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.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Visit

I spent most of the drive there in tears.


I was thrilled that they'd invited me to spend the day alone with her, but I was also terrified.


At the last minute, my beau couldn't come. I was unable to make an appointment with my psychiatrist. I had no gift for her or her parents.


I was a wreck.


I got a huge hug from her when I got there. She showed me all her toys. Her mom showed me what I needed to babysit. They relieved some of my tension by laughing with me a bit about my nerves.


We visited a bit and then it was time for bed.


The next morning, I heard a lot of noise. Turns out, my daughter's mom's boss called her that morning to give her the day off. I did feel a little bit of disappointment, but mostly I was relieved.


Her mom did run some errands throughout the day giving us a few hours at a time alone. My daughter said she missed her mom, but she stayed happy and content.


I also gave my daughter her bath which was probably the most stressful part of the visit.


We played outside a lot: riding her bike and her scooter, playing in mud puddles, bouncing a ball.


We played inside: with the Floam I'd brought her, painting her nails, doing flips and eating her belly, reading, doing a puzzle.


I love playing with her and it's so comfortable.


They wanted me to stay another night, but I couldn't. My daughter did insist I at least stay for dinner so that my drive home would be safer. What it really meant was that I didn't get home until 11:30 at night. I always feel a little guilty declining a longer visit, but I need to do what's healthy.


My moods are no better and seeing my daughter is definitely not helping. I'm very worried about my mental health right now.


Notable conversations:

Lots of asking about my favorites.

Lots of comments about my belly and having babies.

A couple questions about who I was to her and to everyone else in her family.

A request to have a boy and give it to her ("But what if you have two boys?") which was a difficult one to answer without crying.

She also pulled out the "real mom" thing, telling her mom over lunch that she wasn't her real mom, that I was. I thought I would choke on my sandwich. Instead, I told her it wasn't true, that both of us were her real mom (very unusual for me to take over.)
Her: "So I have two moms."
Her mom: "Yes."
Her: "And two dads?"
Her mom: "Yes"
Her: Who's my other dad?"
Me: "His name is R******."
She repeated it and then the conversation was over.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Closing Up Shop

Dear Internet,

Even though I've been really upset to lose some of my favorite blogs, I'm going to join the many who've stopped blogging.

Like some of them, I may come back, but right now I don't think it's likely.

Blogging is no longer soothing for me. I used to write when I felt like my brain was going to explode. It was a release. I don't remember the last time it felt like that for me.

If I ever have something big I want to say, my plan is to use Dawn's Open Adoption Support site instead.

I don't plan to disappear. I just plan to read and comment rather than trying to keep up my own site.

I'm not planning to block access here or take anything down.

There's still a chance I'll come back. It's already public. I'm proud of what is here.

Everyone out in blogland has been such a huge support for me. I'm so happy about all the people I've found. I like knowing that there is one place I can go to where there are other people like me. So I'll continue to visit you, and I thank you for visiting me.

Sincerely,
Poor_Statue

Edited to Add: First of all, thank you. Second, as of right now I'm keeping my other blog going. Though I don't write about adoption there, you can always head there to see what I'm up to. I've considered merging the two so I would have more to post about, but I'm not sure that I want to do that.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

MySpace

I have a MySpace.

My former fiance convinced me to do it and since then I've been content to have a few friends tucked neatly into my friends list. I've found a few old friends that way, too, so I like it for that. I really don't use it like you're supposed to, but it works for me.

I have pictures of my daughter on my MySpace. Initially, being open on there wasn't an issue. Everyone I added knew the whole story.

I purposely avoided using my real name or my main email account, and for awhile, I refused to put any real pictures on it. I didn't want to be found. I wanted to be selective about who I became friends with on there.

But slowly some other people found me and I started adding them- mostly people who knew about my daughter, but didn't know I placed but a few others as well.

So far it's made for only one awkward exchange with someone who I thought knew the whole story, but who actually didn't even know I had a kid.

Last year, a work friend asked if I had a MySpace. She's one of the few people at work that I've told about my daughter. I explained why I kept it privateand she got it. I actually was going to add her but we never got around to exchanging pages.

Recently, I've started becoming a little closer to a whole group of people at work. I found one of them on MySpace and sent a message, but didn't do a friend request. We've continued to send occasional messages, but so far neither of us have tried to add each other (there's more to the story that makes that make sense, but it's not relevant enough).

I'm sort of hoping it never comes up. If I were to add this person (and I would be willing to), I'd open myself up to friend requests from a whole bunch of work people.

Sure, I'd be willing to let in some, but once I'm on a couple of work people's pages, other people from work would start trying to add me. For most, adding random acquaintances is not a big deal, but there are a few people I'd never want to let in, and that makes me not want to start it all.

Once I add one work friend, how do I turn down anyone else that decides to put in a request?

Who knew it would be so complicated?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Another Conversation

We were in her bedroom either before or after her shower.

She lifted up my shirt to see my belly.

She made a comment about coming out of my belly button. I have a dark scar on my belly button.

Her: Is that where they cut you open to take me out?

Me: They didn't cut me open.
I say something about her not coming out of my belly.

Her: Well, where did I come out?

Me: Um, I think you should ask your mom about that.

Her: Show me where I came out. I'll give you a dollar.

Me: (laughing) You can't bribe me. You can ask your mom.

Her: How about a penny? How about zero?

I laugh and explain the concept of bribery to her. She increases her offer to $25. I tell her I don't want her money and won't take it.

She asks several more times for me to show her. A part of me feels bad because it clearly is important to her, but there is no way I'm giving a sex ed lesson without talking to her mom.

Eventually she drops it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Here Comes Santa Claus!

I'm Christmas shopping tonight. I prefer to do it online. I've been picking out some things for my daughter.

So far, I've ordered the book.

I put a very cool game in my bookmarks to decide on later.

