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.

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.