About Me

My photo
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.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Checking In

I just wanted to move Mother's Day off the top of my page. It all worked out in the end. I haven't talked to my daughter or her family at all so no news there. The desire to tell is still there occasionally, but right now my mind is elsewhere. I'm counting on all of you to hold up the blogosphere right now.

Monday, May 14, 2007

More On Mother's Day: Instructions Included

My daughter's voicemail message:

Uh, where are you? Hi Poor_Statue! mumble mumble Hi Poor_Statue! mumble mumble mumble (mom in background: Stop mumbling!) Hi Poor_Statue! Happy Mother's Day! I just wanted to say hello. If you want to call mumble mumble I love you! mumble mumble Yes, we would like to come over. mumble mumble I love you! Yeah, I really want to come to your house because if I don't then I won't see you. And I love you very, love you very much. mumble mumble (phone rings in background, mom says to say goodbye) Bye bye, I love you.


I also got nice emails from my mom and aunt, cards from my sister and parents, a Saturday lunch date with a friend, a text and call from my sister, and a myspace comment from another friend. I spent the day half cleaning, half crying, half lying on the couch catching up on TiVo (yes, the day was longer than usual).

I was briefly inspired to create an Oprah-worthy video after watching an episode that highlighted adoption (anyone see it?). I wanted to tell my story- my side. The main thing that stood out for me was the ignorance.

I imagined Oprah saying how she never knew. I thought about all the people in my life who use ignorance about adoption to explain their or other's behavior.

I thought about how wrong it is. Most people know at least a little bit about what it means to be an adoptive parent. Well, for every adoptive family, there is a woman like me (and a man like Brad). Why don't they know my story?

I was feeling crappy-reeling from the insensitive comment, knowing the whole day would be tainted by it, wondering why I was cleaning house on Mother's Day.

I thought I wrote some tips on navigating Mother's Day last year, but there was nothing in my archives.

So I bring them to you today- now that the fog has lifted a bit.

The number one rule for Mother's Day:

You must acknowledge me.

I listed all the ways I was acknowledged this weekend. They were all enough. A simple email, a text message, a call, a card, a comment- they were all enough.

This has always bothered me. I've heard all the variations of "But you're not the one raising her, so why should you be acknowledged on Mother's Day?," "But it doesn't feel right," "But Mother's Day is for mother's and children."

I'm getting angry about it already.

The fact is, it means a lot to me to be acknowledged and it costs you nothing (or very little), so what's the big deal? You can feel awkward about it. Imagine how awkward it feels for me.

I know it's not typical. I know Mother's day is all about hearts and flowers and celebrating. I know that that is not what Mother's Day is for me. I know it will feel different than the Mother's Days you celebrate with everyone else. I definitely don't need to be reminded that I'm not the one raising my daughter.

I am still a mother.

All I want is a "Happy Mother's Day" no matter how awkward or weird or untrue. It tells me you understand that my motherhood (or notmotherhood) is a part of who I am. It tells me you accept me. It tells me you know that this day means something to me even if it isn't the typical picture of Mother's Day.

Mother's Day is without question, the most painful day of the year for me.

I need the acknowledgement of the day. I need the acknowledgement that I have a place in that day. I need someone to recognize that I gave birth to a child- one that I carried in my womb and nurtured for nine months.

It's so simple for you to do. It means the world to me.

One last note: Most friends and non-immediate family members are exempt from this rule. I mean it for the people really close to me. No big discussions or plans are required to fulfill your responsibility. Just a very simple "Thinking of you today." or "Happy Mother's Day"

My mom's email messages are my favorite. I never respond appropriately because I can't express that much emotion, but every year she wishes me a Happy Mother's Day and acknowledges that it's probably a tough day for me.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fuck

Mother's Day.

I thought this year would be better.

I thought finally, I am surrounded by people that see me as a mother.

And then.....

...someone I care about said the worst thing you could say to me about this day.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor and said, "You just said the worst thing you could have possibly said to me," I fought the tears.

And people wonder why there is a wall.

On a happier note, my mother will be spending Mother's Day with my daughter today.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My Social Worker

I sometimes feel like the only firstmom blogger who dealt with someone decent while pregnant.

I don't remember how I found the agency. I had already found my daughter's parents. I talked to someone at Planned Parenthood, but that didn't go anywhere. I just needed to do things legally. Somehow, I ended up at Catholic Social Services speaking with M.

I'm not sure that Catholic Social Services would be the first place that springs to mind when trying to drum up great adoption agencies. From what I hear, I also live in an extremely old-fashioned state when it comes to adoption. Open adoption is very rare around here.

