Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Do NOT Want Or Expect A Right To Privacy!

An administrator over at GIMH said today:

"it has always been my understanding that in most closed 
adoptions natural/first parents don’t want records unsealed 
because it takes away their right to privacy."

I was NEVER promised, nor would I have EVER asked for anonymity. Quite the opposite happened, actually. I was told that if I ever searched for my son, I would be breaking the law. Thank God that my son and I were able to find each other in 2009. With no help from the adoption agency, Florence Crittenton, who had all my current information.  

When my son contacted them to start his search, he was told it would cost hundreds of dollars for them to “try” to locate me. Even though in his file was every address and phone number he needed to find me and several other family members in case he came looking for me after my death.  Even though my father lived in the same house I grew up in, the same address and phone number that was in my records at the time my son was born.  They were not looking out for either of our best interests. They simply wanted to make a few more bucks off of my son, in addition to the money his parents paid to adopt him.

It makes me SO angry that the adoption industry and adoptive parent groups try to blame natural families for closed adoption records.  If that was the case, the records would be closed when the parents signed away their rights.  If parents sign away their rights, but the child for some reason would never be adopted, the records are not closed.  The records only close AFTER an adoption is finalized.  

The groups that fight against open records for all Americans often cite the "anonymous" natural parents that have contacted them, cowering behind so-called promises of anonymity.  These natural parents, they say, do not give their true identities, out of fear of being "found out".  I believe that the majority of these so-called natural parents are actually pro-adoption advocates that do not want records opened.  

I, and all the other natural moms I "know", want our children to have access to their original birth certificates.  The natural moms I know would never hide behind anonymity.  The natural moms I know would welcome contact with our lost children, if they would come looking for us after getting their OBC's. 

The right to open records should never be based on our wants anyways, as it is not our rights that are being denied.  It is our children whose rights are trampled on.  It is our children who should be listened to when it comes to opening adoption records.  Our children, who as adults, should be able to have their OBC like any other American citizen. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tornadoes of Thoughts

So many things about adoption and reunion cause tornadoes of thoughts for me.  I often find myself with contradicting thoughts swirling through my head.

One of them is regret.  On the one hand, I deeply regret giving my son up for adoption.  Oh, how I would love to go back and be able to raise Christopher.  What I wouldn't give to be able to do that.  But then, would I be denying him the life he has had?  Does my wishing I had raised him say that I would deny him the family he grew up with & loves?

Another thing I often wish is that he felt something for me, or maybe something more.  I don't want to speak for him, but I don't think he feels much for me because he has no desire to meet in person.  On the one hand it hurts to know that he does not feel a desire to "know" me.  But then the swirling begins and I think that it's a good thing that he doesn't.  I'm glad that he did not live his life feeling a huge void because of me.  It would be so hard to know that he grew up hurting because of me ~ I never wanted to hurt him.

Then there's my mom.  I wish that she was still alive so she could know about my reunion with Christopher.  On the other hand, I'm glad that I don't have to work through all of my reunion stuff with her too.  I don't think I could tell her the truth about why I really gave him up.  How do you tell your mother that she was a huge part in you losing your child??  No matter how ugly things were, she was my mom & I love her ~ I would never want to hurt her.

Sometimes I feel like Dorothy ~

Monday, September 20, 2010

First Family and Forever Family?

I read a blog post today written by an adoptive mother, about adoption loss.  Her seven year old daughter is starting to realize the contradicting reasons given for her adoption, and is experiencing deep grief for her loss.  She doesn't understand why she can't be with her first family, as the reasons given to her don't make sense.  (This family has a completely open adoption.)  This adoptive mother goes on to tell of a recent experience, and tells of the great sadness she has for everyone because of their adoption loss.

If adoption is truly for the best interest of the child, wouldn't it be in her best interest to end this grief and loss that the daughter knows is unnecessary?  If this first family is now in a "better" place to raise a child, doesn't that make sense?  Why does the first mom & especially the child have to live forever with such deep loss and grief?  

Yes, it would be hard for the adoptive mom, but isn't it supposed to be what's best for the child??  The loss is acceptable if it's the first mom experiencing it, what's different if it's the adoptive mom?  If the adoptive mother was still able to be a part of the child's life, if it was a "reverse" open adoption of sorts...  

This little girl could grow up in her family of origin, she could grow up knowing her ancestry, she wouldn't have to live with the feelings of abandonment, the questions of why she wasn't good enough to "keep", etc. 

Just wondering...
Since adoption is supposed to be about the child...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Coming Out Of The Fog

I started a draft of this post a week or more ago, but I couldn't find the words to say what I really wanted to.  I will never get my thoughts out as well as Cassi does in this post that inspired me to come back & give it another try.  It never ceases to amaze me when I find other first moms that speak the words of my heart.  Sadly, it appears that most first moms share much of the same story...

