Monday, July 19, 2010

Thanks, or No Thanks?

Towards the end of my pregnancy, my mother finally started telling people I was pregnant (more on that as I get to June in my story). She told a few friends at first, and then a few people in her ward (church congregation). Instead of judging me, they were friendly and sympathetic. One woman came to visit me after Roo was born. And much to my surprise, a few of them wanted to have a baby shower for me.

I was stunned, but also excited. This was the sort of thing I'd longed for during my pregnancy - excitement, love, validation. One of the women planning it asked what colors were in Roo's nursery. I felt a little twinge of guilt (not for the first time) that my precious little girl did not have a nursery - no room of her own. Her nursery was a corner of my bedroom. But her bedding was pink and brown so those were the colors I gave. I was sent an invitation to the shower with a note on the envelope that it was for Roo's baby book. The thoughtfulness of these women I barely knew was overwhelming, and I tear up even now when I think about it.

The baby shower was on August 4th, and my mother and I got there a little late, which was kind of embarrassing. Also embarrassing was the fact that I knew maybe three people in the room. The rest of them were women from my mom's ward and she whispered into my ear who was who so that as I opened gifts I could smile at the appropriate people.

I hardly wanted to put Roo down or hand her to someone else to open presents. I think part of me always knew that my time with her was finite and that I needed to treasure every second I had to hold her. But I let my mom hold her while I opened gift after gift - lovely, sweet, cute, thoughtful things. There was also cake and punch and chocolate-dipped strawberries and pink gummy bears and ... so many perfect little details. I'm getting all teary-eyed again.

Each attendee wrote her name and address on an envelope when she arrived, and I was given the accompanying thank-you notes so that it would be easy for me to write one and stick it in the appropriate envelope. I thought this was a thoughtful detail as well - they knew how busy I was as a new mom and wanted to make things as easy as possible.

But how I felt at the shower wasn't a new thing - I hated to put Roo down, ever. I passed hours, days even, sitting on the couch with her napping in my arms, on my chest, in my lap. Part of the reason I think her head's always been such a nice shape is that I only put her down to sleep at night. Most days when she napped, I held her, not wanting to miss a single second of the first weeks of my precious baby's life.

The thank-you notes sat unwritten on the counter. Each time I caught sight of them, I thought to myself, tomorrow. I'll write them tomorrow. I started composing them in my head, but I couldn't seem to find the time to write them on paper. There were plenty of times, of course, when my mom took Roo so I could have a break to get things done. But my head was such a mess of emotions that I usually wrote in my journal then, or poked around on-line at adoption websites and couple profiles.

Then, of course, a few weeks later, God answered my prayers in a way that I simply couldn't ignore any longer, and I knew Roo needed to be with her mommy and daddy. Once that decision was made, I skipped sleep and meals for extra time to hold my baby. The thank-you notes could certainly wait. My time with Roo was swiftly coming to an end and I wasn't going to waste a single second of it.

Then I placed. My grief and pain consumed me. The sight of anything from the time I had Roo was enough to break me down again. Eight separate times I tried to write thank-you notes but ended up hyperventilating in tears instead.

And now I find myself nearly a year later, and not a single thank-you for the shower gifts has been sent. It's an awkward, tricky situation. I don't think most people in my mom's ward actually know that I placed Roo. Every so often my mom will come home from church and report that so-and-so asked how Roo was doing, and my mother has told them what choice I made. But I don't think everyone who attended the shower or gave a gift knows. And I think, what if the lack of a thank-you has made them think I'm spoiled and selfish and bratty in addition to being immoral?

I hate that thought. But it's been so long now that It almost seems ruder to send them out at this point than to not. And what on earth would I write in them? I could write what I originally planned, but it seems like I ought to mention what happened, and why it's taken me so long. But it's so personal! It felt awkward enough having so many strangers at my own baby shower. Even more awkward to have to tell every single one of them that God basically told me I wasn't supposed to be my baby's mother.

