Thursday, November 17, 2011

...interview project 2011 : red...

ever since i started following along and participating in the blog production, not reproduction, i have been so excited about the interview project.  my excitement increased when i recieved my partner, red, a birth mother who placed her son nine years ago.  she is also the single mother of one daughter, cookie.  reading through her story has been an amazing ride, and she is, simply put, super woman.  the strength it takes to do what she did leaves me speechless.  i bow down to her awesomeness.

it's been eye opening to see things from her perspective.  placing her son, and raising her daughter.  i've always wondered how that is going to be for sadie and for boog (sadie getting married, having other children), especially with such questions as, 'why did you place me and not them' possibly mulling around in my son's mind as he gets older.  thank you so much, red, for letting me pick your brain.  

i hope you all enjoy.  we love birth mom's around here.  (you can read up on her blog here, where you can find my interview)

Why do you write?

Writing is an outlet for me, a way to get my feelings and thoughts into a more cohesive form. I used to write in journals, and now I write on my blog so that others can see my struggles and triumphs and hopefully learn from them.

Before your life became involved in adoption, what was your view of it and how has that changed since you found out you were pregnant?

I would say that before I thought about placing my son I didn’t think about adoption very much. I didn’t know anyone who had experience with it, and I had a lot of the same misconceptions that uneducated people have about all sides. I thought adopted kids were inherently broken, that they would feel the loss of their “real” parents for their whole lives. I thought a lot of people found out they were adopted when they were older, and that this would be a traumatic thing. I thought that birth parents were too poor or too uneducated or just plain unable to raise their children. If they weren’t then they were just selfish. Even after I became pregnant and a few people talked to me about adoption, I thought it was a terrible idea. I loved my baby too much to do that to myself, I could not imagine being able to hand him to someone and never see him again (did I mention I thought ALL adoptions were still closed?). I was 7 months pregnant by the time I decided placement was the right choice. It took a lot of counseling, a lot of downward spiraling in my life and a lot of betrayal by J (the birth father). Finally after I realized that the stress of it all was hurting the baby already (preterm labor) I decided he deserved more. By that time I knew more about adoption, but I still thought there was a chance I would have limited or no contact with Dawson after placement. It was a scary first couple of years.

When you found out you were pregnant, did your mind immediately go to adoption, or was there a process to get to that option?  I know for some it's an immediate thing, where for others there is more of a accepting curve.

Apparently I already kind of answered this with the first question. Adoption was a non issue for me for the first 2/3 of my pregnancy. Even with my sister struggling with infertility and pushing me in that direction I still fought against it. This is something I don’t admit often, but I got pregnant kind of on purpose (sounds weird but let me explain). After dating J for about 4 months we decided we loved each other so much that it didn’t matter if we had a baby, because it wouldn’t change anything (it was very na├»ve of us). So adoption was not my plan, I always planned to parent him. Until things DID change, and got so out of hand I couldn’t take the lies and betrayal anymore (and certainly didn’t want to put my child through it).

Are you a soda drinker?  If so, do you like Coca Cola?

I do drink soda, I prefer diet soda though (I know- I’m weird). I do enjoy a cola every now and then, but I have to admit I prefer Pepsi or Dr Pepper :D

How do you feel you've helped to educate people on the birth mom stereotype, and how can adoptive parents help?

I hope that by bringing my story out there I have educated some people. Even people who are close to me and knew my story didn’t always know that what they said or did was offensive to me when talking about adoption. I stayed in my own little bubble of family and friends for a long time, it’s only been in the last few years that the “birth mom” and “adoption” subjects have been easier to talk about and bring up more regularly. As far as adoptive parents helping, I think it should be regular practice that you say good things about your child’s birth parents. If someone says something negative please correct them (you don’t have to brawl with anyone, just politely correct the misconceptions). It’s really hard out there for us, between the hurt of losing a child and the judgment of people who are uneducated, and we need your help to bring those issues to light. I have yet to meet a birth mom who matches up with the stereotype, and almost all of the ones who willingly place are decent and amazing women. We deserve your respect, caring and love, if you show people that you give us these then they will follow suit. 

If you could tell prospective adoptive couples anything about expectant birth mother's, what would it be? 

