Sunday, November 17, 2013
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
"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
Monday, July 15, 2013
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
Sunday, June 30, 2013
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
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.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
To be honest, I'm not sure how much time passed, everything was a fuzzy mess of hours, minutes, seconds without him. Eventually, however, I got out of bed. My mom and I went shopping, because that is what we do when we are stressed, it's one thing we've always shared for better or worse. Life was no where near normal, and I knew if I survived this that I would never have the same normal. But at least I was out of bed and the pain didn't seem quite so intense. I still cried everyday for him, but my mind and heart were slowly recognizing that he was alive, happy, and well cared for. Those thoughts gave me something to be thankful for, and the thankfulness granted me hope for healing.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Monday, June 17, 2013
I held him so close, whispering all my hopes and dreams for him. I told him how loved he was by not only me, but by everyone we had met along this path, and by his new parents waiting down the hall. I told him how much I would cherish this time with him, and that he had saved me. He was my angel, one that had already changed my life in such a profound way. I still remember the way he looked at me, like he understood every single word falling from my trembling lips. I remember the way he smelled, it was the most amazing scent in the world. I would be keeping his first clothes, the shirt and hat that still held this wonderful smell. I knew the moment to say goodbye was coming fast, and I also knew that I wasn't strong enough to face it.
I know for a fact that in these last few minutes with him, there were many prayers sent up for us. I sent my mom down the hall to give his new parents the only thing I had left that was of any value. It was my high school ring. I thought that, when they someday gave it to him, it would act as a symbol and give him a glimpse of the person I was. When she returned from this errand, it would be time to go.
We had decided the day before, because I might lack the strength when the time came, that I would leave without being part of the "exchange". We would go home, and his new parents would have time to spend with him, and ask questions while they were still in the hospital setting. It seemed the best way for everyone, at the time. I was dressed, bags packed, and my discharge paper-work had been signed. This was it, the moment of goodbye. In a minute my mom would walk back through that door, a nurse would take my son from my arms, and I would be walking away. Suddenly, I realized that none of this was right.
I shakily stood up, baby cradled in my arms. At that same moment my mom came back through the door. I told her I had changed my mind, that I had just realized that I absolutely HAD to be the one to put him in his new mother's arms. She smiled and began to cry in the same second, and together we slowly made the final walk down the hall, toward his waiting parents and new life.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I was awakened by what seemed to be a stampede of wild animals. The doctor and two nurses flew in to the room, explaining that the baby's heart rate had dropped very low. Frightened, I sat up quickly and let them lift the gown. The astonishment was apparent in my doctor's face, then they all smiled. "Well, that explains it, he's crowning! It's time to push!" Dazed, I pushed- or at least thought I did, how can anyone tell when they can't feel a thing below the waist? Nonetheless, I made quick work of it and within fifteen minutes my son was born.
I did not understand why they took him away at first, I did not realize they had to do so much before I got to hold him. But then, he was there, in my arms, and I was desperately in love with him. The incredible journey leading up to this miraculous moment, completely disappeared. Nothing mattered but this beautiful child, and he was perfect. Over the next few days, the comments from the nurses- how he seemed so much older than any newborn they had ever seen, holding his head up, focusing on people- confirmed what I already knew, there was no doubt in my mind that this boy was special.
Three of my friends came in shortly after he was born and I will always remember their reaction to my appearance: "Your hair isn't even messed up! You just gave birth and you still look perfect." I suppose those words stay with me not only because I was completely flattered, but also because I FELT perfect, like the whole thing was just way too easy. Looking back, I think my easy labor and delivery was yet another part of a well orchestrated plan.
I don't think the hospital staff had been in very many situations like mine, and it was interesting to see the differences in the way they each reacted. I had filled out paperwork prior to his birth that included a list of approved guests. The main reason for this list was the understanding that this was MY time with my son. A few understood and tried to give me as much time alone as possible. A few others, though meaning well, let anyone who came by in the door. And there was one, that seemed to think that I shouldn't be spending so much time with him, that I needed rest, to whom I explained that I could sleep when I left the hospital, but right now he stays with me.
