Friday, January 28, 2011

Outreach

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.

11 comments:

Que and Brittany's Adoption Journal said...

That's so great! I hope you get to do that again with M!

Do the kids get to ask questions at the end?

Jill Elizabeth said...

I hope so, too!

The kids had time for questions but didn't ask any. Most of the time they don't. Every now and then I'll speak to a class that has all kinds of questions, but most of them are silent.

Sarah Buttenwieser said...

I love that the two of you can both feel easy loving Roo so.

Lara said...

What a cool scenario. Also cool that you're still making time to do adoption advocacy with your new busy life.

Dana said...

What a great idea to have you both present together! I am glad it went well for you and think this type of outreach in high schools is fantastic. What a great thing you are doing!

Amber said...

Hi, new reader and new mommy via open adoption here. I must say that I LOVE your attitude, your writing, and your blog in general. I read every word of "how to irritate a birth mother" with great fascination and agree wholeheartedly with all of it! Negative adoption language - especially about birth parents - makes me insane. Like you, I wish I could just... change it. I wrote a post about birth mothers that I hope you might enjoy; it's at http://www.lifeinthelastfrontier.com/2011/01/birth-mothers.html if you're interested.

I look forward to reading your thoughts from now on! Little Roo is so beautiful. And I admire you. :)

BobandColista said...

Wish I could have been there.

riversnake said...

Well, I've been following your blog for a while and I've always loved you but this post certainly solidified it for me! I'm a fellow Jill, who doesn't mind public speaking, rambles, is also LDS, and though I'm an adoptive parent I have a very close relationship with my son's first mom that baffles people as well.

I hope you continue to get to do outreach because if your efforts are anything like your blog, rambling or not, you rock :)

~Jill

simplyanne said...

Right here..."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."

That paragraph says it all and perfectly...and I couldn't agree more...I'm the same way in both my relationships/friendships with both of my girls adoptive moms...we're all just extended family to each other =).

Jamie said...

I love this! I've read your blog for a while and want you to know how truly inspiring you are to just be a better person every day. It's easy to see why your Roo is a lucky, lucky girl to have you and M!
p.s. I follow your blog!

Xander and Alana Cole-Faber said...

You are so cool. Seriously. I know you just went in there to talk to students about adoption, but I suspect you taught them something about love as well.