I've been checking out this super cool puzzle, but it's a bit pricey, so maybe another time.

I'm going to make a CD.

All I need to do now is pick out an ornament.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

It's That Time Again

One week from now, my daughter will be here for my annual Christmas party.

She'll also get to meet my favorite relative for the first time.

I can't wait.

Friday, November 30, 2007

More On That Conversation

Mamagigi asked me some good questions so I thought I'd say more about that conversation.

I didn't really react when it happened. I was more shocked than anything else. The exchange was so quick and so unexpected. I just wanted to be honest with her and find a way to answer that she could wrap her five year-old thoughts around. Later both her grandmother and mother mentioned it to me. I guess they had ended up discussing it. They approached me separately- both commenting about how out of the blue it was and wondering out loud about why she never has questions about her birthfather.

It was the first time her mom had brought up adoption stuff like that with me. Some smaller things have come up, but this time she asked what I thought and how I kept it together.

Regretfully, I didn't say much. I really didn't know how to respond. In my head I was thinking that my new meds were the only thing that kept me from having an immediate breakdown, but for right now, I've chosen not to tell them that I'm back on medication. I was also quite tired and still processing it all. I'm not sure that we'll end up talking about it again.

I felt great for the rest of the visit and the whole ride home. I just had so much fun playing with my daughter and bonding with her one on one. I really do feel so conected to her.

This weekend, once I was home, I completely fell apart. It was awful and scary and lasted about five days.

My therapist believes it was related to the visit. She said that now that my life is better and more stable, it's getting harder to live with my choice. It was interesting because my therapist's assessment matches the research yet she has no experience with adoption counseling. Adoption wasn't why I started seeing her. I wonder if she's been doing her homework since getting me as a patient.

My daughter and I had two more interesting conversations that I'll write about another day. Right now, I need to take care of the rest of my life.

Thanks for all of the support.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving

I called her before I left. She was incredibly chatty and excited that I was coming and staying over.

It was a beautiful day and the traffic was moving normally.

Despite my late start, I arrived at a decent time. My daughter ran in for a hug immediately.


I chatted with her folks while she and her grandma made me a picture upstairs. She snuck it into my bag until her grandma told her to hand it to me instead.

Soon she asked to go play outside: "Just you and me?" she asked. "Sure," I replied. There was no hesitation. I no longer worry if it's okay. I know that it is.

We went for a long walk around the neighborhood. We inspected leaves and storm drains and bugs. She brought back a huge stick that she planted like a tree in the yard.

We played on the swings.

We played with some ladybugs.

We stayed outside for about two hours.

She insisted on sitting with me for dinner. It was delicious. She was wonderful.

After dinner, we played alone again while everyone else cleaned up. We played Go Fish. She beat me at memory twice in a row. I almost didn't play memory with her because I'm really good at it. She's unbelievable. I was trying to win both times, but she has a mixture of good luck and a perfect memory. She only had to see each card once to know exactly where to find it the second time. I was amazed. The first game, she had eight matches to my four. The second game she had seven to my five and she was barely paying attention (she lasts about one round of each activity before she wants to move on to something else).


This time she chose to sleep in her room so I got the trundle bed. She wanted her daddy to put her to sleep so I went downstairs until he came back down.

I was up and dressed before her the next morning.

She came down happily and we played some more.

During breakfast, the topic of having children came up, which may be a story for later.

We played with magnetix for a bit and she first copied what I made and then instructed me to make a baby out of the magnetix.


I helped her get dressed after her shower which also led to a conversation for another post.



Then we were off to get her Christmas pictures done. We waited forever and she wouldn't smile, but there were a couple of cute ones. Before we left, she was glad to hear that I was going.


We also went to see Santa and had lunch at the mall. By then, she only wanted her mom, but it was fine. She also begged her mom to pick her up at her grandma's house later instead of having her spend the night.



We headed back to her house and shje asked if I'd play outside with her some more. I hadn't planned to stay much longer. We started by playing with the fish cards again. She likes to make up her own games. At one point I lined my cards up in a specific order that she then carefully copied.



Eventually we did go outside.



We had a great time playing on the swings and singing songs. I taught her Raffi's apples and bananas song which she enjoyed and wanted to keep on singing.



Her dad came home and she ran to say hello, but still wanted to stay outside to play, so we did. At one point we were playing on the monkey bars (again, again!) and I saw her dad watching from inside. We were having fun.



We probably spent two hours playing outside.



Eventually we took our cold noses inside and I got ready to leave. I got a big kiss and hug and some treats for the road and then I left.



I felt great on the ride home. Some of the conversations were jarring, but I had a great visit and it really felt like I'd gotten what I needed to keep my head up until the next visit.



Once I was home though I crashed pretty hard. It's been a difficult weekend.


You Can't Make This Stuff Up

My daughter is five.

I spend Thanksgiving with her every year.

Yesterday afternoon the family started talking about hair. My daughter's hair is dirty blonde. Mine is dark brown. Her grandma asked about my hair and I replied that it was even darker when I was a kid. My mom sent digital copies of all my childhood school pictures to my daughter's mom shortly after my daughter was born. They are at the beginning of my daughter's baby album. So her mom decided that we could just take a look at those pictures to see what color my hair was back then.

We looked at those pictures and then my daughter started going through the album: the sonogram picture, me pregnant- she studied them all.

Then she came to a picture of all of us outside the hospital the day we left. I couldn't see the picture from where I was sitting, but I could make out that it was there.

Her: (to me) Were you crying in this picture?
Me: Probably.
Her: How come?
Me: Because it was sad to say goodbye to you.
Her: Then why did you give it to mommy? [those were her exact words]
Me: Because I couldn't take care of you.
Her: Yes you could.
Me: Well I didn't think I could.

