Sunday, October 12, 2014

Open Adoption- When The Birthmother Drops Out

Recently I have read some posts where people speculate why a birthmother would become MIA in an open adoption. We hear the usual reasons such as the mother doesn't care, or it is too painful for her. What I don't see is any recognition that many of these birthmothers may be pressured to drop out of their relinquished child's life. Not with a gun to the head of course, but there are many subtle ways to let her and her family know they are not wanted.

For example I did not opt out of a post adoption relationship with my relinquished daughter by choice. The open adoption closed before she was two years old which has been speculated is the norm in the majority of cases. But the warning signs were very clear from the beginning. First was the coercive pressure to relinquish while I was ill. People who actually care about anyone other than themselves do not try to trick a mother into relinquishing her child. Next came the attempt to hide information. The adoptive parents did not want us to know their true names but later that became a moot point.

Shortly after the adoption our requests for promised pictures and letters were met with apologies and promises to send them. Later those requests were treated as hostile attempts to gain information about their daughter which invaded their privacy. We were sent emails back in which we were asked crazy questions such as did I still feel revolted at the thought of my daughter. Yes, that was a question asked and it was crazy. Was it an attempt to build a case later through her saved emails that I was disgusted with my child and proof she was saved by the adoptors?

The open adoption slammed shut. But for a moment let's speculate what may have happened if it had not. Imagine being the adopted child who has three visits a year with her birthfamily by adoptors who really don't want an open adoption at all. Besides the potential pain that seeing your birthfamily may invoke there is the adoptive family to deal with. The weeks or months leading up to the visit may become tense as the adoptive parents handle their feelings of resentment and insecurity. It won't take long before the dread that the adoptive parents feel before a visit becomes the dread the adoptive child feels before a visit.

For the birthfamily it may become very tense as well. There would be so much excitement at the thought of seeing your child. But with it may come the dread of being treated as unwanted, with everything you say or do scrutinized and being collected to use against you. For example any tears may be a sign of "emotional instability" or proof that you have not "accepted" the adoption and the adoptors roles as parents. It may be expected that you will act overjoyed and grateful with them as your child's parents and any sign of grief is proof of your ungratefulness.

If the child appears sullen or unhappy during the visits who will get the blame? Perhaps the child has reacted to the stress of her adoptive parents. Perhaps she is afraid to show emotion or perhaps the emotion she feels is unhappiness or confusion. In any case many adoptive parents will use this to stop visits and blame it on the child not wanting to see the birthfamily any longer. And really- who could blame the child? Who wants to deal with that?

Or the birthfamily is treated as unwanted and an outsider. People who are only to be tolerated while they fear reaching out to hug their child, or doing or saying anything that may anger or threaten the adoptive parents. They are reduced to being treated as something to be feared and by proxy their raised children are treated the same way. Not only would this do a psychological number on the birthfamily, they may not want to put their relinquished child through this type of stress. It may seem better to stop these visits. However, it will most likely become ammunition by the adoptive parents to prove that they were the saviors who were there when the birthfamily did not care enough to keep contact.

There are always two sides to the story. The adopted child and others may only be privy to one side of the story. The side that informs others that the birthmother or family closed the open adoption without any acknowledgment of pressure put on them or their relinquished child to cease contact by the adoptive parents.

I suspect I will always be grateful that our open adoption closed no matter how much anguish it caused me and my family. Not because closing and open adoption is a good thing, but because the adoptive parents had decided that we were adversaries as soon as they wanted our child. No good could ever have come out of that situation.

I do not think making open adoptions legally enforceable is the answer even though some people believe it is. I think the answer is education. We need to educate mothers that relinquishing their child through unnecessary adoption is not the answer. That all promises are based on the need to separate their child from them for financial gain or to fulfill the desires of people who care only about what is good for them. It is all about the mother producing a marketable product for the consumer. Once that is understood and we get rid of all the rainbows and unicorns, we are left with the cold hard facts of unnecessary adoption.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Love Lost or Lost Love

Losing someone or something you love can be incredibly painful. But losing someone whom you loved and loved you back with the same intensity is excruciating.

If I choose I can open my heart and love again. But to find someone or something that loves me as much is not so easy. To lose that connection is to lose a part of myself and who I am. I become who I was.........

