Monday, December 31, 2012

Letting Go - Part 2

"Just let it go" "Let go of the past" These are things we hear a lot, especially mothers of adoption loss and these are things I tend to think about as we head into another new year. Letting go, like forgiveness, seems to happen in stages for me. Maybe not even stages but maybe just happening in bits, over and over again. If you've read past posts you know that I was railroaded into exile and ultimately losing my daughter by a number of forces. One of those forces was my family. I still have a relationship with the family so that's one area where the forgiveness has to happen again and again. Each time a thoughtless comment is made that touches on the subject of adoption, the old anger comes rising up. Of course the person who was most instrumental in me losing my baby is the one who makes most of those comments. I think denial is one powerful force. We've had many discussions (some of them were actually more like confrontations) about what happened with me and my daughter. I've also shared much of what I've learned about the current state of infant adoption and the coercion that still happens yet I sometimes still hear her say things like....

"I don't know how she could sign her rights away like that" - talking about another woman who surrendered her newborn.

"Why are you glad that K decided not to adopt?"

"Oh what a shame that M is not adopting another baby"

"But what about the pain of the infertile couple?"

When I hear these statements coming from this person I shake my head and once again say... "Do you realize who you are saying this to?" My hands start shaking, the lump in my throat grows, sometimes we go another round and I have to deal with the anger all over again. Sometimes I just walk away and say "I can't talk to you about this" This is when the forgiveness process starts all over again. There just doesn't seem to be an end to it. How do you just let it go when constantly faced with these attitudes, especially from people close to you who know what you've been through?

What led me to thinking about this besides the holidays? This post on Lost Daughters that Deanna posted on Dec. 23rd.

Deanna wrote:

 I've been a pastor for 25 years, and in all that time, I've never heard anyone advise a non-adoptee: 
"Just move on. Leave your family behind. Are you going to waste a lifetime thinking about your family? Don't you know God has bigger plans for you?"
No, you don't hear that, and it would be pathetic if you did. People are often encouraged, as it should be, to love their family, to be committed to them, to invest time.

Except adopted people.

We're expected to leave our families behind, shake the dust off our feet, and go on with our lives. And then we're supposed to profusely thank God we got the opportunity to go through it all.  

She could just as easily have been talking about exiled mothers. We were supposed to let go of the fact that we had just given birth. Let go of our children, our flesh and blood. Pretend nothing happened, move on and just have more kids. Would you expect that of someone whose child had died? Would say to a grieving parent - just move on, you can always have more? We're viewed as a different breed of mother, actually breed-er is more accurate. And yes, we were expected to be grateful that someone was taking care of our children so we could carry on with our lives whether that meant finishing college or just being young and having fun.

When you lose a child your life does change. There is no going back to being young and having fun. There is no picking up where you left off. You're not the same person anymore. Losing a child is not something you let go of, it's something you learn to live with one day at a time. Forgiving and letting go of anger is an ongoing process and it's something I work on for myself - my own peace of mind and my health. It doesn't change or benefit the other person. I've processed a lot in 2012 and I know there will be more to come in '13.

I hope we all have a healthy and peaceful new year. I hope for positive changes in the adoption industry such as the end of exploitation of pregnant women and more headway made in family preservation. I hope the focus returns to finding homes for children who need them rather than finding babies for adults who want them. At this point it may be a pipe dream but we have to start somewhere....

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Letting Go

Letting go. It means so many different things. It could mean letting go of the fact that I'm adopted by my step-father. It could mean letting go of the fact that I lost my first born to adoption. It could mean letting go of the anger I feel towards my family for forcing me to hide my pregnancy, forcing me to let my baby go to strangers. It could mean letting go of the children I raised as they grow up and learn to live on their own and make their own way. I kid around about creating a bubble of space, a family compound, in which my kids have to move around in as adults. We don't want them to move too far away from us. Is it me making demands on them that I shouldn't? They have the right to make their own way in the world. What right do I have to limit their range of movement? I don't have that right. I know that I resist their movement away from me and it's partially because of my own history. I know there's a part of me that wants to keep them close by so I don't have to deal with losing them. They shouldn't have to pay for my history.

Today is my birthday and I wonder... does my father's family think of me? After 54 years, do they wonder about me on my birthday? Does my Uncle Tommy wonder what happened to his brother's child? Does my Aunt Shirley wonder why I left the family? Do they wonder if things had been different, would they have more family to consider, more family to think of as the years go by? I don't know. I was never given the opportunity to have those questions answered. I was never given the chance to know those people. As a grandmother myself, did my grandmother grieve losing me? I was her son's child. Did that cause her grief? I know, having a granddaughter from my only son, that it would certainly cause me grief to lose contact with that little girl. I can't even imagine not having my little granddaughter in my life. What was that like for my grandmother?

Lately I've been wondering about my relationship with my (raised) kids and how their lives have been affected by the surrender of my first born to adoption. Do I smother them? Do I make them feel like they can't get away from us because of my need to "mother" them? Does my need to mother keep them tied to me longer than would be normal? Does my need to "mother" cause them to work harder to break away? Do they miss the relationship they could have had with the sister that was denied to them? My daughter grew up with a brother but she didn't grow up with a sister. Would that have changed her in some way? There are so many questions and many of them left unanswered.

Letting go is something to be explored.... later date..... another time......