Thursday, July 21, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about Roo lately. It was just her birthday, as I mentioned. She's now two years old.

I'm not still hung up on her birthday. I mean, the first birthday is supposed to be the hardest, as all the firsts are, and I handled that well enough. And I did pretty well this year, too, which disproves the idea I once read that for some people the second year is harder than the first. I had wondered about that, since I did so well with her first birthday.

But like I said, it's not so much the birthday itself that's stuck in my brain. What's giving me a mental itch is the fact that on this birthday, Roo turned two. I know I've said that already, but it's important. My little girl is two. Which means that if I'd not placed her, I would be the mother of a two-year-old. And that's what gets me.

I know that much of the time people think a birth mother choses adoption because she's not ready to be a mother. That may be true for some women, but it wasn't for me. I was absolutely ready to be a mother. I wasn't a stupid teenager. I was 25, 26. I was more than ready for motherhood. Adoption wasn't about readiness. I think that's where it still stings. Because I'll be 28 this year and it occurred to me a few months ago, 28 sounds like a really good age at which to have a two-year-old, doesn't it? I know that life rarely works out so neatly. But that's part of it as well. I guess I can't help but think that if things had gone differently at any point in my life I could be the mother of a two-year old right now, and I'm not, and it hurts.

I recently read an article about adoption in the New York Times *here* and there's a line on the end of the first page that I like.

... a new mother cannot know the value of the thing she subtracts. It is only through time — when my son turned 4, and I was 27; when he turned 6, and I was 29; when he turns 10 this year, and I am 33, and ready for children — that I begin to understand the magnitude of what I lost, and that it is growing.

This is what people don't always understand about adoption - it's not an event, it's not a clean cut. I'm always going to be a birth mother, and there are always going to be things I miss, things I wonder about, things I don't have. It's not always a sad thing, but I do find myself wondering every so often if Roo has a favorite food or if she likes bath time or if, like me, she takes her shoes off whenever she can.

I didn't anticipate wondering about those things. It was a bit simpler when Roo was a baby, because a baby is ... well, a baby. But babies grow up. Roo isn't a baby anymore, she's a little person. And it's different. It's always going to be different now, I think. Once Roo crossed the line into toddlerhood, things felt a little different - not because of anything with P and M or with Roo herself, but because of time.

She's still very small, but I do wonder as time passes how much more things will change, how much more she will change. I mean, two years ago Roo was barely out of my belly. Today she can walk and talk and dance and sing and swim and do all sorts of amazing things that children do every single day but that were never special until Roo did them. The second year of Roo's life was much different than the first for me, and I wonder about the next two years.

I'm trying not to have a pity party about any of this, though. I don't have any cake, for openers, and you can't have a proper pity party with cake. And really, I'm not devastated by things. I had a perfectly lovely visit with Roo and her family very recently. The "magnitude of loss" isn't necessarily this traumatic thing for me. It's just sort of ... a benign entity most of the time, I think. It's the what-might-have-been that's never far away. Even though I've never second-guessed my choice to place Roo with her family, I've also never been able to outrun the what-might-have-been. It's always nearby. It's an old friend. It's not a sad thing. I just ... I wonder. I always will.

But I also think of how much I've grown and changed for the better since I placed Roo. Not that I would recommend pregnancy and adoption as a means of maturing, but they certainly got the job done for me. I'm not going to be twenty-eight with a two-year-old. But if things worked out the way I always wanted them to, I wouldn't be the woman I am today (and I think I'm pretty awesome at times, between you and me) and most importantly there would be no Roo.

It's funny how it always comes down to that sticking point for me. Any time I think, I wish X had happened, or Y, I remember that if any part of my life had been a few quirks away from what actually occurred, I wouldn't have gotten pregnant. And where would I be without Roo? Who would I be? I can't say that I'd go back and change anything that led me to Roo, because having her is the best thing I've ever done or will ever do. I may always wonder, but it's worth it.


Di said...

I sometimes wonder about this. My husband's adoption was closed and, assuming his birth mom is still alive, she has to still wonder on his birthdays what's going on. If he's in school or married or what he does for a job or how he'll celebrate.

I don't know if or when he will try to contact her, but I do wish there was some way to just let her know everything turned out okay.

China said...

Happy Birthday to Roo. And hugs to you. As a birthmom, I know the internal gumbo that happens of happy/sad/mad/lonely/scared that comes around these times.

Savannah said...

A beautiful post, I wish I could put my thoughts into words. Life has a way of moving on and sometimes its hard to adjust. But at the same time it molds you into who you are. Grieving our loss was the worst thing I've gone through, but looking back, I can see the ways it changed me. The thing is, I like those changes. And I don't think I could have reached them without going through my loss first. Hm, I think I could do a blog post on this...

I know my loss wasn't like yours. I'm really not trying to compare. Like I said, I'm having a hard time putting it in words. I guess my last thought is, this isn't something you get over. Roo was a part of you for 9 months and then another 9 weeks, that means she will be a part of you forever.

Rachel said...

I love this post, Jill. It's really a curious thing that you wonder what your life would be like with Roo as your baby, and I wonder what my life would be like if God had answered our countless prayers to get pregnant in the way I thought He should. I think we all wonder about the other possibilities in our lives, and it's healthy to share them because, I think, it helps us realize how grateful we are for what is and not what could have been. Again, beautiful post!
A Little Time, A Little Miracle

Anonymous said...

Awe, Jill. You aren't 28 with a two-year old, but you seem to be doing very well for yourself. And while you might not be Roo's mommy or her mother, you are a mother. And she seems to have great parents in P & M. You'll always have that 'what if', but you are confident in your decision and you will always know that Roo is happy and taken care of. You will always be a part of your life.

Lara Zierke said...

I hope you know I love your blog and I love you. You have such a command of words.

Last night, my mom was up for a visit. I was teaching her how to use Facebook and we went to Joci's birth mom's FB page and I showed her some pictures she hadn't seen before of the birthmom's other kids. Like so many people, my mom said something along the lines of "How could anyone hold that sweet baby and go through with adoption?" She meant it in the most "I don't understand the strength" kind of way. Not deragotory. And then she wondered if it's easier or harder for her now.

I read this post to my mom. It was the perfect answer. The perfect example of strength, sacrifice, and insight. How just because a woman is "old enough" or "ready" doesn't mean that it's the best thing for the baby. We both had tears in our eyes and it was a really special adoption moment sponsored by you. :)

I am so grateful for your blog - your beautiful weaving of words, your candor, your humor, your self-deprecation, everything. I have referred others to your blog many times. I have given Joci's birth mom the link. I turn to it myself for answers and perspective.