Friday, April 29, 2011

Coincidence - I think not

Brit was born in March.  In June, my sister got married in Chicago.  I was a bridesmaid so I had to go.  Whether I felt like it or not.  Because my family was not particularly supportive of my adoption decision, I knew I would have to keep my game face on the whole time.  The face that said how happy I was for Brit's parents.  How glad I was that she was placed with a loving couple and how I was perfectly OK with all of it.

Needless to say, I wasn't.  I was still very damaged.  Brit wasn't even 3 months old yet.  My hormones were a mess.  I was traveling, by car, from Kansas to Chicago with my 5 children - all alone.  Oh yeah, and my daughter who was traveling with me was also pregnant.

The trip was hell.  The boys fought.  My daughter cried.  I cried.  I celebrated my "one year anniversary" of being with my BF all by myself in another state and he didn't even remember. I had invited him to go on the trip with me, nearly begging him to go, but he decided he had too many work obligations to go with me.  (Insert resentment and hurt.) 

One a singular positive note, I did get a marriage proposal from a random stranger at a McDonalds the day of my "anniversary".  Very fitting.  He was smokin' hot.  An actor and model.  We are still in touch. My kids thought I was a fool for not pursuing it any further. lol.

But back to the story.  I was an emotional disaster case.  I was very lonely.  My heart was broken.  And I had to keep it all together and be the grown up while traveling with 5 kids.  I would say that it was a recipe for disaster.

So on the day of the return trip home, I was driving and doing alot of thinking.  My phone rang and I answered when I saw it was my pastor's wife.

She wanted to tell me about a woman from our church who she had met with.  Like me, this woman was 30something and unexpectedly pregnant.

She had two teenage sons and an ex-husband who she still lived with who was trying to decide if he wanted to stay with his family, or move back to California where his girlfriend and his child lived. (The story is sordid, but he had a child with another woman while married to the woman who I am speaking about.)

My pastor's wife wondered if I would connect with this woman because she was considering abortion and then began considering adoption.  My pastor's wife thought I might be able to share some insight with her about adoption and if nothing else I could encourage her through this very tough time.

Me.  A complete disaster.  A sobbing mess.  A mother missing a child that I had placed just 3 months prior.

I told my pastor's wife that I would pray about it.  Of course, I knew it wasn't coincidence.  But I wasn't ready.  My heart was bleeding from the pain of my own loss.  How could God be doing this to me?!?

Needless to say, I called this woman after I got home from the trip.  We met and talked. And cried.  And cried.

She was in a terrible relationship with a man who did not value her.  He couldn't even decide if he wanted to be with her and their children, or head off to be with his girlfriend and his 2 year old son.

So my new friend, Sara (alias of course), was trying to figure out what to do.  They were/are very poor.  She was supporting her family by working at Applebee's as a waitress.  She could hardly support the children she had, let alone another baby.

I told her my story.  I shared all the reasons I had placed Brit.  It was very interesting to hear myself saying such positive things about adoption when I am pretty sure I was second guessing my own decision.

Sara and I established a friendship.  I went with her when we met with a prospective adoptive couple. I even went to lunch with all three of them after the meeting with the attorney.  Sara chose them to parent her child.

I shared my adoption story with this couple and I found a true gift in the insight that this adoptive mother could share with me.  Once again, I know it was no coincidence.  God knew what I needed right then.  And Heather was such a support to me.  She was the mother of an open adoption and she gave me hope when I had little.  Another story for another day.

I supported Sara as her pregnancy progressed.  She loved the adoptive parents.  They were so good to her.  They are great people and it was very apparent from how they treated Sara and her children during this time.

But Sara started to have second thoughts.  They found out the baby was a girl.  Her ex-husband started warming up to the idea of sticking around and having a daughter.  Sara was feeling the tug of motherhood again.

Sara chose to parent her daughter.  She contacted her attorney and the attorney told the adoptive couple. (My heart BROKE for them.)  But I understood completely why she would change her mind.  And I suppose it was better before the birth than at the hospital.

**Note - For those of you who have experienced disrupted adoptions, my heart hurts for you.  I know what it is like to long for the child I do not have a relationship with, so I can only imagine what it must feel like to love a child in your heart and not bring that child home with you.  I feel the same kind of pain.  I am so sorry each time I read your stories of loss.

