WE aren’t going to do anything

I think I maybe ought to write a bit more about why I don’t want to tell Ruth and Nora about the pregnancy, and why I don’t think their primary reaction will be to be happy for us.

I read adoption forums that I often find upsetting. My husband wishes I wouldn’t, but I want to know what adoptive parents are thinking, what they say to each other, what they say when they talk about the birthparents of their kids. I have seen many women (it’s almost overwhelmingly a female population) start threads that go something like this:

Subject: Another One!!!

Well, DD’s BGM gave us a call yesterday: BM is pregnant AGAIN! Frankly, I don’t know whether we can afford to adopt right now, but of course we’d love to have a sibling for DD—we just thought we’d be waiting awhile longer! 😛 I’m not sure how to bring up the fact that we’d love to adopt this next child as well. I was thinking that maybe we’d just send flowers and wait to hear from BM herself? Anyway, let me know what you ladies think!

or this:

Subject: How Do I Handle This?!!

I cannot believe it, but DS’s BM has gotten herself pregnant (again!!)! How am I going to explain this to DS? I just can’t believe that she’d do something like this. How is he going to feel knowing that she gave him away and is keeping his little brother or sister? I can’t believe she’d be so selfish, of course this probably wasn’t planned. LOL! Any advice on how to tell my son what his BM has done?

Obviously not all adoptive parents are like this, or feel this way—even in that community, there will sometimes be a response along the lines of “Um, do you have any reason to think she’d want to relinquish this child? Maybe you shouldn’t break out the crib just yet.”  But even among the moderate, friendly adoptive parents (on these forums), there is a more subtle response that bothers me: “What are we going to do about this?” Sometimes they’re concerned that their kid’s birthmother won’t be able to care for a child, sometimes they’re more focused on how it will impact their adopted kids—but there’s this idea that the pregnant is a problem, and that it is (at least in part) the adoptive parents’ problem.

I wonder how much of this has to do with the particulars of their adoptive relationships; for example, I know that some of these adoptive parents have continued to provide financial support to their kids’ birthmothers, which might make them feel more invested in a pregnancy. But I think even in cases where no money ever changes hands, many adoptive parents feel that they have a problem-solving role in this situation, and that kind of freaks me out.

It’s been quite awhile since it last came up that Mr. Book and I have planned all along—even before I gave birth to Cricket—to have and raise a kid within a few years. Ruth and Nora knew that before they adopted their son. But whenever it has come up (infrequently), they’ve been very uncomfortable with the idea, and sometimes suggest that waiting much longer might be a good idea. I have never outright said “We will never place another child, even if we have eighteen we’ll figure something out, don’t wait to adopt a biological sibling ‘cause it ain’t gonna happen,” but I hope that they know. Once they know that I am pregnant and not placing the bean with them, I think that they’ll mainly be worried about the impact of a birth sibling on Cricket—and that’s not unreasonable. But I know that Ruth at least sees in mainly in negative terms. That is why I don’t want them to know. I’m just kicking the problem down the road a ways, but the prospect of having to process with her the ways in which I am hurting Cricket is pretty off-putting.


14 thoughts on “WE aren’t going to do anything

  1. I’m an adoptive mom and our bmom got pregnant when our son was around 10 months old. I was a bit shocked that she was pregnant though she had started a relationship shortly after our son was born. My concern and hers was what our son would think about being adopted and then having a sibling so close in age. It is something that hasn’t come up yet since our little guy is 3 1/2 but he does understand that A is his brother and I think they will have a great relationship as they grow up- so its a blessing! I am though utterly happy that she decided to parent his brother and now she is getting married. I think that Cticket’s moms will need to realize that you have a life and to think that you woouldn’t have your own child within a few years isn’t a realistic thought! Congrats on little bean and I have really enjoyed reading your blog!