My five-year old doesn't think her adoption was necessary.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Twiddling my Thumbs

I've been trying to call my daughter all week, but nobody's answering. I haven't talked to them since I moved.

I'm really missing her.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Checking In

I should have signed up for blog writing month so that I'd actually post.

We're in.

I got an email from my daughter. Her mom was teaching her how to use it. It made my day. It's been a difficult week. Too much going on plus the meds I started did the opposite of what they were supposed to do. I'm off them now, but I've had horrible withdrawal.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Moving

We're moving today.

That's why I haven't been around.

I hate moving.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An update

After a decent posting run, I've been absent again.

My beau and I are moving into a beautiful new apartment next week so I probably still won't be posting much.

My current class is an enormous amount of work so that will also be keeping me busy.

I'm feeling a bit more normal. I really liked my new counselor, and the excitement about moving is definitely improving my mood.

In the meantime, Redbook has a really respectful article about adoption in their November issue. It actually lists openness as a benefit in domestic adoption. I know that I was pretty impressed when I read it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My Little One

I just wanted to say that I chatted with my daughter last night.

September was rough, and October offered no relief.

I'm back on meds and will be starting therapy this week.

In the meantime, I hadn't called. I kept wanting to, but mostly I was just pushing it away.

They called yesterday. I did make sure to apologize to her mom for not being in touch and to thank her for calling.

My daughter was pretty chatty- mostly about school. It doesn't sound like she still loves it, but it was fun to hear her stories. She sounds so grown up.

These days, she is full of stories that I find hard to follow and everything has to be exact. She still tries to show me things on the phone. I love the way she wants me to see and hear everything.

Her dad is going away on his yearly trip, so my daughter said that I would need to watch her.

I wish.

In completely unrelated news, my beau and I are moving in a couple of weeks. We fell in love with a place this weekend and found out today that it's ours. Yippee!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Doctors and Pregnancy News

I'm about a third of the way through How Doctors Think, and it's made me reflect a lot on my experiences with doctors.
I hate going to the doctor. Part of it is because we were raised to plow through illnesses, but a lot of it is because I never feel like they take me seriously.
Because of this, I spent most of my early twenties without a regular doctor. Rather than getting regular exams, I'd go into the local walk-in whenever I thought I was sick.
I've written about the walk-in doctor before. He was awesome. During the entire first chapter of the book, I thought of him and how good he was. In a city walk-in, you wouldn't expect the doctors to have a great bedside manner. They are busy and I imagine they handle a whole spectrum of complaints from the why-are-you-here to the get-to-the-emergency-room.
I went in for a mixture of complaints. Sometimes, he couldn't find anything wrong. Other times, he asked why I'd waited so long. He always treated me with kindness. He always took me seriously.
I got pregnant during this period of my life.
I waited until a Friday to go to the walk-in. I knew in my gut that I was pregnant and I didn't want to have to go to work the next day.
I saw that same doctor and he gave me the news. I've already written about that experience.
So what did I do when I left?
I went back to my apartment and called an on-again, off-again friend.
I cried a lot.
Then I put on the smallest jeans I owned, topped it off with a nice shirt, and headed out to karaoke at a place I'd never been to.
For that night, I pretended it wasn't happening to me. Sure, it was in my mind the whole time, but I listened to my friends drama and flirted with guys as if it were just another night.
My last night of being a normal girl in her twenties.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Same Sentiment, Two Presentations

I was beyond thrilled about the picture my daughter's mom shared with me. It was pretty much the only thing I shared about my visit with those in my life who know. That along with my daughter's trying on of my title brought up the issue of how her parents approach adoption talk.

One friend made a comment along the lines of how lucky I was or how grateful I should be that her parents are teaching her to value me.

Another friend responded with "I wonder who's feeding her the language. Clearly, someone is teaching her."

Both friends were drawing attention to the fact that her parents must be influencing my daughter's perception of my role in her life, but one did it neutrally while the other did it with a clear intention of letting me know I needed to be thankful to my daughter's parents.

I doubt many of you will be surprised to learn that one of those friend's made me smile and one left me feeling angry.

I am grateful to my daughter's parents. This was in fact one of the overwhelming feelings I left with. It was such a magical weekend, and I continue to be overjoyed at the many ways her parents acknowledge my importance. I know that there is little support for what they are doing. I imagine it is sometimes difficult for them. They are wonderful people.

I absolutely don't need a friend of mine responding to my happy news by reminding me to be grateful to my daughter's parents.

I just don't.

Trust me, I get the message enough.

Recently, I was out to dinner with my beau when he wondered aloud why society puts adoptive parents on a pedestal while simultaneously looking down on birthparents. He was really upset about what he saw as a major injustice.

I asked him if this was something he noticed because he knew me and he replied that it was obvious, knowing me or not.

He's right.

My friend's comment did nothing except make me feel like I got taken down a notch- put in my place as the lowly birthmother who should be kneeling at the feet of my child's parents, ever grateful that they were willing to take on my burden and still allow me to be a part of her life. The message I got was that I was too happy- too selfish, even- and that I needed reminding that it was her parents that made it happen.

My former fiance used to do the same. No matter what I shared, he always felt the need to remind me that I wasn't her parent, that her "real" parents were awfully nice to keep me around, that perhaps I needed to let go a bit and move on, etc.

This is what I mean when I say that most of the world doesn't understand open adoption. This is the kind of stuff that makes me stop in my tracks before sharing anything about my adoption. This is the kind of stuff that makes me want to push that part of my life aside, to walk away so that her parents won't have to do any more "favors" for me.

At first I excused my friend's remarks because she is a parent. Although it still stung, I figured she related to them more because she is raising a child. But my other friend is a parent, too, and he didn't offend me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not Posting

I'm in rough shape. I guess the September low has hit. I'm having a very hard time.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My Dog Has Fleas

I gave my daughter a musical instrument for her birthday.


Monday night they called so she could sing to me.


