Friday, September 23, 2011

In Which Jill Feels the Need to Disagree

(or: I Hope You Like the Word "Mistake" Because I'm Going to Use it a Lot in This Post)

There's a birth mom blog out there that I read every now and then. I know some people who love this blog but I'm not one of them. I don't mean that in the sense that there's anything wrong with this blog or the woman who writes it, because it definitely fills a need. It's just not a good fit for me.

The blog author has a number of opinions I don't share. Which is fine! There are those who need and appreciate her perspective. I just don't happen to be one of them. But I do read now and then because the psych-major part of me finds it terribly fascinating how two women can experience the same thing (placement) in such different ways, and come away from it having learned different things and with such different perspectives.


I've never felt the need to comment before - well, maybe once, but when I was about to, I saw that someone else had commented with the sentiment I was going to express (and they put it better than I could have), so I left it alone. But a couple of weeks ago, I read something that rubbed me the wrong way. I want to address it here.

I don't make a habit of addressing other people's words on my own blog. Normally I would respond to something I don't agree with in the comments of what I will call, for lack of a better word, the offending post. I do my best to disagree agreeably. I did just that - I left a comment on the post in question. The blog author moderates comments, however, so my response didn't show up right away.

I waited a few days. And a few more days, and a few more. When two weeks had passed, it occurred to me that the blog author might not be willing to post a comment that disagreed with her. Maybe she felt I missed the point of the post (which is entirely possible, as I tend to be a bit thick-headed at times, and the part I took issue with wasn't the main point of the post). Maybe she thinks I'm an awful person for saying what I did. I don't know. All I know is my comment was rejected. I can live with that.

So I'm going to disagree here on my own blog, because although I may be biased I think my disagreement is important. My point is important. It may not be important to this other blogger, or to any of you, but it is important to me, and this is my blog, so here goes.

I'm not going to quote exactly, because if you didn't read the original post I don't want you to go Googling it to figure out who wrote it. I don't know this birth mom personally so I don't want to judge her or her situation and I certainly don't want to see her or her blog attacked based on my opinion. But I'm really, really bothered by some of the words she used.

The gist of what she said was that we (birth moms) owe a debt of gratitude to adoptive couples for "cleaning up our mistake."

Um, excuse me? My mistake?

I am grateful to P and M for a great many things, but not once has it ever occurred to me to see their adoption of Roo as "cleaning up my mistake." Just the thought of using that kind of language to describe it makes me angry.

I made a lot of mistakes, but Roo isn't one of them. Getting pregnant with her might not have been my intention, but I don't see it as a mistake. Conceiving her, carrying her, giving birth to her, taking care of her until I found her family, and placing her for adoption are collectively the best thing I have ever done. I love Roo more than anything. But she's not just my tummy baby or P and M's daughter. Roo is a precious, cherished, beloved daughter of God.

The one thing Roo is NOT is a mess to be cleaned up. She's not a "mess," or any kind of mistake, and I didn't place her to clean anything up, to fix anything or to hide anything. I placed her because I love her and I knew that adoption was what was best for her.

I also can't imagine that P and M saw adoption as a way of cleaning up my personal "mistake" - they barely knew me, why would they do me that kind of favor if that phrasing (cleaning up a mess) were accurate? The adoption of their little girl wasn't a dreaded inconvenience or a hassle or a personal favor. It was something they'd prayed for, something they wanted very, very badly.

I am grateful to P and M - for the great parents they are to their children, for the good examples they are to me, for their love and prayers and support and openness, for a million other things. But I've never looked at things as if I owe them something for taking a "mistake" off my hands. Nor do I think they owe me anything. I think we're square. They owe Roo unconditional love and care and support and a happy childhood and all the other things parents owe their children. I owe it to Roo to make myself a better person for having had her. But that's where any sense of debt ends.

The fact that this birthmother referred to her placed child as a mess to be cleaned up hurts my heart. Badly. She's certainly allowed to feel that way if she wants to, but I'm allowed to feel the opposite. I would hate for someone who doesn't know about adoption to stumble on a post with that kind of language and get the wrong idea about why a woman might place her child for adoption. I would hate for someone to read that and think that birthmothers see their placed children as mistakes, as things to be ashamed of, to be hidden or cleaned up.

