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Archive for the ‘visits’ Category

Lucky

I just wrote about my path to relinquishment. Even writing my truth I feel guilty. I feel I need to balance it with happy talk so as not to offend anyone. Which, I do know is an impossible goal, but still I try.

I got lucky. Regardless of how I ended up signing those papers. I got lucky. I got lucky that a wonderful couple’s profile was in the stack sent to me by the facilitation service. I got lucky that they didn’t care about gender or race or distance. I got lucky that they were every bit as fantastic in person as on the paper and on the phone.

I got lucky that they desired openness. I got lucky that our personalities aligned and our openness grew. I got lucky that Kidlet doesn’t remember a time without me visiting. I got lucky that Kidlet was in my wedding. I got lucky that I was in his Bar Mitzvah.

I got lucky.

I am lucky.

I am the exception, but not the rule. Too many don’t get lucky. Too many experience broken promises and closed adoptions. Too many find out the couple they read about on paper or met at the agency doesn’t really exist at least not in the way they’d portrayed themselves.

And so I continue on, acknowledging my luck and recognizing all the reform that needs to be done.

Open Adoption RoundTable #37: The Visit Hangover

The question Heather poses over on Open Adoption Bloggers for the current OAR is short, only seven words and yet it’s not easy to answer…but then again are they ever?

How do you feel after a visit?

My visits are a bit different than most of the other first moms I know.  Since Kidlet and his family live on the opposite side of the country our visits don’t last a few hours or even a day (except for that one).  They last a week or more (maybe ten-ish days). I also stay at their home so thats a week to ten days of round the clock adoption visit.  It’s intense to say the least.  Not that I’m complaining, I love my visits.

However, due to the intensity and the me being in Kidlet’s presence for a long time I spend a lot of time trying to control myself and my emotions.  Do you know how much energy it takes to be at an open adoption visit and regulate your emotions for a week to ten days?

So how do I feel afterwards?

Barb summed it up so accurately

Exhausted. Sad. Angry. Weird. Confused. Amazed. Numb. Contemplative. Grumpy. Listless. Misunderstood. Nonessential. Overstimulated.  A whole bunch of “oh shit

as well as when she said

 I never knew if it was right to hug him.  I never knew if he liked me or even wanted to be there (in the last few).  I never knew whether it was right to say “hey, I do that too!” or “I was good at that too!”.

Last summer before my most recent visit M told me it’s ok to show those emotions.  It’s okay to be that one person who comes just to see Kidlet and to have emotion about it.  It’s okay to cry etc.  And yet I have SO. MUCH. EMOTION. even when I’m trying to be real and let it show I need to regulate it to not flood Kidlet with my emotion letting out a year or two of emotions at once would overwhelm me who knows what it would do to a 10 year old.

So in light of all that after a visit I feel hungover.  Thats the only way I can describe it. A post visit hangover.

Open Adoption RoundTable #35: Grandparents

Heather has asked that for this OAR we write about adoption and grandparents. Click through to see the other responses to the prompt.

My mother, Kidlet’s biological maternal grandmother, was the first (non hospital staff) to hold him. She was in the operating room during my c-section and held him up to my face as they closed my incision.

My father, Kidlet’s biological maternal grandfather, wheeled me down to the NICU to see Kidlet after we’d been separated for post op recovery.

And yet despite these very distinct memories I have a lot of anger and resentment toward my parents. I’m trying to get past it. To let it go. But, it’s not that easy.

During my pregnancy I felt alone. Ignored. I remember the harsh words more clearly than the gentle moments, and in turn I want to punish them in a similar way to how I felt punished.

Any time I was sick, whether it was pregnancy related or a migraine I’d be reminded that it was my own fault.

When TheEx’s parents kept pushing adoption my parents didn’t stand up for me. Didn’t even hint that maybe I could be a good mother.

A year after placement my mother gave a bunch of baby clothes to a friend. Baby clothes she’d bought for Kidlet without telling me. I’d believed my parents when they’d said I’d see no help from them. How was I to know they’d been stocking up on baby clothes on anticipation of me parenting.

When they ask for new pictures or information I want to hold out on them. I want to withhold their grandson. The grandson they are partially responsible for living 3000 miles away.

I know my parents love me and Kidlet. Without a doubt. I also know they were being true to our family’s communication style (or lack thereof). I try not to hold it against them, but it’s hard.

