Monday, September 22, 2014

Some Thoughts on Adoption, Five Years Post-Placement

Greetings, Blogland! I haven’t blogged in pretty much forever, which is weird. I used to blog so much in the early days after placement and it seems kind of weird now that blogging was such an integral part of my life. It’s not even something I think much about anymore, which is good. I mean, if I do stop to think about it, my brain kicks into overdrive and I end up with thirty drafts of new blog posts, so it’s probably just as well.

I'm trying to be less of a perfectionist so I'm blogging today even though I feel that my thoughts are disorganized and not particularly pretty and I don't even want to read them for proofreading purposes. Allow me to apologize in advance for the scattered messiness that will follow. I probably should have taken a Ritalin. Thank you for reading and I'll try to disguise my ADD better next time.

Roo is five, you guys! Holy cow. She started kindergarten and is doing so, so well. M had her call me to tell me about her first day. Roo was really excited about lunch and recess, and a few weeks ago M told me that Roo has memorized all of her vocabulary words for the year and then some. She is pretty much the cleverest kid ever and I am very proud of her.

I got to hang out with her a few days after her birthday and we had so much fun. She is very imaginative and very chatty and happy and easygoing. I was such an anxious child; one of my fears for Roo was that she would inherit my worry (I worry about worry). But she is SO not anxious. Every good thing about her I credit to her amazing parents. I don’t want to start a nature-vs-nurture debate but I know what I was like as a kid – I was born worried – and I feel confident that Roo is the way she is because of the way she’s being raised.

I love that she has the parents she does. I didn’t know how awesome they were when I picked them but I couldn’t possibly have chosen any better. I’m probably making myself a target here but adoption has been the best thing on earth for Roo and so I count it as the best thing on earth for me. I know that mine is a best-case scenario and that tons and tons of birth moms and adoptive couples aren’t so lucky. Every day that I spend any time at all on the internet I am reminded of that.

Roo is doing very well. I, on the other hand, have what I will euphemistically refer to as “things going on.” I feel happier now than I have in a while but pretty much the first nine months of my 31st year were rough. I was attacked by a feral pack of feelings and I had difficulty in fending them off. I still have problems with them at times but I am making progress in that area. Being an adult human female is hard sometimes.

A few weeks ago was my five-year placement anniversary. It was such a non-issue, you guys, you wouldn't even believe it. M texted me and we had a lovely conversation that way but most of my feelings on the 9th were about my dad because I’ve been missing him like crazy lately. Five years is a pretty good chunk of time for a birth mom, I think, and I thought that maybe I ought to write about my feelings about adoption these days. As I said before I think Roo’s adoption was the best thing in the world. But other than that, you know what? I don’t think about adoption that much. I just don’t.

I know a lot of birth moms who feel this lifelong connection to adoption. Many of them are in school for social work. Many of them spend a lot of their own time and money and a lot of effort in assisting expectant and birth parents, and I respect them so much for it. I’m just not one of them. I still talk at high schools on occasion but I don’t feel this deep need to make an adoption my life’s work. My inner 10-year-old wants to be a writer, thankyouverymuch, and and while adoption is a part of me because Roo is, my feelings are for her and her adoption, not every adoption and every person involved in adoption. I don’t feel the need to connect to a greater sisterhood of birth moms. It's not what I need at this point in my life. I have dear friends who are birth mothers but the ones I'm closest to get me on a level that has nothing to do with adoption and everything to do with who we are as human beings.

I don’t think that being a birth mom is the most interesting thing about me and I don’t want it to define me. I don't like a lot of what I see various adoption communities becoming on the internet. I don’t like the way that there’s this us-vs-them division between birth and adoptive parents, I don’t like the way birth moms get idolized or vilified or any of that. A birth mom was a fleshed-out person before she placed, and placement doesn’t change that about her. There’s good and bad in all of us and I’ve been beating back the “hero” label for years because I’m not a hero, I’m the 0.10 % who got pregnant on the pill, who carried and delivered a little girl she loved more than life itself, a little girl she loved enough to give a better life, even though it wasn’t with her. 

Blah. I'm probably making enemies left and right here, aren't I? It's not that I object to there being this greater adoption community, or that I don't think people should let it be their life's work. It's just not *my* life's work.

Five years post-placement, I don't think about adoption much at all. I think about Roo, who happens to have been adopted, but that does very well for me for now.

She really is the most fantastic little kid and I feel privileged to get to watch her grow up and spend time with her. She saved me. I don't know what would have happened to me if I hadn't gotten pregnant when I did. I don't like to think about it. But I've had to lately. I've gotten myself into a few messes lately and wondered what's going to save me this time. I felt for a few months this year that perhaps nothing would; that I was finally just going to self-destruct.

But one of the things that I have come to realize about myself during this difficult year is that for as much of an emotional train wreck as I am there is some part of me that refuses to give up. There is some part of me that made myself get up every morning and go to work and smile when people said hello to me and continue to exercise most days even though all I wanted to do was sleep for the next five years until my current problems work themselves out.

I didn't used to have that inside of me. I know that I didn't because nine years ago when I started therapy it took very little to break me into pieces. 22-year-old Jill would have cracked starting last November, with almost no provocation. I am profoundly grateful for this strength I've found, and I do believe that it grew from placement.

I've wasted a lot of bandwidth comparing the death of my father to the placement of my daughter. My general conclusion is that my father's death was harder because I still can't make it okay, because I don't see any good that came of it. I haven't necessarily changed my mind about that but I do feel strongly that adoption required more of me than pushing through my grief did, and for precisely the reason that I always concluded my father's death was harder: because adoption was a choice. I chose this hurt. I chose to smash my heart into bits, even though it felt like little of it remained after my dad died.

I placed Roo on purpose, and it changed me fundamentally and deeply and forever. It hurt worse than anything in the world has ever hurt me and I can say for certain that it is the best thing I have ever done in my life. It made me stronger in a way that nothing else could possibly have done.

Roo saved me the first time around and placing her made me strong enough that this time I can save myself. I don't know how I'm going to do it but I know that I can.

I'm not sure of many things. I don't know what the next year of my life is going to look like. I'm not entirely certain what the next week is going to look like. But one thing that I know for sure, as Oprah would say, is that if I had to live my life over a thousand times I would place Roo for adoption a thousand times more.


jj said...

"Every good thing about her I credit to her amazing parents."

Don't you think she is a wonderful child in herself? I think every good thing about Roo is because she IS Roo, a beautiful little girl in her own right.

Her parents may be helping her to flourish but it seems to me that everything good about her can be credited to her intrinsic self.

A wise AP said it is not nature VERSUS nurture - it is nature AND nurture.

Mom-o-2-boys said...

At 25 years, it's not much easier. Most days are good, and life goes on. Then out of the blue something triggers that sense of loss, whether it's noticing a commonality between your eldest and your youngest child, or the crazy way that somehow you always start your cycle around your first born's birthday. But there's always comfort in the contact, and every visit, phone call, email or text is reassuring and validates the adoption decision. Adoption is bittersweet.