Monday, August 29, 2016


I started this blog exactly seven years ago.

At the time I was almost completely consumed by it. The only thing that kept me going was blogging. I wrote constantly; I didn't know what else to do. I didn't have an endgame where blogging was concerned. The Happiest Sad would, I assumed go on forever.

I think it's done. I haven't updated in I don't know how long. My heart hasn't been in it for a long time. The comments and e-mail and messages became overwhelming and stressful. People expected things of me. People wanted things from me. People felt this connection to me through my writing and it got to be too much. I'm not qualified to give the sort of counseling people were looking for and I've never claimed to speak for anyone other than myself. This blog was only ever meant to be representative of my experiences and feelings and so many people wanted it to be so much more. I've never been good at living up to other people's expectations.

I thought that if I took a break I might reclaim some of my enthusiasm for adoption and blogging and all of the things that used to mean so much to me. But today I'm calling it. That ship has sailed. I'm done.

I am sorely tempted to delete everything or at least make it private. In retrospect I feel I did much more harm than good, both to myself and to others. Beyond that, I feel absolutely no connection to the woman who started this blog or even the woman who continued it when Roo got a little older.

After some really horrible things happened to me in the last few years I went back to my therapist and one of the things that he mentioned is that I have changed so, so much since I started seeing him ten years ago. Things that would have broken me even six or seven years ago are just irritations to me.

I don't identify with the woman I used to be. I have almost nothing in common with her. I don't pity her and I don't envy her but I also don't know her, and I don't want to. She wasn't happy. I am. As terrifically flawed as things are, I'm finally happy.

I love Roo with my whole heart. I always have and I always will. And I'm not her mother, and I am okay with that. I said that to my friend who insisted that she's still mine.

"She's still your daughter. You're still her mother."

I get that a lot, actually, mostly from birth mothers who see their relationships with their placed children in that sense. "My son has two mothers," they'll insist. "I'm still his mom."

Sorry, but I'm not Roo's mom. Roo has a mom.

"But you gave birth to her, you're still her mom."

But I'm not. I'm her birth mom and that's good enough for me. I grew her and I love her and if she ever needs anything from me - blood, a kidney, half my liver, my bone marrow, or help burying a body, I will give it to her in a heartbeat, no questions asked. But as it stands today my Roo does not need me.

That's the difference, I think. If I were Roo's mother she would need me. She doesn't need me.

I'm glad she doesn't! If she needed me I think I'd feel that there was something wrong - that she wasn't getting the love and support she needs from her parents, that she feels incomplete as a result of being adopted. Roo knows I love her and that's all I need out of our relationship. The fact that the last time I saw her she was much more interested in her ice cream than answering my questions about school is the opposite of a problem.

(Ice cream is very, very important, and I'm proud of her for understanding that.)

I've separated myself from the adoption world. I have nothing new to contribute, nothing new to say. I got tired of it. I don't attend any activities or support groups or anything. I removed myself from every adoption Facebook group I was added to. I stayed in a few local ones that I don't follow but something another birth mom posted cemented my decision to walk away from the Christian adoption community completely.

She placed a few years ago - two? Three? I don't know, I met her maybe once. But she has since married and was, at the time, expecting her first child with her husband. She asked for advice from other birth mothers who had "healed and made new lives for themselves." And her definition of that was marriage and family.

This made me wonder, do I not count? Is the life I've built for myself somehow less meaningful because I'm single? Am I not "moved on" because I don't have kids? Frankly, I know too many birth moms who rushed to get married and have another kid after placement and I don't think they're better off for it.

I know that this birth mom, who is a lovely and kind woman, was asking for advice from birth moms who have married and had kids but that's specifically not how she phrased her question. I read it and I realized I was done. I'm done with the stereotypes and the expectations and the stupid standards that are so prevalent in the Christian adoption world.

I have moved on. I have healed. I have clawed my way to a new life and I am proud of it and I'm sorry my definition of healing doesn't look like it's supposed to. But it's mine and it's good enough for me and even if I never marry and never have children I have [expletive deleted] healed, whether anyone sees it or not. I see it. I feel it. And I'm happy.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I would shout it from the rooftops but I don't like heights: I am not a hero. I am not brave. I am not selfless. I am not an angel. I am a deeply flawed, deeply damaged woman who was scared out of her mind and made a desperate decision for the small person she loved most in the world. And I would do it again a million times.

