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18 months

February 11, 2014 § 19 Comments

Dear you,

Recently someone suggested that I write letters to you and save them for when you’re older. I don’t think I’ll do that. It’s hard to find the right words, to say what I mean without coming across too depressing, or disrespectful of your current life and family. And you might be surprised that a stranger you don’t know and don’t care to think about has written letters to you. But you’re not a stranger to me.

I feel like I’m not allowed to love you. But I do, so much. I cried when I realized you will be 18 months old. Your babyhood is over, and I missed all of it. I missed an entire stage of your life. I will continue to miss many more stages, I will miss out on everything, but this is the first of them. Days and milestones will keep flying by. Before I know it, you’ll have a lifetime that I don’t know about.

I wish I had even one way to express my love for you. Sometimes I think about sending presents for Christmas and your birthday. It’s scary to consider asking your parents’ permission to send a present, and I’m reluctant to pursue it. Your parents seem non-confrontational, so they might agree that I can send gifts, and then throw them away without opening them. Or give them to you without disclosing who they are from. Or they will think the worst of me, that I want to “have it both ways” or I’m trying to buy your love. Maybe you’ll think the same thing, that I’m being pathetic.

But, I always think about what I would get you.

On your first Christmas, in 2012, I looked enviously through patterns for booties, hats, and blankies. I don’t know how to knit or crochet, but I remember wishing I could make you something warm and soft. These booties look easy to make and they have a drawstring to tie them on…so adorable!

On your first birthday, I longed for a cutesy themed birthday party and I did your astrology chart. You’re a fiery, dramatic, big-hearted Leo, with an emotionally impulsive Moon in Aries, and just like me, your Ascendant is Sagittarius. I love astrology and I’ve put together in-depth natal charts for my friends and family. I hope I get to see your birthday party pictures. Your parents told me they were doing a joint celebration for you and your grandma who turned 70 on the same day. I think you should get a party for yourself; a first birthday is monumental. But it sounds like it was a big family gathering, which is good too.

Image

And this most recent Christmas, I went online and picked out this sweet angora bunny for you. He looks so soft and classic. I’m sure you are in no need of toys, but I wish you could have him. When I was your age, my lovey was a stuffed leopard, and he’s still with me. I was attached to many of my childhood stuffed animals, in fact.

So now, you are 18 months old. I know I’ve been long forgotten, but I miss you so much. I think about you every day; special occasions are further devastation. If I did send you gifts, they would be a small speck of everything I have inside of me that I wish I could give you. I hope I get to see pictures and read about you soon.

I love you,

- A.

deaf ears

January 12, 2014 § 10 Comments

Nothing I do or say matters. I will never be taken seriously. I cannot make anyone see what it’s like to be a birth mother.

I don’t like using that simplistic term, but I say it now because that’s what other people say, and often disrespectfully. They will not say you are a mother who lost her beloved baby shortly after birth. They will not believe in your love, in your tears, and your grief. They won’t understand what the big deal is. You made a lucky couple happy, you gave a child a “better” life, you get to pretend none of it ever happened. Win-win-win! Go back to whatever you were doing before. It doesn’t matter that you and your child are separated. You’re a BIRTHmother. You’re just a vagina and a belly pouch. An egg donor. That’s how you are viewed legally, medically, and socially, but worst of all is that your own child may be taught to view you this way, as less important, as someone not worthy of respect.

I am addressing a young lady I stumbled across who is planning on adoption for her unborn son. She is obviously middle-class, young, and LDS. As I live in a state that is 62% LDS, I am familiar with the religion and the culture, and the enormous value that they place on adoption is one of my strongest gripes with them. They are not simply a church that needs to move past their 1950s stance on single parenthood, they are also a global corporation that makes a handsome sum from infant adoption. So I don’t think I’m incorrect in saying that bishops and elders are extremely biased and therefore inappropriate people for an unmarried, pregnant woman to speak to.

I feel bad for this girl. I can only imagine the coercion present in being LDS and contemplating adoption. I merely had the grave misfortune of living in an adoption-friendly state and having the entire quality of my life affected by those same unjust laws, where sweet LDS ladies are allowed to separate families at the same speed as a fast food drive-thru window. But for this girl, the choice is already made–with plenty of input from her family, church, and community. And afterwards, there will be continuous pressure to be happy, obedient, grateful, to justify that pain to herself as being worth it. Is it really?