It’s hard, when M suggests momma and I stay with them when she and I go to their state for some genealogy research in 2013. I want to yell, “why should she get to infringe on my Kidlet time. What right does she have?! ”

She has the same right any other grandmother has. Perhaps that’s the key. Remembering them as Kidlet’s grandparents, imperfect as they may be instead of as my imperfect parents.

Open Adoption RoundTable #33: What I’ve Learned

To end 2011 Heather has chosen an prompt for the 33rd OAR that has us looking back at our open open adoption lessons from the year:

“What did you learn about open adoption in 2011?”

For me those lessons have been many, but I will try to summarize even though brevity is not my friend.

Lesson 1: I am not alone. I knew this before 2011 but I know it differently now. The adoption blogosphere is huge and can be wonderfully supportive but it can also feel lonely at times. Its hard to explain but it was kind of like yeah there are people out there somewhere who get it, who get me, but I’ll never really know them instead I’ll forever be surrounded by these people who don’t get me and don’t even try. That has changed. Starting with the PNW adoption blogger meet up SEA edition and then the PNW adoption blogger meet up PDX edition.  Next came BlogHer’11 followed closely by Coordinators2 Opening Adoption Symposium.

I’ve had my friends inside my computer (and phone since that’s where I do most of my interneting these days) forever but even though they aren’t right around the corner (although some are) I feel like they are. I know they are just a tweet, text, email, or heaven forbid phone call away. And if it’s really necessary I’m sure there is a door step or two I could show up on.

Lesson 2: I have a voice and I need to use it. It’s been three months since the heart to heart between M and I where I admitted my fear that she and J would close the adoption despite having absolutely no indication that they’d ever do such a thing. I’m not going to say my fears are cured I have anxiety, a panic disorder, and am slightly neurotic (but in a totally lovable way). What I will say is that I am confident in my relationship with J&M and Kidlet because of that conversation. I increased my ability to trust with that conversation and I have a strong trust no one rule.

I’m trying this whole using my voice, having healthy mature adult conversations in other parts of my life as well, but since this is an OAR we’ll talk about that another time.

Open Adoption RoundTable #31: Persistent Fears

Heather has posted the latest Open Adoption RoundTable prompt.

Write about open adoption and being scared.

Ten years into this open adoption life I am still scared. It’s gotten better since my talk with M in Virginia but when I stop making myself think rationally and relax a bit the anxiety creeps back in. And when that happens so does the fear. Because one conversation doesn’t erase a lifetime of neurosis no matter how much I wish it did.

I’m still scared that each contact will be our last. Each visit. Each phone call. Each text. Each FB message. Each email. Rationally I know the adoption is not closing but irrationally when my anxiety takes over as it does from time to time I can’t help but think the reason they matched with someone so far away is do they wouldn’t have to maintain a relationship and I’m scared I won’t live up to expectations and they’ll decide they and the boys are better off without me.

I’m scared Kidlet will be so angry with me he won’t be able to hear my reasons. He won’t want a relationship. He won’t want contact. He won’t love me.

I’m scared I’ll never heal. Never be whole never be anything other than a birth mom.

Open Adoption Roundtable #25:I Won’t Walk Away

I’m not sure if Heather is clairvoiant or just a genius, but as always the roundtable topic is timely.

In January we responded to a series of questions about how hard open adoption is, my January post can be found here and you can find a list of the other January OAR posts here.

This time we’ll take it a step further and explore the question:

Has open adoption ever felt like too much? Have you ever wanted to walk away?

For the last few weeks I’ve been taunted by a recurring twitter post and a half finished blog post sits in my drafts folder about it. Basically, I saw an obnoxious tweet and chose to ignore it.  Then I saw it again and rolled my eyes and continued on with my day.  Then it popped up a third time and I typed up a reply but never tweeted it hitting delete instead. The fourth time I saw it I grabbed a screen shot and debated blogging about it not wanting to give the offending tweeter an extra publicity…so I crossed out the name and url…

and then i sat and stared at the computer screen and wanted to scream “ADOPTION ISN’T MEANT TO BE EASY ASSHOLE” Because really it’s marketing like that right there that is the problem, or at least part of the problem.  Convincing people that it’s supposed to be easy and then they’re shocked when it isn’t.  Because as we discussed in January Adoption isn’t easy.

