Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Parenting After Placement

Part of the adoption-speak told to and believed (for a time) by birthmothers is how we’re getting a second chance, that we can restart our lives, etc. The problem is, it doesn’t work that way. Parenting is no exception. To the outside world, my daughter is my firstborn child, the first time I became a mother. My head tries to think this is the case, too, but because it isn’t true, the First-time Mother thing just doesn’t work for me. When I acknowledge to myself that oh yes, she has a brother, that she is my second child, that the firstborn thing isn’t the real script for me, the role of Mother feels more right to me. I’m beginning to think the time has come to publicly acknowledge my status as Mother to my second-born in order to not have to consciously remind myself each time I find myself feeling like the Mother role isn’t fitting quite right. See, I’m happier when I recognize my true status because I don’t have any of the feelings with my daughter that I had with my son. The awe is missing, for example. And while I was not mothering him in person all the years that preceded my daughter, I still was (an am) his mother in my heart, in my thoughts.

I already have a preview of how freeing it may be to open up. For the first time ever, I’ve found myself saying (only once or twice), when I was pregnant …. For years, I never said anything like that and had gotten so used to not sharing about being pregnant, that I just didn’t. Then I realized I could! After all, I now had a child I was raising so it was okay to admit that yes, I have been pregnant, but I haven’t been able to elaborate on the differences in my pregnancies … so I still find myself shutting my mouth. Why live a lie? And how true to myself can I be if I continue to shut off or shut down certain things since all of what I am makes me who I am? I find that when I do say something aloud about my pregnancy, it somehow makes it more real to me since I really felt disconnected to my daughter while I was pregnant (an aftershock of placement I think), and this has been a pleasant surprise because I feel guilty about not connecting with her prior to her birth.

I’ve found myself fantasizing about opportunities to start acknowledging my daughter's brother. (I really enjoy thinking of him like that ... looking at her and thinking 'you have a brother' - it always brings a smile to my face.) I almost brought him up in the “family secrets” conversation I had recently with my mother. There’s an upcoming family event in May when everyone in my immediate family will be together. My sister-in-law is currently pregnant with their second baby, a girl, who will join their firstborn, a boy. I am certain there will be at least one conversation about babies, expanding families and the like, which will inevitably bring the question of when Amelia will get a sibling. My sister already has a daughter and younger son. Should anyone point out something along the lines of how everyone has a boy/girl combo except us, I want to correct them. If the opportunity arises, will I have the guts to do it?

It may be time to have a conversation with the hubby since disclosure affects him, too.

Friday, March 23, 2007


I've been in a bit of a funk lately and people around me have noticed, too. My mother came to visit and I think I put a lot of emotional and physical energy into that and turned off a lot of "me" as a protective measure like I usually do when I'm around her. And it's hard to turn it back on ... but I know I need to, especially because I feel like I'm in the denial phase of the/my adoption grief cycle. It seems like I just don't have the energy to think about it and I shove my thoughts and feelings behind a mental door. Then, I catch myself enjoying my daughter and think about my son, and feel guilty.

I am really conflicted about what I want to do - push for some kind of contact or just let it go and wait? When I placed, I wanted my son and his adoptive parents to have a "normal" life and I didn't/don't want to upset their sense of family. However, he's always known he was adopted - that was part of the plan, not to lie to him, etc. - so he has more family than what's in front of him and I don't want to lose any more time than I have already. I want to know him, I want to see what he is like in person. Based on my conversations with M&P while I was pregnant, I thought there would have been contact by now, but there hasn't been. Since they still have all the control here, I am trying to avoid letting an unfulfilled desire cloud my life, but ignoring it doesn't work either.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Mama Angst

2-1/2 weeks ago my daughter wanted my cup of hot tea, so I drained it and gave it to her. She was having so much fun throwing her head back and trying to drink out of it, but she would lose her balance and stumble. The second or maybe third time of throwing her head back she fell all the way forward on it and started crying. Sure enough her forehead started swelling and she wound up with a bruise across the center in a diagonal - kind of looked like the Nike swoosh actually. The bruise is gone but when she furrows her brow, you can still see an indentation. It kind of reminds me of Reese Witherspoon for some reason and I think it's cute ... but I also feel guilty that it was my fault for giving her the cup. Some folks think it will go away eventually and I'll ask about it later this month at her check-up (if she still has it), but I think the underlying worry and the reason I feel uneasy whenever I think about it is that I am sure it won't be the last thing that happens that will be my fault. I know you can't foresee every danger and I don't want to be a nervous wreck around her - I purposefully have let her toddle and fall on her own as she has learned to walk and she has done so well - until I gave her a mug that she was having so much fun with ... and that I was enjoying watching her have fun with. (Incidentally, she managed to swipe that exact cup off the counter and onto the floor last night as I put her in her high chair for her pre-bedtime snack. It broke into many chunks and small pieces and is sitting in the garbage can. It was a freaky episode - the first of its kind - so her forehead indentation how now outlived the mug that left its mark.)

Soon there will be bikes and horses and all sorts of things. Hopefully she will grow fond of any permanent markings of her childhood. Ugh this parenting thing is tough.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Family Secrets

Had a surreal conversation with my mother recently. We were talking about several things as long conversations generally do ramble. We talked about certain now-deceased relatives and some recently discovered family secrets. We both agreed that it was silly to be so secretive, that so much energy was wasted keeping them and we both wondered aloud how keeping the secrets affected the family members involved.

The conversation was enlightening because it was refreshing to see that my beloved ancestors were human, just like we all are today. Why is there always this myth that our relatives have blameless lives? It also made me see a generational path that led to my giving away my son.

But the kicker was that not once during the conversation, which at times touched on my daughter, my life as her mother, etc., did my mother bring up or ask about my son. Apparently he's (still) just another family secret.