Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Few Things You Should Know

I have a lot of new readers and new blog followers, and although many are familiar with adoption, just as many are new to it. Welcome! Adoption is rad.*

As someone who is well-acquainted with adoption I feel the burden of educating others. I considered doing some sort of FAQ, or a glossary of adoption terms, or something like that. But I feel like I've done it before. Today I want to clear up some misconceptions that I've encountered as I have discussed adoption with people whose first real introduction to adoption was me telling them that I'm a birth mother. The people who need to read this - friends and acquaintances who have said, "You have a blog? I'll have to read it some time" and then never do - probably won't read it, but I want to say it anyway. 

So, let's get right to it.

I'm a birth mother; I placed a child for adoption. There is no need to apologize or feel sad for me. I'm neither sorry nor sad. If you're going to pity me, let it be for the fact that I'm too short to buy groceries without using low shelves as a stepladder, or because I'm pushing thirty and still single, or because  I kind of can't afford to be alive right now. Those are the things that keep me up at night; those are the things I personally feel sad about. But adoption? SO not a sad thing! Adoption is a happy thing. Thinking of Roo makes me happy. So thank you for sympathy; it is appreciated. But it's not needed.

When people see pictures of Roo on my apartment wall or my phone or wherever, they will often say, "Is that your ..." and trail off awkwardly. I get that. What do you call someone's child who isn't their child? I usually just smile and say that yes, that's Roo, and isn't she gorgeous? I've never cared for the term "birth daughter." It's a mouthful. But it also doesn't feel right to just say that she's my daughter, because she's not. She's just my little Roo. Sometimes I will refer to her as "my baby" which feels a bit more comfortable, I think. She used to be my baby and it doesn't matter how old she gets or how tall she grows, I think I'll always think of her as my little Roo.

Roo is not my child. When I placed her I signed papers, and P and M signed papers, that made Roo the official, legal daughter of P and M. She's theirs. I do see Roo fairly regularly, but I don't "get" her for weekends or "have" her for outings. Adoption isn't a joint-custody agreement. I grew and delivered Roo and I love her dearly, but I am not her mama. And I am okay with that! Roo has what I wanted most for her. I don't need to be her mother to be happy. I am happy that she has the mother she does.

Also, I dearly love Roo's mom! I think I would be sad if I didn't get to see her when I see Roo. How weird would it be to just see Roo? I can't imagine saying to M, "Gosh, you're a wonderful mother, thanks for taking care of Roo, but do you mind if I take her to the zoo for a few hours without you? I'd like some alone time with her, without you in the way." Also, this feels like the sort of thing in which Roo ought to have a say, and although she knows I love her, she also knows that M is her mama, and I imagine that if she were at the zoo, Roo would be happiest pointing out the animals she knows to the woman who taught her their names.

That said, yes, I do get to see Roo every few months or so, as occasion warrants. I do not, however, get to see Roo "whenever I want," because that would be ridiculous. I don't think there's anyone on earth I can see whenever I want. Even my mother has limits. I have my own life and schedule, and P and M have theirs, and I certainly don't expect P and M to drop everything so I can see Roo whenever I want. I wouldn't want Roo to have parents who would disregard Roo's routine and that of her siblings just to cater to my whims.

Roo's adoption is open. Openness is a choice that was made. It is not a legal obligation and I wouldn't want it to be. P and M don't owe me anything. It's not about me. I've been told how nice it is that they let me see Roo, and I always think, "Yes, and it was nice of me to give them a baby." Niceness on either side isn't the reason for openness. It's about what's best for the little girl we all love so much. 

Roo knows who I am. She knows that my name is Jill, and that I love her lots and lots, that I always kiss her cheeks about fifty times when I see her, and that she grew in my tummy. She doesn't get confused about who her mother is any more than a child who sees an aunt or grandmother regularly would get confused. Roo knows exactly who her mother is, and she knows who I am, and she knows that M and I are friends, and that we both love her. It's not complicated. People who think that openness confuses a child aren't giving children enough credit.