Shame is the last thing I'll ever feel about Roo, no matter how she turns out. I am proud of her and the decision I made for her. I was recently given a new assignment in church, in a position of leadership with the women of my congregation. I mentioned this to an acquaintance of mine who is just learning about adoption, and I said, sort of jokingly, that I couldn't wait until an opportunity arose to tell the women of my ward that I had a baby. This acquaintance, C, jumped in quickly.

"Oh, you shouldn't feel like you have to tell anyone. No one needs to know," she said.

"I don't have to tell anyone," I said, "but I want to. I'm not ashamed of Roo. I like to tell people about her."

C seemed unconvinced. I am convinced. I'm not proud of a lot of the decisions I made three years ago. But having Roo isn't among them. She's nothing to be swept under the rug. She's nothing to be ashamed of or hidden.

I love Roo! She's my little friend. I think she's the most wonderful and amazing person in the world. It is precisely because I love her so much and because I think so much of her that I placed her. It had nothing to do with me or my past or my future. It was all about Roo.


Chris and Kristy said...

Beautiful! As an adoptive mom, I've never wanted my children to feel they were a "mistake." These children's lives are as precious and perfect as any. They are beautiful and precious children of God and I will do all I can to teach them this truth. Roo will be blessed to read this post and the others some day and know how precious her life is. Thank you for sharing your opinion and insight! Keep it coming.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

I was shocked to read that terminology applied to this situation by a birthmother...I'm still trying to grasp the sad implications. I can't imagine referring to my birthdaughter in that way. I totally agree with your point of view, and I feel really sad for that girl and her "mess". :(

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Oh, sorry, Mistake-not mess. (You knew what I meant, right?)

Anonymous said...

I don't want to believe that a birthmother could call her child a "mistake." Certainly, I've never thought of myself as "cleaning up" my son's birthmother's mistakes. Yikes!

Rebecca Hawkes said...

Thanks. I'm an adoptee and I've been called lots of things in my life but never a "mistake." I'm happy to say that I'm pretty sure that neither my birth mom nor my adoptive parents think of me as such. I'm glad you took the time to publicly disagree in this space.

GSmith said...

Love this post!

Que and Brittany's Adoption Journey said...

I don't know of any adoptive couples who think of their children's adoptions as cleaning up a birth mother's mistakes. Yikes. And I would feel bad if my son's birth mom thought of herself or our adoption story that way. :(

Chris, Dana and Addison: Hoping to Grow through Open Adoption said...

So beautifully said. A very healthy, loving, real perspective once again highlighting the true gifts that can come from open adoption. I cherish your posts and the thought you give to Roo and adoption in general. Such an amazing advocate you are!


Marcy Kay said...

argh that is almost infuriating that a birthmother could call her child a mess to be cleaned up...unfortunately though I think there are more BMs out there that feel this way than we would like to believe =( I am with you though, in that I would never ever consider the little girl I placed a mess to be cleaned up.

I love how open you are, it's inspiring =)

Alessi Family said...

Hi! I used to read your blog regularly but about a year ago I had to take a break from blogging for personal reasons. I am now back and ready to start reading again! Thank you for blogging so opening about being a birth mother. I wish that our birth mother would be able to be more open as you are.

The Blessed Barrenness said...

I agree with u Jill. I would never ever want my beautiful miracle daughter to ever ever think she was mistake. And I know for a fact her BM does not think she was a mistake either.

Emily and Dan Adopt said...

That makes me want to cry.

Help Us Adopt said...

Um… wow. Normally I am really quick with my words but my jaw just about hit the floor when I read "cleaning up our mistake."I might not be a birth mother, but I am a woman who is in the adoption process who longs to be a mother. Never would I look at the baby that we will be blessed with as just some “mistake” that the birth mother made. I find that not only disgusting but extremely ignorant.

Anonymous said...

I love your perspective, which is full of grace. I think that making decisions out of grace and love and openness and surrounding a child with love can make the adoption experience good for everyone, especially the child, who is surrounded by love. And congratulations on your work at church!

Anonymous said...

Wow, makes me sad for her and SO glad for your feelings and your post. Each person's feelings are their own and I don't begrudge anyone that, but I would be SO sad if my daughter's first mom thought of her as a mistake. I know she doesn't we all think she is an amazing and perfect little blessing. Circumstances may not have been perfect for parenting, but your little Roo and my dear sweet girl were NOT mistakes!!


Jill Elizabeth said...

In case any of you were wondering, my comment finally showed up on the blog in question. The blog author didn't comment back, though. I wonder what she thinks!

Amber said...

I just really adore you. Thought you should know. <3