Wednesday, May 30, 2012


A few days ago, I missed Roo.

This is nothing new. I miss her quite a bit, not in a sad way, just in the sense that I love and adore her and I don't see her every single day. I don't need to see her every single day, mind you, and I certainly wouldn't expect to. But when you love someone, and you're not around them, you miss them. It's not a sad or angst-filled thing. It's just ... a thing. I miss her, and I smile at the thought of her because I love her so much and she is so precious and amazing.

Anyway. I happened to mention this - that I missed Roo - to a friend, and she said, "It's always going to hurt, isn't it?"

I think I responded in the affirmative, because it seemed like the thing to do. But I've been thinking about her question since then, and the more I think about it, the more I think that I gave the wrong answer. It's not always going to hurt, and I know this because it doesn't hurt.

I should say, it doesn't hurt in the ways that my friend and that others probably expect. But even then, I don't think that hurt will always be there.

I've been trying to figure out how to explain this for a few days, because I feel compelled to talk to my friend and tell her that she was wrong about hurting. This is how I've worked it out in my head.

I still cry when I tell Roo's and my adoption story. Not a lot, and maybe not every single time, but I do cry. Usually the tears start when I talk about the day I met P and M, when Roo's daddy held her for the first time. These are happy tears. I have tried several times to blog about that day and that moment in particular but I stop each time because it was such a sacred moment and I don't want to cheapen it by reducing it to mere words on a blog.

When I tell that part of the story, I cry. And because I've got some kind of short in my brain, once I start crying, I find it very difficult to stop. So when I talk about placement, the tears are already there. I'm sure those who listen think I'm crying because placement hurt and I'm still upset. Placement did hurt, but it doesn't hurt anymore. Even remembering it doesn't hurt so much. It feels like something that someone else lived through, I think because I have changed so much since that day. I know rationally that it hurt, but whether it's mental health or a defense mechanism, I have a hard time feeling sad when I look back on that day.

It doesn't hurt. The part of my brain that remembers almost can't believe that, because I hurt so deeply and for so long. But that pain is gone.  Roo is a happy thought. I can't think of her and feel sad. Those two ideas - Roo and sadness - cannot coexist in my mind. It's like they each require the complete attention of some cortex or other, and as soon as Roo comes to mind, sadness is forced out. There's never any pain.

Not when it comes to the real Roo, anyway. I've mentioned before that there are different Roos. There's Roo, who will be three - three! - this summer, and who is clever (genius, really) and sweet and busy and whose lion impression sounds more a like a dinosaur (but it is still the cutest roar I have ever heard). This Roo is my happy thought, my little friend, and my favorite person in the world.

The other Roo, the phantom Roo, is the Roo who was my newborn baby. This Roo ceased to exist when I signed placement papers. She's the one I grieved, and quite often when I mention "my baby" this is the Roo I'm talking about. I do miss the real Roo, but sometimes my arms just ache to hold newborn Roo again and be her mommy - to be a mommy, period.

This is where any pain factors in. It's not that I'm not Roo's mother, because she certainly doesn't feel like mine and I wouldn't change that. It's that I'm not anyone's mother, and I'm not getting any younger or any closer to motherhood. I like to think I've gotten through my grief but the fact is that while the heavy adoption grief is gone, I'm still grieving the life I thought I was going to live and the woman I thought I was going to be.

It's getting better. I am finally starting to be okay with who I am and where I am and the life I'm building on my own. But the one thing I am completely okay with - better than okay with, in fact - is the choice I made to place Roo with her parents. It's the best thing I have ever done. It always will be.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Birth Mother's Day

I didn't know this until a few years ago, but the day before Mother's Day is Birth Mother's Day. I'm guessing Hallmark is unaware of the potential marketing implications inherent in such a holiday, because I have never seen a Birth Mother's Day card in a store display.

I think I've probably blogged before about Birth Mother's Day. The risk in having a blog with such a narrow focus is that I'm bound to repeat myself every so often. So please forgive me if this post feels redundant. But I keep hearing more and more about Birth Mother's Day, and I feel the need to opine.

I don't celebrate Birth Mother's Day.

It's not because of any feelings of sadness or bitterness or unresolved issues surrounding placement. It's not because the more time that passes, the less connected I feel to the adoption world. It's not because of any kind of modesty on my part.

I don't celebrate Birth Mother's Day because I don't need to. You know what holiday I do celebrate? Mother's Day.

I am not a mother in the traditional sense of the word. I am not parenting a child. No one calls me "mom" and when people ask me if I have any children, I respond with a carefully crafted "None of my own."

But my current lack of maternity doesn't change a few basic facts, and those facts are all reason enough in my mind to celebrate Mother's Day. Fact 1: I conceived* and carried and delivered a baby. I celebrated my first Mother's Day three years ago a few months before Roo was born, because the tiny feet digging into my ribcage (and sometimes my kidneys) meant I was already a mom. I was, at that time, only a mother in the biological sense of the word, but that was enough for me.

Every birth mother was a mother plain and simple before she signed paperwork.

Fact 2: For the nine weeks between Roo's birth and the day I placed her, I was her mother. I'm not her mother anymore, but that doesn't take away the weeks in which I was. I celebrate Mother's Day in part because of those precious months I spent loving and caring for the baby that was mine. I'm not a mother, but I was a mother. I always will have been a mother. Nothing can erase that.

Fact 3: I am not Roo's mama, but I still have a mother's love for her, and I always will. I think anyone with a mother's love for a child should celebrate Mother's Day.

I appreciate the thought of Birth Mother's Day. But I don't need it. I don't need a separate holiday that indirectly suggests I'm not celebrating Mother's Day because I chose adoption. The choice I made to place Roo was made as her mother. I can't separate my love for Roo like that. I celebrate Mother's Day as a former mother, as a birth mother, and as a woman with a mother's love in her heart.

I will not be offended in the least if you wish me a happy Birth Mother's Day. I'll be happy you thought of me, because even though I celebrate Mother's Day I know most people won't think of me on that day. I love hearing from adoption friends on Birth Mother's Day. Roo's parents have been so good to let me know they're thinking of me on past Birth Mother's Days (they are awesome like that) and it means the world to me. But please know that my heart doesn't need a different day.

I'll be celebrating on Sunday.

*For the record, I think just the first of those qualifies for motherhood. A miscarriage or stillbirth doesn't take away the hope and excitement and love that a woman felt for the child she carried. She's still a mother in my book.