Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Instant Birth Mother

There is something going on in the birth mother world, and I have to say the trend is rather alarming to me. Some would use the word entitlement, others call it privilege. I call it no way to heal.

I am seeing many young women complaining, screaming that they are being pushed out, they are not welcome in the adoptive families anymore. Reading in groups that they have not received pictures, no updates, no communication. They lash out as if the adoptive parents are out to shun them. To push them away. To make them feel small, or unimportant. They complain there are no texts, no emails. And more often than not, many are no where near the amplitude it will take to analyze, adjust and move through life as a mother of loss.

Sure, now some of you are pissed. How dare you Kelsey! How dare you try to analyze just how I feel? Well don't go busting your britches just yet, I do have a point to make. Look, I know just how difficult it is to not see or hear about my children as they grew. I know that it can be devastating, that trail of thoughts that creep in at all hours of the day that make you question just what is going on in their lives. I have been there. In the first year. The second year. The fifth year. The twentieth year. I know the evolution and it is just that, evolution. 


When I say trend, I am referring to the instant gratification network that we call the Internet. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, articles, forums, groups, so on and so on. Call me a dinosaur but I remember when you were on the phone, at home, and someone wanted to get a hold of you they had to call until the phone rang. There was this annoying eh eh eh eh sound that would tell you they were talking to someone more important than you and you had to dial over and over in the hopes that they might answer soon. This information age we live, I believe, is hindering many mothers out there from healing and perhaps distancing themselves from the families which needs to be done. Especially in open adoption.

Communication is key in adoption, and I do think that if an agreement is made that it should be upheld. However, both parties have to first respect the other and work together to find a mutual ground in which to live. I think that some mothers out there are far too impatient. Far too demanding. And far too vocal about the relationships that they should be building ... not criticizing. It is an emotional time, and if you deny that you will only hurt yourself. It is far better to help yourself than hurt yourself in adoption, and often that is overlooked. Emotions will rip your heart from you chest and your mind will stomp it into the ground if you let it. There is a time to start healing, start rebuilding the life that needs to be yours. 

I had that time because adoption was not always in my face. Not in today's world. Constant communication is a great deal different from good communication. There is a limit to which a person can be pushed, and when that person is dealing with their own emotions plus their own life completely changed plus thinking constantly about what is best for a child, well it can cause a cataclysmic explosion between two worlds. This is when people get hurt more than they need to be hurt. This is when patience and distance need to happen. Both sides need to adjust. Both sides need to reanalyze and prioritize life. Both sides need to chill out a little, retreat and find what needs to be found. Be it composure. Be it peace. Be it time. Whatever it is, it needs to be found.  It may sound harsh, but in my mind it is essential.

For me the most important thing on my mind was to strengthen the relationship I had with the adoptive parents, not dismantle it. The more time I gave it, the better it got. I kept up with my accord, and they theirs which resulted in respect, compassion and ever growing grace. 

If only this new generation had the time and distance It just might make a huge difference in their journey.


Amanda said...

I would agree that social media is a double edged sword in adoption.

And I know for me, time really made a difference. I just hate the way the adoptive family went about getting space. But really, it was because I had unrealistic expectations going in, since we were friends, and I just assumed we'd continue the daily messages on FB, and the weekly calls...meh, it's been 3 years, and we've got a good relationship. I'd love more, but I respect their space, and they respect mine.

MrsPerrbear said...

"It is far better to help yourself than hurt yourself in adoption, and often that is overlooked." AMEN!!! Well said my friend.

I think we all rant and rave at some point, trying as hard as we can "NOT to go gently into that good night...." and all we do is shoot ourselves and our adoption relationships in the foot. I am all for support, speaking with others in your situation to find enlightenment (I mean after all, that's how I got to know you-something I wouldn't trade for anything in the world!!!) but at a certain point, all of us in non-ideal "open adoption" relationships need to take that step back and reflect on what has occured thus far, and how we will handle our lives going forward. Seek "containment", not "closure". There is no set formula to do that...each of us will find it in our own time and own way. The answer doesn't come from the internet (and I can say that with a lot of certainty....I have looked.) It comes from within ourselves. From within our adoptive parents. And from time. We don't always get what we want in these relationships, because they are unique, and very uncommon, and revolve around individuals handling very complex emotions. We can rant, rave, spout statistics, compare ourselves to others...the list goes on and on, but it is only when we somehow find the strength to get a grip on ourselves that we make any real progress. Do any real healing. At least in my two cents.

Great post Momma! Thanks for getting me thinking!!!

Monika said...

