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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Phone Call

I just got off the phone with my daughter. I called her because I promised I would after my trip.

She was delightfully chatty tonight. She told me all about dinner and school and soccer and the books she's been reading (whispering the word "panties" because it's a potty word). She thought it was weird that I had eggs for dinner ("Mommy, Poor_Statue had eggs for dinner.") and that I ate my eggs with cheese instead of ketchup.

She started telling me a story about babies. Someone in her class was talking about how when babies are in someone's belly, they eat the food the mom eats. She thought this was both gross (chewed food!) and ridiculous. We shared a giggle over that. When she started the story it seemed that she was headed somewhere else with it, but that she lost track of her end point in the telling. Whatever it was, I reminded her of the story ("I was telling the people at my school...").

It was nice to have her be chatty tonight. It made me sad too. I haven't been thinking about it much, but oh, how I miss her.

The good news is that her mom wants to plan a visit. We're thinking March at this point. I like the idea of March because I'll get to see her close to my birthday. I always miss her a lot then.

Home and Sleepy

I'm home from a wonderful trip.

My beau's parents took a bunch of us to Disney for a few days. It was great.

We made bets on who would provide the first grandkids. We informed his parents that my beau wants twelve kids (don't worry, he's not really serious). His mom said that we needed to stay together forever.

I thought about my daughter a bit. It's hard not to at Disney.

There was a couple staying at the same resort and a couple of mornings I found myself outside with the male having our first cigarette. The first time he told me all about his daughter, a sweet eight-year old.

His wife came out to join us. They were young and nice.

Then their little one came out.

I realize I can't know for sure, but I'm thinking adopted. Go figure.

I said nothing of course, knowing better than to point out the obvious fact that their little one is a different race. She was adorable.

I really wanted to ask the mom if she blogs. I guess I spend too much time online, but I couldn't help but think that she must.

So if you are a lovely long-haired adoptive mom who spent the weekend at Disney with your husband and daughter, say hello. We met this weekend.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Going on Vacation

I'm going away for a few days and will not have internet access. Take good care of yourselves while I'm gone.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Today

I haven't wanted to think much about adoption lately.

I'm in a detached place. A place where I really just want to walk away and be in denial.

Her folks sent me pictures from their latest vacation. She's so beautiful and happy. There were a bunch of pictures of her and her mom. They look so natural together. It just reinforces that I'm not her mom. There was a picture of us at Christmas- my daughter, my beau, and I- and she clearly wanted out of that picture. They took a whole bunch and it was pretty depressing to think that was the best one they got- my beau and I oversmiling and my daughter making an effort to get out of the picture.

When I look at pictures like that, all the negative things I've heard about open adoption take over and I start to believe that all the effort isn't worth it.

It's all so complicated.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Off The Burner: On Being Informed

This is a bit of a follow-up to my other post.

I learned pretty early on that nobody in adoption wants anyone outside their position in the triad to speak for their experiences, especially adoptees.

I've always tried to tread lightly in that area, because I've also found that birthmothers in particular are not supposed to speak of the experiences of other triad members.

I read a lot. I read plenty of non-fiction. I also read lots of blogs.

Frankly, people talk about the experiences of other triad members all the time.

Sure, it's nice if the researcher or blogger is whatever they are writing about, but there are some exceptions.

In research, a respected author is enough. I would also argue that there are very few birthparents writing scholarly articles and books, so we pretty much always have an outsider speaking for us.

In blogging, adoptive parents write about their children's experiences all the time. Most of them do it carefully, but they write about their kids and they comment on all the adoption chatter and scholarly literature. They ought to. If you are parenting a child with autism, ADHD, depression, etc. you would read about it and try to educate others about what you've read. If you are adopting or have adopted, you will read and comment on things that adoptees experience. Even though you are not an adoptee.

I'm a birthparent. That means I have a daughter who was adopted. Not only that, I have an ongoing in-person relationship with my daughter. I have an obligation to learn about what she may go through. I had that obligation before she was even born. I also have a right to comment on what I've read and researched. I would never claim to be an expert. I would never claim to have personal experience. I would tread lightly, but I'm not going to silence myself on the topic of adoptees because I wasn't adopted.

I am living adoption. My daughter was adopted. Would I have a better understanding of what it's like if I was adopted? Of course, though I would only have my own personal experience. (Do we need to be reminded that people are different?)

If we started barring people from learning or discussing anything outside their own personal experience, we'd have a pretty boring and messed up world.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sofas are for Sitting

Yes, I'm feeling silly tonight- overtired I think.

So I tried to register for SOA in the late fall and received an email that Id get an email when I was approved.

So I waited....and waited.

I figured the holidays were busy.

Occassionally I'd check in there.

