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.

Hindsight. 

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.

However...

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.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I adopted a baby at birth and it is a closed adoption. This is how my hubby and I need it. This is our baby and the baby God had ordained for us.

I think you need to stop beating yourself up. Give your worries over to God. Brit is happy, her parents are happy, and you need to be happy. Give your anxiety about your decision to God. You cannot change things, only heal.


You gave her a good life. You were not ready at the time and cannot beat yourself up over it. Life will be miserable if you do not cast your anxiety over to God. You need to find contentment.

You gave an INCREDIBLE gift and that is awesome. Look at it this way, God knew the plan and this was HIS plan, even if it hurts, you need to TRUST HIS plan.

S. said...

Anonymous -

At the risk of being argumentative and insensitive to your situation, I would like to make a couple of statements. First, "That is how my hubby and I need it". That's great for you and your hubby, but what about your child and what he or she might need now or in the future - adoption is, in my mind, supposed to be child-centered. Second, "This is our baby and the baby God has ordained for us". Your child has two very REAL sets of parents, one set that provided his or her DNA, heritage, many personality traits, nourishment during his or her gestation and one set that has the responsibility and privilege of providing for his or her everyday needs in all facets of life. Neither set are the only parents. While God may have "ordained" that you were to have the privilege of parenting someone, that statement seems to be a little presumptuous and paints a picture of God that many people would bristle at. I surrendered my child 23 years ago and I refuse to believe that God "ordained" that I would get pregnant by a much older boyfriend, go through complete ostracism and emotional anguish just so someone else could have the privilege of being my son's everyday parents. I do accept, however, that God took a difficult situation of my making and basically made what I hope was a good outcome, or at least as good an outcome as possible for my child.

Children are not gifts to other people, they are not commodities. Women who surrender their children do so because we are in desperate situations, many of them temporary, as LIsa notes. The "GIFT" is in both sets of parents doing whatever possible to provide the best nurturing and love for that child so he or she can grow up whole and healthy.

S

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you more of my story. I have a son and daughter from my first marriage. My daughter went to heaven at 13 months due to a heart defect. I had a tubal ligation and then a reversal after she went to heaven. My marriage ended due to him having four affairs on me.

I went on to have 3 miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy and then chose adoption with my current husband after prayers to God and God telling me he had adoption in my path. We had 2 failures before being matched with the perfect lady. She had prayed over her decision and was content. When she was 3 1/2 by surprise I was pregnant with another baby girl.


I look at my story and my story is God's perfect plan with MUCH heartache of my own but I trust his plan.


I pray for Lisa and will pray for you too. God bless

S. said...

Anonymous -
I certainly appreciate hearing more of your story and as I said in my previous comment, I realize that I was risking being argumentative and insensitive. I am certainly sorry to hear about the difficulties and pain that you have experienced on your path to adoption. While I certainly can attempt to imagine why you feel as you do, I hope that you can also attempt to understand why I or other birth/first mothers might feel as we do (and of course I do not lump all first mothers together as we all have our own stories and experiences - none of us are clones of each other). I do still stand by my original observations and I wish you well in raising your family. And, I certainly am one who appreciates prayers so thank you for that.

S

Anonymous said...

S--I am glad we can leave it at this. I am and always will be very appreciative of you and Lisa and my birth parent!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Lisa:

After reading your last post, this sentence stuck me: "My daughter is being raised by a different family.That is the reality."

I think for many birthmothers the reality of them longer being their child's "only family/parents" is hard to swallow. The child has been placed into a new family with another mother, father and siblings. The reality of not being able to have the primary role of mother/parent and the relationship that come with it makes the pain worse. I do commend you for not blaming the aparents and/or society for this situation because like you said, it's was a choice.

I wish you the best; you have a good heart and I hope that someday the aparents will be able to open the relationship more. However, you have to keep in mind that between you and the bfather, you all have five children you are raising as a blended family, and Britt was the only one placed for adoption. Maybe the aparents are worried about how she might feel growing up knowing this and having visits. I know I would. Many times adoptees search when they are older to have their questions answered and maybe to establish a relationship with the bparents. Until then, I would focus on the children that you have now and leave the rest to God.

Once again, I wish you all the best.

LisaAnne said...

First I want to say that I appreciate your respectful statements. While we obviously see adoption from very different perspectives, when people can converse with respect we can learn a little more about each other.

I agree with all that S stated to you in response to your first comment. I believe she also presented those ideas clearly and gently.

There are several other points I would also like to make.

1. Everyday I pray that God will take this burden of grief from me. But for everyone who has faith, we all know that because we are human, each day is a battle between giving our burdens to God and the struggle with our sinful natures to handle things ourselves. I am trying. But the emotional toll this has taken on me is something I know God has the power and desire to bear for me, but I am human and my human heart hurts.

