Category Archives: Promises

Smell the fresh ink?

My latest column is up over at AFTH, and as usual, the link to it remains nestled in my sidebar. But in the interest of saving you a click or two, here’s what I had to say in :

Changing Leaves, Changing Minds

Some use the start of the new year as reason for reflection, as motivation for listing lofty resolutions dependent on powerful will. Me? I do this long before Dick Clark begins his countdown.

Maybe it’s the childhood ritual of beginning school, fresh-faced and ready for a new start, or maybe it’s because November brings with it both efforts to give thanks and raise adoption awareness. Either way, as the crisp autumn air nips at my toes, I’m contemplating what I — both an adoptive mother and wife to an adoptee — can do better.

This year not only will I continue to respect these roles of adoption in my life personally — which includes a commitment to my daughter’s first mother that she’s needed in our lives — but I will transform everyday situations into teachable moments that matter.

When discussing our open adoption, if folks mention Maeve’s first mother “taking her back,” insisting on co-parenting and existing only to confuse Maeve, I will, without waffling, dispel the untruths and undo the damage of Lifetime movies.

When asked about Maeve’s “real” mother “giving up” her child and whether she has “moved on,” I will explain we are both real mothers, that there’s nothing in her adoption choice resembling giving up on her daughter, and I will remind them that filling someone else’s arms with your child isn’t the same as losing a favorite stuffed toy.

I will applaud television networks and programs portraying adoption and its triad in an accurate and positive light. I will just as fervently contact those making adoption jokes or depicting birth parents as anything less than they are. When represented accurately, adoption’s mystery diminishes and our children benefit.

I’ll write municipalities I’ve long lectured in my mind, explaining that adopting a road is nothing like adopting a child. I will demonstrate not only how “sponsor” suits their needs just fine, but how their use of “adopt” makes my job of raising a healthy, well-adapted adult that much harder as I need to explain the difference between cleaning dirty roads and forever loving a child.

This Nov. 17, not only will I ensure adoption-related books are read in my daughter’s daycare and our library, I will volunteer to read them myself. And then I’ll encourage their use year-round, not just because a calendar dictates it.

I will make all these everyday moments really matter.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption Ethics, Birth parents, Children, Children's books, Community, Discussing Adoption, Latest AFTH column, Maeve, Making a difference, NaBloPoMo, Open Adoption, Parenting, Promises

Open adoption … and hope!

Did ya hear that big sigh of relief yesterday? Yeah? Well it was me.

It seems things are moving in the right direction again as Maeve’s first mom has made contact, explained some absolutely valid and quite personal reasons for not being touch, and more communication seems to be in our near future.

Of course the details of this seemingly temporary break in contact aren’t mine to share, but suffice it to say I am so very thrilled at her commitment to being in Maeve’s life. For her. For Maeve. For their future.

But! I won’t forget the dark — and sometimes suffocating in their power over me — worries that have bubbled to the surface as I watch Maeve in awe and wonder, through my lens of love, adoration and humility that she is even part of my life, and begin to wonder how I would help her embrace all of life’s happiness and find the self-fulfillment she deserves … when a piece of her own life puzzle might be missing forever.

Having known how that feels, having feared how it would be for Maeve in the coming years, those are thoughts that have further solidified (not that I was wavering) the importance of openness in adoption.

There’s also another lesson for me in this. A dose of perspective, considering the varied levels of openness and first parent involvement (and availability, of course)  in adoptions everywhere.

It’s my reminder to embrace every moment B. is in our lives, embrace not in the thankful way — because that has always been the case — but embrace in not being afraid to say or ask what I’m feeling/hoping/looking for. That’s something I regretted (as I’ve discussed very recently) when it came to thoroughly discussing a “plan” for the future. I naively thought there would be time for that. Now, though, I can’t let that happen. I want to be sure we talk about talking, about acknowledging the need for a break, about discussing when something needs tweaking, or when something is or isn’t working. I need to be sure we’re all not afraid to talk it out, that we’re committed to each other enough to listen to the hard parts and not throw in the towel. Certainly lessons I learn over and over when I read those who write with the authority of experience, Jenna chief among them.

