Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hindsight - why I chose adoption when I did

Often I am asked why we placed Brit if we so badly want a relationship with her.  A very fair question.

The simple answer is: When we chose adoption we chose a permanent solution to a temporary situation.

BF and I had just started dating.  We had been together a matter of weeks when I got pregnant.  There is no excuse for why.  We are old enough to know better, we are educated, we are responsible in most other areas of our lives.  We simply did not communicate well about this area of our relationship.

When I found I was pregnant we were faced with what we felt like was an unbelievable set of circumstances.  Two people, just getting to know each other, newly divorced, raising 5 boys of our own as single parents.  Both over 35 years old and 'done having children'.  Or so we thought.

BF is an accountant. He is calculated.  He plans.  He rationalizes.  And it takes him a REALLY long time to make a commitment to something/someone.  He has to be certain.

I am impulsive.  I love fast and easily.  I believe all things will work out for the best and that people are good.  I trust and forgive easily.  I deal with things only if I have to.  Denial is a preferred method for difficult situations if at all possible. 

So being unexpectedly pregnant threw both of us for a loop.  It didn't fit into any plan BF had for his life, and I simply did not know what to do about it.  We were overwhelmed.

While it is probably an understood, I think it bears stating.  Pregnancy does not induce the most clear thinking of a woman's life.  Hormones wreak havoc.  Thoughts swirl.  Tears come easily.  Insanity is just below the surface.  Small problems can become huge issues resulting in overreaction.  To say the least.

I just couldn't fathom how I was going to be able to parent the 3 boys I had, plus care for a new baby.  I felt like the weight of bearing that load was oppressive.  And not fair to any of the children involved.  Especially this child.

BF was equally overwhelmed.  The idea of parenting a child with someone he had just started dating (I am quite a catch but he didn't realize it yet, lol), was more than he could imagine.

We had a problem (so we thought), so we had to find a solution.  Abortion was not an option for me so that was quickly eliminated.  So we could parent or place this child with another family.

We found ourselves saying over and over again how we wanted this child to have a set of married parents, just like our boys had when they were born.  We wanted him/her to have an idyllic childhood, like we had planned for our boys.  We both hated the fact that our children were now dealing with divorced parents.  We had never wanted that for any of them.

So if we could give this child an advantage instead of a disadvantage by providing her with a loving, intact family from the very beginning, weren't we doing the right thing for her?

That was our justification.

Brit deserved two married parents, just like her brothers had when they were born.

So we made the decision to place without ever seriously considering parenting.  Parenting just didn't seem to be the logical choice.  We believed we should do the 'right thing' for this child, giving her married parents.

We chose her parents, and began developing our relationship with them.  They became a part of our lives.

The abbreviated version of that story would be: A couple wanted to be parents, heard about us, thought we were the solution to their problem (infertility). We saw them as the solution to our need for a married set of parents for our child. 

It was as simple as that.  They were good people, the kind of people we thought would be great parents.  They were like us.  They were willing and able to do what we thought we could not.

Now for the hindsight...

BF and I should have spent alot of time talking about parenting.  We should have let our hearts realize that this was OUR child.  We should have only considered parenting until we could justify why we couldn't parent.

I did not do adequate research.  Once I made the decision that adoption was our choice, I did not want to read horror stories.  I didn't want to hear about anything that would conflict with what I believed would be a fairy tale ending to this story.  So I stopped reading anything except happy adoption supportive literature.

Brit's parents were not done dealing with infertility.  They knew they wanted to be parents.  Adoption was the next logical solution to make that happen.  They had not had any pre-adoption counseling.  They had just begun inquiring about adoption.  They had barely had a chance to process what parenting an adopted child would entail.  I believe they were not yet prepared for becoming parents through adoption (just like we were not prepared to become 'birthparents').  They were ready to be parents.  But being adoptive parents takes a whole heap of fortitude that not everyone is able to handle, especially without professional advice before you enter an adoption relationship.

BF and I had no idea what having a child who we would not be able to have a relationship with would do to us as people.  We had no idea how strong the desire would be for us to have a relationship with our child after she was born. We were convinced this would be a neat and tidy situation.  Child has parents, parents love baby, we are happy for all of them and their perfect world. 

I should have not become so emotionally vested in my relationship with Brit's adoptive mother.  Because every time I had thoughts about keeping Brit, I thought about how it would hurt her mom and I didn't want to hurt her/them.

Although we saw two separate counselors repeatedly, I should have found someone who had extensive birthparent experience.  I should have sought wise counsel.

There are so many more things I could list here.  But it all comes down to this...

If only we would have known then what we know now, the decision would have been different.


