Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

I've never given a whole lot of thought to Father's Day. I mean, I celebrated because I had to with my sperm donor, or current stepfather. But I didn't much care about it. When I had my eldest son, Father's Day was sort of a reminder that one day, I would have to delicately explain why he didn't have a daddy like all the other kids. This year is different, and I have someone to be thankful for.

This morning when I sent out a text to B's daddy, and posted on Facebook to wish him a wonderful Father's Day, my brother was perplexed. He wanted to know why, when I'm in the midst of a very painful phase of my grief, I would celebrate Benjamin's dad when I miss him so much. I thought about it for a moment, and the answer was simple. Grief doesn't change anything. Benjamin's dad is still literally the best father I've ever known. He is there for Benjamin and loves him dearly. He gets up at the crack of dawn, actually before that, and goes to work to provide for Benjamin and Drea. He works hard and keeps a roof over their head and provides for Benjamin in a way I never could have. And then after a long day at work, he comes home and gets on the floor and plays with his son. He's not "too tired" to be a father. He's thankful. He DESERVES to be celebrated

I can't explain the gift that is, to know that my son has a father like the father I wish I'd had. I never planned for my boys to grow up without a father. It just wasn't part of the plan, in any fashion. I wanted my boys to have fathers who loved and taught them and watched them grow with pride. I still believe Jack will one day have that. And much to my relief, Benjamin already does. I know today must be amazing for him. He won't be watching other fathers with their sons and feeling that pit in his stomach, or that void in his heart. He has his own little boy to play with and laugh with. He gets to feel that joy and pride. I'm so thankful for that.

I know that better is coming still. I am excited for him, for that day when Benjamin is old enough to come clumsily stomping into his daddy's room, juice and egg yolks dripping closer and closer to the carpet as he brings him the very first breakfast in bed that he made all by himself. It'll likely taste like a science experiment, but I would be willing to bet his dad chokes it down with a smile anyway. I can't wait until Benjamin can run to Jason and tell him "I love you, Daddy. Happy Father's Day". This is only the beginning for them as father and son. It's going to be a true blessing to watch.

Happy Father's Day, Jason. Thank you for being the father Benjamin deserves. and more.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Happy Birthday, Benjamin

My Benjamin is a year old today. A year ago he came into the world and changed my life forever. For the better. So many things I thought I knew about being a mom, so many things I thought I knew about life. But really, I was so clueless. I didn't understand when he was born. All I knew was that I loved him so deeply, that he was so beautiful. That I would find a way to make it work. 

I was ill prepared for the force and power of my love for this tiny human. Sometimes people say to me, if you loved him enough, you would have kept him. Oh, how wrong they are. I don't hold it against them, they don't understand. How can they? 

Placing him has NOTHING to do with not loving him enough. Placing him taught me what it means to love ENOUGH. I loved him enough to accept that I was not what was best for him. I loved him enough to let him go. Not many can understand that, and I don't care. I know that I did the very best thing. And when he's old enough, he'll understand that loving him enough was NEVER the issue.

I spent a lot of time this past week being angry and resentful. Angry at the women in my life who are not birth mothers, yet try to be there. Angry at them for trying to help me see the other side of this. Angry that they didn't understand what I was feeling. I was certain they were invalidating me, and it was hurtful, and I got mad. I shut them all out, and let the anger simmer. Healthy? No. But sometimes, we are all human and we get stuck. I spent the week angry at Drea, and Jason. At myself. Angry at them for being so happy, I mean, how could they feel such joy when I was feeling such pain? But I had to realize, how is that fair? How can I expect them to spend their time acknowledging and feeling bad for my grief? I didn't place Benjamin with them to make them spend every holiday and milestone feeling bad for me. I didn't place him with them so that they could "understand" what I'm going through.

Flat out, they DON'T understand. They aren't birthparents, so they just can't understand that side of it. And that's okay. I can't expect the people in my life who have not placed a child to get what the passing milestones feel like. And I can't get angry with them when they don't. Because on the flip side, I don't understand their struggles. And they have every right to celebrate and feel immense joy at the little boy they have to call their own. They are reaching a milestone that's been a long time coming for them.

