Friday, January 28, 2011


I have been busy lately.

Busy is something sort of new for me. I'm not sure I like it yet. I haven't had time to decide. It is nice to have my days full. The less time I have to sit around, the less time I have to decide I am dissatisfied with some aspect of my life. Most of my time is accounted for, and I'm okay with it. It's nice to have things to do.

When I decided to go back to school this semester, I figured that was it for doing adoption outreach. I have school in the morning and work in the afternoon. It made me a little sad to think about, actually, because I love doing outreach presentations. But what could I do?

What I did was jump at the chance to present a week ago Wednesday, because instead of speaking with just any adoptive mom, I had the chance to speak with Roo's mom, M! I'd never done a presentation with her before. I know she's heard my rambling story several times at adoption academies and the like. I've heard her and P's story a few times in bits and pieces. But we've never had the chance to speak together. How could I turn down the chance? I'm blessed with a very kind, very reasonable supervisor at work. My schedule was rearranged.

I don't typically get very nervous about speaking. I never really have. Most people dislike public speaking but I love it. Given a topic and five minutes to prepare, I think I could comfortably address the United Nations. High schoolers are no sweat. But this time I was nervous. I wanted to do well because M was there. I think I felt like I needed to do well to keep from detracting from M's story. I spoke first. I rambled. Boy, did I ramble! I think I overdid the rambling. My words got mixed up, which happens sometimes when too many of them pile up in my brain. As I was speaking I thought, I didn't need to mention this. I should have said that. I forgot something important.

I usually think that, though. I mean, it's a difficult thing, isn't it? Trying to explain to a room full of teenagers that desperately loving my little girl and placing her for adoption aren't mutually exclusive. Just saying "It was the best thing for her" feels insufficient. Even here on my blog, where I have seemingly infinite time to write and edit, I struggle with explaining my decision properly. I'm not sure that the words I want to use actually exist.

Every time I finish speaking to a high school class, I wonder if any of them really understand. I think that when you're younger love is a selfish sort of thing. As an adolescent, it's like that song - you always hurt the one you love. Part of growing up, of being a parent, is hurting for the one you love, hurting so they don't have to.

Well, shoot. Why couldn't I have said that on Wednesday? Oh well. I reckon I did well enough. I only cried once, during the same part of my recitation that always makes me cry. I'm not sure why, but when I talk about seeing newborn Roo for the first time, I turn into a faucet. But I mostly just teared up this time. I wonder if one of these days I'll get through without crying at all.

Then it was M's turn. I loved hearing her speak. I had the thought that the story that she was telling was probably similar to the story she will tell Roo someday about how they became a family. I think I cried more at M's story than at mine. Infertility is simply heartbreaking. I've always thought so in the abstract, but hearing the personal experience of someone I love so much just killed me. But P and M are strong. They weren't content to accept that they wouldn't be parents. Now they have two smart, beautiful little girls. They are a family who can handle anything life throws at them. How lucky is Roo to grow up with that? And how lucky am I that I get to see it?

I am a spoiled girl, really. I know that openness is supposed to be just as beneficial for the adoptee, but while she's still so small, I feel like I get the better end of the bargain.

I could tell during the presentation that it was a little weird for some of the students to see me and M together. I don't know if they could wrap their brains around the two of us being in the same room, sitting next to each other, talking to each other like good friends. I wish I'd thought to explain that better. M is Roo's mommy, the only person I know of who loves Roo as much as I do - she's the only other person who has been Roo's mother. How could I not love M dearly? How could I not be her friend?

It's probably a foreign concept to most people - that a birth mother and the adoptive mother she placed with keep track of each other and stay in each other's lives. It's not what you hear about in the media. It's not what people expect. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Guest Post

Today I am guest posting on my friend Brittany's blog. Have I ever said how much I love her blog? I love her blog. Click on over HERE and check it out. Or, if you prefer to go directly to my post, click HERE instead.

My post is part of a series of guest posts on phantoms in adoption. It is awesome. The series, not my post. Not that my post isn't awesome, but they're all awesome.

The good news, if you've missed my regularly scheduled blathering, is that I got a bunch of writing done this weekend when I was supposed to be doing homework, so I should be able to post a bit more regularly. In the meantime, for today, there's the guest post.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I have been quite the blog slacker lately. It's not that I'm out of things to say. The day I'm out of opinions is the day I stop breathing. I have meant to blog. I know I have. I remember thinking on more than one occasion that I needed to blog about something, and then suddenly a week has passed. I don't know where the time goes, really. One minute I was unemployed and living with my mother, and the next thing I know, I've got my own apartment, I'm working for the county, and I'm back in college for the umpteenth time.