Sara had the baby in December and you can see from this picture how it affected her.  She was in love.

Sara still struggles.  Their financial situation has not changed.  Her ex-husband did stay.  I don't know if that is a good or bad thing.

I have not had much interaction with Sara in the last few months because I have been so busy and she has been too.

But Sara called this week and was desperate for someone to watch her precious baby girl when she worked this weekend.  Since I don't work weekends, I was glad to help her out.

I can't wait for some baby time.  I will have this little princess from 8am-10pm on Saturday (Sara has been asked to pull a double shift waitressing. Poor momma.) and 6am - 3pm on Sunday.

I will have to load her up in a car seat.  Take her with me to prom pictures with J and his date.  Out to dinner on Saturday night when I have a date with BF.  It will be just like I was parenting a baby girl.

Sara has even asked if I would consider doing this regularly when she works weekends.  Of course I said yes.

I look at her situation.  They struggle financially. The father is not exactly a model daddy.  She has no family support because she is from California.

Yet she chose to parent her child.  In spite of the less than perfect circumstances.

I have a good paying, career job.  A network of family support.  And while I would not describe my relationship with BF as perfect, it is certainly not toxic.  He is a good man and would have been nothing but a positive influence in Brit's life. (Although he absolutely did not want to have another child. Again, another story for another day.)

But I chose not to parent my child.  I chose different parents for her so she could have a married mommy and daddy.

I listen to Sara say "I just can't imagine not having this sweet little girl with me."

It hurts my heart.  She doesn't mean it to hurt me.  She is simply speaking from her own heart and acknowledging the love she has for her daughter.

Why do you suppose God has placed this woman and this child in my life?

I know I am being 'refined by fire' as the Bible verse says.

Sometimes I wonder how much pain, loss and regret I can endure.

But I suppose this story has a happy ending.  I get baby time with this sweet little girl.  I get to help a momma support her child who she chose life for.

Maybe God is providing this opportunity to me to help with the void that is empty in my heart.  It will not replace the place that was made for Brit (which I fully expect to start filling when we do have a relationship someday).  And it won't take away the loss I feel. But maybe it will soothe some of the pain knowing that I can provide love for this child, right here and right now, when I cannot do the same for the child I had.

I don't know why things have turned out like they have.

But I do know this.  God wants only the best for me.  And I do not believe any of these things have happened by coincidence.  What may be my pain, could be someone else's joy. 

So I will snuggle Princess this weekend.  And I will thank God for the fact that He provides for me, even when I don't know what is best for me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Got an update today

I got an update with Easter pictures from Brit's family today.  She is so happy.  So loved.  And so stinkin cute!

Her dad writes the funniest email updates.  Nothing against updates from the mom, but the dad is a crack up.

I saw the pictures, read the email and didn't cry.

I am actually OK with it today.

Progress?  Maybe.

This is a slightly creepy picture of me, but you get the idea.
Or maybe today is just a good day. 

Whatever the reason, I will rejoice that I can look at pictures of sweet Brit and be happy, not sad.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The kids

Had all of the kiddos over for Easter.  It has been so long since Sissy (my oldest daughter) has been able to share a holiday with us.  She brought her son so I got a little gma time.  Yep.  I'm a grandma (in a kinda, sorta way - since she was my step daughter).
Gma Lisa and Waylon
Cute as a bunny!
Gma Lisa chillin' on the couch with grandson Waylon

J, Sissy, D, Corey and Lan

 I was so glad to have them all here.  Someday I will have ALL of them here.  I can't wait!

Happy first Easter baby Waylon!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The zoo

Getting ready for a very busy weekend.  But before I get started I wanted to share some pictures from the school trip to the zoo that I chaperoned yesterday for L's 6th grade class.

I blog about Brit, and my crazy youngest son D, but rarely my sweet son L.  So here are some pictures of my precious boy who still likes his momma even though he is quickly approaching his teenage years.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

There will come a day

I had a counseling appointment yesterday.  There is hardly enough time to unload all that I carry in an hour long session.

Ultimately, the words of wisdom that she shared with me were,

"Grief takes as long as it takes.  There will come a day that this will not hurt as badly as it does today."

I know.  So I will live through today and wait for someday. 

I just need to make sure I don't miss the joy that does exist here and now.  Because I have learned that someday could be a long time waiting.  And life is happening right now.