In the  first 6 weeks or so after reunion, I was so extremely happy.  I felt like a different person.  I truly have never in my life felt so... complete and at peace.  

This sounds really corny,  but at times it felt as though my heart would burst open with love.  I felt more love for my husband, my raised kids, everybody.  It was like the door that I had closed that afternoon at the hospital was swung wide open and torn off the hinges.  It was during those first few weeks that I realized how much I had shut down my emotions, how much I had closed myself off.  

I was amazed that people didn't ask why I was so different.  Didn't ask why I was so happy.  A few of my close friends did notice, but I thought it had to seem obvious to everyone how different I was.  During the first couple of months into reunion I also lost 20 pounds ~ effortlessly.  

I had such a turn-around of so many beliefs I had held in the almost 30 years since giving Christopher up.  I never really allowed myself to think of him as my son.  He was the baby I couldn't raise.  I loved him & missed him always, but had never allowed myself to be his "mom", never allowed him to be my son.  

Before reunion, I truly felt as though I was simply an egg donor and an incubator.  I was just a birthmother (although I have never liked that name).  I didn't know or understand why that name bothered me, but it did.  

At first, when reunion was new, I worried about what Christopher's parents thought.  I felt that if I was starting to come between him and his parents in any way that I would have to back off our reunion.  I didn't want to come between Christopher and his parents.  I felt like I was the outsider who had no rights to interfere in their family.  

Before reunion, probably even a few weeks into reunion, I held the belief that young moms should give their children up for adoption in order to give the child a chance at a better life with parents that were ready & able to be parents.  It saddened me to see young moms keep their babies, thinking that they were being selfish and not putting the babies best interest first.  (I did not ever promote adoption, as I wanted nobody else to have to know the pain & loss that I did.)  

I held the belief that I was stupid.  Stupid for having allowed things to go too far & becoming pregnant that first time.  Stupid for having to give my baby up for adoption.   

About six or seven weeks into reunion, I started to have thoughts and feelings that contradicted everything I had believed for almost 30 years.  

~ I realized that the love I felt for Christopher was no different than the love I felt for my raised children.  I started thinking of myself as Christopher's mom.  Completely.  
~ I started to think that it didn't matter what Christopher's parents thought about our reunion.  Reunion was between him and I.  Nobody else.  
~ I realized that I was not stupid.  I did the best I could as a 15 year old with nobody looking out for my best interest.  
~ I realized that the reason I hated the term birthmother was because it belittled who I was in my son's life.  I did not stop being his mother at birth ~ I would always be his mother.  
~ I started to become heartbroken at the thought of young moms giving their children up for adoption.  Knowing how their life is forever altered, forever broken, without their child.  I realized how strong & important the mother/child bond is.  I realized it is something to be treasured & cared for, not torn apart.  Not only for the mother, but also for the child. 
When I first started having these realizations, I wondered what was wrong with me.  Why was I suddenly feeling so angry about everything?  What was wrong with me??  Was I finally losing my mind??

Thank God for cyber-space!  I found blogs & a forum where other first moms spoke of the same feelings.  I was not going crazy!  Everything I was feeling was "normal".  

I realized just how deep my denial went.  I realized that in order to be able to go on with life, my mind went into "safety" mode.  I truly believe that if I had faced just how deep the grief over the loss of my son to adoption went, I could not have survived the first few years.  I would have become one of the statistics of first moms that become alcoholics, drug addicts, or suicide victims.  

The last 20 months have been very hard, so very wonderful, but so very difficult.  I am a grown woman, and it has been life changing.  I cannot imagine how my 15 year old self, with nobody to help through the reality of adoptions effects, could have survived loss so great without going into denial. 

I still have a lot of work to do as far as healing my heart & soul from the loss of my son, from the years lived in denial.  I know I need to find somebody to talk to, I need some counseling to help me get through this.  To find strength and believe in myself after living so many years feeling "not good enough" to be my son's mother.  Sadly, there is nobody in my area that helps with adoption loss.  My one attempt, about the time I started realizing the truth about my loss, was a complete waste of time.  The details of that one session will probably become a blog post someday.

Since reunion, adoption is on my mind almost 24/7.  I cannot concentrate on anything to save my life.  I am so distracted at work, at home.  I used to read books all the time.  I can't read anything longer than a magazine article anymore.  I have gained back the 20 pounds, plus another 20, in the last 18 months.  My house is a mess.  I don't even enjoy things I used to.  I love quilting.  Now I can't even force myself to finish several projects I have in various states of being done.  It has been months since I've turned on my sewing machine. 