Today, I did grieve for a while. I cried all the way to work, and was promptly sent home by my incredibly compassionate boss who remembered what today was for me. I cried on the way home. I laid in my bed and thought of him until almost noon. And then I decided it was time to be okay. It was time to be thankful that he's here at all. I let myself wish for a moment I'd parented him. But how selfish would that have been? I don't want to, and choose not to, think about where we'd be if I'd parented him. He's in a good place, with seriously fantastic parents. I won't say it was easy, but I tried to celebrate that today. 

He's not with me, and that is rough. But I can choose to take comfort that he is where God created him to be. He will never know the pain and fear and heartache I went through. He will only know that parents who love and protect him and treat him like the gift from God that he is. 

I love you, baby boy. Happy 1st Birthday. I love you more than words can say. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Today, or rather this weekend.... huge firsts for me as a birth mother. I won't lie, I was quite nervous about it. I was afraid of how my first Birth Mother's Day would affect me, even more afraid of my first Mother's Day without Benjamin. A big part of me was certain it would be hard, even though I still have Jack with me. So I prepared myself for a rough weekend

What I got was so amazing, and surprising. Jason and Drea really have no obligation to me. They don't have to show me their appreciation or love, they don't have to include me. But they do. I was celebrated on Saturday, my first Birth Mother's Day. The entire day I had facebook and texts from Drea to tell me Happy Birth Mother's Day and express their love for me. I got to see my little B, who is just growing so fast. I got to go to dinner with them and have a wonderful time. They brought me a beautiful card and flowers. And gave me a personalized gift that means more to me than I can even express. The overflowing of joy and love for them as I read it was unreal. I couldn't help crying as I took it in. How lucky I am that these wonderful people are Benjamin's parents? To have a day JUST to be celebrated for my sacrifice was truly amazing, and I will always treasure this "first". Not something I thought I'd be saying about it, but man am I grateful.

Mother's Day wasn't the horrible day I'd feared. I was prepared to be sad and feel empty all day, to miss him so much I wouldn't be able to enjoy Jack. But that didn't happen. Because of the love and celebration that was given to me the day before, Mother's Day was a joyful day for me. I got to know that because of my choice, Drea celebrated her first year as a mother. She got to hear those primary kids sing about mothers, and instead of fighting tears, she got to cuddle her own son and soak in his spirit. She got to know that in just a few short years, her own little boy will be smiling at her from the front of the room, singing to her. How special is that? She got to wake up today and celebrate, and I am SO thankful for her ability to do so. She DESERVES to be celebrated. She's been that boy's mommy from the moment he was born, even if it took a few months to find her way to him. She is just as much his mother as if she'd given birth to him. And even as I celebrated my blessing and enjoyed my day as a mother, I thought of her, and thanked God for her. And celebrated that Benjamin has a truly fantastic mother. 

So I loved this weekend. I loved every moment of it, and there was really no room for grief. Benjamin is where he is supposed to be, and that is cause for celebration. So Happy Mother's Day to the most amazing mother I know.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Today, Benjamin is 11 months old... it's just crazy to me that time is going by so quickly. He's pulling himself up, talking more and more, and looking more like a toddler every day. It won't be long before he's walking, then running, and leaving his baby days behind. I love him more today than I did the day he was born, and I am so blessed that I am able to watch him grow. Today I saw a post someone made on Facebook about what adoption has done for them. And I got to thinking about it. I mean, what HAS adoption done for me, in reality? For some, it robbed them of the chance to raise their child, for some it destroyed them. It became this gaping, festering, irreparable wound that eventually became the only thing they could focus on. Until the pain consumed them and their entire lives. For others, it helped them. It gave them a chance as well as their child.