Tonight I did just that until I hit a block. On a whim, I figured I'd try logging in over there.

It worked! I waited for nothing.

Of course, now I'm feeling shy. I know some of the members from a private group and I know others from blogging.. Thing is I sort of started blogging so I could have a private place away from all the other places. I'm nervous about merging those worlds. And I'm just shy in general so I don't know where to start.

Right now I feel like a crazy spy.

Off The Burner: More Birthmother Guilt

Today I'm trading one controversy for another. The inspiration for this post is very old news. It's just taken this long for me to muster up the will to post about it.

Awhile back I was accused of being one of those "adoption is sugar and spice" folks, particularly in regard to adoptees.

My immediate reaction was to scrutinize the offensive post so I could remove any such thing.

I couldn't find it. I called in some uninvolved parties to help me scrutinize. Still found nothing.

A series of angry emails were exchanged. I was shaken up for awhile.

Because the last thing any of us want to do is offend an adoptee. I am well aware that they are the triad members that had no choice. I am also well aware of all the possible grief and trauma. I don't think I did my daughter any favors by placing her. I simply tried to choose the lesser of two evils. I fully expect her to be angry with me. I recognize the right to anger, etc...

So I felt all this guilt.

And then I got to thinking about that guilt.

I decided I wasn't going to feel guilty.

If and when my daughter decides to lash out at me or question my placement of her, I will answer to her and make my apologies to her.

But I will not allow the guilt I feel over my own situation color my experiences with all adoptees. I won't bow down to any triad member to appease my guilt. I see it all the time- this tiptoe-ing by birthmothers. The over-apologizing. We do it with adoptive parents because they hold all the power and we do it with adoptees because we feel guilty.

Now I should clarify by saying that I did apologize to the offended party and would do it again if I were to ever get a similar first email. But it was the second and third and fourth emails. The relentless anger. The completely over-the-top manipulation of my words. The "I'm right; You're wrong." The mocking. The demands that I cave in. These were the things I chose not to tolerate.

Initially, I felt bad for hurting someone so much. With a clearer head, I realized that my accuser was being unreasonable. With a clearer head, I saw that nothing I said would be acceptable. With a clearer head, I was able to decide that I had the right to post my own views on my own blog.

I've been hanging my head since my daughter was born. I've been apologizing. I've been treating my opinions and feelings as less worthy. I've been afraid of my own voice.

I'm not going to shut up anymore.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Love After Adoption: Part Two

I really wanted to do a follow-up post right away. I knew I'd be stirring things up and before someone like anon had a chance to comment, I wanted to clear some things up. Alas, life took over and I didn't post.

I agree with anon that it wouldn't be right to uproot my daughter, but I disagree about what my daughter's parents might be thinking.

Good adoptive parents do care about their children's other parents. Good adoptive parents wouldn't want to parent a child that could have been parented by his or her biological parents. I do think my daughter's parents think about it. I don't believe they could watch my beau, my daughter, and me interacting and not wonder about the three of us as a family.

Thanks in part to me dear friend, K, I think some of what they feel is relief. If they are going to maintain a relationship with me, it's certainly easier if I'm doing well. I think they're probably happy for my daughter, too, because we do have such a great relationship and who doesn't want that for their kid?

But I think they also might have some of the same "what if?" thoughts that I do, especially after participating in my big family Christmas party and getting some extra time with my beau and me on Christmas Day. This isn't to say it consumes their thoughts. It doesn't consume mine, but I do think they think about it. We are family and we care about each other and think about each other.

As for me, I don't want to take my daughter back. I don't even want to go back and do it over so that I'd never placed her at all. I will never publicly discuss all my reasons for choosing adoption, but I will say that it remains the best choice for me. A heart-wrenching, life-changing, only-in-the-most-extreme-circumstances choice, but the right one for me. I'm just struck by how quickly my life changed. Feeling like I could parent is something very new for me. Being with someone I want to be a parent with is also very new for me. The times with my daughter make me think a lot.

My beau and I discussed it again. I shared with him what I wrote here. He doesn't think that his feelings and actions regarding my daughter are unusual. Shouldn't he love her? he asked.

We also talk about us as parents. We think her parents are terrific. We are learning from them. I talked with him at length about the things I wanted for her, about my reasons for placing, about how there is great joy in seeing her blossom in her parents' care.

The thing is, there will always be that "what if?". It's normal. It's one of the more distressing side effects of losing your child.

N has written a ton of very powerful posts on this topic this year. No matter how good or bad the choice was, no matter how good or bad the rest of my life turns out, the fact is there will always be a hole in my life where my daughter would fit. My future family will always be missing one. And I'm feeling that loss already.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Love After Adoption

I've been wanting to post about this for a long time. I've touched on it before, but I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Kateri's recent flashback and my year-old reply got me thinking.

