Weeks ago now—shockingly, just before I abruptly stopped updating the blog—Ruth asked me over Facebook chat whether I regret the adoption, saying that she suspects that I do. What do you say to that? I said “I was hoping you were never going to ask me that,” and then I said yes. We had a long conversation after that, half about this and half about something else that I will (predictably) write about later.
In a way, my answer might have been helpful to Ruth; she has worried that I regret the adoption because of her divorce, and I was able to tell her that I’ve regretted the adoption since long before that. It was in some ways a frustrating thing to talk about—she talked about concerns she had while we were still matched regarding the ethics of the agency I was working with, and I would wonder Then why didn’t you say anything? But of course I know the answer: she wanted the baby. And there’s an extent to which I don’t fault her for that—after I lost Cricket and before I had Joey, I pined for a child, grieved and longed for my son. But then we hit that point, and I know that if I had not placed, someone else would have placed with them—and I remember her saying that they would be open to doing things the same way for their second adoption. Clearly her ethical concerns didn’t and don’t keep her up at night.
I sound angry. I know that I do. Am I angry at Ruth and Nora regarding the placement? Yes and no. I’m not angry that they didn’t disrupt the match because they suspected that I wasn’t being treated ethically; I think that it would have been the most righteous thing for them to do, but I don’t think they were evil for failing to do so. Just imperfect. And I, myself, am deeply imperfect. I am angry about untruths that they told us, consciously or less than consciously, about what their relationship was like and what their relationship with us would be like. But it sounds as though they were doing a fair bit of lying to themselves, and who can know ahead of time what relationships between the birth and adoptive families will look like? Certainly I had no idea what I would want, or how I would feel. So yes, I’m angry—but more than that, I am disappointed and sad. And so are Ruth and Nora, I have no doubt.
Ruth told me that worrying about how we must think of them and how we must feel keeps her from reaching out—she assured me that nothing in my reactions has caused or fed this, but that she knows that we must be disappointed. Well, yes. She talked about how she feels like she has an obligation to tell us how amazing things are, because that’s what the adoptive parents owe the birth parents. This is what I said (slightly edited for names and suchlike).
It’s just not math. Nothing balances out. I was thinking today (relinquishment day, not that I have to tell you) about how happy you must have been to have him, but that the two sides just don’t stack up. They are just so separate in that way.
I wish that we were never handed the idea of it balancing out, though. If his life is good then that’s a good thing, and at the same time it’s hard for us not to have him. And it doesn’t have to be easy for us because he’s well, and it doesn’t have to be super amazing good times over there because you owe us. You owe him, and you’re giving him what you owe him.
I was less than eloquent—my hands were shaking, I was deeply upset, and I’m just never that well spoken. But looking at that now, I think Yeah. If nothing else, that is at least what I believe.