Sometimes it feels as if adoption swallows EVERY. SINGLE. PART. OF. MY. LIFE. While I love what I do, the people I help, the people I educate, the people who help me, the people who educate me, sometimes I find myself shutting down in the adoption world as it all becomes extremely overwhelming at times. Since this is a personal journey, for me, like so many others, it is often hard to separate all the pain that I feel with what I’m trying to do. I still find that I am at a place where I am forever playing tug of war with acceptance and denial. Intellectually I know that I carried my daughter for nine months, gave birth to her after almost a full day of labor, nurtured her in her first days, and got to know her in her first weeks….and then said goodbye. While I was lucky to have been able to see her on two separate occasions during the first 2 years of her life, I had wanted so much more. The expectations that I had in my heart for how this whole journey would play out have been a let down, to put it mildly.
It’s so easy to push it all aside, try to forget about the whole thing and live your life day by day the best you know how. To think about it makes it real and sometimes my reality is too much to bear. As a middle-aged woman, I cannot fathom what in the world would have made me actually give my child to other people to raise, people who were pretty much strangers, only vetted by an adoption agency. Even if they were not criminals, or had no history of anything questionable, did I really give my child to people I didn’t know? How could I possibly know if they would be a good fit for her after just a few meetings and phone calls? The knowledge and wisdom that only years of living has given me makes me sick to my stomach at times. It’s just all too much to comprehend, to analyze, to think about, to read between the lines. Every time I monitor a support group, write a blog post, share stories to help institute change, read about another reunion gone wrong, I am reminded of all of this. I am reminded that no matter how much my daughter feels like my daughter, no different from my other children, she does not look at me as her mother, the same as her other mother. I am reminded that I cannot give her all the “things” that they have given her. Not even close. I am reminded that she may not care either way if I am a part of her life and I will have to accept that and move on. I am reminded that to accept that possible fate is the same as accepting a bullet wound in my heart, because that is what it will feel like.
This is the part of me that puts my feelings above others. The part that longs for my child, the part that longs for all the years lost. This is the part of me that doesn’t think about how she feels or anyone else for that matter. Obviously I DO care how my children feel, more than myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to feel it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have hurt. And sometimes that hurt is so monumental, so breathtaking, so extravagant, that I need to shut down, to go into hibernation. I need to pretend an adoption didn’t happen. I will go to a happy place or a place of distraction. I will focus on the kids I am parenting, getting that closet cleaned out, perfecting that paper I’m working on for school, cleaning out the garage or binge watching episodes of Desperate Housewives, The Walking Dead, or Grey’s Anatomy. I will do anything to escape being a “birthmother.” A woman who has lost the most precious thing any woman can be given, her child.
When I go into hibernation mode from adoption-land I will avoid, avoid, and avoid some more. I don’t want to hear about anything adoption, I don’t want to read about anything adoption and I don’t want to be reminded that adoption exists. Ironically, however, this is where I will become obsessed with my daughter. I will check my e-mail incessantly to see if her parents have decided to give me an update, I will have nightmares about her, and I will look through her pictures over and over. I will put myself into denial, she still exists but there was never a time that I wasn’t her mother. I am always playing tug of war.
I have also found that when I am totally immersed in all things adoption activism, most of the time I am using that to avoid my own feelings about my personal story. The more I write about injustices happening to other people, the easier it is to forget about my loss. Until it isn’t easier, until the two worlds merge, for just a moment, and I need to shut down again. It’s like the two things are totally separate entities, chasing each other, until one catches the other and the cycle starts again. Except, they aren’t separate, they are one in the same. My brain, my heart, my soul, still cannot accept that. Every cell in my body is screaming that there is no way that a loss so profound could have happened to me, to my family.
It is at times like these that I think about how easy it was for me to slip into “the fog.” That happy place of denial where all adoption was great and I was a hero and my daughter would come to me one day and tell me how awesome I was for giving her away to rich people who could buy her things and then we would ride off into the sunset as mother and daughter. I know how easy it is to slip back into that place. It was warm and cozy and there was no tug of war. Except there was. What my mind was denying, my soul was trying to work out. Because of my suppression of these things, my life, I’m absolutely positive, was sabotaged. The things I could have achieved took way longer and I found other ways of dealing with the pain I was denying I had. Most of this took form in the way of a hefty addiction to food, and it has and is taking me a lot of hard work to overcome it. Purging my soul, doing what I do, has helped tremendously.
Sometimes I have to go into hibernation mode for survival. If I didn’t then I just can’t imagine ever truly surviving adoption. Maybe one day I will get to a place of TRUE peace. No chasing, no tug of war, no regrets. I don’t really ever think that’s possible, though. I do know this, however. No matter how many “breaks” I need, I will never stop fighting, never stop speaking out, and never stop trying to spare others from this pain. For now I just have to try to find a happy medium, because there is no escape. It’s a mental prison, and I’ll be trapped in it forever. May as well make due with what I have.