I realized that I haven't talked that much about my adoption story. So I wanted to start with how I picked the couple who would have my son.
I was in my parent's house. I was sitting in front of my mother's computer. And I had finally gotten up the courage to look at the list of prospective adoptive parents on the adoption agency website. The list was two pages. And it went in order alphabetically by the husband's first name. I looked at the first profile written by the couple. And I felt nothing. Just felt like, nope. Not the ones to have my kid. At this point I'm already berating myself for turning down a perfectly good couple. I didn't know what I was looking for. But I had to find a couple who would take my son. The second couple on the list made me smile for one reason: my boyfriend's name and the husband's name were the same. At the time I said out loud,
"Wouldn't it be funny if both his dad's had the same name?"
I was joking. But then I pulled up their profile and started reading. He was an English professor and a musician. She was a painter. They wrote a letter directly to me saying they couldn't imagine what I was going through and how hard this decision must be. They each wrote a letter about each other and described one another. By the end of it, I said out loud,
"His life just might have to be funny."
But like every girl in the world, I couldn't settle for the second dress I tried on. I went through and read every single profile on that list. Every one. But none of them spoke to me the way theirs did. None of them said to me, "Yes, these are the one to have your child."
Over and over again I went back to their profile. When my boyfriend and I finally decided adoption was the best idea, I told him about them and about who they were. He read the profile and without reading any others he agreed, it had to be them.
I went to the adoption agency to get set things in motion. And I was given a binder full of profiles to look through. I calmly paged through each one. But at the very end was the couple I had mentioned before. Now I got to see pictures of them with family, in their home, what the nursery looked like. I saw them dressed up and ready for church. And I saw them dressed down and playing with the dog. And I knew, these were the ones to raise my child.
This July it will be five years since my child was born. And I have never second-guessed my decision to place my son with his parents. I may question why I did it and if it was the best idea. But choosing them I have never second-guessed.
There is no one way to pick the people who will have your son. I've heard multiple stories, and all of them different. Some knew from looking at the profile because of a butterfly picture or something else that spoke to that birthmother. I know some who had it down to two, but once meeting them they knew exactly which couple was going to have their child. There is no right or wrong way about this. You choose who you think will do the best job at raising your child. I high suspected mine was going to be a creative creature from the very beginning. As it turns out, I was absolutely right. So I put him with a painter and a writer/musician. Whichever way his creativity takes him, I have no doubt that he will be supported in his endeavors.
I hope you're all doing well. Those of you who will be at the retreat, I will be seeing you soon!
There were days where I loved being pregnant and days where I absolutely hated it. For the first four months of my pregnancy I was sick and had a lot of trouble keeping any food down. I wanted to die. The only thing that made it worse was that I was a freshman in college for the first 3 months I was pregnant so that meant I was living in a co-ed dorm sharing a bathroom with about 20 other girls. Getting up 3 times a night to either pee or vomit is not the way to make new friends.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I knew from the time I found out I was pregnant that I wanted to place. For me parenting was never an option and I was either going to terminate or do an adoption plan. I am forever grateful that I chose to go through this amazing journey for my daughter. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I cant imagine my life with out her.
I gained about 50 pounds through out the course of my pregnancy. I had never felt so bad about myself before. I felt like a whale and that there was no way anyone would ever find me attractive. If any of you are out there right now and are feeling this way, just know that it does get better! I hated my body during pregnancy and even though my body will never 100% be the same, I have learned to embrace my new hips. You have to love yourself before anyone else can.
Being pregnant is hard and no one will ever try to argue that point. Being pregnant and making an adoption plan is something not a lot of people are familiar with. Not only the struggle of being an emotional wreck from hormones, but also being a wreck because of knowing where this journey will take you makes everything harder. There was one day I was shopping with my amazing sister for dinner. I couldn't decide between two different foods for dinner so I started to cry right in the middle of the store. I felt insane! I felt like I was losing my mind and didn't know how to get it back. I just wanted to be normal again and something I was never told when I was pregnant was that I will never be that. I will always be a birth mother. I will always have a little person on my mind who I care about a million times more than myself. I wouldn't trade it for the world, but that doesn't make it any easier.
I remember the simple and casual talk to a stranger and how sometimes that would make my day so much worse. I was asked so many times "When are you due?", "Are you excited?" and "Are you ready to be a mom". Most of the time I didn't tell these people my plan. It was none of their business. I don't know why people just assume that because you are pregnant that everyone deserves to know everything about you. If you're pregnant right now and struggling to make an adoption plan, just know that it does get better. There were many nights where I thought I was going to be able to do all of this, nights where I just wanted to go to bed and never have to wake up again. Just know that I would go through it all over again if it meant giving my daughter the life that she has. There are so many women out there who have been in your shoes. I have met so many amazing women through adoption, friends that are for life.
How was your pregnancy? And if you are pregnant how are you making it through?
The title of this post is from a book entitled Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. It was the title of the first chapter from the grandfather's point of view. He included the date and began writing a letter to his unborn son whom he was never going to get to meet. He wrote it to explain himself and explain why he wasn't going to be here as his son grew up and why he couldn't. I won't say why, because this isn't a book report. But those words stuck in my head.
After I got home from the hospital almost five years ago now, the adoption agency gave me a box of things to help me. Book of inspirational quotes, some mints, some soap, and little things like that. One of the things was a blank journal. It's not that fancy. Just a yellow journal with a purple butterfly on it. I stared at it a while and wondered what to do with it. I have many notebooks and have always carried a whole collection of them. But this one I stared at for a while before deciding what to write in it.
