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.
Although cold, there is the promise of spring around the corner as well as the end of the school year. After the whirlwind of the holiday season and the recovery period that we call January, February offers a break. It is cold and still and swift. As soon as it begins, it is over.
In February, I want to do nothing. It is an in-between time- before and after my busiest times. Because of this, I can accomplish very little. My mind and body join forces to keep me from doing things. This year, I feel calm.
February is also a lonely time. By February, the cold is no longer charming. My social routines have disappeared. The urge is to bundle up and lay on the couch reading or watching TV. The thought of venturing out into the cold is enough to keep me from doing it. The stretch from January to May is a time when visits with my daughter are unplanned. I never know when I will see her next. During my pregnancy, I was also very alone during February. This year it didn't bother me. Instead, I found the aloneness refreshing. After sharing a home for five years, I was happy to be in my own place with no one to answer to.
I did not experience the sadness that plagued so many of my blogging friends. I just experienced a quiet.
Have I been sadder about my daughter lately?
Nicole wonders if I have. Has open adoption become harder for me?
Yes and no.
I no longer worry about being shut out of her life. She knows who I am. I have my own relationship with her. Her mother and I have reestablished our friendship. I am surrounded by people who accept that part of my life and treat me like a mother. I had none of those things a few years ago.
I'm watching her grow into a confident and happy girl. She's smart and funny and beautiful. She lives in a home where she is free to talk about her feelings. She has countless friends and relatives who consider her the light of their lives. For me, this is bittersweet.
Yes, I love to see her doing so well, but every milestone, every friend and family member, every new interest is a reminder of everything our relationship isn't. Seeing her do so well makes me feel both better and worse. She is my daughter but I am only a tiny part of her world. The older she gets, the more the separation grows.
Lately there is another complication: the telling. It's something that has always been a dilemma for me. I've written about it often. How can someone be a part of my world without knowing about her? How can my daughter be a full part of my world when inviting her into it requires me to figure out which places and people are safe? I sometimes think about showing my daughter around my school or inviting her to some school function. I would love to have her there. But they don't know about her.
Sometimes people ask how she is. Many are people who knew me pregnant, but do not know I placed. Still others come back into my life and are surprised: "You have a daughter?" The internet has allowed me to reconnect with old friends and they all ask the same questions: "Are you married? Do you have kids?" It doesn't help that in these circles, an unplanned pregnancy is seen as a black mark no matter what the outcome. People shake their heads and cluck as they describe the countless peers who succumbed to unplanned pregnancy. Surviving until now without having a child is like a badge of honor.
I suppose it's not the open adoption that's hard, it's life after adoption. I am torn between the proud and motherly feelings I have for my daughter and the desire to just be a regular single girl again. The worst part is that I am neither. Adoption puts you somewhere in the middle, into some strange and uncomfortable gray area. I am a not-mother.
1. Phone Call: First things first, I felt like a jerk for not calling or sending a card to my daughter for Valentine's Day. I'm sort of hit or miss with cards, but I did intend to call. Of course they beat me to it. I missed the call on Tuesday but got a sweet voice message from my daughter telling me she loves me and I need to come visit soon so we can play Uno. I called back yesterday. She wanted me to tell her what her message said (Did you get my email? she asked). Other than that, she wasn't feeling very chatty, so I talked to her mom a bit instead. Still, hearing her voice lightens something up for me- a thought that needs its own post.
2. The Study: I won't link because I'm sure you've all read about it already. I guess my main reaction is that of course the results came out that way. I'm finding it hard to put into words, but it just makes sense to me that adoptive parents- most of whom had a long time to plan for their children etc.- would beat everyone else in terms of time spent on homework and all the other stuff that made the checklist. I think people should wonder why the difference was actually so small. Adoption usually takes planning and money and home studies. I would think that the people who made it through all of that would probably have more time and ability to meet the checklist criteria than the average family. And no I don't think that makes them better and I do agree that it seems the study missed a few things, but really folks- wouldn't you expect those results? It doesn't make adoptive parents better than any other kind of parent- it just reflects the way some folks are weeded out before adoption happens. If I find a better way to explain it, I'll post again.
3. All of you: I've been taking a break from everything this week and just enjoying the lack of commitment to anything. Before February is over, I'd like to weigh in on what this season does to me and respond to Nicole's observation that I seem sad lately. I'm also going to answer Round Is Funny's question as well. If anyone has any other questions for me, ask away. And thanks for all your suggestions on how to comment. I've been using them, but I don't have any idea how to use filters and forwarding on gmail.
I haven't had much to say lately so I've been spending lots of time on your blogs. While I know I'm not much of a commenter, I actually have been compelled to comment a few times lately. So why haven't I?
Well, for the unaware, new Blogger is tied into your gmail account. I have three gmail accounts: one for blogging, one for a private adoption group I belong to, and one for everything else in the whole wide world. Guess which one I leave open all the time?
Yup, my regular everything-in-the-world account. Which means that every time I go to comment, Blogger recognizes me by my real name. I have to sign out and then sign back in with my blogging gmail account- and then I've lost my constantly open account.
This is a big giant pain and to fix it I'd need to change my browsing habits which is not easy to do for someone like me who thrives on routine and structure.
So my apologies for all the comments I haven't left. I am thinking about you and I'm trying to readjust to this new way of browsing so I can comment whenever I feel like it.
In the meantime, I have no posts brewing in my head so I'd love some suggestions. Are there any questions you've been dying to ask me? Are you curious about my opinion on something? Is there something you'd like me to do in this lovely space of mine (other than change the color of my font :) )?
Ask away. I'm on vacation next week so I should actually have time to write. I just need something to write about.
Last night my beau and I met an old junior high friend of mine for an evening at a local wine bar (I'm surprised we were allowed into a wine bar, way too cool for me).
This junior high friend and I were inseparable back in eighth grade. Then I moved away from our tiny tri-town area. We kept in touch. He took me to all the Homecoming dances and proms at my old school and listened patiently to my latest drama.
Then college came and I stayed local while he went off to the big city. We kept in touch sporadically. I'd always hear from him for my birthday and usually one other time during the year. When we saw each other, it was is if we'd never been apart, but the infrequency of our communication meant that we missed out on a lot of each other's lives.
I remember wondering why I was one of the last he told when he came out as gay. Still, we had a bond.
In 2000, we kept a junior high promise we'd made and spent a weekend in NYC together. It was really wonderful.
Then our talking went back to sporadic.
I didn't talk to him while I was pregnant.
Last night, he recalled that day when I told him. Telling him about my daughter made me realize why it was so hard for him to tell me he was gay. When your friendship began before either of you really understood what sex was, it's kind of hard to share that kind of information.
We were with some other people last night and he told the story of that day.
We hadn't seen each other in awhile so we met for lunch (or breakfast?). As he put it, he went on and on and on about all the troubles in his life (me, me, me, he said) and then he finally asked what was new with me.
Um, I had a baby.
I remember him telling me how bad he felt that I didn't tell him, because he wanted to support me. And he did support me. He still does. He always asks about her and I can talk about her freely.
He's the friend who sent me The Kid, which I loved.
A friend of his was there, a girl I've known since babyhood. His story opened up some communication for she and I as I shared with her the difficulties in telling. She has her own story that she struggles to tell or not tell so we bonded over that and I really felt like she understood.
It was a nice night.
The nicest thing about my life right now is that pretty much everyone I spend time with knows- my daughter feels like less of a secret.
My links point to places that were active around 2005 during the height of this blog. I'll update them, but for now, I just want to write again. If you're an old reader with a new blog you want linked, just let me know in the comments.