Monday, January 08, 2007

The end of the end and the beginning of the beginning...

Well, I just tried to write the story and clearly I am not as "over it" as I thought I was. It is coming out slowly, but I am trying to be fair. I start writing and all the hurt comes out. I find myself wanting to list all the terrible things that happened. That isn't the point and it isn't right. I am trying really hard to be fair and honest at the same time. Some of it is not really meant for the blog world. Maybe if I was anonymous, but I am not....dude, I just went off again and had to erase it. Man this is hard!

I am working on a good long post, one that needs to be split into several posts, about adoption stuff that has been kicking around for awhile. I really hope that the other adoptive mammas that read here will comment and add their knowledge and experience. I hope those of you that know NOTHING about adoption will feel free to ask questions. They might be the very questions that someone else is wondering and doesn't dare ask. Obviously race issues will be part of it, so those of you that have experience with that should chime in too. I am here to learn and to teach. The ultimate goal is to raise all three of my kids to be healthy, responsible, happy, confident adults. I can't do it alone. I also think that the more knowledge that is out there the better for all of us. I am also open to answering questions. If you have something you have been dying to know, now is the time. No holds barred. Sort of.

So, the story. The situation with M ended badly. I will get more into that soon, but suffice it to say that it was about as bad as it could be. I was very sad that it ended the way it did. I was sad that was the end of the story that we would have to tell Cubby. We tried to have contact in April but trust was immediately violated again and the door was shut on our side again. Permanently, as far as we were concerned unless some things changed on her end. We felt that we had done everything we could, over and above what even the most patient and forgiving people would do. We felt that to continue the relationship would be hurtful not just to Jacob but to the entire family. We also believe in forgiveness. We believe that people can change (deep down inside I don't know if they really do, but I know that they CAN. It has happened before, right?). We left a tiny crack in the door open for M. We told her that we felt that she hadn't passive in the hurt that she caused. She had been very organized, calculating and aggressive in targeting us (and others) and causing us hurt. We needed to know that she would be careful with us next time and that we could trust her to be careful with our boy. We gave her a list of things that we felt would go a long way towards helping us understand that she was serious about rebuilding a long term, healthy relationship with her son and our family. We needed her to do some things on a regular basis that showed us that she had the follow through. She needed to send us some pictures, update us about her new address (or update our lawyer, the choice is hers) on a regular basis. She needed to acknowledge her part in the breakdown of the relationship before. She needed to apologize about some things (not about choosing to parent, but other things). We sent the letter and then sat back to wait. I had already come to a certain amount of peace with what had happened. I made a website for Cubby that I updated monthly and I know she was checking it (thank goodness for stat counters). I knew that she and her other boys had access to pictures and info about him but that was as far as it was going to go. She understood that when she did the things that we outlined, we would be happy to send her real pictures and have e mails again and at some point work up to visits again. To my shock and surprise (I am ashamed to admit that), she did it. She sent letters, she sent pictures (to our attorney, she isn't allowed to have our new contact info right now) and wrote a wonderful letter to our boy telling him all about his new sister and how his brothers are doing. She was respectful to us in it and it was exactly the kind of letter that I wanted my son to have from his first mamma. It was loving and sweet, but it was also real.

Derek was the one that surprised me. He is the one that decided to try and visit them while we were in Utah for Christmas (they recently moved there from Chicago). I was not really ready to see them. I am the one that had most of the contact w/ M during the second pregnancy. I fielded the calls and did the emotional support. I was the one that felt personally violated in the end. Derek was more mad in a general sense. Even though the logical part of me knows that she has the right to raise Jojo and that we didn't have any kind of "claim" on him, she still spent 8 months telling me that he would be ours. We had planned for him and held him when he was born and bonded with him and I still was mourning him (and the other baby that we lost just a few months earlier). I wasn't ready to see him or her. I e mailed M and asked her if it was ok that we visit and she was very excited. A few weeks before the trip I tried to e mail her again and pin down the date and time. No answer. I tried again and again. No answer. I didn't really know what to do. Was she not answering because it would be too hard to see him and just ignoring it was easier than verbalizing it? Was she just not answering because she couldn't get to a computer (but the stat counter showed me that she had seen the website since then)? Was she once again just not doing what I felt to be "her part" in keeping this going? I felt that, at the very least, she could respond to our inquiry about what time we should meet. I immediately assumed that she was doing what she had done time and time again. We give one inch and she takes that as her cue to stop doing her part. She told us again and again how much she wanted to see Cubby and now she won't even answer the email about the time and place? Aghhh. I didn't want to force her to see him if she wasn't ready, but I felt that she might be waiting for us and I know that she told her 11 year old about the visit. In the last e mail I told her that we had time on a specific day in the afternoon/evening. I didn't feel that we could just not show up because there was a chance that was expecting us, she just didn't bother to let us know she got the message. Believe me, I was very tempted to just walk away and make her understand that she needed to actively participate in this process, starting with basic common courtesy. This was her last freebie (and now she knows it). Derek and I drove to their town and I stayed at Oh Judy and The Jolly Porter' s house while Derek headed off into a blizzard to find the M family.

