Thursday, December 31, 2009

Buh-bye 2009

2009 was a tough year for almost everybody I know. It brought challenge and loss around every corner.

Thankfully my little family has emerged healthy and happy despite the difficulties, and so excited to welcome the New Year!

Happy New Year! I have every confidence that 2010 is going to be totally awesome :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Modern Technology and Open Adoption

Colin is 11.5 years old(!), and he got his very own cell phone for Christmas. He is ecstatic, and so am I. A couple of months ago he gave me his email address, so we have been emailing, which I love love love. Now we can call and text each other ad lib. Not that I couldn't already call him whenever I wanted, or vice versa, but this feels different. I like it. His parents and I developed this strong foundation with a common goal: that one day, Colin and I would have our own relationship. Up until recently, the primary relationship has been between his parents and me, which is obviously how it should be. Colin is now at an age that we can really start to get to know one another. His parents are comfortable with all of this, of course. In fact, I plan on calling his mom just to let her know how excited I am about this new phase, but also to reinforce that I would never do/say/imply anything that is in disagreeance with what we have all been teaching Colin about our relationships and adoption in general. I also know that it will sound redundant to her. She will appreciate the gesture, but she knows that I know, and I know that she knows that I know... get it? It's how we roll; it's why it takes 11 years to get to this point.

I can tell that Colin is excited for us to have this kind of "independent" communication :)

This is all a fantastic indication that we've been doing something right for the last decade!

Hard work? It pays off.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Today was, as expected, a total blast. However, one of my Christmas wishes did not come true: that Jeb stop fighting sleep tooth and nail. He is currently giving Husband a terrible time, like he does every single night. Sleep will have to be a post of its own soon, but for now... back to Christmas.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were full of special moments, careful preparations, and fun celebrations. Santa was good to us all, especially the Short One.

We left cookies and milk out for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer. Jeb loved it despite his pained look --- he hates smiling for the camera these days ;)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 Blizzard is what They are calling it.

What a weekend. I worked Friday night, and came home Saturday morning to sleep from 0830-1230 (sad face). Bennett and I went to do Jeb's Christmas shopping while Grandma babysat. It was supposed to be a deliciously leisure Sunday afternoon date, but the blizzard was threatening. Husband started a business last Spring: commercial landscape / commercial snow removal, so obviously the Sunday afternoon date was impossible. BTW, shopping for the Small One who kind of gets Santa = so so so much FUN! We had a blast!!

And then Husband left to prepare for the snow, at 3pm. He got home today at 2pm. Twenty-three freaking hours later. It was his first snow fall as a professional-snow-removal-guy :/

The single parenting for 24+ hours was nothing compared to the anxiety of having Husband out in blizzard conditions. I was worried about his physical safety, his anxiety about performing for clients, his absolute fatigue, and, and, and..... I was a wreck. He encountered faulty equipment, lying salt providers, and snow that just.would.not.stop. I was his Ground Control, and helped him out of several jams with my go.ogle abilities. It was hair-raising at times, to say the least. I stayed up way too late, and fed my worry with a little too much wine.

By this morning I was a ball of nervous energy, and decided to bundle up Jeb and myself to go out and at least shovel the stairs and breathe some fresh air. After 25 minutes of dressing the two of us, we went outside, and after approximately 5 minutes, Jeb looked at me and declared "DONE!". We were out just long enough for our clothes to get snowy enough so as to make a nice puddle inside the front door. I put on Elmo and went back out (way too much TV this weekend-- crown me Mother of the Year) because I needed to do SOMETHING instead of refresh the weather channel website and worry about Husband. So, my Virginia-born son hates the snow. His Florida-born mama feels the same.

In the end: Husband is safe but tired. Customers are happy. Small One is doped up on Elmo, but no worse for the wear. Mama is s p e n t, but happy to have the whole family under one roof tonight.

What 19 inches looks like on my back patio:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The picture version of the last post.

I'm too lazy to edit and add in pictures to the last post ;)

Jeb got his saw to help "cut" the tree.

Licking the beaters + Elmo's World = Pure Heaven

Yay! Poinsettias!