Please tread carefully. We are fracturing ourselves, and it is HARD. I know that many of you have waited and hoped and gone through loss of your own. I know it is supposed to be a joyous time for you, but try to understand that we may need space. Or we may need you to be careful of your words. We may express things that scare you or make you worry for us, but try to be open and don’t pull away because of our grief. We may not be able to share in your joy for a time, and that needs to be ok. Please communicate what you need, but allow us to do the same. I wasn’t able to write a real letter to my son’s parents for over a year after placement, and then we were finally able to build our relationship. Grief is a powerful monster and we need to handle it our own way (each is different, some don’t need time but really need your cooperation and love). Above all KEEP YOUR WORD. If you make promises to us please keep them. I have seen birth mom’s whose lives are in shambles because the adoptive parents did not keep their word. Integrity should be the main goal in these situations. 

Are you ever worried that your placed son will ask you one day, 'Why did you place me and not her?'  How do you explain your son to your daughter?

I worry about it constantly. I also know that his mom knows him best, and she will be there to explain all the difficult things to him. If he needs to hear this all from me I will gladly tell him the story of how much I love them BOTH and how that love was manifested in different ways for each of my children. At the moment Cookie doesn’t really understand these complicated relationships. We have pictures of Dawson on the walls, and she has learned to point to him and say “bubber” (brother). I feel like because he is such an integral part of who I am he will always be present in my life and in my home (even if not physically). It may seem confusing to some people, but for me it makes sense for her to think of him as a brother. When they met for the first time this year, D (Dawson’s mom) let me know ahead of time that they didn’t want to confuse him by calling her “sister” (Dawson has a mild form of autism, so relationships are sometimes difficult for him to comprehend). We told him who Cookie was (my daughter) and I am not sure if he has connected those dots yet. When he does D will explain to him and offer to let him ask me anything he wants. She is an amazing mom, and I have no doubts she will find the perfect words to explain to him and help him understand. I also know the power of “normal” and how as long as this is what is normal for him, and for his family, I believe he will not find anything wrong with it. These conversations may not happen until he is old enough to realize our unique situation is ACTUALLY unique. By that time he will be old enough for me to give the whole story. 

A lot of adoptive couples worry about open adoption because they're afraid the birth mom will disapprove of their parenting methods or choices regarding their child.  Is this a legitimate fear? 

I’m not sure; I have to say that most of the birthparents I know are very supportive of the choices their child’s parents make. There may be a few exceptions (extreme cases) but I can’t think of any I have witnessed. I think we are usually just so happy to be part of their lives that the parenting styles don’t really matter so much. I can imagine there may be points where birth and adoptive parents get close enough to feel comfortable giving constructive criticism in that area, but I doubt that is true in most cases. Most of the time visits are farther apart, so we are just interested in meeting, having fun, seeing the child and the parents, and showing our undying gratitude (I’m speaking for myself here, I can’t say all birth mom’s feel like that). I know there are always horror stories out there, but those are the exception in my opinion. If we are grown up enough to know placement is right, we are grown up enough to know that these are YOUR children, and we are just lucky to be part of their lives. 

I have a drawer that has at least 31 sticks of chap stick.  Would you judge me for that?

Absolutely, I would judge you to have very soft and sun-protected lips! I’m sure your husband appreciates it :D
As far as grief goes, how do you think open adoption differs from a closed adoption? 

I have read a few blogs and books about closed adoption, but that is all of my experience with it. I can imagine that the grief would be much more difficult to deal with and last much longer. I know that I didn’t truly start feeling better about the adoption until I saw Dawson’s face while he was with his parents. I feel at peace even in times that are difficult, because I know him and I know their love for him. I can’t imagine not having  that succor in my time of need. I actually did my senior project in high school about open vs. closed adoption. From everything I have read and researched, open adoption is more healthy and peaceful for all members of the triad. Children feel at peace knowing who they are and where they came from, while still having the loving relationship with their parents. Birth parents feel at peace with their choice and know their child is safe, loved and in good hands. Adoptive parents have the knowledge of their child’s background and have a resource for genetic illnesses, along with adding the knowledge that their child will have better mental health in the long run. It’s a win-win-win as far as I’m concerned.

to find other participants, check go here.  it's some worth while ready, folks.

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Jewls said...

love this!

Lannie said...

Oh I loved this...especially the part about understanding the birthmother's grief. The way that she put it made some dots connect in my mind & it was like a little light bulb went off. Yay for the inspiration that blogging provides!

Layla said...

This is lovely.

Also, your chapstick addiction spawned my love of (and subsequent addiction to) Blistex Deep Renewal.

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