November is National Adoption Month. It is also the month my birthdaughter was born and coincidentally, around the Thanksgiving holiday. This is a horrible month, emotionally, for me. Everywhere I look it’s adoption, adoption, adoption. All over the news, all over the internet, the TV, the radio. I cannot escape it. And I most certainly cannot escape the feelings surrounding this time of year bringing back unpleasant memories from the time I had to say goodbye when I didn’t want to. This year, for IKL’s birthday, I decided to bite the bullet and mail a handmade “Life Book” to her parents as a birthday present. I have never given her a birthday present before. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed and had always been too scared to ask. I was never discouraged or told not to, either. I made my way to Walmart and purchased an empty scrap book and some paper and accessories. I sifted through digital copies of pictures of my life, my husband’s life, and my children’s lives and uploaded the best of the best to Walgreens and ordered prints. Me and my parented daughter’s sat at my mother’s large kitchen table for 6 hours and lovingly and painstakingly assembled our gift to IKL. A bio and facts about each one of her biological nuclear family was included on each page.
The beginning of the book features 4 pages of just myself, her birthmom. Pictures from my life from baby until now are included as well as my favorite things and things I hate. My “life story” summed up on a paper the size of an index card is also included as well as a small family tree; my grandparents, parents, and siblings. The next 2 pages are of my husband, her birthfather. Same thing. And then a page for each of her biological siblings. We then moved on to her birth place, Wisconsin. A few pages of postcards, state facts, and pictures we have taken over the years of this beautiful state were included. And then the 2 pages that cover her birth. Pictures from the hospital, a copy of the birth announcement (which included the name we gave her, how much she weighed, and her picture at birth), and how long I was in labor with her were included in these pages. One picture features my husband, sitting down, showing the camera our new daughter. His eyes are red and tears stream down his face. A small smile peeks through. I hope that seeing this will show her how much she was loved from the moment she came into our lives. The very next page is a single solitary picture from when we had her baptized before relinquishing. I am holding her, my husband is holding our older daughter, and the pastor and his wife accompany us. And some of the last pages show the two visits we did have. Us holding her, although a bewildered look is on her baby face (who ARE these people?). One more from a visit just before she was 2 years old. This one is her dancing with her older sister. Surely a treasure.
I hope beyond all hope that this is an acceptable gift for her parents to let her have. I hope it brings her comfort, and not pain. I hope that it helps her to get to know us in some small way and cushion whatever fear of us she may have. I tracked the package today and found it was delivered yesterday. I have not yet received word from IKL’s parents’ that they have received it. I had left some pages blank for them to insert pictures of all of us together or whatever they may choose to add. I hope they choose to add to it. I also hope it helps them to remember how close we used to be and what we originally had planned for IKL’s life. Regardless of all of the hurt adoption has brought to me, I still do miss them and love them. Sometimes it is hard to keep the two separate but it is something that must be done or I fear I will fall too far down the rabbit hole of adoption trauma.
November is the month of hell for me. It is the month of hell for a lot of people whose lives’ adoption has touched. When you are watching TV or browsing through Facebook and see all the smiling faces and happy stories of families “completed” by adoption, please remember those of us who hide in the dark, waiting for the ordeal to be over. We are not only birthmothers, we are adoptees as well. Our stories don’t make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. They force you to look reality in the face. But there are as many of us, if not more, as there are the glitter stories. Just because they hide us doesn’t mean we don’t exist.