Saturday, April 23, 2011


I got to see Roo and her family today!

It was such a good visit. I mean, they're all good visits, but each one is just so awesome. P and M and their two little girls are some of my favorite people in the entire world. How can I not have a great time with them?

Roo showed off all sorts of fascinating and wonderful skills, such as pointing to me when asked where I was, climbing on things she wasn't supposed to climb on, answering questions with the phrase "I don't know" (darling!), tilting her cheek in my direction so I could give her a kiss, and singing "Jingle Bells." I may be slightly biased, but I think Roo is the most advanced toddler in the world. I expect she'll be splitting the atom by the time she's in kindergarten (although if she's only gotten to learning to read by then, I'll still be pleased).

It was so much fun to just watch her. She's a busy girl, and very happy. P and M tried to get her to do her "serious" face for me, but she would only smile. Roo has the best smiles - her whole face lights up. I had a wonderful time talking to P and M and watching Roo and her sister talk and laugh and play and be their awesome little selves. It was such a good visit! I know I've said that already, but it's true. I had such a wonderful time.

On the way home, I cried. I was a little bit sad the visit was over, of course, but that's not why I cried. I cried because I was just so darn happy! I was so happy I thought my heart would burst. Roo is the happiest little girl. She is smart and happy and healthy and clever and absolutely everything she ought to be. She has the best family in the world, with a sweet and silly big sister and parents who love her to bits. They are happy - Roo is happy - and their happiness is contagious, and it was too much, and I cried hot, happy tears the whole way home.

In the time immediately after placement, I was desperate for peace, for the contented joy that comes from making a good choice. It seemed to elude me, and that elusiveness compounded my grief. I began to doubt that I would ever truly have the peace I wanted about placement. I found it today. I think it's been building all along, but this afternoon I realized it's complete - I don't know how or why, but today's visit pushed the last piece into place. I've felt the happiest sad. Today was the happiest happy. Everything just felt so right. And this feeling, this deep and profound peace ...

It was totally worth the wait.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I wrote this two weeks ago. I wanted to make a minor edit before posting ... and then I forgot until a little while ago. So "today" is April 9th in this post.

There's a song in the LDS Children's Songbook that begins with the line, "Saturday is a special day" (it is, you see, the day we get ready for Sunday). The older I get, the less special Saturdays seem to be, because after a few years the luster of doing laundry and sweeping the floors tends to wear off. But today really was a special day, because it was an Adoption Academy day.

Have I written before about Adoption Academies? I don't remember. I'm also too lazy to go through my archives and find out. In short: Adoption Academies are put on every three months by FSA to help couples meet the education requirements for certification. I'm sure they do them other places, maybe a little differently and with different names. But here in the Phoenix area, they're called Adoption Academies, and Roo's parents have been the ones in charge of the Mesa ones since a little bit before I met them. Part of the academy is a birth mom panel, and since P and M know me and my story, they've asked me to be on the birth mom panels they've arranged since I placed Roo. That's what I did today. But because I love adoption, and because P and M do such an amazing job, I stayed the whole day instead of just being there for my part.

It was awesome. I know I toss that word around like confetti, but I really do mean it. It was awesome. Everyone did a good job - all of the panelists, and P and M. I cannot even imagine how much work it is to put one of these things on, but I think it totally paid off. Today left me with the warmest, fuzziest feeling about adoption. And I am not being facetious. It was the best Saturday I've had in ages.

Oh, and my mother was on the adult adoptee panel. I love to hear her talk about adoption, because it wasn't something she ever used to feel comfortable talking about. My father was the first person she ever told that she was adopted. They'd been married six months at the time, and she told him the night before they were going to be sealed in the temple. Isn't that crazy? My mom never had any issues about being adopted, but I think it took her a while to feel like talking about it was okay. I am very proud of her.

The birth mom panel was after lunch. I don't really get nervous about that sort of thing anymore. I guess I've done it enough times now that it's not stressful. It went pretty much the same as other birth mom panels have gone. But something unusual happened - or rather, didn't happen. I've lost count of how many times I've told my story and Roo's. Dozens, certainly. And every time, I cry.

I didn't cry today.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think I might have cried, if I'd had more time to blather. Not that I didn't have plenty of time, but for some reason I feel like I skipped some parts of my story today - idiot that I am, I somehow completely glossed over the part where I met P and M and chose them, and that's one of the best parts of the story! Anyway. I got choked up for sure. But I didn't use a single Kleenex.

