mother grief…gotta grieve it.

Tree-of-Life

When I married my husband a little over 2 years ago, he was extremely concerned about my health.  Actually, more accurately, I could see on his face and hear in his voice he was scared that he’d married a terminally ill woman.  So was I.  I didn’t dwell on it, but it’s like I could feel some life-sucking force taking over my body.  I was suffering, like I had learned to suffer – and had suffered my whole life: In silence.  I did not seek medical attention for it, but I didn’t shy away from my doctor either.  There wasn’t enough of one specific acute symptom or set of symptoms to try and get his input into the malady.  It was just a well-being thing – or complete lack thereof – that I really wouldn’t have been able to describe to any kind of healthcare professional.  If I had sought him about it, my doctor would probably have referred me to a mental health professional for prescription management of depression and anxiety and/or whatever else could be conjured up to write prescriptions for (prescriptions for therapy included).

Now that I’m where I am, it’s become clear that’s not what was needed.  I think I’d known for some time what was needed.  My body had simply just reached a point it could no longer bear the grief I had been stifling.  I hadn’t necessarily been stifling it on purpose as I knew it wasn’t healthy that I had not been able to let myself grieve.  I just had too much going on.  The grieving I needed to do was an all-consuming, 24-hour-a-day thing that a job and other things were not compatible with.  And there was the thing that I knew all too well: It felt as though it would kill me if I really let it happen, and I knew it would go on for a long time if I ever did let the process start.  When I could finally let it out, if felt like it was killing me, but, actually, it was quite the opposite.  It was a pretty intense, good 2 years of deep, deep, exhausting, grievous, gut-wrenching, back-breaking grieving.  I think that part of what kept me from going there before, too, was not having a support system and a safe place to go through it.  My precious husband provided that safe place…HE is a safe place, the safest I’ve experienced in all of my 48 years.  Our home is a safe place.  Our house is a ghetto, foreclosed on former rental unit with 20 people living hard in it at one time with human pee in the corners, oozing dripping stuff that had to be scrubbed from the walls along with rips, tears, holes, you name it.  It was NASTY when I first moved in – and Steve had already spent countless hours scrubbing away the nastiness and repairing the disrepair before bringing me in as his wife to help…and, in spite of all that it was in its former life and all that it still lacks, it has become our home.  We’ve made it our home.  And it has sheltered me through the hardest thing imaginable.

I’m still very much going through that process of grieving – and my son is 21 now, so I had a LOT of catching up to do.  Now that I’ve been through the initial breaking forth of it and have gotten what was dammed up mostly out of my system, I have started to notice the things that I do to be and stay healthy actually contributing to a feeling of health.  I’m starting to feel vitality and life in my body again.

A recommendation: Whatever it is you have to let go of and grieve, you are your only you, and you are incalculably valuable, so give yourself permission to find your safe place, permission to pray for your safe place – whatever it is you need to let what needs to happen happen – and grieve(!) it(!) OUT!!!  It is not the purpose of the human body to be equipped to hold that stuff in.  I almost let grief kill me, and, of this I am certain: There are far better ways to die…(!!!).

exploring further

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In my recent post, I asked women considering adopters to raise their unborn children: “before you shut the door on this person who is about to be born, this mother you are becoming, I encourage you to allow your mind to drift and imagine yourself as that very person, that mom.  Go to the park and watch mothers with their children and let your heart do the talking about what is TRULY right and TRULY in the best interests of your child.  The good, the bad, and the scrubby little ugliness of motherhood will all be there and will give you a pretty well-rounded viewpoint, but what you do not – indeed, cannot – know right now is that even the ugly parts are all part of it, and it’s okay (love covers a multitude of sins).”

I’ll even go one better.  Go ahead and just pretend that adoption of a newborn is illegal, not an option, and that you will have to prove yourself unfit or absolutely unwilling to raise your child before adoption is an option.  Think of your own childhood.  Think of your parents.  What would you like to do differently in your child’s life?  What would you like to do similarly?

