the gift that keeps on giving…Mother’s Day edition

Mother’s Day is a day that one either gets to enjoy the fruits of one’s labors or wallow in the misery of one’s failures.  On the path where mother and child were not separated but walked the course together, the wallowing does not come until decades later, usually. For the mother who chose adoption for her child, the failures get to eat away at her the very first year and then every year thereafter, life without end, etc.

Let me start here by saying that I am weary of people telling me to quit being so hard on myself.  This is not me being hard on myself but, rather, the mere facts.  The path I chose sucks for me and will probably pretty much always suck on more levels than is fair, but you know what they say about life being fair, so….

All I can say is that I hope it’s all turned out better for him.

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why you don’t see my picture or name – much

I thought I was ready to step out of the adoption closet about a year or so ago.  And I am still out of the closet, sort of.  But then something happened that I’d sort of resigned myself to not seeing happen.  About the time I decided I couldn’t take being in the closet anymore, I’d reached out to my son.  He’d been the legal age to establish contact for 3 years.  When he came of age, the real battle for me began, a war within myself of whether to disrupt the reality that he’d known up to that time and insert myself into his present reality.  I fought arduously with my own conscience about whether or not I had the right to do that or not.  Eventually, it just came down to recognizing that, whether he or anybody else ever acknowledged me as such, I was the parent in the situation, and therefore, the responsibility for establishing whatever relationship was to be was up to me.  I had the history of knowing my child more than he had of knowing me.

So I reached out.  And didn’t hear anything back for months.  It was a long 21 years getting to that point.  It was even longer knowing I was one step closer yet with the possibility I was even farther away from actual contact.  I was facing that he may well choose not to want to know.  And I live with the possibility that at any time he could shut it all down.  And I live in fear of that, if I’m being honest.

Since the moment he walked out of my life by means of his adoptive mother’s arms, having him back was all I ever wanted.  The letters, the pictures that the adoptive parents sent me up to his 18th birthday were my lifeline, the only thing I was really living for, if I’m being honest.  For 18 years I lived, holding my breath from update to update, wondering if they would choose to withdraw from the agreement.

I have not been able to put my finger on why I keep a low profile in my public social media life.  It’s because my son is linked to me there.  That much I do know.  And my adoption closet does not contain just me.  I don’t know how he feels about being adopted.  I don’t know how open he is with his peers about being adopted.  I don’t know if he’s ready to have a face and a name put on his adoption experience.  I don’t know how ready or not ready he is to come out in the open about his own life living with adoption.  And so, out of as much respect for him as I can possibly show for him while, at the same time, fighting for the rights of those with whom adoption will affect in the future, which is something I believe in so strongly my bones actually quake with it, I walk a delicate balance with putting my own face on adoption.  I’m even struggling with the picture on my “About” page.  I want it there because it’s the last place on earth where my life, for once, made sense…my child was with me there, and I was with him, and we were together, in a safe place.  But, again, he is part of my adoption story, and he has a right to his privacy.  Yet it’s my truth…that’s MY baby!  He will always be my baby, my child.  I have not asked him for permission to post our story.  I have not come out of the closet as an activist with him.  I have asked him about so many things, how he’d feel about this and how he’d feel about that.  But I haven’t asked him about this.  I must.  I know it.  But I haven’t.

Before he contacted me, it was just me, needing to come out of my closet and reveal the truth of my experience while I was in my prison of suffering in silence.  But then when he contacted me, it all became real that he has a say in this too.  For some time after he contacted me, I didn’t post much about the current state of adoption because I became aware of the dilemma that I’d been in all along.  Did I have a right to be out of the closet when he may not be a willing participant?  These are the things I now struggle with.  It’s a new set of moral dilemmas I now face.

There are things I was hoping to address with him in person.  As yet, that is not an option.  This is not his fight unless he chooses to make it his fight.  But I don’t get to look him in the eye and tell him who I am, tell him the fighter I’ve become as a result of my own experience with adoption…not yet, anyway.  And so, I walk this tightrope and try to keep this delicate balance with the 2 things that rock my world and quake in my bones the most.

I wish I knew the right answer, but I lost the right answer when I lost him to adoption.  Nothing in my world has ever made sense since.

So what do I do?

A year in review

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I was quiet on the adoption front for years, silenced by fear of losing the thin thread of the only communication and access I had to my child.  And then what I had hoped would be a floodgate opening when my son came to the age where he would be allowed to search for me brought nothing but silence, and the silence produced ever-increasing anxiety.  After all, the adoptive parents’ obligation to write to me and tell me of his state, had run its course, and not another word came from them after his 18th birthday – which made me feel a little used and discarded, if I may be honest…and this is the first time I’ve said as much.  Not to worry, though.  I analyzed long ago that at least they didn’t skip out on their promises to keep me apprised while he was a minor child.  That would have devastated me.  The dropping off the face of the earth after he turned 18 thing just stung.  I do recognize the difference.