Thankfully, I'm in the latter category. I look around me tonight and just take it all in. The two bedroom apartment with my name on the lease, my sweet boy freshly bathed and watching his favorite movie before bed. My kitten lazily dozing on the back of my couch, only moving to find a more comfortable position every now and then. Then I look to the side of my computer, where a picture of B and his parents sits proudly on my desk, given to me for Christmas. The angel they gave me for my birthday beside it. And I can't help but think about where I was 7 months ago. Living in a hotel room that LDSFS was paying for, what little I had shoved into the corner. I had almost nothing, material wise. I had to get a voucher for DI just to clothe my boys. But it went so far beyond that. So far beyond having no home or belongings. 

I sat here tonight laughing at something a friend said, chatting and catching up, and again my mind wandered to pre-placement. I was still LDS, I have been for years. But I was lost, fading, and to be honest, ill. I didn't have friends, I pushed everyone away, kept up walls so high nobody could get through. I just lacked the capacity to love another, or to believe I was worthy of love, or that anyone COULD love me. I was so absorbed in my misery that I could scarcely get up to make my oldest something to eat. I certainly couldn't be bothered to play. I would give B the obligatory diaper change, stick a bottle, propped on a blanket, into his mouth as he lay in his rocker. I provided all I could at that time. But it was not nearly what should have been given. I was on a path that was dangerously close to costing me everything. Even my life. And in the moment I looked at that sweet baby and opened my heart to God to ask for help... that was the moment He saved me from myself. That was the moment that changed me forever. 

My B's parents never fail to thank me for my gift to them, for making them parents, giving them their dream of raising a child. They do all they can to make sure I never forget what my gift meant to them. And it's amazing of them to do so. But then I think of what they have done for me. Of the fact that they saved me and Jack from such a dark place. I don't know where I would be if I had kept B and went about my life the way I was living it. I don't know if I would even be alive today, but I doubt it. They, through adoption, love, compassion... they gave me hope. They, and a few others, showed me that I could make it. That I was worthy of happiness and success. That despite what I'd believed most of my life, I was WORTH saving, I deserved to live a good life. They had faith in me when I had none in myself. 

Adoption is a so complex, and so varied, that it means something different to everyone. Some say that one day I will grow to hate "what adoption did to me". But I say they are wrong. I will go to bed each night thanking God for the courage to make the choice I made. Thanking Him for the couple He brought into my life. Because without those things, my boys and I would still be lost. I wouldn't be working and attending school, raising my oldest son the right way, and living in my own apartment. 

Truly, I will ALWAYS love adoption. Because the absolute truth of the matter is.... adoption saved my life. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Monkey (we'll use this to protect privacy),

Your adoption was final two days ago. A judge signed off on it, and you are officially rocking your parents' last name. You are forever a part of their family and their life, and you fit like a glove. It's like you were always there, always meant to be there. I look at your beautiful little face, and I see your daddy. I see how your eyes light up when your mommy talks to you, how happy you are just to be with her. I saw today how you reached for your auntie, and then for your daddy, because they are the only family you know. You know them, and you love them, even when you can't say the words yet. 

Today you were sealed to your mommy and daddy. You are theirs for eternity, the way it's supposed to be. I wish I could show you just how much I love you. How badly I wanted to be what was best for you, and how much you will ALWAYS have my heart. I'm not your mommy anymore, but my love for you hasn't gone anywhere. I hope that as you grow into the amazing little boy and man I know you will be, that you see that. I hope you see that I chose the absolute best people in the entire world to raise you. You deserve the world, all that life has to offer. You deserve to have a chance. And with them, you do. You are so loved and cherished and doted on... you have the life I always dreamed of for you. 

Someday, when you're old enough to understand, I know you'll probably have questions. I know that you may want to know why, or if I really do love you. You may have to ask those questions a million times before you understand the answers. But you're a brilliant kid, I think you'll understand early. You are one blessed kid, little boy. You have two mothers who love you more than anything in this world, and a daddy who would do anything for you. Not many kids have that blessing. And not everyone has a mommy who loves them as much as yours does. I can see it clear as day whenever I see you two together, and it just makes my heart so happy.

