11 06 2009

Heather at Production, Not Reproduction has started a semi regular writing prompt about open adoption. I think it is great because I don’t think people write enough about their open adoption experiences. Since for me (and probably most), open adoption was our biggest fear hurdle when moving on to adoption after IF, I LOVE to read about others’ experiences.

What one thing about open adoption would you tell your past self, if you could?

I LOVE this question, but it took me a long time to find the answer. I want my answer to be that open adoption isn’t scary. But I honestly am not really there yet. I haven’t had any face to face contact with R’s birth parents since we brought her home and I am not really sure if we will. I mentioned in a previous post that I thought I ran into R’s birth mother and my adrenaline just went crazy! Not because I don’t WANT to see them, but because I don’t really have a compass to guide me through. I don’t know how they would want me to act and I don’t know how I would handle it.

When we first met her birth parents, they wanted a closed adoption. I shared my experiences (both online and IRL) with birth parents and talked to them about the positives for both them and R. About three hours later, once they had asked us to be R’s parents, they told us that they planned on receiving the letters and photos that we were required to send. We also told them that we wanted to put in our communication agreement that we would have a visit within the first year (at a minimum) at their request. We weren’t ready for more than that at that time (after knowing them just a few hours), and they weren’t even interested in even that.

I didn’t recognize Mother’s Day (or Birth Mother’s Day) with them because I was scared of how it might hurt them, especially because they were so resistant with contact. I also held back a lot of my joy in the first letter for the same reasons. After receiving the letter R’s birth mother sent to me on Mother’s Day, I am thinking of writing her a more personal letter telling her that I am going to lay it all out there and if anything is painful or uncomfortable to me, to tell me. I would rather give a little too much than her feel like we are missing something with our love for R.

Part of me is disappointed. I wish I would have had more contact with them before R was born so we could have developed a better relationship. I wish I was better at this kind of “uncomfortable” situation. I am not very good at expressing myself to new people. In reality, I am not very good a “working” at relationships. Typically if a relationship is too hard, it isn’t worth working at for me (and obviously I have been very blessed with great relationships in my life and those that I “quit” have all been friendships). But then, when I think about it, I am just learning.

So, that is what my advice would be for my previous self. Being open to open adoption is a learning process. Most people start off being scared. Nobody is an expert. I don’t think it is realistic to ask someone to say that they will allow any birth family into their lives forever. Your mind can do crazy things to you with such an open ended commitment. When you actually put a face to both your child and his/her birth family, you will surprise yourself. You will. Love is an amazing thing.

I, like many, was completely freaked out about the whole concept of open adoption. To the point where we decided to try more IF treatments. When we moved onto adoption, I was planning to insist on doing only the minimum required by our agency, and grudgingly so.

Through my friends both online and IRL, I have learned so much about the positives from all perspectives. When we met R’s birth family, I was shocked at how much LOVE I have for them. I am surprised at how concerned I am for their well being. I am surprised at how much I think about them and what they are doing, hoping that they are finding peace and happiness and I am interested in learning what I can do to help them get there.

I am not scared to have R’s birth family in my life. I do not feel threatened by them. But I am scared about how to do this. I have never had a relationship like this before. I have never been so deeply and eternally connected to someone without knowing them at all. It is immensely difficult to form a lasting relationship like that. And I am nervous. I am sooo nervous that something could go wrong because with my entire being, I want to have a great relationship with these people for the rest of my life.

So, in a sense I am kind of disappointed about where I am in terms of open adoption. At the same time, however, when I look back on where I started, I am pleasantly surprised at how much I have learned and grown. And most of is just happened naturally through the process.


This day…

10 05 2009

Today is somewhat of a funny day to me. I have dreaded it for so long. Yesterday I was talking to family about how I have been carrying around a bit of pain for so long, and it almost felt like something was missing to walk around feeling so happy and blessed. I don’t miss it by any means, but that pain is just noticably not there anymore.

So, today I am celebrating all my dreams come true. I am full, happy and complete today and I cannot thank The Lord enough for all the blessings in my life.

I want to wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day. Everyone. Whether you are a new mom like me, an OLD mom like my mom :), waiting to be a mom, or just love moms everwhere. Happy Mothers Day.

To my friends still waiting and praying; I am thinking of you on this day and knowing in my heart that your time is coming!