Joy for today:
  • 3 healthy sons
  • a surprise Easter basket for me and the boys left at my house by a friend
  • school zoo trip tomorrow with L
  • dinner tomorrow night with a friend and his kids
  • it's pay day
  • a friend from church who just ended her phone conversation with me by saying "you're awesome!"

1 Peter 1:6-7 (New Living Translation)
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.

So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another dream

I dream about Brit regularly.  The dreams are never that she wasn't adopted, they are just manifestations of seeing her, being with her and having time with her.

Before I had my visit with her, my counselor asked me if it helped being able to hold her and see her in my dreams.  I suppose the answer to that is not completely yes or no.

Almost always I wake up upset.  Mostly because I am waking up and she is going away.  Again.

The dreams are so real.  I am always still her birth mom, and her parents are there, sharing her with me.  So it's not like I am having fantasy land where she was never adopted and we are all living happily ever after as a family.

But the dreams allow me to be present with her.  I carry her on my hip.  Snuggle her on my shoulder.

Last night was tough one.  Great dream.  Very real.  Hard on the heart. 

My youngest son D had fallen asleep in my bed so I just left him there and I slept on the other side.  He is a bit of a wild sleeper so I shoved a body pillow between the two of us, rolled to the edge of the bed and dropped from exhaustion.

Sometime early this morning I started dreaming that Brit's parents came over to my house (not my real life house, but it was the one I had in the dream).  We just hung out and talked.  We were all happy and friendly. There was a strange part where I got stung by a bee.  Another part where Brit's dad was too tall to get down the basement stairs - just fragmented thoughts that happen in dreams.  But all in all, I was just enjoying time with Brit.

Then it is time for Brit's parents to leave so they pack her up and head out.  For some reason (I can't remember it now), they pull back up in the driveway and come back.  However, in that amount of time my boys have come home.  So they are now face to face with Brit's parents and seeing Brit for the first time.

I was so excited for them.  I was showing her off to the boys.  And they were loving all over her.

Then D woke me up with a hand to my face as he was rolling over.

It woke him too.

I looked over at him and without thinking said, "I have to go back to sleep, I was just dreaming that you were meeting Brit for the first time."

He sleepily looked at me and said "I wish it were true."

Then he rolled back over and fell asleep again.

Broke. My. Heart.

Maybe he won't remember it.  I know I won't forget it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My wild Friday night

I want to start sharing more about my real life here on the blog too so I don't seem so one-dimensional with the only focus being the birthmother piece of me.

So tonight, I am having a sleep over party for D's birthday.  I have (6) ten year old boys here.  There has been much wrestling, fighting, basketball, video games and this...

And oh yeah, D screamed "My brother eruptured my penis!"   Apparently he got kicked in the boy junk and he is quite sure he might die.  He howled for a full 30 minutes.  Not even kidding.

Sigh.  Just another day in the life of a mother of boys.

Another tell tale sign that I am the mother of boys, I wasn't even phased by the amazing cupcake fire that D created with brithday candles.  There was so much wax that it coated an entire cupcake.

But so far the favorite part of the evening was when the love of my life came over for some snuggle time.  I am so stinkin' in love with this guy!

We call him Baby B, even in the real world.  He is my youngest sister's son and he was born two weeks after Brit.  I am sure there is a psychological reason why I am so in love with him because of misdirected motherly instinct, but I don't care why it is, I love him and he really loves his Aunt Lisa!

I guess I'd better get back to the "party", things are a little quiet which in the world of boys means trouble is brewin'!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Look on the internet

This blog is all about my life as a birthmom.  Generally it is fairly melancholy.  Which is a bit ironic because I am an incredibly positive person.  And the majority of my life is consumed with parenting the crazy boys I have.  Especially the youngest one.

So for a little levity, here is but one of the many little quips that D had for me last night.  This kid makes me laugh out loud. (And he makes me pull my hair out and scream, but those are other stories.)  He is 10 years old and knows just about everything.  Just ask him.

D: Do you know what the center of the earth is made of?

Mom:  Yes, magma.

D: WRONG! It's iron surrounded by magma.  And it will take billions of years to heat up the other layers of earth and melt them too.  Since the earth is only 2,000 years old, that will take a long time.

Mom:  The earth is much older than 2,000 years.  Jesus died 2011 years ago.  That is when we started counting years.