How did that happen? The days used to stretch ahead of me like an open road. Now weeks pass and I remember nothing. It used to take me hours to fall asleep at night. Now I can barely stay awake long enough to pray. I used to eat out of boredom. Now my stomach will growl before bed and I'll realize I haven't eaten in ten hours (hello, unhealthy weight loss). I have become what I used to loathe - Busy. I have become one of the Busy People.

We all know Busy People. They're the people you can't even say hello to without first scheduling an appointment. Any question that begins with "Can you ...?" is never answered immediately - a BlackBerry or day planner is whipped out, a schedule checked. The response is usually that they can't - they're too busy. I used to wonder at that. Who were these people who scheduled their lives so tightly that they couldn't spare five minutes here or there to have a conversation? Why would they do that to themselves? I'm not sure they know. I don't. I'm sure I could come up with something if I thought about it, but I haven't had the time. I'm too busy.

I am so far behind on answering e-mail that it is ludicrous. I've started and abandoned probably a dozen blog posts. Mail is piled up on my counter. I've been in my apartment for three weeks now and I still have boxes stacked up. The walls are bare except for a lone clock. I have things to hang up, things to unpack, things to write, things to say. I'm just too busy.

But I got off work tonight, drove home, and realized that for once, I had the evening free, and tomorrow as well. What am I going to do with all of this free time? The answer, of course, is that I'm going to catch up on all the things I've neglected in the past few weeks. Which means that I think I'm going to be busy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


A few weeks ago at my birth mom group, one of the caseworkers mentioned how, years and years ago, a birth mother would likely never see or hold her baby - nurses would whisk the newborn away because it was thought that it would be easier that way.

I knew all this, of course. I've read as much as the next person (assuming the next person has an interest in adoption) about adoption in this country and how it has changed over the years. The fact that a birth mother in the '50s or '60s would never see her baby wasn't new information. But for some reason, when the caseworker said this, I thought of my mom's birth mother.

I've written about her before. I never think of her without marveling at her strength. She would never know what became of the tiny baby girl she loved so much. This was typical of an adoption in 1957. But, perhaps because of the situation - my great-grandfather being the hospital administrator - Roberta got to hold my mother, her baby girl. She had at least one evening with her that I know of (my mom was born at dinnertime), and I think most of the night as well.

I don't think I ever appreciated until that moment a few weeks ago how remarkable that really was! I suppose that if Roberta had placed with any other family, delivery would have been goodbye. How serendipitous, how lovely, that she placed instead with my grandparents! I like to imagine that the hours she spent with her newborn daughter were among the most precious ones in her memory. I hope that they gave her comfort.

After I'd signed my placement paperwork but before I handed Roo over to her parents, I had a few minutes alone with my little girl. I whispered things to her. I told her how much I loved her, and how much her parents loved her, and how happy she was going to be. I think that Roberta must have done much the same thing with her baby girl.

I wonder if she knew how unusual her situation was - if she knew how lucky she was to have that goodbye time. I wonder if she knew of any other birth mothers to compare her situation to. I doubt that she did. In those days, it was a shameful secret. As far as I know, Roberta never told a soul about the baby she placed. I marvel that she was able to carry the weight of that burden alone for all those years. I wonder where she found the strength.

I am more thankful for Roberta than I can say. Her love and sacrifice gave my mother a beautiful, happy, wonderful life. I hope that some day Roo will feel the same way about me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nerves - A Confession

I'm a little hesitant to talk about this, because I'm not sure exactly who reads this blog. There are a few people who I think might read it, and I'm not sure what they'll make of this or think about it or do with the information. I'm also not sure I want to admit to being this neurotic and ridiculous. But in the interest of recording my life as a birth mother, I'm going to write it out anyway and hope that no one's IP has changed (I block a few), and that none of my readers are feeling judgmental. So, here goes.

I almost had a heart attack at Wal-Mart on Saturday night.

Oh, probably not a real heart attack or anything. But I definitely felt like I'd been kicked in the chest, and all the blood in my body shot straight into my cheeks. Another few seconds and I think I would have passed out cold on the filthy floor.

I thought I saw H standing by one of the checkout counters.

I shouldn't have been as shocked as I was, really. The Wal-Mart that I was at is right by his house. I never used to go to it before, but the place I moved to is not at all - at ALL - far from where H lives. Happenstance, really, but the place is perfect for me and I really felt strongly that this is where I'm supposed to be now. When I realized the proximity to H's apartment, I hesitated briefly. I thought to myself that it was only a matter of time before I ran into him somewhere. Could I handle it if I did?