21 03 2009

The other night we were headed out and the neighbor was just getting home. Hubbs pulled up next to him and confronted him. It was a strange encounter. He stumbled over his words trying to find a reason (excuse?) as to why they didn’t come down on Sunday. First he said she was leaning towards parenting, but later in the conversation he mentioned that she really wanted to place with them. They “have too much on their plate” as it is, and he said he was trying to talk her into placing with us. I told him that we needed it to be right and we didn’t want anyone to convince her of something she was uncomfortable with. We told him to let her know that we were interested in the situation, but supportive of whatever she chose. Hubbs made it clear (in my eyes, anyway) that we were upset with HIM for the way he handled the situation. He didn’t seem to get that, but whatever.

All in all, the conversation went pretty well and I feel like we cleared the air and I won’t have a problem walking my dog passed their house. We did make tentative plans for an unknown date and time to get together for a BBQ. We’ll see…

My take on the whole thing. She didn’t want us to parent her child. Period.

So, it got me thinking about things just “feeling right.” These neighbors are very different from us (not better/worse, just different). They are very different from most of the people on our block; hence they stick out as “the renters.”(not judging renters at all- lots of renters on our block that aren’t “stereotypical.”)

[insert list of ways they are different than we are. It sounds very judgemental even though I was trying very hard not to be, so I couldn’t include it.]

We are pretty much the exact opposite of them, in short. Obviously I prefer the way we do things because otherwise I would do it their way, but I am not saying there is anything wrong with their way. Because I prefer my way, my brain led me to believe that everyone would (i.e. any potential birth mother). But, this girl is staying with them, obviously likes them and would choose them to parent her child if she could. To be honest, I don’t really understand that, but I can conclude that if they are the type of family she is looking for, then we most certainly are not.

We are young, financially stable, fun, and very family oriented. I think we have it all (except babies of course). It is interesting to think that someone wouldn’t want their child they were making an adoption plan for to be placed with us (not that they would chose someone over us, but that they specifically wouldn’t want us if we were the only option.) I’m ok with that. I am not even a little bit saddened by that. It has just made me think about how an adoption match has to be right for all of us. That if we aren’t chosen, it isn’t because there is something wrong with us or anything. It is just that people want different things, people are comfortable in different environments and people connect with different types of people. (It is kind of like finding a spouse. I could NEVER be with some of my friends’ spouses, but there is someone out there for everyone!!! Yay!)

I would have thought that these people would have had a harder time finding a match than we would have. The truth is, it isn’t really about that kind of stuff. It is about connections and commonality. And I am totally fine waiting for that. I think that when we do have that connection, that commonality, it will not only feel right, but it will be a much smoother transition into a lifelong relationship.