I won't say that it's not hard, that wouldn't be true. It is hard. I do miss you, I think about you all of the time. I wish often that I could hold and kiss you whenever I want. Luckily I get to see you regularly, and get some good cuddles in. Sometimes I cry when I think of your sweet little face. Luckily there as well, your mommy doesn't hesitate to send me pictures of you, and videos of all of the sweet and adorable things you do. Overall, I'm happy for you. So happy. And it's okay to cry, and hurt sometimes, pain and sorrow are a part of life, just like joy is. But the joy outweighs the sadness. And for that I am grateful. So please, just know, I love you so much. And I'm so blessed to be your birth mother.

There will be moments I miss. The first time you tie your shoes, or skin your knee. The first day of school and your first broken heart. But I will still share the moment in pictures, and hear all about it from your mommy. And I will be just as proud of you, because I already am. Even though I'm not your mommy, I will ALWAYS be here. And you will always be one of the most special people in the word to me. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

I haven't blogged in a while, life has been insanely busy. School and work and J just take up every second of my day, until I just fall into bed at the end of day too tired to even open my computer. But lately I just feel like I'm bottling everything up, keeping everything stuffed into this space in my heart and mind until it starts to leak out into every aspect of my life. That's what is happening at this point. It's just leaking into everything else. I'm angry all the time, over everything. I am fine at work, where I can focus all of my energy on my tasks and just deal with what needs to be done. But once I get home, my mellow mood sours by the minute. Until I'm snapping at everything anyone says to me, picking stupid fights on Facebook with people who, in the grand scheme of things, don't affect me or my life in any way. Until my stomach is in knots and a lump of tears I am too stubborn to shed sits in my chest and throat. And then I can't even remember what I got so angry about in the first place. I hate it. I get angry until I am angry to the point of tears. Ever just get SO enraged and frustrated that you are past yelling or going off, and all you can think to do is cry? Yeah, it's not fun.

This is who I used to be. This moody, emotional, insecure and angry person who lashes out at everyone and pushes away the people I love. Who shuts down and convinces myself that I don't need anyone, and that trusting people is stupid. I fought so hard to overcome all of that, to become a happy, confident, driven person determined to keep my life in a forward motion. But right now I seem to be stuck. The difference between then and now is that now, I see it clearly. I see what I'm doing, I see how I'm acting and how I'm alienating those around me. Yet I can't seem to stop and get a hold of myself. I tell myself to get a grip, but it doesn't seem to be happening. For the past week I've been trying to pinpoint exactly why I was just so pissed and why I felt like my heart hurt and like if I stopped all I have to do for just one minute to breath and think, everything will come tumbling down. I could not figure out what was wrong with me. Then I was looking at some article about the stages of grief, and it occurred to me.

I'm hitting this wall of pure anger and grief, and unfortunately, it's not only normal for birth mothers, but common. Most days I feel like the anger will just swallow me whole, like if I let the tears start, they'll never stop. 

Now I'm a normally very put together and private person. I don't cry, I don't sweat the small stuff. I don't call my friends or B's mommy and just vomit my problems all over the place. I am usually good. But last night things seemed to come to a head. I got into a few arguments on Facebook that were so petty. Yes, I had a right to be upset, but normally I wouldn't have been. Then I tried to just go out to the movies with my sister and forget all of it. We were sitting in the parking lot and tears just started falling, and I couldn't make them stop. I could feel that hard, aching lump in my throat that told me a full on sob fest was trying to break it's way out. My sister told me to just break down, that it was okay, and she'd seen people cry before. That I didn't have to hold it in just because she was sitting there. And she's right, letting it out would help. But I couldn't. I just sat there, an occasional tear slipping down my cheek despite my efforts to stop it, swallowing that lump in my throat and doing all I could to keep from turning into a sobbing, blubbering mess. 

Maybe I should have let it out. Maybe I need a good cry... and maybe holding it in just makes things worse. But right now I just can't. Sometimes anger is just easier. I know, I really should just get it together. 

But I miss him. Oh man, do I miss that little guy. I miss him every second of my day, until all I can think about is holding and kissing him. Until I convince myself that this will never feel okay. I sometimes am unsure how to mourn this. I don't know how to mourn a child that is still very much here. I mean, he didn't die, he's still alive, healthy and beautiful. I still get to see him and get pictures and be a part of his childhood. So how do I mourn this sense of loss? How do I grieve when everyone thinks I'm fine? 