Fruits of our Labor:

Totally fun wrapping paper:

Jeb's first home-made Christmas decoration :) I have a feeling this one will be my favorite decoration for many many years :)

It's really hard to get a decent picture of a Christmas tree. The photo doesn't do it justice, but the cutie-patutie makes up for it I think!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 Days to Go

I said it before, and I'll say it again: I am enjoying the holiday season more than I ever have. Growing up, Christmas was always nice, but my parents' marriage wasn't great, and I always felt the conflict of seeing the Magic but knowing our home wasn't completely happy. I hated that conflict. It was like Christmas exemplified what should be, but wasn't. My husband's family was similarly stable, but with some depressed undercurrents. The two of us have a far better marriage than either of our parents', and we talk often about how to create something different for Jeb. Christmas is a perfect opportunity. I know our family will not be perfect, but it is/will be happy. I want Jeb to only feel the magic of the season; for as long as his innocence will allow, at least. I want him to look back at daily life, and especially the holidays, and have tradition, laughter, commitment, and love come to mind. This is the first season that we've been able to put all this into practice and see the smiles that result :) It's better than I ever dreamed :)

So, with 10 days to go, here are the 10 most totally awesome things I am enjoying this year:

- The tree! We didn't put up a tree last year, for several reasons, but this year's is gorgeous and I had 2 years worth of enjoyment hanging our ornaments, with my short helper.

- Christmas cards! I have sent out 72 cards, and I watch for the mail man everyday so I can see how many I get that day. I am loving seeing pictures of my friends' kids :)

- The giving. We are on a tighter budget than usual, but I am thrilled with the humble yet thoughtful gifts we have to give. It is going to be a simple, but beautiful gift giving.

- The wrapping paper! I usually go for a folk-y kind of look, but this year I picked a Dr. Seuss-y kind of theme. I LOVE IT!

- The Christmas music. A couple of radio stations started playing Christmas music 24/7 the first week of November. I loved it, but was worried I'd be sick of it by now. Not so! I am still totally loving hearing Christmas music!

- My poinsettias. My husband is a Plant Man, and we've always had an amazing display of poinsettias in our home. I was worried our budget just wouldn't handle poinsettias this year, but I found a few awesome deals, and we have a little mini-display :) Loving it!

- The traditions I am continuing with Jeb. We have one of those 1-a-day calenders with a chocolate behind each door. He is bananas for it! I have a book: A Story a Day til Christmas. My mom read it to me every year, and now I read it to Jeb. Jeb and I will be making sugar cookies and decorating them for Santa, which my mom also did with me every year. There are others, and we are starting a few if our own as well.

- The baking. Jeb and I have been baking every day. He is such a good helper! Yesterday we made butter pecan cookies, which were my maternal grandmother's FAVORITE. I helped my mom make them for her every year. My grandma passed on many years ago, but I still thought of her as I made the cookies with my boy. Today we made orange-cranberry-walnut bread. Tomorrow, we will bring the bread and cookies to the nursing home where Jeb's great-grandma lives. Hopefully we'll give some smiles to some elderly people :) We have also made banana bread, and a cake, and have still to make chocolate chip - walnut cookies and the sugar cookies... and any other awesome recipe I come across! We put on our Christmas music, make a huge mess, and enjoy some treats :)

- The Christmas movies. Charlie Brown was on tonight, and I was down right giddy!

- And most importantly, the Reason for the Season. This has been a really tough year. Thankfully my relationship with my Lord is strong, and I am surely keeping it in mind that we have made it this far because we are abundantly blessed by Him.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My house may be dusty, but we are having a blast.

The cleaning and scrubbing
will wait till tomorrow,
for Children grow up,
as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep......

I first heard this poem when I was pregnant with Jeb, and it of course made me choke up (still does), and I imagined rocking my newborn in the nursery, understanding the message to my core. I believe I did have moments in his infancy where I actively chose to share moments with him, and put down the busy-ness of life. Life with an infant is intense, though, and you mostly don't have any choice but to hold, rock, snuggle, nurse, ect. At least my infant didn't give me much choice ;) With a new baby, I got into the mode where if he was happy while not being held for a minute, I immediately attacked my to do list, whether I had 5 minutes or 30. Cleaning, laundry, bills, grocery lists, dusting, a quick toilet scrub, grab a bite to eat, pull something out of the freezer for dinner, grab that cup of coffee out of the microwave that I heated up 2 hours ago...