  2. This sucks. You shouldn’t have to deal with this weight on your mind during an otherwise joyful, if complicated, time. Don’t tell them anything until you have to. And then say, very clearly, how much you and your husband are looking forward to raising your little one. And then back off. If they are upset/worried let them deal with it. If they want to process, give a cheery everything will be fine response and change the subject. Redirection can work with adults too.

  3. You really need to stop reading those online forums. Any online forum where people would post that and not have many other people tell them to get a grip is not a forum that anyone should participate in!

    But do keep in mind, those situations may be entirely different from your own. I happen to be the adoptive parent of two biological half siblings born 13 months apart. When the birth mother told us she was pregnant again, we suspected we would get another telephone call and we did. BUT… our children’s birth mother has a diagnosed, but largely untreated, mental illness, and very little stability in her life. Perhaps the other adoptive parents you quoted are in similar situations?

    You and Mr. Book, however, are completely different and no one should wonder if you are capable of raising a child.

    My take on this situation is that you shouldn’t worry about how Ruth or Nora will react as it really is not their business or concern. You do owe them any explanation.

  4. I’m with Gretchen that reading adoption forums will make you crazy. Just. Say. No. Hell, I can’t even read them and I’m on the privileged happy side of the adoption constellation because they make ME cry and feel crazy! I also get that you have a right to your unmitigated joy and I high five you in wanting to protect that. There is time enough to tell them.

  5. Has Ruth said something indicating she thinks a sibling’s arrival will necessarily hurt Cricket?

    Maybe she is picking up on your sorrow and wondering if a new baby will fail to make that go away, or will be overwhelming on top of the grief?

    I also don’t think you owe them any explanation, and that you should tell them when you want to tell them.

    But… if they aren’t aware how fraught the whole situation is for you, it makes it hard for them to respond to anything in a way that is sensitive to the situation. If they knew that placement affected you so that you know you’d parent 18 kids before doing it again, I am guessing they’d view the adoption differently than they probably do now, and perhaps respond to you in ways that are more in line with what you’re going through instead of being largely about them/Cricket.

  6. I’m so sorry you’re even having to think about this sort of thing. You deserve to just be happy and excited about futurekid & not to have to worry about what anyone else will say or think about it. :/

  7. I think people forget that while a placed sibling may be close in age to a non-placed sibling, life can change dramatically over that time. I find it interesting & sad that some a-parents ASSume that another child will automatically be a bad thing. I would seriously doubt though that a-parents who don’t think along those lines are speaking up on these forums which means, unfortunately, you are only seeing the negative comments.

    As for your specific case, I think that only you truly know how you are feeling and what you are thinking and will therefor make the best decisions for yourself. The flip side of that is you really don’t know what Ruth & Nora’s reaction will be until you actually tell them. I truly do hope this is a case of a bark that’s worse than the actual bite and that they can show you the joy & excitement you deserve.

    FYI: my husband is only 3 years younger than his sister. She was placed, he was not. Sometimes it’s just the way it is.

  8. So glad that you wrote this post. I would be reading adoption forums too if I were in your shoes. In re: Mia’s comment, I remember your post about asking Ruth whether you could talk more with her about the harder parts of adoption. She discouraged it. I wish you had some emotional space to talk about the feelings you experience with Ruth and Nora. If they were in tune with you then announcing this pregnancy to them would still be hard, given that they’ve said they wish you would defer your next pregnancy for several years. I could imagine how upsetting it will be to hear how you’re hurting Cricket given your love for him. Whatever feels right to you and protects the health of both you and the bean is best.

  9. I’m also guilty of reading “entertainment masochism,” as I call it, so I’ve read those kinds of statements too and they make me furious. And yet when we look at a child (from foster care) we do think that about whether if the situation ever arose where a sibling needed care, would we be the right choice for that too? I tend to think that’s not as grisly or judgmental as the kind of women you’re quoting, but maybe I’m just fooling myself. Those of us on the adopting side of the equation have so much power that can be use unjustly.