D:  I didn't know that!  That's cool that we started counting when Jesus died.  Who was Jesus's dad?

Mom: God, but Joseph adopted him as his son here on earth.

D: That's what I meant.  I know Jesus is God's son.  I just wondered who his dad was.  When is his birthday again?

Mom: Remember we celebrate it at Christmas time. But no one completely knows when his real birthday was.

D:  It doesn't tell us in the Bible?

Mom:  No.

D:  Why don't we just look it up on the internet?

I burst out laughing.  I love that idea.  If the Bible doesn't tell us something, just Google it!

D catching hail using a bucket on his head.  He is ingenious.

D with his hail booty.  It is still in our freezer from 2 weeks ago.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What do you say when people ask?

I am still not good at the answer to the question, "So how many kids do you have?"

It is extremely complicated for me because I was a step-mom to a girl and a boy for 13 years.  I consider them both my children still to this day.  Especially the girl.  She and I got along very well for all of those years.  She has a little boy of her own now and I definitely consider him my grandson!

For lots of years I said 5.  I had three biological sons and two step children.  They were all mine.  I fed them, took them to school, fixed what they broke.

So after their dad and I got divorced, I was puzzled once again about how to answer that question.  It was easier with my daughter because she was grown and not living at home anymore.  But my step-son was still part of my life.  Usually I said, 4 boys and a grown daughter.

As time went on, the step-son and I began having less time together, so sometimes I would just say 3 sons.

Then I had Brit.

And just like that, she was gone.

I know I gave birth to her.  And some of the people asking remember that I was pregnant.

She is still my birth daughter.  But I am not her mother in a parenting sense.

So what do I say?

By saying I have 3 boys, I feel like I am denying her existance.  If I say 3 boys and a girl, inevitably it is followed by "Oh I bet you spoil her!  One little sister and all those brothers!"

At that moment the tears well up.

I panic and want to run.

Or, even more poignant and painful, sometimes people ask in front of my kids.  If I answer 3 boys, the youngest will usually pipe up and say "And a sister, but my mom gave her up for adoption."

I've been working on that with him.  But try stopping a 10 year old from saying what's on his mind.

To him, it is what it is. 

To a stranger it is a conversation stopper.

For me, it is a dagger to the heart.

So, what do you say?  Who counts?  And do you defend it to just anyone?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Being protective

Not that it is a newsflash, but the emotions that we experience as women are so very unpredictable.  At least mine are.  I am just a roller coaster on any given day.

Case in point, my reaction to comments here on my blog.

I love blogging because of the incredible network of people who reach out and offer advice and words of encouragement.  Even if they are not someone from the adoption world.

I love that.

With the good comes the bad.  And fortunately I have had very few negative comments here on my blog.  I know I am lucky.

However, even comments meant to be supportive of my position sometimes stir up a response of defensiveness in me.

This time it came in the form of defensiveness about "my" adoptive parents.

Yes, I lament about wanting more of a relationship with them.  I express hurt and pain.  But just like a parent is protective of their child, I find myself becoming very protective of my a-parents too.

Almost all comments on my blog are lovely and supportive of both me and the parents of Brit.  But occasionally one creeps in here that is not complimentary.

When that happens, my initial reaction is "Hey, don't you say negative things about my a-parents, you don't know their intentions or their heart!"  Yes, I know, ironic considering this is the place where I speak longingly of how I wish they would reach out to me more.

But I love them.  I love what they do provide to my child.  I love who they are as people.  I don't believe they do anything out of ill intentions.  They are just like me.  We are human, just trying to do the best we possibly can.  We are Christians looking for God's guidance with a situation we don't have any experience dealing with.

They did not deceive me to get my baby.  Their actions all make perfect sense.  They are up front with me about why they feel like they do and why they act like they do.  I don't have to speculate, because they have been honest in all communication with me and the BF. 

They do not do one thing and say another. The unmet expections that I have had with them stem from the grey area that we left undefined prior to Brit's birth.  I should have been more clear.   When I said I wanted for us to have a family visit before the end of summer, I should have confirmed with them that they would be willing to do that.  Instead I assumed that since they didn't say no, it would happen.  But even if we had agreed to the visit, I still don't know if it would have happened, based upon the emotions they were feeling at that time.

We just didn't know what an adoption relationship would be like.  And the strong feelings we would all have to work through.