This bothers me. How could I not have cried? I've never not cried. I AlWAYS cry. I didn't think I could get through my story without crying. I guess I wonder what it says about me that I didn't. Does it mean I care less? I certainly don't care less. I'm getting teared up just thinking about Roo and how much I love her and what an amazing little person she is.

I don't know why I didn't cry. I guess it's not really important. If tears are a measure of love, I've certainly proven the depth of my feeling over the past two years. A few months after placement I was starting to consider buying Kleenex by the case and recommending that friends and family buy stock in the company. Perhaps I've just gotten most of my tears out of the way. I don't know.

It shouldn't matter. I know that I love Roo, whether I cry about it or not. But maybe that's it - I know, but I feel like maybe the couples who were there won't know unless I prove it by crying. Is that ridiculous? I think it's ridiculous, but the thought is there just the same (it is absolutely exhausting inside my brain).

I digress. Today was a fantastic day. And M said something about maybe having a visit in a few weeks! That would be amazing. It's nothing definite, but even so it was so awesome of her to suggest it. It means a lot. I've sort of had this itch lately to see Roo again. But what's kind of funny is that I'm almost as anxious just to see P and M again. I really do love them, and it was so good to be able to see them today and talk for a little while. I wanted to brag to every person I saw today that P and M are "my" couple, that these awesome people who put on such a good academy are Roo's parents.

I am glad that they're Roo's parents. I'm glad for her, and I'm glad for them. They are my favorite little family in the world.

I'm rambling, aren't I? Oh well. I think a little ramble now and then is a good thing, provided you know when to quit.

Which I do :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Good Grief

My father died on a Tuesday. It was a glorious, sunny day in September, probably too hot for most of you but I'm cold-blooded and had things been different, I'd have been outdoors soaking up all that lovely sunshine. Instead, I was inside a hospice room standing next to my father's bed while he drew his last labored breath. It was one of the most surreal moments of my entire life. It was painful, but also oddly peaceful. I can't account for the calm that I felt as I called my brother and sister on the phone to give them the news. I can't explain the evenness of my temper in the hours that followed. I think it was a gift from God.

But it was fleeting. The next several weeks were excruciating. I hadn't experienced that kind of grief before, and it was unnerving. One moment I was watching a Dodgers game on TV, the next moment I was curled in the fetal position on the couch, sobbing to the point of hyperventilation. I'd go from laughter to tears to laughter again, then to a sort of numb emotionlessness. This cycle repeated several times a day. I pretty much stopped eating, and I lost 15 lbs in 18 days (which I don't recommend).

In the throes of this crushing grief, I made a few poor choices. One of them was to attempt to repair my relationship with H, which is how I ended up with a positive pregnancy test six weeks after my dad died.

It felt like too much to handle. As if it weren't enough to be jobless and single and to have just lost my father. Now I had a pregnancy to deal with as well. I thought more than once that if God only gives us what He knows we can handle, He must have me confused with someone else.

But there was a blessing to my pregnancy as well. It was a new sort of grief, something else to think about when I woke up in the morning, and it proved to be a most welcome distraction. I had a reason to eat again. I had to eat! I knew how crucial the first few weeks and months are for the developing baby. I ate again, and I ate well.

Food wasn't the only thing to think about, of course. There were a lot of things to work through with my pregnancy. My grief for my father was still mixed in there, but it wasn't as high on my priority list. I had these moments where I missed my father something awful, but always things seemed to come back to my pregnancy and the baby and what I was going to do. Then I had Roo, and that was its own adjustment, and then I placed Roo. I placed her on the anniversary of my father's death. My grief was mixed once more. After placement, my grief was much more selfish. I missed my dad, but I was so wrapped up in the pain of placement that it didn't signify. I pushed it down to deal with it at a later time

I find that, now that I'm in such a good place with adoption, the grief over my father that I've suppressed for so long is pushing its way back to the surface. I feel a little ridiculous at times - he's been gone for nearly three years. how is it that I still have these moments of such exquisite grief? It's not as though he's any more dead now than he was then. Still I find myself every now and then crying to the point of dehydration because I miss my daddy so very much.

Of course, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Grief never goes away. The final stage of grief is acceptance, not elimination. I mean, just the other day I got distracted by some newborn Roo photos and I had a twenty-second gasping, sobbing fit and nearly hyperventilated.