He got to the address that she gave us in her letter and it was the wrong one. The people that lived there did know the family, and they knew them from church! That was a good sign. M has a hard time maintaining relationships so the fact that these people knew of her was a good sign. Derek found the right address and knocked on the door. It was clear that they didn't know he was coming. He heard little voices behind the door "Cubby is here!! He is here!!" The door flew open and there they all were. This is the best part. They didn't know we were coming but the house was clean, the kids were just out of the bath and they were in their jammies, ready for bed at bedtime (in the past when we knew them, bedtime was whenever they fell over and the living conditions left much to be desired). The house was calm and peaceful. The TV wasn't on full volume. They are able to rent a 5 bedroom house in a smallish town where housing his more affordable. This is their third place in the 9 months they have lived in Utah, but I am hoping this one might stick. R was there (he is her husband, but not the father of any of the kids but the last one) and he was friendly. M was in tears. They were so happy to see him. Derek took pictures like crazy. You can see from the earlier pictures that Cubby wasn't too sure about all of them. M won him over by showing him her phone. Buttons and gadgets are the way to that boy's heart for sure. Soon he was wrestling and cuddling with all of them.



They were really excited to see him and called some of their friends that live in their town saying "Cubby is here". I understand that these are people from church who have helped them get settled and find jobs. They came over and had a good visit with Derek. The last time that we saw the family, the younger boys were really wild and hard to control (wow, that sounds familiar) but this time they seemed to be just fine. Calm, controlled and sweet. Now that Jacob is the same age that they were at the time, I have a feeling that their behavior was more of an age thing than a parenting thing. The new baby is adorable and M was just so happy. She had a good talk w/ Derek and said some thing that were really nice to hear. Mostly, she and boys just loved on Cubby and played with the toys we brought the boys. He stayed about an hour (it was pretty late) and left with promise of another visit this year.

Here are a few things I want to point out. Some have criticized me for putting the pictures up on the blog. It was pointed out that this is Cubby's story to tell and the pictures of his family are not for public consumption. It is ok if you feel that way and I appreciate the concern. My answer to that is that I put the first part of this story out on the blog (I am not sure I would have done that again) and I wanted to show the follow up. As for the pictures, I put my kid's pictures up all the time and don't have issues with that. I am also not "outing" anyone. In M's home, there are lots of pictures of us and the kids on the wall. In fact, she has met people in her home who have recognized us or Cubby from the pictures and made the connection. She knows many of our friends from California who have moved to the neighborhood where she now lives. She is very open about the fact that she placed her son with us. It is not a secret to anyone. It is also not a secret that Jacob is adopted. We don't have the kind of situation where he can decide who he tells. I put some thought into this and felt that this was ok. Nori's situation would be totally different. I would never do that about her family because I know how they feel about it.

I feel like we have not been a very good advertisement for open adoption. Out of loyalty to us, some of our friends and family are still on the fence about whether this is a good idea or not. Please know that I am horrified that some people will only know about adoption from our story and what we have to tell them hasn't always been good. Please know that every person is different and that most people do not have the experience that we had. You haven't heard the whole story and believe me when I say that I have never heard anyone that has dealt with anything close to what eventually played out in our story. Please know that everything we did that resulted in the hurt and loss and grief we felt was our choice and we did it for our son and that is all. Please know that I would do it all again (but to be totally honest, I would have walked away sooner). Please also know that the reason I choose to share "the rest of the story" is so that the way that it was left isn't the end of the story. That was not the ending I wanted for my son and it isn't the ending I want to leave the rest of you with. I chose to share the first part (for right or for wrong) so I wanted to be fair and show the follow up. I want to show that open adoption takes commitment and managed expectations and contestant re-evaluation.

