Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pants On Fire, Part Two

What on earth is wrong with me?

I did it again. I had a chance to talk about adoption - no, a chance to just be honest - and I blew it.

I had a dentist appointment today. I have a visit with the dental hygienist every three months because I have problem teeth. So last time I was in the office, I'd just had Roo, and I happily showed the hygienist and the receptionist pictures of my new baby.

It wasn't something I thought a lot about, honestly, when I went in to the office today. I was a bit distracted by the traffic I'd just been through on the drive, and the fresh oil on most of Val Vista, and the fact that I'd had to break at least three, maybe four traffic laws to get there on time.

The hygienist, Brittany, called me back and got me settled, and her assistant got my file open on the computer. I was more concerned with the state of my gums than anything, so it caught me off guard when Brittany asked me how my little girl was doing.

"She's doing great," I said cautiously, trying not to sound too enthusiastic lest Brittany take my response as an invitation to ask more questions.

"And how old is she?" Brittany asked.

"Sixteen weeks. Almost four months," I said.

"Oh, how fun! Getting bigger, I bet, and getting more of a personality."

I thought of how Roo was during my last visit. "Absolutely," I said, "but she really is the very best baby. She sleeps through the night and she's very sweet."

And her parents love her dearly, I added silently. Come on, Jill, say it.

But I didn't. Why didn't I? I opened my mouth to say it, I really did. But no sound came out, and just when I thought I'd gathered my nerve, Brittany had poked a sharp metal implement into my gums.

Once again, I was left to wonder, what's wrong with me? Why can't I just be honest about adoption? And this wasn't like before, with the lady in the jewelry store or the aesthetician in Tucson, where I know I'm never going to see the person again and it doesn't matter what I say to them. This is a dental office I'm in at least four times a year. What am I going to do next time? Am I going to lie to Brittany for the next eighteen years?

But then, what's the alternative? Say I decide to be honest when I go back in the beginning of February. How do I say it? I'll mention that Roo was placed in September, and Brittany will realize that I omitted something important about my baby the last time she inquired.

I'd like to blame society. I'd like to pretend that my problem in talking about adoption is a result of this lingering sense of shame and embarrassment that our culture puts on birth mothers. But I know that's not the reason, and even if it were, that would only give me more reason to want to be open and honest, to change societal mores and help remove that sense of shame.

I've been thinking about this, though, and I think I know part of what my problem is. I feel very protective of my Roo. I feel very protective of her story and her parents and everything that has happened since I found out I was pregnant. I don't want anyone judging me, or worse, judging my sweet baby. I don't want to have to hear anyone's opinions about my motives or reasoning. I don't want to worry about what negative thoughts or thoughtless comments people might make. I don't need that in my head. I have enough junk floating around there already.

I don't want anyone thinking that I placed Roo because I don't love her, or because I couldn't take care of her. I don't want anyone saying things like, "Oh, I could never do that," or "Well, I'm sure you did what was best for you," or "Didn't you want her?" I've heard all those things, those things and more, and they've bothered me and I hate trying to respond to them. I think that part of my reluctance to open up is my aversion to people's unintentional insensitivity. If only there was some way I could gauge someone's response without having to open myself up to criticism or ridicule!

I wanted Roo more than anything. She is sweet and beautiful and lovely and absolutely perfect. I didn't think I could do it either, and placing her certainly wasn't what was best for me. It was best for her. And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. And yes, I do talk openly about adoption on this blog and in school presentations and in other places. But that's a choice I've made, and I feel comfortable opening up in those situations. Other times and places? It's nobody's business but mine and Roo's and her parents'. It is special and it is wonderful and it is ours. Is it really a problem that I don't blab about it to anyone and everyone?

I've decided that maybe it's not. Maybe I should go a little easier on myself. Maybe I'm the only one making a big deal out of my hesitance in speaking up. I'll talk about it when I'm ready. And right now, I'm not ready. And I think that's okay.


Audra Owens said...

You are absolutely right. Your story is precious and sacred to YOU, and you choose who you share it with carefully. You don't need to cast your "pearls before swine" out of obligation to educate people on adoption, since not all people are going to understand or withold judgement. I'm glad you are going to go easier on yourself.

jgirl said...

there is no doubt that you feel very protective of that sweet baby, her parents and have every right to. Don't feel bad about lying, honestly you really didn't. you answered her question, that's not lying. I honestly try not to "over share" especially when it comes to my kids, I would much rather protect them (and myself) from judgement. period.

Unknown said...

You're amazing. There are no words. You're just incredible. In a good way, a great way, a fantastic way!