Life with a toddler is so much easier in many ways. He plays trains while I shower, instead of crying in the bouncy seat while I sing the 4 thousandth verse of Wheels on the Bus as I wash my hair. He sits in his seat at the table and eats lunch independently, instead of nursing round the clock. He can follow me with his own rag to "help" me with the dusting, instead of needing to be carried everywhere. He "fixes" the rocking chair with his tools as I enjoy my piping-hot coffee and check my email, or chat with a friend on the phone. He'll watch some Elmo while I put the groceries away, instead of whimpering because that is one chore that is really impossible to do 1 handed. In short, he's much more independent. As I was playing catch with him this afternoon, I was thinking about how maybe he could read a book while I got XY or Z done, but then I remembered this poem. I thought to myself, "really, what better or more important thing do I have to do right now than play with my boy, watch him laugh, help him feel loved?" It was a no brainer. Obviously I can't spend ALL of my time on the floor with him, but I've had several of these moments lately, where I remember my priorities and ignore my less-than-shiny kitchen floor.

It feels really good, to both of us.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Unabashed Bragging on the Husband

This picture is a couple of months old, but it is my fav of my boys.

I am so blessed to have my husband. I have known him for over 17 years. When we were 13 he told me he wanted to marry me. We spent our teen years as best best friends, but then went separate ways for college. We got back together 6 years ago, and my life with him is better than I ever could have hoped for.

He is a Man. He is strong, and calm, and capable. He has more integrity in his pinkie finger than many people have in their whole body. He is honest, and diplomatic, and hysterical. We laugh constantly. He loves me with a depth I barely understand. My happiness is his first priority; he shows it daily in countless ways. He calls me on his lunch break to tell me he misses me. I am head over heals in love with him; his strong arms are my Safe Place.

He is an amazing father. He is always on the floor, playing with J and reading him books. He puts him to bed every single night. When I am at work, they do the laundry together. He knows just as much as I do about vaccines, and breastfeeding, and what to do for J's occasional bouts of constipation. He is truly a hands-on Dad.

Giving my son this incredible man for a father is one of the best things I could have ever given him. B is the man I hope J will be one day, too. He represents so much of what I couldn't give C. I hate that many boys grow up with out such a strong role model. My son is one lucky kid to have the dad he has.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Recently, an online aquantaince said "Baby's first Christmas doesn't even compare to Baby's third Christmas". I couldn't agree more...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Birthday Eve

Exactly 2 years ago from right now, my alarm was going off. Husband and I were heading in for an induction. At 42 weeks pregnant, I was desperate to give birth. J was due Nov 19, and here I was having a December baby?! He wasn't born until Dec 4th, but the 3rd will always be my Labor Day. We had a totally awesome natural birth, and I immediately became Suction Cup Mama. The severe anxiety set in by day 2. Any signs of distress from the baby sent me into orbit. I thought I was just being a normal new mom, but looking back my responses were fraught with adoption baggage. Anything that wasn't just right, any struggle J had, the littlest things made me feel like my validity as a mom was being threatened. If he fussed and I didn't fix it, if his cord fell off too early or too late, if I complained an ounce about sleep deprivation, someone would come to take him away. If my first baby were better off elsewhere, maybe this one would be too? Maybe someone/something would intervene and he would disappear. J got a cumulative 2 ounces of formula on day 3 before my milk came in and I agonized about whether I could call myself an "exclusive nurser"; had I taken the easy way out that day? (I am so not a 'formula is the devil' breast feeder, it was only my own anxiety.) When J was 3 weeks old, I took a 15 minute walk with my mother. It was the ONLY time I was away from him until I went back to work at 10 weeks. We co-slept full time, so I literally held him all day and night. I physically could not bring myself to be away from him, which fed the Anxiety Beast even more. My husband and I were primed to watch for depression, or the blues, but that anxiety hit me out of left field. I won't even talk about what it was like to go back to work.

I remember one day when I was away from him and I had the thought I am his mother even when I'm away from him. It was a novel concept.

The anxiety is better and different; but not gone. I still catch myself feeling like my motherhood is less valid. I no longer cry every time I leave him, but I lay in bed and wonder: did J run enough today? did he laugh enough today? did he get enough protein? should I have played blocks instead of talking to my mom on the phone? does he feel loved? am I doing something wrong? ---- I KNOW that J is well cared for, happy, healthy, lighthearted, stress-free, and all those good things. But, I'm still trying to prove to someone that it's cool that he's with me.

Thankfully, he is a total mama's boy, so we spend lots of time cuddling, which is obviously the best feeling in the entire world :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Adoption and Loss (I know, how original.)