That is true loss. Everything else pales in comparison. I reflect on that, and how this simple fact changes the very core of what we are. This is how we change. Can I lose someone or something I love that does not love me and grieve? Absolutely. Will part of me die when it goes away? Not always......

I think it was important for me to learn that distinction.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

OT- I Hate My Kitchen

I hate my kitchen. I hate it so much that I kick it every time I walk in there. I like the tile, I like the cabinets, I like the appliances but put it all together and I hate it as much as a fat kid hates gym class. No offense to fat kids because fat kids are at least cute. Cute my kitchen is not.

I have a Sawzall...........

I dream of removing some of the cabinets and counter and relocating the appliances. I see myself in the kitchen, working in a growing funeral pyre of wood and tile with a mad grin on my face. Then the dream becomes dark as my husband walks in and gives me that look of "what the hell are you doing now!" Which of course wipes the grin off my face as I pretend to not grin.

I need a plan. The first plan should be to remodel the kitchen. Here is where it gets sticky. DH did remodel the kitchen. He just did it without totally gutting it. See where I am going with this?

The second plan that came to mind was to sell the house. I have been lusting after pics of Zillow of a cute Craftsman house about a mile away. The lot is much smaller and there is not a park next door which my husband will not like. Plus there is the whole renovation thing. Sometimes men get mad when you plan to sell your house after all the blood they have spilled renovating it has not yet dried.

Next there is my DD who will not like having to get in a car and drive to my house in a panic to tell me that I must come over IMMEDIATELY to get rid of flying insects that have invaded her home. In her defense my husband did leave her door open which was their point of entry. 

Somebody is going to end up very unhappy about the kitchen. I imagine I will hear him cuss and throw things while I ask him to please be quiet so I can finish my school work.........

Sunday, September 7, 2014

OT- Off To The Market

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and I never intended to find that strange, mysterious market place called "Craig's List." I had heard about it- didn't somebody get murdered there? But where was this dangerous place and why do people go there?

I had to look, although in all fairness I had been warned. Whispers of corruption, death and "good deals." How could I not look, I have a bucket list after all. Craig's list sounded like it had all the promise of a good crime novel and after all I was just going to take a peek...

Hence the beginning of my doom. People sell stuff on Craig's list no doubt. But they sell VICTORIAN FURNITURE there! They sell it under "antiques" and want to make a pretty copper coated penny, unless they are selling copper in which they want tons of pennies. They also sell it under "furniture" with descriptions such as "old", "grandma's" and "OBO" (which is my favorite description so far). 

Today "OBO" was not an option because I saw the dresser I wanted for the cost of half pennies and I  needed to hurry before somebody beat me to it and painted it shabby chic for resale. So I yelled over the sound of hammering as my husband spends another day of week 6 restoring our second floor. "Hey honey, I am going to the city, the worst part of the city, the hood in fact to go look at this dresser so I will see you later, and maybe you can come with me later with the truck if I buy it." Hammers that are dropped quickly make a really loud thud- but you know that don't you? So after the thud I hear "wait a minute!" Then we are off....

To his credit my husband did not ask me why I wanted another antique dresser, or where I was going to put it. I like that about him, but I did not like the quite on the drive or his stone face because he does not want to do this. I used to tell him "this is the last time" when I have taken him on a journey that is no more fun then splinters under his fingernails but we have been married a long time. There is always another time, absolutely.

So we get to where we are supposed to be and before we get there I tell my husband that this place must be by the most glorious mansion turned apartment building in the city that I had been to once in my lifetime. And it is. But the dresser is not there which I expected because I knew something was wrong and that is why I wore my running shoes instead of sandals. A miscommunication she said. But if we meet her somewhere else in an hour it will be there......

Adventure! But my spidey senses are not tingling so we go home and I take the old dog for a walk to pick some wildflowers which is another mistake because they are mostly goldenrod or other wild things covered with bees and the bees don't like me. My phone pings a message and we are off again........

Glorious!!! The mirror of the dresser is ornate and glorious...and huge. But not to worry because I have a screwdriver in my purse and we can just take the mirror off. My husband does not bat an eye at this because it is not unusual for me to pull a screwdriver, a hammer, or even a power tool out of my Coach bag. He has no response to this. At this point I could happily drive away with just the mirror but that seems just rude so I take the whole thing. All my husband has to do is carry it to the truck and off, and into the house, and take one of my other dressers upstairs. Now I expected some push back here and I was not disappointed. "Why can't we put your other dresser in the living room?' Silly, I get claustrophobic with too much stuff in a room so let's put it at dear daughter's house. For some reason this statement strikes fear into his heart. "But we'll never get it back" he says with.........a whine? I swear I heard a whine there. "I'll put it upstairs."