I believe that his family has a lot to offer him in terms of how to grow up as a black man today. I can't give him that. I believe that they have a lot to offer him because they are the people that look like him, they share physical and personality traits. He fits with them in a way that he will never fit with us. I believe that they have a lot to offer him because they love him and he is part of them. I believe that it is important for M's other kids to have a relationship with their brother, even if I chose never to be in contact with M again. That doesn't take anything away from our family. I have heard the comment from more than one of you that it bothers you to hear me call M his mom, because I am his mom and it seems like it takes away my role in his life. I don't feel that way at all. M IS his mom, so am I. I am his every day mom and she is his special mom. Nothing will change that. It is up to him to decide what role we each play in his life. I am not threatened by her at all. I am angry with her, I am wary of her and I think she has a long way to go before I will sit back and feel safe with all of this, but I am not threatened by her being his mom. We should all be so lucky to have two moms that love us. I just have to make sure that her involvement in his life is something that will help him be a better man. Having no first mom in his life is better (in my opinion) than having one that does things that does hurtful to him or us, even if she doesn't mean to.


That is the story.

I don't pretend to think that this is happily every after. I will be bold enough to think that this could be the start of a really good thing. I will be on my guard and I will continue to expect M to do her part. The letters need to continue (even if she just wants to send them to the attorney and not us) and there needs to be common courtesy between all of us. Next time, she will need to reply to us and be pro-active about arranging visits. We will not just "drop in" on her again. I also have changed what I expect from her. My expectations are very, very low so that this time I won't be disappointed. It was a good thing in the long run. In many ways it re-humanized her again. She isn't the heartless monster that I thought of her as in my mind for the last few months. She is just a woman who made mistakes, who loves her son and who (for now) is doing the best that she can make things better. That is all we can ask.

Next subject--Mamma's. Birthmothers, adoptive mothers, all mothers.....

35 comments:

stephanie garcia said...

Hi Bek! I came here from TT and appreciated what you had to share. The pictures are beautiful. I think I'm the first commenter, so I just wanted to point out (in case in matters to you) that in some instances you used initial or nicknames and in others you used real names ... just in case you wanted/needed to edit. GOD bless! ~Stephanie (chilemom)

Bek said...

Yikes, thank you!! I'll fix that....

AzĂșcar said...

I still think you are brave, generous, and forgiving.

Bek said...

Thanks C. The forgiving is coming slowly, the brave and generous are a work in progress, but it is getting better....

Mandy said...

Amazing story and it does sound like M is taking steps in the right direction. I don't know your whole story but I do know what she did to another TT friend and if your story is anything like that I do understand your feelings. You just keep doing what's right for Cubby and don't worry about what other people say. You are the momma and what you are doing for him is right from your momma's heart.

Bek said...

Mandy, although she did do to us what she did to the other TT friend, that was the least of the troubles. That is what I mean when I say trust me on this one. We didn't just have a failed match or get scammed. It was much, much more. Not that the other stuff wasn't bad enough. Thanks for the kind words.

That Asha is adorable. I can't believe how big she is. :-)

Amanda/MayhemMama said...

Bek,
Thank you for sharing this. Wow, wow, wow... I'm so glad for Cubby and your whole family that things are going better with his first family. I'm very impressed that you have been able to look past your (very reasonable) anger, disappointment, and fear to continue to do what you see as best for Cubby. And you seem to have handled everything with so much grace! (Like maintaining the website, even when you couldn't have personal contact with her.) I am sure I would not have done as well as you and Derek.

Please don't be afraid of making adoptive parents or potential adoptive parents think that open adoption is too hard... By sharing your story, I think you have shown how open adoptions really can work--sometimes it *is* hard, and everyone has to adjust their expectations, but that's how relationships go. And the rewards are great too. I think your family's story is a great encouragement to other adoptive families, my own included.

I might come back and comment again after I've thought about your post a bit more...

Thanks again.

Suzie Petunia said...

I have learned a lot from you - being one of those people who knew very little about open adoptions before I got to know you. I know not all adoption situations are this tricky and you've had a very difficult situation with lots of ups and downs. I think it is very courageous of you to continue to want to have a relationship with her for Cubby's sake. I think you are doing everything possible to make it good for him as he grows and understands the whole story. I admire how hard you are working at trying to forgive. That can't be an easy thing. I know how it is to feel one way and desperately WANT to feel another. I'm proud of you.

Julie P said...

Beautiful. Honest. Wonderful, wonderful post. Adoption isn't ever the "easy" way, but isn't it a joy, a challenge, an incredible learning experience and BLESSING? What a road you've been on...how interesting and exciting it will be to see it continue to unwind.

