Holy Crap is right. How are you feeling about it?
Let me lay out a timeline. Just over a week ago, I sent Ruth this email:
Last summer, I wrote and asked whether we could talk about how the adoption’s going, what you like and don’t like, things you’d like to change; you suggested that it wasn’t a good time because things were about to change. I suppose that’s still true. On the other hand, I think things are going to keep changing for as far into the future as I can see—both of our families are growing, we plan to move at some point—so I thought I’d see whether you might be willing to have the conversation.
I feel like there are a few areas where I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing. I stopped emailing because email no longer seemed like a good medium for you, and I was finding it discouraging to write and not hear back. You seem to prefer Facebook chat—but how often do you want to talk? I don’t feel right initiating several times in a row. It makes me feel like I’m bothering you (it’s clear that we want more contact than you do). And I’m happy to wait to hear from you, but I don’t know whether your ideal would be talking twice a month or twice a year, and I wish that I did. How about Skype? Would you like to talk once a month, once every three months, only around birthdays? —I’m not asking these questions in order to hold you to some kind of schedule, but so that I can adjust my own expectations and have some sense of what you think is reasonable. I’d also like you to clarify something that happened on Skype: Cricket asked me why we moved to California, and you jumped in and answered—and your answer was extremely nonspecific (“Sometimes people move”). If he asks me questions, what kinds do you prefer I not answer? I don’t want to violate any of your rules for him, but that instance caught me off guard. And if you have other things you’d like to share your thinking on, or hopes for, or what have you—I’d like to hear from you about them.
To my surprise, she wrote back quickly, saying that she wants more contact but that it just hasn’t been working out. I’m somewhat skeptical of this—after three years, I think we can tell how much contact you want based on how much you’ve reached out (very little)—but it’s a nice thing to say, and I spent a few days brooding over what this might mean for the future. She was positive and reassuring, but she hasn’t followed up with any attempts to chat or Skype or schedule anything, so I don’t know how much the email will really affect things.
And then, the day before Thanksgiving, I found out that they are matched.
Not from them, mind you: I check their agency website almost every business day, and Wednesday, they were gone. When they were matched with us, they didn’t get pulled from the website until pretty close to my due date, and I know that their agency prefers to match in the third trimester, so they may very well be getting a baby for Christmas. Now I’m trying to figure out whether Ruth’s email was just intended to make sure that we won’t contact the agency and make trouble for them. (Not that we ever have or would—even if things get quite bad, we don’t feel that we have any allies there.) I am angry, and I don’t need it pointed out to me how hypocritical that is: I am angry at them for hiding the fact that they are expecting even as I am hiding the fact that we are expecting. I feel like I have better reasons than they do, but of course I feel that way. I keep imagining ways to ask them fairly passively to see how many times she’ll lie to me. This is not healthy. I think about dramatically revealing everything: “I know you were angry to hear about my pregnancy last time, but perhaps the fact that you are matched right now will make this one easier for you.” Equally healthy, I know. I’m just fuming to myself (largely over little things, like: “They last said that they might visit in January; they might not visit at all next year now, and they should tell us”) and trying to figure out whether/when/why to reach out to them again at some point. I hate the idea that my anger might make them feel validated in not telling us—to be fair, I would not express it to them the way they did to us when they found out about Pete.
Part of my upset, too, is that I’m upset that they are adopting again; we have had a pretty unhappy experience in our relationship with Ruth and Nora, and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. (Too bad!) I know that it’s not something I have any kind of control over, and I shouldn’t have, but it’s still distressing to think about. Maybe they’ll wind up with someone who wants a closed adoption and it will be a much better match. I hope they don’t like this new child better; they sometimes seem not to like Cricket very much (although there is no question of their love). I know that can happen—my own parents very clearly like one of their children less than the others, while loving us all.
God, maybe I am having a parallel experience to theirs. This is empathy that I don’t want.