Yes, placing Roo was hard, and what an odd question that is - was it hard? When people find out my mother was widowed, no one ever asks, was it hard to lose your husband? Placement was so, so hard. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and I sincerely hope I never have to do anything harder because I don't think I could. But it is also the best, most amazing and wonderful thing that I have ever done. It was worth the hurt.

I have made many mistakes in my life (and I will probably make a lot more) but Roo isn't one of them. Having Roo is the absolute best thing I've ever done. If I could live my life over I think I'd make exactly the same mistakes again, because if even one little thing were different I might not have had Roo, and wouldn't that be awful? I can't imagine my life without her. I can't imagine the world without her.

And yes, I would absolutely, one million percent place her again with P and M. I couldn't have placed her with anyone else. Roo changed my life forever for the better. Adoption allowed me to return the favor.

*I am acutely aware that there is a constellation of very angry people in the world who would vehemently disagree with that statement. If you are among that number, this is not the blog for you; please go away.


Rachel said...

What an incredible perspective and attitude. Thank you for being a positive voice for adoption. You have no idea how much it means to an adoptive mama like me to read this awesome post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I really, really love this post. Thank for you sharing!

Black Betty said...

Where is the LOVE this button?!

Black Betty said...

Amazing post, thank you!

Que and Brittany's Adoption Journey said...

You are such a breath of fresh air! I am grateful for everything you write!

Lori Lavender Luz said...

I really like your sense of humor. I'm sorry you have to climb on shelves at the grocery store!

Thanks for sharing your perspective. I enjoyed reading how things are for you, Roo, and P and M.

Monika said...

I would say that adoption CAN be rad. It's not always such. There is still a lot of coercion in the "industry" and there is still far too much focus on a child for every home instead of a home for every child. My own situation is rad, however. :)

You ARE Roo's mommy and she is your daughter. I call my daughter, my daughter all the time, though when I'm having a visit, I call her by name simply because she refers to me by my first name and her parents as "mommy and daddy." Your role is different than that of Roo's momma that is raising her. But that doesn't make you less a mommy. When you get married and become a wife, you aren't any less your parent's daughter just because you're going to be a daughter-in-law of some other set of parents (a marriage is a legal and spiritual connection, just as adoption should be). A legal document doesn't erase and shouldn't erase biological parenthood. Just like she knows that you love her and she grew in your tummy, she won't have any problem differentiating between you and the mommy she sees all the time. It's only adults that get confused with this whole adoption thing - it's not the kids. :)

You can still be a positive voice for adoption while believing those things. :) I am. (Though I'm also a positive voice for the changes that I believe need to take place.)

(By the way, I strongly dislike "captcha." It is NOT rad.)

Whitney said...

I love all of your posts. When I go to check blogs, I always hope that you have written something. Yours is one of my favorite birthmom blogs out there. Thanks for writing!

Unknown said...

I really loved this post. If you don't mind, I'd like to share it with my blog readers as well. They always hear from me as an adoptive mom - but rarely hear about the perspective of a birth mom. I think they'd really enjoy reading this. I certainly did.


Unknown said...

Amazingly said - exactly how I feel as a birthmother. Especially your paragraph on sympathy and your note to angry people. Thanks for sharing your journey. I'm toying with the idea of writing about mine. God Bless!

Whitney said...

Hey Jill! I wrote a little blurb about your blog on my blog today! I hope that's okay! Your writing is just too good NOT to share with everyone I know. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

Amanda said...

Thanks so much for sharing your perspective. I agree that Adoption is Rad. ;)

Michelle said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post..I can't wait to explore the rest of your blog!! :) I am an adoptive mom.

Kim said...

Love this post. I too am a birthmother involved in an open adoption for the last 25 years. It's been open from the very beginning. I can relate to so many of your emotions - grateful that your little one is in a loving home...balancing the grief and sadness with the happy...hence the name of your blog. Which I totally love.

All the best to you - I'm going to follow your blog right after I post this comment :)


Kim said...

Love this post. I too am a birthmother involved in an open adopton for the last 25 years. I can SO relate to the emotions you describe...happiness that your child is in a loving home...sadness mixed with grief...and hence the name of your blog. Which I totally love. I look forward to more posts!