You know, of course, that our youngest is from a closed adoption. Knowing all the difficulties and frustrations that open adoptions can bring, I still mourn that it isn't open; while respecting 100% Joshua's birthmom's beautiful & courageous choice to place him into our family, and what I'm sure was a difficult decision in keeping the adoption closed.

Bek said...

Interestingly Julie, Nori's adoption is essentially closed (ie, we have had no contact FROM them but have given them lots of it...) and I am really sad about that. I look forward to the day they decide it is time to give us a call. I would still rather have open than closed. Plus, I left out the fact that we really love M just a person and for who she is. I find that I don't think of her as M but as Jacob's mom, I am more inclined to do the right thing....

b. said...

Bek-Having spent all of about 90 minutes actually talking face to face with you, and many more reading your stories...a few observations:
1. You are probably THE most open, fair, solid, stable, and healthy mom I know when it comes to adoption.
2. I don't think I could have done it your way. I don't know....my experience was completely different...first 2 closed, third sort of open--birthmom handed her to us and I sent 1 year calendar and pics with NO response. All 3 caucasian.
3. You are doing what works for you, your husband, and your little family right now....when and if that doesn't work for you anymore, you'll do something different.
4. You're doing a GREAT job!
5. You are beautiful--inside and out.

compulsive writer said...

I just loved the pics and I wanted to say that truth and honesty are never a bad thing.

You're amazing!

Bek said...

wow...the kindness just pours out. Thanks. B-- I responded to your comment on the last post. It said the same thing pretty much. Our situation was different because it started out open and we knew them...go check it out for more details.

I appreciate everyone being nice here. I need to assure you that during the last year and a half I have very often been far from gracious, generous or kind. I have been as mean and spiteful and horrible as anyone would have been. The difference is that it doesn't change the fact that I have a little boy who will grow up to be a man who does have another mother. It is my job, as his mother, to make that a good thing for him, not a bad one. If any of you were in the same situation, you would do the same thing. I know you would because you love your kids and would do anything for them. That is just the way it is.....

But, I'll take the kind words anyway. I have loved turning my blog friends into face friends. B--we need to talk. Compulsive, you too....

La Yen said...

I appreciate your story because our open adoption is SO incredibly open,complicated, and easy. It reminds me that there are other ways that it can work in the future. It also reminds me that there is hope for people within every circumstance. I don't know that I cold be as ready to start over as you were--it takes me YEARS to commit to another fish after one dies; if I had a baby refused to me I don't know that I could start again anew so easily. SO your story is a great example of forgiveness and commitment.
As far as people commenting that you are his mother, not M, I am with you--I have always felt that the birthmoms deserve every title that they want or need--we are the ones who are getting the real prize. Our birthmom still refers to Jooj with a special name that she would have given her--some people freak at that, but I think that she needs all of the special memories that she can get. She knows that Jooj won't answer to it, but it gives her something almost sacred that she only has. When you give so much up, you have to keep something for yourself, I think.
And a big shout out to Derek--I know W could not have done that. He would have pummelled anyone who hurt me. I hope he can be that forgiving one day, if needs be.

Leisha said...

What shines brightest in this tale is your love and devotion to your children. From reading this, and many other posts, you seem to be a Mom willing to sacrifice your own feelings to fulfill the needs of your child. No small task in my eyes.

Bek said...

Yen... I love hearing your story because it seems more difficult to me than ours... ironic, huh?

Leisha, thank you.... I do try to sacrifice for my kids, but I will not, however, sacrifice my Diet Coke or salad to then, and that is all the my little guy wants right now. MY salad off my plate or or MY drink out of my cup (he doesn't want his own...) The little puppy. Reconciling is one thing, my soda is something entirely different :-)

Away2me said...

I posted this on TT and thought I should read more here and post my question/comment here.
Why have her in your lives? She is obviously not a person of any moral or ethically quality. I would never have someone around my child who has her character. Not a grandma, aunt, cousin, nobody. Why does biology make it okay for him to have that type of person in his life? I know you said she is changing but in all honesty has enough time passed? Has she made retributions to the families she has cost? How can she prove this soon that she's a changed person.

I just don't understand what the value is in your son having her in his life at this time.

Hope I haven't come across rude or judgemental.

Betina said...