    I don’t know how you deal with scary scenarios, but I’m sure you know. Maybe you and Mr. Book can figure out how to deal with the worst-case of Ruth’s insensitivity and tone-deafness and bossy tendencies. Maybe there’s someone here who can help with that. I mean, if they want to raise a child who’s not going to have any adoption-related pressures on him, maybe they shouldn’t have adopted, y’know? Good luck. I know you’ll find a way.

  10. ugh, susie, reading this made me feel a little sick. I agree it’s really none of their business, you have plenty of time to tell them when and how you want. the thought that adoptive parents would view another pregnancy as a problem really disturbs me.

    we’ve wondered what would happen if our daughter’s birth mom got pregnant, since she has made it clear that she doesn’t want to be pregnant again until she is ready to parent. when she is ready some day, it will be a very happy occasion. I’m even saving clothes for her — she loves recycling and I know she’d love to have some of baby J’s cuter things some day.

    you and mr. book are going to be such wonderful parents. I am so excited for you and I’m sorry you have to even deal with this negativity.

  11. Susie,

    I am a new reader, here from “Not Mother” I’d first like to say that I love your blog for it’s honesty and rawness (is that a word?). I wish my daughter’s birthmother would talk to me about he hard parts of this all- or any of it for that matter. I’ve begged her to. She is older than I am and seems more steeped in the old school thinking, that and she doesn’t want to “ruin our happiness” or “interfere”. I think after many e-mails from me acknowledging that I am a large part of her pain, she may be coming around and opening up our adoption some more.

    Second, congratulations on your pregnancy. I certainly hope that R & N can appreciate your ability to parent. I can’t believe they’ve suggested you delay parenting some more. Wow. If they are worried about Cricket, I am sure their agency provides post-adoption counseling and perhaps they can contact their sw for advice. Otherwise it really is not their business or concern.

  12. I’m loving Trish–if it’s hard for Ruth & Nora, they can get some help. What a smart idea.

    I keep thinking two things: 1) that every situation/family constellation is so different, it’s impossible to generalize & as others stated, people’s competence is also very different & so that factor may temper relations between first/adoptive parents. 2) I really hate the idea of adoptive parents somehow having a “stake” in what happens with their children’s mothers’ reproduction as if there are ‘dibs” anywhere in here.

    Oh 3) perhaps what pains me the most–I may have mentioned this in a comment before–is this. A friend is in this situation, about to adopt full sib from daughter’s first mother (due soon) so it’s bountiful for my friend & for her daughter, a full sibling who will look just like her (adoptive mom is white, baby is african american). When she told me the unexpected good news, I had a very sad feeling for DAYS: not in a blaming way at all, but in a what support was lacking for this birth mom to be giving birth so quickly again & relinquish another baby? Isn’t that a sign that adoption is really harder than somehow we are led to believe/told? Isn’t there some follow-up support missing? Sorry to ramble.

    Whatever way you can take care of yourself, you’re getting good support here that we all believe this pregnancy is YOURS (sick, exciting, bittersweet, but ultimately sweet, b/c that bean will be in your arms). Back to Trish, let Ruth & Nora worry amongst themselves. You have an open heart to Cricket & that’s all you really need to do, keep it open.

  13. Damn forums. I think you’ll naturally drop away from them soon, but not soon enough as far as i’m concerned. Anyone who calls their child’s first mother “BM” isn’t someone whose opinion you need to be weighing at all. At all. I can totally understand how those posts would hit you hard, but they don’t relate to you or your situation. I hope that Ruth and Nora will be thrilled for you all (whenever you choose to tell them) but if they aren’t, its their business. Your business is with your baby, and Mr. Book, and Cricket, and you. For what its worth, I’m so happy to think of you pregnant. 🙂

  14. Liam has both an older sibling and a younger sibling being parented by his mom. He is 7.5 and he has not been hurt, or had trouble understanding that he was placed for adoption and they weren’t. It’s all in the telling.

    Tell them when you are ready, and enjoy every moment of your pregnancy without worrying about the naysayers that are out there!

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