She won't stop playing. She's making up all kinds of songs.


I apologized for getting it for her, but mostly we laughed while I enjoyed the sweet phone call.


I love my daughter. I love her family.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

This Is My Family

My daughter's mom showed me a stapled booklet of work my daughter's preschool sent home from last year. This was part of it. Our real names appeared where I replaced them with our blog names. Daddy, Mom, Her, and Me, followed by a bunch of pets.





Does it get any better than that?

Conversations

The Birthday Party:

I've gone to my daughter's kids party every year. The first time I was worried that someone would ask me who I was. I no longer worry. My daughter's grandmother and single godmother go too so the three of us stick together and it's usually fine. A couple of the close family parents know who I am and they're usually very nice.

At yesterday's party:

One of the moms: So which one's yours?

Me: Uh, none of them.

Her: Lucky you. (pause) You want one?

I give a polite chuckle. My daughter's godmother walks away. Eventually so does this mom. I kick myself for not simply saying that I'm a relative of the birthday girl. Way to kill a conversation. As an aside, my daughter's mom encouraged me to move in closer to get a picture of my daughter blowing out her candles. I took about five shots- all blurry from my shaking hands- and then took off for a bit to calm my emotions.

Opening Presents:

My daughter: (excitedly) Jesse got me a tamagotchi!

Her mom: That's an awfully big tamagotchi!

We all lean in to see it. It's an Etch-A-Sketch.

Getting Ready for Bed:

She is on her bed while getting dressed. She lifts up my shirt and checks out my belly button. Then she puts her hand on my breast.

Her: I like these.

Me: Someday you'll have them.

In the Morning:

As we play:

Her: I'm part of your family. And you're part of my family. (repeated several times)

At the farm:

My daughter and I spent awhile with a man and his granddaughter playing with a sharpening wheel in the blacksmith shop. The little girl noted that the metal got hot after sharpening so my daughter wanted to do it until she got the metal hot. Her mom came in and started playing with us.

My daughter: (running over to the grandpa) It's hot! My mommy made it! (The man says some appreciative comments and turns away. My daughter touches her mom's belly.) This is my mommy. (She then touches me) And this is my birthmom.

After the farm:

My daughter and I are putting the puzzle together. She's chatting up a storm. We're talking about ice cream.

Her: What's your favorite ice cream?

Me: Mint chocolate chip.

Her: (continuing her story) And when birthmom eats it, it tastes like mint chocolate chip.

This weekend she was definitely trying the word out. I haven't heard her use it since she first learned who I was.


My Baby Is Five

I'm home.

I had a rough time on the way there and some moments throughout the weekend, but all in all, it was a really wonderful visit.

My daughter ran right to me though I didn't get a hug (neither did her grandma). She showed me lots of things and then I was hers for the weekend. Other than a couple of hours at her party, she wanted me with her every second.

We opened presents, and played with presents (she loved what I gave her), and had pizza, and played some more. During dinner, she crawled under the table and started playing with my legs. I wrapped them around her and she laid her head against them and every time I tried to let her go, she pulled my legs back around her. Soon after I got her ready for bed. We slept together in her playroom and watched a movie as we settled in for the night. She sits up every hour during the night and changes position. She spent part of the night with her head on my belly and the rest with one hand on me. It was sweet. During the middle of the night as I woke up to her again, I thought to myself that lots of women out there would give a limb to have a night like that with their kid and yet it was hard for me. It was very emotional to be lying there with her in a home and bed that isn't mine.

We put the movie back on this morning. Then we dressed and played and had breakfast. She can do the whole monkey bars now, the one-handed swinging way. She's incredibly strong and seems to get great pleasure out of very active things. I played with her all morning. It was so comfortable. We made flowers and played horses. The day before she was less willing to have me helping her, but today she wanted me to help her and play with her. It was great fun.

Mid-afternoon, her mom took us to a local farm. It was a great time. Her mom had to take care of some work calls while we were there so we went back and forth from two to three throughout the day. Again it was very comfortable. My daughter loves to watch things, especially other people. We followed a lot of folks around during our time there. We played in the blacksmith shop and saw the animals and she helped bake cookies in the farm kitchen and the three of us played on a tractor and watched a cow get milked.

Then we drove back home and it was time for me to go. I had already stayed much longer than planned. We did a puzzle together (that my folks sent her). The day before, she wouldn't let me do it with her, but this time she asked me to and when it was done and I started to leave she dumped it out to try to get me to stay again. She laid on my shoulder as I hugged her goodbye and this time seemed quite content to stay in my arms and let me kiss her.

I felt good when I left. I had a good time with her and her family. I'm so glad I am a part of her life.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Stop Growing Up!

Yesterday, the sadness hit. I'm really not loving the getting older thing. I haven't updated the pictures of my daughter since last Christmas. I want her to stay young.

I left her a message on her birthday. I thought they were still on vacation.

She called Thursday night.

She started school this past Wednesday.

She loves it.

She told me about her teacher and how she can't pronounce the teacher's name. She told me that Thursday was her first full day and that she can't do the Spanish (she's in a bilingual program) and that they weren't allowed to play on the playground because they didn't know how to use the equipment. "But I do know how to use the equipment!...." She told me that her teacher took her home for the first time (they've hired one of the daycare folks to take my daughter home from school and give her her bath and stuff until they get home).

She told me a little of what she did on her birthday including a fall into some mulch- a piece of the story she insisted I tell my beau immediately ("If you want to tell him now, I'll wait for you. Go tell him now...")

She said that fifty people are going to her birthday party this weekend (there are a lot, but probably more like half that). She asked when I'd be taking a plane to get there. When I informed her that I didn't need to take a plane, she wanted to know how far away I lived.

It was nice to talk to her, but I was left feeling disappointed that I had missed talking to her on her birthday or her first day of school. It's the school part that's hard.

