Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A letter to me (what a birthmother should know)

Knowing what I know now, here are things I would have said to myself before I finalized the adoption of my daughter.

Lisa,

I know things are very hard for you right now.  Being pregnant with all of the emotions and physical toll it takes on a body is tough.  As if being a single parent isn't hard enough, being exhausted just makes everything seem so much harder.  Add the stress of a newly finalized divorce, a new relationship with a man who is still wounded from his own divorce, working full time, an ex husband who seemingly gets pleasure from making your life miserable, trying to keep yourself afloat financially, then top it off by being a middle aged woman facing an unplanned pregnancy in the community's lime light.  Any one of these would be tough, but all added together it seems insurmountable.

But remember to take one thing at a time.  Just because the father of this baby is not ready to commit to you doesn't mean that you can't do this.  And a baby right now is not ideal.  It would be complicating and difficult.  Everyone would have to sacrifice.  Financially it would be draining. Physically exhausting.  Emotionally trying.  You know all too well how much commitment raising a child entails.

But consider this.  The situation you are in now is temporary.  Sure it seems overwhelming, but each of those circumstances that keep you up at night are remedied with time.  And while it would be very hard, you really could get all the help you need from your family.  The boys are more responsible than you think.  And even if they don't say it, they would really like to have a little sister.  And they would help out.

If the stress of having a newborn causes a rift between you and C, then it wasn't meant to be.  Sure, neither of you planned on being at this point in your lives, but neither of you thought you would be divorced either.  Life is funny like that.  Sometimes blessings come in disguised packages.

And you are right, Brit deserves more than you can offer right now.  All of your kids deserve more.  Every child should grow up living with both of their parents married and parenting in the same house.  But the truth is that is the exception, not the norm anymore.  As sad as that is, it is reality.

But you are the kind of person who considers others.  Which is a great personality trait.  And a curse at the same time.  And your desire for something better for Brit is important.  You know that God intended for a father and mother to raise children together.  And whether that will be the case for Brit, only God will know.

So since you want more for her, and you think adoption is the best option for her and the children you are trying to raise on your own, then let me share some thoughts with you that you will not believe, but are reality.

As OK as you think you are with adoption, it will not be as easy as you think. I know you are a tough cookie.  And that you disguise your emotions very well.  But the truth be told, your heart is tender.  And you love easily.  And after that little girl is born, you will love her more than you can imagine.  Especially since you will have to love her from a distance.

You don't rely on your family enough.  They want to help you.  You do not have to do this alone.  You don't have to do ANYTHING alone.  Your sisters will help you.  They want to. Just ask them.  It doesn't come naturally to you, but try it.  You always help others, let someone help you.

While you think that you are going to be able to watch from a distance, it will be harder than you know.  It's not that you will want to take over and be the parent, but you will want to be involved.  Make sure that you choose a family who will include you and your boys.

Infertility is as life altering as an unplanned pregnancy.  Every girl thinks she knows how her future family will be formed.  She will fall in love, get married, get pregnant and have a little person who looks like her or her husband.  Some dream of big families and some dream of a boy and a girl.  But very rarely does a little girl dream about adopting a child/children to create a family.  That takes a maturity that few possess.  So infertile couples deal with the grief of not having children of their own, and they also struggle with the financial burden of adoption. Much the same way you are considering the impact a baby would change things for your right now.

Adoption is not for the weak at heart.  Adoption is best done by those who love Christ and believe that we are all children of God, adopted into His family by His grace.  Adoption doesn't work well with those who are possessive and want a child to be their own.  It is also hard for those who are not of "strong stock" as your friend Susie says.  You are of strong stock.  You are resilient.  Find another mother like you.  Someone who is willing to do what it takes even when it is hard.  Because adoption is hard.  For birthparents and adoptive parents.  Sharing doesn't come naturally to our human nature.  And being possessive is a natural instinct for parents.  Maturity and faith are what make adoption the beautiful thing it can be.  But without both, it will be a struggle.