His adoptive parents stayed in the family waiting room outside the unit. I knew that they wanted to see him and meet me, but I just wasn't ready for that. In fact, the more time I spent in that room the more convinced I became that I didn't want to meet them at all, and would not be able to handle being present when they left with him. Of all the careful planning I'd endured, I had not considered how this "exchange" would take place. Perhaps it was selfish, but I honestly didn't want them to have him until the minute I had to let him go. I remember resenting my mother when I discovered that she had sneaked down the hall with him. I was angry with her for making that call because it was mine, whether she felt it was right or not. It's easy to see now why she did it. They wanted to see him, they were parents in a hospital eagerly awaiting the first glimpse of their son. She was an adoptive parent herself and knew more than anyone else what they were going through in these moments. I forgave her of course, as I said, it was easy to see why she'd acted on her feelings - but what if I changed my mind? What if I realized that I was not able to follow through with the adoption? I still had time, and the legal right to do just that. Now that he was in my arms, it was nearly impossible to see anyone being strong enough to let go.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
The next month and a half was blissfully normal. I went to check-ups, ultrasound appointments, and birthing classes. I was placed on bed rest for the last six weeks because I had dilated four centimeters a little too quickly and a little too soon. I ate Chinese food and lots of ice cream. My mom and I bonded so much during this time, I believed us to be closer than we ever had before. I know it was an interesting experience for her to be on this side of things. After all, she never actually got to experience pregnancy for herself, and now was able to vicariously through me.
I continued to correspond with my son's chosen family, learning more about them and feeling more secure in my choice. Their lawyer was largely responsible for all the particulars regarding the adoption, which saved me time and unnecessary stress associated with the legal process. I did have to decide how much, if any, contact and involvement I wanted with them once the adoption was finalized. In private adoptions, the choice to be involved is a wonderful one. Some mothers are able to physically watch their children grow and be a huge part of their lives. Some choose no contact in order to heal from the loss. His prospective adoptive parents wanted me to be as involved as I wanted. I thought a long time, searching my soul, and contemplating my own situation growing up. It's never easy to decide something before you truly know how you feel, or how you will feel in the future. I looked at how much hurt and pain my birth-mother had carried with her, how palpable it was even now twenty years later. Was part of that pain because she just simply had no idea if I was alright? Alternately, I thought about my early teenage years and wondered if I had known my birth-mother then, would I have threatened to leave my mom in a moment of anger, breaking her heart in the process? I decided that, what was right for me, was that I would not interfere with their parenting, or potentially risk confusing my son, by being too present in their lives. I requested that I receive pictures and updates several times a year, so that I knew how he was and what was going on in his life. I told them if he ever wanted to meet me once he was eighteen, or even slightly younger if he was ready, I would cherish that meeting. But that if he decided he did not want to meet me, I would respect that wish as his. It was scary to make a decision that would be firm for so many years into the future, but I felt, as always, that his emotional well-being must be considered above everything else.
The weeks quickly passed as did my due date. I was scheduled to be induced one week after that date. The days just before his arrival, I felt overwhelmed, knew I felt overwhelmed. Yet, this quiet sense of peace slowly filled my thoughts and actions. The change was so subtle that it went unnoticed in my conscious state, but when I woke up the morning of my son's planned birthday, I was undeniably ready.
The bags were already packed, plans set, adoptive parents called on their way. I looked at my mom, and she looked at me, and then off to the hospital we went.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Much to my dismay, being home again didn't alleviate my stress by any means. What did happen was that, because I was left to my own devices during the day while my mom worked, the conflict I faced became internal rather than external. I was somewhat blindsided by emotions, thoughts, and memories of the past few years, moments in time that I had not allowed myself to deal with. It seemed as though, while in survival mode, I had pushed reality down so far that I wasn't even aware of it anymore. Mentally returning from this self-imposed apathy was like the aftermath of a storm. Choices I'd made, people I'd lost, those I had hurt during my incredibly manic and selfish phase swam around in my head, frequently leaving me a mess of tears. Some I reached out to, some I vowed to at a later date, and finally some had to be let go. I could not give up, I could not dwell on the past. I owed someone a life, a good life, and I had to push past the heartbreak and gain clarity if I was going to make the right decisions for him.
I didn't leave the house much. My friends would visit, call, and occasionally make me get out for a while. But what I needed was the solitude and those around me understood this. I was healing, slowly, and I knew that I would have to also steel myself for the days ahead. It seemed in the few weeks I was home, a year passed, I had all this time now. I wasn't running anymore, I wasn't fighting anymore. And this may have been the strangest and most difficult lesson of all, learning to stand still.
