Sunday, November 17, 2013

Adoption Awareness Month

Today and everyday, I am thankful to be able to say that I have survived what is most decidedly the most devastatingly difficult time thus far in my life.  I am thankful for the Angels I met along the way.  I am thankful for gift of strength, both in conviction and in the face of true heartbreak.  I am thankful for the recognition that the topics of not only Adoption alone, but alternative solutions of openness in Adoption are getting.  I survived, my son survived, my heart survived. We can all survive and flourish in this life regardless of the hardships placed in our way- we shall overcome.

If you are unfamiliar with my story here- I encourage you to read from the beginning- starting with the post "Somewhere in Florida".  It's love and faith (not necessarily mine) that got me through the darkest of times and adoption awareness month has reminded me why I began this blog, and how I will continue to heal from sharing my story and reading others who've lived through similar situations.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Easier?

Rountable Discussion
Openadoptionbloggers.com

"Does is get easier?"

I'd say, for me, that question doesn't really sit well.  There are just too many variables in my own experience and as a whole, not one single story or perspective is the same.

The knee-jerk reaction?  No, it doesn't get any easier, not really.  But the reflective answer (with regard to some things) is that time does heal to a degree.

As a birthmother, that hole in my heart is there but not as debilitating as it once was.  So in essence, day to day life has certainly become easier. But I honestly feel that's largely due to the openness I have with his family and knowing beyond doubt that he's healthy and happy.

Growing up as an adopted child I didn't struggle with a lot of the issues that some of my other adopted friends dealt with, though I know my parents had extra concerns with regard to my health or behavior.  ADHD and other behavior problems seem prevelant with adoptees, and that can be a life-long struggle for everyone. I always felt loved and even when I finally met my birth-mother I didn't feel abandoned or any struggles of the heart with regard to her giving me up.

Adoption is such a personal and profound issue that I don't beleive it can be neatly boxed into a yes or no answer.  What has gotten easier for me may be even more devestating for someone else in the same situation.   I think it's such a simple question, that doesn't get asked often- and I most certainly think it's one of the most important we can ask (and answer) ourselves.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Triggers

I know that I told some of you that my previous post would be the last one for a while, but, well basically....something came up. 

I know I've given an impression of strength throughout the re-living of my past. And while that may remain somewhat true even now, there are moments (and days) that so completely derail me that the only way to get to the other side is to wallow in and cry through it.

My son's birthday has recently passed and historically this has been a very difficult day for me.  It's not necessarily a tragic day, but it's also not as joyous as birthdays should be.  I suppose the reason it's difficult is incredibly simple: I miss him.  Mother's day is sometimes shaded by sadness, too. My wedding was the hardest.  But then there are just random days, these moments that knock you off balance.  For instance, I'll pass by his picture or see the memory box on the top shelf of my closet (things I do every single day) but on these days, I'm suddenly sent into flashes of memories and tearing up (well bursting into tears is closer to the truth).  Also, anytime I hear a particular Creed song I will inevitably and quite spontaneously have an irrational meltdown, frightening and confusing anyone within visual range (total truth). I know it's akin to post traumatic stress, and it is so important to acknowledge that fact. You cannot give your child up without suffering. That hole left in your soul does not magically close.

The reason that I decided to write this post, however, was not because of once again being swept up in sadness, but because for the first year in a long time on his birthday I was alright. I received an email from his adoptive mom letting me know how she was thinking of me and just couldn't go to bed without telling me how much love they held for me.  So of course, I welled up a little when I read that, but otherwise I feel gladdened by my current emotional state.

Perhaps writing the story did help me subconsciously in more ways than I realized.  I can't say for sure, but what I can say is that there was no suffering this time, and that warms my heart.  I know that there will still be days were my sorrow is triggered, but what is replacing the longing, is hope and contentment. Not so much filling the void, more like a shock-absorbent cushioning lining the edges of it.  Confirming my thoughts and feelings in this blog and for all of you has calmed the storm of memories locked away in my heart. I rarely shared what I was feeling over the years, and when I did it was always tentatively (with the exception of those who had to witness the Creed disaster- sorry that couldn't be helped).  This has been a "pouring" of the soul and seeing the story laid out in black and white has re-organized this mental compartment in a way that has left me more peaceful. There is a familiar saying that "the truth shall set you free" and in my conscious mind I know that sharing my truth with all of you has indeed freed a place in my heart from self-imposed chains.  Thank you for that.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Full Circle Understanding

So, I once again became a mother.  And the experience of this gift has truly been the reason for my continued growth and reflection.  I was free during the pregnancy with my daughter to face my inner demons, fears, and regrets.  I knew I had to do this because she deserved my whole heart, soul, and mind once she arrived. I had to grow up, and heal and I had to do this quickly. When she was born, I was ready- well, as ready as any new parent can be.  She is the love of my life, and everyday I am thankful for her.