Choose a family who believes children cannot be loved by too many people.  Children want to know where they come from and you need to find a family who will honor that natural desire.  And instead of waiting for the child to ask, they will create an environment where the child knows she is loved by lots of people.  Her parents, grandparents, friends and birthfamily. 

Be deliberate and don't just wait to see what happens.  Talk about things that may seem uncomfortable at the time.  Don't think things will just work themselves out over time.  Adoption is beautiful but also uncomfortable.  No one wants to share their child with someone else.  So sometimes the adults in the relationship will have to do things that they never thought they would.  Like letting a birthmother visit her child even when she is hurting from her adoption loss.  We don't like to see others in pain, but sometimes we all have to do things that push our comfort level way outside our desired boundaries.  Only faith can help us do that.  Choose a family who is willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of their child.  Choose a family who cherishes your role in the life of the child. You may not be the mother, but you will forever be the birthmother.  No legal document will change that.  Find a family who is willing to respect that and embrace it.

Make sure the parents you choose have accepted that their family will be created through adoption.  Be sure that they have surrendered to God their preconceived notions of what their family will look like  A beautiful example of this is a couple from church who have a child adopted from China, another adopted from India and a heart for a child from Ethiopia.  The mom said "If we were hung up on having children who looked like us, we would have spent our time and money on fertility treatments.  But instead, we realized that God wanted our family to be different.  We love the fact that our children don't look alike.  We want a family of kids who are uniquely their own."  How mature.  They trusted God to create their family.  And He did.  Yet their children are just like them.  They are fun, easy going and uniquely individual.  And whether they have their mother's eyes is not the most important thing to them.  They are a family.  Brown and yellow, black and white. Literally.

If you choose adoption, you are relinquishing your "rights".  You will not see her first steps, hear her first word, feed her first food, kiss her scraped knee.  Those are treasures for a mother.  By choosing adoption for your child, you are giving all those experiences to her mother.  It will hurt.  You will mourn the loss.  Even when celebrating with her family, a piece of your heart will hurt.  Pictures will be painful.  You will see your face in the pictures of your child hugging and kissing her mom.  Yet, you wanted that kind of love and relationship for her. The reason you are choosing adoption is because you want the very best for your child.  Remember that when the pain seems unbearable.

Adoption can be beautiful.  It is an unselfish choice.  It puts your child's needs above your own.  Yes, you could parent.  But just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  Being able to get pregnant is a gift and sometimes it is not intended to be YOUR gift. 

There is no right answer.  But if you still choose adoption for your daughter, know there will be pain.  Know that you will forever hurt.  It will define you.  But it is not about you.  It is about that little girl.  Is it better for her to have two parents who love her to the moon and back, or is it more important that she be with her biological family?  Family is who you choose to love.  There is no perfect answer.  We are imperfect people who make decisions outside of God's will.  And there are consequences to those decisions.

Ask questions.  Don't worry so much about hurting feelings that it keeps you from talking about the important things.  This is an irrevocable decision.  Be sure.  Trust God.  PRAY. And after you make the decision, trust that God will provide during the times of excruciating pain.  Because only God can comfort the kind of pain you will feel.

And if you choose the right parents for your child, your family will grow.  Your love will expand and you will not lose a child, but gain more family.  Be picky, because you are choosing a relationship for the rest of your life. 

There is no perfect answer.  God wanted something different for you, but you made choices outside His will.  And despite that, He can make something beautiful from your poor choices.  Trust that He can orchestrate better than you could ever hope to control. 

Whatever you choose, know that God loves you and wanted only the best for you.  And even if you didn't follow His will for your life, He can make something beautiful from your circumstances.

This is by far the hardest thing you will ever do and trusting that God will provide is the only way that it will be bearable.  And by God's grace your daughter will appreciate that you made the decision to provide the best for her.

Be strong and trust God to provide even in times of grief.

9 comments:

LeMira said...

