My Journey to Joy

April 26, 2014

Just Adopt

It seems that I tend to write most when I hurt most.  That’s when thoughts swirl in my head, demanding release.  And so I click away at the keyboard.

I’ve been talking about infertility this week, in a larger venue than I ever have before.  It’s been intimidating.  Scary.  I’ve felt vulnerable, and revisited old feelings and hurts.  It’s been worth it.  I’ve had messages, connections…and I hope and pray someone has been helped to know that they are not alone.

And now it’s the middle of the night.  My husband is snoring, and a thunderstorm is rumbling outside, washing away the flower seeds I planted a few hours ago.  And I’m going to “pull back the curtain” on our adoption journey…

This is our second, and let me immediately say it has been easier.  We started at such a different place emotionally; happy, not wrecked by years of disappointment.  We have our son, who is a near-constant delight and joy.  Easier.  Not easy.

We were sure that the homestudy process would go more quickly this time.  Our application for our first adoption was received February 15th, 2011.  We were approved August 26th, and received our first birthmother profile on August 31st!  (6 months for homestudy)  After that, we were shown more than 15 times.  For our second adoption, our application was received on August 19th, 2013.   By November, we had completed everything… and we were approved February 7th, 2014.  (6 months, again!)  We received our first birthmother profile 45 minutes later.  That was the start of being constantly shown/about to be shown/waiting to hear, that lasted April 2nd.  I don’t know how to describe how that feels; I would if I could.  Tense.  Alert.  Tense.  Of the five possibilities, three of the babies had already been born (a set of twins and a single birth), one birthmother was in labor, and two others were due in the very near future.  Sometimes our social worker asked for our answer by the next week…or the next day…or in one case, in the next two hours!

And we’ve been riding an emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions.  Imagine how it feels, waiting…  Knowing we could be parents tomorrow, today, right now… or not.  We’ve sat poised to buy plane tickets or embark on a road trip to go and get our baby.  We made lists for last minute purchases.  We checked our schedules, noting the arrangements we’d need to make if chosen.  We began to imagine our family with a precious new member.  (He/she will be here by Easter/Mother’s Day/Camp Meeting.)  And then, jarringly, abruptly, it’s over.  And it wasn’t our baby after all.  And we try to gather our hopes and dreams, repacking them until the next round.

Sometimes a placement seems so perfect, the fulfillment of dreams I’ve hardly admitted to having– then receiving the dreaded e-mail: “I’m sorry.  She chose another family.”  As decisions stretched out, sometimes for weeks, I began to check my mailbox again and again, just so it will be over.  And I carried my phone everywhere, so I wouldn’t miss “the call.”

And then, everything stopped.  Silence.  No new e-mails.  And there is relief, a respite.  But it’s so quiet.  And now I’m checking my e-mail again, hoping to see a profile, a chance, a hope.  This may go on for years.

And God is in control.  And we are powerless.  Time passes, life continues, and we wait.

And a friend sends a message that reads: “…we seem to have been chosen to walk parallel paths of uncertainty. While I lay no claim on understanding the pain of infertility, I can relate to waiting for the phone to ring, to checking email almost minutely for news….any news. We all know that Gods time is perfect, that His plan is best….but that doesn’t mean that questions don’t arise, that doubts don’t stay a little longer than they should. In the darkness, remember the verse that was brought to my mind tonight by someone also walking this path, several years ago Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  And tears fill my eyes as God once again takes something painful and makes something good.

I couldn’t tell you how many people told us we could “just adopt.”  Some of those same people have since walked this journey with us, and would now be the first to defend and educate.  There is no such thing as “just adopting.”  Not every family is meant to adopt.  Some are unable, for a myriad of very personal reasons.  (I won’t even begin a list; those are their stories to tell, if they wish.)  And for those who do, the process is more often than not grueling, requiring everything you’ve got, then more.

So here we are again.  God obviously has more to teach us through this process.  Our hearts are open, and broken.  And we wait.

October 24, 2012

Perspective on Adoption

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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…A few young women I worked with chose adoption for their children. Keening, grieving, terrified, cornered in an impossible position – attempting to simultaneously save themselves and a child from unbearable, insurmountable obstacles, traumatized by the loss and the thought that they were abandoning their child as they had been abandoned. One unmothered-mother, profoundly abused, severely attachment- and conduct-disordered (a year or so away from a significant prison term for a shockingly violent offense), claimed calmly and indifferently to feel nothing for or about the unwanted pregnancy she carried, or the baby she delivered and waived her parental rights to.

A small handful of family-less young mothers, hoping to raise their child on their own – with no external emotional support and no experience of a loving, nurturing parent of their own – at first brought their infants home to special supportive housing. After the mothers reached 21, aging out of the system and its financial support, several babies became second generation foster-care children.

One resourceful, amazing kid, attached to a warm, supportive church that gave her a home when she aged out, and a community of defacto grandparents, aunts, uncles and babysitters. She kept in touch with me for years, sending photos of her beautiful child as he grew and thrived in her loving care. A miracle, against unbelievable odds.

I do not claim that what I have borne witness to is representative of anything generalizable. It is only what I saw. Nothing more, nothing less.