But I don't need strangers telling me I'm wonderful for placing my child for adoption. I don't want that. It is nobody's damn business, and I realize as I'm typing that how absolutely stupid that sounds considering I documented my entire adoption experience for a good five years on a public blog.

But my point is that this blog has unintentionally empowered people to insert themselves in my life and my story. People who I have never met, who only know me through my words here, have sent me e-mail and left comments about how I need to take better care of myself and fix myself or I won't be any better off in a decade. People have attempted to diagnose me and treat me despite the fact that I pay a lot of money to both a therapist and a psychiatrist to do both of those things (spoiler alert: it's working, things are rad).

I've gotten unsettling e-mail that made me worry I was being stalked. I've gotten supportive, lovely e-mail from people who have become friends. I've gotten heartbreaking e-mail from birth mothers, and from women who confided that they wished they'd placed the child they're parenting.

This blog has been a beautiful burden. My refuge and my rage. A full-color catalog of my ups and downs. The happiest sad.

But I think it's time to officially say goodbye. I'll probably never update again. I haven't read a message or comment on my Facebook page in months and I don't want to. I will likely delete it. Knowing that this blog is hanging out here without any sort of conclusion has been one final thread tying me to the adoption community I don't want a part of anymore.

I'll always be connected to adoption through Roo. But I would hope that adoption is a relatively minor part of her life as she grows. There are so many more interesting and wonderful things about her than the fact that her mom didn't give birth to her.

Some of you have been following me from the very beginning and for that, and for your love and support, I thank you. You got me through some tough ish. Those of you who have meant the most know where to find me on the internet, although I think I'm Facebook friends with most of you anyway.

To those of you who have harrassed me, belittled me, condescended to me, and concern-trolled me, I'm sad that you don't have anything better to do. Pokemon Go is pretty popular these days, if you've got a smartphone. I also recommend Neko Atsume, particularly if you like cats but are allergic like I am.

To those of you I have helped, I am humbled and grateful. To those of you I have harmed, I am so, so sorry and if I can't have your forgiveness I ask for your understanding.

To the only reader I had in mind for this blog, the one who has yet to read a word - my dear darling Roo. May you be happy. May you be smart. May you be kind, and may you be well.

Our galaxy's sun is 864,938 miles in diameter (yes, I Googled that). But my love for you is larger. I hope the universe really is expanding because between my love and the sun's growth things are going to get tight in here.

You are my favorite and my best. My jelly and my jam. My French phrase for reason for being. Thank you for being, and thank you for being you. You're wonderful and I absolutely love you to bits and forever, no matter what.

- Jill

Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 5, 2009

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before but I kept a private blog that I updated every single day of my pregnancy. It was half first-person, half asides to Roo, who I called Peanut because that's what she looked like on my first ultrasound. I was induced on July 5, and this year it's on a Sunday again like it was the year Roo was born. As such I've been thinking a lot about that experience and looking at the clock, dredging up my timestamped memories. I started a long, feelings-laden post earlier today but I abandoned it because I remembered my pregnancy blog.

I'm not going to share everything I wrote the day I was induced because some of it is very, very personal and the only person I can imagine letting read it is Roo in 20 years or so, when she's the same age as I was when I wrote it. But I do want to copy and paste bits and pieces for your reading pleasure.

I was fully committed to single parenting when I wrote this but I had oh so many worries and fears, which I think is normal for anyone about to have their first baby. Reading it now, knowing that I would place Roo for adoption 9 weeks later, is a little bittersweet.

I sure love that girl. Always have, always will. There's not a doubt in my mind that adoption was the best thing in the world for her. I'm lucky to have that kind of conviction. I know too many birth moms who don't.

And now, a blast from the past.

July 5, 2009

Normally I would have done my baby blogging ... oh, you know, like 15 hours ago. But I didn't get on the computer last night. I wanted to get a good night's sleep (my last ever?) and talk to Mom and cry and a million other things.

Why am I so depressed about having a baby? I should be excited, I know that. I should be counting down the hours until I get to hold my sweet little Peanut at last. But all I want to do is cry.

It's not just because the prospect of labor frightens me, although there is that. It's that I don't know if I'm ready to be a mother. I am terrified that I won't be a good mother ... I've been thinking more about adoption in the past few days than I ever did before.