To clear up some details, we had no formal agreement.  Every interaction between Brit's parents and me is by our own free will.  We had a private adoption with no agency involved.  No social worker.  No plan.

So we are navigating a path that none of the four of us know anything about.  Both Brit's mom and I read lots of books before the adoption.  Only speaking from my perspective, but when I read them, I found myself thinking, "That doesn't apply to US.  We are all good friends.  We can figure this out."

For the most part that is true.  We still communicate. And I firmly believe we all love and respect each other.  We simply see open adoption differently.  I see it as an active relationship.  I would describe their perspective as a passive relationship.

We just didn't know what it would really feel like when we all got home from the hospital.  I would never ever judge Brit's mom's actions or reactions because she had just become a first time mom. 

I remember what that was like and it is alot of guessing, crying, little sleep and an overwhelming feeling of love that you never even knew existed. 

But what I don't have any experience with is what that would be like coupled with the knowledge that my joy came with the grief of another mother.

If the adoption would have been closed she would not have known.  If she didn't care about me, it wouldn't have bothered her. She would have just been able to focus on her child. 

But Brit's parents are good people.  It did matter to them that my heart hurt.  But they also needed to protect their own hearts.  They had to deal with their feelings and emotions just like I had to deal with mine.  Unfortuately, the way that they dealt with their emotions made mine worse.  I don't believe they knew that.  Neither one of us could read the mind of the other.

One of the comments I received talked about how adoption relationships take work, just like other relationships. The difficult part about adoption relationships is that there are few resources to help us navigate through them.  Very few of us have ever seen an example of an open adoption (until we enter into one ourselves and we seek those out here in the cyber world!).  Global Librarian was right on the money with those thoughts.  So very true.

I also appreciated the comments from Faith about how we shouldn't judge the a-parents just because I want a relationship that looks a certain way, and Brit's parents might not.

She is also very right to that point.

They have every "right" to feel like they do, just like I have every "right" to my own feelings.

I think it is very encouraging that we all can say how we are feeling to each other.  I am so glad I don't have an agency that we are working through.  Sure, maybe it would have been easier sometimes, but I want a REAL relationship with Brit's parents.  And that means having easy and tough conversations directly with each other.

If Brit's parents were to ever contact me or BF and say that they have decided that they want one visit per year and quarterly emails with pictures, then I will honor that decision.  I will wish for more, but I chose them as the parents of Brit.  They get to decide.  Just like Brit will get to decide later if she wants to continue to have a relationship with me and BF.  I wish I could be part of that decision, but as we all know, birthparents have no legal recourse.  By design.  It is unfortunate, but I understand completely why it is this way.

I recognize that my situation is a bit unique.  Most birthmothers are not over 35, parenting other children, financially sound and without addiction issues.  I am not the stereo-typical birthmom.  However, I have found that there are others like me.  Birthmothers can be your neighbor.

I believe that a very open adoption relationship would be very healthy for all of us.  We live close.  We are all stable adults.  We share the same faith.  And from my research, children in very open adoptions are well adjusted and are less likely to describe their adoption situation as a negative experience.

I don't want Brit to ever have negative feelings about the way her family was created.  I want her to feel special.  We chose her parents so she could have the very best. I want to be a part of her life so she doesn't wonder and so the story is always clear.  I want her to experience knowing both families her entire life.

I believe this would be the best situation for Brit, but what makes me the expert? I think I know what would be best, but maybe I don't.  I certainly believe that not all adopted children in closed adoptions harbor ill feelings or will be poorly adjusted adults.  My first husband was adopted in a closed adoption relationship and he has no ill feelings toward any of his parents.

But I must trust that God's hand is in this relationship.  If it weren't such a personal story that belongs to Brit's parents, I would share how they came into our lives and how perfect God's timing was in both Brit's parents journey to become parents, and our journey to find parents for Brit.  There are no coincidences here.  God orchestrated something that we could not have planned even if we tried.

I am fortunate to have chosen parents who I know have a faith in God like I do.  They do not make rash decisions.  They prayerfully consider what is best for their family.

So here is the peace that I have come to.  This belongs to God.  Brit is loved and cared for.  I have absolutely nothing to worry about.  And my desires to have more connection to her and her family are for Him to orchestrate once again.