Simultaneously, and in no way directly connected to my consultancy, I began getting referrals for my private practice. Randomly, many of my early clients were adult adoptees or adoptive families. I watched adopted teens negotiating separation and individuation with the additional twists and turns, losses and uncertainties, anxieties not unique to, but enhanced by adoption. I heard some adoptees identify their beloved adoptive families as their only “real “family, and others identify their first, biological parents as the “real” ones. I listened to decision processes to search and to those who thought searching was entirely unnecessary to them. I heard of adoptive parents actively undermining, co-opting, threatened – or deeply supportive of their adult childrens’ journeys. I watched complex, confusing, overwhelming, search and reunion processes unfold, some instantaneous, some protracted, some fulfilling and joyous, some tragic, some both at once: answers at long last to life-long questions, and a wave of new, previously unanticipated questions taking flight, many never to be answered.

And in the midst of it all I became an adoptive parent.

I receive calls sometimes, asking if I have an expertise in adoption.

I am not an “adoption expert” and I do not aspire to be.
I do not know what it is to be adopted.

Truthfully, I understand less and less about adoption every single day.

I have come to believe that every simple, clear statement made about the adoption experience, from any perspective, is at worst wrong and at best incomplete.

Including this one.

My experience in adoption is merely vicarious. I have stood near, peering into that swirling vortex of archetypal energy, putting a toe or a hand in when I am implicated or needed, watching people I care about, dear friends, clients I treat, family members, my children, construct and deconstruct their very identities in the face of a tidal wave of paradoxical answers to impossible questions:

What is motherhood, fatherhood? What are parents? What is birth? What is blood? What is natural? What is inevitable? What is choice? What is fate? What is bravery? What is abandonment? What is rejection? What is selflessness? What is selfishness? What is history? What is justice? What is privilege? What is poverty? What is coercion? What is generosity? What is belonging? What is kinship? What is money? What is ownership? What is commerce? What is love? What is family? What is nurture? What is genetics? What is race? What is racism? What is culture? What is loss? What is grief? What is gratitude? What is anger? What is health? What is normal? What is identity? What is memory? What is truth? What is bias? What is real? What is wholeness? Who are any of us to each other? Who am I?

The adoption community itself fractures under the weight of these paradoxical energies splintering into opposing factions, communities organizing around their chosen set of answers. Some advocate for all adoption to be halted as unethical, coercive, destructive abductions. Some think smuggling children across borders without papers is justifiable to “save” a child’s soul and “provide a better life”. Birth mothers, first mothers, natural mothers, adoptees, adopted persons, adult adoptees, adoptive parents, forever families, adopters – every word becomes an injury, a wounding – language itself becomes impossible and insufficient to describe all of the light and darkness, joys and sorrows, connections and disconnections, contradictions, ambivalence and dissonance.

I’ve learned to think of all of the voices in the adoption community, as dissonant as they are, as part of some whole, that I can never grasp.

Like when people talk about God.

And I have never known any two people to forge answers to more than a few of these questions in the same way.

Any fantasy, myth, generalization, romanticization, stereotype, unconscious bias or assumption that I have ever made – in any direction – about adoption, adoptees, original parents, has been soundly turned on its head, repeatedly.

And perhaps that is the point: these are not experiences for me as a non-adopted therapist, a non-adopted adoptive parent, to identify with, co-opt or fully comprehend.

Perhaps the call is to behave with consistent respect for what I can never understand.

copyright © 2011 Martha Crawford all rights reserved

To read the rest of this article, go to: http://whatashrinkthinks.com/2011/12/04/this-is-not-an-adoption-blog-and-i-am-not-an-adoption-specialist/

February 8, 2012

Jamison’s Story

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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This will probably take about 30 minutes to watch, but it’s so worth it!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtRrI-pYpek&feature=g-all-u&context=G27b121eFAAAAAAAAEAA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuLDMzJr_TI&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIU4YnQyBh8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xy-O16I9HFA&feature=related

January 5, 2012

Tribute

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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In the short time that we have been pursuing adoption, we’ve already been exposed to a surprising number of myths, misconceptions, and prejudices regarding all members of the adoption triad.  (Birthparents, adoptees, and adoptive parents.)  Some of these I believed myself, other I find hard to understand how anyone can believe them!  Perhaps sometime I’ll share a list with you, but there is one in particular that bothers me: “Birthmothers don’t care about their babies.”

Birthmothers make a decision early on not to abort their babies.  This is against what would be most convenient for them, what society espouses as normal, and often against extreme pressure from parents and/or partners.  This decision means that they will put their bodies through nine months of pregnancy (with all of its discomforts and even dangers) and a delivery…without the reward of taking their sweet babies home.

Birthmothers make a decision to put the needs of someone else, their child, above their own.  Instead of “going with the flow,” and enjoying the excitement a new baby brings (“playing house”), they have taken a hard, honest look at their situation.  They have  painfully decided that they are not equipped to give their baby what it needs, and have determined to do what they can to ensure its future.

Birthmothers make a decision to make a plan for their child.  They go to an agency, meet with counselors, share their private information, pore over profiles of potential adoptive couples…for their child.

Birthmothers often make a decision to leave the hospital alone.  Some even ask that the adoptive mom be the first to hold their baby, so that bonding can begin.  Birthmothers cry…and let go.  Then they go home to friends who “love their babies so much that they can’t understand how they could give theirs away?!”  No, they don’t understand.  Sacrificial love.

I’m aware that each situation is different.  I know that birthmothers aren’t perfect.  I’m sure there are birthmothers who place for adoption out of wrong motivations.  But I truly believe they are the unsung heroes of adoption.

So don’t tell me that birthmothers don’t understand their blessings, or care about their children.  I’m not buying that line.

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