I’ve noticed that my most-viewed page, right after the home page that shows my most recent posts, is September 2012. Immediately after clicking on my blog and developing a morbid interest in another person’s grief storm, people want to read the beginning. I’m glad. My first few posts are the only ones that matter. Ever since then, there is nothing new, just the same pain, over and over and over again. I might gain some new perspective, I might suffer some new injustice, but I will always be marked and changed by that same fresh pain I wrote about only six weeks after giving up my baby. It still hurts.

If an expectant mom is considering adoption and reads this, that’s all I want them to know. That giving up a baby hurts. It hurts like nothing you’ve ever felt. That pain is not worth anything. It’s not worth your child being raised in a rich family. It’s not worth the freedom and mobility of being childless. It’s not worth the extra chances to move up the socioeconomic ladder. It’s not worth receiving those photos and those letters that are everything you will ever know about your child. It’s not worth making another couple happy.

Yes, there are some moms who think it was worth it and claim they are happy they gave away their children. They’re entitled to their beliefs. Just as I am entitled to my belief that they are often too brainwashed and scared to examine the situation honestly.

But which will you be?

Will you be at peace with adoption? Or will you be like me, who laughs at the thought?

There is no way to know while you are still pregnant.

I thought I would be fine with it. I believed I was different. I was sure I could handle it. I wouldn’t listen to anything that challenged me and made me sad or uncomfortable. I was just like you.

I understand the influences this girl has in her life, from her church and community, and I don’t expect to go against that. I didn’t jump all over her and criticize her. I never hoped to change her mind. All I suggested was that she waits before signing an irrevocable consent to relinquish. Wait longer than 24 hours or 72 hours, because they will want her signature as soon as legally possible. I said that you cannot process everything for days after giving birth, so give yourself that chance to leave the hospital and parent your baby at home. The adoptive parents have lots of time to bond with the baby if you choose adoption. And don’t worry about bonding “too much” with the baby, as I did. Adoption is not like pulling off a band-aid. It doesn’t hurt less just because you do it quickly.

Respectful advice, or so I thought. I never knew these things. I thought I had to sign after 24 hours. There is nothing bad that can come from having additional time to recover and make the decision with a clear head.

Instead I was criticized for being negative and for extrapolating my “bad experience” onto her.

No, we will never learn. We will keep believing what we want to believe until it’s too late.

new year announcement

January 8, 2014 § 22 Comments

Happy New Year, and I hope everyone had a nice Christmas! I didn’t update this and I tried to stay away from adoption stuff on the internet because I’m a sucker for Christmas, and I just wanted to enjoy mine. It was far better than last year’s Christmas.

I was busy with work all month, too. It was exhausting working so hard, but I welcomed the distraction and truly enjoyed doing everything I did to make the holidays easier and more pleasant for others. I work in the lingerie department, but December wasn’t a big bra-buying season. We were mostly selling sleepwear, winter hosiery, and bathrobes, although I have a few customers who shopped the entire store with me and that is always a good time. On Christmas, I thought of all the people I had spent time with, helping them find the perfect gifts for their loved ones, sharing conversation and laughs in the midst of holiday stress, and how much I was sincerely thanked. I thought of those loved ones tugging open the ribbons I’d carefully tied on, and unearthing their gifts from the tissue-lined boxes I’d put them in, and then smiling because they loved the gift or they loved the effort, or both. It made me incredibly happy to think about.

I just love Christmas. After working so hard all month, it was perfect to sit with my family and eat with them and exchange gifts, just taking a break from our lives to be together. The gifts I got for everyone were huge successes, too. I love that.

The older I get, the bigger of a cheeseball I am.

Speaking of, I’m dreading my 25th birthday on the 11th. I will probably do the same thing I did last year, which was go to work, go home, and pretend not to notice it.

For once, though, this new year is going to bring some interesting changes. I am more than ready! My life has been stagnant for too long. So not only are David and I saving to move in together in about six months, once we’re settled we have been talking about having another baby. For real this time though, one that we’ll be ready for, that I get to keep! I’m trying not to be excited; it will be months before anything happens. It will probably be closer to the next new year than this one. But already I can see a change in myself and in David. We are happier and full of hope, and although we can’t get back what we lost, we have something to look forward to now, something to live for.

hashing out

November 22, 2013 § 14 Comments

I’ve been thinking about this since I received the one-year update in September. I don’t want to write back to my son’s parents this time. I feel bad for it, but I just can’t.