I totally agree. We went 6 months after placement before our first visit. I did get the first update letter from them with pictures as agreed upon, and actually sent them one back, but other than that....that was the only communication. It gave me time to process, and I felt urgently that they needed time on their own to process and bond as a new family. I knew that no matter how much they'd been preparing for and wanting a child, there was no way to completely be aware of the challenges and joys of new parenthood. It breaks my heart to see my friends hurting, but I'm also glad that I had that space of time right at the very beginning.

Kristine said...

Wow. So very well said. So very, very important. I can't even put into words how I feel about this. You did a very good job of doing that.

Monika - your comment is so spot on.

Adoption IS hard! It is such a tricky dance where everyone feels they have 2 left feet.

Respect is #1. I personally know what happens when it is there, and when it isn't in adoption. When it isn't, it definitely is a "cataclysmic explosion."

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Thank you for the comments ladies! I am so glad that you all came to read and then add your thoughts to this. I was apprehensive in posting this, obviously I strive to help people ... not put them down. But I felt a need to put these thoughts out there because I am seeing more and more that the process of healing is being overlooked by a whole generation of mothers.

To be honest, I thought for sure I would get my head chopped off for these words, but alas you all found the points intriguing and poignant. Thank you for coming to read today, and most of all for sharing your feelings and thoughts with ABMV readers!

Vanessa Perez said...

It's so hard to say for sure how I feel about the internet in this respect. You make excellent points though.

The internet is a great way for adoptive families to keep in touch with birth families without taking so much time and pressure. You don't have to have visits, write long letters, or print tons of photos to be in touch. You can send off an email with a few attachments.

However, I do agree that we are in the age of instant gratification. Just a few clicks and you're there. Moving on is hard enough for birth moms. It seems a constant struggle to hold on and let go all at once. Perhaps the lashing out whether directed or undirected is part of the natural grieving process (anger).

All in all after writing my post I would have to say I feel the internet is a positive thing in open adoption. Depending on the people involved and the stage of the grieving process it could hold someone back from moving on but it could also help someone to move on more easily!

Sally Bacchetta said...

I really enjoyed reading this, Kelsey. It's interesting to read your perspective because I, as an AP, have also felt the dysfunctionality of our cyber world. First mom chats me that she's been just too busy (for seven months and counting) to respond to our child's letter to her, but I see online that she has time to talk/chat/blog/tweet/visit with just about everyone else in her life. I can put it in perspective, but what about the child? How does that feel?

I think there is a lot more to say about this topic, and I'm so glad you posted about it. I'm interested in reading all the dialogue.

LeMira said...

This post seems to go against all the "rules" that I felt like I had to learn to be a "good and right" adoptive parent. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe this is an "excuse" for anyone going back on their word or not keeping the lines of communication open, but we all have lives; we all get busy; we all have emotions to sort out -- no matter what side of the adoption circle we're on.

However, I'm SO grateful for this post. It definitely reminds us of what a world we live in with so much at our finger tips. We forget patience and long-suffering. We forget sacrifice.

Calling on the phone is so much harder than writing an email, and yet, I value hearing a person's voice so much more than words in which I can't feel the meaning. All of us need time to process things, and for each of us, that amount of time is different. This post reminds me that we all need time and we all need to remember compassion and sympathy, for we never know what someone else is going through.

Thanks, Kelsey!

c said...

If agencies were rather more honest about what open adoption involved, then it might make things easier for all concerned.

Open adoptions are a good thing compared with closed but the fact that a bmom can still see her child throughout its life is used as a hook to encourage a woman to place - eg "it's a win/win/win situation - you will always get to see your child and you can decide how open you would like the adoption to be". The agencies don't tell them it is very much a juggling act and both parties have to be very much on the same page. Also both parties beforehand often feel like they want a certain amount of openness and afterwards, it always changes - this isn't a criticism of APs, it is just a fact that once baby is home, feelings change.

I suspect also that some bmoms feel a bit let down because they receive such "love" from the APs before baby is born and then feel a bit out in the cold afterwards - they sort of forget that the "love" was not so much for them but their child.

On a more positive note, I do think that if you have a match where both parties really like each other as people, then openness in the adoption will come more naturally.

Sassy said...

I'm a birth mom who was in a semi-open adoption. I have to say...I was PROFOUNDLY grateful for the love and the desire the adoptive parents had in their hearts for my baby.

Cause I loved that baby too. I wanted the best for him, and I knew I wasn't it. That's hard to say.

The adoptive parents were very very gracious in sharing pictures and kind letters. It helped. It helped SOOO much. They were grateful to me, and I was grateful to them.

But there came a point where I felt the need to back off...I had to let (in MY heart) THEM be the parents...to build that bond with him and for him. Plus...it was painful...I wanted to be his mama...but I wasn't.

I always have a "Thank You" in my heart for God, Ann and John.

Anonymous said...

I couldnt agree more with you! Thanks for standing up and being honest and real!