Philippians 4:6
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

PS - Thank you everyone for the comments both positive and negative.  It is so good for me to hear and see differening perspectives on this topic.  It has made me more understanding and increased my compassion for everyone in the adoption triad.  I appreciate each comment for the value it adds.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Giving it to God

I have two draft posts that I have not finished. My birthmother world has been painful once again.  I have tried to blog, but there is too much to say.

And it is painful.  Painful to the point of shutting down.  Completely.  I found myself thinking that I just have to let go of the "birthmom" role for right now.  Otherwise I might go completely crazy. (Or crazier, depending on who you talk to.)

The story is complicated on two levels.  My relationship with Brit's parents and my relationship with Brit's birthfather (BF).

Today I only have the energy to address the relationship with the parents.

Brit's parents found the blog. 

I had a suspicion in the back of my mind because I have the FeedJit tracker on my blog and I saw a local inquiry from the town that one of them works in.  I knew that something had to be up with that.  I was not worried and was quite honestly perfectly OK with it.  I believe in being honest, and that is what this blog is.

All of my usual blog visitors are adoption triad members from all over the country, but none are local to me. I have one sister who knows about the blog and just the other day I finally told my mom.  I had told BF about the blog a month or two ago, but he has never visited it.  He chooses not to deal with anything that might cause him to feel uncomfortable, so I am not surprised that he had no interest in reading it. (That issue is a post for later.)

After Brit's parents found the blog, they decided to call me and BF to set up a time where we could all sit down and talk about it.  We each got a separate call and between the 4 of us found a time that would work.

We met last weekend at a restaurant.  Just the four of us. We had good, casual conversation throughout dinner.  Then after we were done eating we addressed the white elephant that was in the room.

I am not great about remembering exact words.  But to generalize the conversation...

The blog was painful for them because they read it through the lens of being the parents who are referenced here.  And while the things that I have said about them were not upsetting to them (or not that they mentioned), they were hurt by some of the comments of others.  I think that they felt unfairly portrayed because their thoughts and actions are only presented from my viewpoint.  But they understood completely why I blog, and they realize that this blog was to be therapeutic for me, and not to be viewed by them.

We talked and it became apparent that we are on two very separate wave lengths in regard to openness in our adoption. 

It was clear that their family and friends are not supportive of them having continued contact with us.  So the contact they do have with us, they feel is adequate and it meets what they believed our relationship would be.  They feel like they have to defend continuing a relationship with us. I get the impression that is uncomfortable for them.

We addressed how I have felt abandoned by Brit's mom because she no longer interacts with me like she did during my pregnancy.  Brit's mom explained that she had to pull away from me when they brought Brit home because she needed to feel like Brit was her child and not mine.  And she thought that continued contact with me would keep her from being able to bond because all she would focus on was my grief from relinquishment.

They mentioned that I routinely address what I want for openness in our adoption here on this blog.  I give examples of beautiful open adoption relationships and how beneficial they are for everyone involved. 

Their feeling is that for every very open adoption relationship that exists, there is a case to be made for semi-open adoption and how it is beneficial for adoptive parents and the child.  It was at this point that I realized that we view open adoptions very differently.

Brit's mom said something that cut me to the core even though she thought what she was saying was nice (and I know it was intended that way).  She said that after our first visit with Brit she went back home and said to the dad, "that was nice, we should try to do that once a year".

There are two reasons that was extremely hurtful to me. The first being, I desperately want more that one visit with Brit per year.  It would be so very easy for us to have more visits since we live about 15 minutes from them. 

The second reason that statement hurt, was because I heard those words in my mind as "I think it would be really nice of us if we allow BF and Lisa see Brit once a year."  As if it was a privilege that we are being granted by them.

Now I need to stop and say, I know that is only my perception and not at all what she said.  I was, and still am, very hyper sensitive about this topic.  I want more visits, and it was clear that they would be fine with few if any.  So what she said was completely misconstrued in my head.  But how I felt is how I felt.

So when I say that I felt like I was an undeserving recipient of a privilege they were granting me, that is not fair to Brit's parents, because they certainly didn't say that.  I just felt that way.  Please no hateful comments about how I twisted her words.

And while on that topic.  I need to be clear about how the parents treat us and the things that they say.  Both mom and dad are always very clear that they appreciate that we have entrusted our child to them.  They repeatedly mention that they will be forever thankful for that, and that they pray for us regularly.

Never have I been treated disrespectfully.  Nor have they uttered an unkind word to me.

