Monday, September 26, 2011


Sometimes I am just sad. I have alot of reasons to be grateful for the life I lead, but lately some things have been falling apart. I am definitely a person who cannot handle a lot of negative things happening at once without an outlet. Lately that is how it has been though. It's been an emotional week for me as I was forced to contemplate the inevitability of losing family members and also found out that someone I knew from high school was taken from this world too soon. Add in stress at work and feeling guilty about not spending more time with Cookie and I am just all out of whack.

Sadness is ok. Not good or great but it is ok. Sometimes we need to be sad, to feel out of sorts and to cry. I have to work hard to keep reminding myself of this at times. I have suffered from clinical depression off and on since I was young. It got pretty bad after Dawson was placed, and I was on meds for quite a while. I had alot of pitfalls over many years, and at one point I let it get so bad that I didnt see anything good in the world any more. I still dont remember taking the pills. I have the knowledge of those dark days but not the memory of that action. All I know is that at the time I did not understand how important my support system is. I didnt feel their love and I allowed myself to go untreated for too long. Why am I talking about this now? Because for one thing, when I am feeling down sometimes I need an outlet, and for another thing because I need people to understand I have been to the bottom of the bottom and I never want to be there again. I make a great effort to make sure I have a great support system at all times, and that I can talk about any and all things with someone. I have a wonderful counselor now, I've been off meds for years, I live in a sunny climate, I count my blessings often. I also have amazing people in my life. I have A, who after hearing I am sad today asked what he could do, and did everything in his power to cheer me up (I love that guy!). I have wonderful family who make my life a little easier and love Cookie and me no matter what. I have Dawson and Cookie and D and G and C. They make my life so much more full.

All that being said, I still feel sad today. I used to think sadness needed to be hidden. We are supposed to be happy right? We are supposed to project only our happiness to those around us. So when I felt sad or down I would just bottle that all up, and it was like this poison in me. It seeped into everything I did, turned the world a mottled gray and stripped me of all motivation. So now when I get the chance I let it out. I cry, I write, I blog, I talk, I rant, and I allow the hurt and the sadness to wash through me and out of me.

Part of the reason I am so grateful for Dawson and my adoption experience is the fact that I learned the importance of sadness. The truth in grief and the love it can reveal. I wonder if I would have gone on hiding my sadness if I hadnt learned that lesson. I wonder if I would have learned the difference between true depression and passing sadness? I wonder if I would have thought that all-encompassing blackness was what was normal, or if I would have ever learned the importance of my family and friends? I needed those lessons in order to learn my limits, and when to start talking and when it's time to get to a Doctor.

So today I will allow myself to cry about the possibility that I may not see my Gram again before she departs this earth. I will mourn for a young man's life snuffed out in his prime, and for the family he left behind. I will let the sadness roll through me for the time I am missing with Cookie, and I will be grateful for the man at home who lets me snot on his shoulder while I cry.

And when that is all done I will move forward, and be grateful for the gifts I am given daily.

Please, if you are feeling depressed or suicidal, call someone. ANYONE. Get help as soon as you can.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Adoption Art of the Week...

Sorry for the recent lull in posting, I had some health issues to take care of, but we are back in business, so here is another edition of Adoption Art of the Week...

Dedicated to birth mothers

This week we are going to cover one of my favorite songs EVER, just because I feel like it. It doesnt necessarily hold for just adoption, it is just overall a good song. It's called "Smile". I heard it when I was younger, but this has been around quite a while. According to one website "Words by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons and music by Charlie Chaplin" I do know the original tune was written for a Charlie Chaplin spot in 1936. Lyrics and title were later added for the debut of the song in this form in 1956. My favorite version is the one by Nat King Cole. Lyrics as follows:

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Such a chipper message (or so it seems), sung with such a somber tune. I fell in love with this song right away. It almost perfectly describes how I felt after placement, keeping an ingenuine smile pasted on my face for the world. I think it was that ability to keep trudging on that allowed me to find real happiness later. When I placed my son it gave me strength, and now I sing it to my daughter when she is sad or ready to go to sleep. It seems to calm her, probably because I've been singing it since she was in the womb. When you read into the lyrics it does kind of seem a message of the era it was written for (conform, be happy, dont show the world your troubles). I suppose for some people it would be a sad statement of how people expect you to hide your true feelings. Honestly, the way I see it, it's more of a message that what we put out in the world is what will be. I choose each day to smile and love my life, and each day life hands me more and more reasons to keep smiling :D

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Birth Fathers [Good, Bad and Ugly]

It's a sore subject for some of us (birth mothers, single mothers). The (biological)father's of our children, how they make us react and how we feel about them. For some their name is a dirty word, and for others they just dont telk about it at all. I would wager there is a fare amount of resentment going both ways with the men who I conceived children with. What some people might be surprised to know is I am grateful for them. For all their faults, all their misdeeds and all their anger, they are the reason my children exist and I am grateful. I am even grateful for the bad things they have done to me, and all the lessons learned because of that treatment.