A new birth is a brand new start, a clean slate, a new life with no mistakes in it.  If you had that kind of opportunity for yourself, a brand new life with no mistakes in it, what would it look like?

If you can’t imagine any of that, I encourage you to click on any link underneath “Blogs I Follow.”  After reading at least 3 entries in their entirety from 3 different bloggers whose lives have been impacted by adoption, ask yourself: is this a scenario I want to see myself in?  If one or all of the blogs you chose are from people who were raised in adoptive families, ask yourself: is this what I want for my child?

It’s hard to find your way out of the day-to-day, overwhelming changes that pregnancy is bringing to your body and mind.  I realize this.  It’s hard to look outside of all that seems wrong in the world – especially one’s own world – or you probably wouldn’t even be considering adoption.  I know this too.  Give yourself just a few minutes a day to stop and realize that life is longer than 9 months.  Babies don’t stay in diapers.  Kids go from one grade to the next – one way or another.  And they grow up to be people – just like you are a person – and they will have to make choices for themselves just as you are making choices now.  Financial crises come, and financial crises go.  Life and death happens, every day, and the world just keeps on turning – whether we like it or not.  And we keep breathing – whether we like it or not – until we breathe out our last breath (I was reminded recently that none of us comes out of this alive…).

So that’s it.  Life’s ebbs and flows.

When I got pregnant, it was the nicest little surprise I could imagine.  I just couldn’t imagine that I was deserving of such a nice thing, so I didn’t allow myself to embrace it.  Some women hate being pregnant, but, of course, they love the product of it.  I loved being pregnant.  I loved the fact that my child was mine only, and, for just those nine months, I didn’t have to share this person with anyone.  When I remember what it was like to have my child inside me, it’s hard to resist indulging in “If only.”  No doubt, when we raise our children we look back on certain things and have a hard time resisting “If only.”

“If only” is a lonely road.  “If only” is like that set of horse blinders that only allows one to see a tiny portion of life as we know it.  What would happen if you let yourself take those blinders off and ask, “what if?”  What if this baby inside you is the coolest person you could ever imagine?  What if you actually like yourself as this kid’s mom?  What if you reach out and ask for help with whenever you are stuck?  What if you do have to go on food stamps?  It only makes you the lowest life form on earth if you allow it to.  Food stamps do not have the power to determine what kind of life form you are – but you do have the ability to decide what kind of life form you will be.  What if you have to be on some kind of assistance?  “They,” (those in charge of facilitating the giving of assistance) can only degrade you to the degree you allow yourself to be degraded.

I didn’t know any of this when I was pregnant with my one and only child.  You don’t have to be a bucket of grief and guilt like I’ve been for the past 21 years.  That’s not any kind of a life.  Hold your baby.  Embrace your baby.  You’ll be embracing a part of yourself that you wouldn’t have had access to any other way than by being this person’s mom and having this person be your son or daughter.  Be the family you always wanted – or at least allow yourself to imagine it and do something to strive for it every single day.

That’s what I would do if I had it to do over again…in a heartbeat!

unrequited motherhood

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I’d like to write some happy news about adoption…

But if I did that, not only would I be remiss in my responsibility to do whatever I can to ensure that the tragedy that has befallen me not befall someone else in the future, but I would also be adding another layer to the already polluted mountain of deceit in the broader base of information that’s out there regarding adoption and how “wonderful” it is.  Therefore, what I will do is the only thing I can do, which is work through this unrequited motherhood right here for all to see, in front of God and everybody, and let whosoever will see what the real deal is about adoption.

Please, if you have a child on the way and are unprepared for it, and you are considering relinquishing that child to prospective adopters, please, if you know anything at all about unrequited love – even if only in storybooks and/or Shakespearean plays – take what you know of that anguish and multiply it infinity times infinity, and you will have a more honest look at what the future holds for you if you go through with it.

