Thursday, February 9, 2012

No, I Won't Back Down

This is the third and final installment to Fighting Heart ..... (to catch up, please read the previous two posts)

I was still in shock that the State of Missouri had the audacity to tell me what I could or could not do with my unborn child. I felt like I had done something wrong, like I was being criminalized for being me. I was getting my first taste of people trying to tell me what to do, and I had no idea how much more I would have to deal with. My mother, that wonderful yet poor woman, she took the brunt of it. She was livid that the State would use such terrorizing tactics to try and force me to keep my child. After going over the conversation with the social worker a few more times we realized that they were trying to make it as hard as possible for me to actually place my child for adoption. I had heard of women being forced to relinquish their children, but never had I heard of pregnant women being forced to keep their children if they were considering adoption.

A call to our lawyer revealed that he too had been chastised by the State of Missouri and he could no longer represent me or help me with the ensuing adoption. I was told that IF I could find an adoption agency who would accept my chosen parents, then and only then would I have a shot at continuing with the plan I had set forth. So the calls began. One after another was so nice to me, so kind on the phone until I said that I had already found parents for my child. That is when the tone and the conversation changed. "You can't do that" one agency told me. "We do not accept any couples unless we have approved them," another said. One went as far as to say ..."Well, you cannot know anything about your child or their parents. You will choose a couple based on our files, but you cannot know any additional information about them." I beg to differ. Try this on for size. I am not your typical push over. I do not take to people telling me what to do with my child, or telling me that I cannot know anything about her. I will not lie down and let you dictate my child's life, nor will I allow you to dictate what my life is going to be after I give birth. To quote Tom Petty ... "No I won't back down".

I finally found an agency that agreed to meet the parents I chose. After that meeting, the agency accepted them and a feverish month began. Although the screenings, home visits, paperwork and money had been paid previously for all of the same things this agency was doing for our case ... it all had to be done again. Paperwork. Home visits. Meetings. Money. It all had to be done again because EVERYTHING that had been done prior to meeting the new agency was null and void, according to Missouri. This was absolutely asinine to me! Why? Why do it all over again? Why put all of us through this much stress? What was the point of reorganizing everything when it had all been completed and finished? Whoever came up with these regulations and laws obviously had NO IDEA what is entailed in an adoption. At least from the emotional stand point.

And it did not stop there. Once everything had been done over again, once all the p's and q's had been signed and reassessed, there were still people who tried their best to detour me from placing my child for adoption. The final straw was in the hospital. I had phoned the parents to let them know that I was in labor. It was a Saturday and the agency was closed which meant I had no way of letting anyone know that the baby was on her way. I left messages with no return phone calls. (Mind you, this was before pagers and cell phones, you know back in the day when you left a message and waited patiently for the return call. Oh yeah, only dinosaurs remember what that was like! LOL!) So I made one 30 second phone call to her parents and simply said .."It's time. I am at ... (name of hospital)."  A simple thank you and we are on our way is what I heard from the receiver. Once she was born, the hospital staff took note of the couple that was coming around to see the newborn baby girl in the nursery. Instead of asking me about it, or asking my doctor who they were ... they read the chart, saw the word adoption and called the hospital social worker. Little did I know that Satan's Sister had a sister of her own who worked at the hospital that I just happened to be staying.

Holding my daughter and cherishing my time with her, this woman came into my room ... took my daughter and placed her in the bassinet ... then wheeled her into the hall while motioning to the nurses to come get the bassinet, as if it were a laundry basket that needed to be taken to the basement for washing. She came back into my room and proceeded to tell me that I had seriously jeopardized the chances of my daughter going to the family I had chosen, all because I made that phone call. Yet another speech about how awful I was and how I had no right to make plans for my child's life. Who are these people and why do they not understand that I am in my right mind and CAN make decisions for myself and my child? Why are they being so degrading, so disrespectful, so down right mean to me? How can these people call themselves social workers without taking into consideration my feelings, my emotions? I wrote a great post about how my doctor handled this woman who chose to treat me like dirt ... and he carried a lot clout at that hospital.