Its getting harder and harder to imagine…

15 03 2009

Last night we had a block party for St Patty’s Day. It is the third annual and all the neighbors and their friends show up with grills and meat and food to share. And green beer of course. Anyway, it was a lot of fun and we met some new neighbors further down the block. One couple we were talking to was talking to us about the “renters” that live next to them (everyone knows who they are – there are lots of renters in the neighborhood, but this family plays out all the typical negative stereotypes of renters). During the course of the conversation, they mention that the renters’ two youngest children were adopted (I of course clammed up because I was afraid of what they were going to say next – Hubbs quickly jumped in to tell them we are waiting to avoid anything like that.)
Awhile later the renter husband showed up with the two youngest children. After making funny faces at the 9-month-old baby, I casually asked him about the adoption and then said that I hoped he didn’t mind me asking but that I was interested because we were in the process as well. (now, I have NEVER done this before, mind you…) He responded with asking if we were already certified. When I told him we were he told me that he may have a situation for me. Right now. In his home.
So, I guess the story is that someone that they know flew this girl out to our state so she could give birth and they would adopt her baby (she is due “any day”). She had already placed a little girl with them awhile back and was going to place this child with them as well. Apparently, once she saw the situation for herself, she became uncomfortable with the couple, told them she had decided to parent, and contacted the renters to see if they could help her find a different adoptive familyb. Financially, the renters can’t afford another child and their plan was for her to sign over guardianship to them and they would find adoptive parents for the baby. Enter us. So, last night we gave them a copy of our profile to give to them and he said that he would come to our house Sunday (today) at noon with her. We left it with us saying, “ we hope to see you tomorrow,” and him saying, “Oh, you will. At noon.”
And you guessed it, it’s three o’clock and nothing. I had completely prepared myself for it not to be anything. I didn’t get excited and I know that there is usually a greater chance of thing not working out than them working out (is that pessimistic or realistic?). What I wasn’t prepared for is limbo. Or being stood up.
So, as usual, Hubbs gets mad and I cry. I hate this. People shouldn’t have to deal with crap like this just to have children. I’m not mad (and Hubbs only is because that is his default emotion), but it does make me a little irritated with my neighbor. I mean, he has been here before. He should at least have the courtesy to let us know what was going on so we don’t sit here our whole Sunday waiting on something that isn’t going to happen. To top it off, we missed church this morning for this.
Hubbs said, “it’s getting harder and harder to imagine it really happening.” Blast from the past- that is exactly what I said about conceiving. I just couldn’t imagine it really happening.
Today, getting ready for our impromptu match meeting where we know nothing about the pregnant woman or her situation, I couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t even begin to think about what it would be like and quite honestly, was a little bit uncomfortable with the whole situation. But of course, you have to see something like this through. I didn’t even get excited. Not because I was being negative, but because I just didn’t believe. It is too far off. It is crazy to think that someone is going to be pregnant, be unable or unwilling to parent and then want me to parent that child. It just seems preposterous and unrealistic.
I feel like I have done everything I can. I feel like I have come miles as far as accepting others’ pregnancies. I even heard of one last week and didn’t cry! Just a sincere congratulations. I can talk to my sister without my heart hurting (even though the plot thickens there….) and I can plan for my BFF’s baby without even feeling a twinge of jealousy. I am getting past that. We are as ready as they get. Financially, emotionally, physically (I even got my free formula in the mail!). It is all there. I don’t feel like I have ANYTHING left to do to prepare for baby. When is it going to be my turn?
Now, I suppose something could still come of this. But I really don’t think it is going to (and if it doesn’t I KNOW it wasn’t meant to be and am ok with that). But I don’t really feel like it ever will. I don’t feel like it will ever be the right situation and it will never be meant to be and it will never be God’s will. I feel like we are going to be stuck here forever.
Lately, other peoples’ positive attitudes about our adoption are stinging me pretty badly. My mom’s comment, “I’m going to have 4 new grandchildren in 2009” and my SIL “you’re going to get your baby before your sister has hers” and my brothers, “this Christmas will be awesome for you because you will have a new baby to share it with.” I wish I could share in some of their optimism, but honestly it just makes me cringe. It brings me back to trying to be positive with IF and that if you just say it out loud, it will become true.
I remember when I told my social worker that the adoption process was going to be much more peaceful than IF. It isn’t. It is different, but not more peaceful. Part of that is all the people having babies around me, but part of it is that people don’t know how to handle it (including me). I mean, why don’t people know that I need them to treat me like I am expecting but not say things that are too optimistic? Come on, is that too much to ask???? (Please sense my sarcasm and my understanding that my expectations are totally unrealistic.)
Thank God for little tiny perfect little puppies that fill my life with joy and unconditional love.

(reading back over this post, it sounds like I am down in the dumps. I am not really. Just frustrated and stuck.)

6 03 2009

Definition: patience [pey-shuhns]
the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

I have been thinking about patience. In many ways, I am not a patient person, and in many ways I am. I don’t get terribly irritated when standing in line or being put on hold. But am I patient with this adoption? Yes and No. Mostly no by the definition above. But, if we go by the definition above, patience is literally impossible.

Is it possible to experience annoyance or pain without irritation? Irritation is innate in both annoyance and pain. I don’t think it is possible to be annoyed, yet not irritated or be in pain and not irritated. So patience is impossible. There you have it. Don’t say I’ve never taught you anything.

How about without complaint or loss of temper? Ok, so I can do something about those. But do I lose my temper and complain about it? Outwardly, no. You couldn’t find any people IRL that would say that I have lost my temper during this adoption wait. Is crying complaining? Ok, so I can work on that a little, but after this weekend I feel like it is going to get better.

But what about in blogland? I am definitely not patient in blogland. But in reality, my blog is just an extension of my own thoughts. It isn’t how I act, it is how I feel. So I act patient, for the most part, but I don’t feel patient. But again, how can one feel patient? When you want something down to the very core of you, when you want something so bad you don’t go a moment without thinking about it, how can it not be irritating that you are waiting for it? Is that even humanly possible?

I have been thinking about how I express myself in blogland and how that contrasts with how I act, and how I feel on a daily basis.

I started this blog as a way to journal my adoption experience, to learn from others, and hopefully to allow others to learn from my experience (what I didn’t expect is a great deal of support and wonderful friendships). The process of waiting in adoption is often compared to a rollercoaster ride. I couldn’t agree more, but in reality, while waiting for adoption there aren’t very many upward swings (until you get matched, that is). I am not saying there are only downs, but there are a lot of “plateaus,” some “valleys” and not too many “peaks.”

I think about adoption every day, every hour. It is always on the back of my mind, and often on the front. I live most of the time on a “plateau.” Things are going along just fine. I am waiting, rather patiently. I don’t need it to happen right this moment or this exact day. I trust God and I enjoy my life. Most of the time, I am patient.