When I decided on adoption, I didn't even think about what it would be like to date after. I did think about as a very distant future thing, but I never even considered the impact that being a birthmother would have on my future love life. I thought about the alternative, parenting, and how that would complicate my future relationships.

The first person I dated after I placed was someone who knew my loss. Part of what brought us together was his ability to see right through my smiling exterior. He gave me permission to grieve and encouraged me to talk about her. He remains one of my closest friends, but our individual grief played a big role in our inability to sustain a romantic relationship.

My former fiance was someone I had dated all through college. I measured every other man against my perfect vision of him. During my pregnancy, I fantasized about getting back together with him so that we could parent my daughter. A big part of the beginnings of us being back together was grieving over the fact that he didn't come back into my life in time. And for him, a large part of it was the fact that I had a child that wasn't his.

It was awkward in the beginning. My relationship with my daughter was still unsure, I was still trying to rediscover myself, I was looking at him as my chance to finally live my dreams- to recover from the fall that led me to an unplanned pregnancy. I thought the loss of my daughter was the price I had to pay to have him back in my life.

In the beginning, he said and did all the right things. I knew by then that I couldn't be with someone who didn't embrace that part of me. I needed someone who would let me grieve, who would acknowledge that part of my life, who wouldn't see me as some kind of freak or tramp for having a baby out there.

My former fiance and I were still in the early stages of our relationship when I went to visit my daughter. I drove straight to his house after and he met me outside with no words and open arms. He gave me everything I needed that night and I thought it was a sign that he could handle that part of me- the one thing that had really changed since the last time we were together.

It didn't work out that way. Instead, I was encouraged in every way to move on- to accept that I was no longer a mother, that I no longer had a say. The grief was focused on him. He had to grieve the fact that I had a child without him. We also lived in a really tiny place with no future in sight. Other than the first few months, I was never in a place where I thought I could have raised her myself. He rarely came with me to visit and although she'd often ask for him because he was my boyfriend, there was no real connection there.

Over time, I spoke about her less and less. I started to feel like being a birthmother was something no man would accept about me. I spoke with other birthmothers, women who had gone on to marry, and most of them reported that their spouses didn't always handle it well either. It's something I often see echoed as I read various blogs. People just don't know how to deal with it. How could I ever expect a guy I dated to understand?

While it's too early to say that it will always be this good, my current beau is absolutely amazing. To him, I am a mother. He wants to learn more about it, he allows me to grieve, he talks about my daughter as if it were the most normal thing in the world, he completely understands why I keep in touch with her birthfather, he thinks open adoption is the healthiest way to do things, ....I could go on and on. He's already put in his request for a child just like her. He absolutely adores her and she adores him- enough that her parents were amazed at how she took to him. When he talks about her, he lights up the way I do.

So of course, it makes me think.

We would be wonderful parents to her.

After my Christmas party, I thought about what her parents might have been thinking.

I'm doing really well right now. I also have a really wonderful man in my life who is planning a future with me. We had some alone time with my daughter as the party was winding down. It did make me think, what if.

Never mind that had I kept her, everything would be completely different. The fact is that my daughter is only four and already I am in a position to raise her myself.

I wondered what her parents might be thinking about it- to see me doing so well and know that they have a little piece of me. I suppose those thoughts are for another day and another post.

For today, I just feel really blessed to have my beau.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Songs of Loss

Someday I want to sing "Black" with Eddie Vedder. I hear a different melody on top of the one that exists. So he would sing the songs as is and I'd sing my own melody. We could harmonize on the chorus. I think it would be beautiful. And of course, the song is about loss so imagine what I'd be singing about:

Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
Were laid spread out before me as her body once did.
All five horizons revolved around her soul
As the earth to the sun
Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn

Ooh, and all I taught her was everything
Ooh, I know she gave me all that she wore
And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds
Of what was everything.
Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything...

I take a walk outside
I'm surrounded by some kids at play
I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear?
Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head
I'm spinning, oh, I'm spinning
How quick the sun can drop away

And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass
Of what was everything?
All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything...

All the love gone bad turned my world to black
Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I'll be... yeah...
Uh huh... uh huh... ooh...

I know someday you'll have a beautiful life,
I know you'll be a sun in somebody else's sky, but why
Why, why can't it be, why can't it be mine

Aah... uuh..


Other than that first verse, doesn't it make you think of your child?

