My Child’s Pain

It has been quite a while since I have written anything.  Life got busy and I had major neck surgery.  I am looking forward next week to getting out of this neck collar.  It has been hard, but the hardest thing I have had to deal with is my daughter’s pain.

Over the summer we located her birth mother and she had her first of many conversations with this woman.  She discovered she has sisters, two children that this woman kept, and a brother that this woman gave up for adoption as well.  She talked to her sisters, she talked to her birth mother.  The brother she may never meet although the universe decides these things.

After months of this woman telling my daughter that she loves her, can’t wait to meet her, wants to be a part of her life etc., she bailed.  She talked to me on the phone and said she had just been leading my daughter on, she has no room in her life for her, that there was a reason why she gave the kids up, and that she does not want to hear from her again.  And I had to break that news to my daughter who was, of course, devastated.

I held this sweet girl in my arms the best I could with a neck collar while she cried.  And it has been about two weeks and she has easier and harder times with it.  I’m thankful that I never took her to meet this woman as I think it would have made it even harder for her.

The cruelty of what this woman did is beyond my comprehension.  And I know it would not offer my daughter any comfort to tell her that while she feels some sort of connection because this woman gave birth to her, this woman does not think of her as her child.  And she is not her child, she is my daughter.  I brought her home from the NICU with her twin brother and they have been mine ever since.  I have cared for them when they were sick, looked after their every need, played with them, taught them, and most of all loved them.

My life has not been easy at least in childhood and my relationship with my parents was hard and I was on my own very young.  But nothing in my life has been harder than walking my daughter through this devastation.  I have cried more in the last two weeks than the last ten years.  There is just something about being helpless in the face of her pain – I could not stop what happened and I can’t put a bandaid on it.

I also think that when your child goes through something it brings up things for the parent about their own childhood.  So its twice the pain.  But also twice the opportunity to heal.

I let my daughter watch me cry.  I also let her see me do my own work on myself.  And this sweet 14 year old girl has a brother who struggles to understand things so he would keep talking about it trying to understand that my daughter was not going to have a relationship with this woman.  When I was about to ask him to stop talking about it and that he and I would talk later, my little girl looked and me and said “it is ok mom.  If I don’t hear and talk about the reality of it then I won’t accept it.”

So over the last two weeks there have been tears, therapy, more tears.  But my girl is smart.  She decided to explore what she actually likes doing for fun, what brings her joy, and to do more of those things.  She is starting to cook, to draw, and wants to learn to play the drums (I promised her a drum set).  So she talks about her sadness and anger but also holds space for the fact that something might shift in the future.  She refuses to say or hear anything unkind about this woman.  And my heart breaks a little every time she says maybe she will try again in a year or two.  But I know that she has her own path that she has to follow and it is not for me to say.  My job is to love and support and protect her the best I can.  But about this, it is her path.

It just took me aback at how much pain I experienced over her pain and how much it brought up for me.  And that I know is my work.

Life can be complicated.

Adoption Unfolding: Finding the Birth Mother For My Kids

Not being able to have kids of my own was a huge issue for me.  I went through a long, protracted, agonizing grief period.  I was angry at God and my body and filled with longing and despair.  It was something I longed for since I was small.  A family of my own that no one could ever take away.  I remember feeling entitled to this because things had been so hard and screwed up in my family when I was a child.  This continued well beyond the time when I adopted my kids.  I love my kids beyond words, that is separate from this longing that I experienced.

When we adopted the kids, it was basically a closed adoption.  We met the birth mother once and there was no communication between us after the day we first arrived in Arkansas to adopt the kids.  She had lunch with us and then took us up to the NICU to see the kids.  She left suddenly, I imagine because the pain was so great.

The kids have always known that they were adopted.  My 13 year old daughter has gone through many periods of longing to know her birth mother.  She was and is young and I did not really imagine that I would be dealing with her meeting her birth mother before she was 18.  That all changed this week.

My daughter again brought up the issue of wanting to know this woman who gave birth to her.  The desire, the longing, pulls at her maybe in a similar way to how wanting children pulled at me.  So this week I searched for and found her birth mother.  I spent some time crying while looking through this woman’s FB page.  I looked at her family, her husband, her daughter, her life.  It seemed like she had pulled her life together and was pretty happy.

So I sent her a message, sobbing the entire time not exactly sure why.  The message basically said that I’m the woman who adopted your kids and my daughter wants to know you.  I told her that I hold her in a place of immense gratitude, that I hoped my message would find her well and not cause her pain.  I asked her to contact me and welcomed her to look through my FB page to see the kids.  I was not sure she would contact me and hoped both that she would and a little bit that she would not.  Mostly that she would.  Then I told my daughter that I had found her and let her see her birth mother’s FB page and the message that I had sent.