Oh, sweet little Peanut. How sorry I am. You deserve so much more than me, than I can ever hope to be. What if I'm not meant to have you? Will I know somehow? I hope so. I've been through so much, though. How on earth could I put myself through another devastating loss? Oh, Peanut. How I love you. I only want what's best for you. But what if that isn't me?

Shoot. This isn't how I should be thinking right now. I've got to leave for the hospital in two hours. I should be ... I don't know. Eating dinner. Relaxing. Talking to Mom. Breathing. Double-checking my bag. Something else. Anything else.

You will be worth it all, Peanut. I know it.

I love you, little girl. Don't you ever doubt it.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

In which I say very little with a lot of words

Long time, no blog.

More than six months, to be exact. I started and abandoned about thirty-seven updates. I read somewhere that a lot of perfectionists eventually outgrow their quirk but I feel like I've just gotten worse. The older I get, the more critical I am of myself and what I write and think and feel.

I've reached the point where I hate and would like to re-write every word of this blog, or maybe just delete it forever. I no longer relate at all to the woman who wrote it. I don't know who she is. She's not me, that's for sure.

Without getting into specifics I'm just going to say that the last 18 months of my life were some of the worst of my life and some things happened to me that should never have happened and I ended up checking out of a lot of things that used to be important to me, blogging among them.

If I don't let myself think about the things that happened I don't feel destroyed by them anymore which I suppose is a sign of personal growth. On the other hand I feel like I'm a lot more bitter and angry than I used to be and I don't like that side of myself. Two years ago I was anxious as hell but I had a little smidgen of hope and things were for the most part under control. Then I met this guy and I one hundred percent believed this was it, this was my guy, and one thing led to another, and the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the sovereign nation of Japan.

No, sorry, I'm channeling Brian Regan.

I digress. It's been a rough road and I'm a little beat-up. But here I am.

Roo will be six this summer. She's wonderful and I'm proud of her and I love her to bits. I will not be writing much about her on this blog anymore. She's getting older and I am fiercely protective of her and her family. She's not my daughter and what people know about her isn't my call. I will be vague. But I will say this: I think the two most important things for a person to be are happy and kind, and Roo is both of those things. She is also brave and feisty and smart and it amazes me that H's and my messed-up DNA produced such a fantastic human being. I credit her parents. They're the best. If I ever grow up I want to be like them.

I want to blog again but I don't know what my focus is going to be. I've thought a lot about why there are so many more long-running adoptive parent blogs than birth parent blogs. I think it's because as a birth mother eventually you've got to sort of move on - not from adoption, necessarily, but from having "birth mother" as the sole focus of your identity. At some point you have to just go do something else.

Personally, I wonder how much longer I can keep saying, "Hey, adoption's great, Roo's great, openness is going well, I'd do this whole thing again in a heartbeat." Because I feel like that's mostly what I've done for years.

I guess as long as people want to hear it I can keep saying it. But I've got other things I want to say; I'm just not sure anyone wants to hear them. I've said before that an unplanned pregnancy isn't a problem, it's the symptom of a problem. I was thinking the other day about how placing a child for adoption screws with you mentally and then I realized, I've always been screwed up mentally; placement just gave me something to blame my dysfunction on.

I'm working through the dysfunction the best I can. Some days are easier than others. Many days lately have been harder. I've been missing my dad like crazy lately. I was watching TV at the gym and there was an ad for breakfast cereal that made my throat fizz up. The commercial showed a man playing catch with his son in their backyard and I thought of something I have not thought of in probably 15 years.

I played softball for 3 or 4 years when I was a kid and to help me improve (I was beyond awful) my dad would play catch with me in our backyard. Once I quit I shoved that memory away and I honestly forgot that we ever played catch, even when I remembered playing softball. But then this Frosted Flakes commercial came on and I thought, I'll never play catch with my dad ever again (even though I haven't done so since probably 1993), and it just about killed me.

Everything I did with my dad is something I'll never do with him again. He's been gone for almost seven years, and every now and then I look around and realize how little of him is left anymore. I hate those moments. That's when I have to look in a mirror and smile, the genuine smile I don't usually show because I don't like the way my nose crinkles or the shape of my mouth and chin. But I give that smile to the mirror and I look at the lines fanning out from the outsides of my eyes. These lines should horrify me; I'm not yet 32 and I have a murder's worth of crow's-feet. But I look at them in the mirror and I think, Oh, there you are, dad. And I miss him maybe an ounce less.

I forgot how cathartic it is to write things down. I should do this more often. Blogging, I don't know how to quit you. Self-criticism, I don't know how to quit you, either.

