Thursday, April 29, 2010

A response to another's post.

I have been mulling over and over in my head whether or not to do this, to respond full-post-style to this post over at The Adoptive Parent. I first read the post a few days ago, and it's been bugging me ever since, so I decided to go for it.

I really like that blog, and Sally, especially since I won her book ;). So nothing I'm saying here is meant to offend. One of the reasons I really liked her book was that it gave me a terrific view into an adoptive mom's head and heart. It's a perspective I'll never know; even if I were to adopt in the future, it wouldn't be the same. I rely on people like Sally to tell me what it's like to be an amom, and I believe what they tell me.

Her post about birthparents really did not give us the same respect.

S: Honestly, I don't understand making that decision.
This Birthmom: Understandable. It's one of those things you can't understand until you're there.

S: You chose to walk out of your child's life because you love them?
TB: Actually, yes. It's more complicated than that, but at the root, yes.

S: Tell me you took on two jobs to make ends meet, etc...
TB: Wow, what a slap in the face. Are you saying you don't find my expression of love worthy? I should have done any of the things you wrote to prove my love? This felt very judgemental.

S: My point is that I believe birth parents love their children, but I don't believe that's why they choose adoption.
TB: Why wouldn't you believe what birth parents tell you? We are not able to articulate our own feelings? It's pretty condescending to assume you know better what we mean than we do. If your child's birthmom explains to him that she placed out of love, are you going to correct her?

S: I believe that birth parents choose adoption not because they love their children, but in spite of how much they love their children.
TB: Nope, again. It is possible to place a baby because you love him.

S: It is a matter of putting your child's needs in place of your own. Choosing adoption means choosing to meet your child's needs instead of your own.
TB: Placing my son for adoption met needs I had, too. Maybe it sounds harsh, but I would not have been able to direct my life the way I wanted to, and meet my full potential while parenting at that time. That was a big part of my decision.

At the beginning of her post, she initially admitted that she didn't understand making the decision to place. So, why is she turning things all around? To make sense of it in her own head? You don't have to understand this thing to respect it. It doesn't make sense, to on one hand say that you don't understand something, and then on the other go to great lengths to explain it, almost from a birth mother's perspective. Please, don't interpret what I say, just hear it.

There is no way for an amom to put herself in the shoes of a birthmom. Placing a baby is the polar opposite to infertility etc. If my reasons don't make sense to an amom, OK, so be it. But they are still my reasons. It's not that I'm confused, it's that we are coming at this thing from completely different angles, places, experiences, feelings, and circumstances.

I really really really, can't express enough how much I don't want this whole post to come off as angry or offensive. It's my reaction, and a contribution to the dialogue, that is all.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Another instance where I'm not sure what I'm doing.

(I started this post days ago. Ever think time is passing slowly? Start a blog. You won't believe how fast time flies between posts ;))

We had a perfectly lovely day. Until 630pm. Before that, I ran a 5k here in town, in the most perfect weather. After my race, we had my mom, my sister, my niece and nephew, and my mother-in-law over for a terrific cook out, also in perfect weather. The macaroni salad was just right, the burgers were perfect, and the sangria was wonderful.

And then everyone left, and Jeb had the meltdown of his life. He raged until he was hoarse. It was agony for all of us.

He's been going through something in the last few weeks. When he was 8 months old, I rhetorically asked a friend "what happened to my delightful 7 month old?" She said -- "it's a developmental bitch fest". I thought it was the most brilliant phrase I'd ever heard. Sometimes these small children are growing/learning/developing so freaking fast they can't even handle it. So, Jeb may be going through a developmental bitchfest right now, or it may be the (difficult for all of us) transition into daycare, or like many other times I may never know what it is and we'll just live through it.

In any case, this child is having MAJOR separation issues. He used to be okay with me going to work in the evenings, now he wails for an hour. He is glued to my side when I am home. He's always been a clingy kind of kid, but this is extreme.

I don't mind him needing me more at times, I just hate not knowing what is going on. Or what he needs specifically. Or where to draw the line between being sensitive to what he's processing, and coddling. Two days a week, I have to tell him sorry, baby, you have to go to daycare today even though you don't want to. It's hard. For everyone.

That cliche about kids needing to come with hand books? So. True. I feel like I am winging it most of the time, and then I worry that Jeb will pick up on the fact that I am winging it and that will make him feel insecure. Meta-anxiety. Awesome.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I won a book!

I was the winner of a giveaway! I won Sally Bacchetta's (Adoptive Parent) book, What I Want My Adopted Child to Know.