Now, back to the dinner.

I tried my very best (through tears) to describe how I would like to see our relationship.  I clearly stated that I have no expectation of monthly visits.  Nor do I need to have a rigid visit schedule.  But what I do want is to feel like we are a family friend.  I don't just want a relationship with Brit.  I want a relationship with all of them.  Even the two new babies.  They are all important to me.

I explained how when this adoption happened, they became a part of my extended family, whether they knew it or not. 

My family brings people into our fold very easily.  No relation required.  We love and include all kinds of people as if they are family.  For example, my ex-husband's first wife became a close friend of mine.  She is now considered one of my sisters.  When we do Christmas gift exchanges, she is one of the girls.  I love that.  Every holiday event we have, there is always someone who is not a blood or marriage relative in attendance.  My sisters, mom, me and our children all love easily and quickly.  We will bring anyone in with us.

So with that kind of personality and history, when Brit's mom and I got to know each other during my pregnancy, I am sure I just assumed she was coming into the fold.  That was never their intention.  That is not how their family works, so that is unusual for them.  Completely fair.  I can see where my expectations about this were unrealistic.

I explained to them that my sister had just asked me the other day if she could invite them to her son's first birthday party because my nephew is just two weeks younger than Brit so we were all pregnant together.  My sister thought it would be fun to have them join us with Brit.

That would be a completely normal occurrence for my family.  So while most families would find that odd, it would be wonderful to us.  We love freely and include everyone.

In explaining my ideal relationship with them, I told Brit's parents that I especially want to be the mom's friend.  I want her to feel comfortable enough that she would call me and just chat.  Or comfortable enough that I could give her a call or text and it wouldn't be a big deal.

I told them that I don't even expect monthly emails.  Instead, I wish that when something adorable happens she would include me in any email or text that she might send to her own family.

This is another area where we realized that we are very different. 

I am an over-communicator.  Nothing is off limits.  I am not private.  My world is an open book.  I have 1,250 Facebook friends.  Everyone in town knows my business because I am in PR, sit on a multitude of committees, live and work in this same small town I have lived in since high school.  I give lots of public presentations. I love public speaking and everyone knows it.  I write often and easily.  So I send lots of emails and I include tons of information.  My life is on the go at every sporting event in town, chasing my boys who are very athletically gifted.  I know lots of people.

Brit's parents are more private.  They are most comfortable at home.  They don't call many people.  Brit's mom told me that I receive more pictures of Brit than most of her family members.  They have a few close friends.  They like it like that.

To try to describe the type of relationship I hope we someday have, I gave the example that if they were taking Brit and the babies to the zoo one day, I would love it if they called and asked if we wanted to join them.  Something completely casual and easy.

Brit's mom said she had never considered a relationship like that before.

I also let them know that we have 5 boys who are desperate to meet Brit.  They ask us all the time when they will get to see her.  I told them that I would really like for them to have the mystery removed and let them have a relationship with her so they can have peace with the fact that they have a sister who lives somewhere else with a different set of parents.

BF did chime in often during this conversation and the one thing that he said that I completely agree with, (but for reasons other than why he believes it), "It doesn't matter what other people's adoption relationships look like, we want to do what is right for OUR relationship." 

I also give him great credit for repeatedly telling the parents that we believe they are wonderful parents to Brit, and we are glad they are the parents we didn't think we could be.  We both were very clear with them that we love them, even though we are working through these painful relationship issues.

By the time we got to the end of the conversation, they said they would go home and think and pray about what we had talked about.  Which was a huge blessing to me.  I am so grateful that they are willing to at least consider something more.  So many birthmoms would do anything to have adoptive parents say that to them.  I know I am lucky.

We were all completely spent by the time the conversation ended.  The intensity of what was said was hard for me, so I am sure that it had to be very difficult for them since I am used to candid, even painful conversations and they are much more reserved.