Then I was fine. But I've spent a lot of time working on getting to fine with things with Roo. I don't suppose I've put as much work in on mourning my father. I'm taking a writing class this semester, and I find that I mention my father in every single journal entry. I'll think of something he used to say to me, or something we used to do together, or wonder what he would have thought of this or that. I'm surprised at how much pain I've still got stuffed down there. I find myself putting off the homework for my writing class because I know it's going to end with me sobbing on the sofa. The sofa itself probably doesn't help. It's the one from my mom's house, the sofa my dad was sitting on when he lost consciousness. He'd had a stroke, but we didn't know it yet. We thought when he sat down he was just going to take a nap, but when my mom went to wake him to ask about his pain, he wouldn't wake.

Sometimes I hate my sofa.

I sort of hate that I've come so far with my grief over placing Roo only to slip back a few notches on the grief scale with my dad. It seems unfair that I should have to go through some of these emotions again. I think that part of me thought that my pregnancy sort of took the place of my grief, and that I wouldn't have to process it. Clearly, I was mistaken. It really stinks.

I hate that he died. I hate that he's not here now, that I can't show him pictures of Roo or get his opinion on politics or music or school or anything else. He's been gone for 2 1/2 years now but I still find new things that I've never done on my own before. Taxes, for instance. My current job is the first I've had since before he died, and I've never had to do my taxes on my own. I use the easy form, but I do not have a head for that kind of paperwork, and in any case I always felt better when my dad looked things over before I mailed them off.

My car needed new brake pads. I had to pay for it. I've never done that before. My dad took care of our cars. We'd go to a tire place for flat repair and rotation, but he did everything else. Now I always feel like I'm being ripped off when I take my car to a shop, because I have only a vague idea of how much parts cost. I wish I'd paid more attention when my dad showed me how to do routine maintenance. It kills me that I can't change my own oil. I know he showed me once. Why didn't I pay more attention?

I suppose I thought he'd always be there, that I could ask him to show me again some day. I think I thought that about a lot of things. It's why I don't remember the stories he told very well. I thought I'd hear them again. I didn't ask for his opinion on a college major because I thought I could ask later. I didn't know there wouldn't be a later. Who would have thought he'd die so young? And of a brain tumor, no less. Who the heck gets a brain tumor?

My father did. He was very zen about it, too, which sort of irritated me. "Why not me?" he asked. "I'm not so special that I can't get cancer." But to me, he was. He was special. He was my daddy.

He still is. And I miss him.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yeah, That's Right, I'm Everywhere

Today I have a guest post up at the AARKS Law birth mother blog. It's about what I thought I knew about adoption before I was a birth mother, and what I learned after I placed. Before I was a birth mother, I thought I knew absolutely everything there was to know, and after I placed, I learned what an idiot I used to be.

Anyway, click on over and give it a read. The intro is HERE and the post is HERE.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Did You Know?

Did you know that if you Google "cold risotto," my blog is the first search result on the list?

I found this out the other day when I heard from probably the fifth or sixth person to find my blog when looking for recipes. If I'd known that risotto was such a popular search term, I'd have chosen my analogy a bit more carefully.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Good for You!

When I was pregnant, actually telling people that I was pregnant was done on a need-to-know basis. You may recall that I didn't tell my extended family I was expecting until two weeks before my due date. I tend to procrastinate doing things that I know are going to be painful or awkward, and this was no exception.

Some people I figured I'd tell eventually, but I knew I wasn't ready yet. Of course, things rarely work out as neatly as we plan them, and when I was probably three or four months along, I went to the dentist. I expected the hygienist to begin, as she usually does, by asking if there had been any changes in my health. This visit, however, was different. I'd barely sat down in the chair when Brittany, the hygienist, said, "Dr. D. wants a few x-rays today."

Radiation? Back up the bus. I wasn't even sure if I could safely get x-rays while pregnant. Out came my news. "Oh, congratulations!" Brittany said. That wasn't a word I heard very often, and I smiled.

I went to the dentist again three months later (I have bad teeth so I go twice as often as most people). This time quite a bit of the work was done with me reclining instead of flat on my back, to accommodate my pregnancy. The next time I went to the dentist was three months after that, when Roo was only a few weeks old. It was the first time I'd gone anywhere without her.

("Wow, how did that feel?" my therapist asked when I told him about it later.

"It was nothing special," I said. "I've been to the dentist before.")

I told Brittany all about my darling little girl, and I think I must have shown her a picture on my phone. Anyway, not too long after that I placed Roo with her family. And a few months later, I was back at the dentist's. Brittany was happy to see me. "And how's your beautiful daughter doing?" she asked.