Frosted Flakes, I don't want to quit you. I'll meet you in the kitchen in five minutes, even though you made me cry.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Some Thoughts on Why I Chose Adoption

November is National Adoption Month. Yes, again. I swear it was just National Adoption Month like a week ago but you know how these things sneak up on you. I mean, here we are, already a full month into Pudding Season and it barely feels like a day. But I digress.

I had this wild idea on November 1st that I was going to post every single day this month, just like I did that one year. Then I laughed at myself, because if my ADD has reached the point it has where being paid isn't motivation enough to get work done at work, I sure as shoelaces don't have the brainpower to post thirty times this month, particularly when I haven't even managed to post once a month this year.

I think that sentence made sense. Also I don't know if "sure as shoelaces" is a thing but the phrase that came to mind included a word that, while it begins with the same "sh" sound as "shoelaces," is not one I have ever used on this blog before to the best of my knowledge because my mother raised me better than that.

Of course I'm sure she also thought she raised me better than to have a baby with a guy I met on MySpace, but there you are. Roo got here how she got here and she's my favorite, so ... you know.

I'm just full of asides today. Positively bloated with them in fact. Sorry.

I turned 31 last month. It was a much more low-key celebration than 30 last year. My mother took me out to lunch, and I had dinner with some friends. My favorite part of the day is the time I spent with Roo and her family at a park. I took off my shoes and ran - "ran" - around the playground with Roo and her sister. We pretended we were some sort of fairies from a cartoon both of them seemed familiar with but that I had never heard of. It was great fun.

I let the girls lead me on a long walk to the far corner of the park and back (I think we were meant to be on some sort of fairy rescue mission) and on our loop around to the playground I ended up walking next to Roo.

As a general rule I've never seen any notable physical similarities between me and Roo. She is a tiny, adorable girl clone of H. Her eyes are a different color but the shape and poetic depth match his - I always thought his eyes held galaxies. It sounds almost unbearably saccharine to say that I got lost in his eyes but it's the truth. Roo's eyes have that same sort of dreamy quality. She inherited H's ridiculously long, dark eyelashes, too. I wish that H and I had gotten along as well as our genes did. Roo is excellent work.

As I said, I don't see much of myself in Roo at all but I had this moment walking next to her, when I realized she was walking fast like I do, when I wondered if a casual observer would have spotted any similarities in our strides - or our ear shapes, or our postures, or our hands. Would Roo look like she were mine if someone didn't know any better?

I don't need her to. I don't necessarily want her to. I just wondered. Because as we walked it hit me, the magnitude of what I did when I created life. Here was this perfectly formed person, a complete and unique entity. A life. A whole human, complete with hopes and dreams and a sense of humor, and I made her from scratch.

I say this not to wound any of you but because it was a vaguely terrifying thought. I had no idea what I was doing when I got pregnant, I really didn't. These teenage girls who think they're just having babies - they have no idea, either. Babies grow up. One minute you're going to the doctor to hear a heartbeat for the first time, the next minute you're pushing a five-year-old on a swing and watching her point her toes as she tells you you're not pushing hard enough. "I want to go higher," she'll insist, and it will hit you that this is only a fraction of what she wants, and then you'll begin to understand the enormity of what you undertook when you created life.*

This is why I chose adoption for Roo. Because I knew I could give a baby what she needed but, as the saying goes, babies don't keep. People who tried to talk me out of adoption insisted that today's parenting magazines and websites were misleading me - babies don't need much, and they need love most of all. I won't argue that. But babies grow up. Toddlers need more than babies, and grade-schoolers need more than toddlers, and then they become adolescents, and then, heaven help us, teenagers, and the older they get the more they need - not just temporally but emotionally, psychologically, spiritually.

I knew that I could provide everything that a baby needed. But I also knew that my baby would grow fast, and I knew that my ability to provide wasn't going to grow proportionately. I didn't want Roo to struggle or suffer while I tried to figure out how to make it work. She deserves better than that. I wanted more for her than that.

As I walked next to her, this perfect little person with dirty feet and a messy ponytail and a few blades of grass stuck to her leg, I had the thought that this was one of those rare, beautiful, perfect snippets in the space-time continuum. It was a beautiful day, warm for October, with an overabundance of bright sunshine and fresh air. I was walking across a field of slightly prickly crabgrass, matching strides with my favorite person in the whole world, and we were both very happy.

