Monday, April 29, 2013

Full Disclosure

Since neither of us had consistent access to a phone and because I knew that he checked his computer daily, I decided the safest and quickest way to reach him was by email.  I kept it relatively brief but cordial, letting him know the reason I was contacting him and basically asking for his blessing with the decision to give the baby up.  In so many ways, I was hoping he just wouldn't respond at all.  Initially, I wasn't granted that reprieve. He wrote back the very next day. In his email he was extremely angry and hateful, calling me names, and ultimately saying that if I was just going to give the baby away, I should give it to him. Are you kidding me??  Give the baby to someone who nearly choked me in my sleep?  Right, that'll happen.
Remembering that sentence and the gall it took to write it still makes my blood boil a bit.

Needless to say, I took my time writing a response to his reactive email.  I honestly wanted him to see things my way, and didn't want to perpetuate the animosity.  I explained why I felt an adoption would be best, that I had been adopted and was better off for it. I even told him that not all adoptions have to be private and that we can choose how involved we want to be.  I said anything that could support my cause and nothing that would be considered spiteful or even unfair to him.  I did this purposely because, while we most certainly could have continued on with hurtful accusations and whether either one of us was fit to raise the child, that would not get me any closer to the end result I hoped to achieve for my baby.  So, I relented and told him I was open to discussing it further.  My next emails received no response.

A few weeks after this, I once again found myself in need of a place to stay.  I contacted my mom (my adoptive mom, who is still my "real" mom by the way) and, though we tried to open the lines of communication again, it was just too soon and the pain still too close to the surface.  I moved from one friend's couch to another's, who was always just as generous with her love, home, and food.  We talked a lot about my current situation and what I should do next. My birth-mother and I were still in touch and, through these late night talks with my friend, I decided that maybe I should come clean with her.  It was somewhat hard to avoid the truth when she kept hinting that she wanted to meet me.

I told her in the next email I sent and also included a telephone number as I no longer had easy access to email.  As soon as she read it, she wasted no time in calling.  Apparently, she had already decided to drive across country in the hopes that I would say yes to a face-to-face meeting.  She was staying about an hour away and decided, now that she knew everything, she was coming the rest of the way.

Though I've never been at peace with my decision to put so much on her so soon, I know now that it was necessary to disclose everything because this pivotal choice played an important role guiding me to the next lesson I had in store, and was an integral part of the road leading me to my son's adoptive parents.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Safe But Not Quite Sound

When I returned home, I wish I could say that I picked up all the pieces of my life and pulled myself together. I can't say that, however, at least I was safe, and back with my friends.  The same group that had always been there for me once again took care of me, allowing me a place to stay and making sure that I had food to eat.  Times were not easy for any of us but we stuck together and somehow made it work,  I used my friend's computer to check email and one night came across an adoption registry.  I decided I had absolutely nothing to lose and posted my details (and what little information I had on my birth-mother - basically her first name) in the hopes I might eventually learn more about her (and myself).  At this point I had no idea how my life was about to change.

Weeks passed and I realized that something was wrong with me.  I had developed a wicked bladder infection seemingly overnight and eventually (though I dreaded the cost), I had no choice but to seek out emergency care.  My dear friend had to drive me and he stayed with me while I was getting checked out.  After all the preliminary testing had been done, one of the doctors came in and shut the door.  He asked me when my symptoms had begun and I simply said "I'm not sure, it just kind of popped up".  His next words will be with me forever.  They hung still in the air and when the true weight of these words fell upon me it was like a knife had pierced my heart.  "That's not the only thing that has popped up, you're pregnant" he said.
I am not sure how long I cried.  I am not sure of anything those first few days.  I wanted to still be in denial, I wanted it to not be real and for it to be some sort of mistake.  But in my heart I knew that it was very true and on some level I had known since the day I had left this baby's father.  I also knew that I had some decisions to make.

In the midst of all this, I received an email from the adoption registry.  Someone had seen my post and had responded.  After reading that initial email, there was no doubt in either of our minds that she was my birth-mother.  I never expected such a quick response, but she explained that she had been watching the registries closely for a few years hoping to find me.  I was in no way prepared for this.  I had no idea what to say to her, especially given my current situation, but felt almost obligated in a way to pursue communication.  We exchanged emails and slowly began a tentative correspondence.

Meanwhile, consumed with the need to come to terms with my pregnancy, I decided there was really only one course of action to take.  Abortion was not an option.  I have always believed that I could have been a statistic instead of alive, and even when times were impossibly difficult, I have remained thankful for the life I have. Looking at the mess I had created, I knew that this baby deserved much more than I could offer. My life was so tumultuous and uncertain, that to bring an innocent into this chaos would be cruel.  I made the decision to give the baby up.  It was almost that easy, a simple rational conversation with myself as to what was best for the child. Only now, I had the heart-wrenching task of having to get back in contact with the father to discuss this decision with him.  I could only hope that he would see reason as well.



Friday, April 19, 2013

Malfunctioning Adult

Perspective can alter how we remember events, words spoken, and even how we view other people. It has always intrigued me that two people can give profoundly different accounts of the same event merely based on their own frame of mind at the time.  I mention this because, up until now, we have only heard one version of the truth.  Take in the fact that my birth-mother was very young, scared, and confused and had just made a life-altering decision. I'm sure that, given her circumstances, she would have a very different story to tell than my Grandmother's, and that is one reason I ultimately decided to seek her out.  In the next few posts  the back-story for my own decision will begin to take shape, and we will see both of my experiences with adoption intertwine.