And why the hell am I suddenly in this ocean of grief when for months I've been okay? Sure I missed him, thought about him, love him. But up until lately, I was in a good spot. Right now, I feel like I've taken two steps back. People think I need to move on, but I don't know how. 

So many things are happening. He's learning to crawl, starting to babble and learn to talk, will soon learn to walk. I'm missing all of it. His mommy is amazing enough to send me pictures, to send videos of new cute things he's doing. But it's not the same. And it makes me ache to witness it first hand. And I have to face the reality that I can't, and never will. That there are areas of his life and his world I will never be welcome in. That fact hurts so badly, sometimes I can hardly breath.

Maybe what scares me is that soon, it will be done. I mean, yes I've already signed the papers and he's been theirs for a while. But soon it will be final. A judge will sign the paper, and the baby I gave birth to will be gone. He will no longer share my last name, and I will be erased from his birth certificate like I was never there. I will no longer be his mother in any sense of the word. It will be as though I never existed in that sense. And for some reason, it kills me. I know he was meant to be where he is, that D is his mommy and J is his daddy and that's a GOOD thing. A beautiful thing. But it doesn't mean this doesn't hurt. 

And right now, I don't enjoy this birth mother thing. I don't enjoy it one bit.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Birth Mother doesn't mean Victim

I know I have said this before, but there are times when I grow weary of the bitterness that a decent number of birth mothers have. Now, I am not saying every birth mother is angry or bitter. We are not all resentful and anti-adoption. There are many, many of us who are proud, confident and at peace with our choice to give our child more. But some just take it too far. They not only speak for themselves, but take on an "all adoption is horrible" attitude. And to be blunt, it's irritating and ignorant. Tonight while perusing a blog of sorts that showed up in my news feed, I clicked on a link and was led to a list. "29 Things I Wish I Knew Before Adoption Entered My Life". Now, I have come across many lists like this about adoption, some very true and insightful. This list, however, infuriated me. I am going to be pasting a few of the things on this list, and explaining what makes them so offensive to other birth mothers. 

"I wish I had known that it was not my job, nor obligation to make another couples’ “dreams of a family” come true."

Okay, this statement just, forgive my language, pisses me off. First of all, not once has any agency or adoption counselor, nor adoptive couple, viewed a birth mother as fulfilling an "obligation" to make them a family. No, it's not our obligation, it's our privilege. Helping create a family is not something to turn your nose up at or mock, not something to use as some sort of "fault" where birth mothers are concerned. It's a MIRACLE. Pure and simple. Never in my life will I forget the pure joy and love I saw in the eyes of B's parents on placement day. It was nothing short of a miracle, and nothing I will EVER be ashamed of. And how dare anyone try to shame me for it. 

"I wish I had known that I should not have taken pride nor comfort or some sick sense of self satisfaction by allowing other people’s needs to go before my own, not that I have an issue about giving of one’s self. I donate my knowledge, I give my time, I volunteer; but a child is not giving of oneself, a adoption is giving of another.. a child. I had no right to do that."

Again, this just irks me. I'll address the last part first. The idea that I had no right to give of another... of my son. That I was somehow outside my rights and in some sort of act of irreversible wrong by placing this beautiful boy with the people meant to raise him. That was ABSOLUTELY my right!! It was my right to pray for that baby, and see beyond myself to what was best for him. It was 100% within my right to DO MY JOB AS A MOTHER, and provide that sweet soul with the life he deserves. So do not ever try to infringe upon my rights as his birth mother, or to presume that I somehow wronged him. The only wrong thing would have been keeping him in a life where he was barely provided for. Back to the first part of the statement... Why not take pride in putting someone else's needs above your own? Why not be proud of the strength that takes, the selfless love required? This isn't a flaw, or something dirty. It's the very reason that couples otherwise unable to bring forth a child are able to raise their children and have a family, and experience that joy. There is no joy quite like being a parent. There are many joys that are just as wonderful, yes, and it's absolutely possible to lead a joyful life without having children. However, it's a different joy, one that I am thankful to have experienced, one that EVERY person has the right to experience, should they choose. To have that taken from you, to be robbed of that, well it breaks my heart to imagine. So thank God there are those who take pride and a "sick sense of self satisfaction" in that. Because without those people, a lot of couples would be robbed of the one thing they desire most after God and their marriage. A child to love. 