If I had to choose a single moment to live over and over again, I would have a hard time picking just one but this moment on my birthday would be a top contender. It was maybe twenty or thirty seconds from start to finish but for that short stretch of time absolutely everything in the world felt okay. I haven't felt that in a long time. It was glorious.

If I were Roo's mother** I am sure that I would enjoy countless such moments. I would. Roo and I would have great fun. But our lives would be so, so difficult. Those moments would be a sharp contrast to the constant struggle to stay above water. I could have done it. I could have kept her and been her mother and somehow made it all work.

But this is so much better - the way things are, I mean. Whatever else happens in her life, Roo got the best possible start. She's got the very best parents who love each other so much, and who love her and her siblings deeply and forever. Roo is confident and secure and well-adjusted and kind and buoyant and about six hundred other adjectives that I can't even use to describe myself at thirty-one. Adoption was the best choice I could have made. Roo herself is the proof.

I get uncomfortable when people try to pretty up what it means to be a birth mom or turn the choice to place into some kind of fairy tale. There can be so much beauty in adoption, but there is always pain. No woman sets out to become a birth mother. I don't think it's the first choice for very many women. It's beautiful and it hurts.

I am not brave or selfless or an angel or a saint. I'm not extraordinarily strong. I'm not a hero. I'm a bundle of flaws and good intentions and fleeting hope and once upon a time I fell irrevocably in love with this small person and every single day I was her mother she broke my heart because I knew she wasn't going to be my daughter forever and it terrified me. But I always knew.

I don't know if I've ever said that before on this blog, but there it is. I knew the second I first saw her tiny body in an ultrasound that my baby wasn't mine. When I was settled into a hospital room to recover from my c-section I looked up into the doorway every few minutes for at least four hours, waiting for someone to come in. I didn't know what they looked like then but I was watching for Roo's parents.

When I saw their picture for the first time, I knew. I saw their firstborn in their picture and I thought, that's Roo's sister. I saw P and M, and I thought Oh, there you are. And it scared me.

Adoption is scary. It's one of the scariest things I've ever done. But it's also my favorite thing I've ever done; it's the thing I am most proud of. It's brought me the most joy.

That flawless moment walking next to Roo at the park didn't fill me with any kind of desperate longing for her to be mine. There was no sadness that the fantastic little girl matching my steps isn't mine. I was happy because she was happy, and she was happy because she has a happy life. Not a perfect one, but a happy one. She bounces back quickly when things don't go her way. She notices the lovely little things in the world and they fill her with joy. She looks around and sees possibilities. She dreams.

That's what it's about, isn't it? Everything else is just filler.

I want to be like Roo when I grow up.

*I posted a picture of my three-year-old self on Instagram last week and when my mother saw it she said, "That's my baby," and she had this look on her face as though she were blindsided that that baby had just turned 31 - as though I had just been three and she couldn't quite account for the passage of time.

**Please don't comment and argue that I'm still her mother. Please just don't.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Some Thoughts on Adoption, Five Years Post-Placement

Greetings, Blogland! I haven’t blogged in pretty much forever, which is weird. I used to blog so much in the early days after placement and it seems kind of weird now that blogging was such an integral part of my life. It’s not even something I think much about anymore, which is good. I mean, if I do stop to think about it, my brain kicks into overdrive and I end up with thirty drafts of new blog posts, so it’s probably just as well.

I'm trying to be less of a perfectionist so I'm blogging today even though I feel that my thoughts are disorganized and not particularly pretty and I don't even want to read them for proofreading purposes. Allow me to apologize in advance for the scattered messiness that will follow. I probably should have taken a Ritalin. Thank you for reading and I'll try to disguise my ADD better next time.

Roo is five, you guys! Holy cow. She started kindergarten and is doing so, so well. M had her call me to tell me about her first day. Roo was really excited about lunch and recess, and a few weeks ago M told me that Roo has memorized all of her vocabulary words for the year and then some. She is pretty much the cleverest kid ever and I am very proud of her.

I got to hang out with her a few days after her birthday and we had so much fun. She is very imaginative and very chatty and happy and easygoing. I was such an anxious child; one of my fears for Roo was that she would inherit my worry (I worry about worry). But she is SO not anxious. Every good thing about her I credit to her amazing parents. I don’t want to start a nature-vs-nurture debate but I know what I was like as a kid – I was born worried – and I feel confident that Roo is the way she is because of the way she’s being raised.

