Saturday, July 31, 2010

Because I've been there

It has been different having my best friend live with us while we are going through all our adoption stuff. She has a lot of questions about how and why are doing things the way we are. She has had some worries too.

Our adoption has been so different, that at times it is hard for me to talk to people about it. At this point there are even times I wish I could tell our caseworker to just shut up. I know our birth mom's past, well at least parts of it. Yes, she has made mistakes. Yes, she is young. BUT, she truly loves her daughter and wanted what is best for her. I don't care about what she did in the past, all I care about is now and the future.

I've not only immersed myself into the adoption world the past few years, I lived in it! My growing up, adoption story, isn't your run of the mill kinda thing. It all started before I was born... my biological parents were married when I was conceived. Before I was born, they separated and at 5 or 6 weeks old they divorced. Now I know little about their marriage, or even stuff about them. I was told growing up that my dad wouldn't provide for his family (my mom, sister and I) and that is why they divorced. I recently found out through my grandma that my dad, "Ted", was also sexually abusive with my mom, along with the verbal abuse and such. He refused to pay child support and wanted nothing to do with us and terminated his parental right when I was 7 months old.

I always knew that Ted was my dad. I never met him, or saw pictures of him when I was little. I was told nothing about him and I guess I was okay with that. I remember the day my mom sat me down and showed me pictures of her and Ted's wedding. I remember how much she cried as she showed me. She was left to be a single mom with Epilepsy.

Just after my seventh birthday she passed away one night following a seizure. It was then decided that her parents would adopt my sister and I. I vividly recall the day of court. My grandma drilled it into my head what to say to the judge. I was to tell him that I loved my grandparents very much and I wanted them to be my parents. I was only 7, but I knew it was wrong. In my heart, I wanted my aunt and uncle to be my parents. They had offered to adopt us, but my grandparents wouldn't let them. (They told me my whole life that they wanted us and I was always welcome in their home. When I was 19 and moved out of the crazy- abusive grandparents house I moved in with them, but that's a whole 'nother story there!)

I was not allowed to talk about my mom. I was forced to celebrate our 'Adoption Anniversary' every single year. To me it was heartbreaking, all it did was remind me of the loss of my mom. When I was 13 or 14 I got a letter from Ted in the mail. I don't remember much of what he said and to be honest, it's just too painful to read again. He was inviting my sister and I to his mother's 90th birthday (or at least I think it was her 90th?). He talked about how we would be able to meet all his family and so on. I had gone 13 years without him and now all of a sudden there he was. I was a total daddy's girl to my grandpa, and I didn't seem to miss Ted at all. My sister and I at least wanted to meet him. My grandparents arranged it and we met. At first I was interested in him. My sister, who is 1 year older then me, wanted nothing to do with him. We started e-mailing back and forth. My sister and I decided that we did not want to go to his mom's birthday party. After a few short months I started catching Ted in lies. I brought this up to my grandma right away. He began to makes threats to me that I didn't belong to my grandparents and I belonged to him and he was going to take me away. I instantly dropped contact.

He came around on holidays for a few years. I didn't like him, he gave me the crepes. The last time I really saw him was when he came over to tell us his mom died when I was almost 16. That was the end of our contact up until 2006. My husband and I decided to start doing foster care and for some reason that made me think of Ted and wanted to try having a relationship with him. I wrote him a letter saying I had forgiven him for abandoning me and wanted him to be a part of my life. After a few, nasty e-mails, I've sworn I will never talk to him again and I've seen him for the jerk that he really is. (Long drama there with Ted, I'm not going there tonight)

Now my point in this long story, My friend told me today that she thinks us having this "open adoption" is going to confuse Emma. Like she will be torn between an adoptive mom and a birth mom. I can't explain to my friend how I feel and what I personally know. Because I too had an adoptive mom and a birth mom. Now the situation is way different, but I've been there. My friend keeps asking me, What if the birth mom comes and tries to tell you how to parent Emma? What if Emma feels torn between 2 parents and is confused because she has 2 moms? Don't you think it will be hard for her to get birthday cards from her birth mom, I don't think she should send any. Don't you think that one day she is going to want to go live with her birth mom?

I keep thinking, I've got a few years before I really have to worry about this. But is it totally cocky for me to NOT worry about it, because I didn't feel that way. I know Emma is not me and she is going to see things differently then I did, but I know how I am going to raise her and what I'm going to tell her about her birth mom and I don't see these things happening. I honestly don't see having an open adoption as something that will screw up my daughter's life. Obviously if I did, I wouldn't be doing it.

Our birth mom has flat out told me that she isn't going to come around and try to parent Emma because that's Brad and I's job. And you know what, I believe her. And if she does, I'll tell her to back off...

The birthday card issue- I know for me personally if I got any from Ted, (which I didn't) I might of respected him more when I was older. In our final e-mails he said he loved him and thought about me all the time and always remembered my birthday, but he made NO effort to show any love for me or signs that he remember I existed. If I had gotten cards from him each year, yes it might of been hard when I was younger, but as an adult I would see differently. I would see that he was thinking about me on my birthday and that he must care, even if it was just a little. So please, Emma's birth mom, make a continuous effort to show/ tell Emma how much you love her and wanted what was best for her. Because hearing it for the first time when I was 22 and he had made no other effort to show me, along with calling me a B**** and all, I didn't really believe him!

When Ted was around, I did not feel torn between 2 dads. I had MY dad (grandpa) and then there was the man who created me, but wasn't fathering me. And I was only 13 when this was going on and a grasped the whole thing... I also don't feel torn between my moms either. I think honestly, and personally I have a stronger connection to my birth mom. She had me until I was 7 and it wasn't her choice to place me for adoption, she didn't want to all of a sudden not be alive and not be able to raise me. But it doesn't make me love my adopted mom any less. YES, there are things I am going to do differently with my daughter then my grandma did with me, but don't most people feel that way?

Sorry I keep dragging this on, but I can tell you from personal experience that I LOVE my birth mom, she is my MOM and always will be. But I also LOVE my adoptive mom, grandma, she's my Mom too! I love my grandpa, he's the only dad I've had. And well, Ted is just a jerk who's purpose in life was to create me is all! And for the record I have tired to have a civil relationship with him, but after a lot of heartache I've had to realize that it isn't possible. I either had to let go of him or let him keep hurting me emotionally.


QuackenBaby said...

I think you're doing the right thing for Emma in trying to keep an open adoption. We're adopting a 4 and 6 yr old sister sibling set, and I really wish we could have a semi-open adoption, but that isn't an option for us. Their mother is not willing/able to be in their lives. The girls lived and saw the abuse from her, so they too do not want contact.

I hope to be able to gather their health history etc. but I may not be able to. It breaks my heart, for them!

You do what you feel is best. If at any time it becomes unhealthy or unsafe, then put a stop to it! You have Emma's best interest in mind, not your own or someone else's feelings.

Good luck! I have enjoyed following your journey.

Giorgianni said...

Hi there! I know I haven't talked with you or met you, but thank you for letting my follow your journey. It means a lot to be able to see how others are going through similar situations as I am.

I've often wondered what I would do in a situation like yours, if given the chance to have an open adoption, and I think I'd want to have an open adoption as well. I completely respect and agree with you that it's all about how you raise your child. I have people in my life that were adopted and while they know about their birth parents, they love their adoptive parents beyond words and besides maybe meeting or finding out about their birth parents, they didn't feel confused or want to be with them. I think you have thought it all out and are prepared to do what is best for your child and I admire you wanting to have an open adoption. Not a lot of people do. Good luck and thank you for allowing me to follow your journey!