  • Although there was the agreement of bi-yearly pictures and letters, nothing has been said about me writing back to them. I think that means I don’t have to write back each time. It’s optional.
  • I would never stop altogether, unless they ceased contact. I can’t see the openness agreement lasting beyond toddlerhood, though. If I am wrong, and we keep in touch while he’s old enough to feel disappointed, I would not skip out on writing, ever.
  • I simply don’t have much to say, aside from “thank you for the update.”
  • I’m sick of writing letters and mailing them off to the agency. I never would’ve agreed to that if I had known.
  • I’ve expressed a lot of gratitude in the past for updates. Surely I can skip that this once.
  • C asked me a lot of questions at the end of her letter that I don’t feel like answering. She asked if I still had my job, which I shouldn’t take offense to but I do a little bit. She also asked about school, which I’ve effectively dropped out of because it is so very hard to function. I can manage on a day-to-day basis, mostly, but I’m too preoccupied with suicidal ideation to think about or plan for the future. And college is entirely for the future.
  • I know all of the things they would like to hear, but I’m not willing to say them. While my son’s health and well-being is extremely important to me, and it’s truly nice of them to take time letting me know, my gratitude ends there. I’m not pleased for them or happy about what I did. I don’t think this was meant to be. A lot of adoptive parents say their child’s first parents have made such remarks, but I never ever would.
  • I don’t want to agonize or worry right now.

On the other hand, it may come across as strange that I am not writing back. For one, I eagerly wrote back in the past. For another, I was asked questions, so I should talk about myself. And I will, some other time.

I hope they don’t think my interest has waned because I “moved on,” or that I can’t handle the updates. That’s not entirely true. With all of my anger and regrets, I do kind of hate seeing and reading about their family. Harsh. But it’s not like I’ve forgotten about him and I need a piece of mail to remind me and ruin my day. I can definitely handle it.

This is what they say not to do–it’s not about what’s convenient or easiest for me. I think I ultimately know I should write back, I should keep reaching out, and there are no excuses for my behavior. But maybe more openness is not what’s best for everyone involved. And I never want to hurt my son, if it’s in my power not to. I’m not backing out completely. I will always do what I can for him but I am not going to give so much of myself to his adoptive parents who I don’t care about.

the juno myth

November 6, 2013 § 5 Comments

I have a lot of ideas floating around about what to write, too many actually. There’s so many things pertaining to my son, stuff I want to tell him and that I wish I could share with him. I hope I get around to writing some of that down. I also need to write someday about my sick obsession with baby stuff, and with having future little ones. Oh, and how people in the online childfree community are militant assholes. On second thought, that is probably all the space I should waste writing about those people.

Even though I have a blog and I write about adoption, a part of me dislikes the whole adoption blog thing. I keep considering deleting it all and never coming back. The other part of me, of course, is grateful for the communities, the good friends, the information and knowledge, and knowing I’m not crazy or alone. But I fear that the proliferation of adoption-related forums, blogs, and websites, including communities like Open Adoption Bloggers and Birthmom Buds, all serve to normalize the experience of giving a child up for adoption. To show off how much better it is now, and how open, and how different from the past. I happen to disagree.

I signed up for that OAB interview project and then withdrew from it because there are so many adoptive parents, waiting adoptive parents, and first parent apologists whose blogs I find way too triggering. I don’t need a reason to read any more of those. Most of the folks on there wouldn’t care for what I write as well.

Around the same time, I trimmed up my blog reading list–I don’t always mind reading adoptive parent blogs and points of view that I disagree with, but there are days when it’s too much and I can’t take someone else’s polemics. I often cannot tell if it’s one of those days or not until I’m actually reading, and then feel furious for several days straight. So, fewer blogs for me to read.

This November, I will be preserving additional sanity, and food in my stomach, by staying far away from mainstream media stories about adoption. A lot of bloggers I respect have written about why the adoption focus is misplaced. I also concur with this blogger that true adoption awareness would not be centered on promoting adoption, but on highlighting the numerous tragedies and the need for reforms. Furthermore I agree with Daniel that to achieve better awareness, the adoption discussion should not linger on the personal: anecdotes, emotions, opinions.

However, emotional discussions of adoption are not without merit.

The myth of Juno is relentless. By which I mean that we all want to believe giving up a baby is easy or even pleasant, that first mothers “move on,” and that knowing you made a “good” “decision” will make all the loss worth it. There is no malice on people’s faces when I tell them how I feel, sometimes exasperation and inconvenience, but mostly shock and utter bewilderment that giving up my baby was the least bit hard for me. I never knew it was hard, either. Where do we all pick up the same twisted beliefs? It never does occur to anyone that losing one’s child to adoption will result in suffering beyond imagination, and not for a few weeks, for months upon years, for a lifetime. Less than a week after my son was born, while I was still icing milk-engorged breasts, my no longer best friend said to me, “I never thought you’d be sad about it.” I have many more examples of thoughtless comments, but that one says it all.