And then there's the fact that even though it's been so long, I still cry when I catch sight of the pastel Noah's Ark on the front of the notes. I still don't feel ready to write them! Will I ever feel ready? And what if when I finally am it's too late? I know I read a Dear Abby once about late thank-yous (from a bride, of course) and the consensus was that it was better late than never, but what if it's years later? Three, four, five years later? Do I mention the adoption? Would people be mad to know that I kept their gift but not my baby? Should I have returned the unused gifts? Roo did wear several of the outfits, but there were some things she never grew into while I had her. Should I write the original thank-yous as planned and then stick in each one a generic, typed-out note about the adoption? Should I leave the adoption out altogether?

I've been sitting on this issue for almost a year, and I'm no closer to a conclusion now than I've ever been before. I don't usually solicit comments outright, but I am today. What should I do? Choke it up and send them out now? Wait until I'm ready? Forget about it (my mother's suggestion, as she's given many a bridal and baby gift over the years - including to relatives - and not gotten a thank-you note)? I'm open to suggestions, as well as assurances that I am not an ungrateful brat for not sending them out 11 months ago.


Danya said...

Hmmmmm.... a difficult situation indeed....

The only thought that comes to my mind is that you are probably (through not fault of your own) over thinking the situation. You're mind revolves around Roo and past events right now. Theirs do not. They probably forgot long ago about the never sent thank you cards. Not to say they've forgotten about you or Roo but thank you cards are.... (as you put it) one of those "little details". Those fade with time.

And the stress these cards are causing you are not worth the "Oh that's nice" reaction these ladies will have when they receive them. Were I you, I'd trash 'em without another thought. I know I'd feel a little less stressed if I did. The cards are nice but not necessary and once again, not worth the stress they are causing you.

Savannah said...

My first thought was, just throw them away.

But then my next thought was, what if one of those cards needs to get to someone that needs adoption information?

So I guess my comment is no help. If it were me, I would fast and go to the temple. Heavenly Father will tell you if someone needs adoption information. If He doesn't, then it might be okay to toss them out. Good luck!

If you do decide to send them, I think it would be very approriate to include a typed message of your story. I know you were a guest blogger on a birth mom blog a while back. Maybe you could include just a business card note with the web adress. Or try to type your story up on one page and end it with your testimony of adoption.

Que and Brittany's Adoption Journey said...

Yeah, I bet none of them have ever thought "Where is my Thank-you card?!" I never sent out Thank-you cards for my wedding (long story) and no one ever complained or was even slightly passive-aggressive. I'm sure you're just fine, don't worry about it!

jgirl said...

Other than following your Mom's advice (which I would recommend), you could always type up a mass brief explanation thanking people for their thoughtfulness and your decision to place her and send them off. Honestly, if you know (and I know you do) that your decision was the right one in all ways then you should put it out of your mind and don't let the guilt bother you any longer. I am well aware this is always easier than it sounds...but, I know from experience that hiding from our truth will only stunt further growth. (((hugs)))

Tee said...

I was in a very similar situation, although opposite at the same time. We are an adoptive couple who were selected by our birthmom last November. My friends threw a baby shower for me just before our baby was born. A few days after the birth, our birthmom changed her mind and took the baby back (which is legal in Colorado). Needless to say, I was quite uncomfortable with writing thank-you cards for a long time. Once I was somewhat comfortable, I wrote the card as I normally would have, and included a small card explaining the situation.

I do understand and agree that it might be time to just let it go and not worry about it though. I am just giving you my story, in case you choose to do the cards :)

On a final note, our birthmom changed her mind back 3 months later, and we have our precious daughter after all <3

Dakota Fields said...

Just a couple of thoughts that I hope are all right..
If I thought that not writing the notes would continue to bother me, I would probably write something about how touched I was by their kindness, not about the gift so much. Maybe I would write something like, "I still remember how (generous/kind/supportive/considerate, your choice inserted here) you were at my shower. It meant (and means) a lot to me, especially since you did not know me that well, and I will always remember it. Thank you so much. Sincerely,....
On the other hand, if I were one of the people who gave you a gift, I wouldn't think twice about not getting a thank-you note. And if I did hear about your courageous decision later, what happened to the gift would not be something I'd worry about.

