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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Closed

It is not often that I meet another birthmother who has experienced a closed adoption or can understand the differences in some of the battles that come. I don't think we necessarily have it any harder or struggle anymore than those who share an open adoption, but it's still different. This post has been brewing in my heart for awhile and I've been struggling with trying to find the words as to try not to offend or to come off in the wrong manner that I want to, but I finally decided that I just have to speak from the heart.

February 4th, 2005 was the last day I saw my baby girl. I use the word "my" lightly. For 9 months and 3 days, she was mine. I was her mother and I cared for her, but the moment I placed her into her parents arms, I knew that it was goodbye.  I knew that at that moment, my motherly responsibilities were gone and through the power of the spirit and the guidance of my Heavenly Father she had found her true parents. Now no absolutes have been written and there is a very strong possibility that I may see my little girl again, but throughout the days and as time passes it becomes clearer to me how much her parents deserve to have her life with their baby girl and do not need to feel any obligation to keep me involved in her life.

To some of you this may sound extremely harsh, but I need to make it clear that in NO WAY does this change my love for her and the motherly instincts I still find myself experiencing towards T. Her parents still share her life with me through pictures and letters and I realize that there are even more extremes of closed adoptions than mine, and I am grateful for the love that is shared. I was told by her parents that when the day comes that T asks to meet me that they would allow that to happen, but in the end they want it to be her choice, and I respect that. When I first heard their decision on the matter I was very hurt and frustrated, but it came to my realization that first and foremost their desires and love were for her, and if it meant hurting me in the process, than so be it. How could I argue with them. This is what I wanted. Not a closed adoption necessarily, but parents who loved her as their own and stood up for what they thought was best for her. They showed to me what I think is the ultimate love.

T knows she is adopted and knows me by name. Her parents share my pictures with her and I often send her letters and presents to remind her that she is always in my heart. For some this may not seem like enough, but for us, it works.

Since becoming a mother to my own little girl last October, my understanding of what adoptive parents go through has grown so much more. For 3 years my husband and I struggled to get pregnant and were slowly finding ourselves considering adoption if things didn't progress for us, and I will be honest, even being a birthmother, I wasn't sure if I had the strength to handle it. I didn't know how I would be able to share my baby with someone and have the responsibility of constantly keeping them active in my life. I know if it came to it, I would be able to do it no problem & trust me I know the importance of keeping in contact, but I was still afraid. Motherhood is hard, and takes A LOT of time. Alone time is few and far between and an extra minute to sit down and write a letter or prepare pictures is almost unimaginable. Even now, as I write this post it is 12:30 at night, the only possible time I could have gotten this done without any interruptions. During this time I have realized how amazing T's parents actually are and were during those first few month's they had her, and even now. Life is crazy with a newborn. Heck, my life was so crazy I didn't even get birth announcements sent off, but they somehow found the time every week to write me and send me updated pictures.

Over the years letters have lessoned and pictures are often found through each others blogs rather than through the mail, but I am okay with that.  Sure I have my hard days...and trust me there are major moments of wanting my little girl back, but I remind myself of the decision I made and how right it was and still is.

This past week T started kindergarten. As I read her mom's blog about the emotions she felt on this day, I found tears welling in my eyes. I imagined myself being there and feeling sad that I couldn't be a part of it . In those moments I feel frustration and often hurt, but to get through it I remember how happy T is and what an amazing life she has. People often tell me that her life would be even better if she had me in it, and perhaps that is true, but as for now, she is happy without me and her parents give her all that she needs. For me, that's all that matters.

I respect T's parents in so many ways. When I placed her it was just when adoption was becoming "open" and the idea of yearly visits became popular, but they stood strong for what they wanted and were clear with me from the beginning. I can't complain or point fingers at them as though they haven't done enough, because promises aren't broken and even if it's not as often as I may like, I am reminded always of how much they love me and appreciate me. They are fabulous people and amazing parents. All that I ever wanted for my baby girl.

Having a closed adoption definitely has its obstacles, as I know open ones do too, but for us, it's right. To be perfectly honest I can't imagine how things would be if I did see T once a year...and I certainly can't imagine seeing her monthly or weekly. I know that my motherly instincts for her are still there and I often think that if I did see her, it would have only made things harder...especially when she was just a baby. I could have been a mother. I was old enough. I had parents who supported me if I felt raising her was right. Heaven knows I could have given her love, but the comfort of keeping her in my arms, just wasn't right. I chose to place her for adoption because it was what was right for HER. Regardless if I knew that I may never see her again. I had no promises of visits and when I placed her in her mothers arms, I very full heartedly said goodbye. I had been preparing myself for 2 months for that day, and even now nearly 6 years later, I miss her, but I know she is where she belongs.

Maybe this post is more for me to just let out my emotions on what I've been feeling lately, but I am hoping in some way it reaches out to someone, even if it is only some-ONE. I want to share that there is nothing wrong or weird about having a closed adoption. I in no way love my baby any less than those who see their babies frequently and absolutely in no way does it make me a bad person. I've had a few birthmothers express to me how they think it is ridiculous that T's parents don't share her life with me through visits, or that I don't demand more from them, but I let that go when I let her go and I have to be okay with that. I know without a doubt in my heart that she is where she belongs and that her parents are and always will be hers. I placed her with them not just to give her a temporary home, but to go to the home she was meant to be, always.

