Rash

I’ve been fantasizing about closing the adoption. Not planning, you understand, just sort of seeing myself write the email in my mind’s eye—I watch the letters appear one at a time, and then see myself click Send. At the same time, an email from Ruth earlier this year alluded delicately to how awkward I’d been at the January visit; I wrote back and admitted that I felt awkward; she wrote back Tuesday and asked me to talk more about that; I sent her an email yesterday at 1 a.m. talking pretty frankly about some of what I’ve been thinking.

So. I just don’t feel like I have any point at visits—Mr. Book is charming and outgoing with Cricket, and Cricket seems charmed by him, which is great. And while I of course don’t think that a child needs parents of more than one gender, the fact that both his moms are women does make it more obvious to me why Mr. Book and visits with Mr. Book could be a valuable resource; besides which, Mr. Book’s good qualities are very clear to me, and I think he’d be an asset to anyone whose life he’s a part of. Me—well, not only am I naturally kind of spooky, but Cricket’s got loving female people coming out of his ears. And there’s a piece that I’m not sure how to put into words; here’s my best shot. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but this doesn’t really make sense without my saying a grim thing: When Cricket was tiny, I loved him as much as any mother, but loving him that much and having him a thousand miles away was unbearable . . . so I had to stop. There were probably more noble solutions to that problem, but I couldn’t think of any, and I was really and truly melting down. So I stopped feeling that way. I care for him, but it a mild thing compared to what it was when he was a newborn. My hope has been that over time he and I would/will be able to develop a relationship and that I’d then grow new feelings for him, based on knowing him—but right now he’s a toddler, and I don’t really know him, and I felt on that January visit entirely unconnected to the boy in our apartment. It was so weird that he looked somewhat like me.

It went on like that; I told her that I don’t really know what to do, that while I feel a sense of duty to Cricket I’ve wondered about whether there’s any reason for me to be at visits, and that “I’m pretty aware that I could end up poisoning the relationship between Joey and Cricket if I don’t get it together, which is part of why it seems worth saying something.” I realized, I think, that the fact that closing the adoption doesn’t sound like the end of the world anymore means that I can be a bit more forthcoming—the worst that they can do is something I can bear.

I half expected to be panicked now—I sent this possibly catastrophic email, I can’t get it back, and now I just wait to hear back (or not)—but instead I feel a calm that I can’t entirely blame on sleep deprivation. (Four-month sleep regression is in full effect at Casa Book, by the by.) Maybe something had to happen.

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24 thoughts on “Rash

  1. WOW.

    Very honest, and from what your excerpted, even if I didn’t knwo the backstory of your relationships with the moms/Cricket, I “get” what you’re saying and it is said well I think. How very hard to say those words, but like you said, probably somewhat liberating.

    As the adoptive mom, if I were to receive such an email from N., I would definitely be all over it quickly asking “what can we do to help?”

  2. I have been having similar feelings and my daughter is only 8 months old. I haven’t been able to really express it and haven’t said it out loud for fear that someone might think I don’t love her. After all, I beat myself up for the adoption just about daily even though intellectually I know my reasons were valid, are valid, and I am thrilled about her family. I don’t think it is odd or strange for you to consider closing it but I hope that you don’t close it officially; maybe just take some time to adjust and think about what you reallly want. Obviously you have a newborn and a whole new life now and you are not only sleep deprived but trying to incorporate all of this into your life. A large part of why I placed was so that my daughter would have a father in her life and I myself have felt a little extraneous considering she now has a mom and dad and I’m the “extra” (birthfather was never involved so he doesn’t have a role). Thinking of you. I am glad you wrote the email hopefully this opens up some dialogue.

    • No, I don’t plan to close it, and don’t think that would ever happen—I think that I want the simplicity of a closed adoption, but not the rest of it.

  3. I’m really glad you emailed Ruth and that you wrote about some of what you have been feeling…I like the way you talked about the previous and current stages of your feelings and your possible future relationship.

  4. I am so glad you wrote this email to Ruth–way to go Susie! I liked the way you tracked some of your feelings from the early days to more recently. I also liked how you mentioned the future relationships between you and Cricket and between Cricket and Joey. I think framing things in terms of connection and connectedness is really good. That can lead to dialogue about what would promote feeling closer to Cricket.

  5. I don’t think anything you shared here is catastrophic and I’m hoping it’s a good sign that Ruth wanted to know more about why the last visit was awkward for you. My fingers are crossed this will be a turning point in the relationship. Sorry about the 4 month sleep regression – that phase is no fun.

  6. I wonder if your relationship with Cricket’s parents was different, if you would feel differently about your relationship with Cricket?

    My best guess is that you would.

    I am not trying to blame Ruth and Nora, but they have kept you at a distance, and I think you are right on the money when you say that you finally had to stop loving him so much because the pain was so great. I certainly understand that.