I think the things that are hardest for me to process from this meeting are:
  • We have very different ideas about what our adoption relationship should look like.  Brit's parents believe they are honoring what they said we agreed to, which was regular emails.  I don't recall that as a conversation, but I won't argue it.  I was pregnant and who knows what I thought or said.  I do however remember mentioning a summer get together with them, Brit and my family and they never objected.  I also recall us specifically stating that we were going to evaluate our relationship as we went along because none of us knew how this would work.
  • Their family and friends are not supportive of an open adoption, which will make this even harder for them.
  • The things that make them most comfortable and me most comfortable are very different.  They intend to always tell Brit that she is adopted, but not necessarily to make a relationship with us a priority.  I want Brit to always know us so she has the least impact from being adopted as possible.
  • BF wants the same type of openness in our relationship with Brit's parents, but he just wants it to happen.  He is perfectly fine just waiting to see if it does.  I want all of us to be deliberate.
  • Things changed.  For all of us.  I need more connection to them than I am getting.  They don't.  We are at a point of re-negotiation of our relationship.  And what I believe is best for Brit, is not necessarily what they believe.  Since they are her parents, they get to decide.  I feel like I have to plead my case.
  • Compromise will be difficult for all of us.  We are all having to consider that our relationship with each other may be different than what we want individually.  All of us will experience some level of being uncomfortable.
To be painfully honest, I am jealous.  I want the kind of relationship that so many of you have.  I want Brit's parents to think about a relationship with me/us as an important part of her well-being like so many of you moms do with your birth families.

I cry when I read the posts from many of you who are worried about why your birthmoms are pulling away.  It makes me want to scream and say, "I would be that birthmom you want for your child, I want that too!".

When I read many of your hopeful adoption blogs, I feel your incredible waiting pain.  Mine is completely different, because I am on the other side.  But the wait is brutal.  We all want something that we don't currently have.  It hurts so badly.

I get comments from time to time that remind me to consider how hard this is for the adoptive parents.  My blog is very birthmother focused and not very adoptive parent focused. 

To my defense, I am a birthmom.  I see and feel through the experiences of a mother who relinquished a child for adoption.  That is the only experience I have, and I am living it.  I am not on the other side.  I am knee deep in grief.

As a birthmother I think about how all of this would have been so much easier if I would have just chosen to parent in spite of my circumstances.

And if I had to guess, I would think my thoughts are similar to those of adoptive parents when they think this would be so much easier if this child was biologically theirs and they didn't have to deal with all of the complicated emotions and situations that adoption presents for everyone, including the child.

I even have the same terrible thoughts when I walk past teen moms who are single and living in extraordinary poverty, still parenting a child.  I completely get what couples who are experiencing infertility must feel when they see the same situations.

I think, I have financial stability, a career, parenting experience and yet, I chose not to raise my own child.  And look at her!  She has none of those things and she kept her baby.  It's not fair.  I have extreme pain because I miss my child so much it makes my heart literally ache.  And I did this to myself and to my daughter just because I wanted perfect for her.  Was having two married parents really that important?

And I know what infertile couples battle when they see the same thing.  It is the same repugnant thoughts, but very much similar to mine.  Why was she blessed with a child when we weren't?  We possess everything a child could want or need, why is this so unfair?

We are all human.  Adoption brings out both the best and worst in all of us.

I am encouraged by many of your blogs as you talk about refocusing your thoughts and desires to those that would be pleasing to God.  That was the final revelation I came to after the conversation. 

This is not something that I can or should control.  I shouldn't try to change it on my own power.  My focus is entirely selfish.  God is not pleased with those thoughts.  I need to marinade in the same verse many of you take solace in.

Jeremiah 29-11-14

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 1

This is now in God's hands.  Brit's parents now clearly know the desire of my heart.  And I know where they stand. 

God is going to have to intervene on behalf of all of us.  I need to be seeking His will for all of us.  Only God knows what is best for Brit.  This is not about me. Or her parents.  It is about Brit.

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Friday!

I don't like pulling up my blog and seeing the ugly words from the last post, so I am on a mission to move them down the list and start filling my blog with a few more happy thoughts.

So here is mine for this morning.  I work at a recreation center and today we are hosting a Special Olympics basketball tournament.

There is no greater joy than watching these teams play.  OK, maybe a little mommy joy too, my oldest son J is volunteering as an official - and he LOVES it!  He got up early this morning and it was the first thing he talked about and he was out the door in record time so he could make sure he wasn't late.  **love that**

Everyone should get to come to work and see this level of joy first thing in the morning.  I think the roof on this building might just blow off from all of the excitement from the players. 

I want to live with that kind of joy.  Today is the best day ever for every one of them.  Until tomorrow, when that could be the best day ever too. :)

Maybe I'll get some pictures later to share.