There have been many times I almost found myself wanting to go back into the fog, into the denial.  In so many ways it would be easier.  But I refuse to live a lie any longer.  I refuse to hide the love I have for my son again.  It would kill me to live another day of not knowing where Christopher is or how he and his family are doing.  The great joys of knowing my son far outweigh the hard work that reunion has brought into my life. 

I am so glad that I have been able to begin shedding all the lies and untruths about myself, about adoptions effects on my life.  I am so glad that I found all the other first moms on-line that have helped me begin to find myself again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

January 16, 2009, 4:50 pm

In 2008, I was starting to realize that a lot of the problems I was having in my life probably all stemmed from the loss of my son to adoption.  To the fact that I never dealt with the loss.  To the fact that I had no idea if my son was even alive, much less happy and healthy.  Sometime during the holidays I came to the conclusion that I was going to talk to someone to start to get all my shit together & deal with the ghosts of my past before beginning the search for my son.

I had to postpone till after mid January when my brother & his family were able to come to town to celebrate a late Christmas.  I was SO ready to get the holidays over with and begin working on healing and trying to find my son to get some answers.  The Friday before, on Jan 16th, I was so impatient to begin.  I was at work, getting ready to leave.  I thought I would just quickly check the email I had set up for replys from the reunion websites I had registered on.

When I first set up my hotmail account, I checked it every day for months.  I slowly started checking it less and less often.  The last couple of years I only checked it probably every few months.  Before that January day it had been maybe closer to 5 months since I had checked it.  I completely expected the inbox to be filled with only junk.

The first email I saw that wasn't junk was from a search angel telling me that my son was looking for me on a different website and gave me the info to go find him.  It was dated December 30th.  There were 2 more from her, and one from Christopher himself on January 9th.  The email from Christopher was short, just one line saying "we can start many ? with answers", and giving me his direct email address.  It takes my breath away just remembering that moment.  Time literally stood still.  I couldn't breathe.  I couldn't cry.  I couldn't believe it.  It seemed like an hour till those 10 minutes passed and I could leave at 5:00.  I couldn't drive home to call the number the search angel left me, as my youngest son was at home & didn't yet know about the son I gave up for adoption.  I drove to a school parking lot & called the number.  I thought the number I was calling was Christopher's mother.  She answered, I asked if this was Kim, she said yes.  I told her who I was and she said "Oh ~ you are Christopher's mother!".  That is the moment I lost it and started crying.  I asked if she was his mom, she told me she was not, she was a search angel.  She then told me that my son was VERY anxious to talk to me, that he had contacted her several times since she sent him the email telling him she found me for him.  I asked if he was healthy.  I will NEVER forget, and can still hear her sweet southern accent telling me "he is healthy, he is happy, and he got great parents".  She knew the three questions that had haunted me for decades.  That is when the tears flowed.  I have never felt such relief in my entire life.

I went home and sent Christopher an email.  I wasn't completely sure it was really him, was scared to get my hopes up, that maybe it was the wrong person, that I wasn't really the right mom.  I sent him an email, with all the info I had on his birth, and told him that I couldn't wait to hear from him.  I then had to go to the store for last minute things for my big family bash the next day.  It was SO hard to go on with my normal life ~ all I could think about was my son, that he was alive, healthy, and happy.  And looking for me!!  My husband was out of town and I wanted him to be the first person I told, so I couldn't even talk to anyone about it.  I think I checked my email every 5 minutes the rest of the night, the following day (even with my house full of company ~ I can't believe that they didn't know something was up!),and first thing Sunday morning when I woke up to get ready for church.  The waiting was pure torture.  I was so scared that he had changed his mind & really didn't want to know me after all.  Just before church, I checked the email one last time, and there it was!  An email from Christopher!

The email confirmed everything I had, even a couple of things I didn't mention in my email to him.  He attached a copy of the info his parents got from Flo Crit about me & my family.  There was NO doubt that he was indeed my Christopher! 

Now, I am a faithful person, but I am certainly no religious freak.  I do however, believe that in my reunion story there are too many things to call it pure coincidence.  The fact that I had decided that after the holidays I would begin my healing & search.  I was not able to begin "officially" getting help dealing with my past, but I had done some deep soul searching to begin to know the "real" me.  The "me" before adoption entered my life.  The "me" that included a son that I did not raise.  I finally made the connection between the loss of my son and so many things/reactions to things in my life.  Then, to find the first email from the search angel dated Dec. 30th.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Call it divine intervention, call it intuition, call it mother-child bond.  Whatever it was, I somehow knew the time was coming and I needed to get ready...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Adoption Story?