2. This blog represents one area of my life only. For those who know me, they know that the children I am parenting are the greatest focus I have each day. I spend the majority of my time and energy providing for them. And when I am not working or taking them to practices, games or other child driven activities, I spend the little amount of time I have left giving back to my community through volunteerism. I would say that the children I am parenting are my focus. I believe that you probably intended to be encouraging when you said I should focus on the children we are already parenting, but for a quick minute it made me feel like there was an implicatioin that I should do more for the boys I do parent. Which would be hard to do because they get a lot from me.

3. Your state that 'this is our baby' in your original comment. Which is true if you are speaking of who is responsible for parenting. But our children are not ours. First and foremost, God allows us to parent the children placed in our lives. But in addition to that, these children are all part of a larger family. Our children are someone's grandchild, someone's niece, another's friend, and the list goes on. Our children are part of a community of love. I do not limit the numbers of people 'allowed' in my child's life. (I do protect them from people who would harm them, but that is again a parental responsibility.) But if the neighbor lady loves my child, I am not threatened. When my sister says she feels a close connection to my youngest son, I smile. If there are people in my kid's lives that they choose to love like family, it makes me happy. My boys are learning that love is not bound by blood. (Their oldest sister is not legally or biologically related to them at all, but their bond is greater than both. They are connected by love and shared time with each other.) Your child is the same. While she is yours to parent, she will always be her birth parent's child too. We cannot severe familial connections. We can limit interaction, but we can never truly believe that our child 'belongs' only to us.

LisaAnne said...

4. We are parenting 5 boys (4 still in the home, one at college). And Brit is being parented in another family. However, that does not mean that they are not siblings. Not a single one of the 6 children involved here chose adoption. They are all now children who are impacted to varying degrees, by adoption.

Our boys also have to deal with divorced parents. Every single one of them. Things happen in their relationship with their other parents that I wish didn't (like when dad takes one child for an overnight visit but leaves the other with me because it's too much hassle). But, my children DESERVE a relationship with all of their parents, siblings and extended family members (even grandparents who might be considered lackluster). I help them understand how adults aren't perfect. Sometimes we make decisions that later we regret. But we still have to forgive one another, just like we forgive our children when they do something wrong.

That is what parents do. We help our children deal with disappointments in life. Because they are going to be bombarded with disappointment their entire lifetime.

My reason for pointing that out is background to your statement about protecting Brit from the realization that she is the only one of our children who was placed with another family. I can absolutely see how that would be a much more difficult conversation had BF and I been together as a family at the time of her birth. But she was born into circumstances that none of the boys were. BF and I were married every time we had a child prior to this. This time we were not. The circumstances surrounding her entrance into this world were distinctively different than any of the other boys and the resulting decision was based on those circumstances at that time.

I know we will have to answer to her someday about why she lived with a different family. I hope that conversation is not extremely painful for her, because it is our hope that while she didn't live with us, we will have included her in our lives to such an extent that she will know our love and commitment to her always existed even during the times when she was with her family and we were just loving her from afar.

If she has a relationship with all of us from the beginning of her memories, it is our hope that she will not harbor the wonder or rejection that she might develop if she was not allowed to see and feel through a personal relationship with us.

We are not ignorant enough to think that open adoption will eliminate all questions and hurt. But being open from the very beginning will allow her to formulate answers as she develops. At first they will be simple, growing more complex as she matures. And if she becomes an adult and chooses not to maintain a relationship because of our adoption decision for her, we would be required to deal with that. Just like every parent who has a child who strays from the family once they reach adulthood.

LisaAnne said...

5. We have an open adoption. We want a relationship with our daughter, but we also want a relationship with our daughter's family.  The idea that we would walk away or stop trying to cultivate a relationship like that feels to me like saying, "your father is not comfortable with all the work that  goes into parenting you so we are going to just stop trying." We don't do that.  I still work everyday to cultivate relationships with my family members for the sake of my children. While as an adult it would be ok with me if I didn't see them or talk to them often, it is important to my boys that I not let those relationships wane.  They are children and cannot be expected to bee responsible for maintaining adult relationships.  We are the adults, so even if we don't want to, we do it for the kids.

I will forever do whatever I can to make a relationship with Brit as easy for her as possible.

BF and I are good parents.  And that does not go out the window when we consider our relationship with Brit.  We have no delusions of ever being parents to her in the everyday parental sense.  She has parents.  We chose them.  

But because we love her and want the best for her, we also plan to always respect her parents, their role, and our role. We will never try to sabotage them.  We do not feel the need to try to step in and provide anything for her, except for our love and physical presence when she desires it.

We are not going to make her deal with adult issues before she is ready.  We don't do that with our children that we parent and we are not going to do that to Brit.

We are not scary.  We are well balanced, loving and considerate adults. We just want the opportunity to have a real relationship with Brit for her entire lifetime.  