So this month, as we all cast our adoption awareness wishes into a lifeless pond, my wish is to destroy the Juno Myth. We need to listen to our common sense, which tells us that, with few exceptions, mothers love their babies fiercely and want to raise them. I’m no different than anyone else. I wish people understood that–only so that my son will never grow up thinking that I don’t care, that I don’t love him more than life itself, that I didn’t want to keep him, that he is not a part of my family and my heart, because he always will be, no matter what happens, forever.

seasonal grief

November 5, 2013 § 5 Comments

I’ve neglected my little writing space here for too long and it needs to stop! I’m glad that I’ve at least been making an effort to live my life and not mope around on-line. But I literally have 7 or 8 drafts saved right now.

Sometimes I think this blog has served its cathartic purpose and I don’t need it anymore, which is wishful thinking more than anything else. If there was a limit to how many times you could feel the same strong emotion about the same person or the same situation, that might be true. I have said most of what is worth saying. But all the repetition in the world couldn’t wear me out. I love my little baby toddler boy, and I never stop missing him. Waking up, going to sleep, and everything in between is tinged with self-hatred, anger, betrayal, and loneliness. At least I get marginally better at mastering the grief and keeping busy in the winter.

The sadness seems to be seasonal. My son was born in August. Last year, as with this year, the more sensitive, immediate pain went into hibernation once the weather cooled, around October. I’m still depressed as fuck, and I pretty much always am. But it’s easier to think about it less, or to stay emotionally removed when I do think about it. The difference is hard to describe. But I know that, come April, the sadness will become a lot heavier.

The monthly holidays that come around in the winter definitely hit hard. I suppose I should be glad I don’t have to deal with the double whammy of seasonal adoption grief AND the winter holidays. I do get a small pang that I don’t get to take my son to place flowers on the graves of loved ones on Memorial Day, as is my family’s custom, or barbecue on the fourth of July. I hate Mother’s Day, though I still view the day as a simple appreciation of my own mom. Excluding my son’s birthday, spring/summer holidays are mostly painless compared to the endless procession of Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and then my stupid fucking birthday in January. I’ll be 25, which deserves another fuck word thrown in there.

halloween in 1992 - i'm the dalmatian, my sister is the rabbit.

halloween in 1992 – i’m the dalmatian, my sister is the rabbit.

Halloween has been rough for a while, because it was always my favorite holiday, and it’s sad to grow up and not be a kid anymore. I used to have the best Halloweens. This year, some friends and I went out dancing at a club, and I wore a sexy Pikachu costume. Before we left to meet up, I had a hysterical crying fit that took a long time for David to talk me down. It was pathetic and not pretty. I just have so much freedom, and I have so much guilt over it. I hate myself every time I go to a party or out dancing or anywhere with the purpose of mindless youthful fun. I never actually have fun. I know I don’t deserve it. And I know that what I really want on Halloween is to dress up my son and do something lame and corny with him. I don’t know what 14-month-olds do for Halloween–eating candy sounds like a bad idea, but maybe a pumpkin patch or a corn maze? Whatever it is, I wish I was doing it with him.

My adoption pain seems to come out of hibernation in April, when the weather warms up. I found out I was pregnant while I was around six months along, at the end of April in 2012. In late May, I went to the wretched adoption agency, believed all their lies, and a week later, picked out C and L. The rest of the summer felt like a blur of pregnancy: doctor appointments, growing belly, fatigue, aches, cravings, insomnia, vivid dreams, kicks and punches, discomfort, crying, sleeping, wearing the same 3 maternity outfits, feelings of shame and embarrassment in public, and ignoring the bonding that was taking place, even while he poked me and I poked him back. I had the most intense thoughts and feelings about my son who was growing inside of me. I loved him so much, but I couldn’t recognize it or understand what was happening. I disconnected from everything. I would tell myself over and over he wasn’t for me and I would hurt everybody if I changed my mind. All throughout spring and summer this year, I felt like I was experiencing that all over again. The darkness and confusion and crying every day and the sensation of spiraling out of control, and being so totally alone. It was hard to think about anything besides my son, wishing for one more chance to go back and do it differently, so that it could be the three of us going out to the park and playing in the warm weather. Instead I relive my past agony, this time knowing I can’t do anything to change what happened.

There’s not much I can do now, except enjoy the winter hibernation, stay busy and productive, and try to be stronger for the next April – August stretch.

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