I told myself that I could, that I was a grown-up, that I'd been in therapy for years, that I was mature and calm and collected. I envisioned several scenarios in which I would see H somewhere, and in each one, I was respectful and level-headed and escaped relatively unscathed. I thought, I've got this. I can do this. I can look at and speak to the man like a civilized adult. I felt confident. If anyone ought to be worried, I thought, it was H. How would he react to seeing me? Yeah, I thought, that's what I want to know. Me, I can handle. I can be the bigger person.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am full of crap. Because when I thought I saw him that night, I had a vagal nerve reaction the likes of which I've never dreamed of before. I realized after a few seconds of gaping that the man in front of me was not, in fact, H. I realized after a few more seconds that he didn't even resemble H that closely. I tried to calm down, to shake it off and find what I'd come into the store to buy. But I was spooked. I now half-expected to see H in every aisle. I all but sprinted to the back of the grocery section to get my French toast sticks. Three times more I thought I saw H. Twice it was a man pushing a cart with two small children. The third time it was a woman.

I scanned the store so many times while I was in line that if anyone had been watching me they probably would have expected me to bolt from the store without paying. When I finally got out to the parking lot, I searched anxiously for H's car before dashing for my own and hightailing it back to my place.

I feel like the biggest freaking idiot in the world. What is wrong with me? Why should the thought of seeing H again terrify me so much? He's not a monster. He's just an immature, stubborn man ... and, in a manner of speaking, I took something from him that I can't give back, nor would I give back, which is to say, his daughter. He's bound to be angry about that, isn't he? Or maybe he's shoved that down the way he seemed to do with all of the other emotions he didn't know how to deal with. Maybe he doesn't even think about it any more.

Would that be worse, I wonder? Which would make me feel sicker - knowing that he is still seething with rage, or that he is completely apathetic? I'm not sure. And although I was wrong about being mature and able to handle seeing him again even if just in passing at a discount store, I do still wonder what his reaction to me would be. I mean, we had a baby together. Surely I must cross his mind occasionally, right?

I think I'd feel like less of a spaz for freaking out if knew that the thought of seeing me again freaked him out too. But then, I'm not sure I want him thinking about me often enough to have considered seeing me again. I know I'd be happier if the thought hadn't occurred to me. Until I moved, I thought about H really very little. It was nice. I was happy that way. I love my new place, but I hate that moving here has made me think so much about H again.

Then again, as I said, we had a baby together. I'm probably going to think about H on and off for a very long time. I sort of hate that. I mean, I am appreciative of his genetic contribution. I am very pleased with the results. Roo couldn't be any more adorable or clever or cute or sweet or smart. But I wish that I could think about Roo without having to think of half of the reason she's here.

This is one of those weeks where I really wish my therapist hadn't decided we should cut back to one session a month. I mean, I thought I was quote-unquote over H, for the most part. I really thought I could just be cool about him. What does it mean for me that I'm not, that I can't? How am I ever supposed to have a relationship again when I feel like the specter of H is always hovering nearby on account of my having had a baby with him? I mean, it's probably going to be a heavy enough thing for most guys that I'm a birth mother. The fact that I almost threw up when I thought I saw my ex? That just can't be healthy. It can't be normal. Nothing about being a birth mother is normal, of course. But I figure many birth moms have a wee bit more closure and resolution than I do. Things ended strangely and rather abruptly between me and H. I reckon I'm as much to blame as he is.

The last time I saw him was at the end of November 2008. I was barely two months pregnant at the time. We were supposed to get together again to talk things over but it never happened. We didn't talk on the phone at all. It was either e-mail or instant message or text. After a while, even that stopped. I don't blame H for that. I'm pretty sure I told him to be fruitful and multiply (but not in those words) and to never contact me again. It felt like the right move at the time, but in retrospect I guess I just wish I had a bit more closure. I think that if I did, I wouldn't have had such an insanely extreme overreaction.

I like to tell myself that I am done with H, that I am completely over him, but when things like this happen I am reminded of how many things went unsaid and how unsatisfactory our break-up was. But I'm never going to get that closure, and I have to learn to be okay with that. I have to learn to let go. I have to learn to handle difficult situations. Most importantly, I have to learn to check the parking lot for H's car before I enter a store.

Friday, January 7, 2011

18 Months

Time was, I used to count Roo's age and the time since placement in weeks. I knew the exact number for both, and even if I didn't blog about it I made a mental note each week, and on the 7th and 9th of each month. I don't do that so much anymore. I have to stop and count back these days to figure out the number, and I can't do weeks anymore. It's months, and I get them mixed up. I have to use my fingers to count it out most of the time.

I guess that the more time passes, the less each week is a milestone of sorts. I remember when the 7th was always a big thing for me. I'd have in mind for days ahead of time that Roo was going to be another month older. These days it'll be the 19th or 20th and I'll think, wait, Roo's gotten a little older. But I've been thinking about today for a few days now, because it's a bit more milestone-y than usual.