Oh, I hear what you’re thinking. Cool your Communication Jets, mamagigi, there’s another side to this open-adoption coin. I know. As much as I want to say everything while I can, I know I must temper things and be sure to continue to let B. know that as we move forward, we always are willing to go at her pace. She controls that, and that’s okay with me.

I’m trying not to spew doublethink here, because it’s not. It’s just a multi-dimensional thing, adoption. (As if most of you didn’t already know that. Preachin’ to the choir.)

I know the future is unknown and surely full of hard work and a focused commitment from us all, but I’ll take it.  Because I’d had the comfort of the notion of a future for a year-plus, and then for a while I feared it might have been lost forever.

I’m happy to know those out here in blogville with experience far more established than mine. Because there’s always learning to do.

Just knowing (again) that B. wants to be involved in a future at all — and that this was hopefully just a winding curve in a long road we all will travel together — gives me hope.

And hope? Hope is bright and beautiful.

Just like the daughter we share.

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Filed under Adoption, Beauty, Birth parents, Children, Discussing Adoption, Family, Love, Maeve, Open Adoption, Parenting, Promises, Relationships, Still learning

Open Adoption, Open Heart, And Needing More

I’ve had this post in my head for quite a while now. It’s existed in parts, none of them very well-expressed or complete in form, but I’m tired of it rattling in my head, and weighing so heavily in my heart, that I’m setting it free. In doing so perhaps there will be some relief, some comfort in just “speaking” it, or, if I’m really lucky, some guidance and comfort from those that understand — no matter which side of it they come from. Read on.  But pour yourself something cold to drink, you’ll be here awhile.

As folks hanging here for any length of time know, we’re in an open adoption with Maeve’s birthmother. Well, maybe I should tweak, for now, my description of it to call it a semi-open adoption in that our connection is through the adoption agency, through letters and photos, and an annual visit at an agency picnic. When we first began this journey, just even having this amount of contact was, for us, considered open. Not because it’s all we wanted, but because in Thomas’ own adoption, the dearth of detail is so real, the sealed records and blacked out information are the walls we face, he faces.

So meeting Maeve’s first mother, holding her, talking with her, sharing stories and details with her — it was like an adoption floodgate had opened. It was so wonderfully different than anything we’d known, so opposite of the closed adoption in our lives, the simplest way to describe it was open. Light had been let in, like fresh Spring air blowing through a newly opened window after a long winter of hatches battened down.

When I think of Thomas’ adoption, my mind conjures up stacks of paper, yellowed and dusty, banded together with elastics, placed in the corner of a Catholic Charities basement in Ohio, next to other stacks pointlessly detailing the lives of other babies born that month, that year. I see them being guarded by some governmental rule, by legislators not left dealing with the effects of decisions to keep my husband’s life — and myriad other lives — stacked tidy in a box somewhere. They’ve moved on to their next cause, and my husband’s story, his complete story not winnowed by Sharpie marker gone wild, sits somewhere. Seemingly forgotten, with no one to care about it.

But it’s not so. Someone does care. Someone hasn’t forgotten. And as the wife of someone whose origins, whose story of his very own life, are kept so mysterious and tucked away, I care. Deeply.

And this is why, when we began our own adoption journey, openness was a light leading us forward.

When we were selected by B. to parent Maeve, we learned her selection of our agency had to do with its focus on open adoptions. A few days after we were placed — while Thomas, Maeve and I remained in her birthstate waiting for legalities — we all sat down together, meeting for the first time. The emotions were so high. It was like nothing I’ve ever been close to before — or since.

We hugged. We talked. We were all nervous. We were all pleasant. We were all there for the good of Maeve. We were all humans joined by the force of this little life before us. The scope of it all was not lost on me. As I sat in the same room as the woman who just a few days earlier shared with Maeve the single-most intimate experience I can imagine — the birth of a daughter by her mother, I tried to take freeze frame images in mind. I knew that The Future Maeve wouldn’t be able to piece together that day in any tangible way other than what those of us there could share with her. I tried so hard to remember, amid my own emotional roller coaster, to pry my eyes open from the ride and just watch, for her. Just remember the images, the movements, the words shared, I told myself.

