Saturday, May 9, 2009

adoption; then and now

i should explain a couple things in regard to the previous post. agency policy in '96 was that all correspondence between the birth and adoptive families was to be facilitated by the agency. meaning neither party had identifying information about the other; last names, phone numbers, addresses. also policy dictated that all correspondence would be discontinued at the 5 year mark. this was part of an evolution, coming out of what i call "the dark ages of adoption". these were the days of coercion, shame, fear, and secrecy. many current ideas about adoption unfortunately, are based on what it used to be.
a woman or girl would choose adoption, not necessarily because she felt it was best for her child or herself, but often as a result of family, social, and/or religious pressure. often she'd be sent away from her friends and family and all the support she'd known, so as to hide her sin. and after carrying this child for 9 months and giving birth to him, they were discouraged to hold or touch or even see the child, thinking this would hurt them more or make them change their minds and keep the baby. she'd have no information about the life or whereabouts of her child. after all this she was to go back to her life and try to forget, to pretend it hadn't happened. and i imagine, everyday she'd wake up wondering where her baby was, if he was being fed and taught and loved adequately, if he was well and happy. this, i believe is where we get the old idea that birthmothers are unstable and if given the chance would steal the baby back. i tell you, had i placed under these circumstances, i WOULD have lost my mind!
now, a birthmother is in total control. she is given the right to do what God has trusted her to do, find the best life for her child. good agencies don't pressure but educate. and there is, as we all know, NO stigma attached to single parenting in our culture now, infact there's often judgment that accompanies the choice of adoption. so you know if anyone chooses it, they are doing it because it's what THEY feel is right. and that's the only way she'll ever have peace about it. she can select from thousands of families which one she feels is right. she can announce to them in what ever way she chooses that God has heard their prayers. she has the opportunity to form a relationship with them throughout the pregnancy, see their home, interact with them as a loved friend or family member. she can place her precious baby directly into the arms of the mother she's giving him. she may enjoy a continued closeness with them including contact ranging from letters and pictures for a time, to fitting comfortably in their home on a regular basis forever, as any other friend or family member, depending upon their personalities, circumstances, and what they together agree works best for them. she knows he's happy and well taken care of. she knows he won't wonder if he was loved, she can tell him that he came from love to love. she is most often loved and adored like never before by people who know her for the best thing she ever did. i've heard countless birthmoms express that upon seeing their child at home, in his family, it was reaffirmed to them that they'd made the right choice. they find comfort in the joy of the family they helped to create. i've heard many say to their own astonishment "i knew that wasn't MY baby".
less than 1 percent of the over a million crisis pregnancies every year results in an adoption. it is not the popular choice and certainly not the easy choice. it is a choice made at her own expense. a greater cost of tears and heart ache than she can prepare for. if she can choose this, she's proven she knows how to pray and follow wisdom, she knows how to put his best interest before her own. we've begun to see these are women who can be trusted.
not only the birthmother but all points of the adoption triad benefit from this evolution toward honesty, openness and compassion.
a child in those days often would discover at 8, 12, 16, or 35... that they were adopted. the information being withheld, i suppose, to protect the child from knowing that he was "unwanted" and "unloved" (that was difficult to even type) by the woman who gave him life. or from being different. so this child now has a major identity crisis. the people he trusted most in the world have withheld extremely significant information about who he is. "what else is a lie?". furthermore if and when he was told, it often came with a sense of shame or inferiority as this was something we whispered about, we spoke of it as a disease, a skeleton in the closet. "i'm so sorry son, you're adopted". so he thinks "there is something wrong with me".
today, an adopted child is taught that being adopted makes him special. he has extra family, extra people who love him. that he was not abandoned but that he has his very own birthmom who loved him more than her life. who loved him so much, she gave him every thing he has. when i met Justin's parents they shared with me that every year they celebrate Jeremy's (Justin's older brother) birthday AND adoption day and tell him of the great love with which he came into the world and into his family.
people use to be afraid of confusion regarding parental roles should the birthmother be involved. we now know that if the adults aren't confused, the child won't be. the parents set the tone. if they are secure enough in their position as his parents to portray it in a positive way, he will adopt their attitudes.
i read a study that said the 2 most common questions adoptees would ask if they could, were-"what does she look like?" and "why did she do it?". these questions are answered now and i believe it has a powerful effect on the child's sense of identity, worth, and belonging.
also blessed by the increase in openness and communication, are the parents. beyond being in their child's best interest, they are blessed to know the woman who gave them this most precious of gifts, to share their love and gratitude with her. i know many women on both sides who say they found a best friend and a sister through adoption.
the old idea was that perhaps they would be threatened or displaced by eachother, that toes would be stepped on. this would be true if they were all trying to be parents but that's not what happens. i would NEVER challenge their role as his parents! Debbie is Justin's mother! the end! i couldn't fill her shoes if i tried! we have such delight in, and adoration for eachother! we were the answer to eachother's prayers. we both know the bitter taste of grief and loss, not being able to have what we long for on our own terms. we both know the joy that comes when we give our lives to Him who's wisdom is beyond our own, and how well He can compensate for our sacrifice. and we share a tremendous love of the same precious boy. i think enlightened adoptive parents figure "anyone who loves our baby this much is welcome". a birthmother has to trust more than she's ever trusted, and most families see fit to trust her back.
i truly believe this evolution has been inspired. i wish so much i had 13 yrs ago what so many have now but i'm SO grateful i had what i did, which wouldn't have been allowed 13 or even 3 yrs earlier.
what's more people to love, but a blessing?