So in that 3-year period of no word whatsoever, all I had was his personal facebook page to peek at to know of his well-being.  I didn’t dare send a friend request, and his privacy settings let me see very little but at least enough to know he was alive – accept for the times his page would be deleted for weeks and sometimes months at a time (did I say stress?).  As the months and years passed, I started to believe that my child was one of the adoptees who would choose not to pursue learning of his origins.  And in the process of finding a way to come to terms with that, I took to expressing – finally – my true feelings about relinquishing my child as a baby 5 days out of the womb and to advocating for more humane practices in adoption as well as advocating for adoptee rights.

Then I was silenced again – in a good way.  I heard from my son.  It created a little bit of a predicament, it felt.  I have been at odds ever since on how to proceed with my advocacy and writing going forward since this blessed event.  I speak publicly whenever opportunities present themselves and hope I have at least left an impression on what it means to carry, give birth to, and relinquish a child to people one barely knows over the remainder of a lifetime.  Other than that, I advocate but perhaps a little more quietly as still I see a great need for reform in adoption.   And I will keep advocating in every way I can – and hope I do nothing to injure or alienate my own child as he is, after all, the single most important part of my life and existence.

I have a small facebook page where I post all things I come across that are adoption related.  In the interest of staying sane, I am not able to devote every day to research.  Part of my survival is finding the person I am beyond adoption and concentrating on things that person is interested in pursuing.  There are less than 40 “likes” to this facebook page, but the people who do read the content post and share on their own pages, so the word is still getting out – which is my only goal.  It doesn’t matter to me how the word gets out, only that it gets out.

With this year winding down and a new year about to emerge, I was starting to feel a little guilty about not doing as much lately, but then I looked at my facebook page, Freebairn Advocacy, and I realize I have been steadily posting a number of items each month of this year, and this is the year it all started for me.  I have not been silent…just walking a very fine line I haven’t entirely found my footing to walk steadily and with as much certainty as I hope to walk in the days to come.

To all of you who’ve been reading this blog and following on facebook, thank you for listening.  Thank you for caring about this.

And…

Happy New Year!!  May it be a year of many triumphs – no matter how small or great.

an update

I knew it had been a while since I’d written, but I just looked at the date and saw that it’s been over a month???  I’ve no idea how that happened, how time went that fast!

And…there’s a reason I’ve been quiet lately, actually.  It seems (fingers crossed) there may be a reunion in the near future…?

Thank you so much, every one of you, who’ve been supportive throughout the difficult process of getting to this point.  I can honestly say that all of the pain leading up to hearing from my son just vanished as if it never was the moment I heard from him – just like with childbirth: you immediately forget the pain and difficulty the moment you lay eyes on your child and hear his or her cry!  It’s like this big chunk of me that had been seemingly gone forever just clicked back into place.  I cannot even begin to describe the feeling, the relief!

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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my need

I haven’t written anything in a while…it seems I’ve written what needed to be written.

At my local adoption support group, one of the things that’s been asked to birthmothers is, keeping expectations to the minimum because a relationship cannot be forced, what is the one thing that you need in order to recover if your child does choose not to have an active relationship with you?  What is the one thing that will satisfy you and help you move on?  For some, it is hearing her child’s voice.  For others, it is just knowing he/she is okay.  For some, it is seeing her child’s face, looking into his/her eyes.

This question was posed well over a year ago, and I didn’t really know my answer.  But I’d come to realize I was over-thinking it.  The answer was there all along.  I have written and re-written letters to my son since he was days into my relinquishment and have discarded hundreds if not thousands.  In every letter, there has been one consistency.  It has been imperative to me from day one that somehow, some way, I communicate to my son that he was wanted, that his going to live with his adoptive parents was not in any way, shape, or form a reflection on my desire to have him, to raise him, to be his mother, to have him as my child.  Long before I could admit it, underneath it all, I knew it was wrong.  I completely ignored my heart of hearts because I had been betrayed nearly every time I’d ever followed my heart – or so it had seemed at the time.  So I pushed so-called logic and reason and rationalization to the forefront, completely pushing out what was in my heart.  I’ll pay for it the rest of my life, no doubt.

So, here we are back to what my original intent was when I started this post, why I haven’t written.  I made a decision concerning my son.  I had taken in all of the advice not to “go there” with the emotional stuff knowing full well my child may not be emotionally equipped to assimilate or deal with the information.  What would it take for me to be able to move on should my son ultimately choose not to maintain – or even start – a relationship with me?  The one thing that could help me move on from such a devastating decision is at least getting the chance to tell him he was wanted.

