Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Meant to be?

Many of my views on adoption have changed over time. One of these views is that my adoption was "meant to be". I've heard many people (including myself) say that their adoption was meant to be, that God had somehow planned all of this and everything went just right. I can't believe that anymore. I don't want to believe it. There is deep pain and loss in every adoption, on all sides.

 I believe that my son's parents were a perfect match for my situation, but I don't believe that I faced an unplanned pregnancy so they could have a child and I could become a birth mother. I don't think that the loss my son will feel over his adoption is meant to be. I don't believe that they went through the things that led them to adoption because they were meant to adopt my son. I don't believe that one day when my son asks about his birth father, he will be comforted by the sentiment of it was just meant to be. I believe deeply that we all did the best we could with the situations we were faced with, and were put into each others lives when we were needed. 

I have to believe that the choices I make matter. I don't want to believe that there is some greater plan out there and I have no choice, no free will. That would mean that I was never meant to be my son's mother and I can't believe that. It would hurt too much. 

Adoptions do not always go well. That is something I have seen so clearly over these past few months. I have seen open adoptions crumble and the emotional toll it takes. I have talked to women who feel like their only hope is when their birth child turns 18. They hold on to that hope because without it, they feel as though they will drown. I have seen adoptive parents hope that one day their child's birth parents will come back into the picture, so their children can feel loved and whole. Adoption is a scary world sometimes. The adoptive parents and birth parents I've talked to often feel like they have to "walk on eggshells". Both sides are scared that the other side will leave and they will be left to pick up the pieces. 

Is this all "meant to be"? Are these the lives that we all were given for whatever reason? I don't want to believe so. I believe that we are all trying to do the best we can with what we have. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

My views on Adoption Vs. Abortion.

The next person who encourages someone to "just choose adoption" over abortion may just get kicked in the shin. 

Well.... I won't actually kick anyone, but I may give you an earful. 

Adoption is NOT an alternative to abortion. It just isn't. In no way, shape, or form is one an alternative to the other. How is this? Well, abortion is an alternative to pregnancy and adoption is an alternative to parenting. These are TWO different choices that have to be made when faced with a pregnancy. Plain and simple (as plain and simple as this subject can be). You have to decide to either terminate the pregnancy or to continue being pregnant before you do anything else. You can't terminate and choose adoption or parenting. It just doesn't work.

Why am I choosing to write on this topic? It is something I feel strongly about. When I see people outside of Planned Parenthood protesting, it makes my blood boil. Every time I hear someone say "Just give the baby up for adoption!" or "I'll take your baby, give it to me!", the emotions flood through me so fast that it renders me speechless. How dare you? How dare you stand there and judge someone like that? First off, that woman may not even be going into Planned Parenthood for an abortion. They may just be getting a health check up. They offer cheap medical care to women who need it and it's an amazing service.

 Second, who are you to offer her the life of being a birth mother? Are you going to be there for her during her pregnancy? Hold her hand as she grows attached to this child? Be there in the delivery room as she gives everything to bring a life into this world? Are you going to pick her up off the floor when she's sobbing during placement day? What about after? When the anxiety hits or the depression. Are you going to pay for the therapy that she needs, make sure that she's taking care of herself? My guess is no, you aren't. Instead you are going to stand there and try to make her feel terrible about her life and her decision. 

What if medically she can't have this child? What if she will die during childbirth? "Oh that's so rare, you can't use that excuse."  I have a very close friend who can't handle being pregnant. It literally turns her body into a war zone and starts fighting itself. What about those women who are raped? "That's rare too, everyone always tries to use that excuse!" Nope. Not rare. Did you know that at least ONE in FOUR women are raped in this country? One in four. That is 25%, and it is probably even more than that.

Adoption isn't easy. It is never "Just" anything. It is the single hardest thing that I've ever done. I don't regret carrying my pregnancy to term and choosing adoption, but it was MY choice. It was my choice to make and that is why I can have some peace about it. I've seen what happens when a woman is coerced into adoption instead of abortion and she is devastated. She did not make this choice on her own and now she gets to live with the choices that someone else made for her.  Are you going to take responsibility for that? For causing someone else to suffer deep anxiety and depression? Are you going to help her pick up the broken pieces? Oh, you aren't? Well then you should probably stop telling women to "just choose adoption".

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Grief as a birth mother

One thing I didn't know about being a birth mother is the grief. I knew I would grieve, but I didn't realize that it wouldn't hit me right away. It didn't hit me until about a month or so ago, several months after placement. I also didn't realize that it was not an event to conquer and move on from, it will be a part of me forever. Grief will always be ingrained in my soul. Suddenly, I'm in this black hole that I can't get out of. It feels like part of me has died: the mother that should have been. When I explain this to anyone who isn't a birth mother, I can tell they feel I'm overreacting. Admittedly, I can be a bit dramatic, but this is not theatrics. I've often heard this feeling described as mourning the loss of your motherhood. Grief is overwhelming, it is one of the most powerful feelings that I have ever experienced. 