Okay, I want to know how you mustered up the strength to have such an open adoption. WOW. My kids know about their birth mothers,see pictures and hear stories, but I don't have it in me to take them to their homes. I know I will help them find their birth families as adults, but as children (for now) I am happy with letters and pictures.

I do admit, though, that I am happy to have a lot of pictures etc. from my daughter's 1st family and sad that my son has next to nothing. That is another thing. How will you talk to Nori about her 1st family with no ongoing contact, and make her feel okay about Jacob's high volume contact situation?

My cousin was adopted in an open adoption scenario with annual visits for her whole life, and at her wedding my Aunt made sure there was a Mother's corsage for her daughter's Birth Mom. (unfortunelty it was sort of a shotgun wedding, a pregnant teenage bride) anyway, I can see you doing something like this. Very loving.

I really do love the 1st mothers of my children.... ony adoptive mothers can really understand how this love feels... but at the same time, I am not ready to sit on a park bench and co-parent with them.

Insecurity.

I admire your confidence, truly.

Ana said...

Thanks for this, Bek. I appreciate your sharing, and for the record I question the whole idea of "it's his story to tell." If we never tell it, how are our kids going to learn that it's okay to talk about it?

Our adoptions are both theoretically open but in practice, S's is closed and A's semi-open. S's birthmom has essentially disappeared. Her mother thinks she went to another state. As much as I would like for Sam to have a relationship with her, she has basically fled from that.

A's birthmom I adore, but she is all the way on the other coast and it's just hard to be in touch as much as we would like. In addition, it is really hard to be close with her when I know we can never give that to S. It's always complicated.

Queen Scarlett said...

You are truly one of the most amazing women I have met. (in person and vitually) I honestly have no idea how you are able to do it all. You are a fantastic mother... with a far bigger heart than I can muster...reading about your adoption process. And... you have time in the midst of chaos to lend support and understanding when we need it most. Your kids...and any future kids that have the good fortune of entering your home - are blessed because you are their mother. I feel so lucky to know you. Thanks for being there when I desperately needed it. AND please... let me know when I can return that grace.

You are a goddess-example.

Christy said...

I've been trying to leave a comment for the past couple of days and now that I finally can, I can't remember exactly what I was going to say. Oh well, here begins the rambling.

We don't have any more contact with our kids' birthmothers. This isn't our choice. It was theirs. I wish we could have had more open adoptions. Both of my kids have siblings out there that I hope they'll be able to know someday.

I know open adoptions aren't always easy. Heck, apparently giving birth isn't always a piece of cake either.

Also--the things you choose to share with your friends, family and on this blog about ANYTHING is your business. I've always considered myself pretty open with sharing. I've never heard anyone complain to a mother that has told everyone how many stitches she needed or how many hours of labor she endured that she shouldn't be sharing those things because it is the "baby's story" to share.

Syd said...

Bek, you are awesome. Really. I think that after all that you've been through (and it looks like I've only a partial idea) you are amazing to have left the door open for a visit. And to let the visit take place. You really do have Cubbys best interest at heart. You are an awesome mom!! I also call my kids birth moms their moms at times. They are. It's just a fact. Maddy has just recently gotten into hearing her story, she loves it. "Mom, tell me how you got me" she'll say. Hey, I want to know what this TT is. Sounds like some form of adoption forum. Fill me in if I can join too. You are an amazing woman. I can't wait to chat with you, although I am afraid to call now, knowing what Cubby can do while you are on the phone. What time does he go to bed? Hugs!!

Bek said...

Again, thanks to all for the comments. I think that Away2me brought up some good points. She and I have "known" each other for awhile. She is a wonderful mother and a very direct woman. I have learned a lot about the adoption process from her, she has (unknowingly) helped further my quest to understand birth mothers w/ her blog and her dialouge with a few moms that have been very hurtful to me. I addressed her comments on the web forum that we both belong to, but I am going to post it as well. I have a feeling that she is not the only one that was thinking "crazy lady, why would you do that?".....

I'll have that post up soon.

Bek said...

Betina, I want to address the birthmother thing in another post. Open adoption is hard but it can be very helpful too. We felt that it was a good thing for our family. We were committed to doing it right. We have been blessed by it as much as we have been hurt by it. It is, however, not anything close to co parenting. :-) The one thing that M has NEVER done (and since she has done almost everything else, we are very happy for this) is try to split hairs about who are his parents. At her wedding we were intrudced to HER parents as Jacob's mom and dad. In the letters she wrote him she says things like "go give your mom and dad a hug for me". She defers to what we need. Even when he as a baby, she would say things like "is it ok if I hold him/feed him?" She is very careful to make sure that we feel that she respectst that we are his parents. I am so grateful for that. I would have a hard time with the other situation I think. I am just a control freak like that. :-)

The key to a happy situation in all things and especially adoption is doing what we are comfortable with. No all people would be comfortable or fully committed to having a transracial family. Not everyone wants an open adoption. That is fine. The key is to be as absolutely informed as you can be and go forth with courage and faith. That is all.