Upstairs........I have a whole upstairs to furnish I think to myself. I mentally prepare my tool kit. Craig's list check. Foam mattress topper for the truck bed, check. Assortment of tools, check. Husband who does not like me going to the hood alone, check. I think I'm good. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Finding My Way

Growing pains is what my husband calls it. I had a little bit of a hard time adjusting to not living with my DD even though we see each other every day. I am feeling better about things now and I have a new hobby which is good. I guess I am finding my way.

I will have a small piece written about me in a local magazine in a couple months and will be in the local paper. It took a few days for the shock to wear off. When it did I had a crazy thought related to adoption. How would the adoptors react to that if they see it? I am sure when they do there occasional Google search to keep tabs on us they will eventually see it or somebody will tell them. How will they integrate their lies and the truth about me? The world says I am a good person but I am sure they will protest because it suits their agenda. Maybe some people will wonder if they lied about the birthmother of their daughter, that perhaps everything they claim could be suspect. Their adopted daughter might choose to think about that or maybe they will worry she will think about that. I can only speak for myself but I would hate to be proven a liar. It might not bother them at all.......

I am restless tonight. I polished my antique furniture with lemon oil to calm that restlessness and now I feel oily. lol   I like antiques because you can buy a good quality piece of furniture that will outlive you at a fraction of the price of new furniture if you can be patient and search unlikely places. It is like hunting to find that perfect piece at the perfect price. I have been wanting another Eastlake dresser and there is one for sale in excellent condition for about 1/4 of what it is worth. The seller is willing to take offers. Basically he is giving it away and I can just picture those beautiful pin and cove dovetail joints. I hope it is still available. If not I will continue the search.

I think I am restless because soon my grandchild will be born. My son and his wife have some stressors in their life right now and I worry. I know it is natural to worry but my psychic spidey senses are tingling. I tell myself it is just new grandmother jitters.

Anyways I know my blog has gotten very boring without all the rage that makes my writing interesting and I post less often then I used to.  Very little triggers me these days which is a good thing. Now that I have written this I guess I should find my way to bed.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

OT- Smooth Floors and Moving

"Well I guess I didn't expect this. You were going to move into the house and the moving day came and went. Then the other day I came home and your beds were gone and you had moved. I need to adjust."

That is what DD said to me today. I came home to MY house and everyone and all the dogs were there. Which is strange because a few days ago I went to HER house and everyone and all the dogs were there. Life changes on on the dime and sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. We are together, it is after work, dinner time and once again we are all together, but this time it is at my house. Why is this so strange? Why do we need to adjust to living a few hundred feet from another?

I don't know. I know DD and I both feel it and it is so hard to explain. It is hard to be two people who are really close to being one person and the confusion of where one ends and the other begins. But it is healthy to create some space and some privacy. In all honesty I could live with my daughter forever and absolutely love it. But there was a time when she was in college and we lived apart and that seemed okay and normal. I don't know how being not together seemed abnormal. But I want my daughter to have a "normal" life and I want a "normal" life too.I used to be okay with being a separate person. I don't know how things changed so much but I am sure my needing to come to terms with relinquishing a child to adoption played a huge part in all of this. I am just not sure how all the pieces fit or broke to change what was my life after adoption reunion.

So I want to focus on the positive. So let's talk about something as simple and yet so important as floors. I remember as a kid I lived in a Cape Cod house. In this house there were two out of four bedrooms that had hardwood floors that my father refinished. They were amazing. They never got old like the carpeting or linoleum did. I loved them and loved sliding on them with by stockinged feet.

Which brings me to my house. The whole ground floor is hardwood floors and a porcelain tile kitchen floor. The simplicity and timeless beauty does not escape me. DH did an amazing job of restoring the floors after we removed 40 year old carpet and linoleum. Smooth floors that are so clean and simple.I love the way they look and I love the way they feel under my feet.