You could say, if you had to label it, that my adoption story is a good one, maybe even great.  After my son was born, I did go on to have a great life.  I went back to my high school & old job the fall after I had my son, resumed my life as a typical teenager.  It was only eight months after I had Christopher that I met my husband, who I have now been married to for over 27 years.  We have three children, and 6 (soon to be 7!) grandchildren.  I get to see my kids & grandkids almost every day, as our grown children both chose to live close to us.  I have more friends than one could hope for, a job that I love, a beautiful home, more blessings than I could ever deserve.

(I don't mean to speak for my son, but the following are things he has said regarding his life.)  Christopher was adopted by wonderful parents, he had a big sister (also adopted) who doted on him also.  He lived a small town life ~ full of extended family that loved him too.  He wanted for nothing, says he had a "Leave It To Beaver" childhood.  He participated in sports and other extra curricular activities, he was taught to work hard, was raised in a Christian church, enjoyed the family cabin on the lake every summer, was sent to college.  He received everything that I ever dreamed for him, and so much more.  He got married to the love of his life after graduating from college, and they are now parents to a son & a daughter. 

Our lives however, are not the makings of a fairy tale.  Even though our lives could be portrayed by some as a positive, happy, adoption-is-wonderful, story.  Adoption is built on loss.  I lost a child, grandchildren, a life of loving on them.  Christopher lost his natural parents, his geneology, his ancestry. 

If I had not been dealing with such a tremendous loss, would I have been a better student?  A better employee?  A better friend, wife, mother to my raised children, better to myself?

If Christopher had been raised by me, would his life really have been that much different?  He may not have had a father in his life at first, but I believe that I still would have met & fallen in love with my husband.  He would have been a great father to Christopher.  Perhaps if I had raised him, he would have brought some happiness and love into our house ~ my parents became excellent grandparents just 2 1/2 years later when my daughter was born.  They are far better grandparents than they ever were parents.  Christopher may not have had a vacation home on a lake, but he would have had his entire natural family, his history.  He would have had his 3 siblings in his life, his nephew & nieces...

This post is a jumbled mess of thoughts, really going nowhere.  The point I want to make is that even though ours is a "good" story, it is in spite of adoption entering our lives, not because of it.  I did not go on to have a better life because I wasn't "burdened" with a child.  Christopher may well have had just as great, maybe even better life, if he had never been given away.  That is one thing we will never know.

So, even though I have gone on to have so many blessings in my life.  Even though my son seems to have had a wonderful life with his adoptive parents.  Even so, I would not wish my life as a first mom on anybody ~ even my worst enemy.  Adoption was a permanent solution to my temporary problem. 

Little did I know that adoption would become a much bigger permanent problem in the end. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Hospital

I don't really remember being in labor.  I remember being alone in a tiny room that was no bigger than a closet.  A bed against the wall, room to walk alongside the bed & that's it.  Alone.  I do not remember going into the delivery room, the birth of my son, or recovery after the birth of my son.  I don't remember the days, weeks, or months following my son's birth.  I remember bits & pieces, but not everything.  I don't think I really want to remember what my brain has chosen to forget in order to stay sane.

The few bits & pieces of my time in the hospital that I do remember are in the two days following his birth.  I remember the nurse that snuck into my room to give me a little piece of paper with my son's foot prints on it, with her written notes of the date, time, height & weight of Christopher at birth.  I wish I knew her name to tell her thank you.  To tell her that she was my one saving grace while in the hospital.  The one person that treated me with any respect, that treated me as the mother to my child. 

I remember carefully filling out the form for the birth certificate.  How I carefully printed the name I gave my son, the one and only thing I could truly give him.  When I received court papers regarding the relinquishment of Christopher, his name is Baby Boy.  I don't know if they even put my name on the birth certificate.  The one thing I had to give him ~ did they take it away??

I remember walking down to the nursery, praying to get a glimpse of my son.  I think I found him on the second day.  I remember standing in the window, for what seemed like hours.  It may have been.  But it may have also been only 5 minutes.  I really don't know.

I remember the day I was going to go home.  I walked down to the nursery hoping to get one last glimpse of my son.  I didn't find him.  On the way back to my room, I passed a small room, no bigger than a closet.  There was a changing table in the middle of the room.  There was a lady, dressing a newborn.  I wondered if it was my son.  When the lady looked up & saw me, she got a horrified look on her face & quickly walked over to the door & shut it.  That was my answer.  It was my son.  Who was not my son.  Who was being dressed to leave the hospital without me.  I will never forget that moment.  I will never forget the look on her face.  Like I was a monster of some sort, that might take the baby and run.  I will never forget the door being closed.  It was like a door was closing on a part of my soul.  Closing on my heart.

The doors stayed closed for a long time after that.  It took me almost 30 years to realize that the doors had been closed as tightly as they were.  It took reunion for me to realize how I had kept my heart closed since that day.  I had to keep it closed ~ from fear that I would fall into the gaping hole & disappear forever.