Also, the short answer to Deanna's question is that the fact remains that she IS his mother and that will matter to him some day. Even if it is just in a very small way. The fact that there IS biology there makes it even more important to give her more chances and respect than I would give a stranger (say, the other women who scammed us...we had one other one). I have a different obligation to M than Camille does. Right?

I also belive that no one is all good or all bad. Yes, she acted in a way that was without ethics and was hurtful. I know that she has good stuff in there too. I know that she was also like a caged animal acting out of grief, desparation and hopelessness. That can make all of us a little crazy. My hope is that now that the dust has settled and she is in a more stable lifestyle than she was then, she can have the chance to be the supportive and caring person that I know she can be. I have seen that side of her and I want Jacob to know that side too.... more to come.....

lisa v. clark said...

I have known Bek for a long time, in many different circumstances and watching her go through this entire process just proves what I first sensed about Erbecca the first time we met-- which is that she is one of the most generous, honest, humble, kind, intellegent people you will ever meet.

I think you have been fair and generous in your calculation of events and I'm so glad that things are moving in the direction they are. You and Derek deserve it.

angie said...

Bek, Thank you for sharing your feelings and story. The pictures are so beautiful and I really appriciate your honesty. I have learned a lot from you and I am thankful you have been so open with sharing your adoptions and life.

Bek said...

Thanks Lisa, aside from my family, you are the one person that I still know, who has known me the longest. I feel that this whole thing was poison to my soul and I didn't want to be there anymore. I wanted to feel like the girl that I was when I met you. That is all.

I keep hearing "wow, what an unselfish thing you are doing for him" but can you all see that doing this was the MOST selfish thing I could do. I have opened the door to more potential hurt for my boy so that I can heal.....

so complext this whole adoption thing....but still worth it.

liz said...

Bek is that you in the frist picture? If so- nice to 'meet you' and you are adorable!

Thanks for trusting your readership with such personal posts. I think that is what is such a treasure about blogging, being real and genuine in writing about life and feelings to the point I feel it quite theraputic when I do it. I hope you gain such a reward and not so much the judging it sounds like you have had tossed your way.

Adoptive experiences or not, EVERY family runs the ship differently and it's the parents of each family to chart out the course (with guidance from The Lord), regardless of how other people think we should be doing it. I am proud of you for knowing what is best for your family and going with it and being bold enoguh to publish. And learning along the way, and adjusting. You rock.

Design Mom said...

What a story. You are brave and wonderful.

Gretchen said...

Wow. I originally read this post the other day but couldn't truly appreciate it until I was able to go back and read your archives. Thank you for sharing this. You have a beautiful family.

Queso said...

Bek, wow. Just read through it all, and I'm moved by how incredibly brave and generous and gracious you are. Cubby is indeed a lucky little boy to have two moms...two families...who love him. Especially because one of those moms is you. What a wonderful post.

mommeof4 said...

I'm more than a little confused with all the names and incidents you've spoken of, the intials 'TT', and the level of familiarity some of the posters here have with one of the women with whom you had (hoped to?) contracted to have a child join your family.

I will read, and re-read, and digest.

I am feeling a growing sense of uneasiness at what seems an uncharitable feeling toward the other/mother pictured with the child, and wonder if such a public journal and chronology does not feed a deep well of resentment and act as a well of self-congratulatory spewing, complete with cheerleaders.

It does feel like too much, and does feel that the sharing of so many aspects of the triangulated relationship (s) that exists between your family and the third party family-of-origin leans toward a flailing, entrapped attempt to seek confirmation that the situation is unreasonably complicated, and that you should feel free to spew.

There are reasons to feel the strain, to be sure. But at what point do the insights into the lives and hardships of someone who has entered our lives, and the hardships they have brought into our lives, get examined for an assessment of how much the tone of the relatiionship reflects our own choices? How much of the sharing reflects a spiteful need to have many people know the higher ground on which we walk, and the ground laden with seismic faults that others walk?