If you have any desire for children at all in the future, then consider this upcoming birth you are preparing for to be your future.  The future is inside you right now.  Chances are, your future as this child’s mom is a whole lot brighter than you’re able to comprehend right now, and that beautiful, unknown person you are carrying is probably someone you are going to want to know – and that time may come much sooner than you might think.

There is no guarantee of open adoption – even if you get it in writing.  Adoptive parents have been known to make all kinds of elaborate promises to keep you in the loop and/or in your child’s life, but I’m here to tell you that promises just like the ones you may be hearing get broken every single day.  If you’re not sure about whether or not this is true, I will unhesitatingly introduce you to people who were given such promises by people they very much loved and trusted only to have that trust betrayed, and they’ve no idea where their children are, how they are, and they hear no news at all.

And even if you’re thinking of closed or semi-closed adoption, and you’re thinking you’re not going to want to know this person who is inside you, let me assure you of this one thing: Giving birth to a child is a twofold event.  You will be bringing a child into this world, an inescapable reality, but you will also be giving birth to a mother, and you are that mother.  You haven’t known yourself in this light before, you haven’t known yourself as a mother, so before you shut the door on this person who is about to be born, this mother you are becoming, I encourage you to allow your mind to drift and imagine yourself as that very person, that mom.  Go to the park and watch mothers with their children and let your heart do the talking about what is TRULY right and TRULY in the best interests of your child.  The good, the bad, and the scrubby little ugliness of motherhood will all be there and will give you a pretty well-rounded viewpoint, but what you do not – indeed, cannot – know right now is that even the ugly parts are all part of it, and it’s okay (love covers a multitude of sins).

Your baby doesn’t need the frills and advantages that prospective adoptive parents can provide.  Your baby just needs one thing, and that is you, his/her mom.  That is all the universe is asking of you at this time is to be your child’s mom.  You are irreplaceable, and the child you are carrying is irreplaceable.  No matter how many children you may have in the future, no one will ever be able to do away with or fill the loss you are about to experience if you give him or her away – no matter how good the promises may sound of a better life than you think you can give to your child.

And if you are naively hoping that you will someday have your child back in your life, let me also put that in a new light: there is no guarantee that your child will want to know you or know anything about you if you give him or her up.  I didn’t have adoptive parents who skipped out on their promises to keep me informed; they faithfully sent letters with plenty of pictures every year, just like they promised.  I naively thought I would have my son back in my life when he came of age.  I know where he is.  I know how to find him.  I have contacted him.  Apparently, he wants nothing to do with me.  This happens too.  If you think it can’t happen to you, I’m here to tell you, I thought that too.

There just are no guarantees in this life – about anything…including one’s next breath.  Whatever it is that is compelling you to look to adoption as an “answer” to what you are struggling with, please let me assure you that adoption is a permanent “solution” to a very temporary set of circumstances.  Whatever it is you are going through, it will pass, and you will move on.  However, my own experience – which is eerily similar to multitudes of birthmothers/first mothers/whatever you choose to call us whose accounts I’ve read, whom I’ve met personally, or whom I’ve come across in passing, and whom I currently know intimately (and not in a sexual way, lol) – has proven that there is no moving on from relinquishing a child to adoption.  As soon as you sign the papers and hand your baby over, you are stuck right there, in that moment, that awful, awful moment, potentially for the rest of your life.  Instead of thinking about adoption, just think about unrequited love.  Think of those star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.  I’m no stranger to unrequited love, either, and I can tell you that unrequited motherhood is far more tragic than unrequited love’s outcome – multiplied by leaps, and by bounds, by mountains, and by earths, by stars, and by planets – hell, by whole UNIVERSES!

If you’ve any questions, just email me: freebairn@ymail.com.  I’m here all day in my own unrequited motherhood, not going anywhere. I’m busy, but I’ve got all the time in the world for you, and I mean that with every fiber of my being.