I truly believe we are not people to protect her from.  We should be the kind of people you would want your child to know.  Especially when we have the direct connection to her that we do.

Obviously I am passionate about my relationship with Brit and my support of open adoption in all cases where it would not be harmful to the child.  

I understand from you sharing a part of your story that you believe a closed adoption is best for you. I would just hope that you might continually reconsider if and when your child might deserve to know her first family.   Because it is not any of ours to judge one another, I cannot and will not speak to what is best for your child.  As her parent you are given that responsibility.

Thank you for your comments Anonymous, and especially for your prayers on my behalf. I know that prayer and God's intervention is all that will comfort each of us in our adoption relationship.

And as strange as it may seem your comments were good for me as they reaffirm to me why I feel and believe as I do about open adoption.

Happy new year to you, and I hope your year is also filled with many more blessings.

Jake and Terri said...

I think of you often and hope that somehow you will be able to build a relationship with Brit and her family.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and all the emotions you feel.

I will continue to pray for you and your family. Hopefully 2012 will bring wonderful changes for you.

Bumber's Bumblings said...

my heart grieves for you, Lisa! My heart also grieves for adoptive parents that are so wrapped up in their insecurities that they can't allow their children to know and love the most important person in their life.

I'm so proud of you for not losing hope. The integrity you have about her a-parents is so honorable. I hope they are reading this and hope they can see the love you have for all three of them!

~Katie said...

Just catching Up...

Lisa - I think you are fillpin' AMAZING and I wish you were the birth parents of my little ones. You would be welcome to my house and our lives any time!

I am on the flip side of things, trying desperatly to begin and maintain relationships with my kids birth parents. It's hard and awkawrd and at times frustrating...but we will do anything and everything we can for our children and I strongly believe that a healthy, productive relationship with birth parents is in turn healthy and productive for my children. - NOT ME - THEM... and that is what i live for. These precious people placed their children with me and I promised them that I would ALWAYS put them first. My daughters mom is very young and isn't exactly living the lifestyle we would allow our little girl to be around. Yet, I email her and send her pictures and occaisionally call her to check on her. My hope is one day she will be able to have a more solid relationship with us and especially our sweet girl. Her BF is in prison. :(
Our son's BF is awesome! We have a GREAT relationship with him and his children. We hope to see them soon. They live very far away. His BM does not want contact. I pray someday she will.

Adoption is so very complicated and there are so many fragile and emotional layers. But I will always chose to believe that everyone involved has the very best of intentions and love for the baby involved - we just handle it very differently.

Keep up the great parenting Lisa! You are doing a fabulous job - even from afar. Praying for you!!!

A Life Being Lived said...

Such an amazing post. I was not (and am not) parenting when I made my decision but a lot of my thought process was the same- I wanted to give my daughter 2 married parents and didn't feel equipped or able to handle being her only parent (and provider, being that my ex was not supportive in any way) at that time. My life has stabilized a little and I do reflect that once I came to my adoption decision, I took myself out of the running of parenting. Willingly. I did not allow myself to "try on" the mom hat. In hindsight I should have given myself more of a chance, but then again, it's 20/20 and also, I can't do a darn thing about it. You are SUCH a good mom to all of your kids, and I KNOW that Brit will know in time how much you and BF and her brothers love her. I think of you and pray for you all the time! Here's to stronger and better relationships in 2012!

Debbie and Sam said...

Just a little background. I am an adoptive mamma. My daughter is from China so it is remote that she will ever have the opportunity to meet her birthparents. I am also adopted. My adoption was a closed adoption just because that was the way it went in the 60's. I have no great words or wisdom other than to wish you to find peace with the decision you made. I have now met my birthparents and our families have united. I feel so blessed to have a special relationship with my birthmother. It may have taken 35 years but she will tell you it was worth every birthday cake she ever ate alone on my birthday and I couldn't agree more. It has only been a year, you have a lifetime ahaead of you. Open your heart to peace and enjoy the fruits of your love even if it takes awhile.

JW said...

My God - I'm absolutely speechless at this.

I actually can't believe what I'm reading.

The total abdication of responsibility from two adults who were already parents with the means to support and look after a baby. Even if you didn't want to parent Brit, to not even properly research parents to place her with and adoption generally.....my heart breaks for this little girl. What a mess.

Frankly, I'm not sure how either of you can get out of bed in the morning and carry on. I admire your honesty, if nothing else

LisaAnne said...

JW,

I wish we would have done many things differently. Hindsight has clarity that crisis thinking doesn't provide.

I am also disappointed in myself for my thinking at the time.

JW said...

Lisa - thank you for replying to me. I'm sorry if my earlier post was harsh. I was just so shocked at the situation.

I've read your blog further since posting. I can see what a kind person you are and it's helped me understand why this situation has arisen.

I'm so sorry for you and I hope very much that your situation will change for the better x