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.


m&msmommy said...

My gosh, I pray to God (literally) on your behalf that Brit's parents take some time, pray about it, and realize how strong your desire is to be a bigger part of Brit's life! I know nothing about adoption so perhaps I'm the least qualified person to comment on this, but I am a mother, I know a mothers heart, and this post touched my soul. It is SO obvious the level of love you have for Brit. I'm SO sorry that your ideas and their ideas are so different. THat breaks my heart for you! (and that is NOTHING against her parents at all. I'm sure they are AMAZING people, but you all just had different ideas of "openess") My family is very much like yours in the fact that we welcome everyone, like family, even if they are not blood related. It's hard for me to understand families that don't, but then again, perhaps our types of family are the "abnormal" ones :) I'm rambling now, but please know that I will be praying for you. Your story has touched my heart from the time I found your blog and now reading this touches my heart even more. I can't even begin to imagine your pain, but please know I am praying! :)

Stauffer Family said...

From the outside I do see a positive here ... they are still talking with you about what will work for them .... even if it is a different point of view.

I cannot imagine what it feels like for you as I am an adoptive mom of two ...

Not to pry, but was there any kind of written contact agreement discussed and signed prior to placement? Can the agency or the professionals worked with assist in some way? Depending on your state it may not be legally binding but if this was all discussed before it may be worth revisiting earlier discussions with a professionals assistance.

From our experience there were some books that we were told to read that may be helpful to all of you that I would like to suggest:

Adoption is a Family Affair written by Patricia Irwin Johnston (we shared this with our families during our journey)

Children of Open Adoption & Their Families co-written by Kathleen Silber & Patricia Martinez Dorner

Making Room in Our Hearts: Keeping Family Ties through Open Adoption written by Micky Duxbury

Do you have access to adoption literate counselors? I think it may help to speak to someone how is not involved and help you through your feelings of grief and loss ... In turn this person may be able to help all of you mediate what future relationships you want ...

I don't mean to try and fix what is not working here ... just offering suggestions of things we did along our journey to family ... I hope they realize you are not trying to co-parent but want to be part of your daughter's life ... there will be a time that Brit will want to know who you are and be asking questions .... hopefully they'll start to understand it's about her and not them ...

Thinking of you ....

StefanieJinelle said...

I had an e-mail confronting me the other day about my blog from the adoptive family. Of course, they know about it and comment on it and I've thought about making my blog into a book to give to my birthdaughter at a certain age. They told me they never want to give it to her.

It broke my heart.

I've put countless hours of writing my feelings to let her know how much I love her. They say she's not the audience and such. And how I sometimes "demean" their family when I don't mean to. Um, I'd like to write my feelings without a moderator on them.

And like you said, being a birthmom- you're going to talk about what it's like being one. You're not going to glam it up for adoptive families reading it. And that's me too. I love them, I do. But these are my experiences and they're real and I'm sure not just to me.

I got the e-mail yesterday. Feelings are still fresh and I feel very frustrated. Like you said, you can't change it or control it. I don't like that I don't have control over the situation. But thank you for writing what I don't have the guts to write.

Global Librarian said...

Ah yes, the anonymous blog revealed. A story that repeats itself again and again.

Open adoption is difficult. Although I counter that in many cases every bit as difficult as maintaining any other familial relationship. Except that there are no established models or support systems in place to help guide you through it. It is unfamiliar, which makes it much scarier.

Speaking as an adoptive mother, I think the most important obstacle that needed to be removed before I could embrace our open adoption was the concept of The Real Mother.

I am my children's mother. There is no doubt to that. But their birth mother is also their mother. She is the mother who gave birth to them. I am the mother who is raising them. Both of us are important in their lives and trying to deny either role is simply lying to ourselves. And denying our children an important link.

birthmothertalks said...