"I wish I had known that children really aren’t interchangeable. Just because one party wants something and another party isn’t so sure, doesn’t mean that we can switch things about and pretend we are God and it will work out OK."

Before I address the rest of this, I'll address the bit about one party wanting something and the other not being sure. Are you kidding me right now?! The implication that B's placement occurred because I didn't or wasn't sure I wanted him infuriates me. I wanted that little boy more than I want to breath. He was loved from the SECOND his existence was known. To insinuate that I didn't want him is ridiculous, and shame on you for putting being adopted in the same category as being unwanted. The next part is almost amusing to me. Show me a birth mother who claimed to be God. Who claimed to have some sort of right to control life. Not a single one. No, children are not interchangeable. Perhaps learn what that means. It means capable of being used in place of each other, and generally involves two things that serve the same purpose. Is there a puppy somewhere in my home in place of my baby? Was there some sort of barter I was unaware of? Nope. No puppy, no trading post, no exchange of one for another. Just a choice to place my most precious cargo in the arms of the most loving and amazing people I've known. A lot of things describe it. Interchangeable certainly isn't one. 

"I wish I had known that you cannot re-write life as it comes to you. That we can’t cheat it and pretend that things happened differently than we would have liked. And sometimes, most times, given time, what seemed to be a disaster is actually part of making things work out exactly as they should, but we just don't know it yet. I wish I had learned to just accept things as they come and live the hand that was dealt to me"

This is another I find slightly insulting. In placing my sweet B, I did not try to "re-write" my life. I made no attempt to erase this baby from my life, from my story. I was not trying to hide him or act as if he were never born and does not exist. He is a crucial and special part of my story, one that made the rest of my story possible. I am thankful he happened, and "disaster" doesn't even come close to being accurate in reference to his conception or birth. Again, the word miracle comes to mind. And yes, things did work out EXACTLY as they should. I delivered this child from God to the arms of the people He created B for. 

"I wish I had known that adoption was not glamorous or romantic, but that life being a birthmother pretty much sucks."

This doesn't anger me, so much as sadden me. No, adoption isn't romantic or glamorous. It's not sparkly things wrapped in a pretty bow. It's hard. It's painful, sad, difficult, and beautiful. It's the process of breaking one's own heart to protect and provide for that gift that grew beneath it for 9 months. And it's the best thing I've ever done. As far as life sucking as a birth mother. Well, that's a choice. It's a conscious choice made every day by said birth mother. To either get up, put a smile on your face and tackle life head on, knowing you did something beautiful... or to wallow in the self pity and resentment until you become a shell of yourself. Nobody claimed it was easy, but being happy is a choice. You choose whether life as a birth mother sucks. Whether it's a curse or a blessing. That's all on you.

Now, this is not an attack on the writer of this entry. It's not a holier than thou attitude, I don't think I'm better or somehow more emotionally mature. But I cannot stand by all the time while the very women who created these families seek to destroy them. To be blunt, it's selfish. Stop turning your gift to that couple and your birth child into a tragedy. Adoption will never be an easy road, it will forever be the most mangled, terrifying, crushing path you will ever walk. But holy cow is it worth it. Look past your hurt, past your heartache and grief, past the anger at whomever you feel has wronged you. Look beyond all of it. And look at what matters in this. I do it daily, and it's not easy at all. But why take the easy way? Adoption didn't change my genetic connection to B, my love for him or the fact that he has my eyes and holds a piece of my heart in his chubby hands. But it put a light in those eyes more beautiful than any other. It gave him a future and a family that is bright and FULL of love and potential. It gave him a chance.

So please, can we stop treating ourselves like victims of something? Celebrate your birth mother status! Or don't. Because quite frankly, it just isn't about you.