Friday, May 8, 2009

wow....May, it's a doozie

so saturday is birthmothers day, sunday is regular mothers day and Justin's birthday is a week from today. how did he get 13?! i miss those guys. it's been 7 yrs since correspondence was discontinued. i was asked the other day "so what's his birthday like for you?" i said that it's always different so i don't really have an expectation. as the years have passed, there is more and more of ...everything else on this special day and sometimes the day is over and i've been too occupied(though constantly aware) and haven't made the due reflection a priority. truth told, i'm still not sure what to do, HOW to remember. i mean, i remember EVERYday. there's no closed box tucked onto a shelf in the back of closet to take down and open.
i have developed a ritual i'm happy with, i fast that special day. a fast of gratitude to my Father in Heaven and Savior that through my inclusion in that special family, and through the atonement, i was called out of darkness. i take the opportunity to remember my captivity and my deliverance and thank God for the sweet association i share with the Nortons. also, i fast for their family, for their well being and that they'll be in His hands. but at the end of these last few 15th's i feel like i missed something if i haven't made it more. i hesitate to include those around me though i'd like to because it ISN'T to them what it is to me, and i once overheard someone close say that i just wanted attention. I did! is that exploiting something sacred? i hope not but yeah, i did want someone to pay attention to the day with me. and to pay attention to the sweet and bitter emotion that comes with my memories. what IS appropriate? i have had very loving participation from friends and family, earlier on especially. it's been most appreciated.
i know! i'll write. it was always difficult for me to write them when i had the opportunity and harder still knowing they won't read it any time soon but it's good for me and i imagine Justin and his family will be glad to have it some day. i miss those guys. i wish i had news. even if i could just somehow watch the movie of their lives as a distant observer. y'know, i do really well mosta the time but why can't we just have lunch? why can't we tell eachother thank you face to face? why can't i call her to tell her who i'm dating? why can't she tell me his milestones and how proud she is. i've never heard their story. i don't know how they fell in love. i don't know how or when they found they couldn't bear children and what they felt. i don't know how they came to adoption. i don't know how they got their first son Jeremy. i don't know the story about the day they heard Justin was coming home or about the day he did. i know these stories for so many other families. my adoptive AND birth family friends tell me. i've never said these things before. i AM grateful for what i had. it was the minimum i needed to survive. and i know there were so many who placed before me without so much as a letter or picture. my heart breaks for them. i AM so happy for the way things have evolved to include birthmoms in the joy of adoption. i AM happy for my friends. i know i am blessed and my needs are met. i know he has all he needs. i just wanna say happy mothers day to the mother who means most to me, second only to my own. i just want to give the hugs and kisses i've been storing up all these years and receive theirs. i know it'll happen. i'm just ready already! i miss those guys!