So back to the current prompt, Has open adoption ever felt like too much.  Short answer YES.

Long answer: It’s too much to watch someone else raising your child. It’s too much to watch him display behaviors and wonder if it’s your fault either because of your genes or because your presence has thrown off his routine.  It’s too much to watch him be comforted by someone else. It’s too much  to wish that pristine medical history you gave at 18 could stay pristine each time you call and report yet another illness that has cropped up in the family.  It’s too much to have to explain adoption to your five year old niece who wants nothing more than to have a sleepover with her cousin.  It’s too much to watch your sister sharing all the family traditions with her kids that you will never get to share with yours. It’s all just too too much.

Have I ever wanted to walk away? No, not really.  Open adoption is hard and all sorts of too much, but I don’t think closed adoption would be easy and it would have it’s own aspects that were also too much.  Too much not knowing, not getting to watch and see and too much wondering. Losing Kidlet to adoption the first time did things to me, it changed me.  Losing the small bit of him I have of him through openness would kill me stop me in my tracks for a long long while. And yet, while the question is clearly phrased asking if I’ve ever WANTED to walk away you may have noticed that in one of the posts I linked to I  was prepared to do just that.  I’d do anything for that kid so if a time comes where he needs me to step back I’ll do it but until then no amount of “hard” or “too much” is going to make me want to walk away.  I won’t abandon him a second time.  I won’t do it.

Open Adoption Roundtable #23: Brevity and I Have Never Met

Heather has posted a new Open Adoption Roundtable writing prompt. This time the questions come from O Solo Mama. Some adoption bloggers had already responded to these questions.  I stayed out of it, having been in a place where I don’t feel I have anything particularly wise or helpful to add to the discussion. However, as I’m trying to pull myself from that place I will attempt to weigh in on these questions.

1. If open adoption is so great, why do so many people suck at it? By this I mean, not honouring commitments, closing the adoption, telling the other family they’re not “doing this thing” correctly or playing the “for the sake of the child” card?

Short Answer: People “suck” at open adoption because of lack of preparation.

Long Answer: Open Adoption is hard.  But more than that, it’s hard and isn’t sold that way.  I don’t know what J&M were told of the complexities of Open Adoption, but I was told next to nothing and NEVER was I told it would be hard.  I think people decide to not honor commitments, close the adoption, etc because they commit to too much at the beginning and it’s overwhelming and emotional.  And when they start to feel it’s hard and emotional and overwhelming when they weren’t told it would be they think, this isn’t working.  This is wrong.  This must stop.

*DISCLAIMER* When I say “too much” whats too much for one person might not be too much for another so in the example I’m about to give it may not have been too much for you, but it would have been for me.

If at the beginning of our adoption we had agreed on frequent (monthly or quarterly; or even annual at that point perhaps) visits I do not think our adoption would be as open as it is now.  I was an emotional wreck in the months following the adoption.  I remember breaking down in tears in one of my college classes because we were discussing/debating the practice of interracial adoption.  I’m a crier by nature, but I tend to be able to restrain my tears until I’m alone.  If the embarrassment of crying in front of an entire class couldn’t keep my tears at bay I would have been a wreck at a visit that early in the adoption.

I can’t speak for J&M, but it would have been enough for me to avoid subsequent visits at least for awhile.  We started with letters and pictures and phone calls.  We got to know each other, built a relationship. We eventually began having visits.  M and I become FB friends.

If I had had FB at the beginning, and if we had been friends on it at the beginning…yeah it probably would have ended with one of us blocking the other or at the very least hurt feelings.  It would be like dating someone new and friending them immediately and all of a sudden you’re privy to their thoughts and feelings (status updates) that you otherwise wouldn’t be and it’s a little weird and overwhelming and you’re not sure how or if to respond to things. It would have been crazy making. (again FOR ME others friend eachother on social networking sites from day one and that is fine for them)

As for playing the, “for the sake of the child” card.  We as adults sometimes over think things and don’t give kids enough credit.  We have a sense of what a “normal” family is ingrained into us.  Depending on our generation, how were were raised, and our own experiences the what constitutes a “normal” family can be more or less inclusive.  If a family that includes birth parents feels abnormal to us we assume it will to our child as well.  That if we as adults are outside of our comfort zone, then the child must be as well and it must be stopped. But, we weren’t born with that feeling.  And neither were our children. A family that includes birth parents can be their normal, and it can become our normal too over time.