    Had they allowed you more access to him and his life, maybe things would have been different.

    However, I hope that you reconsider your feelings about your involvement in Cricket’s life. From my perspective, it seems that those of us who are adults in the adoption triad have to trudge through some pretty nasty emotions and revelations about ourselves.

    It is for the benefit of the child and it is not about us. Yes, it is hard. But aren’t all relationships that are meaningful hard from time to time?

    The adoption relationship is painfully hard for all of us. I know, as I live it myself as a birthmother.

    And I am absolutley no expert on adoption, I am just trudging my way through my own.

    But for the sake of Cricket, it seems it would be so much better for him to know you. Even as flawed as you think you are. Especially since he has a full brother who I would assume he will have a realtionship with. If not as a child, as an adult.

    And because you and Mr Book are together/married, I would worry that Cricket would have very strong feelings of abandonment from you if you chose to distance yourself from him, while his birthfather continues a relationship.

    Please do not read any judgement into these statements. Because I have none to make. As a birthmother myself, I can completely relate to the intensity of emotions that you have. And I also battle depression so I know how unclear my thinking can be from time to time.

    I am just looking from the outside and wondering if your current situation (new baby) might be influencing your resolve.

    Maybe and maybe not.

    I hope that the letter you sent to Ruth and Nora is a wake up call to them and that they will reach out to you (like one of th previous commentors mentioned).

    It is amazing how much power the adoptive parents have over our emotions. I have found myself thinkiing from time to time how the parents of my little one could quickly ease my pain if they would just let me have a little more access to them.

    I see I am rambling about myself now, so I will quit.

    I will pray for you and everyone involved.

  7. I love that you’re speaking up about what you’re feeling. Both because I want you to speak up so that you can make of this what you need/want it to be, and because I wish J and A’s first mother would be as open and frank about what is going on in her head as you have been. Reading the e-mail you wrote gives me hope that maybe someday she will.

  8. What Meghann said. You’re speaking honestly about your feelings and you’re able to express yourself so well. Your style invites conversation.

    It may seem like your visits serve no purpose, but they do. My son is now old enough that he is asking why there aren’t any recent pictures of him with his first mom. He wouldn’t necessarily have remembered the visits, but he would be able to see the pictures as tangible proof that he wasn’t forgotten about.

  9. As others have said, as the adoptive mom, I’d be happy to get that email and to have insight into your end of the situation. I hope you get a prompt reply that is comforting or at least understanding.

  10. Maybe the fact that Ruth was trying to probe about the awkwardness she sensed is a step towards their changing their attitudes/position/action….but how wonderful that you put into words your own strong and powerful and complicated feelings.

  11. As a adoptive mom I think your email was honest and Nora and Ruth should be honored that you are sharing your true feelings with them. I think this situation has been festering for some time and and hopefully they take steps to move your relationship in a positive direction. I would hope you continue your relationship with Cricket even though it is so difficult at times. OPen adoption is such a slippery slope with so many different emotions and by being honest with your feelings hopefully this will spark a more honest relationship.

    • I’ve heard that sunlight is the best disinfectant; certainly I don’t do well with secrets. I do hope that this will all turn out for the best.

  12. As an adoptee who has been in reunion a long time and who sees certain similarities between you and my own mom, I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason you are being so careless with Cricket is that you don’t want any of the ugliness that is part of adoption to hurt Joey.

    My mom was very much like that. She did not want the kids that she kept and she loved to even think it was a possibility that she could give them away. She did not want the ugliness of what happened to me to touch them in any way. My mom loves the children she kept fiercely and wanted to protect them from what happened to me, and ultimately, ME. She dumped all her shame on me.

    The problem is, it doesn’t work that way. My sibs have survivor guilt, they are not stupid, they are aware. They now know that if they had been the inconvenient child they would have been treated as poorly as I was. That is how loose her mother-love is, if you had been inconvenient, it would have been you. You can’t protect the sibs. It happened. If you want to prove to Joey that you would love him unconditionally, you can best do that by proving that your love is unconditional, which is kind of the exact opposite of what you are doing.

    I mean I get that you are making it work for you, I can’t relate. When you say that you loved Cricket as any mother would, no you didn’t. You gave him away. I had much more reason than you did to give my child away and I didn’t. Most mothers don’t. You are making it work for you, in your world and failing to have compassion for your child.

    All these adoptoraptors may be falling over themselves to congratulate you, but you have really harmed an innocent child and look for ways to make you feel better—What about Cricket, are you really so cold that you can’t imagine what it is like to have your mother leave you and then you act like it is no big deal? I mean really?

    Oh, but you love Joey, and why do you love Joey? Because of his timing. Not unconditional. Had he been inconvenient he would have been tossed to the wind too. What kind of love is that?

    • Joy, I often think you’re talking about your own situation instead of mine, but here you’re projecting so hard that I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.

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