Oh, crap. What was I supposed to say now? I weighed my options. The pain of placement was still fresh and I wasn't sure I wanted to get into it. I thought, I see Brittany for 30 minutes four times a year, and her hands are in my mouth for most of that time. What difference does it make if I tell her or not? I decided to tell her the truth ... or at least, part of the truth.

"She's doing great!" I said, my voice full of all the false cheer I could muster. "Growing like a weed."

"They grow up so fast," Brittany agreed, and then she asked me if I'd been flossing. I exhaled sharply, glad that was over with. Each visit was the same after that - she'd say hello and ask how my daughter was doing, and I'd tell her, only omitting the fact that Roo wasn't actually my daughter anymore.

Then, a few weeks ago, I had dinner at my mother's house. Somehow we ended up talking about braces (she has Invisalign) and she told me she'd been to the dentist the week before.

"Brittany cleaned my teeth - you know her, right?" my mom said.

"Of course."

"She said she's seen you around at a few YSA activities."

Brittany was LDS? Hmm. I wondered what she thought of the fact that I, ostensibly a single mother, was spending so much time at singles events, away from my child.

"Oh, that's nice," I told my mother, and I changed the subject (which is easy enough to do with my mother, because she has ADD). But I kept thinking about Brittany going to the same activities I do, and wondering.

So, a week ago Tuesday I had another cleaning appointment. Brittany came out to the waiting area to get me. We made small talk on the way back to the room. I set my purse down and made myself comfortable. Brittany made a few notes in my chart, and asked if there were any changes in my health history.

"Nope," I said.

"How's your job going?"

I gave my usual response - "Oh, you know. Books in, books out."

Brittany smiled. "And how's [Roo's real name] doing?"

I tried to remember if and when I'd mentioned Roo's name before. Did Brittany have a really good memory, or was that sort of thing in my chart? I panicked a bit at the thought of Roo being in my dental chart. I'm not sure why. But all I said was, "She's doing great!"

"Who does she stay with during the day while you work?"

Oh, expletive. Really? I thought. It was 7:20am, I'd gotten four hours of sleep and I'd skipped breakfast. I wasn't really in the mood to explain things. I'm not ashamed of my decision, but it's the sort of thing that I don't like being pushed about. I talk about it, and about Roo, when I feel like it.

Except, it seemed, for this morning. But this was no time to be shy.

"She's at home with her parents," I said, all cool nonchalance.

Brittany's eyebrows migrated north towards her hairline. "Oh!" she said. There was a beat before she said, "You put her up for adoption?"

I hate that phrase. Put her up. It always makes adoption sound like an auction. I didn't put Roo up on the auction block. I placed her, thankyouverymuch. But I didn't want to make a thing of it.

"Yep," I said.

"Well, good for you!" Brittany said. "Do you still get to see her?"

"Yeah." Good for you?

"That's great. So, Dr. D. wants to get a few x-rays ..."

Good for you? Good for you?

Brittany was already draping me with the lead apron, but I was still hung up on those three words. Good for me? What the heck was that supposed to mean? I wanted to ask her, but Dr. D. wanted all of my teeth x-rayed, and that kept my mouth busy.

Good for me? No, really, what does that mean? Does it mean good for me, or good for me? I wish she'd thought to put more emphasis on one word or another. It was my own personal "These pretzels are making me thirsty" moment. Did Brittany mean I'd done something good, that Roo's adoption met with her approval? Or did she mean that placing Roo was a good thing for me? Like I did it because it was in my best interests?

Good for me? Who says that, anyway? What the heck kind of reaction is that to the news that a woman has placed her child for adoption? Good for you? How am I supposed to take it? I suppose that a normal person wouldn't "take it" at all. Anyone else would let it go. But I'm not most people. Two things I know about myself very well are that I value precision in language, and I have a hard time letting things go.

Good for me? Good of me, perhaps. Good for Roo. Good for me? I don't know about that. Not that placing Roo has been bad for me. It was awful at first, but things are so much better now. Adoption has turned out to be a wonderful thing for me. But I get uncomfortable with that line of thinking. I don't like to focus a lot on how great things have been in my life since placement, because I feel like doing that makes it sound like placement was a selfish thing, something I did for me, because it made my life better. I'm not saying I have to suffer just to prove to Roo that placement was a selfless decision. But I have a hard time thinking of placement in the context of how much better my life is now.

Good for me? Maybe. But that's not why I did it. And it's not even why I try so hard to make something of myself now. It's for Roo, all of it. I placed her for her, and I want to be someone she can be proud of.

I guess a good start would be to stop obsessing over three little words spoken by my dental hygienist.