It was in that first visit that a role I hadn’t really thought about before, had come to be. I needed to be there to preserve whatever I could for her until one day she takes the information, the relationship I hoped to forge with her first mom, and forge ahead herself, her own heart and vision leading her.

Considering the enormity of the day, the joy and sadness, and all the nuances needing considering, the day’s overall tone in my mind is recorded as gentle, as special, with a genuine goodness to it. Because despite fears and nerves and complexities, and because a little new life deserved it, we had all come together.

Yet there is something I would change about that day. 

At the time, we just went along with the minimum required by our agency, letters and photos monthly until one year, then letters and photos yearly until age 18, and visits at the agency’s annual picnic. While the idea of photos and letters suddenly didn’t feel like enough at the time of our actual placement, everything was so incredibly emotional and new, and it seemed like there would be plenty of time for us all to move forward together and get to know each other through our letters and visits, and open our relationship more as time passed. After all, just days earlier, at the time of placement, we were told that B. wasn’t sure if she was ready to meet us. When we learned she wanted to meet, that afternoon’s event became my focus, wanting it to go well, wanting to be able to get across all the things I felt and wanted to share, despite being frazzled and overtired and human.

My biggest regret. I would have written out our full names, our address, our telephone numbers and email addresses and put them into B.’s hands myself. If she wasn’t ready to do anything with them then, well, at least I knew she had them should she become ready.

When we met again 10 months later at the first picnic after placement with Maeve, I sat on a blanket, nervous and fearful that B. might, in the last moments before traveling to us, need to stay away, to pass on this second meeting since placement. She was late, and as the minutes ticked by, I wrestled with my hopes and expectations, reminding myself that really I am just a third party in all this. I can work to make her feel welcome and wanted in our lives, I can follow through and get Maeve there for B. should she decide to join us — but her walking into the park that day? That had to be up to her.

A weight lifted from me when I saw her in the distance. She waved a gentle “hiya” wave, like she was meeting someone in a crowd and wanted to get their attention, a casual someone or other she’d met for lunch the week before. It was a strange and unexpected sense of famliarity I felt toward B. Like seeing a good friend after a long time. It’s a strange juxtaposition, knowing someone a short time and not that well, yet feeling an intimacy toward them usually reserved for family and longtime friends. It’s a connection both simultaneously shallow and deep — the brevity of the relationship contrasted with the depth of its emotion, commitment, connection and love. Lots of history in a little period of history.

During that visit, I asked if I’d been sending too many photos with my letters, if my writings were too detailed, too specific, too much — or not enough. (When I write B., my words come from the deepest part of me that loves this child and the woman sharing her with me. I try to share everything about Maeve that I would desperately want to know if I wasn’t in her life every day. I share everything I think her hurting mama heart might need to know. They are handwritten and many, many pages, trying to best capture on paper the living, breathing existence that is our litle girl and the life she is living. Paper doesn’t do the reality justice, but, oh, how I try.)

Her answer to my queries? She’s enjoying the letters and their detail, and laughed at me worrying so much. And as for “too many photos”? She said, and notice the quote marks, “There can never be too many.”

I was so happy to hear her say that about the baby before us. To me, it was a statement on where she stood, on her connection to Maeve. Something I could share with Maeve one day. Something B. herself could share with Maeve one day.

As for B. writing to Maeve or us, she sent a letter a few months after B. was born and placed — and it’s a most-beautiful sentiment and something so dear to us. But it’s the only letter we’ve received. She’s mentioned writing again, mentioned getting photos and a letter together. But nothing has come.

This summer was the second agency picnic since we were placed with Maeve. A few months before, I learned through the social worker that serves as the link between us, that B. was excited for the picnic and would be bringing additional family members. Thrilled doesn’t adequately describe how I felt.

We extended, via letter, the formal invite as the agency encourages, and in that letter I also expressed our desire to increase contact, to open our relationship, to let additional light shine in. While I explained we wanted to share telephone numbers, addresses, emails and increased real-life visits in her state or ours, I made clear that, should she agree, we could proceed at her pace toward any degree of openness she desired. In asking her to consider it, I explained that if she didn’t want to change the openness at this time, we would honor her wishes.