First, doesn't it just feel so good to win something? ;)

Second, WOW. It's terrific. At 106 pages, it's not long, but it is packed. In fact, I'm only on page 32, because I am pacing myself. I have no doubt I could read it in one evening, because when this subject matter is close to home, you drink in every word and can't get enough. I am limiting myself to 1 chapter per night, and I've even already re-read some. Every paragraph is so rich, and though it's hard to put it down, I know I want to process it slowly. I want to chew on each chapter, and learn and reflect as much as possible. I have no doubt I will read it many times before it stops teaching me.

Some parts are hard to read, I'll be honest. I've even had a few knee-jerk reactions that have left me feeling defensive. I'm far enough into my birthmotherhood, though, to look for the truth in those moments. And it is always there. One thing I hate about adoption in general is that each member of the triad is constantly challenged, and obligated, to accept/learn from the parts that are yucky. There are always more vegetables to eat.

I love the concept of the book. I love the gift that it gives adoptees. I love the window it gives me into the other side of this whole thing. It make me wonder, even more, what my birth son needs to hear from me. I feel silly saying it, but I had a better grip on what he needed from me when he was much younger. It was so simple then: I'm your birth mother. You grew in my belly. I chose your mommy and daddy because I wasn't ready or able to be a mommy. I loved you then and I love you now. I will always be a part of your life to help you understand. Um, now I'm to the last part and I'm not sure I even know what he needs in order to help him understand. I think I understand it less than I used to. This is not regret, it's part of birth parenting, I think. Just like how as a parent I don't have all the answers, as a birth parent I don't either. Colin and I have had a few of the conversations you fantasize about in the early years. I've told him my version, my side. I've offered a listening ear countless times, and in true 'tween boy fashion, he doesn't tend to pour his heart out to me. I've written him letters, and tried to give opportunities to talk about the Tough Stuff, but I get the feeling that he's uncomfortable being put on the spot. (Shocking! Right?) My hope is that even though he's been quiet when I've offered to listen, the message is still getting across. That he feels comforted knowing I care enough to offer. Repeatedly. That I'm always available. I email him regularly, and he responds sometimes, but not always. I usually tell him about random things that have made me think of him throughout my days, and I hope that he gets the sense that he is important to me and certainly on my mind. Is it enough?

Adoption professionals always talk about how even if an adoptee is quiet, don't assume they don't have questions, or want to talk about stuff. I totally get that, but then how do I know what to bring up? I don't want to inundate this kid with heavy stuff if he happens to be in the middle of some other adolescent struggle totally not related to adoption. I know at his age, what's on his mind most can change week to week. In some sense, I want to follow his lead. But he may not be able to take the lead. How do I handle this? I should ask his mom. She'll know much better where he is with everything. She'll know whether or not he needs support on this front right now or not. Moms always know :)

Adoption is a journey. Adoption is a journey. Adoption is a journey.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's April

What is it about the calender saying APRIL that just feels so damn good? Maybe it's that March always feels like the longest, drab-est month, here in New England. While we still may have some cold nights and gray days, it won't feel so terrible because it's April. It has to warm up soon.

Jeb started daycare yesterday and did great. He was so excited to go play with kids, and proudly carried his tool-box-turned-lunch-box. We don't keep juice in the house, and when he heard he'd get to have juice with a snack at daycare, he was completely sold. When I picked him up in the afternoon, he looked drained and somewhat overstimulated, but happy. It's a long day for a toddler who's not used to that environment! I worked last night, and slept like a rock all day. I woke up, went for a run, took a shower, and picked him up by 4. This is going to be a great schedule for us once we really find our groove. We are scraping up the money, and it will all be fine. I only sent 1 pair of shoes, though, shhhh! Don't tell!

Can I just say how excited I am to play the Easter Bunny this weekend? I've been telling Jeb that in a few nights, while he sleeps, the Easter Bunny will come and leave treats and toys in a basket for him. The other day, he was asking me about a "bucket of chocolate". I was totally confused until it dawned on me. I said "are you talking about the basket with treats that the EB will leave you?" His face LIT UP and he yelled "yes! yes!". I cannot wait to see his face Sunday morning!

Oh, I am just so happy it's April. For the last 6 or 8 months, one of my mantras has been just make it to April. I knew by April, business would be better, the weather would turn, and we'd have our first year of the business behind us. It's been such a huge focal point for me, a giant milestone. I've made it. I made it to April. I don't know what my next milestone will be, or if the metaphorical clouds will parts as much as I've fantasized about, and that's OK for now. Right now, I just want to sit with the calm that I feel knowing we made it to April.

Spring, I have never looked so forward to enjoying your simple gifts. Longer days. Warmer evenings. Planting the garden. Listening to the birds. Casting aside heavy coats. Sleeping with a window open. Smelling the air. Coloring eggs :)