I'm also digging Christina Aguilera"s "Hurt" right now which is borderline applicable to adoption:

Seems like it was yesterday when I saw your face
You told me how proud you were, but I walked away
If only I knew what I know today
Ooh, ooh

I would hold you in my arms
I would take the pain away
Thank you for all you've done
Forgive all your mistakes
There's nothing I wouldn't do
To hear your voice again
Sometimes I wanna call you
But I know you won't be there

Ohh I'm sorry for blaming you
For everything I just couldn't do
And I've hurt myself by hurting you

Some days I feel broke inside but I won't admit
Sometimes I just wanna hide 'cause it's you I miss
And it's so hard to say goodbye
When it comes to this, oooh

Would you tell me I was wrong?
Would you help me understand?
Are you looking down upon me?
Are you proud of who I am?

There's nothing I wouldn't do
To have just one more chance
To look into your eyes
And see you looking back

Ohh I'm sorry for blaming you
For everything I just couldn't do
And I've hurt myself, ohh

If I had just one more day
I would tell you how much that I've missed you
Since you've been away
Ooh, it's dangerous
It's so out of line
To try and turn back time

I'm sorry for blaming you
For everything I just couldn't do
And I've hurt myself by hurting you

It's obviously about a parent, and I think that it's an incredibly beautiful song. There are parts that tug a little more though.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Off The Burner: Pictures

I've been wanting to clear some things up about taking pictures. I probably shouldn't care so much, but I thought that maybe some folks might have gotten the idea that my daughter's mom doesn't care about getting pictures of us.

She does. Even way back when she was still unsure about having an open adoption, she made sure to get a picture of the two of us together at every visit. Sometimes it wouldn't be until I was on my way out, sometimes she would capture us in a particularly nice moment. One year she laid all my Christmas gifts to my daughter around her little sleeping self and took pictures because she thought it was important.

When my daughter gets sad about me, her mom offers a phone call, and always pulls out the albums to show my daughter pictures of our visits together.

Lately she hasn't been taking as many pictures overall. I'm sure some of it is just normal parent stuff- the kid gets older, you take less pictures. Some of it may be because my daughter is more difficult to get to take pictures.

I'm not even sure that my daughter's mom notices when we don't get a picture together. At this point, we've had so many visits and I've become such a normal part of life, she may not be thinking "oh, I need to capture this on film."

When I went for Christmas, she did make a point to get a picture of the two of us. I really don't think that her not taking pictures has anything to do with any conscious feelings about it.

When I first posted about it, my point was not to criticize my daughter's folks, it was mostly just to offer a heads up to any adoptive parents reading that this was something really meaningful they could do for the birthfamily.

And just to reiterate, I'm starting to get a bit more comfortable asking for things (though I still prefer bringing a friend to help in that area), but I still don't like asking for all the same reasons I mentioned last time.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Off The Burner: Adoption On TV

Way back when, I posted about an episode of Numb3rs that featured a birthmother as criminal to which Wraith responded:
Yep, more often than not, birthparents and adoptees are listed as psychos or unappreciative jerks where as adoptive parents almost always seem to be treated as these saints that everyone should pity they had to go thru whatever the show is about.


It's enough to make you want to go postal but then that would just be feeding the stereotype as well. ;)
I didn't see the other CSI:NY episode he mentioned later, but I did see a Criminal Minds episode that perpetuated the adoptee as psycho myth around that same time.

This week, another Criminal Minds episode featured adoption. This time it was the birthfather who went crazy. His daughter also had all the acting out behaviors that are more prevalent among adopted teens.

I've seen adoption a few times on House and Without a Trace as well. These two shows seem to be the most sensitive. I remember House getting really angry with some adoptive parents who were hiding the adoption from their teenage son. One episode of Without a Trace featured a pre-adolescent boy who ran away on his birthday. I remember knowing immediately that he was adopted and then chiding myself for making everything about adoption. He was adopted and the show emphasized the grief surrounding birthdays.

The other episode of Without a Trace is one of my favorites. It's so moving. A girl hides her pregnancy, arranges for a clandestine birth, then runs away with her newborn baby. They find her by the pool, cradling her baby as she tries to figure out what to do.

I've actually seen more myth-reinforcing TV lately than otherwise. For awhile I thought they were getting it, but now it seems adoption has become a convenient motive for people to turn to crime.

Sometimes it's hard to know how to feel about it.

These shows certainly make people aware that adoption causes life-long grief. They point out the desire for people to know their biological roots and offspring. They bring to light all those deep, dark feelings nobody ever wants to talk about or acknowledge. Still, when we're all seen as potential criminals, it's hard to get anyone to accept us as just plain old people. And personally, I'm not a big fan of having people be afraid of me just because I have a daughter I'm not raising.

It's a fine line though. We want people to acknowledge that dark side without thinking we're all unstable.

I suppose at the very least, it's made me more aware of all the stereotypes presented. I wonder if prostitutes, and bartenders, and teenagers, and lawyers, and all the other featured characters get annoyed, too.


Monday, January 01, 2007

One Year

My wish for the New Year is to expand my pile of memories.