Weeks later as the picnic neared and no offical rsvp rolled in, I began to worry: Had I scared B. away? Attempts to reach her with the social worker conduit were unsuccessful.

The picnic came. This time I was determined not to sit on the picnic blanket, stomach in knots, worried whether she would join us. Since Maeve was older now and able to partake in some of the park and picnic activities, we made sure various social workers and agency staffers knew where we were in the park should B. come. Maeve had her first face painting (on her leg), she played with other children in a volleyball pit, watched the band in awe, looked in on some older children and their families playing soccer, she walked around like she owned the place, petting a dog that passed her by and nibbling lunch and enjoying time with us at our picnic spot.

Was my head on a swivel the entire time? Yes. Did I mistake other women with similar body type and hair — from a distance and in between the trees — hoping it was her? Yes. Did she come? No.

This was in June — just a few months after her sharing with the social worker how excited she was to come. I’ve since sent her a letter again expressing that if she isn’t interested in or ready for additional contact, then we respect her wishes, but me asking for additional contact was never meant to lose the contact we already had. (Of course, it’s just been two months since the picnic.) I included in the letter the information I wish I’d given her the first time we met. Address, phone numbers, emails, all the details a Sharpie marker can wreak havoc on.

Between our history with Thomas’ adoption and our love for Maeve’s first mom, I find myself in a position where all I can do is wait. Wait and continue to follow through with the commitment we made, but all the while I don’t know what B. is thinking. I don’t know how to reach her (and I don’t mean literally). I have to reconcile with the fact she may not want additional contact at this time — I cringe, because I know that qualifier is necessary for me just to type that statement.

Inconsistent contact is hard. Painful even. And Maeve is only two. So right now the pain is for me and Thomas to bear. As talks with Maeve about B. occur in our home, as she points to B. in the photo album from their last visit and says her name, as she sees B. holding her and playing with her in these photos, I wonder what she’s thinking. She looks intently, proud to name the cast of characters in a very real-life situation. The possibility of contact broken breaks my heart.

Desperately wanting contact and conversations and to make more memories — wanting all of this for the child that we share with B., so that one day Maeve doesn’t face the life-sized question marks that her dad faces — and not knowing when and if a response will find its way to us? It’s almost too much to bear.

Yet it’s all countered with knowing that B. has to be ready, has to want it too. This isn’t my shot to call. She’s a primary player in this. It’s her story, too.

I do know I must keep on keeping on. I will continue to write, continue to document in pictures the life her daughter is living,  continue to remember B.’s birthday, holidays, Mother’s Day.

For Maeve. For B. For the commitment we made. For the next time we are all together. For the possibility of it all.

Still, though, having the contact, relishing in it, and then wondering when it next will appear is more difficult than I would have predicted a few years ago, sitting clean-faced and shiny-shoed in an office opposite a social worker. I would have blindly reasoned then that at least that contact is worlds more than what Thomas has. And I would have reasoned that somehow that would be enough. Oh, how wrong I would have been.

Don’t misunderstand: I’m grateful for what we do have. The letter, the visits we’ve had so far, the photos of it all, the records of Maeve’s birth, the meeting with B.’s siblings. I am. Yet, it’s not enough. Not consistent enough. Not enough for the whole of us, the whole of our family. The family of which she is such an important part.

Whether it’s the unknowns of intermittent contact or the biting coolness of a Sharpie marker in a third-party’s hand — darkness in adoption takes its toll.

Anyone from any angle able to shed light on the darkness?

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Filed under Adoption, Birth parents, Children, Closed Adoption, Discussing Adoption, Love, Maeve, Open Adoption, Parental surrenders, Parenting, Promises, Relationships, Still learning, The Call

Leave it to me, Mrs. Cleaver

So I recently abandoned some pre-parent feminist proclamations about not giving my future children toys that feed into stereotypical roles. A daughter wouldn’t be bathed in pink and frills and dolls and a son wouldn’t get a fishing pole and truck and baseball. They wouldn’t get these things, anyway, without some sort of counterbalance. So a daughter would get a big ol’ truck and my son a dainty doll. You get the idea.