And a memory. I was eight years old and was dancing to the metallic wind up music of my jewelry box. I was sliding on the hardwood floor in my room and tears were streaming down my face. It was the first time I had come to realize that my mother did not love me. It was a simple yet devastating truth that as a child I felt and accepted. My mother did not love me...........

As painful as that truth was, my music box and the rich smooth floors gave me comfort.At that moment, in that room, I had learned the biggest secret of my life and I was coming to terms with it as best as any child can come to terms with that reality.

And now I am soon to be a grandmother and my reality seems once again to be all about accepting the reality of my life on the terms of others. I made mistakes based on wanting to give and receive love. Now my floors are mine and I can slide on them and admire their beauty while once again accepting that love between people is a formidable bond that causes pain with separation, or the pain that love did not endure even though you thought it would. The more things change the more they stay the same. The floor once again is smooth and clean under my feet. But I am no longer a child.........

I think today I understand why my mother spends most of her time in her Cape Cod house  of my youth even though she owns three houses. I understand why she lives in the least of her houses while spending time in the other two. You really can't leave all the past behind if you have a choice.  At the very least the floors beneath your feet remind you of how you became who you are and why you made the choices you did, even if your choices were really not chosen by you. And if your are lucky the past is bittersweet instead of just bitter. After all- some of the choices you made that were all good and all heart and soul came from learning how how to slide your feet and dance through the pain.

So I just moved.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

"Can You Guess Who This Is?"

DH received a text and it started with that question.  I thought I had seen her a couple weeks back but told myself it wasn't her. Still I had a feeling that we were back in what I like to call "phantom contact" mode. I think some of this has to do with my relinquished daughter's age and upbringing. She appears to get bored, or unhappy with her adoptive parents and starts making contact. The type of contact in which no meaningful communication occurs, but lets us know that when she wants to contact us she will. Even though we have asked her not to.

Some people would call that stalking. I don't because although it is not kind it is not stalking. I am not going to give a histrionic reaction to this or start screaming that the sky is fallen. The sky is not falling, my life is still the same, my grape vines are still growing.

But I don't like it and I hope it does not continue. I gave up on a relationship with her. I did not like being treated like a second class citizen by the adoptive parents or her. I did not like that when I asked for common courtesy and respect I was told I did not deserve it because "You gave her away."  I did not like that I would always be treated in such a way and worse because that is what served them and their needs.

I get that adopted people have been the most damaged by adoption. I get that my relinquished daughter has more needs to try to heal from the trauma. What I do not accept is that I am not allowed to have any needs or that my family is not allowed to have needs. I see a pattern of behavior here that is disturbing. I am hoping that her adoptive parents will be frightened enough at the thought of her having her own mind at 18 that they will send her to an out of state college. Isn't that sad? Sad that I am pinning my hopes on the fears of the adoptive parents, and that is has come to this point for myself and my family?  What started out as a relationship filled with hope has become one of dread for me. Never in a million years would I have predicted this. first reaction to the texts was a flash of anger but I recovered pretty quickly. My DD was upset and put her arms around me and said "Mom, I am so sorry."  I told her not to be, it didn't hurt anymore. I just wanted her to be aware in case she was contacted. I thought about the text and the words "We used to be really close" and it just seems like a lie to me. We were not close, I just thought we were. I had to be taught by my relinquished daughter that I was not close to her, and that she did not want to love me. But I learned. And I do not care what anyone says about love. You either want to try to love someone or you don't. It may be that all the demons of adoption had kept her from trying to love me, but in the end she made that choice and banished me and my husband. By default that decision banished her from her siblings. That was not my decision, that was theirs.

My husband told me that the one thing he likes about my voice and point of view on my blog is that I am unrepentent. I won't pretend that I don't have these feelings or try to be likeable to my blog readers. This is my blog, this is my life. I don't want to put on a nice face or hide behind smoke and mirrors to be more palatable to those who feel threatened by my words. Because there is not only my truth, but the truth that other "birthmothers" may feel as I do. But who wants to write that and get slammed by those who want us to be forever seeking what we lost or forever suffering because of that loss? Nobody wants to read about a birthmother who puts her feelings and her family's feelings into account and perspective. That does not serve adoption and it does not serve the fantasy of reunion that is posted all over Youtube or the pay to find your family and be reunited sites. People need to get paid and reading my blog may keep money in pockets.

In my life I won't spend another two years or even two minutes believing in a relationship that has been severed. Like I said I was taught and......I learned.