I finally figured out what I wanted to do with it when I was going through a box of books. I found Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in my mass of paperbacks that I had thrown into boxes upon leaving Columbus. I flipped through the pages and found the first page of the first chapter of the grandfather's narrative.
"WHY I'M NOT WHERE YOU ARE"
I think I stared at those words for about ten minutes. I knew what I wanted to write in that blank journal now.
I opened it to the first page and wrote: "Why I'm Not Where You Are" at the top with the date of the first entry. The first thing I wrote was the story of how I discovered I was pregnant, moved back in with my parents, found his parents, and gave birth to him. Since then, I've written a few entries. Some have been a couple years apart from each other. But I always write them as if I'm talking to Joseph at some point in the future.
I imagine I'll fill this notebook up with more entries over the years. Probably put in more details and talk about my life and his life and what I get to see as he grows up. Tell him things that I want him to know about me and his birthfather and his birth family. My plan is to give him this notebook on his eighteenth birthday. Probably won't put it in his stack of presents at any party. But I'll give it to him wrapped up and tell him to open it when he has a quiet moment to himself.
I hope it helps him to understand what it was like for me. And I hope he knows that I always loved him.
Anyone else have a stack of letters or a notebook of things you want your kid to read one day? I'm sure I'm not the only one. And if you feel comfortable, talk about it in the comments.
For most of us the holidays can be the hardest days of the year. What is supposed to be a time of joy is a time of sadness and mourning the little face we wish we could see on this day. Usually I do well with the holidays, my adoption experience has been a pretty good one. I have remained in good contact with the adoptive parents and we are planning our visit for this summer.
This Easter however was a hard one. I made a big dinner for my roommates and a friend because none of us could go back home. I couldn't help but imagine the life I would have had. The "what ifs" are the hardest parts for me. It's hard not to imagine what could have, or would have, been. Her birth father and I are still together, which makes it even harder on some days.
I would be cooking Easter dinner and she would be running around in the living room in her little Easter dress. She might be outside with her daddy searching for eggs in the bushes. There would be laughter and joy. But then I come down from that fantasy. I think about everything else that would be surrounding that. Would her daddy even be around? Where would I have got the money for the dinner, for her little dress? Would we be the midst of some kind of custody battle, something so many of my friends are familiar with. Where would we even be living, with my mother in a tiny apartment?
Its hard to get past those what ifs. And when you do its even harder to imagine the reality of them. Its easy to think about how amazing life would be with your child, but its hard for me to imagine how hard things would be.
I know that for me adoption was for the best interest of my daughter. That doesnt make this any less difficult.
How do you guys spend the holidays? What is the hardest part for you?
"Tell everyone you know: "My happiness depends on me, so you're off the hook.' And then demonstrate it. Be happy, no matter what they're doing. Practice feeling good, no matter what. And before you know it, you will not give anyone else responsibility for the way you feel-and then, you'll love them all. Because the only reason you don't love them, is because you're using them as your excuse to not feel good."
If you have any suggestions for quotes to use, feel free to email me or post a comment!
So, last weekend I had a visit with my son. And something happened at the very beginning that I have to share.
They arrived and I walked through the back door to the back gate that we keep shut so my parents can let the dog out to play in the yard without worrying that she'll get out. I opened the gate and J walked up to me holding a washed out honey jar with the two double daffodils you see in the picture here. I reacted much the way my mother would upon seeing a child with flowers,
"Oh wow! Those are really pretty flowers you have there!" He looked up at me very proudly, held up the jar and said,
"Yeah, and they're for you!" Yep, that was when my heart that totally leaped out of my chest. I've given my son presents. His parents have given me a couple things over the years. But J has never given me anything until now.
"For me! Oh, thank you J!" I think I was grinning from ear to ear. Not even joking about that. I have been given flowers very few times in my life. And those times were roses and carnations. These were flowers I had never seen before and had never been given before. And out of all the times I have been given flowers, I count these as the most precious of all.
I have them at home now. And much like my mother did when she was young, I am pressing the flowers so that I can seal them up in packing tape and make them into bookmarks. It's a mildly long process that takes some patience. But so far they look good.
As he gets older, this may happen again. I'm wondering what other good things he might give me over the years. But this was the first time and I know I will never forget it.
I hope all of you who may be having visits soon that they go as well as mine did. Has anyone else gotten an unexpected present from your child at a visit? I'd love to hear your stories.
Tomorrow I'm finally going to have a Christmas visit with my son after many delays. Not one "side's" fault at all, just a matter of illness, weather, travel, and things keeping us busy. Tonight I want to go out and have Chinese food with a friend or two. I want something to get my mind off of tomorrow. Of course my friends will ask me, "Aren't you happy about this?"
Happy that I will see my son, yes. Happy that I get to watch him ride away in their car again? No.
Happy that my parents will get to see their only grandchild, yes. Happy that when he leaves they get that far away look in their eyes that guilts me to no end? No.
Happy that my son is doing well and smiling and doing good in school and growing up fast, yes. Happy that I have to see that this is happening without me? No.
Happy that he's happy, healthy, and doing well, yes. Happy that this is only because he's not with me? No.
Happy that I get to see him, yes. Happy that he leaves again? No.
I'm not sure how else to describe the conflict of feelings that happens when I'm having a visit with J. I want him to be around. I want to see him. But I also know how much it will hurt when he leaves again. I know I want to keep him forever and can't. I know I want to be there for him and can't. I know a thousand things I can do. But I also know the million things that I can't.
Only thing I try to hold onto these days is that if he were with me, his life would not be nearly as good as it is now.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Will try for a happier topic next time.