My mom's sister called one night. She lived out of state and had mentioned to her church family the decision I was facing and asked for prayer on my behalf. She was introduced to a woman who said her daughter and son-in-law had been trying to adopt for a while, and would it be alright if she mentioned my situation to them. My aunt wanted my permission first, not knowing if I had other options in mind. I said yes, and that if they were interested in contacting me, I would be open to that as well. Something about the chance exchange between these two women felt serendipitous to me and I was intrigued.
A short time, and several phone calls later I received a letter from the perspective adoptive mother. I had asked her to tell me about herself, her husband, why they wanted to adopt, and so forth. She sent me a copy of their file from the adoption agency they had been with in their attempt to find a child, which included background checks, Bios, and interview notes. All of these were outstanding, but what most impressed me was her letter. It was hand-written (which I have always preferred) and completely honest. It was not a desperate plea for my child, it was not filled with expectation. The tone was hopeful, and the words came from her heart. I knew that I loved this woman for my child, knew that this was what I had been holding out for. I had never been so sure of anything.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
The goodbye at the station was so hard, and it would be the last time I saw the Aunt. I'll always love her. She was an amazing person who seemed to intuitively know just what I needed. I think perhaps out of the entire family I met there, we were the most alike. When the bags were all loaded and the bus began boarding, I hugged her tight. I thanked her for everything and promised to call her often. With tears, we parted and I took my seat on this bus that would take me across the country, and back to my home.
The ride was incredibly long, it was going to take me roughly 36 hours. I'm not ashamed to say I was feeling frightened and alone. I was now very pregnant but still a waif and some of the people on this bus were intimidatingly large. The bright spot, and there just always seems to be one, was the gentleman seated across the aisle from me. Ironically, he was the biggest person on the bus. When I wasn't napping he would chat with me, eventually asking how far along in the pregnancy I was and why in the world I was travelling across country in my condition. He was older, perhaps mid-thirties, and reminded me of "Bear" from the movie Armageddon. He had an easy laugh and incredibly deep soothing voice. I told him a short version of the story, and that I was going home. He shared stories of his own and we passed the long hours together. He was from Tennessee and the lay-over in Knoxville was the only stop where I would have to board a different bus.
I had to wait three hours in the station for the next, and final leg of this journey and those were the longest three hours of my life. The station was dark inside, it was three in the morning, and we were in the middle of downtown. I noticed my "Bear" keeping an eye on me, occasionally checking in to make sure I was safe. Here was another angel I thought. His bus left an hour before mine, and we simply smiled and waved at each other as he disappeared from my life. The significance of his random kindness will be with me always, he was literally a light in the dark.
I didn't have a Bear on the next bus, but I was so exhausted that I slept almost the entire ride. As we neared our destination, my anticipation and excitement grew. Soon I would be able to rest, reflect, and be with the people that knew me the best. My mom was there when we arrived and I fell into her open arms. I was home, safe and sound. The chaos was over and I would be allowed to focus on what was most important in this moment, the arduous task of finding my son's adoptive parents.
Monday, May 6, 2013
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.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
After some time alone, I decided to stay put for the time being. While this was not the outcome she was hoping for, my birth-mother provided for me anyway. She located and obtained an apartment for me to stay on a very temporary basis and stocked the place with plenty to eat, she provided for me financially, and helped me clean up a legal matter that had not been completely closed when it should have. She never asked for the money to be paid back, she only asked that I continue to consider the possibility of going back with her. She made the trip back to her home and family and I was comfortable, for the time being.
I wanted to be able to pay her back for her generosity and thought the best way would be to get a job. Then I could support myself, perhaps afford to pay some of the bills for the apartment so it wouldn't be such a strain on her. I started working at the very same place I'd haunted before. And as time moved forward, I started to feel the manic clouds of the past few years lift. I was finally starting to feel grounded again. It was a great feeling.
When she found out that I had started working she was not happy. She said I shouldn't be working in my condition and that if I would just come live with her I wouldn't have to. She wanted me to get to know her family and be comfortable during the remainder of my pregnancy. I was confused by her reaction, I can look back now and say she most likely saw me getting a job as assurance that I would not be coming to stay with her at all. I finally said yes. This is what she wanted, this would be the way to return her kindness financially and I realized it might be an opportunity I may never get again. So, it was arranged for her to pick me up. This time, she brought her husband and the kids with her.