I walked into my social worker's office with my mind made up. I'm stubborn and distrustful. I weighed all my options before ever walking into her office. I dealt with my reservations. I informed my family. I researched the aftereffects. I had first-hand experience with adoptees whose adoptions destroyed them. I had plenty of experience with single parents. The counseling I went for was a state requirement- not anything I really wanted.

I had never heard of open adoption when I walked into her office. At my first meeting with my daughter's future parents, they mentioned visits and I responded with a variation of, "Are you nuts? You should be a family." Basically, I went for counseling understanding a very traditional view of adoption and some knowledge of the possible pain for the child I was carrying.

My social worker was amazing.

I couldn't have been easy to deal with. Every week, we talked about the possibility of parenting. CSS was set up to help moms in crisis. I passed the room full of ready-to-go newborn supplies every time I visited. My social worker reminded me every time I saw her that I could choose to parent. With little cooperation from me, we put a parenting plan in place. She had temporary care with visitation set up and ready for me if I decided I needed more time after my daughter was born. I probably sighed every time she mentioned it, but she continued to let me know that not only could I parent, but that I could decide to parent after my daughter was born, no matter what I had told the people in my life.

My social worker was a true believer in open adoption. To her, that is the only way to do adoption.Early on, she figured out that the best way to convince me was to send me home with stuff to read. This part must have been fun for her because I always read everything she gave me. She started me off small: a few of Brenda Romanchik's pocket books, some open adoption newsletters.

I didn't trust her. She was so passionate about open adoption that I felt she was trying to sell me something. I was so skeptical.

She just gave me more things to read: Jim Gritter's books, other things.

I read them all and by my sixth month, I got it. I was a believer, too.

Although I never listened to her, my social worker encouraged me to create a contract, she warned me that open adoption isn't legally enforceable, she pointed out all the red flags with my daughter's parents (and despite how great it is now, she was absolutely right), she told me that the amount of pain I would experience from placing was incomprehensible. She encouraged me to write about why I was choosing adoption. She told me that there would come a time when my decision would no longer make sense. She told me that I would end up feeling regret. She encouraged me to feel all of my feelings, to claim my daughter, told me little things that I could do to mark the relationship.

She explored with me the possibility of my daughter having serious issues with being adopted. She shared all the statistics with me. She let me know that my daughter would likely be angry with me. She made me think about how I would respond.

She made me consider the possibility that the adoptive parents would divorce or undergo some other tragedy. She wanted to make sure that placing my daughter was not my attempt to make up for things in my life that were only temporary.

We explored in great depth the likelihood that my daughter's adoption would close. We talked about what to do. When I started having regular visits, she encouraged me to document them. She taught me that the healthiest thing for my daughter was to get a long with her mother so that my daughter would never have to choose between us.

With her encouragement and support, I asked hard questions of the people in my life to help me make my decision. I relished every moment of my pregnancy. I spoke openly to the regulars in my life about my decision.

And I kept reading as fast as she could give me things to read.

I didn't end up placing through CSS, but my social worker continued to see me for about six months after I placed.

She did so much for me.

After my daughter was born and I was no longer in full crisis mode, I continued to do research on open adoption. I took a full twelve weeks off of work and was barely sleeping (major depression) so I just read and read.

It was during that time and since that I was really able to appreciate everything my social worker did. When I hear about agency reform, I can say with confidence that my social worker did everything in her power to do things ethically. She followed all the best advice out there. I had great pre-placement counseling. In a very short time and with an extremely reluctant client, my social worker managed to give me thorough and solid information.

She's retired now, but every so often I'll send a card and get a note in return. Neither she nor I ever thought my open adoption would be where it is today and it feels good to share it with her.

To some, I know that must make me more of a monster. I wasn't coerced (yes, I know that there were some coercive elements involved- I discussed them all with my social worker). I had a lot of information. I was warned. I was given the option to parent.

I chose not to.

I'll save that choice for another day....




Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Chat With My Little One

I decided to call them for a change Sunday night. They were in the middle of dinner so they said they'd call back. By the time they did, I couldn't talk. They called again yesterday.

My daughter told me all about ice skating this weekend and how she was helping her friends.

She told me about some crazy thing they did at the house with a toothpick and some random ingredients. She asked if she could do it at my house next time she visits and got all excited when I said yes.

She's a sweetheart.

I also caught up with her mom a bit. It wasn't a super conversation, but it was fine.

I've been a lot more tired than usual lately so I'm having a hard time doing normal things. Hopefully, I'll have more to say soon.