I love that she has the parents she does. I didn’t know how awesome they were when I picked them but I couldn’t possibly have chosen any better. I’m probably making myself a target here but adoption has been the best thing on earth for Roo and so I count it as the best thing on earth for me. I know that mine is a best-case scenario and that tons and tons of birth moms and adoptive couples aren’t so lucky. Every day that I spend any time at all on the internet I am reminded of that.

Roo is doing very well. I, on the other hand, have what I will euphemistically refer to as “things going on.” I feel happier now than I have in a while but pretty much the first nine months of my 31st year were rough. I was attacked by a feral pack of feelings and I had difficulty in fending them off. I still have problems with them at times but I am making progress in that area. Being an adult human female is hard sometimes.

A few weeks ago was my five-year placement anniversary. It was such a non-issue, you guys, you wouldn't even believe it. M texted me and we had a lovely conversation that way but most of my feelings on the 9th were about my dad because I’ve been missing him like crazy lately. Five years is a pretty good chunk of time for a birth mom, I think, and I thought that maybe I ought to write about my feelings about adoption these days. As I said before I think Roo’s adoption was the best thing in the world. But other than that, you know what? I don’t think about adoption that much. I just don’t.

I know a lot of birth moms who feel this lifelong connection to adoption. Many of them are in school for social work. Many of them spend a lot of their own time and money and a lot of effort in assisting expectant and birth parents, and I respect them so much for it. I’m just not one of them. I still talk at high schools on occasion but I don’t feel this deep need to make an adoption my life’s work. My inner 10-year-old wants to be a writer, thankyouverymuch, and and while adoption is a part of me because Roo is, my feelings are for her and her adoption, not every adoption and every person involved in adoption. I don’t feel the need to connect to a greater sisterhood of birth moms. It's not what I need at this point in my life. I have dear friends who are birth mothers but the ones I'm closest to get me on a level that has nothing to do with adoption and everything to do with who we are as human beings.

I don’t think that being a birth mom is the most interesting thing about me and I don’t want it to define me. I don't like a lot of what I see various adoption communities becoming on the internet. I don’t like the way that there’s this us-vs-them division between birth and adoptive parents, I don’t like the way birth moms get idolized or vilified or any of that. A birth mom was a fleshed-out person before she placed, and placement doesn’t change that about her. There’s good and bad in all of us and I’ve been beating back the “hero” label for years because I’m not a hero, I’m the 0.10 % who got pregnant on the pill, who carried and delivered a little girl she loved more than life itself, a little girl she loved enough to give a better life, even though it wasn’t with her. 

Blah. I'm probably making enemies left and right here, aren't I? It's not that I object to there being this greater adoption community, or that I don't think people should let it be their life's work. It's just not *my* life's work.

Five years post-placement, I don't think about adoption much at all. I think about Roo, who happens to have been adopted, but that does very well for me for now.

She really is the most fantastic little kid and I feel privileged to get to watch her grow up and spend time with her. She saved me. I don't know what would have happened to me if I hadn't gotten pregnant when I did. I don't like to think about it. But I've had to lately. I've gotten myself into a few messes lately and wondered what's going to save me this time. I felt for a few months this year that perhaps nothing would; that I was finally just going to self-destruct.

But one of the things that I have come to realize about myself during this difficult year is that for as much of an emotional train wreck as I am there is some part of me that refuses to give up. There is some part of me that made myself get up every morning and go to work and smile when people said hello to me and continue to exercise most days even though all I wanted to do was sleep for the next five years until my current problems work themselves out.

I didn't used to have that inside of me. I know that I didn't because nine years ago when I started therapy it took very little to break me into pieces. 22-year-old Jill would have cracked starting last November, with almost no provocation. I am profoundly grateful for this strength I've found, and I do believe that it grew from placement.

I've wasted a lot of bandwidth comparing the death of my father to the placement of my daughter. My general conclusion is that my father's death was harder because I still can't make it okay, because I don't see any good that came of it. I haven't necessarily changed my mind about that but I do feel strongly that adoption required more of me than pushing through my grief did, and for precisely the reason that I always concluded my father's death was harder: because adoption was a choice. I chose this hurt. I chose to smash my heart into bits, even though it felt like little of it remained after my dad died.