I know that I love T just as much as other birthmother's  love the children they placed and no one can ever make me feel inferior for the differences in my relationships with T and her parents. Maybe someday she will find me and perhaps we'll share an amazing friendship, but I can't rely on that. It is my hearts desire, and I do of course hope to see her again. I picture myself at her wedding and meeting her first born child. I imagine us sharing stories and having an irreplaceable friendship, but as for now, I am happy with seeing her pictures and sharing her life through her parents. I love hearing the stories about her and what a young little lady she is growing up to be. Forever I will continue to write her letters and send her presents and for now that has to be enough.

I often hear that adoptive parent's "owe" us something. I mean heck, shouldn't they, we gave them our child? My answer is NO...they don't owe us anything. Of course T's parents would never just drop me, and sadly I know a few girls that have been dropped, but I don't feel like they have an obligation towards me. Heaven knows I used to...but with time, I've realized. Going through a time of infertility and feeling that struggle of wanting to be a parent SO bad and not understanding why a 16 year old girl who didn't want to be a mother before this could and I couldn't, was one of the hardest times of my life. Yes, I can even say it was harder than saying goodbye to T. I know this is something that is hard for some to understand, but those who have experienced even the slightest fear of not being able to have children, knows what I mean and has felt that pain. What's even worse is knowing that I can't even truly begin to understand the pain of infertility because eventually I was able to have a child through natural processes. The only phrase that I feel can in someway help those of you who might not understand, understand, is this: we CHOOSE to place our children for adoption and prepare ourselves for that pain.... infertile couples are HANDED their pain and have to prepare themselves for what comes after. 

I know that at times it can be hard and overwhelmingly heartbreaking when promises are broken, and it seems ridiculous that these adoptive couples can't do more, but do me a favor and sit back for a moment and think about how much they really are doing. Some might think this is just my way of "justifying" the decisions T's parents have made and I am just trying to mask the pain and anger I really feel...but I promise you that I AM NOT! There is truth in every word I type, even if it is not your truth, it is mine. Each of our journeys are different and unique, and that's the way it should be. 

-A

4 comments:

Amanda said...

I hope I an be honest with you without offending you.

But I see too often First Mothers lowering themselves to exhault the Adoptive Family.

Do you know that your own children may not see you that way? :-) You are just as important as anyone else.

I am no less my First Mother's daughter than my brothers are her sons, just because she didn't raise me. I'm her daughter too. I am also the daughter of H&H. I have two moms and one dad. It's just the way it is and I love them all. Just like I loved three sets of grandparents, without question, because there was a divorce/remarriage in my A-family that gave me three grandparents. Having three sets of grandparents might have been weird to some, but it wasn't to me. Having two moms in my life might be weird to some, but it isn't to me.

I was a private domestic infant closed adoption. It took me until almost my 25th birthday to figure out how to find her and we reunited. I never realized how much I had missed her until I held her in my arms.

I wish all First Mothers knew how much their children love them.

JLBills said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amanda*celeste said...

Amanda-

I appreciate your words and completely understand what you mean. I in now way meant to come off as though I don't think my daughter needs me. I know that she loves me and I believe strongly that someday we will have a strong friendship and bond. My purpose of this post was to let girls understand that it is okay for things to be closed, just as it's okay for things to be open. To not be afraid or feel left out because their adoption is different.

I constantly felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn't see my daughter like so many other birthmothers I know see their children, but I had to realize that there isn't, and that our relationship is just different. I am still very much a part of T's life and she knows that I love her too. I hope one day her and I can have a relationship like you have with your birthmom.

Thanks for the comment.

Amanda said...

I do not think that mothers who have adoptions become closed should think that there's anything wrong with themselves at all.

I was just explaining, as an adoptee, how I internalized what you wrote. I noticed you said you take "my" lightly when you say "my daughter" because she has another set of parents as well as called your raised child "one of your own." It was almost as though you were talking about yourself as being less important to your First Daughter because you are not raising her.

The reason I point that out is that you might put yourself in a secondary place in her life...but what if she doesn't? What if she thinks of you equally and the same as her parents? When I was growing up, language that I heard surrounding society (I'm not talking about my Adoptive Parents) use that differentiated between "birth" and Adoptive Families made me feel that I wasn't allowed to think my First Family was important. Looking back, I feel like who is more important, less important, or equally important, should have been up to me to decide. I am not ragging on you for having a closed adopton--I'm not talking about the closed adoption at all. I am trying to provide encouragement to you to perhaps not think of yourself as second-place because your daughter might not think of you that way :-)

Because adoption language does not establish a neutral playing field for both families, not only does it influence the way adoptees feel they ought to feel, it sometimes creates a very non-understanding society that often doesn't "get" why adoptees want to reunite, want to know their roots, or want to embrace their Original Families. If you ever see some reunion stories online from popular newspapers or magazines, read some of the comments people have to make about these adoptees underneith. I work very hard to establish an adopted person's legal entitlement to information about themselves pre-adoption and I myself have been called derrogatory names by the average gen pop who doesn't understand. Dr. Elizabeth Samuels (Dr. Amanda Baden is really great too) has written very interesting pieces on where these current stigmas come from.

A good friend of mine, who is both an Adult Adoptee and a mother who surrendered her son to adoption, was just interviewed in TIME magazine. I interviewed her afterward and we discuss how the interview and article made her feel. I'll be posting it on my blog in the next day or so.

And all of this is also why I do not call my mother a "birthmother" and ask when other people refer to her, that they don't either. She foremost, does not like the term and I respect that. But her meaning, to me, extends far beyond the pregnancy and birth experience--and it always has.

What you choose to be called or how you label your relationships with your children is up to you. I am just explaining to you how I as an adoptee internalize language that doesn't establish equality among families.

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