Sometimes, I am not. Sometimes I experience those “valleys” and I wallow a little in my own self pity and I cry and I hurt. Often times those “valleys” are due to another’s pregnancy. Not because I am jealous or I want to be pregnant or I hate pregnant woman or I think others don’t deserve to pregnant or really anything to do with that person being pregnant or those particular babies. It is because someone else’s pregnancy reminds me that I am waiting and waiting is hard. Those aren’t my proudest moments, but they are there. I don’t like that I feel that way, but I do and I know in my heart it is normal and ok to feel that way. Those “valleys” are a part of my journey, but they don’t define me. They don’t even define the majority of my emotions and experience during this adoption ride.

But those feelings, those “valleys”, are the times when I blog (because lets face it, there is nothing to write about when I am patiently waiting). I blog about it because I know that there are people out there that have been where I am, and others that are currently where I am. I blog about it because it is a great way for me to get my feelings out on the table, sort them out and deal with them.

Infertility taught me that you have no idea how someone else feels unless you have been there. However, blogging has taught me that you have no idea how someone else feels unless you have been THEM, becuase everyone experiences things differently and handles things differently. Nobody has the right to tell you that is right or wrong. Nobody should be able to tell someone how to feel or how not to feel.

I know that those of you that really matter already know this, but I don’t walk around wallowing in my own self pity day after day. Most days, I feel blessed to be walking this path. I feel this is where I am supposed to be and I love to look back and see how I have grown throughout this journey. Yes, there are days that are hard. Excruciatingly, and sometimes debilitating hard. But the truth is, the best things in life are hard and often times painful. Despite the pain, hurt, hardships and waiting I am choosing and willing to go through it all. It makes it easier to be able to blog about it and have the support of so many awesome moms and moms-to-be!

4 03 2009

Do you know what would be awesome?

A real life hug from someone who truly understands what I am going through that isn’t trying to fix what is wrong.

But you know what? A hug from you guys is almost as good.

It is funny how much this blog has come to mean to me. It is funny how when things happen I make mental notes to share it with you guys. It is wonderful how I have such a hard time letting things go, but once they come out in my blog, I feel so much better.

Oh, and to those who left Anonymous* comments on my last post; You can’t hurt me with your cowardly comments. You don’t know me and you have to be a pretty angry person to say things just to hurt someone. If you don’t like what I am saying, I don’t care. Just leave.

*Apparently I forgot to disable those when I moved! Fixed now!

Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad weekend

2 03 2009

What a weekend. It was my worst nightmare. It was terrible and I felt awful the entire time and I don’t know if I will ever fully recover from it. Ok. Enough of the melodrama. But seriously, it was pretty rough and I am glad that I will never have to do it again. I’m going to tell you about every terrible moment and you will probably think I am a bit crazy, but whatever. It will be therapeutic for me.

So, Friday when I get up there I am stressed beyond belief. Since the incident, I hate driving and my dog wouldn’t stay off my lap and it was immensely distracting on my 3 hour drive.

First incident: The hotel room. When I walked into the hotel room I am greeted by my mom and baby sister (henceforth referred to as BS). Little pregnant sister (henceforth referred to as LS) was asleep on the bed with her new little baby bump showing. It was like those commercials when the horror film music plays and the horrifying thing in question gets progressively magnified. It was at that moment that I realized that I had not yet even accepted that LS was pregnant and that it was going to be a rough ride. I swallowed all of it, of course, and took note of her ginormous breasts and the military dog tags around her neck (babies’ daddy’s).

Second incident: Her apartment. First of all, let me just say YUCK! The fact that human beings actually reside in that shit hole is horrifying to me. I am not the cleanest person in the world, but this place was out of control disgusting! From cat litter covering the kitchen floor, dog and cat hair everywhere, mysterious dried blood covering one of the bathroom sinks, dog feces literally layering the backyard….. I could go on an on. But to sum it up; completely uninhabitable and definitely not healthy. If she is going to have twins, she really needs to start practicing not being disgusting. The ultrasound pictures that hung on the refrigerator caused another “horror film music with gradual magnification” episode. I tried to look at them as if I was interested. I knew that pretty soon I was actually going to have to talk about the fact that she is pregnant. I was dreading it.