Roo is 18 months old today! I've always felt like 18 months was sort of the unofficial dividing line between baby and full-fledged toddler. Roo has been toddling like a pro for months now, but it seems like it's only been in the past few weeks that she's really started to seem more grown up. Did I mention she can count to ten? Little genius, my Roo. (Although she gets her genius from her mommy and daddy - they're both very clever people.)

She gets to go to the nursery in church on Sunday. That sort of blows my mind. How did she get to be so big already? I've got this mental block when it comes to Roo getting older. I think that in my mind part of her will always be a baby. I'm always a little surprised by pictures of her, because she always looks older than I expect. It's as though placement slowed her aging in my mind to maybe one month for every three that really pass. When Roo goes to kindergarten, my brain is going to explode.

I don't really have anything deep or insightful to say about the passage of time - only that the world has been a happier, brighter place for 18 months now, and I think that's a pretty awesome thing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Most of this is lifted from my Formspring but I'm still without Internet access so I thought I'd cheat a little to tide y'all over until I can post regularly again.

There's a question that I seem to be getting a lot lately - why did I choose adoption after nine weeks? What changed for me? I've probably been asked at least three times in as many weeks. I'm not saying it's an unreasonable question. I can see why people might be curious. Of course, I've always felt like my blog was pretty self-explanatory. But then I went back through some of the archives – not much of it, because I hate my own writing in retrospect, but the pertinent stuff – and I discovered that I've been a bit nebulous about this particular issue. I apologize.

I got the question in my Formspring a few weeks ago but I sort of let it float for a while because for some reason, I didn't like the way it was asked. I'm not blaming the asker. I think I was in a funny mood when I read it, and I get a bit defensive about my placement story. I think to me it felt a little accusatory – like I'd changed my mind about wanting to be Roo's mother after having the job for a while, which absolutely wasn't the case. I didn't feel differently. If there was a difference, I wanted it even more than I did right after she was born.

This is a topic that is very dear and precious to me, and so I want to say this carefully and not write down the wrong thing. It's important! How can I best explain this without sharing things that are sacred to me?

Let me phrase it thus: I always knew what Roo deserved, and what she needed. My biggest obstacle to choosing adoption was my fear that it would undo me, that the pain of placement would be more than I could bear. Of course, nine weeks of motherhood is only going to sharpen that kind of pain, isn't it? And I reckon it did, although it's the only way I know. I don't know what it would have been like to place right after Roo was born.

I wanted to be Roo's mommy as soon as I knew she was growing in my belly. I want to make that much abundantly clear. It was never an issue of me changing my mind about being a single mother. Rather, the more time that passed, the more my love grew for that little girl, and the more I loved her the harder it became to deny her what I knew she needed the very most.

When Roo was seven weeks old, I came to realize something important. I realized that although adoption might mean abject misery for myself, not choosing adoption meant abject misery for Roo and for me. I had caught glimpses over the weeks of what Roo's life might be like as she got older, and they terrified me. I came to the point where I knew I would never be able to forgive myself, to live with myself, if I didn't do what was best for my precious baby.

There are other factors and elements that are too personal and private to share, but that's the short version. Basically, I'm a little slow - sometimes it takes me a while to do the right thing. But I did eventually, and that's what's important. I have never regretted it for a second. I would place Roo with P and M again in a heartbeat.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I've never been one for resolutions, at least not of the new year's variety. It always seemed stupid to me for people to wait until a new year to make changes, or to feel like the whole year is shot if something doesn't happen by February.

I'm more of a new day's resolution person. Why should I limit myself? If I wake up one morning and decide I want to do something, I do it. For instance, I decided in mid-October that I wanted to lose a bit of weight, meaning I would be quote-unquote dieting through my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Can I brag? I've done fairly well thus far, I think I'm down about twenty pounds. And I still ate a lot of crap.

Anyway. As such, I haven't set any goals for the year yet. My goal for the day is simply to get moved in to my new apartment. I've never moved by myself before. This should be interesting. I'm not really sure how fast a lot of things are going to be taken care of - like the internet. I might be without for a few days. So if I don't blog or answer e-mail, it's not because I don't love you :)

I'm not really sure why I thought it would be a good idea to move on January 1st. I guess I figured, hey, that's the first day of my lease, let's get this thing done. I hadn't counted on this cold spell going on in the greater Phoenix area. It actually snowed in Mesa a few days ago. Snow! And if I'm not mistaken, it is currently below freezing outside. And guess who packed up all of her heavy winter clothes? All in boxes in storage, including this lovely warm Aran-knit sweater I bought in Galway. In my defense, it's usually in the 70s here this time of year. I remember feeling stupid for even buying such a sweater, because when was I ever going to need it in Phoenix? Thursday, and yesterday, and today, for three. And it's in a mystery box.

Happy 2011, blog peeps! Stay warm.