I've been thinking a lot about the things I want to write about, but I've been blocked on how to formulate a post. I feel like there has been a lack of the emotional-happy-squishy component in my posts. (It's probably because I read many newly adopted blogs, in which the emotional-happy-squishy index is incredibly high ;) )It's not that my situation is not happy, I suppose it's that the things that I am processing are some of the flip sides. I'm really happy; I guess that part is sufficiently processed for now.

I've been thinking a lot about the adoptee's sense of loss. We all know about how each member of the triad feels loss, but the adoptee's feels especially hard because they were the only member not making any decisions. Please, don't get me wrong, this is so not going to be anti-adoption. The logistics are what they are, no newborn has much say in much of anything. But I feel really shitty about the fact that originally I hadn't given much thought, at all, to what C might feel in terms of loss. I started giving it some thought when he was around 5. And even then, I always thought: yeah, but we'll explain why I couldn't parent and he'll get it, and thank us all profusely while we ride off into the sunset!

Well, my son feels loss. I've explained to him why I couldn't parent, and he gets it as much as he can without being a pregnant teenager; but he is still really, really sad about it. All of our fantastic intentions, support, and love haven't neutralized his sense of missing and wanting to be with his first family. I can see in his eyes that when he asks "why?" he doesn't want to hear about teen single parenting, he's asking the much bigger, sadder, harder to answer "WHY?!" as in "why did this have to be my story?". He feels the injustice of not having something so basic --- the experience of staying in his first mama's arms. My boy struggles with it. A baby's future temperament is an unknown at the time of newborn adoptions, but oh, I wish it were the one thing we could see with a crystal ball. Some adoptees feel the loss more acutely, some roll with it effortlessly. I do not mean to totally negate parenting, or support from the birthfamily, but I am learning that temperament/personality have much to do with it. My situation is a prefect example of that fact.

I spent the first couple of years post-placement in a very Black and White place, mentally. C was better off, aparents were thrilled, I was going to be able redirect my life, ect. Everything was great, we were all very kumbaya. It was an important part of the grief process, it was my own version of the denial stage. I remember the day my post-adopt counselor said to me "You can be happy for C, but simultaneously sad. You can feel both at once." I was floored. Getting to a place of being able to see both sides, the grey, was not only an important part of being emotionally healthy re: adoption, but it was an important part of moving through adolescence into adulthood.

So, I now revisit that lesson learned. It is incredibly hard to watch your kid struggle, at your hand. The flip side is that I know I made the best decision I knew how, with love and pure intentions. The grey is there in the middle; I find it by sitting with both truths.

My job now, is to acknowledge my son's loss, and show him the relationship we can have, even though it is not that of mama/son. My job is to teach him the lessons I have learned. My job is to help him appreciate the Grey.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's the Holiday Season

I am enjoying the onset of the holiday season this year more than ever before. Ever. I've also never been this financially strapped, so it just proves the rule: money does not = happiness. My little family moved "home" this past spring after living out of state for 5 years. We've spent the last 5 holiday seasons travelling, and running ourselves ragged. The last 2 were spent doing all of that with a baby, which obviously makes it all the more hectic. J was a whopping 19 days old when we flew up for his first Christmas!

So, here we are, settled and most definitely NOT travelling. In fact, we are hosting Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I couldn't be more delighted, even given the fact that I am working a night shift tonight. I spent today preparing. I put on Christmas music, lit my seasonal candle, and really got in the mood. I pulled a chair up to the counter and my trusty (almost) 2 year old helper stood on the chair and ate a few M&Ms while I made the stuffing. He was sure to take breaks from his "TREATS!" to wiggle his booty to Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. It is seriously, my new favorite holiday memory. That same special toddler assisted me in cleaning the bathrooms last night; I would wash and he would dry. At the appropriate time, he would look at me, nod is head while asking "Baby turn?". We made hand-turkeys out of construction paper, and wrote the names of our family members, to be used as place settings tomorrow. I'm thinking about laminating them and having them be our Official Thanksgiving Place Settings for years to come. I say it every month: J is at the best age ever. Seeing the world through (almost) 2 year old eyes, is hysterical and fun and just plain awesome. The holiday season only accentuates it :)

I am so very blessed and thankful this year. It's been a stressful, crazy year, but my prayers are still only of gratitude. I have the most incredible husband. I have the most wonderful sons. I have a career that allows me to support my family while my husband realizes his life long dream of starting his own business. I have loving, supportive family. I could go on and on.