Wow! I hope they understand that you blog as a way to express your feeling as you journey through your way being a birthmom. I find writing to be very helpful but I would never want my daughters adoptive family to come across it. It's not that I think poorly of them it's just my place to be me.
I think it's so hard for people to understand that we are people and families have such different normals and what maybe normal to one is really odd to another.
I came from a closed adoption and I can tell you it's not fun and it doesn't feel like they respected or cared about my feelings. Of course that was from the 90's and that was more of the normal. I really hope that you all can come to a agreement that feels right for all of you. Adoption is so hard from all sides. It effects people that most wouldn't think about. My youngest son still says he doesn't have a sister even though her pictures are up and he has met her once. I just think he is too used to the hush hush of the sister that he didn't know.

jgf said...

>>> I need more connection to them than I am getting. They don't.>>>

You can't possibly be THAT stupid. Why on Earth SHOULD they give a crap?!!! They got what they wanted- and now they are DONE with you.

Lu Holt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LisaAnne said...

jgf, I am so sorry about your birthmother and what she has done to you. There are some really mean and hateful people in this world, and unfortunately it looks like to your misfortune your mother happens to be one of them.

Adoption is messy and you got more than your share.

I am glad that my adoptive parents are not like some of the people you have had to endure.

They are not done with me, and I will never be done with them. No matter how hard this gets. We all want what is best for the child involved here.

I wish the people who cared for you would have felt the same way.

My heart goes out to you. I hope that some day you will be able to find peace, in spite of the hardship and pain you have been dealt.

Much love to you.

LisaAnne said...

Global Librarian,

I truly appreciated your comment. My favorite part was:

"Speaking as an adoptive mother, I think the most important obstacle that needed to be removed before I could embrace our open adoption was the concept of The Real Mother.

I am my children's mother. There is no doubt to that. But their birth mother is also their mother. She is the mother who gave birth to them. I am the mother who is raising them. Both of us are important in their lives and trying to deny either role is simply lying to ourselves. And denying our children an important link."

I heard something very similar to this from an adoptee's blog. A friend asked her (as a child) who her real mother was because the friend knew she was adopted and also had a relationship with her birthmother. The girl responded:

"They're both my real mom."

I love how simple that can be if everyone let's go of possession of titles.

Me said...

The problem is with these adoptive parents. I'm sorry but I really think they "fast tracked" you(they befriended you during pregnancy and made you feel secure with no intention of following through-an AP wrote a book called "Fast Track Adoptions" instructing people to do just this) and now they are manipulating you to keep you away from what they feel is THEIR daughter.
I know you are hopeful of a relationship in the future. They know that. They hold all the cards and all the power.
My advice to you is to stop blogging or at least take down the pictures of this precious child. I'm worried that her AP's will use this blog against you now that they have found it.
I wish that your daughter's parents were the kind of people you had hoped they would be but it's apparent that they are not. They know a few kind words here and there will keep you in your place. I'm sure they are appalled by this blog. I'm sure they let you know it.
Emails and one visit a year is what you are going to get if you're lucky and the adoptive parents feel you are behaving yourself.
That stinks.
I'm sorry this has happened to you. I hope you can stay strong.

Faith said...