After a very long trip across the country we had time to talk and to get to know one another better. Even so, I still didn't trust her - though I desperately wanted to. She represented a potential second chance, I could start over here. I met her mother and the Aunt whom I assume she was going to sell me to shortly after our arrival. Curiously enough, I instantly loved this Aunt. She had an ease in her smile and no pretense about her, which was refreshing given the intensity of the others.
The afterglow and promise of the trip quickly wore off. Things became tense and conversation extremely difficult with my birth-mother. I felt as if she wanted something from me that I could not provide and I had no idea what that could be. I spent a lot of time in the room provided for me, talking online with my friends, reading, and sleeping. I suppose I would have to admit to avoiding the family on the other side of that door, I just wasn't sure how to feel comfortable. She finally broke down one night and I won't deny, it frightened me. She made it clear that she resented the defenses I had built between us, she resented the fact that I did not see her as my mother or even as someone I could talk to openly. I apologized for the distance, I tried to explain that it was not intentional. But the fact remained, she would never be my mother. The woman back home that raised me, no matter how estranged we had become, would always be my mother and nothing would ever change that. I do believe that my birth-mother had a preconceived notion as well. One that portrayed how she saw our relationship developing after she found me. Maybe because of my situation she thought she could gain my trust through her actions, which were very kind indeed, but because I didn't immediately trust her she was frustrated and hurt. It's completely understandable in some respects but in that moment, I simply did not know what to do. I couldn't be what she wanted me to, and I felt terrible for it. On the other hand, I also felt as if she were being unfair to me. After all, she was a complete stranger, someone I hardly knew and someone with whom I had no history on which to base a relationship. Perhaps she had felt connected to me on some level over the years, but the same was not true for me.
Ironically, my birth-mother thought that I needed to work after all and I began working for the Aunt's business. I really enjoyed it and also got the chance to talk to others my own age. It was suggested that I should stay with the Aunt as well. Perhaps this would lessen the anxiety of the situation between my birth-mother and I, and it did for a time. I had a wonderfully easy relationship with this woman, she had no expectations of me and we enjoyed each others company. It was a good fit for the situation and talking with her helped me understand my own feelings as well as those of my birth-mother. I finally began to relax a bit and felt that this was where I was supposed to be.
My birth-mother called one day and asked if I would be interested in going to see a counselor with her. She felt I might need a professional to talk to about my baby and thought it would be good for me to have an impartial conversation about adoption. I thought it was a fabulous idea and so on the day of the appointment, she picked me up. This day would be yet another turning point, one that I can say with certainty, I never saw coming.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
I did not have time to process any of these thoughts because she came in and immediately started walking toward us. She looked at me and and the first words out of her mouth were "I knew I'd recognize you". I believe I fumbled over the word "hello" and then got up and proceeded to engage in the most awkward hug I've ever given in my life. (And yes, I am a "hugger" so that's really, very awkward.) The conversation was slow and that's a very nice way to put it. Thank goodness for my very talkative friend because she was constantly chiming in. "Look, now we know where you got your eyes!" she said during one such lull. Of course, I then took a peek and she'd been right, I had her eyes. I guess you could say I was a bit surprised that she didn't look exactly like me. Her hair was different, face was a different shape, similar frame but not nearly as small. I don't think I ever acknowledged that I had a preconceived image of my birth-mother, but apparently, I did. And if I had been the one to walk in after her, I wouldn't be able to boast the same recognition as she had with me.
I slowly became more comfortable as the initial shock wore off and we chatted a bit about her family whom she had waiting for her back home. It turned out I had a half sister and brother who were both under two years old. She had married the man who had stayed by her side throughout her ordeal surrounding my birth, and they were currently living with her mother for both financial and health reasons. This first meeting turned out pretty positive, I think, for both of us. I was thankful to have my friend there, however, because I don't believe it would have gone nearly as well if she had not been present. We decided that my birth-mother would pick me up the next day and take me back to the hotel she was staying at in order to show me some of the pictures and documents she had brought with her. That next meeting was just the two us and I instantly realized that I was not comfortable with this woman. Something was not meshing for me. I did not doubt that she was my birth-mother, I did not fear her intentions, I had no argument with myself on why I would feel so uncertain. Yet, I did feel uncertain and I would later discover the source of that vague notion. For now, it manifested as a wall separating us and kept me at arms length. On this second meeting, she asked me to leave with her, to travel across the country and meet my birth-family.
Monday, April 29, 2013
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
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
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
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
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.