It really is, the most wonderful time of the year! And it's only just started! YAY!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Weekend Recap

It was a rather, um, challenging weekend. We went to visit my first born, and were scheduled to speak on a panel at the Tristate Adoption Conference. I was really looking forward to sharing that experience with C, he was too young to participate when I was on the panel in years past.

Unfortunately there was some drama, details that need to remain private, and we did not make it to the conference.

I did manage to spend some good time with C; he is at such a cool age, just on the verge of adolescence. I am really enjoying this age! He is smitten with my 2 year old, and we make a big deal about the fact that they are brothers. C had a tough time when I was pregnant again, and playing up the Big Brother Role has really helped alleviate his fears that J would take his place in my heart. When he found out I was pregnant, he looked at me and asked "are you going to keep this one?", and I could see the hurt in his eyes when I told him "yes". Anyway, I digress...

By the end of the weekend, I was struggling to process some of the events, and I thought again about how we've become an extended family through open adoption. In every family, there are at times, hurt/disappointment/confusion. This family is no different, and it's foolish to think otherwise. It's tempting to get into the mindset that because my bond the adoptive parents is so sacred, that the relationship should be somehow more pure, void of pitfalls. But, it is still made up of people, which means there are going to be some.

I had (and still have) some angry moments, and that's OK. In the past I've been angry with my mother, my sister, or my husband, but it surely didn't break our relationship. This one is no different, because of a really beautiful fact: we are family. It is going to give us an amazing opportunity to role model to C how families deal with some tough stuff.

So, it certainly wasn't our best weekend together, but we'll get through, and all will be well.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Story

It's been so long since I told my story in it's entirety, I've almost forgotten where to start ;)

The Beginning

I conceived my son in Aug 1997. It was an end-of-summer fling. My family was getting ready to move to a new (old) state, I was getting ready to start my Senior year. We moved, and I started school. By October I was dating a new great guy, but started thinking maybe my lack of period was something more than my typical irregularity. Sure enough, an HPT confirmed my fears, I was pregnant. (As an aside, it is so wild to me that as an adolescent I didn't think of pregnancy until I was almost 10 weeks pregnant; with my second son, I knew at 10 dpo.) My boyfriend and I cried a lot that day; I thought of terminating for a few days, but within a week knew that adoption was the right choice for us. My parents were initially outraged, but soon became supportive. I started going to the midwife, and started taking vitamins. I quit smoking, and started drinking more milk. I went to my appointments and ultrasounds alone, and it didn't occur to me that that was sad or lonely, until 9 years later when my husband accompanied me to prenatal appointments and ultrasounds. I loved my baby, but never wavered in my plan to place.

The Middle

All the typical mile stones of 2nd trimester came and went. I felt movement, I started to show. My teachers turned out to be amazingly supportive, and my boyfriend and I had a really great relationship. Looking back, I can't remember how I thought I was going to find a family. I don't know if May just always seemed so far away so I thought I had tons of time? In any case, at my 24 week appt my midwife asked if I was planning to breastfeed. I told her no, I was planning to place. She directed me down the hallway to the social worker. I went to the office, and told her I wanted to make an adoption plan. I had seen an after school special with Mary Stewart Masterson in which a teen girl placed her baby, but still got to see him. I told her I wanted that. And then, for the first time, I heard the words "open adoption". She gave me a phone number to an agency based out of Vermont who facilitated open adoptions. I said thanks and left. The whole thing took 5 minutes. I went home and called. It all felt so calm, drama-free, almost nonchalant. It was like I was calling for a pizza... "hi, I'm pregnant and would like to place my baby in an open adoption." They responded like Papa John's does when you tell them you want a large pepperoni... "ok, let's get some more info." Days later 4 profiles arrived in the mail. I liked G&D the best right off the bat; their profile was bright and colorful. The agency arranged a phone call, and I spoke with G&D for the first time on 2.12.98. I had just turned 18, and was 26 weeks along. I asked them a few questions, that now seem trivial, but there is no template for this kind of conversation! We talked for 15 or 20 minutes, and the next day I told the agency they were It. For a while I felt kind of weird about choosing the only couple I spoke with; I felt like I should be able to tell my son that I had rigorously interviewed hundreds of couples so as to find just the right one. But, when you know, you know. I still found him just the right couple, it just happened to be the first one. We then spoke every Tuesday for the duration of the pregnancy. I enjoyed the phone calls, I liked chatting with D, but they were so much less monumental to me than to her. I suppose it's because I was really the only one who could know how committed I was to giving them my baby. All this time, the bdad did not know what was going on. I had a gut feeling that he wouldn't be on board, so I stuck my head in the sand. In April, it became clear that this wasn't going to go down without his consent. So, I brought him up to speed, and he was lukewarm at best. We all went along assuming he'd sign when the time came.