Last night, my beau and I went out to dinner and then shopping for a birthday gift. I'm finding it harder to pick gifts for her and sadly the stores all closed before I got the two things I really wanted. I was feeling cranky and sad during dinner, enough to step out in the middle for a cigarette so that I wouldn't start sobbing over my steak and cauliflower.

I'll be leaving in a couple of hours for her house to attend the party and spend the night. I'm going alone this time. Right now I'm channeling some unawkwardness to get me through the weekend.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Little Poor_Statue!

Dear Little Poor_Statue,

We didn't get to talk today, but I've been thinking about you. I can't believe you are already five! You start school soon- for the first time. I hope you love it as much as you love preschool.

I miss you.

The other night I drove by my old apartment, the one I lived in when I was pregnant with you. I imagined taking you to see it when you are older- running into the eldery ladies across the street who offered to babysit, not knowing I had come home from the hospital empty-handed.

I wish you were here with me now. Instead, I had some ice cream in honor of your special day- trying to be patient for the weekend when I will see you again.

You are amazing. You are so smart and friendly and daring and beautiful. I hope you always take pride in your strengths and find the good in everything life hands you.

See you soon, little one.

I hope you had a good day.

Love,
Poor_Statue

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday.

Five years ago, I took my mom to meet my sister halfway between our cities so we could try to make the day a good one for her.

I was nine months pregnant-due in about two weeks.

On that day, I was a bit worried that I'd end up going into labor far from home (I ended up going into labor the next evening).

My mom was visiting on what would be her last annual trip back to my homestate (she lives far, far away now) and had extended her stay so she could be there for her granddaughter's birth.

She brought me a carseat just in case and then after everything was over, she visited me daily and did everything she could to help me feel better. We visited relatives and went out for dinner, and I heard birth stories.

She wasn't happy about my choice and I'm sure that those weeks were both difficult and awkward for her, but she put all of her disappointment aside to try to give me what I needed.

I'm really grateful that she was able to be here . I love the pictures I have of her holding my daughter in the hospital. I appreciate that in these past five years, she has always been the one person to acknowledge my loss on Mother's Day and my daughter's birthday. She gets it.

So even though my relationship with her is mostly distant and impersonal, I just wanted to say that I appreciate her and that I'm thinking of her today.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Awkwardness

When I wrote about my last visit, I mentioned that my daughter was dismissive of me when I first got there. Some wondered if I had any thoughts about why. Dawn wondered how she should handle it when her daughter does the same thing.

I have to confess that I think the main reason she is sometimes awkward with me is because I'm awkward. I'm a bit socially awkward in general. I'm probably a little bit extra awkward when I see her because I'm still carrying a little of that -what right do you have to her/ what is this relationship supposed to be. If she were a niece or child of a family friend, I'd probably do what her grandmother does: walk in the door, open my arms, call her name, and pull her in for a hug.

I usually do go in for a hug when I get there-often picking her up to do so- but I usually do it more awkwardly than enthusiastically. Often she's waiting for me at the door excitedly which erases some of the awkwardness, but even then she's not always quick to hug me hello. She's usually quick to show me things-whether they're toys or tricks she can do. This last time, she didn't even do that.

It had been awhile since I saw her last and I had my beau with me. She's getting older. All of these things could have led to that change. My recent conversation with her has left me wondering if my infrequent communication is starting to take its toll on our relationship. Her mom has asked me to call more often, but I'm not so good at it (it runs in the family).

I don't know what's going through her mind, but I'm guessing my own awkwardness is the main factor.

As far as what I'd like her mom to do, I liked exactly what she did. She tried to get my daughter to give me a hug, but dropped it when I said it was okay. I'm glad she said something to my daughter because it made me feel like her mom thought I was important and sent that message to my daughter. I think it would stink if her mom ignored it, but I also wouldn't want her to force it. So the "C'mon, say hello" was appreciated, but beyond that was unnecessary.

Now that I've rambled on and on, I think I answered the question. I'll be going to see her again in a couple weeks so I'll see how that goes.

And I'll try to work on my awkwardness.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My Movie

My last class was on multicultural education. It was far more interesting than I thought it would be and has inspired me to try to teach math in a more culturally relevant way.

Our professor (and other experts) feel that you can't provide a multicultural education until you have confronted and acknowledged your own culture. Because of this, one of our major projects was to prepare and present our own cultural stories.

For any of you out there who are like me and the rest of my class, scratching your heads and wondering whether or not you have a story or assuming it doesn't play a role in your life, you are wrong.

We had a list of areas to choose from including, but not limited to: class, race, language, gender, and sexual orientation. We had to cover five areas and describe the things that were immediately apparent, the behaviors and traditions we had because of our chosen topics, and the values we hold that are attributed to these areas.

I immediately decided that I would make a movie. I've never made a movie before but a mixture of a movie a student made, Claud's movies, and the little movies on Oprah, made me decide that I would make a movie.

Initially, I thought I'd have someone interview me and maybe get some clips from the relatives or old home movies and mix them in to tell my story. It didn't work out that way. I bought some movie making software and the time I spent learning how to use it really limited my choices. Plus, I managed to pick the week when no one in my family was available to ask for help so I was on my own for footage. I ended up with one video clip and a bunch of old pictures.

I made a few outlines and started recording my story. In between, I read parts of the required text. We had to read a two-parter that had real stories mixed in with student poetry. I haven't written much poetry since high school, but I started to think that maybe it would be cool. When I realized that my spoken narratives were going to put me way over the time limit, I decided to try telling the story in free verse. The fact that it was midnight also helped. I spent the next hour or so writing poem-like prose for my chosen categories and then left them overnight.

The next day I recorded them and started to rearrange the pictures to match. The good news is that I was doing this in the privacy of my own home. The writing was a bit embarrassing. A critic would likely tell me I was trying too hard to make an impact. I was just glad I didn't have to speak them aloud. At my beau's urging, I made one of the sections more uplifting (though he still finds the final product depressing).