I did ok with that. Back at the hotel we talked a little about different products and video and what her plans are, etc. Here is a condensed version of things…

– Babies’ daddy is sending her $800 per month
– She is moving in with mom in May
– She is not going to have a job while she lives with mom, just going to school (student loans and babies’ daddy to pay for all baby expenses)
– She is selling her car and planning to just use my mom’s while living with her (can you say complete lack of independence?) She also said that babies’ daddy is going to buy her a car next year.
– She and babies’ daddy say, “I love you,” which is weird because they have only seen each other three times. (I suppose I should start referring to him as her boyfriend. It just seems very forced and fake to me, but I guess it isn’t my place to judge)
– Mom looked on computer for baby items, pediatricians and OBGYNs for hours, LS showed little to no interest whatsoever.
– My mom said that in 2009 our family is going to have 4 babies added to it. It made me want to SCREAM! Year number 5 in row where people have been saying that. I feel like it won’t really happen unless people stop saying that it will with such conviction.

Incident three: Nighttime. So, we were staying at hotel that didn’t allow for pets. My dog decided to take the opportunity to take up barking, which he never usually does. I couldn’t sleep because every time he would hear a noise, he would bark and I would have to clamp his little mouth shut and soothe him back to sleep. Also, I took the opportunity to mentally torture myself with the whole situation and cry my eyes out all night long. I think I literally got 3 hours of sleep during the 9 hours everyone else slept.

Incident Four: More family. My aunt and grandma came up Saturday morning. They brought the largest bag of baby clothes anyone has ever seen for LS. I felt incredibly slighted and had to try really hard to hold back tears. After about two hours of non-stop talk about LS pregnancy and babies, my mom brings up the new “business cards” that I made for our adoption profile. It was like a light went off with my aunt and g-ma that I too was expecting, just not quite as good. After that, every time anyone would say anything about LS’s babies, they would pause and then throw in something about my “pretend” babies (my words, not theirs). My g-ma at one point said that if my baby came near LS’s, she would have to step in and play the role of my mom for me. It was totally nice of her to offer to do that, but it pissed me off. Why does she automatically get my mom? I know, it is because she needs her more, but I have waited forever for this and it makes me so mad that my mom may not even be able to come visit for the first few months because she is busy with my sister’s babies. Again, something I have yet to come to terms with.

Incident five. Maternity clothes. We decided to go shopping. I wanted to go to a used bookstore. One car with mom and g-ma led us, the rest of us in the car behind. Where did they lead us? Maternity clothes shopping. I felt like someone had slapped me in the face and punched me in the gut at the same time. Is it me or is this a little insensitive to make me go along with this? It is certainly no secret that this is beyond hard for me (even though nobody talked about it at the time). My mom was going to be there for 5 days, I was in town for a day and a half and that is the day we go shopping for maternity clothes. BS was complaining about how boring it was and wanted to go back to the hotel. After watching the three women go all crazy over maternity clothes and fuss all over LS, I broke down in a corner of the store by myself. I felt terrible that I would never be able to have that moment when people fuss over me like that. I felt so sad that my mom, aunt and g-ma would never go maternity shopping with me. Then I realized that even if I WAS pregnant, it wouldn’t happen. I would go on my own or with friends, because I wouldn’t need to wait for my mom to be in town to buy them for me. So then I changed from being sad to being angry. I decided I wanted to go back to the hotel, so I grabbed BS and we left. On the way back, I started crying again. I was totally silent and staring straight forward hoping BS wouldn’t see. I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye and she was staring at me with the most concerned, adult look on her face. She grabbed my hand and just said, “I’m sorry this is so hard for you,” and just held my hand and never said another word about it. Of course, it made me cry a little harder at first, but what a great kid, huh? Why is it that the 13 year-old gets it but the 50 and 70 year-olds don’t? Ugghhh!! Anyway, I was immensely fortunate to have BS there this weekend. She was totally my crutch and she supported me in her own silent way the rest of the weekend, which was pretty uneventful.

So, I guess putting it down on paper it doesn’t seem that bad. But my heart was hurting really bad the entire time, and I was angry at my heart for hurting so. I know that my family showing support for LS doesn’t indicate a lack of support for me, but it certainly feels that way. I have been on this path for over a year and nobody ever seems to bring it up or ask about it or anything unless I do. It hurts me unbelievably bad. I know that they just don’t get it and they don’t know how to act and quite frankly they just forget about the issue. I know that there isn’t a script for how to act when your sister/daughter/granddaughter/niece is adoption, but there kinda is one if the is pregnant. I get why they acted that way and I am not mad, it just hurts. It is one of the most difficult things about the adoption process. Other’s just truly don’t get it.

It really bothers me that LS gets my mom through all this. Actually, it just bothers me that the fact that she gets her means that I don’t. It bothers me that my mom is buying all this stuff for her and bending over backwards for her. I feel glossed over and second rate.

As horrible as I felt the entire time, I am still glad I went. I think I am on way to acceptance of the lifetime original movie that is my family right now. After acceptance, I’ll have to work on embracing it. Baby steps….