Sometimes, it takes everything in me to just get out of bed. I don't want to. I don't want to face the world and figure out where I fit, post-placement. I see a child and my arms ache. I hear of a new pregnancy or birth and it makes me sad. Someone talks about getting induced and I panic, remembering what happened to me during my induction. Some days are worse than others. Sometimes I feels like I'm never going to be okay again. I know that I'll never be the same. I will never be as "carefree" as I once was. I look at everything from the eyes of a mother; a birth mother. The world has changed, if only from where I'm standing.

 I was never taught how to handle grief. It isn't something that we allow as an open part of our culture in America. You can't grieve in public without people looking at you like you're crazy. People don't want to hear how hard it is. They want to hear how much you love your child and how grateful you are to have an open adoption because "it could be worse". I'm tired of hearing "you should be happy because your child is happy." I am elated at his happiness, but I am also devastated that he is not with me. I feel guilty for grieving because my child is alive and thriving. I feel guilty that I share my grief so openly, because I know that it concerns those who care about me. My brain is a complicated mess of emotions, as is the case with many birth mothers that I know. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

When adoption consumes you

As I looked around my living room this morning, it hit me.  Thousands of people have been reading about my journey, they "know" me as much as you can know someone that you read about. The problem is that I don't know me anymore. I don't really know who I am.  The pictures and guitars on the wall are not mine. I didn't pick out the rug, the coffee table, or the lamp. I can't tell you the story behind these pieces. The bookshelf against the window is mine, but it is full of books that I haven't read in months. I haven't read any book in months. 

The few things that belong to me are all adoption based items. The picture frame that J and K gave me for Mother's Day sits on the island, the photo album on the coffee table. There is the blanket that I used to cuddle my son in the hospital with, and a box full of his clothes and the mementos that I am lucky enough to keep. My stuffed bear that matches his sits on top of the baby blanket my grandmother made. These are the things that define me now, these are the items that hold my heart.

I used to love to read, that was the first thing I would tell people when they asked about me. Now, when people ask about me, the first thing that jumps to mind is the fact that I'm a birth mother. I have a son and we have an open adoption. But... what else? Who am I? It's like I can't remember. There's a BA (before adoption) and an AA (after adoption). Everything BA seems so far away and unreachable.

  I know that before the adoption, I liked going out with friends. We would drink fruity drinks and flirt with strangers, always making sure we all got safely home with each other at the end of the night. I loved cooking and trying new things. I liked to watch trashy reality TV shows with my cousin, and eat until we thought we were going to explode. Just one more bite turned into finishing all of the food we ordered and we would lay there and talk about how miserable we were. I would splurge on getting my hair done and loved to wear dresses. I was always up for a challenge.

Now, it's like discovering who I am all over again. The adoption has consumed me and I don't know who I am outside of it. The scar from my C Section still tingles if you touch it, and it is a glaring reminder of the child that is not with me. I haven't went out drinking and dancing in over a year. I don't know if I'd even want to anymore. Random strangers trying to hook up with me? No thank you. It's not worth it. I still cook, but it's like my body forgot how to eat. The sickness I felt through pregnancy seems to follow me. I feel drained and tired. I can't watch any show or movie without thinking about the adoption. I start crying at the everything, like a child being mistreated. I never realized how many negative adoption stereotypes were really out there until now. My hair is long and curly again, but still falling out from giving birth. I haven't had it done since before I was pregnant. I mostly pull it into a pony tail and try to pin back the crazy little hairs that like to escape. The thought of dating again makes me want to stay single for the next twenty years. I am forever changed.

Another birth mom challenged me to find out who I am. She told me to take being a birth mother out of the equation and focus on other things. So here are some random facts about me.

- I love the idea of travel. Until lately I have always been so afraid of being alone, but now the thought of traveling where I want, when I want, excites me.

- I am compassionate. I see things differently now, and that's okay. I have become softer and kinder. I have become a better friend. I reach out to people when I see that they are hurting and make sure that they know they are not alone.

- I am a student. I have thrown myself back into school and I am good at it. I am smart and passionate about getting my degree in social work.

- I want to help people in my life.

- I want to parent children one day. (I know, I know. What they said about a really cute baby making you forget throwing up for 9 months is true)

- I love the idea of being stable one day. I want to get married, have a house, and work on my career.

- I am strong. This ties into being a birth mother, but it is something that I never knew about myself. I never realized how truly strong I am. I can get through anything.

- I love watching Netflix movies and just hanging out. Cuddling up in bed and doing something mindless is so helpful on the hard days.

- I can love deeply and without reservation.

That is all I can think of right now, but it is a start. I encourage you to make your own list if you are struggling. Write down the things you know about yourself, and it will help ground you. Remember, there is always someone out there willing to listen if you reach out for help. Someone cares about you.