Eventually, I ran out of time to tweak the final product and went on my way. The morning when I was to present was really stressful. My classmates gave amazing presentations. I fidgeted in my seat- my face already red from embarrassment. When it was time, I popped in my movie. A few people cried. Most were speechless. I was relieved that few people asked questions. The responses were positive.

The next day, our professor handed out grades. Mine was an A+. I was pleased, but didn't think much of it. At the end of that day-our last day together- the professor approached me privately. She said she'd given only one other grade that high in her entire career. I was thinking wow. She went on to give me lots of compliments, but one of the things she said stuck with me.

She said the story I told was universal.

She said that everyone else succeeded in telling their own personal story but that my creation told everyone's story. She wanted the movie to be seen, but we couldn't decide in what context it would be appropriate.

And then I had a thought: If my movie came off as universal, perhaps it could be used to break down some of the stigma surrounding birthmothers.

I still have not confessed my connection to adoption to any classmates or professors. I included pictures of my daughter in my movie, but amazingly, no one questioned it. When people assume you are childless, they will ignore any evidence suggesting otherwise. I wanted to share. I was again disappointed that there was no mention of adoption in this class. Having a class on multicultural education and examining my own culture really put my connection to adoption front and center in my mind. I feel that placing my daughter and having to accept that her childhood will be so different from mine is what made my story cut a little deeper.

When I got home, I wrote two more sections for the movie- confessing my birthmother status and talking about how the loss of my daughter plays into my story. I haven't added them in yet though it will be fairly simple to do (though time consuming). I plan to send a finished copy to my professor with permission to use it professionally, but I also wonder if there is a place for it in adoption land.

I picture showing it out of context. A story of a life. Something that will hopefully resonate with people. Then the final chapters come and people are forced to confront their prejudices and stereotypes and hopefully realize that we are just like everyone else.

It does mean risking exposure. I also am not sure what the rules are for using pictures of other people. I don't plan to try to use it for profit- actually I'd prefer to limit the distribution to those who I trust would not copy it, give it away, or use it in any way I don't agree to- not because I feel that attached to it- more because I don't really want a slide show of my life broadcast on the Internet.

Thoughts?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Adoption in Dear Prudence

Good news: Prudence reports that more openess is better for everyone. It's about time an advice columnist consulted an expert to answer an adoption question.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

She Didn't Sound Good

I called my daughter last night because it's been awhile since we talked.

She was really chatty, telling me all about what she's been doing and about what she's going to do.

But she sounded down. It started with her complaining about her mom calling her an artist because as she said "I'm not a good drawer. Not everyone thinks I'm good, so I shouldn't be called an artist." Then she made some comments about not wanting to do anything except stay home for the rest of her life. Then she went on to complain about not having fun.

Some of it is kid talk and grumpiness, but her whole tone was just weird. It made me want to crawl through the phone to hold her and talk her through whatever was making her heart so heavy.

It brought up a lot of thoughts for me.

I talked to her mom after which was nice. There are some things that are bothering me a bit, but I'm not sure I want to post about it just yet.

Her birthday is coming up so I'll be seeing her soon.

I really wish I could see her more.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pushing

I've realized that over the past six months or so, I've been avoiding thinking about my daughter. Yes, she's always there- in the pictures around my house and in my purse, in any talk of pregnancy or children, and mention of family or her home state. I've just tried not to dwell on it.

I don't talk to them or her that much and when I think about that or the fact that the visits have slightly slowed, it isn't devastating.

I think a part of it is that my life is so good right now and dwelling on the fact that she's not with me dulls that.

I'm definitely feeling that she would have been fine with me- how good it would be to raise her, to tuck her in at night, to laugh and dance and sing with her.

She's a strong little girl- full of spunk and intelligence- fearless and personable. I imagine she would have turned out mostly the same with me. I imagine lifting her up in the air with none of the reserve I have when I see her now.

Jenna recently wondered if anyone else thought it was harder after the first year. I do. I may not be kept up at night anymore by aching empty arms, but every day that passes brings up new ways that my life has changed and new decisions about how to handle that part of my identity. Every day it becomes harder to remember the young girl that thought she could go on after placing and to accept that five years later, I'm only starting to pick my life back up.

I don't really want to think about the fact that she is getting older or that I am, too. I don't want to linger on all the baby and toddler moments I've missed or all the school-age ones I will soon miss. I don't want to be reminded of her absence- the child who should be beside me.

It seems I know too many people with children her age. They are all starting kindergarten. It's such a big transition. I hate sitting in silence, unable to share the few details I know about this moment in my own daughter's life.

And so I haven't been thinking about it much.

There is such an emptiness where she should be and it feels like it grows bigger each year as our lives take turns that would not have been possible without that one decision five years ago. Much of it is positive, yes, but it is always blanketed by loss.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Just Checking In

I'm going away for a week.

I've been meaning to post all week, but the words just aren't coming.

In my mental files:

1. Answering Dawn's question about my daughter's awkwardness.

2. Answering the long ago request to elaborate on why I chose adoption.

3. Talking about the movie I made for my last class.

4. Possibly tackling Jenna's recent questions.

5. Discussing some recent magazine articles I read.

While I'm away, feel free to use this post to offer some other questions or suggestions for things I could write about.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

My Thoughts On The Primetime Special

I've been watching The Primetime Family Secrets series for a few weeks now. I should have guessed they'd eventually cover adoption, but I did not and so was a bit surprised when it began. Against my better judgement, I watched rather than deleting it from my TiVo.

For starters, I have to address how wrong it is to stick cameras in these places. The adults may have agreed, but the children had no choice. This kind of thing should not be televised. I think they could have been as effective (or even more) by interviewing people after the fact with personal photos and video to supplement. Speaking just for the women like me, having cameras there is itself coercion and the intrusiveness on these ladies overwhelming feelings was clear.