I think it amazing that you are willing to talk about the holes in your socks, as we all have them, but...well, I guess I am one voice of dissent about where this comes from.

Peace to you as you figure out where it takes you.

Bek said...

Thanks for your comment Mommieof4. I wish you had left a place where I could address your concerns. Your profile didn't lead anywhere... I regret that I have to do this in a public forum, but I also don't want to leave some of those comments unanswered (this journal acts as a record for my kids as well as a blog... they will read it some day and might have the same questions you did).

It is also clear you don't know all the story. I am not saying any of these things from a place of things to make her look bad or trying to get pats on the back (again, I was quite uncomfortable with that part of it). If anything, I regret that I shared things with my family and support system before and during all the drama. At the time I needed the support but in retrospect I realize that now that the info is out there, we can't get it back. We started this ball rolling and I wanted only to set the record straight. There is also a little bit more to this story than the average "she didn't give me her baby and so now I feel entitled to righteous indignation" scenerio that you clearly thought that this was.

What you don't understand is that my son's mom asked us to adopt her next child who was due just 10.5 months after my son was born. She asked us to support her financially (we couldn't totally do that,but we helped). I was also pregnant at the time (a pregnancy I lost in the second trimester) and my MIL was diagnosed with breast cancer and our grandmother was DYING of cancer at the same time. Not the best time for our family in terms of crisis. True, she did not choose to place with us in the end. That is not actually the part that I have issue with. Many, many things happened during the course of our relationship with her that were hurtful to us and our son, both before and after the second pregnancy. THings that were harmful to us financially, things that were illegal. Threats were made that jepordized our keeping ANY of our children in our home. Our safety was in question in a very real way. Those are the things that I struggled with. So, if it sounds like I have resentment, HELL YES I do. If it sounds like I am looking for people to back me up in my reason to spew. No. That is wrong. She almost destroyed our family. Truely. Not just in an " I am so sad" way, but in a very calculating and frightening way. We almost lost everything.

If you know me at all you would know that I am a huge advocate for birthmom rights and that we were very reluctanted to accept this child at all. In light of the closeness of age of the kids, my own pregnancy and other things that were happening at the time, accepting this placement was the LAST thing we wanted to do. But, she felt strongly (and we agreed) that the kids should be together. If anything, I wasn't going to tell my son's mother no to a request like that.

Many of the things that later happened were not made public (exept the identity theft and welfare fraud part) and infact are not even know to many members of our family. We learned the lesson. But, we were in a situation that had the FBI, the IRS and various attorney's involved. It was hard to keep all of it secret in a case like that. Family and friends tend to find out stuff like that.

The TT that you refer to is a forum that was started by a woman that I met because she ALSO thought she was adopting this same baby. One of 9 families that thought they were actually.... We have since formed a friendship, but many of the readers of this blog know about what happened from people OTHER than us. Other people who were involved in the same situation that we were in..execpt they weren't already parenting one of her children. The forum I choose not to make public because it is a safe place and so far it has managed to stay an open and supportive place for all memebers of the triad. There isn't much of the flaming and stupid stuff that happens on the other popular form. Some of the women who commented here are members of that forum and know of M's issues because of that angle... not mine. The rest are friends of mine and supported me through the year of living hell that followed. This is NOT an adoption blog. I am not trying to make some huge statement. This is a blog about my family and my life. THese people are a part of that. And, if anything, I was trying to show that things are better. If you thought that I sounded self righetous in that post, that is too bad. I though that I was doing a pretty good job. I am not there yet, but I am in a much better place and MUCH closer to finding "peace" (as you put it) than I was. We are seeking to have her become a part of our life again. And so the again, the actually point of this post was not to be reinforced for "sharing too much" or any of the toher things that I said, it was to help point out to all the other people, who out of loyalty to us, like to put M in the role of monster. They love us and want to hate anyone that hurts us. I was simply trying to show them that things are changing...slowly but still moving in a better direction. I wanted to show them that we are making progress. Again, I don't often write stuff about adoption on this blog. That isn't its point, but as adoption is part of our life, the topic comes up.