You’re pregnant.  It happens.  Every day.  And, guess what:  It’s not the end of the world, not by a long or even a short shot.  It may be hard for you to believe this right now, but it’s going to be alright.  Your baby is inside you – and not inside the potential adoptive mother – for a reason, and if you choose it, you get to live out the next few years finding out what that’s about.  And it’s going to be okay.  Your perspective on children is about to drastically change over the next few weeks and months – and it’s a beautiful thing!  It’s a huge and a very scary thing you are facing, true, but you don’t have to face it alone.

Happy Survivor’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day for those of you whose experience with motherhood has mostly been fulfilling and joyful.

For the rest of us, those of us whose motherhood has been mostly filled with loss in the many forms it can take, let us acknowledge today as our Survivor’s Day.

I honor you and celebrate you, dear soul sister and fellow survivor.  May your day be filled with all the peace and grace you’ll need to keep on surviving until you find the place where you can begin to thrive.

It’s not over until it’s over, and we’ve as much right to expect to thrive as anyone else does, no matter what we’ve been through – and no matter what we’ve been told, verbally and non-verbally, and no matter what we may have even told ourselves.

Please, be kind to yourself.  When it all comes down to it, today’s just another day and holds as many possibilities as any other day.  As for me, I’ll be looking for miracles and thinking of you.

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a conversation with Kate

I have thought about the similarities in Solomon’s first test of rulership as the king of Israel and how it so completely relates to adoption many times and have wanted to talk about it, so I’m finally doing so.

Earlier today, my friend and fellow first mother, Kate Dahlquist, posted Claudia’s recent article on open adoptions gone wrong, and I (Carol Sherman, wink, wink, Kate) decided to chime in.

Here is Claudia’s article:

A Typical “Open” Adoption

Promises of Contact Broken Reveal Intentional Lies
A Guest Post by Amy Payne-Hanley

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And this is what Kate said when she posted Claudia’s article on her facebook:

Kate Dahlquist’s postscript to the article: “This is a guest post by my friend, Amy, on my friend Claudia’s blog.  Both of these women are amazing ladies who I consider to be my sisters.  Amy’s story is very parallel to what I have experienced – especially the last part where the APs interfere with attempts to reconnect and threaten the adoptee – which is one of the cruelest and most heartless things an AP can do, IMO.  And BELIEVE me, we worry terribly about how this effects our children.  Our stories are NOT uncommon.  We were promised that they wouldn’t be like this.”


And here is how the conversation went:

Carol Sherman – I’ve been wanting to do a piece about Solomon, the 3rd king of Israel’s, first challenge because it applies very much to adoption.  2 women, harlots, the Bible calls them, had babies at around the same time.  One woman’s baby died, so she stole the other woman’s then a flight arose between the 2 over the baby.  They took it all the way to the king.  The king ordered that the baby be cut in half and one half given to one, another half given to the other.  With the woman who stole the baby, that was fine, as long as she could have the baby.  The REAL mother said, “No. It’s okay.  Let her have the baby.”  She’d rather someone else have the baby than see him/her come to harm.  The wisdom of Solomon is that a real mother would only care, in the end, about the true well-being of the child.  Parents who can close a promised adoption are just like that harlot who was perfectly satisfied to see the baby she stole cut in half – IMO, of course.

Kate Dahlquist – I totally agree.  I’ve often thought the same.

Carol – In fact, it begs the question about adoption that is not of a truly orphaned, truly abandoned child who is already born and has no one.  It begs the question: anyone who could, in all good conscience, take a child from his/her mother, especially so soon after birth, should our ways and laws follow the wisdom of Solomon?  That is the question I ask of this current world.

Carol (on a roll, here) – I too dream of the day when we look back at the horror of it as appalled as we (finally) did with slavery in this country and the subsequent inequality in the treatment of those who were freed.  But, then, we “Europeans” are still negotiating with our past when it comes to the treatment of Native Americans…we’re still too busy enjoying their resources to fully concede to that horror…so, there you have it.  It could go either way.  And it really depends on us, perhaps.

Kate – Preach it, Sister!!!

Carol – 😀

I’m laughed there because it’s either laugh or cry.  Where, oh, where has the wisdom of Solomon gone???