Over the years, my birthmother continued to try to stay in contact. I know she showed up in town several times before we moved out of state.  Those unannounced visits were almost scary- she didn't try to call or even talk to me, she would just be there.  I decided that she was trying to figure out if I had gone through with the adoption after I had left.  Later, she started sending letters explaining that she had realized how much pressure she had placed on me during a time when I could not handle it, and that she wanted to start over with me.  She would send cards, books, small gifts.  I still didn't trust her intentions, so I never responded.   Eventually, she pulled back and several years went by without any further attempts.  Recently, she located my Facebook page and messaged me there.  After much thought, I responded.  I let her know that I was still not ready for a relationship with her but that I did not want her to feel ignored. I told her I was grateful for the ways in which she had helped me when I needed it.  I know now what it's like to wonder about your child, and I could not allow her to go on feeling unsure. I told her that I was happy, healthy, and doing well and hoped that would be enough. At first it was, then she tried to get my email address to send me a "small gift".  I had to let that request go unanswered.  I can't explain the reasons for my continued belief that a relationship with this woman would be toxic.  But that is how I feel, and above all, I am simply not ready to find out if my instincts are valid or not.  I hope that she will somehow understand this.

As far as my experience living without my son, I feel that I am doing alright.  I have never regretted my decision. Not for one moment.  I still believe with all my heart that he is exactly where he is supposed to be.  But not regretting doesn't make life any easier. There have been many moments where I wish he could have been with me (one of those times was my wedding), days where there was a piece missing to make those times perfect. But overall, I feel blessed just to know he is just as safe and as loved as he would be with me. The letters and updates helped tremendously.  At first, those letters and pictures came often and it was so incredible to see how much love surrounded him. But the letters slowed as he got older and then one day they all together stopped.  I reached out to his parents in the hopes that perhaps they just did not know where to send them, as we have moved quite frequently. It was such a hard letter to write, I felt desperate and unsure how they would respond to it.  I knew that they had been blessed with a second child, and I had heard that the situation with that second child's adoption was very different than their experience with me. I received a packet in the mail shortly there after full of pictures and a wonderful letter from his mom.  I can safely say that the lack of letters had given me a glimpse of what my own birthmother must have felt over the years.  Not knowing could easily drive someone insane, and I felt sure that I had made the right decision to ask for those updates for my own peace of mind.

I hope that one day, I may be able to update this blog with the moment I get to see him again.  As I've said it will have to be his decision.  I know his parents will be honest with him about me, and I know that he will know how much I loved and still love him because of that honesty.  It will be his heart telling him whether a meeting with me is what he wants. I continue to miss him, pray for him, love him and will for the rest of my life.  What I experienced with him has made me a completely different person, and while I am most certainly not perfect, I am proud of what I was able to do for him.  I know not everyone understands the choice to give a child up, and not everyone makes that choice for the same reasons, but I do hope that my story can begin to shine a light on how incredibly positive and life-altering the choice can be. Not only for a child to have the chance to live, but for every single person involved along the way.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Altered View

When I began this journey leading to my son's adoption, I had faith that everything would work out the way it needed to.  I don't know where this faith came from, nor can I explain my conviction in the decision.  In my heart, I just knew what I had to do. Life after giving up your child is strange.  I was still the same person, but my perspective on everything changed so radically that it was almost eerie.  Everything seemed trivial and pointless. The world was darker now, and so was I. The love I feel for my son could never be put into words.  It has been twelve years and I still cry when I think of him.  The truth is, you never "get over" the loss of a child. I can't imagine the pain of those who have lived through the death of a child, but I think that pain is the closest thing I can relate mine to.  At least I have the knowledge that he is out there living, playing, being loved, and growing.  If I did not have that, if he was truly gone, I would not know how to live anymore.

As it was, I realized that I had to face life with this new perspective.  I believe I was blessed to have this wonderful man enter my life, even if I wasn't ready for him when he did.  I struggled against the darkness that still haunted me, and sometimes it would win despite my efforts.  There was a point, early in our relationship, where I felt so undeserving of anyone's love, that I acted in a way that should have guaranteed the loss of his.  It was the moment I realized that I could not live without him, and though it was very hard work, together we were able to pull out of that darkness that threatened to swallow me whole.  He stayed by my side, supported and loved me and I will be forever grateful.  I am who I am now because he allowed me to be me then.