When I thought my troubles were over, meaning that I figured once she was born I would be free and clear of all the torment from Missouri, there was another storm in the distance. Seems that the State decided that because of my daughter's ethnic background she would have to spend the next month in Foster Care. WHAT????? NO ONE MENTIONED THIS BEFORE! How ignorant to throw this nugget of news on all of us at the last second! Here I thought she would be going home to her family, but that would also be put on hold because the State had more paperwork to do. Really? Is this necessary? Hasn't she been through enough? I love it when people hide things from others, then spring dirty news at the last minute. I felt like I was living in a conspiracy theory, as if the entire world was against me making this decision for my daughter. It was a fight that left me drained, tired, and emotionally wrecked. We were all in disbelief at what seemed to be new reasons to keep this child from the family I wanted her to be with. I was beginning to hate the system, and hate my beloved home state that was not listening to what I wanted to do with, and for, my child. And to think, if I had her and kept her no one would be saying ANYTHING to me! Not one word!

IN the end, we all bit our tongues and followed the rules. I went to court and relinquished my rights ... but not before I had to explain my reasons, yet again, to a judge I had never met to try to convince him I was of my right mind. Listening to them talk about me in that courtroom only made me want it to all be over, if for nothing else so that people would stop judging me and my vagina! He said a few words, judicial mumbojumbo and with a strike of his gavel she was legally theirs. WHEW!

The nightmare was over! The papers were filed, and now she was officially with her family ... the family I had chosen her to be with. Thank GOD! It was a long fight, well only a month but what I learned in that month has followed me for the remainder of my days. You see, anyone can tell you things about yourself. Anyone can tell you what they think of you, what they see in you and what they believe will be best for you. However, there is only one person who knows what is best for you. There is only one person who will teach you and show you what you are made of. There is only one person who can fight for you in the way it should be done. Obviously that person is you. We have more power in our souls than we think and at no time is it acceptable to let someone tell you what is best for you, unless of course you are incapacitated for some reason. If you cannot fight for yourself, or stand up for yourself, then that is when others will sniff out that weakness and then take advantage of you. 

I went up against a giant force in the State of Missouri. I endured many hurtful words and actions from many who I did not know, nor did they know me.  And I showed them that although I was young, pregnant and unwed that did not mean I could not make a decision for my child that I felt was the right one at the time. Here it is 20+ years later and my fighting heart has been rewarded with love and acceptance from that beautiful little girl that I fought for so long ago. No one who opposed me back then could have known that life would have turned out this way for her, and me as well. 

Now I hold my head high knowing that I did do what I thought was right, regardless of what others wanted me to do. To all those that did not believe it could work, I say you never know how anything will turn out in life. 

Fighting for love has taught me to take nothing for granted, and leave my fate to no one but myself.


Robyn C said...

Incredible. The ignorance of some people! When we adopted Jackson, we were told that the judge in the county where his birthmom lived wouldn't allow out of state couples to adopt Missouri children. So, his birthmom had to move from her dad's house to live with her mom for the last month of her pregnancy. Some social workers and judges just go on these power trips and never think of the emotions involved.
I'm so glad you stayed strong Kelsey! Nice work Mom!

riversnake said...

Wow... I mean.. Wow. I'm in shock. How was this behavior ever acceptable? As I read this series of posts I was like your mom, squinty eyed, pursed lips, blood pounding in my ears. I'm so glad that you and the adoptive parents were able to find each other, and I'm so glad you won the battle in the end.

Eff the man!

~ Jill :)

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Robyn, I am not at all surprised to see you mention Missouri in your comment. Not. At. All. There are eight states that touch Missouri and you can move to any of those states and do whatever you wish with your baby! Believe me, we considered moving me as well but in the end it all worked out. So sorry to hear that you had a rough time with them.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Jill, I still get a little sick when I think of that woman! And get this ... later in life I met two great gals who had the same social worker I did. When I said the woman's name they both cringed when it left my mouth. How awful is that? What are the chances that all three of us would have the same woman, and how many more young women did she destroy? Ughhh, when I think of her face I want to be an incredibly bad person.

But we both know that I am kinder than that. Perhaps I should look for her and send her a book, bet she'd LOVE that! HA!

Love is all you need said...

This is such an amazing blog. We just found out we get to adopt another baby, and it is because of beautiful birth mom's like you that we get to do this.
thanks for sharing!