I placed Roo on purpose, and it changed me fundamentally and deeply and forever. It hurt worse than anything in the world has ever hurt me and I can say for certain that it is the best thing I have ever done in my life. It made me stronger in a way that nothing else could possibly have done.

Roo saved me the first time around and placing her made me strong enough that this time I can save myself. I don't know how I'm going to do it but I know that I can.

I'm not sure of many things. I don't know what the next year of my life is going to look like. I'm not entirely certain what the next week is going to look like. But one thing that I know for sure, as Oprah would say, is that if I had to live my life over a thousand times I would place Roo for adoption a thousand times more.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Dearest Roo,

Today you are five years old. How did that happen? I swear you just barely learned to walk and now you're reading chapter books and dancing and playing tennis and starting kindergarten in the fall. How did you grow up so fast? You're taller every time I see you, and smarter. You are the most fascinating little person I have ever met. Everything about you is interesting to me. You are my favorite in all the known world. There is a light in your eyes that fills my soul. When you smile, it seems impossible that there's anything other than joy in the world.

Do you have any idea how amazing you are, Roo? Everything about you is a miracle to me. I haven't found the words in any language to properly express how much I love you. It's not something I can explain. It's something that I feel. I didn't know I could love anyone on earth even half as much as I love you.

I was scared when you were born. You were brand-new and tiny and I knew what I wanted for you; I knew what you deserved. I was scared that I didn't have a way of making sure you had everything in the world that you deserved by merit of the love I felt for you. I wanted to be the best mother in the world because you deserved it.

I couldn't do it. I certainly couldn't be the best father in the world. You deserved that, too.

As desperately as I loved you I could never quite shake the feeling that I was raising someone else's child. The moment I first saw you my heart claimed you but some ineffable part of myself wouldn't settle down. A few hours after you were born, when I was recovering in a hospital room and you were burrito-wrapped in your bassinet, I found my gaze moving from your sleeping face to the door. My rational mind expected no visitors but the waiting part of myself kept watching the doorway. I didn't dare use words for what I was anticipating at the time but the truth is I was waiting for your parents to come in.

I took you home and you were mine for nine fragile and beautiful weeks but the entire time, I knew.

I have never fought anything in my life as desperately as I fought to be your mother. I warred with myself for the first seven weeks of your life, searching for some way to change what I felt in my heart. I wanted you so badly! I had already been through so much pain. I had already broken so many times. I couldn't bear the thought of shattering again. I loved you so much! How could I not be your mother?

Then I found your family. I saw their picture on my computer screen and the part of me that waited in my hospital room stopped waiting. It wasn't your dad or your mom that did it, either. Would you believe, darling Roo, that the first member of your family I found was your big sister? I was ready to keep looking at profiles and reading letters but I saw your sister in that photograph ... I looked at her dear, perfect little cherub face and I thought, that's Roo's sister. I knew she was your sister. I knew. I looked at your parents after that but it didn't matter who they were, because if they were your sister's parents they were yours as well.

No matter what else happens in my life, no matter what I believe or disbelieve, no matter what circumstances change, I will never believe anything contrary to this: your sister was meant to be your sister, and you were meant to be hers. I have never known anything to be true as strongly and solidly as I knew that the two of you were meant to be together when I saw that picture, and nothing anyone ever says is going to change that.

I love that you girls are such good friends. I hope you always will be. I hope that you always take good care of each other.

There's more to your story that your parents have told you, or will tell you when you're older, and more that I need to tell you as well, but I'm saving that for you and only you. But today, on your birthday, I want you know two things for sure.

The first is that there's no doubt in my mind you were meant for the family you've got. You belong together. I couldn't have placed you with any family in the universe but theirs. I couldn't have done it! I tried. I met with other families and I wanted them to be right but none of them were and it wasn't until I met your family that I knew why no one else would do.

The second is something that I hope is already a solid and immovable fact in your mind: I love you. How inadequate those words sound! They're overused. They've lost meaning. But in the absence of any others, I'll use them over and over again and hope that repetition will lend them weight. My dear little Roo, I love you. Nothing in the known universe will stop me from loving you. Any good thing I ever accomplish in the world is because of my love for you. Any improvement I make, any happiness I find, any good and worthy thing I do is a manifestation of my love for you. My task as your birth mother is to take the love that I have for you and spread it around.

Never doubt, not for a second, that you are loved. There's no one else in the world for whom I'd break my own heart. Only you.

You were worth it. You always will be.

Happy birthday, darling girl.


Your birth mother Jill