Almost a year later, while house sitting for his sister in Atlanta, we discovered that I was pregnant. I, of course, burst into tears feeling all the emotions I went through during my crisis hitting me in one quick shot.  He took my face in his hands and said "Hey, wait a minute- THIS is an amazing thing, and we are going to be great." I looked at him and realized he was right, and that this child would be OURS.  This child, and this man, they were my gift from God, for doing what was right for my son.  And once again, I had faith that everything would be alright.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rekindled Denial

We went home.  I started working for my mom's business, met up with friends, got a car....  It was so odd how things had come all the way back around, I was almost right back where I was when my story began. Almost.

I'm fairly certain that the gravity of everything I had just been through hadn't quite hit me, that the true lessons and changes that had taken a foothold had barely begun to express themselves in my psyche.  In fact, in the beginning of the aftermath, there was a great deal of denial mentally, physically, and emotionally. Being the vessel for this beautiful act, made me feel ugly and empty once I no longer had the luxury of actually witnessing it first hand.  I now only had memories, and too many of them were already becoming fuzzy.  I had moved out of the doing phase and been plunged into the acceptance phase. I was once again in the position of reflection after a whirlwind, and all I can say is- I didn't handle it as well as I would've hoped.  I'm probably being too hard on myself, even though it felt like several years had passed since my last "poor coping with reality" moments, time hadn't jumped ten years into the future and old habits die hard. Still, even looking back at it now, I wish I had learned more from those earlier lessons.

Oh sure, I thought I was untouchable- thought I was doing marvelously. After all, I was back to the life I knew.  Except, I had changed. I fought against this change, for a while refusing to acknowledge it.  I worked everyday, partied all night, convinced myself that I was happy. But the truth, of course, was that I was a complete mess. The mind is an incredible thing, you really can believe any lie you want to tell yourself, if you are willing to believe that is.  And eventually I stopped believing in my own lies. When you come out of a self induced denial, there is inevitable depression, and though I did hide it well, I no longer ignored it's existence.

One of the main motivating factors I had in acknowledging these changes, was reconnecting with a man from my past just a few months after the birth and loss of my son. He proved to have the ability to see beyond the shadows and the lies I told myself, and I think his conviction in my goodness and honest belief in me, altered my course yet again. I fell madly and deeply in love, and that man who entered my life at completely the wrong time, and whom I in no way shape or form deserved, was madly in love with me.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Signing Day

As I mentioned in an early post, most adoptions are not finalized for thirty days.  This is a tremendously difficult time for birth parents and adoptive parents alike- living with the knowledge that one can change their mind at any time.  I changed my mind every single day- the feeling of panic sometimes consuming me.  But some how I managed to get through this time, gradually coming to terms with the finality of my decision. I can't imagine what my son's parents must have gone through during this time.  But when the time came for us once again to come together at the courthouse, I was ready.

As we entered the courthouse, and walked up what seemed like a thousand stairs to one of the offices, I once again felt that quiet strength wash over me.  And with every step, that strength grew.  We rounded a corner and there they sat.  Unbelievably, my first thought was this: Look what I have been able to do! I have made them a real family, and they are a beautiful one.

As we neared, his mother rose to meet us giving me her warmest smile.  We all greeted one another almost as old friends, and then I got to hold him.  He had already grown so much, if anything he was more amazingly beautiful than before. They shared the name they had chosen for him and, of course, I thought it suited him perfectly.  In the hospital, I had named him as well, and it will always be my special name for him: Glenn. It was his name during our time together and I think I'm allowed to hold it in my heart.  I held him until it was time to start the signing of paperwork, and yes-that was the last time I held my baby.

Because I had never been able to get back in touch with his father, I learned that the only thing I had to do legally to have his rights revoked was to post an announcement in the local paper of his last known place of residence. If he saw it and wanted to contest it, he would simply have to call the number listed with the advertisement, which was the lawyer.  As predicted, there was no response.  I cannot allow myself to question whether this was fair, I can only remind myself of what happened to make me sure it was the right thing to do.  His rights were relinquished, and I signed my own away.

My baby, my son, was now officially theirs.  When we said goodbye, they were free to go back to their home state- hours away from me.  We all held back tears and I received the most genuine hugs from both of them.  I watched them walk away, taking comfort in the sight of this brand new family that truly belonged together.