Friday, July 23, 2010

The Bridges We Cross

Question asked: Our birth mother does not want to spend time with us. I would like to see her, spend time with her and her child because they are siblings, but she seems to have lost interest in us. I do not know what to think or what to do, I really need to know if there is something I should be doing to help this situation. She was rather depressed after the birth of our baby and I fear that she wants nothing to do with us. What should I do?

Normally, I do not post such heartfelt questions, but this one I felt needed to be posted because there are things that people do not understand when it comes to live after placement for a mother. (That and I have been asked this same kind of question before.) Here is my experience.....and I STRESS that I do not speak for all birth mothers out there. This is my mind, my thoughts.

I will speak as a birth mother, and I will tell you what I think...I am not giving advice because there really is no set advice in adoption. There can't be, so know that first and for most. Here is what I know about life after placement...

I too was very depressed after my daughter's placement. It was a complete psychological, Freudian, Catholicism, society and self pressure melt down. I did not think I made a mistake, I knew that I did the right thing. That was not the problem. I had spent months trying to prepare myself for the fall that would happen after birth and what happened is not at all describable, or is it expected to be the same for every mother out there. I loved that baby, I truly loved her and I also loved her family...but it was still hard for me not to be constantly wondering what was going on in her life. What was she doing? What did she look like? Will she ever know how very difficult it was for me to let go? Can she forgive me for doing so? It was so very draining and I just wanted to pull myself up and go on, get back to life because no matter how I felt, that is what I chose for her, and  for myself.

I received letters and pictures and that helped, but at the same time it killed me to see how much she looked like me! How she sat like me! How she smiled so big, it light up the picture and I was sure there were so many there that were close to her and were also in love with her. But it hurt. Those letters were sometimes the beginning of months of grief and guilt that would set me back in the healing. I almost wanted to just not look at them and separate myself from her, to not be THE MOM who walked away. My heart physically hurt, sometimes it was hard to breath if I thought about it too much. And it really was no one's fault, I mean I knew it would be heartbreaking and an amputation of my soul. I read the stories, I knew a couple of birth mothers from generations before me who suffered immense guilt and wondering that never really went away. I asked my doctor for the brochures and literature that would help me understand the mental repercussions, the depression that you mention. It takes a toll and has to be learned to be handled at different levels through life, again and again.

Then I had another adoption, twins, that was completely different in every way. The circumstances, the mental state that I was in after my daughter, the relationship that I was in, and my relationship with God. The last is a fact and I know that I get dinged on from time to time, but I stand by what I say: I asked Him what it was that I was supposed to do? I got pregnant while using birth control and I am sure there is a reason why you would ask me to do this again, but what is it? He lead me to it, and by it I mean adoption. He gave me the parents that would be all that they needed to be in order to help an open adoption work, the background that I had in disappointment and heartache, the guidance of a mother who was nothing short of a one woman support system with such heart, such understanding, and such wonderful listening skills she would have given Freud a run for his money! I was just waiting for the light that would lift the veil of constant thinking, constant sadness, all the time feeling low, guilted, ashamed that it happened to me.

When I had my son Bodde, I changed so much. It was a monumental thing for me as a mother because it taught me to really appreciate children. I let it all go and just wanted to focus on what was in front of me, not what had happened in the past. I had very good years once my adopted children were older and I could send them cards and letters. It was a wonderful release for me to tell them how much I thought of them, how I was thinking of them on special days, how I was moving on with life and making one of my own, all the while I was doing so in the presence of knowing they may not want to know me. That would be my worst nightmare, that they did not want to know me or hear the reasons or understand what it took for me to just walk life without my heart, without my children. Bodde changed all of that, he taught me to live life now. To embrace the moments that are with you, not away from you. I learned that I cannot change the past and even if I could, would I want to tempt fate like that?

Perhaps this may be how your birth mother is feeling, maybe she is just trying to move on a little further down the path. l think she is just really enjoying her life now, may perhaps have a few feelings or thoughts that she needs to work through, and she will come around in person when she is ready to. I say relax and let her come to you. It may be a while, it could be next week. Just as much as you are afraid that there is something wrong with her, she is just as scared that you may think that she is freaking out or something. I would not read that much into it, everyone heals differently. It sounds like you really care for her, and she knows that in your contact with her. That is FANTASTIC!!!!! What ever you do, don't ever stop the communication. It is important to make sure you stay open and understand that it is so difficult to cut yourself off, physically, with your child the way she has. It is nothing to worry about, we all just need different ways to deal with the lifetime of change that comes with being a birth mother.

My healing did not happen over night, it did not happen in 5 years, and it will never end, that healing. It is life and anything can happen on a dime. I was just fortunate enough to have it all be worth it in the end. All the time of confusion, reminiscing, wondering, sobbing, low self esteem, the time just thinking about it all. It was worth it because I now know myself as well as my children, and I could not ask for anything more. Life did move on, and it moved on in a way that could not have been planned. Well, it was planned...but not by me.


Brit O'Connor said...

I can't believe how spot on this is to what I'm going through right now. My daughter's 4th birthday is on Tuesday, and her birthday party is next Friday. We've attended EVERY family event since she was born. It seems as over time it gets harder and harder for me. I feel like its time to kind of cut things that everyone can completely heal. I feel like I'm pulled in different directions because I want her to know I love her, but I need to heal and focus on the life I've begun with my husband. It doesn't mean I don't love her or her family...I just want her to have a normal childhood...without me confusing her and causing problems for anyone.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Thanks for letting me know I am not alone in thinking this Brit!

MrsPerrbear said...

FANTASTIC Post Kelsey!!! Right on the money, at least in my opinion. And in my experience.

I think the only thing I could add in, from my view, is that in the middle of all you described, I realized how much I took my own children for granted, since they were here long before adoption entered my life. Talk about guilt and embarrasement! To have such beauty in front of me all that time, and not even truly understand it. Or appreciate it.

I agree 110% with the advice you gave. DON'T stop contact with your birthmother. She may be distancing herself as a way to heal, and I guarantee she'll be back. I myself have to walk away from all things adoption from time to time, or I feel like my chest is going to implode on me.

Just hang tight. It'll all work out! And as always Kelsey...thank you for sharing your love, positivity, and wisdom with the rest of us.

Sally Bacchetta said...

Kelsey, I love you more with every post. I'm very grateful for you!

LeMira said...

Kelsey, I love that you talk about your emotions, and they really make sense to me. I know I can't understand, but still I feel that hurt; this post makes it so REAL to me.. "It was worth it because I now know myself as well as my children, and I could not ask for anything more." Wow! The more I've read the birth mother's side of the story, the more I've wondered if it was worth it to you. You continue to amaze me. Love you!

Tiffany said...

Thank you for this. I followed the link from adoptive families magazine.

We just met our daughter's birthmother Sunday and it was the first time she has seen her. It went well, but we're still trying to negotiate our open adoption... Your voice is helpful to me on this topic!