Bellatrix and Narcissa said...

Okay, I have to post because I am one of those people that do think "I never got a thank you note from so-and-so." And it bugs me. Not that I'm judging you--you have a very unique situation! But no one knows that and if I had been there, I would probably remember that you never thanked me. It doesn't make me dislike people or think them spoiled, but I do think it influences my opinion of their character (wow, I sound delightfully judgmental! But I'm being honest...).

With that said, I really like what Dakota Fields recommended. Write the card with a generic "thank you for your kindness." And then I think you should definitely put in a typed note (so you only have to write it once) about your decision to place Roo. I know it's none of their business...but what a great thing it is! As someone that has adopted, I think a note to that effect would have me in tears--in a good way! And if I didn't have any connections with adoption, it would be such a great introduction. Adoption is painful, but also wonderful. You never know who might be touched by your story/message.

That's my two-cents, anyway. Do what you think is right, of course--and take care of yourself first in this delicate situation. You shouldn't stress too much about other people because I know your failure to send thank you's will not be a judgment day kind of issue (it's just not that important, in the end). I just had to be honest and say that some people DO remember who does and doesn't send thank you's.

Oh, one more thought--I would, at a minimum, send a thank you to the woman/women that planned the shower and put it together, if not to all the gift givers.

AubreyMo said...

I agree with Dakota Fields. I would write about how they made you FEEL - not necessarily what they gave you. Sometimes it can be hard to remember what you gave someone in the first place.

In the end it's a personal thing. I don't think anyone's feelings will be hurt if they don't get a thank you card - so you need to decide if you'll feel better to just forget it, or to send them.

Alisha said...

Don't let it tear you up! Just throw them away. I'm sure the women could see how grateful you were at your shower.

Lia - not Juno said...

If you barely knew these women, and they didn't know you, chances are they've forgotten all about thank you notes! I really don't understand why there are so many etiquette-related rules and regulations about those things, but it seems to me that something causing you THIS much turmoil is simply not worth it! Throw 'em out. If you ever run into these women and you feel comfortable explaining the situation, then do so. If not, don't. It's extremely personal and painful, no? And while a year may seem like a long time to wait for thank-you notes, it's not nearly enough time for you to be ready to cheerfully "move on" and do something so close to such a loss. If (god forbid, and please forgive the comparison) Roo had passed away, do you think these women would expect thank-yous? It's not the same, but you are still grieving - let yourself grieve, and stop worrying so much about the possible petty hurt feelings of others. They're just thank-you notes! I cannot stress that enough!

Meg and Ken said...

Throw em' out!! I feel thank you cards are a waste of time and money when you have seen the person and said thank you already. My $0.02
Plus.... any new mom should never have to do it period. And with all you have been through whether they understand or not its ok not to. You will not burn in hell for it. Most probably forgot about it and those that haven't, oh well. they'll live :)

Shian said...

I don't think you need to worry about writing the cards. Your situation is unique and they aren't worth the pain it would cause to write them.

However, if you do send them, I agree that thanking them for their friendliness and compassion toward you is all that is needed. They probably don't even remember what gift they took anyway.

Cristin said...

I would write a heartfelt thank you to the women who threw the shower. As for the rest, you've been through enough. So much time has passed, why remind these women that they never received a thank you from you. They've probably forgotten by now.

Giggles and Bloom girls said...

I am captivated by your blog. We have two adopted children, 9yr old and 3mo old and I wish I had contact with our birth moms to share your blog with them. You do a wonderful job of sharing the good, bad, agony, pain, and joy of placing. Thank you for following the spirit and giving Roo so much, a child can never have too many people to love her/him. From an adoptive mom to a birth mom, all I can say is you are amazing!!!!!!!! Lots of love from a stranger..

Mary said...

I say send them only WHEN YOU'RE READY and as suggested by others, include a typed message of your story (or a reference to this blog). I think it would be a great opportunity to educate others and you never know who may need to hear about your experiences!