Monday, May 6, 2013

Best Laid Plans

When we arrived at the counseling center, I was really impressed.  It was a whole center devoted to adoption, from birth-parents, to children, to prospective adoptive parents.  There was information everywhere in the waiting area and it warmed my heart so much. I thought, in this moment, that I would love to be somehow involved with this kind of advocacy. I didn't even know places like this existed.

We initially sat down together with our counselor.  She was very nice and I could tell she was intrigued by our story. Birth-mother meets child given up, that child now pregnant and considering adoption for her unborn child. As interested as she was, this counselor did not pry or force the conversation any deeper than necessary, and I appreciated that.  After about fifteen minutes she told us that she wanted to speak with us separately and I was asked to return to the lobby for the time being.  I retreated to the information hub and started poking around at all the brochures.

When it was my turn to speak to the counselor, she sat me down and simply asked me "what are your reasons for considering adoption?" So I explained it as I had before, I want more for my child, certainly more than I can provide at this time. I know that there are plenty of wonderful people out there that cannot have children for one reason or another and they deserve the chance to be parents.  I gave her all the reasons in my heart.  She told me that over the years, so many mothers had come into her office needing advice on what to do.  These girls were scared and unsure of the decision to adopt, and it was always difficult for her because you cannot steer someone in one direction or another, in the end they can only make the choice that is right for them.  She explained that she had never come across a young woman so convicted to do what she thought was right, whose decision was made so firmly from the beginning. It made her feel that I could emotionally handle the road ahead, because it would be an incredibly difficult journey.  She gave me some information to read and started to say something more but stopped herself. There were tears behind her eyes and I (being way too sensitive to the emotional state of others) had to ask if she was alright.  She smiled and said she was, but that she would like to call in a few days to see what I thought of the  reading material she'd given me. Of course I said that was alright and we said our goodbyes.

When I got back into the car with my birth-mother she had been crying. I asked if she wanted to share something and she said not yet, that she was still thinking.  By the time we reached the aunt's house, she had made her mind up to ask me what I know had to be a very difficult question.  She asked if I would consider giving my baby to her.

I was stunned into the deepest silence I can remember.  The thought to consider her had never entered my mind. Very quickly I analyzed my thoughts.  One, she had two small children already. Two, neither she nor her husband were currently employed and were living with her mother. Three, I didn't feel she was emotionally stabilized from the trauma of giving me up.  And finally, I just didn't completely trust her intentions. I had pictured my child in a stable home environment, one where he would never want for anything, most of all love.  One where he would be free to grow into the person he was meant to be.  Most of all, I knew in my heart that I would have to trust these new parents completely.  It wasn't rational, but I felt that I would know the right place for him when I met them.  And I didn't feel that his rightful place was with her. This is what she had been thinking about, not just today but perhaps the whole time I'd been here. It never crossed my mind but it should have. I should have been prepared for this.  At least then perhaps my answer would not have hurt her as much.  I basically told her I didn't feel that it was the right fit.

"How could being with his family not be the right place for him?" I didn't have an answer for her.  I didn't have the nerves of steel I needed in that moment.  I began to cry, I asked for time to think it over, I told her she had caught me off guard and I really felt uncomfortable. I know my answer hurt her very much and she was angry.  It was never my intention to hurt her, but I already knew what I wanted for him and those feelings were so strongly rooted in my mind that I could not see anything else.  I went inside the house. I cried for a very long time.  I called my mom.

I told her the situation.  I told her everything that she had missed since I'd left.  I asked to come home, told her that I was sorry for the pain that I caused her and she apologized too. We talked for hours, working through all that had happened between us.  We cried together. She told me that she would need to think about everything and talk to her then boyfriend to let him know of me possibly coming home and that she would call back.

I called the Aunt and while she was on the phone, my birth-mother had come back.  She was still angry and acting and talking out of perhaps all the pain she had felt for the past nineteen years. I had seen this behavior before, but never been on the receiving end.  It's a rage that only severe emotional trauma can induce and I recognized it because I'd felt it too (but that's a story for another day).  I felt threatened and at the same time this display hardened my resolve.  The aunt told me to put my birth-mother on the phone and I'm sure that she told her to leave and go calm down.  She did leave but I was sure this wasn't the end of it.  When my aunt got home we both decided it might be time for me to consider going back, at least until the baby arrived and the emotional stress was calmed.  At this point I was almost seven months pregnant and flying was not an option.  The Aunt was in no way able to drive me across country herself though I'm sure she would have if she could.  We decided that I would go by bus within the week.

The next day, I was surprised to hear from the counselor.  I told her I hadn't had much time to look at the print-outs she had given me, but that wasn't why she was calling.  She wanted to pick me up and take me out to eat and talk.  Well this is very odd, i thought and she had my attention.  I said of course and off we went.  When we sat down she looked at me and said, "I have struggled with whether this is the right thing to do.  As a counselor I shouldn't push anyone in any direction and I certainly shouldn't divulge my thoughts about someone's emotional state but I've been so impressed with you.  I want to tell you that what you are doing is admirable, and that what you've been through already is incredible.  But I'm worried that your situation here may turn in a negative direction." I stopped her there, knowing what she wanted to say and didn't want to say at the same time. I said, "I am aware of the strain this is putting on my birth-mother, she made that clear after we left.  I am going back to stay with my adoptive mom. I know that it's the right thing to do for everyone involved here the intensity is too great."  She smiled and slid a book across the table. "I am sorry to see you go if nothing but the loss of seeing how everything turns out for you.  You have really touched me and I can't explain why that is. But I'm glad you'll be safe and protected in this journey ahead. I feel as though God is watching you closely." The book she gave me was called "Dear Birth-Mother" and I've read it since that day maybe one hundred times. It's a compilation of stories and testimonials from and to birth-mothers, and it helps explain ways to deal with the particular loss felt when giving up a child.  If only my birth-mother had had the support that was given to me, maybe she would not have had to deal with more pain than she could carry on her own.

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