The (first) End

My water broke 5 days before my due date. I went to the hospital for augmentation and G&D hit the road. Thankfully my labor dragged on, as they hit the most horrendous traffic and what should have been a 3 hour drive turned into a 7 hour trip. I was in my hospital bed, in labor, and all I could think about was how agonizing in must be to be stuck in traffic when you are trying to get to your son's birth. They got to my room with plenty of time to spare, as it turned out, because I pushed for 4 solid hours. My mom and D held my hands, and my knees, and wiped my forehead. G was in the little baby alcove, I wasn't quite ready for him to see the gory stuff. I screamed through the delivery, and someone yelled "it's a boy!". They took the baby to the alcove, and G&D spent some time meeting their son. My mom and I hugged and cried. We took tons of pictures that I still love to pour over. I looked so young. After a few hours, I went to my post partum room, C went to the nursery, and everyone went home to get some sleep since it was about 4am. Later that morning, I rang the nursery and asked for my baby; I fully expected them to say "no". Obviously they did not, and I spent some time holding and caring for my son before G&D arrived back at the hospital. That day was fantastic; we all hung out, and it felt just right. Early in the evening, birthdad came to the hospital. I was totally unprepared to see him, but knew he had every right to see the baby. The next morning our worlds came crashing down.

The Real End of the Story

It was early on C's second day of life that my facilitator called my room to tell me birthdad said he was not signing TPR. He went back to his home state, he was not going to sign. 5 minutes later D called to tell me they were on their way back to the hospital, and I had to break it to her. It was the worst phone call I've ever experienced. They came to the hospital to say good bye. They brought me their car seat, diapers, clothes, all the supplies I didn't have because I wasn't supposed to be taking a baby home. It was awful. I took the baby home the next day completely unprepared in every way, to be a mom. I had been emotionally preparing for something entirely different. It was really, really hard. D told me later that that experience gave her great insight to what a birthmom feels: she felt like a mother with no baby. So, I parented C, and did a good job. G&D called weekly to see how we were; we had a friendship by now, and it was impossible to just sever all communication. Birthdad would call periodically, but really wasn't participating. When C was 6 weeks old, I called birthdad to say something, anything, that this wasn't how it was supposed to be. He asked if we could still place and I told him yes. C was laying on the bed next to me as I called D to tell her birthdad was ready, we were going to proceed. I looked down at my son, and thought about how this little tiny infant had no idea how his life had just changed in that moment. A week later we were in court terminating. The following week we spent transitioning C to his new caregivers. We all spent the first night together, I would start a feeding and D would finish it. We did our best to honor the fact that this was a huge transition for such a little baby. He did very well, and the new family went home when C was 8 weeks old.

Peoples' first question is always about how much harder it was to place after parenting for 7 weeks. The answer is yes, and no. Yes it was harder, for obvious reasons; my house screamed baby. My room smelled like a baby, pacifiers were laying around, it was eerily quiet. But, those 7 weeks gave me an honest look at single teen parenting. It made it impossible to romanticize parenting. I missed being a teenager. I knew more than ever, that placing was the right thing to do.

Birthdad still sees C, as well, and has proven to be a pretty great birthdad. He needed more time, and I admire him for resisting being rushed into such a huge decision.

That's the story, folks.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Winding down the Latent Phase

Early in my birthmotherhood, I learned a lot about some of the typical developmental stages adoptees tend to move through. For example, 4 year olds tends to be very public about their adoption, and proud to share their story. I remember the adoption educators talking a lot about the Latent Phase that shows up in early school age; like around 6 or 7. The Latent Phase got a lot of attention, as it is important to know how to handle the child's need for privacy, but also not deny reality. My birthson certainly followed suite. When I went to a function at his kindergarten, he yelled across the room "There's my birthmother!". By first or second grade, he didn't want to talk about much at all, including with me. This was all well and good, and we all patted ourselves on the back for being so well prepared to support him in whatever way he needed at each stage.