Let's start off with J. Keeping in mind that J and I were both still children at the time we were together. I freely and openly admit that his indiscriminant cheating was a catalyst for my choice to place.
I like to think that all things happen for a reason, and I have long since forgiven J for his childish behavior. After all, what do you expect when you throw an adolescent boy into an adult situation? He did not have the tools to deal with the serious nature of our situation any more than I did. While I had the baby as a constant reminder of why I needed to do things right, all he had was his own conflicted mind. I was not exactly a perfect person, and I was in no way prepared for a real relationship at the time. In the end J had a choice the same as I did, he signed the papers too, he was there at the hospital and he loved that baby boy. I know that he was hurt after placement, and I know he and I leaned on eachother for our grief. I like to think that we needed that understanding to get through that first year. I am grateful for the lessons I learned during that time. I no longer will tolerate cheating, in any form, by anyone I date. I feel it creates too much distrust for me to go forward. I'm grateful he taught me what I could handle in that area. I am also grateful for his shoulder during that year or so after we placed. I'm glad I had someone who was going through the same feelings who I could turn to in dark moments. I'm also grateful that the relationship ended, and that we were able to move on with our lives with other people and find the good in life again.

I still have some work to do with forgiving R (my daughters bio-father). It's alot tougher because his actions still have the power to hurt Cookie in the future. He has still taught me a few things though. He taught me that I am still vulnerable, and that my children will always be more important to me than anyone else on this planet. He taught me that I can be fierce and mean when my child is threatened, and that sometimes the truth is only as clear as our perception. I'm thankful that I have my daughter, so I cannot regret being with him. The story with him is not quite over yet though, so I think until I know the outcome I will be holding my breathe and preparing for the worst.

Overall the best thing I have learned from the biological father's of my children is how amazing it can be when your child has a true father in their life. Seeing Dawson with G and seeing Cookie with A have made me realize how precious that bond is. I am so glad I know the difference between biology and parenthood. I'm grateful every day for that lesson, and the proof before my eyes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What NOT to Say to a Birth Mother...

This is something I wrote a while back and posted on my sister's blog here. She asked me to write something for her for national adoption month, and gave me a selection of topics. I chose this one because I think it will hit home for alot of people, both birth and adoptive parents. I'm being a little lazy lately but working on a few things at once too, so I decided to pull some old material. Hopefully you wont mind too much.


I once heard someone say “No matter how many babies you carry out of the hospital with you, you will never forget the one you did not”. There is a sting there that never really heals, a wounded piece of yourself that you hide away and nurse in your weakest moments. In some ways, when you place a child for adoption, you are sentencing yourself to the life of an outsider. Even your closest family and friends can sometimes be insensitive and callous. There are always people who will say terrible things, which is why many of us who have been on either side of the adoption world don’t usually talk about it right off the bat with people. Once you experience that first person who judges you harshly for your experience, you tend to guard that part of yourself from the hurt of those comments. I think it should be common knowledge and common courtesy to think before we speak in every situation, especially in matters that are close to someone else’s heart. Unfortunately some people do not believe that is necessary, and so here I will discuss what not to say to someone who has placed a child for adoption. Please keep in mind that these insights are my own, and may not reflect the feelings of EVERY birth mother in the world. I am only speaking from my own experience, along with the experiences of those birth mothers whom I have spoken with.

First things first: Think before you speak.
This is the main point I want to get across. I am not asking that anyone refrain from asking questions when speaking with me or any other birth mom. I am simply imploring every human being to realize that the people around you have emotions. I can almost guarantee that this part of a birth mom’s life will bring up strong feelings and reactions. Most of the women I know who have placed will cry simply from talking about their child, and many of them can barely speak about it. It’s a very private thing for most of us, and we share it with those who we feel comfortable and safe with. Please keep this in mind whenever you ask a question or think about saying something judgemental.

1. “I could never give up my baby.”

This statement smacks of moral superiority. As if someone is trying to say that the decision to place your child was entirely selfish and that you just dropped your baby in a dumpster somewhere. I have never met a birth mom who found it easy to walk away from a child. I have also never met one who felt that the decision to place a child was right for every mother in hard circumstances. Most of the women I have heard this from are either pregnant or have very young children. It’s as if they want me to know that they don’t want me “preaching” to them about the benefits of adoption. After placing my son I had to go back to high school, and there were several girls who got pregnant after I had placed my son who completely avoided me because they thought I would berate them for wanting to “keep” their baby. I would never assume to tell anyone what is right for them. If a young pregnant girl came to me and genuinely wanted to know about my experiences, I would confide all of the wonderful parts of placing my son: knowing he is safe in good hands, the wonderful relationship I have with him and his family, being able to see pictures of him going to far off places and having fun vacations, being able to finish high school and live on my own for a time, feeling at peace with my decision. To this same troubled young woman I would give all of the not so fun facts: The years of grieving I have experienced, the feeling of loneliness and jealousy when in the company of other mom’s, the fears, anxieties and difficulties of being one of the small percent who place, the part of yourself that never really feels right. It is a difficult road to travel and not one I would wish on anyone who did not want it. In most cases the above statement is simply not necessary. Most people in our society couldn’t imagine parting with a child, which is why there are so few internal adoptions in the US. As adoptive parents, we already feel like outsiders because of our experience, by saying you “could never” do what we did, you are only reiterating the fact that we are different, and making us feel alienated from you at the same time. All in all this is simply not necessary, so just try to avoid saying it.