BF and I should be parenting Brit.  We should have parented her from the beginning.  We should not have ever entertained the idea of adoption.  We are capable, experienced parents and we should have just pulled ourselves up and said, we can do this.  It might not be ideal, but we can do this.

I am not anti-adoption.  I do believe there are some people who should not or cannot parent children, whether or not they give birth to them.  But what I have realized is that if at all possible, keeping a child with his or her birth family should be the very first choice.  Even if it is hard.

But if it cannot be done, for reasons that are more than just temporary, then the child should still be allowed a relationship with his/her first family.

I made what I thought was the logical choice for Brit's well being based only on the circumstances as they presented themselves at that time.  There was SO much more to consider.  We thought we were doing the right thing.

BF and I are good parents.  We are good providers.  We love our children.  We should have spent more time focusing on that.


The adoption decision is irrevocable (especially in Kansas, there is absolutely no recourse.  Papers are signed 48 hours after birth and there is no revocation period.).

My daughter is being raised by a different family.  That is the reality.

All we can do now is try to make this the very best situation for her.  The decision was made.  Right or wrong.  It's over.

I will not undermine her parents.  They are her parents now.  I will support them, and love them.  That's what families do.  I will do my part to make this the very best relationship I can.  Even when it's hard.

I have no blame for anyone but myself.  I made the decision.  I am now living the consequences of that decision.  The regret and grief is self-inflicted.

So onward. 

Now, we are going to do everything in our power to be available to that little girl.  We are going to work on our relationship with her parents.  We are vested.  We will not just give up on the idea of an open adoption just because it is hard.  Families work through relationship struggles.  We are committed to filling whatever role we are allowed to have in the life of sweet Brit.  We are going to continue to love her to pieces.  And hopefully, that will not have to be from afar.

Final thoughts:
Please do not read the preceding and make any assumption that I am against adoption.  There are people who should be parents.  People who may not give birth to a child, but who love the child in their life as if they did.

Adoption is not an innately bad thing.  On the contrary, I believe that adoption can be a beautiful thing.  I derive so much joy from reading about my friends who have beautiful, healthy, open adoptions.  Not perfect adoption relationships.  But they make the best of what they have.  Just like any of us do as parents.  They respect the role of everyone in the adoption relationship and they are child centric, focusing on what is best for the child, not just what is least painful for the adults.

Because of my research and now very personal interest in adoption relationships, I have also developed a heart for children in foster care.  Those children DESERVE families who love them.  Forever families.  I am so thankful there are good people who are willing to take on that role for those children.

There are no manuals for life (with the exception of the Bible, which I should read more!).  We are all just trying to do the best we can, adapting as we go along.

Life is complicated and people are messy.  We are all doing what we think is best. 

And everyone should be treated with a little more grace and compassion.  Everyone.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Being a birthmom at Christmas = emotional trainwreck at any given moment

The boys showing off their new bags
As a whole we had a great Christmas.  The boys got along beautifully and got everything their hearts desired.  My BF absolutely stepped up this Christmas season, welcoming me and the boys into his home for an entire week, making us all feel like the family we plan to be someday.  He was so good to all of us, generous and inclusive.  I think I may have fallen even more in love with him as the week progressed.

While it was good and happy most of the time, I will admit, I had a few breakdowns. 

The first was at the beginning of the break when it became apparent that we would not be seeing Brit this holiday season.  We were hopeful that it would work for her family to come over and let us give her the gifts we chose for her (and a couple for her siblings).  However, the week of Christmas we finally got a note from them saying their schedule just didn't allow the time.  It was very hard on both BF and me.  We had both been very hopeful that it would work out.  We had waited several weeks to see if our request for them to join us for a little time would be doable.  Apparently it just didn't work for them.

So we mailed the gifts.  Mailed them to their home, which happens to be about 7 miles from our home.  It broke our hearts.  ALOT.  BF did a great job consoling me.  It required holding me as I sobbed for hours until I finally fell asleep.  Followed by a second day filled with tears at work.

But I had to move on.  We have a house full of boys who are here with me now who needed me to pull it together.  So I did.

Many happy memories were made before breakdown number two.

As we were getting ready to leave the house to head to BF's family Christmas, BF handed me the photo book that I had created for both of our mothers which included a year full of pictures of Brit.  He said to me that we should probably wait until later to give it to his mom. So let's guess what that started?... Yep, the floodgates.  He was right.  The nieces and nephews at her house would be confused because they barely remember me being pregnant.  And explaining who the baby was in the pictures would be complicated. Timing would be better later.  BUT.  That was all I needed to go into orbit. 

I already missed Brit dearly that Christmas Eve, and suddenly I had a catalyst to start the tears.  Again, BF wrapped his arms around me and told me he knows this is hard.  I cried for a few minutes, walked around out in the cold, pulled myself together and headed over to his mom's.  I also partook in a glass of wine which calmed my nerves enough that I could participate in holiday festivities.