2. From the standpoint of first parents, open adoption sounds like something that could prolong suffering. Could this suffering potentially outweigh the good of knowing where your child is? Who helps the first parent? [the following pertains to this question and was in O Solo Mama’s post]…from the perspective of first parents. How do they do it? No seriously, how do you watch your child being parented by someone other than yourself? Do you take some kind of pill every day? Or do you grieve for a long time, so long, even, that it impairs your relationship with your child or with your subsequent chidren? And then who helps you?)

In grad school my thesis equivalent (we didn’t have a thesis option in my program) focused on birth parent grief and loss.  Research shows that birth parents in open adoption do have elevated levels of grief at first, but that over time those in open adoption actually experience less grief later in life. Sorry for the vague-ness of “at first” and “later” but different numbers are popping in my head and I don’t have the energy to get up out of bed to dig for the research.

Personally, I know I cry about the adoption less now that I did even a year ago and a LOT less than I did the first few years. My heart leaps when I see a child about Kidlet’s age with similar coloring. Which I know is ridiculous given that I know not only what Kidlet looks like, but exactly where he is (and it’s in a different state) and I also hold my breath when I see a car with a license plate from Kidlet’s state.  I think both those things would be worse if our adoption wasn’t open, but having not lived that experience I of course cannot say for sure.

It’s hard to watch someone else parent my child, especially if I’d make a different parenting decision. But it helps to see the love in the parenting.  From what I’ve witnessed I do believe J&M love Kidlet as much as I do and that is not something I would be sure of had I not experienced all that I have on visits.

There is no pill to cure ambiguous grief regardless of from where that grief stems.  I think I will grieve forever in different ways, because as different milestones approach there are new things to grieve. I don’t think it impairs my relationship with Kidlet.  When we’re together I’m in the moment and don’t become overwhelmed and emotional until I’m alone in my room at night or out for a walk alone. I dont think my grief will negatively impact my someday children mostly because I am aware of my issues and plan on working on them in therapy prior to having my IUD removed.

Anyone who listens when I’m sad helps me. Anyone who validates instead of dismisses my feelings helps me.  Anyone who loves me despite my birth mother status helps me.  Anyone who isn’t terrified that J&M allow me visits helps me.  Unfortunately those in professional capacities who should be able to help me haven’t been so helpful.

3. I’m guessing kids are not hung up on how many relatives they have. Tell me that the thing that hangs up the public all the time about open adoption and other unconventional relationships—two mommies, two daddies, three, four, parents—is the least of your worries because it seems to me it is.

Again I think this goes back to what has been ingrained in us over time to be the “normal” family make up.

4. Do you ever feel like you should give this child back? Does the thought ever seize you totally as you watch your child with her bio-family: “ooops?” (OR for f-parents: Do you ever feel as though you need to take this child back? That nothing is stopping you beside an agreement that feels false? Does that feeling go away?)

No.

That is not to say that I don’t have my daydreams of what it would be like if Kidlet were with me.  Of what it had been like had I not signed away my rights.  But those what ifs don’t mean I would take him from his family and turn his life upside down.

5. How do children ever cope with knowing they could not be kept? When they see their natural parents having more kids, what do they think? Who helps the child in this situation? Both sets of parents?

I know you aren’t supposed to answer a question  with questions, but…How do children in closed adoptions cope with knowing they could not be kept?  When they imagine their natural parents having more kids, what do they think?  When they search later in life and find they had siblings (full or half) how do they respond?  Who helps the child or adult in those situations?

If Kidlet ever has questions about why he could not be kept I will answer them honestly and age appropriately.  If I have more children (which I hope to do) he will see that I waited until I was stable and able to care for them.  He will know them.  I will do everything I can to not let the parenting of someday kids get in the way of showing Kidlet how much I love him.

6. Can you say comfortably that some surrendering mothers could not cope with an open adoption or do you think that it should always be the standard?

I think Open Adoptions should be the standard.  I think openness is a continuum and not every spot on that continuum is right for each person.  However, a statement like, “some surrendering mother’s could not cope with an open adoption”  feels like an excuse not to offer her one.

7. Is there ever a reason (aside from extreme/illegal behaviours) to close an adoption totally?

No.