It must have been some sort of reincarnation of Mrs. Cleaver that recently crept into and possessed my body when I wasn’t paying attention. Before I knew it, I was on the hunt for a kitchen set for Maeve. Although some Gloria Steinem-like voice was telling me this wasn’t the direction I thought I’d be taking with my young, impressionable daughter, I was having so much fun looking for the secondhand set that I knew she would love, complete with plates, cups, plastic foods and condiments, that I simply didn’t care. The set we scored has a cupboard, refrigerator, sink, stovetop and oven, dishwasher and microwave.

Well, it seems that this anti-Barbie mama might have less to worry about than I feared.

She and I recently were “cooking” up a storm, using the pretend ice dispenser in the fridge door, and sharing mixing bowls and spoons while we stirred up something “licious” (that’s “delicious” for those of you not schooled in Maevespeak). I took a hot dog from the fridge and explained I was hungry and we could cook it for dinner. I pulled out a little saucepan, filled it with imaginary water from the fake faucet and placed it on the stove.

She looked confused. Alarmed, actually.

Maeve dipped her hand into the saucepan, retrieved the hot dog from its invisible simmering water and literally tossed it into the fake microwave. She pushed a bunch of buttons, said “beep, beep, beep,” and waited.

I had to keep from laughing out loud as I watched the little chef at work and realized she’d never seen me cook a hot dog — or much else — on the stovetop.

She opened the door, grabbed the dog, gasped “hot!” and handed it to me.

“Licious, mommy.”

Yeah, methinks mamagigi has made her own impression after all. Thanks, Mrs. Cleaver, but your lacy-apron services won’t be necessary.

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Filed under Charity, Feminism, For fun, Maeve, Parenting, Promises

Courting Adoption

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Fish Face,  March 2006
Maeve holding grandma’s hands on court finalization day

One year ago this week we sat next to our attorney, in front of a judge, and swore to love Maeve forever.

The day’s sights and sounds are as clear in my mind as if it were today: Waiting in the hallway with other families, children and attorneys. Court clerks goo-goo-gaa-gaa-ing at eight-month-old Maeve from their perch high on the bench. The judge and our attorney trying to speak over the clang of Maeve knocking her toy against the conference table. Court reporter rap-tap-tapping away into the stenography machine. Us nervously answering the judge’s questions. Camera and DVD recording moment by moment. Our families watching it all.

And in one final gesture, the judge looked up at us from his glasses one more time and signed paperwork that made our family official in the eyes of the court, the state and all government agencies.

But we didn’t need an officer of the court, a Bible to swear on or raised-seal documents to make our commitment real. That had happened long before. Countless hugs, diapers, cuddles, bottles, kisses, laundry piles, moments and lullabies ago, we had become family.

The impact of that sweeping judicial pen? Tremendous joy in being deemed Maeve’s mother in some official capacity — absolutely. Yet in those deeply satisfying moments, the finality of it all brought with it an underlying awareness of loss.

It’s a bittersweet balance in adoption: boundless bliss in being mama to a child perfect in my eyes, yet grief deep within for another mother living without her child, and for my daughter living without her first mother.

A most stirring and complex juxtaposition, indeed.

There is some solace in knowing that our seeking an open adoption helps ensure the child that didn’t come from me but would become part of me would not lose the woman she came from, the woman she had always been part of.

Surely the closed adoption in our lives helped shine light toward the path we needed to travel. In choosing to love and parent a child in an open adoption, we embrace the whole of Maeve, well beyond strict custodial confines. We hope our efforts, and her birthmother’s, together create a loving context within which Maeve’s story will read most clearly to her.

That day, one year ago, officialdom took notice of the sweet girl in the red and white polka dot dress.

But long before that, she was noticed, loved, embraced and committed to in so many ways by parents numbering more than two.