I think it appropriate to begin my comment with simply this, the love of a parent is fierce, isn’t it?? Mom’s…we have this nearly wild animal sense and territorial protective instinct when it comes to our babies! An emotion and feeling that can’t be imagined, you can’t prepare yourself for it, until that swaddled baby is placed in your arms for the very first time! Like the love you think you will feel for that munchkin is nothing compared to the intensity of love that bursts through your soul when you lay eyes on your baby for the first time! That’s fair to say right? I think that’s fair to say for both birth moms and adoptive moms.
Here is what I would like to say…God calls us all differently, we were all uniquely made to fulfill His purpose and will for our lives ultimately, for His own glory. Just as not all of us are called to be teachers, healers, evangilists, etc., neither are we all called to parent our children the same. Lisa has made it clear that she has sought Godly council, and has also made it clear that Brit’s parents are prayerful people. Shouldn’t we consider, behind the judgmental comments about Brit’s parents and the type of relationship they are comfortable with, that it is in fact in God’s hands? That it is His will for this particular family to have a specific type of relationship, no matter how distant? It is so easy to blame others, to not try to understand their hearts and immediately assume they have guilt or undealt with emotions over having a daughter that’s not biologically theirs. That seems to be the most common threaded opinion…which, may certainly be an issue for some adoptive parents, I can’t deny that. However, maybe there is no guilt at all. Maybe they are truly and genuinely following God’s will for their lives and wouldn’t Lisa feel so much less confident of their parenting if they were easily guilted and persuaded by other people’s opinions and harsh comments? Please consider, that although God’s will can undoubtedly be painful for others because we cannot understand or know what he knows, we just have to trust that it serves a purpose. Some are blessed with the beauty of a super open adoption that others of us can’t understand…some are lead to an equally beautiful closed adoption…in either case, adoption is amazing and beautiful and it gives me goose pimples to know that God has hand picked a baby, hand picked the parents, literally, to create a family, for his purpose, to fulfill a perfect plan.
Also, and this is strictly opinion, not stating it’s right or wrong for anyone else, but, as I mentioned in my opening statement, new parents especially, cannot anticipate the love they will feel, the Mama Bear instincts that will envelope them…so, even if prior to the birth of the baby, they THINK they will be okay with an open adoption, when you hold that baby, all gloves are off and you begin making decisions as a mother and father, not a potential candidate, or potential adoptive parent. You make them as the one true parent. So again, while painful to someone on the other end, it shouldn’t be viewed as a “fault.” In this particular case however, it sounds as though it’s the birthmother who is now longing for more than what she initially expressed, or even thought she would desire. To no fault of yours Lisa, you undoubtedly, could not expect to feel the grief, guilt, emotions, what-if’s of what this adoption would feel like for you and your family. For whatever reason, God consumed you with an overwhelming desire to place Brit in the arms of loving parents so even in your grief, for even just a moment, I pray you find peace in knowing that you were used by God, to create something beautiful and wonderful. God’s heart breaks for your pain too, and it seems not fair that only he can see the purpose, the why…God is God and when we make Him Lord of our lives, we sign up for a lot don’t we?? God bless you, Brit, and her family. Peace will come, in whatever form, it will come. Take time to heal, take care of yourself.

Ray said...

Well, if you look at it that way Faith, the entire conversation is moot. What is the point of Lisa even having a blog, she should just learn to live with her "godly decision", right?
Let's look at the here and now.
The here and now is that Lisa will probably get to see her daughter once a year at best.
That is a result of her "Godly decision".
Will Lisa heal from this "Godly decision"? Maybe.
Hopefully. Someday. Many mothers do not.
The reality of the situation is that because of Lisa's godly decision, she has no rights or access to her child. She has not a single legal leg to stand on. The ink has dried.
Can she recover? I hope so. Because it is what it is whether God is involved or not.
"To no fault of yours Lisa, you undoubtedly, could not expect to feel the grief, guilt, emotions, what-if’s of what this adoption would feel like for you and your family. "
Now this is where I have to disagree. Especially after having three children, the fact that Lisa ever thought she could relinquish her with no grief is a bit farfetched to me. And honestly Faith, how condescending of you to tell Lisa she will heal and recover. It sounds to me like you are living on the other side of this as an AP. If it is so easy to recover, which of your children would you like to relinquish?
Lisa put her trust in Brit's adoptive parents that they would uphold their part of the agreement and let her have a place in Brit's life. They have not done this.
There is no blame in that statement. It's just the truth.
Lisa, I hope that you can find peace with this but in order to find the peace you need to look at your situation without the rainbow perspective that got you into this in the first place. It is time to see Brit's adoptive parents as they really are, not villains but people who are obviously flawed but hold a lot of power in whatever relationship transpires between you and your daughter.
I wish you the best in all this.

Anonymous said...

Lisa ~ my heart breaks for you and this situation with your Aparents. I have a very similar story to yours, I am over 40 and am a single mom to an 8 year old daughter. I placed my son 38 days ago. I would like to chat with you if you are interested, it has been very difficult finding a similar situation to mine. I'm not sure how to get in touch with you, other than on your blog...?