There were lots of negatives about this program. It reinforced some birthmother stereotypes. The language was atrocious and sugar-coated (um, describing the maternity home as similar to a sorority house!?!). The Gladney folks made me want to vomit. The folks who made the show tried too hard to make sure that no one from the birthfamilies felt regret.

I spent most of the show cringing at the language and coercion and screaming at the girls not to do it.

But.......

I can't help but think of some of the ways that this program helped:

1. It was one of the few times I've seen the decision painted in such a difficult and emotional light. The show tried to avoid it or gloss over it, but the emotional devastation came through loud and clear. I mean, watching Brookeanne's dad breakdown at the agency and the other girl's mom's later denial was just powerful. There was no question that these two teens and their families loved their children.

2. The coercion came through loud and clear, too. I'm not sure that the general population would immediately label it as coercion, but many women now have video proof of the tactics used. I could picture women sitting down with those who deny the coercion and using this show to point it all out. And just think, this was what they allowed on TV!

3. The show itself made a strong case against adoption. The whole process came off as incredibly unnatural. Personally, it hit me really hard- particularly the hospital scenes. I considered my hospital experience to be very positive, but watching someone else go through with what I did made it seem so horrible. You're watching these brand new moms hand trheir babies to strangers and take all these pictures with these so-called better parents and it's so clear that they are dying inside. Such a sacred moment was destroyed. All their reasons for placing fell flat, especially as we heard both sets of parents/grandparents say they would support their children no matter what. I couldn't find any good reason for these two girls to place, especially seeing all the devastation and heartache it caused them and their families. The placement room scenes were also tough. As the older of the two teens walked out of the room, she kept stopping and looking back as if every cell in her body was telling her it wasn't right.

4. The show made a case for open adoption. Although it reinforced some myths about open adoption, was there anyone out there who watched the follow-up interviews and thought, "Thank God these birthfamilies don't get to see those kids!"? Particularly when you looked at the adoptive family that was open about it (Personally, I didn't expect them to be so progressive about openness- they struck me as the type that would say anything for a baby- I'm glad I was wrong.), it was hard to justify the lack of contact and information sharing. These weren't scary birthfamilies, these were people that loved their children and grandchildren and just wanted to see them grow.

5. Cynthia McFadden was great. Yes, many of her questions were stereotypical and myth-based, but it was clear she was emotionally invested and actually curious about the answers. I think she asked a lot of the same questions the general public would and even though I didn't like all the answers, I'm glad she did. I also thought her comment about birthfathers was very truthful and enlightening. It appeared that she disagreed with the laws that deny birthfathers their rights.

Overall, it was horrible, I agree. It was incredibly offensive to most of the adoption community. It tried hard to reinforce the whole idea of adoptees being a gift and the idea that adoption is about getting a better life. Still, I don't think they realized all the other stuff that came through. I really wonder what effect it had on the general population.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gladney on Primetime

ABC's Primetime is running a limited series called Family Secrets. I suppose it was inevitable that they would cover adoption.

They went behind the scenes at a Gladney run maternity home in Texas following two teens as they placed and then following up with the teens three years later.

Before I share my thoughts, did anyone else see it?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Visit

I think this may be the longest I've waited before posting about a visit. Life was very busy when I got home. I'll try to remember everything.

They had some Saturday commitments so my beau and I didn't arrive until close to dinnertime. The weather was beautiful so everyone was in the backyard. My daughter was a little dismissive of me at first, but it was fine.

We sat at the table in the backyard catching up over drinks. As usual, my daughter was mostly interested in playing with my beau. He spent a good deal of the night pushing her on the swings and being silly with her. This works for me because I get all the joy of connecting with her with none of the anxiety.

I played on the swings, too, and it was fun. My daughter still copies me a lot.

We had a nice meal outside (my daughter insisted that she sit next to my beau), played some more, and then went in to get ready for bed.

When we got inside, she excitedly gave me a bead necklace she had made for me. It was wonderful.

She wanted us to sleep in her room again, but settled for a few minutes of movie watching with us (Dora, of course, and she hopped into my lap) and then doing her bedtime routine with me. It was very comfortable. I'm feeling more comfortable with her and her family, and having my beau there helps a lot.

She showed me things and picked out animals and then I snuggled into her bed with her to read for a bit. A little ways in, her dad came in to take over, but it was good.

She was excited the next day, too. We had breakfast, played some more, and headed out for a morning at the pool. Nothing really stood out at the pool this time. Usually those are my favorite visits. It was very relaxing, but not particularly as full of quality moments as usual.

Two things did strike me though. One was looking around at the other kids and realizing what a strong little girl my daughter is. There is nothing dainty about her. The second was when I finished my shower and found her sitting on the bench waiting for her mom to finish hers. She immediately asked me if I'd help her get dressed. Once we let her mom know, I took her to get dressed (and comb her hair with my comb at her insistence) and then we headed to the playground for a few minutes. It really struck me how quickly she asked for my help- no hesitation, no awkwardness- I am another caregiver in her eyes.

We then went to spend the rest of the day at an amusement park. My daughter loves the wildest rides. I didn't actually go on much with her, but it was fun.

And last, the dinner I already wrote about.

Her folks said she was really well behaved this visit. I enjoyed the time.

Because we stayed so much later on Sunday it was a very late night with work for both of us the next day, but it was worth it.

I'm not sure if I'll end up with another summer visit this year, but I do have her birthday party to look forward to in September.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Encounters

To the woman at the Coyote Mexican Place:

My daughter and I stepped out of the restaurant.

I asked for my daughter's hand.

She went straight for the bench and we sat.

You were on another, newer bench that rocked. You offered to switch, but I declined.

My daughter began chatting you up.