As a teenager I struggled.  Struggled against depression, manic behavior, a somewhat self-destructive nature, and of course all with the single-mindedness of any teen (I'm the only one who has ever felt this way, no one understands me or my pain, the world is absolutely caving in all around me, etc.). When I was eighteen, my world actually did come crashing down on me, my relationship with my adoptive mom was shattered, my boyfriend left me, I was homeless, car-less, and a complete mess. If it weren't for my tight group of friends (one in particular that convinced his dad to let me stay with them), I would have been completely lost. Unfortunately, I lacked the coping skills and maturity to handle the situation I was in and after a while I snapped. I didn't come to my senses for a long time. I met this boy and, after knowing him for less than 48 hours, I moved hundreds of miles away from my friends and family because he wanted to. That lasted a month or so, then we moved back to the state we'd come from, only the city was still four hours away from my home. (I'm really attempting to keep this as anonymous as possible so I apologize for the lack of detail.)

I remember there being plenty of moments where I questioned his mental stability, but at that point who was I to judge him? I should have paid more attention. One night, I woke up with his hands around my throat.

I called a friend, who in turn called another friend, and that friend within hours showed up at the house with her friends and not only got me out, but had a plan to get me home.  I will never be able to express proper gratitude to the ones involved in my "rescue".  They saw I needed saving even when I couldn't see it that clearly. I have always referred to them as Angels, because that's exactly what they are (though I'm sure they'd argue).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Not for Sale

The most obvious place to start was by asking my family.  My mom and dad had very little information to offer. When it became obvious that they could not conceive, a mutual friend mentioned an acquaintance that might be looking into giving up a child for adoption.  My parents proceeded to inquire through that friend and then the lawyer took over.  They provided financially for all her care and clothing, and they received regular medical updates on how the pregnancy was progressing. They never met her face to face. As for my birth-father there were only rumors regarding who he even was, one of which was that he was a University Professor. Obviously, he was not in the picture and had no intention of ever being there.

The most interesting story came from my Grandmother who, when asked, was a wealth of very random and somewhat alarming information.  The most prominent memory in her mind was not the adoption itself, but in the months following.  Apparently, my adoption was not finalized for nearly four months.  The reason:  My birth-mother had changed her mind. My Grandmother explained that around a month after I was given to my parents, the lawyer contacted them stating not to be worried, but that the mother had decided she wanted to "give me to someone else" and was going to contest the adoption.

I'm going to interject here for a second and state that, in most states, birth-parents have the right to change their minds up to thirty days after the child is born.  This is an extremely important right and, though it can be devastating to the adoptive family, it allows time for the birth-parents to be absolutely certain that they can live with this decision.

Okay, back to the story.  The key phrase there was "give me to someone else".  Not exactly what the legislation means, but a court date was set to finalize things one way or another.  My whole adoption really hinged on what this woman would say in front of the judge, and my mom was terrified.

My birth-mother lost her case.  She supposedly stood in front of the judge and actually stated that " She wanted me back so that she could sell me to a family member that was unable to have children".  This family member had offered her $10,000.  The judge simply looked at her incredulously and explained that selling a baby was in fact against the law.  And so, of course, my adoption was ruled official.  Oh, but this didn't put an end to things according to my grandmother. During the months following my birth, my birth-mother had somehow located where my grandparents lived.  My grandmother watched me while my parents worked during the day. She told me that my birth-mother would drive by frequently, slowing down but never actually stopping. This "stalking" made everyone very nervous.  One day after the adoption was finalized, and she had not been successful in her attempt to regain custody, my birth-mother came to their door screaming about how they had stolen me from her.  My grandmother called the police and that was the last time they saw or heard from her.

So this was my first glimpse into where I came from. Somewhat unsettling to say the least.  Let's just say, there is a lot more to come.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Somewhere in Florida

My story begins as so many do.  My parents were unable to have children and located a young student who was searching for options for her unborn child. Mine was a private adoption, and there was no contact between my birth-mother and parents - the only communication came through the lawyers.  I was three days old when I met my parents for the first time. In fact my dad would always call on "adoption day", instead of my actual birthday to give the traditional wishes.

Growing up, my parents were always honest with me about being adopted. Early on they bought this amazing book called "Why was I adopted?" Here's a link in case you are interested http://www.amazon.com/Why-Was-Adopted-Carole-Livingston/dp/0818404000
The book really helps both adoptive parents and the children understand the facts, and I never felt unwanted or unloved. In fact, I always felt a little special.  I felt that my birth-mother made a courageous choice and gave me a chance at life, when she could have very easily had an abortion and*poof* I just wouldn't be here at all. (Yeah, I just said that- and it is 100% true.)

The questions started forming in my head when I was in my early teens.  Questions my parents couldn't answer.  For instance, I had previously gotten a kick out of the fact that when genealogy projects were assigned in school I could get out of them by playing the adoption card. At that point the fact I knew nothing about my birth-parents didn't bother me.  I had two parents, the parents that raised me, and I didn't need to know anymore than that. But that's just it, I had no idea where I came from other than a hospital in Florida, and it started to tug at at my heart.  I'd look in the mirror and wonder who I looked like, or I'd try to figure out what nationalities I had mixed in there, whether or not I had brothers and sisters somewhere. I started to feel a hole and it grew as the years passed.

So, I started to dig.

I Needed An Outlet

I've started this blog not only to discuss an incredibly important topic, but also to allow myself some much needed release.  I have always been able to find healing through the written word and I know this must be true for others as well.  I knew I needed to start a blog and, when attempting to decide what on earth I would write about I discovered a need to talk openly about my experience with adoption.  I do hope that my words, my story, and my inevitable random thoughts might reach someone who is struggling or who needs to have a first hand idea of the simultaneous joy and heartbreak that comes with this choice.  I'll write as often as I can, but for now will explain that I have experienced both sides of this particular coin. I was an adopted child, and at the age of twenty I made the choice to give up my own child with the belief he deserved more than I could give him.