Of course, the magnitude of the day’s events was lost on the silly baby making fish faces at court personnel. We hope, though, the magnitude of all her parents’ love is never lost on her.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption Finalization, Birth parents, Children, Family, Love, Maeve, Open Adoption, Parental surrenders, Parenting, Promises, Relationships

Dear 2005 Me


miscmum2.jpeg

Here’s my contribution to The ‘Dear Me’ Project. 

Dear 2005 Me (a pre-mama mamagigi),

I know that right now you are aching to be a mother and most times it feels like it will never happen, and that no one understands the hole in your heart.

I know that right now your daydreams and even your nightdreams are filled with hopes of sharing your life with a child. And with these dreams come snippets of a happiness like nothing you have felt before. I know that when you wake up, the gleeful butterflies will slow to an uneasiness in your gut as you remember it is not yet your time and it was just a dream. And even though you have never truly known the happiness in being a mom, you know it exists because in those dreamy moments it teases and taunts you, giving just a taste of its blissfulness. And I know that in your most lonely and angry and restless-with-the-waiting moments, it seems like that happiness will never find you in a permanent way.

I know that so far your journey has been long. I also know that now, as you wait for your phone to ring and your life to change with “Hello?” you are asking yourself all sorts of questions about when and if and why not and how-come-it-hasn’t-happened-yet. It’s okay. You’re human and this is natural. But please do not let these questions haunt you and eat at your soul.

I know that you wake each morning and the first thought in your mind, even before you have silenced the alarm clock, is whether today will be the day. I also know that, in the dark of night, when another day has passed with no news of a child to fill your arms, you drift to sleep, slowly and painfully, tears of helplessness wetting your pillow and stuffing your nose.

I know that you struggle with the insensitivity of some of those around you. Although this insensitivity is infuriating, try to find comfort in knowing it will teach you to always try to be gentle to others — for you know not what they endure, deep in their core, at night when the lights are low.

I also know that you mark each passing day in the calendar of your mind, making hopeful promises that motherhood might arrive by Memorial Day. Then Mother’s Day. Then your birthday. As these dates come and go, you begin to hope for July 4. You find yourself anticipating such holidays and social events with the notion you will have a little one to share them with. I wish I could convince you to simply enjoy these days for what they are. But I won’t try, because although it hurts so very much and you so desperately want these milestones to come, sometimes we just have to hurt.

I know that sometimes the passing days marked by a dull routine of work, then home, then work, then home are too much to bear. And I know that sometimes you must leave your desk and find a bathroom stall to quietly cry away the moments you cannot handle any other way.

I know that you have prepared a nursery with every detail a top priority. I know that walking by the room and its still rocking chair and empty crib do not hurt as much as if the room was still an office chock-full of papers, with a computer, file cabinet and desk. Instead, it is chock-full of hope. Because having a room with baby accouterment means surely a baby will come. After all, forever leaving this room unoccupied would be an evil trick by the universe. One you know you don’t deserve. I know how once in a while you go in there and sit in the creaky rocker, and try to feel the energy of the baby you hope will one day be there to keep you awake in the wee hours of the night. It’s okay to do that. Sit, look around, take it all in. You have made a loving home — a womb of your own — for a child that will come. I promise.

I know that as seemingly everyone around you is giving unsolicited advice about being patient, relaxing and going to a movie “because it will be the last one for a long time,” you want to tell them where they should really go. Because you cannot believe they don’t understand that movies are the very last thing on your mind. You squelch the urge to scream that they have no idea what it’s like to have something so personal as becoming a mother depend on so many circumstances you are not part of. You want to tell them they take for granted these gifts that have come easier to them.

I also understand that you wish these people could simply acknowledge your heartache and sit silently with you for a moment. That this would be so much more helpful than following their “I know” with “but” and some sort of look-on-the-bright-side language.

I know, gigi, I know.

I know that in the dark and lonely moments when there is nothing to do but hear the silence of all the telephones around you, you will question whether your profile is open enough, whether your letter — to a brave, still unnamed woman who will choose you to share in her child — is good enough, caring enough, real enough, strong enough, soft enough.

I also know that when you reach out to your social worker to ask whether your profile has been shown and to talk about the wait that seems so unbearably long and sometimes even disorienting, you will not like the answer you receive. You will not like being told to be patient because the right baby will find you. I know that these sentiments are hollow to you and instead seem more appropriate for a bad bumper sticker or stale fortune cookie.

