Friday, August 26, 2011

The Dynamic of Adoption

This past Tuesday I had the amazing opportunity to sit on a panel of other birth moms, birth dads, adoptive parents and adopted kids and share my story before a group of prospective adoptive parents. As I looked out and around I saw eager faces, couples excited and scared for the journey ahead of them. I had no idea what I was going to say. I had no idea what these people even wanted to hear from me. I have told my story so many times that I figured it would just come naturally to me, but as I was sitting up there I got nervous and felt completely blank. Thankfully, another birth mom whose daughter was now 7 years old, shared her story before I did. As I listened to her I related to a person more than I think I have ever related to anybody. Quite frankly she was bringing tears to my eyes. After hearing her speak, I knew exactly what I was going to say and I expected to blubber my way through my whole spiel. Two other people shared, an adoptive mom and her adopted daughter, and then it was my turn. The first line of my quickly rehearsed speech came out and then I just blanked. I forgot everything I wanted to say, every emotion I had been feeling. For a split second I freaked, then I just went ahead and said what was on my heart and what I felt would be beneficial to the 10 couples who were staring at me. For my first time on the panel, I think it went pretty well. I truly enjoyed listening to every single person share their journey. It was a blessing to hear a variety of experiences and absorb the beauty of this dynamic God has created through adoption. It's definitely not the easiest dynamic. Every person in that room has experienced their fair share of brokenness, grief, and pain. Yet they also have experienced their fair share of joy, happiness, and thankfulness. I plan on sharing on another panel if I am provided the opportunity.

This experience, as rewarding as it was, reminded me of the difficult dynamic of my situation. The other birth mom that shared her story shared that she had originally been pretty close to the adoptive family and saw her daughter often, but slowly over the years that relationship faded and she now sees them just once a year. My heart slightly sank at the thought of that. Ok fine, I'll be honest, my heart COMPLETELY sank at the though of that. I love Grace, but I also dearly love Liz and Eric. They became my family. There are some changes already occurring, as they naturally should, but will the day come that I only see them once a year? I know I will cross that bridge when I get there, but that hard dynamic of adoption sometimes weighs on my heart. What if one day they don't want me around as often? What if that day starts now? So many things I know that I should not worry about. God has brought me this far and blessed me tremendously and I know He will continue to do so, but that nagging feeling still can get the best of me at times.

Here's another dynamic that I rarely considered while pregnant and in my own little private survival mode. This adoption does not just affect me. It affects those around me, namely my family and my best friends. My parents have a granddaughter, my sister a niece, Stella a sister ;) and my best friends a baby (niece) that they got to know so well as she grew in the womb. Each and every one of those people had to let go of Grace too.

In no way I am hinting at any feelings of regret. I know with every fiber of my being that I made the right decision. I know that I am supported by every single person I know and love and even by strangers that have heard my story. I am merely just reflecting on some truths and trying to be as real as I possibly can be.

Adoption is an absolutely wonderful and beautiful thing. Every day I am thankful for the role I have in this dynamic. I wouldn't go back and change a thing. Sometimes the most beautiful things in life are the things that aren't the easiest. I know that to be true and it pushes me through the difficult realities of this dynamic of adoption.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bringing Sunshine

Today I put on a pair of capris that I had not been able to wear since the earliest stages of pregnancy. I know, WAHOO! I immediately felt that this day was going to be a great day. I reached into the pockets to straighten them out and find the tiniest piece of paper. I was going to just toss it thinking there’s no way it could contain something relevant, but something stopped me. So I opened it up and saw it was a fortune from one of those little fortune cookies. It read, “You will bring sunshine to someone’s life”.  Of course I stared at it and got very teary-eyed.  Now, something to know about me is that I would not consider myself to be superstitious. I don’t pay much attention to the fortunes on the cookies or horoscopes. But, at some point last summer I had eaten Chinese food and saved this little fortune. I don’t remember if I was already pregnant, or even knew I was pregnant when I obtained this fortune, but regardless, it was going to come true. Grace would come into this world and bring sunshine to countless people, namely her parents, who waited so long and patiently for her. And to randomly find that little fortune a year later was a beautiful reminder of this beautiful, purposed life experience. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Letting Go

The other day I woke up at 5am, wide awake, and no amount of tossing and turning could put me back to sleep. So I decided to make some more progress on the journal I have been working on for Grace that was supposed to be done this summer. Back in October, while still adjusting to being pregnant and having no idea how everything would turn out, I spent a good hour or so flipping through every pregnancy journal on the shelves of both Borders and Barnes and Nobles' bookstores. I was desperate to start recording anything and everything I experienced with her during this time. Just in case I never saw her again after she was born I wanted her to know that I loved her deeply, that I cared, and if she turned out to be as sentimental as I am, I wanted her to be able to know her story from my side. This journal I found was the only one that was more focused on the pregnancy experience itself rather than all the baby showers, daddy do-good deeds, nursery themes, etc. that a lot of pregnancy journals like to include. Things I would painfully not be experiencing this pregnancy. The journal I found perfectly focused on me and Grace and the short time we had together. 

So here I am now 4 months after her birth revisiting the journal and filling in some of the missing spots. As I near the end of the journal it asks questions about all the "firsts" the occur once baby is home. It's only a couple pages of questions, but as I skim through them I realize the one thing that will always cause a little pang of hurt inside of me: I don't know. I don't know what her first night at home was like, I don't know what her favorite pacifier is, I don't know her feeding time, her nap time, or her disposition. I don't know anything about the things that it feels like, as a mother, I should know. 

For nine months I was the one that knew everything about her. I knew her active times, I knew her favorite foods, I knew how to make her move, I knew her sleepy times, I knew her hiccups from her kicks, I knew everything there was to know about her for those nine months. And I cherished every moment of it. I knew I wouldn't get it back, I knew one day someone else would know more about her than I do. And I knew that that was the way it was supposed to be. 

I think the biggest, and hardest thing we have to endure as a parent is the act of letting go. At many stages in our children's lives we learn to let go in certain ways whether it is when we can no longer hold them, their first day of school, the day they move out for college, or the day they get married. For me, that day came when she was born. I endured the act of letting go the day she was born. And I get asked all the time if that was hard for me. Of course that was hard for me, I carried her for nine months and gave birth to her. But from the day I found out I was pregnant I knew God was telling me that she belonged to Him and the He had a plan for her. And He was right, her life was in His hands now in pregnancy and it would be for the rest of her life. And I leaned on that and trusted in God to give me the strength I needed to let go. And He did. 

Much to my surprise, Grace is 4 months old and I know all about her. Of course it is not firsthand knowledge, but that is completely ok. I get to see her and watch her grow. I get to hear from Liz all of her accomplishments and milestones. I don't sit at home and wonder and feel guilty for not knowing. I am thankful everyday for the opportunity I have to know her and her parents. There will always be a pang of hurt about the things I do not know firsthand about Grace or experience myself, but just knowing how happy she is, how ecstatic Liz and Eric are and how I get to play a small part in that gives me great joy and peace.