What I didn't hear about, or think about, was going through my own phases. I have to say, they tend to mirror my boy's. For the first 5 years post-placement, I was an Adoption Crusader. I read books, and could drop names of all the important adoption authors. I could speak to the various philosophies even with in the Open Adoption community. I spoke on panels at conferences. I attended Birthmother Retreats. I would educate anyone and everyone who gave me the opportunity. I told my story as often as possible, careful to use the "correct" terminology. I wrote papers about adoption in college. I felt proud to be a well adjusted, educated, "normal" birthmom whose involvement in her son's life was beneficial to him. I don't think I was pushy, but I was certainly knowledgeable, and really wanted to spread the word: Open Adoption is a really great thing.

Then, I entered my own Latent Phase. I wasn't so much weary of trying to educate people, it had just become enough of my norm that the fiery passion had subsided a tad. In it's place had grown a much deeper relationship with my son's parents, and a deeper comfort level with having a balanced life in which Birthmotherhood was just one component of my identity. I had also gotten tired of the same superficial questions: who named him? was it hard? what if he shows up on your doorstep and wants to live with you when he's 12? (*yawn* they did. yes. I'll call his mother just like I would if any other 12 year old shows up at my house wanting to live with me.) I got quiet about my story right around the time my boy did. In fact, I remember having a conversation with my boy's adad about this and it seemed he was going through the same thing. He shared a story in which a co-worker asked him some typical question and adad replied "It just works, trust me." where as in years past he would have taken the opportunity to get into a long conversation and educate.

I feel like I am in a new phase, I'll call it the Reemerging Phase. It started when I became a full-fledged mama almost 2 years ago. My parenthood has put a whole new spin on my thoughts and feelings on adoption. I have an appreciation for D's (amom)experience like never before. I think about her more than ever. I worry about C's process in a different way. When I placed him, I knew that was an act of love; I knew there would be better opportunities and support for him, but that was all I knew. I didn't understand the specifics, I couldn't see beyond that veil. I didn't understand mama love, but I knew I wasn't ready or able to provide it. My parenthood has now been the ultimate lens. And I feel like I want to go back over the last 11 years with my new lens. I want to see every detail, relive every moment, with my new found understanding of the reason I made this choice.

My bigger point with this post, is that I'm back. I want back into the community that I drifted away from. This weekend I'll be speaking, with my first son by my side, on a panel at a conference that I attended yearly until 2004 and haven't been back to since. I thought my absence was due to schedules/money/career/whathaveyou, but I'm thinking it was just me working through my Latent Phase. I feel a little nervous to be back, and surprised that there are all new thoughts and feelings to be processed, more than a decade after I gently placed my son in another woman's arms.

Man, adoption truly is a journey.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Inevitably, there are triggers that come up in everyday life, and not just for birthmoms. Everyone has something; something that brings up confusing feelings, nostalgia, longing, ect. Birthmotherhood is certainly my biggest Something, but not my only one. Again, it's just one hat.

Today, a dear friend gave birth to her first son. I am so thrilled for her, and filled with all the great feelings that come when a new life joins us: renewed faith, hope, and love in humanity. She is an adult, in a great marriage, wanted and planned for this baby. But, I can't help but revisit my own experience of birthing my first son. It sounds completely self-centered, but I wonder if it will cross her mind in the next few days, what it was like for me to make an adoption plan.

It's a "false" wonder, though, if such a thing exists. It only somewhat applies. It applies in the sense that, all mothers feel uniquely connected to their babies. It does not apply in the sense that giving birth to a baby you can parent feels completely different from giving birth to a baby you know you cannot.

I read many new adoptive parents' blogs, and they talk about feeling torn between their joy, and their child's birthmom's pain. The compassion and empathy is fantastic; but I am here to say that knowing my first son's parents were over the moon to have him was a source of strength for me. I was not in a position to be over the moon about having a baby, but he deserved to have parents who were just that.

Every baby deserves to have parents love them like my First Son's parents do, like I love my second son, like my friend loves her 7 hour old son. And so, even though it is a trigger for me, relishing in a friend bringing new life always makes for a great day.
Oh, brother, so here I am in blogland. I've been on LJ for some time, but that's entirely different from being a blogger. I now think people want to know what I think? And say? Well, we'll see.

The inspiration has really been that I've been following many blogs that I want to comment on, and this makes me feel more, um, accountable?

I suppose there will be near-future posts about My Story; about my birthmotherhood. The story swims around in my mind and soul hourly, so I look forward to putting it out there.

So, good night; sleep tight. Enjoy and love on your babies, there is no greater gift.