So…I did.  Just that.  I told him.  I told him knowing full-well I am a total stranger to him.  I told him knowing full well he does not come from a place of being able to relate.  I told him fully aware it may mean absolutely nothing to him.  I told him knowing it was completely selfish on my part, that it was for 100% for me and for no one else but me.  I told him in the least savory way possible (unsavory way to me, anyway: it was in a facebook message, ughhh…but…it’s the means I had, and so I decided to work within those means).  The bottom line is, I told him.

And that seems to have done it – whatever this “it” is.  I still have moments when I am angry and have nowhere to go but to myself.  I still have days when it sucker punches me and knocks me to my knees.  I still have days when I weep.  But…I’m able to move on and able to accept that he may decide to contact me – and he may not.  As a result of a completely selfish act, doing something for me where he is concerned, should he ultimately decide that he wants nothing to do with me, I can move on with my life – as much as it is possible to move on from adoption relinquishment.  I accept that there is no truly moving on, so I say I’m moving on in a relative sense.  In other words, it is no longer consuming my days and my nights.  I am learning to operate within the parameters of this, my new normal.  Time will tell if this is a good thing or a destructive thing, as time inevitably does.

another question for the masses

“for the masses” sounded good for a title even though it isn’t necessarily masses who read this, but, hey!  I’ve always been a quality over quantity kinda gal, so my readership works for me  🙂   (and I’m so glad you’re here helping me survive all these things that have been bottled up all these years as they flood out of me…I am grateful).

Now on with the question:

This is a blog I started to focus solely on my issues as pertaining to adoption as I had never in my 21 years of experience with adoption truly shared openly – with anyone – about it.  And this is a place where I hope to advocate for change, and I believe that change starts with the way we, as a society, think about adoption.  It’s a place to shatter the myths and hopefully spare future generations the heartbreak we have experienced.

That said, I’ve been wondering how you who read would feel about seeing other parts of my life shared here?  I know it’s my blog, and I am free to as I please with it.  But I love and respect you for the support you have given, so I am asking because your readership has meant a great deal to me.  I have kept other blogs at various times in my life, but I am not sure if it would be best to share other aspects on a separate site or if it would fit here.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  And, thanks!  🙂  🙂

one good thing

Even though I may not get a lot of traffic on this site, I would love some interaction and some feedback on a particular question.

I have been trying to think of one good thing about adoption, and, as a birthmother, I haven’t come up with anything – at least nothing that feels real or viable.  And I’ve been at it for days!  I mean, I know I wouldn’t be who I am had I not traveled down this path, and I don’t actually hate who I am, but I do miss who I became when I had my son, and so I do miss who I should have been, which is L’s mom.

If I had to be tied down to an answer, though, I would have to say the one good thing that has come as a result of adoption is the people I’ve met who also have had the natural biological ebb and flow of their lives interrupted by adoption, i.e., other birth mothers and people who grew up adopted.  Thanks to them, I no longer feel isolated, and I don’t feel quite as much like as much of a freak of nature.

So, to all of my friends in adoption,  Thanks.

vultures and vampires

It took a few years for me to catch up with the phenomenon known as American Idol.  Oddly enough, it was back in 2008, when I had gone as long as I could go with trying to catch my breath and recover from all of the effects of giving up my child and made my first of many escapes to the mountains.  I stayed at one of the many lodges in one of the majestic national forests, and when I was flipping through the channels, happened upon a angelic-faced young man in dreadlocks singing “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen and was surprised and quickly drawn in.

I haven’t watched it every year, but I did watch this year and became enthralled by the young performer named Charlie Askew.  And I watched as the media machine shot him out like a clay pigeon and shot him down with a gazillion holes.  And that is the world in which we live.

Of course, everything horrible about life in this world reminds me of what it was like after I surrendered my child.  But seeing the media frenzy blow one hard day in the life of one young man waaaaay out of proportion, I was reminded of how the vultures and vampires came out to pluck my eyes and life essence when I had been kicked down as far as I could possibly go – to the point I was dying and didn’t even care.

An unseen presence cared, though, and that is how I maintained breath in my body and grabbed hold of a liferaft and got my bearings enough to also grab hold of a will to live.  This world is disgusting.  Stinky, smelly, horrid…just so many things there aren’t words for – and I don’t want there to be words for.

If they can’t find a way to rape one way, they’ll find another.  I could have been sucked in by the fame monster just as easily as I was by the adoption machine.  It’s all the same.

And yet there is the indelible human spirit whose candle still burns steadily and brightly with a light not of this world in spite of it all…I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: Don’t tell me there isn’t grace!!!