Saturday, January 28, 2012

Here's the Thing

Time was, I'd look at women who were several years post-placement and wonder about them. They seemed detached from adoption, and it scared me. I couldn't fathom that I would ever not feel exactly the way I did then – intensely focused on adoption and especially on Roo.

I knew that I used to be a fairly normal person (don't laugh) before I got pregnant, but it was hard to remember. My brain was a computer, the c-section was a software upgrade, and my new default setting was Roo. All Roo, all the time. I thought about her nearly constantly. In the weeks after placement I would look at the clock and try to guess what she might be doing. I wanted to know absolutely everything, and the fact that I didn't was a source of some irritation. It didn't hurt, but it itched a bit, and I had to remind myself not to scratch it because if I did it would hurt and it would bleed.

Some time in the past year – the past six months, more precisely – it stopped itching. My software updated while I was idling, in sleep mode, one fix at a time; and before I was completely aware of it, version 2.0 was gone, the bugs of version 2.5 were gone, and I was running on 3.0.

I still think about Roo, of course, but it's in smaller doses these days instead of incessant background noise in my head. I think of her here and there, or when there are reminders or I look at pictures, or when someone compliments me on my necklace. It feels a bit odd when I consider it. I used to have her on my mind constantly, like a radio that was always on, and I had to make an effort to think of anything else. When did that change? What happened to the radio? I'm trying to remember when I flip-flopped, when Roo ceased to be my be-all-end-all, the center of my world.

I feel disloyal writing those words – that she's no longer the direct center of my world. Part of me feels that I'm betraying my love for her if I don't think about her enough, or expend enough mental energy trying to remember the exact color of her eyes. Part of me feels that I have to prove my love with rumination, with what-ifs, with wondering. But that's not reality.

Reality is that I am not her mother; I am her birth mother. Reality is that as much as I love her, there has to be more to me and to my life than birth motherhood. Reality is that if I spend every waking hour thinking about Roo, I'll be good for nothing. Reality is that I was somebody before I had Roo and placed her, and that I'm still somebody after it. Reality is that my software is going to keep updating and it's not necessarily a bad thing.

I do love her. My goodness, I love her! But I had to turn the radio down. Sometimes I turn the volume back up a bit – when I'm looking at pictures, or reminiscing. Most of the time I keep it down. I have to. What good would it do Roo for me to spend the rest of my life fixated on her? Furthermore, what good would it do me?

I'm allowed to be selfish like that on occasion. I put Roo first 2 ½ years ago; I made sure she was taken care of. Now I have to do the same for myself. I am just starting to figure out who I am and where adoption fits in my life. At the risk of sounding trite, I have only scratched the surface of who and what I want to be. I'll never get any deeper if all of my focus is on being a cheerleader for adoption.

Adoption is still an integral part of who I am. I don't think I'll ever not want to do outreach or blog or share my story. But I don't want to arrange my life around adoption. The reverse holds more appeal and feels like a better balance.

I am certainly not closing my adoption, and I don't think that will ever appeal to me. Openness makes me way too happy for that. But I've spent the past month or so kind of removed from the adoption thing beyond my contact with P and M, and it's been a nice break. It's been good to re-evaluate the role I want adoption to play in my life – or rather, the size of the role I want adoption to play in my life. It will always be a part of me because of the depth of my love for Roo. But I want to be something more than her birthmother, than a birthmother. I'm comfortable with that role, but I want there to be more to me than just that, if that makes sense.

This means I'm probably not going to get back to blogging twice a week again. I'm going to try for once a week, because I do still have so much more to say, and as I recall I haven't gotten past the delivery room in Roo's story, still haven't gotten to the why of things as much as I meant to. And that's important. Roo is important! This blog is for her. I want her to be able to read it when she's older, to understand how much I love her and how she's changed me for the better. She won't see that unless I do change.

I have changed. Now it's time to do something with it.


Ashley said...

This helps me understand things much better from an adoptive mom's pov. I need to just keep the door open and not try to drag Julia's C through the door into her world.

I needed this answer today. Thank you.

tidwell said...

I love that you are sharing this process! You are an amazing beautiful women. I'm honored to know you and see the amazing life changes that have occurred in your life.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Completely understand this post ... so much more than you know! It happens that way, and it does hit on the guilt factor. I would often beat myself up for not having adoption front and center. For many years it was not like that, almost an after thought to the day. Instead of waking up and saying a little prayer for them, it was at the end of the day that I said those inner thoughts.

It is a process and once it comes to this point the best is yet to come. I found that getting to know myself again was a gift that I had been taking for granted, a tool of healing that I was ignoring. But once I embraced it, the world opened up. Not all at once, not even withing the first year. But slowly and gradually I was able to keep a balance that was not only good, but peaceful.

From one mother to another, may you keep your heart always close and let your mind to be free once again. Great post to read.

The Blessed Barrenness said...

I loved this. Your writing always makes me feel close to our birth mother and now 2 years post placement, I hope that she too is finding balance between being forever changed by her love for Ava and her placement and being able to move forward and live a completley full life.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

With the risk of sounding trite myself: Welcome to the club. We are birthmothers, yes. Additionally, we are individuals who are not solely defined by this distinction. We share a bond few others understand, and yet, it's okay to live a life full of other things too. Congrats on the continuation of your journey down this difficult road. And thanks for continuing to share your journey with me. <3

LDSFS BP Group said...

Hey Jill, Can I repost this on the adoptionaz blog?

Unknown said...

Thank you for creating this blog. I think every Birthmothers should read it. It definitely helPed me feel less alone and motivated to be my best as a person my daughter can look up to. Rather than dwell on the adoption and my beautiful girl I can use it as a means of inspiration.

Rebecca said...

Oh, I love this, too! I would love to be able to mention you on my blog sometime. Some of my family and friends don't understand why I want an open adoption with my son's birth family, and I think this is a beautiful and perfect explanation. <3