got to be really hard.

The first comment to her post agreed with her husband. Ouch. Like a few weeks ago I had to check it out and like a few weeks ago (but worse, cuz at least away2me has a heart and genuinely cares about and loves all her family members) I was horrified.

I'm not going to talk about it because I really don't want to become the blogger who attacks other bloggers. My real question is how all the other firstmoms and adoptive moms in the blog world can handle reading and commenting on the blogs of people who are so hateful?

It reminded me so much of that other incident because here we have another natural mom blog and a post that's just saying "Look, this is my reality" and it's fine that not everyone can see Suz's side but it takes a special kind of someone to go to someone's blog and make a comment that they know is going to hurt lots of people.

I give a lot of credit to Suz and kim.kim and Nicole and Claud for putting themselves out there and being respectful and trying to educate.

I can't stomach it.

"You have to be unstable to give away your own flesh and blood."

"How can you think that the adopted child actually misses you?"

"How about taking responsibility for what you did?"

Um, how about recognizing that both kinds of moms do their child and the whole world a favor when they all get along.

And I need to send everyone back to this. I hate the hate.

Today I parked myself in a chair in the corner by the window and wrapped my "grandpa" sweater around me while I looked out the window wondering if my daughter's birthday will be rainy once again and if people ever realize just how cruel they really are.

Sending You Away Again

Guess who's back in school?

Our students returned this past Monday so the week has been very busy. I can no longer spend hours every day on the internet so this blog has suffered.

Plus, my daughter's birthday is tomorrow so there's some pretty heavy denial-emotional numbing-avoidance going on.

Anyway, for now I send you over to Claud's excellent summary of some research she's been doing. It pretty much goes along with all the stuff I've been writing about lately.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Depression

This should be available everywhere. So well-done. No I won't tell you what it is. Just go read it.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I'm Linking

I've recently updated my links, but today I had to add Baggage That Goes With Mine. I'm writing a post about it because I really love this blog and it seems like baggage is sort of in the background sometimes.

I remember reading her way back when I first discovered all the other adoption-related blogs out there and then she sort of fell of my radar for awhile. Well, she commented here and I rediscovered her and because I use my links bar to catch up on my required reading, I figured it was about time I stuck baggage in there.

Besides, anyone who uses such a great line from Rent as a blog title and talks about singing musical numbers around the house is good in my book. So anyway, go read her sometime.

Go Read Someone Else's Blog Today

Life in the Statue home is currently centered on the first day of school Monday. It always is a little weird to have school starting at the same time as my daughter's birthday but I find it is generally a distraction.

Anyway, the last few weeks of blogging have resulted in lots of deep, interesting, and honest blogging from everyone.

I haven't commented because I'm at a loss for words and really the posts speak for themselves.

So head over to read Nicole's two recent posts, Kateri's response, and Dawn's ruminations on what is out there. They are all beautifully written and eye opening.

Reading some of this stuff and the last few weeks of chatter on other blogs has reminded me of what led me here in the first place. Like many of you, my first few months as a birthmother were spent on the forums (I don't think I need to say which ones) and I became so horrified and disheartened by all the angriness and fighting and insensitivity. Some of the reading in blogland has reminded me of that. In my little haven here surrounded by so many really wonderful triad members, I had almost forgotten that people like that still existed.