My friend led me to this post. Wow! Just wow! Thank you for sharing such personal thoughts. I'm not a birth mother, but I feel like I could apply your advice in my life in different ways. Thank you.

heather said...

I followed Lemira's repost of your link. This is beautiful. If only we could do this with everything in life and take advantage of the 20/20 hindsight. I wonder if we would all make the same choices. And would I regret different choices that may not have led me to the interactions, people, and places I have encountered. Definite food for thought.

I'm going to share this with some expectant moms. your words are invaluable and speak in a way that we hopeful APs can.t.

A Life Being Lived said...

This post is absolutely beautiful. I have the chills. It is so well-written, and echoes a lot of things I would have told myself before my placement as well. Also, because you are parenting other children I think you have a unique and even deeper perspective about adoption and raising a child from an unplanned pregnancy. I can only imagine that placement was ten times harder for you because you are actively raising kids. Your strength is astounding. Thank you for posting this.

A Love Worth Waiting For.... said...

This is SO touching!!! I am just in awe of your strength, love and courage!!

Ashley said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog! I've been reading through some of your posts. You seem like an amazing, selfless woman with so much courage. Thank you so much for sharing this letter. As a soon-to-be adoptive mother, this really touches my heart and makes me think about our birthmother's feelings. I appreciate your honesty!

Amber said...

I tried to make it through this dry-eyed. I failed miserably. Such a stunning post from an obviously amazing woman. <3

wsbirthmom said...

Lisa, I placed my son 26 days ago and was recently directed to your blog.

This is an incredible letter that ALL birthmothers should read.

I am very fortunate to have chosen the right Aparents, because I too have a daughter that is now living this journey with me as a 'birthmom'. It was extrememly important to us that we were going to have a truly 'open' adoption and that my daughter would know her brother and he would know her.
This fact led me to ask all the questions that you address here in your letter. I can't imagine having it any other way.

No one could have prepped me for the immense and consuming grief that I have felt over the last 27 days. The last day in the hospital it was just him and I, and that is when I really started my grieving process. The first 2 days there, I hadn't. I was focused on building my relationship with the Amom who stayed with me. This worked, as the nursing staff thought we were sisters, and that my actual sister was the Amom. We bonded that much. It was beautiful.

I'm still living moment by moment here....

Nicole said...

WOW, just wow. This is the kind of honesty that needs to be presented to a girl or a woman who is considering adoption.

The most key part of this post to me is that all the problems usually faced by the expectant mother are TEMPORARY when adoption is a PERMANENT solution.

There are so many things I wish a counselor would have talked to me about. They spent a lot of time going over how inadequate I would be as a mother...ie) how will you work and raise a child, how will you finish school, how can you afford to buy all the things your child will need?

The things that were never discussed...you will have a hole in your heart for the rest of your life. It will never heal, not even if you see your child again someday. Your future children will grieve the loss of their sibling as well. This will change your life forever in a way most people can never understand.

It's ok to be scared. It's ok to ask for help. Once adoption is done, it's done forever.

This is why I am speaking out about my experience. This is why I am honest about how I feel. I am so sorry that you are part of this "club" of women who will grieve for a life time. This post is wonderful. I think I need to do one like this on my blog as well. Thank you for sharing. xoxo

wsbirthmom said...

Coming back 1 year and 26 days later, all the reasons I placed have vanished into thin air. My own words are salt in the open oozing wound on my heart that will be there forever. I can read the hormones raging through me while reading that original reply, and right now, things have drastically changed, visits cancelled, insurance that wasn't in place paid my $19,000 hospital bill, and Ws father never left my side. Today, we all long for a visit, a chance to see him, to touch him, to look unto his eyes, our eyes. This life, I forced upon so many, not reaching out, refusing to swallow my pride and ASK for help to keep my child with me, with his sister, with his father and with me, his mother. Instead, we have had 8 days with him. His first dad, only 30 minutes. I wish I would have found this prior to placing. I wish I would have found you, my dear friend.