Thursday, August 26, 2010

Open Adoption: Thoughts and Feelings Part 2 "The Trump Card"

***** I am somewhat overwhelmed at the response to my last post.  I thank you for your comments, your emails, the facebook messages and even the phone calls. *****

Fear, insecurity and jealousy are not the only emotions I feel during our visits with the girls' family.  They aren't even the most dominant emotions I feel.  I sometimes feel joy and peace.  I am committed to our relationship.  I love her and I love how the girls love her too.  I respect her role in our lives, and I respect that it is her decision that made me their mother too.  And yet, that ugliness, that humanness, that realness is still there. 

When I think about why it is so easy for me to celebrate the love my children have for friends and family, and why I still twinge when those conjoined feelings of jealousy and insecurity rear their heads during visits with their biological  family, I think it simply lays bare the reality that is adoption. 

Deep down, somewhere I don't want to look or even admit exists, I must secretly believe that their mother holds the Ultimate Trump Card in our relationship, and in the relationship I have with our shared children. 

I might be married and stable and secure.  I might have a home, a driver's license and a car.  I might have never had my parenting deemed unacceptable and have my children removed from me against my will  (*** which is the case in our situation and certainly not the case in every adoption***) I might spend 99.999999% of the time with the girls.  I might be the one that reads them every bed time story, gets 99.999999% of every snuggle, gives every bath, takes them on every vacation, see every first, hear every sob and every giggle.  I might be the one they call mommy and I might be the one that gets to raise them until adulthood.

BUT, and this is a big BUT, at the end of the day I am not their only mother.  I am not their biological mother.  And to many in the world I am not their REAL mother.  And, of course, ultimately, that is what I wish I was and probably ultimately what every biological mother not raising her children wishes she was too.  THE mom.  The ONLY mom.

I still feel this.  I, who chose being an adoptive parent as a first choice.  I, who never struggled with infertility.  I, who not only tolerate the fact that some my kids are different from me genetically but in fact CELEBRATE that fact.  I, who have spent years nurturing friendships with first moms and adoptees and understanding their stories; shedding tears on their behalf.  I, who believe in fighting for justice and openness and fairness. 

I, who have actively pursued a relationship with all our kids relatives, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Jen,  who sells openness everywhere she writes.  I, who have pictures of our kids other parents displayed prominently in our home. I, who encourages visits and nurtures relationships and who believes in this process. 

And still I struggle.  I hate to admit it, I was terrified to admit it, but still I do.  I don't want to.  I want to be secure and confident and of course I am working at getting there.  But these children hold my heart and nothing matters more to me in life than being loved by them and being valued by them.  Being a mom  - THEIR MOM - is who I am. Being a good mom is intrinsically tied to my sense of self and there is no award, no degree, no prize I want from life other than at the end of the day for my children to love me half as deeply as I love them and to say I was a good mother.

I will work this through.  I will talk about it so that maybe others will know they are not alone.  I will lay myself bare - stark and naked - with the ugliness and possessiveness and fear apparent so that we can talk about these feelings. 

And so I suppose, despite my feelings, there is no Trump Card in this process of relationship building.  These are OUR children.  This is our reality.  This is the reality of adoption.  And sometimes, love bites.  Just ask Jayde.


birthmothertalks said...

I can understand you from a birthmother's perspective of it. It's an ugly side of us but we are human and the fact that you know it's there and still open your door and heart to the girl's biological family shows that you are a good Mom and you do have their best interest at heart even though if it hurts.

Anonymous said...

As always your honesty is refreshing. True, real, raw, challenging, empathetic towards all sides.

Di said...

Your heart is pure GOLD. Hugs!

Kayla said...

These are the exact same thoughts I had this week. Sometimes it is all just too much and I just don't want to share. And I know in my heart that I will because that is the right thing for my child.

Deb said...

Great post, and that picture is adorable!!

Missional Family said...

Both posts mirrored so much of my own feelings. We adopted 5 kids from foster care.

Our older 3 have an open adoption with their bio family. Theirs was a case where there were no visits with anyone in their bio family for their time in foster care. For just over 4 years, they had not seen their bio mother. They have not seen their bio father in over 5 years now. We have only had 1 visit with their bio mother, which was in February. In the next month, we plan on another visit. With their first visit, the kids really had no attachment to her, happy to see her, but not this real connection to her. I was still 'mom' and husband was still 'dad'.

Even then, with them doing so well with it all, I still felt that she had that trump card.

She is who she is. She holds on to those intimate details of her pregnancies. Their births. First steps. First words. First favorites. She has shared some of those things, but in reality, she doesn't want to tell us most of it.
She wants to be the one who tells them as they get older. Do I think she wants to be trumping us? Yes. Does it make it right? No. Do I call her on it? No.

She still struggles with the fact that we have adopted the kids, despite that only happening because of her poor choices.

Even though I know she wants to pull them over to her side, I work really hard to keep this relationship open. She has this misguided belief that when the kids turn 18, they will just leave us and come back to her.

It is soooooo hard to continue to have this relationship with her, but we are doing it not for her, not for me, but for these three kids! I pray that one day, the work we have put into making this relationship work, will benefit the kids! So they can grow up feeling secure in who they are.

In our younger 2 girls case, their bio mother has a legally binding agreement, but has never asked to see the girls. We have no way to contact her or track her down. As much as I go nuts in dealing with bio mom #1, knowing that this bio mom wants no relationship with the girls, is just as hard, if not harder!

I want her to be a part of their lives. I want them to know her, know their half siblings. Know where they 'come from'.

It is such a hard journey to walk at times. I've discovered there is NO easy answer. No matter the situation, adoption is a matter of loss. Everyone responds differently to that loss.

Thank you for posting your thoughts and feelings. Whether or not the feelings and emotions we experience are logical, they are still real.

Sometimes holding it all in to paint this pretty picture to those outside is hard to do.

Anonymous said...

It can be hard even without adoption. My son does not know his father at all. His father wasn't interested. When son was 12 I decided that they should meet. Big drama followed, but son was not much bothered by it.

I hate using economic terms to describe relations but time invested day to day really does pay off. In the "end" the bonds formed in day to relations are very strong.

Love can break our hearts in the most confusing ways.

Sharla said...

I appreciate your honesty and candor. I can relate so much to what you have said. The truth about adoption is that though it is beautiful and a miracle, it is at its root, about loss. It is not easy.
You are doing right by your children though by not only embracing their birth families, but also in being honest about the contrasts of feelings that brings.

Unknown said...

Your a saint!