Again, we enjoyed a nice Christmas Eve and when we woke up Christmas morning I did pretty well.  Until after all the boys' stockings were unloaded and they all scattered to their rooms.  As soon as they were out of sight, I found myself back in bed, curled up in a ball, crying softly into my pillow.  BF came looking for me after a while and again, just held me until it passed.  All I could think was that we were missing someone.  Everything was not OK.

I am so glad that he realizes that there is no fixing this.  Nothing he can say or do will make it better.  My heart is missing a piece.  It is gone and there is a painful hole there.  Most of the time I can function covering the hole with being busy.  But when family events happen, and we have all of our children together, I feel like there is a ghost child missing.  And unfortunately I cannot call her, or see her to reassure myself that everything is OK.

I know that Brit is loved and well cared for.  But I miss her and want to know her personally.  We love her too.  And I wish she knew us.  I wish she knew her brothers.

Sunday night I woke up from a deep sleep because I was dreaming of Brit and I realized I have no idea what her voice sounds like.  I couldn't go back to sleep with the nagging feeling of how I just needed to see her.  To know her.

I know that how things are today are not necessarily how they will always be.  That this distance between Brit's family and us may not always exist.

But living through this is really painful.  And waiting is so very hard.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To all who have read my blog, commented or just prayed silently for me,

I appreciate all that you have and continue to do to encourage me.

You have all been so kind and supportive, thank you.

I will admit that I have done little but cry for almost 24 hours.  But the few moments of joy that I am able to salvage from my day generally involve words of encouragement from all of you.

I am trying very hard to hand this over to God because I am not doing a good job of bearing the burden on my own.

Yet, I find that being here, in this ocean of grief is a hard place to leave when you don't see anything but ocean all around.

Thank you again for the prayers, for all of us.

Truly that is the only thing that will change what exists here.

I cannot do it on my own power.  I cannot WILL someone to extend me grace.  I cannot beg for someone to WANT to have a relationship with me.

So I have to let God handle that. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thank you my adoptive mom friends

I really did think I was better.  My thoughts were clearing and I had hope for my future relationship with my daughter's parents.

Then it hit again.  I felt as if I was standing on a train track enjoying the beautiful day, and BAM the train strikes me as I stand still.

It is a paralyzing feeling to know that as a birthparent you have absolutely no 'rights' in the adoption relationship.  You can only be the recipient of good will. 

So you have to just sit back and hope that good will is extended to you.  Sometimes it is, and other times you are hit by a train.  Either way, you must grin and bear it.  Because this is what you chose when you chose adoption for your child.


I am trying to brush off from my emotional train wreck and figure out what good can come from this latest bout of pain and heartbreak.  And one thing surfaced immediately.  There are some super great adoptive moms out there who 'get' open adoption.  They are moms whose hearts are filled with love for not only their children, but for the families of their children.

And when my heart break is really bad, I appreciate how each of them dusts me off and says, "This is not how it should be. What is happening here is not how adoption works best."

They give me virtual hugs and encouragement.  And they remind me that adoption can be beautiful and not just heartbreaking.

So below is a letter to my adoptive mom friends who understand the precious relationship that they have with their child's birthparents.  I am so grateful for all of you and the love and support you extend me in my darkest hours.

To my dear adoptive mother friends,

First and foremost, thank you for loving our children.

Thank you for making the conscious decision to open your heart to more than just a child.  But instead opening your heart to the child and his/her entire family.

Thank you for having a tender place in your heart that makes you desire to invest in knowing your child's birth families, and allowing your hearts to love them, warts and all.

Thank you for not allowing insecurity or our selfish human nature get in the way of a meaningful relationship with your child's birthfamily.

Thank you for understanding that we (birthparents) are all flawed people who will let you down, say things that hurt, and do things that you may not understand.  Thank you for forgiving us anyway.  Often many times over.

Thank you for not listening to the nay-sayers who tell you that this is YOUR child and you don't need to have a relationship with his/her birthfamily.

Thank you for putting your child's needs first, even when it is tough.  And scary.  And not easy.

Thank you for realizing that your hard work and painful investment in a relationship with your child's birthfamily will pay dividends later.  Maybe much later (after many heartbreaks of your own), but in the end, it was the right thing to do.

Thank you for seeing the beauty in us for who we are to your child; the child's first families.

Thank you for doing the right thing, and not necessarily the easy thing, even when given the chance.

And finally, thank you for educating others about how beautiful open adoption can be. 

With heartfelt love,

An appreciative birthmom

Below are links to three of the most encouraging women who have helped me through some of the hardest days of my life.  You are all such amazing women and mothers.  THANK YOU!