You leaned in close to talk to her.

"Would you like to sit on this bench with your mom?"

I waited for her to correct you, but she just watched you and nodded.

We switched places and I swear I saw tears in your eyes.

My daughter examined the rocking mechanism, excitedly exclaiming that she knew how it worked.

A car pulled up with two women inside: your friends. They commented on your new haircut. You still seemed off somehow as if our brief exchange had rattled you.

My beau started walking toward us and my daughter got up to greet him.

We went back inside to get the rest of the family.

As we walked to our cars, you were walking in with your friends. I looked at you- trying to place your face- wondering if I know you somehow from these blogs.

There was still something in the air-something bigger than just a kind gesture.

You tried to avoid my eye. We both walked away.

Today, I'm feeling off.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Anxiety, Perhaps?

Last night, I dreamed I had a baby.

The details were reminiscent of the BSE. I hid her. I was alone. There were paperwork issues.

It was a weird dream.

I named the baby Aila, a name I don't recall hearing until my dream though I discovered is an alternate spelling of the main character in Clan of the Cave Bear.

I woke up really early, fresh from my baby dream.

I must be anxious about the visit.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Upcoming Visit

I'm visiting my daughter this weekend.

I talked to her earlier this week. She told me lots of stories.

She asked if I had been to the pool, I told her that we don't have a town pool. "Well, you could go to the beach then." she responded. Too cute.

It's been awhile.

I can't wait to see her.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dear B

Dear B,

You knew me way back when. You know my family. You know quite a bit about me.

I see you every so often. We usually exchange minor pleasantries and go back to our business.

This time, I found myself with you for a bit longer.

I talked about my daughter. You knew about her already and about my choice. You've always asked about her.

The conversation was longer this time. You were wonderful.

It's been my experience that people who know nothing about adoption going in understand it the best when it hits them in the face. A couple times you caught yourself saying some typical adoption remark and I could see it sinking in that it didn't really make sense.

You didn't coddle me. You didn't put me on a pedestal or in a sewer. You listened. You asked questions. You said all the right things without ever making the conversation seem weird.

I just want to thank you for that. It was wonderful.

Much love,
Poor_Statue

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What's In A Name?

This was how we began my latest class: by giving the story of our name.

It was the first time in a long time that I've been so anxious to speak in front of my peers.

It was a reflective weekend. The class is on multicultural education and it's far more interesting than I expected it to be. I truly enjoyed every minute of it.

Still, I couldn't stop thinking about adoption. Maybe it was thinking about all the posts about hair I've read on adoptive parents blog, or the many tales of Korean adoptees I've read on different blogs. Maybe it was because my daughter's cultural identity is so interesting. Maybe it was because in exploring my own cultural identity, I also had to think about the fact that it will play a small role in my daughter's life.

Mostly, I thought about how difficult this class would be for an adoptee in a closed adoption. That took up a large chunk of my thoughts throughout the weekend.

I think the name activity would be difficult for any adoptee. It's such a loaded and emotional issue. All of it hit home though.

So I invite you: what's the story of your name?

Is it a difficult question for you to answer?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Giving Birth

I was visiting Christine's blog when I read this post. For any non-clickers, it's about a study showing the safety of home births.

During my pregnancy, I attended childbirth classes at my city hospital. There I learned all about the birthing bed and the horror of pushing when the doctor tells you to push. I didn't love the hospital or their birthing approach.

Toward the end of my pregnancy, I found myself looking for a new hospital for totally unrelated reasons. My only concern was how they handled adoption.

I called hospital after hospital in my chosen state until I found one that seemed like they would treat me and my daughter's parents like people.

I had time for one appointment there before giving birth.

The appointment alone was amazing. The hospital had a very natural approach to childbirth. I would be attended by a midwife (a doctor was on call if needed) and they provided a doula free of charge. They did not do epidurals at all and made every effort to avoid pain medication completely. The birthing rooms were large and equipped with one of those big balls, a big tub (I chose a waterbirth at their suggestion), etc. Nobody pressured you to do anything. I made the whole plan. I controlled the whole experience. At no point was I going to be confined to a bed or ordered to push. Their idea was that my body knew best and that I should listen to it.

When I did go into labor (a bit early), I headed over and was treated well. It seemed that there were a million people there helping me- making sure I was comfortable, getting me anything I needed, wiping my brow, helping me change positions until I could find something comfortable, keeping me covered as I moved in and out of the water.

When I finally felt ready to push, no one told me to push until the baby was born. Instead I was encouraged to take my time, to catch my breath, to rest if I wanted to rest. And I did rest.

My body told me when to push and when my daughter was ready, she came.

She was perfectly healthy and so was I. I didn't even need stitches.

It was such a positive experience and the approach made so much sense to me that I'm determined to have any future babies at this same hospital even if it is a three-hour drive. I loved it that much.

The pushing part gets me the most. Why on earth would anyone think it's healthier to struggle to push the baby out rather than listening to your body?\

Cheers to listening to your body.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Awkward

Yesterday, my beau and I went to his folks house for a going away bash for his little brother. The whole family was there- aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents.

As the party was winding down, a few of the women were sitting in the kitchen and the subject of grandchildren came up.

It was a lighthearted conversation full of joking and laughing. When asked how many kids I wanted, I told them my beau wants a dozen.

We laughed and his grandma and aunt started sharing all the woes of a new baby. The grandma made a comment about changing my mind after the first and the aunt followed it up with a comment about changing my mind after the first trimester.

I said something silly and then they both went on to say how you never know and sometimes things just happen, etc.

I twiddled my thumbs.

I actually thought they knew about my daughter. I know his parents know and we actually see this aunt and grandma about as often as we see his folks. Obviously they don't know.

And I kicked myself again for not taking the golden opportunity to tell. I certainly am not worried that these two women will judge my choice. I was just unprepared.