I had no idea what would happen.  Would she respond at all?  Would she be upset?  Would my daughter be ok if she did not respond?  If she did respond, how would I feel?  Would my daughter prefer her to me?  Would my daughter forget me?  Would she still love me?  Questions that don’t need an answer for the most part.  They are patterns of not feeling worthy and patterns cannot be reassured.  So I took a deep breath,  One of the gifts I learned in yoga and the personal work I have done the last several years is that I can breathe into any kind or amount of pain and it will lessen, it will ease.

Yesterday afternoon the birth mother replied to my message.  She said she had wished for this day for many years, that she thought of the kids and us often.  She said she needed a little time to pray about it but that she was grateful that I had reached out.  I was surprisingly excited to hear from her.  Not just for my daughter, but for myself as well.  This too surprised me.  After sitting with it for just a short period of time I realized that I want to share them with her.  I want her to see that I cherished the gift I was given.  I want her to know all about them and know that I did a good job.  I want her to see that they are happy and well adjusted.  I want her to like me.  Then I did the unthinkable and told her all of that in a message.  She thought it was sweet and said that she never doubted the kids were wonderful and well loved.  We have not had any communication since that and I expect it will be a few days before we do.  I told my daughter about all of this with my husband who is having a really hard time with it all.  My son just doesn’t want to know.  He said, “look Wuddles, I’m fine and I’m going to be with you forever so don’t worry.’  He also said he is not interested in meeting his birth mother at this time.  But he is at a different stage of development and has challenges of his own.  He may change is mind, he may not.

So all of this is a lot to sit with, and here I am surprised again.  I have no fear that this is going to be a negative experience.  I know that my daughter’s innate nature and the way I raised her means that her heart is big enough for more than one person.  And so is mine.  I can see a world at some point where the birth mother and her family become a sort of extended family to my kids.  We share the biggest possible thing together, the kids.  Likewise, I know that none of that may come to pass.  My husband is upset and having a really hard time with it.  My son is on the fence.  I have no idea whether the birth mother’s husband and family know that she had these kids and gave them up for adoption and what them knowing might do to her life.  I don’t know what fears she may have and whether she is willing and able to face them.  There is a lot that I don’t know.

What I do know is that I have done so much work on myself and learned so much from my yoga practice that I can sit with not knowing.  My mind can spin fears and I don’t have to believe them.  I can allow my heart to be open enough for any of these possibilities.  I can sit in the contradiction and be ok.  I can breathe anytime it hurts.  I can feel relief rather than fear.  I can know that this may be one of the biggest gifts I can give my daughter, that she doesn’t have to wait until she is an adult to find this in her life like so many do.  I can wait while this all unfolds and not feel the need to rush to see how things work out.  I can be thankful for whatever this brings to my life and the lives of my kids.  I can watch all of this unfold and know that God sent me nothing but angels to bring us to this beautiful place where we can grow and experience ourselves and each other in a place of light and love.  I can do all sorts of things today that I could not do before I started on this healing journey.  For all of this, I am grateful.

Namaste.

Adoption: A Quick Look at the Beginning

I was talking to another mom today and of course we got to the topic of our kids.  It does not come up often anymore that my kids are adopted (twins) but today it did.  At some point in the conversation the woman looked at me and said “You took them both?”

It never occurred to me otherwise.  I guess I don’t often realize how hard the journey was when we first brought the kids home.  They were born at 27 weeks and weighed a little over a pound each.  They both had heart surgery at 5 weeks and both had BPD and ROP, one much more severe than the other.  They both came home on oxygen with monitors.  My son was in the NICU about a month longer than my daughter.

Our adoption process was quick.  One of the quickest I had ever heard of.  We started the process in October, the kids were born in October.  The adoption was finalized at the end of January, a mere three months later.

I spent six weeks in a hotel in another state.  My daughter was discharged a week after we got there and my son remained in the hospital for another month.  Every day I took my daughter to the NICU and I took care of both of them during the day.  Then at night I took care of her.  I could not wait to get home with them.  I was so happy all the time.

I would stroller her around the hospital stopping people constantly asking them “isn’t she the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?”  Everyone agreed.  And my heart would ache at night when I had to leave my son there.  I enjoyed being with them all the time.

Coming home was a challenge.  We could not fly commercially because of the oxygen tanks and the fact that we could not get a direct flight.  The doctors did not want them in the car seats for as long as it would have taken to drive (probably about 10 days with all the stops we would have had to make).  Angel flights came to our rescue and got us home, for which we were really grateful.

Maybe it was because I had never had one kid so I don’t really know how it would have been easier.  I can’t imagine my life any other way than the way it is.  I also could not see at the time that they were all that sick.  I was so certain they would be fine that I never questioned it.  And it never occurred to me that the kids would be split up.  I have always thought it a gift that they have the same biological and adoptive family.  We have always talked openly about being adopted and we saved everything from their birth mother for them.  We take it out every year when we celebrate adoption day so that they can look at it.

Our kids are comfortable with the fact that they are adopted.  I overheard someone giving my daughter a hard time about being adopted and they said to her that she did not grow in my belly – like it was an insult.  She looked at him and said no, she did not grow in my belly but rather she grew in my soul.  Best answer ever.  And indeed they did.