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.

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.