2. “You can always have more children”

Most of us who have had children will understand why this statement rings as rude and callous. Again I will say that no amount of children in my home will ever “replace” or “make up” for the child that is not there. In the case of a woman who loses a child to death it is obvious to anyone that this woman is grieving that loss. Some people seem to think that because we made the choice we don’t deserve the same respect that you would give someone grieving the death of a child. By no means am I comparing the two situations, I realize that the grieving of a mother whose child has died is it’s own monster entirely, but still the fact remains that we are grieving the loss of a child. No matter the fact that we made the choice, we still feel that loss as any mother would. The difference is that at the same time we are grieving we are also at peace with the decision because we gifted that child with a life they would not have had otherwise.

3. “Don’t you worry about the effect your presence will have on the child?” (In regards to open adoption)

This was almost word-for-word the statement I heard from a family member not too long ago. It stung mostly because I had hoped that by now most of my family and friends would understand how important my relationship is with not only my son, but also his adoptive family. I consider myself lucky to be one of the few who has open contact with the adoptive family of my child. I have come to love his family and think of them as an extension of my own. We visit regularly, talk on the phone and write emails back and forth. After every new contact I feel revitalized and elated, and I love them more and more each time I talk to them. I realize that there is still the view out there that adoptions should be closed, this is usually out of fear that the birth family will seek custody of the child or out of fear of confusing the child at some point. I have no doubts that the latter was what my family member intended to convey at the time. I certainly understand the concern, and perhaps in another time, this was the most acceptable thing, but in an age where communication and information are readily accessible to everyone it is simply not as feasible as it used to be. Having done the research myself out of my own curiosity, I know the studies of adopted children have shown that those who are told from the time they are young that they are adopted have a better chance of being well-adjusted adults. This has to do with their confidence in their parents and also in themselves. Those in open adoption situations have even less issues because they never have to ask if their biological parents “wanted” them. They know it was not about wanting, it was about what was best. Of course I still worry that he may get confused one day, but I trust that his parents will know what is best for him, and I will do whatever they think is best. For my son this has always been the norm, he doesn’t question that and he knows he can ask questions of his parents or myself anytime he needs to.

4. “Didn’t you love your baby?”

Yes! With every fiber of my being and with every piece of my soul I love him. There was not a moment of his existence when I felt less than 100% love for him. Anyone who can ask this question of me has never had a child of their own. Having him will forever be one of the greatest moments of my life, and placing him will always be one of the hardest. Sometimes the hardest things are what has to be done. Had it been simply about me and my needs he would have come home with me from that hospital. This choice was in no way about me, yes I did benefit from it in some obvious and some unexpected ways, but I would have given all that up if I had only been thinking about me. The only thing that has gotten me through the tough times has been the knowledge that this was the right thing for HIM. I carried him, birthed him, held him, loved him and let him go all so that he could have the wonderful life and family he deserved. I love him every day and think of him often. Only for someone I loved so much could I give up a piece of myself. For him I did that, and for no one else. Don’t ask me if I loved my child, it’s just mean spirited and the answer is so obvious that I cant imagine why some people ask.

5. “Have you ever thought of taking him back?”

The answer to this question is no, absolutely never. My son is lucky enough to have one of the most amazing women I have ever met as his Mom. He has a wonderful man for a father and he even has a big sister who loves him. I could never take those things away from him, even if I never got to know them, never loved them and never knew how amazing they were. I could not take him away from the only family he has ever known. Just the thought of that makes me sick. Of course because I do feel all of those things for them now I would also never do that to them, but in any case my son was always the deciding factor, and I could never hurt him like that. I have never met a birth mom who would want this, and even though the stories abound I really think this is the exception and not the rule.

I understand the curiosity that people have around this subject, so I know that sometimes questions are asked simply because this is a situation that not many people have experienced in their own life. I am always happy to answer the well-meaning questions of my friends or acquaintances. Another pointer: Please don’t ask me to talk to someone you know who you think “should” place their child. It’s not a decision anyone but that person can make, and I will not try to force anyone to look into this option. Yes, I have first hand experience and I am happy to share that with truly interested parties, but I cant convince someone who doesn’t want to hear what I have to say.

I hope this information is somewhat helpful to someone who plans on talking to a birth mom soon. Remember to keep your curiosity, ask what you want to know but please THINK before you speak!