I am glad you visited my blog and left a comment. Really I am. I think that we all need to constantly make sure we know our motives. If you are sick about the fact that I have "cheerleaders", I was a little embarassed by that too (and it truely wasn't the goal of that post) but it is nice to know that people love me, love my kids and are supportive. Most of the commenters here are people I know in real life. Other are people that I have corresponded with for more than a year. This wasn't a flagrant "tell it to the world" post. I am not sure how you found this and I am sorry that you have a different opinion. I guess I just respectfully acknowledge yours and ask that you understand that you don't know enough of this situation at all to be making those kinds of judgements. I appreciate you pointing out that is how it might look to those who are unfamiliar with me personally. I guess I view this blog as something that I own. I know that it is public, but it is still a product of me. When you come to my blog, it is as if I have invited you into my house. I get to decide what I put up and what I don't and if others don't like it, they are welcome to say so, but I might not get too worked up about it.

Finally (and here is me most DEFINITELY getting on my soapbox.....) I take issue with your use of the word "contracting" when referring to a woman chosing to place a child. We don't make contracts for people. I know it might seem that way, but from this I only can assume you aren't familiar with adoption (and if you are, I cringe at your use of the word even more). Babies are people. Woman have the right to parent their children. Period. I have never and will never be angry about that fact (initally we were upset and diappointed but that passes)that a woman chooses to parent. ANYONE who spends more than 10 minutes researching adoption will understand that message loud and clear. We can be disappointed, but we all know going into this that a "match" is not a "contract". Actually, many adoptive families DON"T realize that going into it and that makes me sad. There is no entitlement on the side of the adoptive family. There expectant mother has every right to raise her child. I, however, do not go up asking pregnant women if they are thinking of placing. Every "match" we have had has approached the agency, attorney or us directly. They take the first step. So to call it making a "contract" is not the way it is done, and if an expectant parent or adoptive family is made to fee that a match is a contract, that is wrong. There is NO obligation for the expectant parent to place the child.

Often, it can feel cooercive when the mom is not getting independent therapy or feels financially beholden to the agency or family. Often the expectant parent doesn't have other options or feel that they have a choice but to place. That is not the fault of the adoptive family, but due to choices that led her there in the first place. Sadly, we don't choose to spend as much money and time encouragine these woman to explore their options a little bit more. But frankly, I don't know if it is the adoption agencies place to try and talk them out of it. I don't go to a laundry mat expecting someone to talk me out of washing my clothes. Expecting an adotion agency to NOT push adoption is kind of silly. That is why there are MANY things that I would like to see change in adoption so that at least the expectant parents wouldn't feel obligated (real or implied) to place. At the end of the day, we need to focus more resources on helping women realistically decide whether they can parent or not. No one should use adoption (a very long term solution) as a remedy to a short term problem. Then again, parenting isn't always the right answer for everyone either. I just think that the most imformed chioce you can make is the best one.

I hope this doesn't come off sounding defensive. Nothing you have said isn't something I haven't examined in myself or heard before. The difference here is that I have and know the whole story. I know that I am an advocate for ethical adoption. I am activly engaged in helping to make those changes.. I just don't talk about it on my blog. There are lots of things I don't talk about on this blog. This was something that I felt was important enough to share.

I have researched and understand the problems in adoption and am doing everything in my power to make this situation (one that already exists in my family) the best that it can be. Part of that was not leaving the end of the story the way it was left. You can't know that because you don't know me. I get it. You assume I am like other naieve parents that decided that adoption is "too hard" and just choose to walk away. You assume that I am jealous of my son's mother. Further from the truth. I love her and welcome her back in our lives...we just had to get past the lies and mis-trust and unravel the mess she left us in before we could rebulid our relationship. The REAL disservice would be if I were to air ALL the info and then choose to use that as a reason to shut the door forever.

Thanks for your comment. I wish that I didn't have to respond publicly, but you really left me no choice.

I also realize that I left a lot of the story out. I left out the part about how it has been so wonderful to see her again and see her boys. I left out the part about how much this has healed me and how much farther I am on the road to forgive her. We love this family and we missed them. That is what is important to know. I don't choose to pretent that rest of the stuff didn't happen. My boy will know the whole story some day, but my hope is that this will just be a very small side note in an otherwise warm and long term relationship with is family....

Peace to you as well.

Third Mom said...

Bek, thank you so much for sharing this story with us. I appreciate that you've told it so honestly, and also that you've made clear how important this relationship is for your son.

I sincerely hope that your and your son's relationship with his mother continues to build into a strong and lasting one.

Troy & Tara Livesay said...

Hi-
Wanted to thank you for your comment of congrats on our blog --- but this post grabbed my attention. Open adoption is scary stuff but ulitmately good stuff I think ---- if you have the heart for it that is ---- we are learning as we go and this is all new to us -- but I appreciate those that have been open to it and hearing the stories is helpful.