Yet somewhere, deep in your mind, you know there is some truth in her counsel: The wait is the wait is the wait. You cannot change it. I understand that this powerlessness is the hardest part for you. I know you don’t want to admit there actually is nothing else you can do, that your own motherhood really is out of your hands. Yet part of your brain keeps trying to remind you of these things. (Yes, this is a corner of your brain you are not especially fond of these days.)

I know how thrilled you are at becoming a mother through adoption. After all, your husband was adopted and choosing this avenue for parenthood has always been in your master plan. I also know that when you were writing that master plan on the cocktail napkin in your mind, you just didn’t count on the waiting and powerlessness of it all. It’s not like you to want to wait, after all.

It’s like when you were a kid, and you begged and pleaded to cut your long hair into that little chopped pixie of a do, and your mother warned you about rushing such things. Rather than listen, you hurried into your neighbor-beautician’s chair. Or that time when you used some of your Christmas shopping money to buy paper dolls for yourself. That didn’t go over well with mom, did it? Well, those were supposed to be lessons where you learned about instant gratification.

So, gigi of 2005, try to remember those lessons because they are important. I know, I know. The waiting is not easy. But this is not hair and paper dolls we’re talking about.

I know you have had to make a hard, numbed-over place inside yourself to hide behind when someone seems ready to say something ignorant, weird, thoughtless or hurtful.

It’s like when people apologize to you as you excitedly share the news you are adopting a baby. I know that you just wanted these people to smile a heartfelt smile and say, “Congratulations.” Not because they feel it’s the right thing to do but because in learning of your news of impending parenthood, they sincerely want to offer their best wishes. Because, after all, you are on your way to being a mother! I know you ache at not being considered a parent-to-be.

I know you don’t understand when people express concern or even disgust about how your child won’t look like you, as if this is what parenthood and familyhood is all about. I’m sorry to tell you that isn’t resolved in 2007: You still won’t understand why people say such things to other people. Frankly, you still won’t understand how folks can feel that way in the first place, but to each his or her own. Just know that matchy-matchy still doesn’t matter to you. Never has, never will.

I know all of these things gigi, because I am you. I am sorry you hurt right now and feel like there is no end to the pain. I know you question whether your phone will ever ring and your heart will ever feel full from all the boo-boo kissing you are so desperate to do.

But I am two years wiser than you — and there are things I can tell you, things you should know, things that might ease your wait, your pain. The most important part of my message can be summed up in six words:

Your wait will be worth it.

Gigi, you will become mamagigi and there is nothing else like it. Nothing. Your heart will fill in ways you never knew it could. Your smile will be wider, deeper, brighter. Your laughs will be heartier, louder, snortier. Your love will be boundless.

And that stale fortune cookie about things always working out and the right baby finding the right family? Well, let me put it this way: As long as you have waited (which, by the way, isn’t so long in the scheme of things), the 2007 You would double it, triple it and more — without a second thought — if it means the child that makes you a mother is this little girl Maeve.

She is so wonderful, so perfect in all her babyness and sassiness and smartness and silliness and tenderness and juiciness and outgoingness — yes, you are making up words in the future — that you will wait however long it is you must wait — for her.

I promise you, gigi, your phone really does ring and this little one really does exist. She really does arrive. She really does make your life so much deeper, full of meaning in ways you didn’t realize were lacking.

And when she reaches over and gently pats your arm tonight, then your chest, then your shoulder, and with each tender toddler touch she coos, “Mo-mmy” … “Mo-mmy” … “Mo-mmy,” as if she is just confirming who you are, you will smile in your soul and answer “Yes” … “Yes” … “Yes” every time.

I promise you, mamagigi-to-be, she is worth a million more forms and fingerprints, hundreds of home visits, countless more seconds, minutes, hours, days and months spent waiting, and all the tears your eyes can silently shed in the dark of night. I promise.

Knowing Maeve, loving Maeve, mothering Maeve — these are rewards worth waiting for.

So hang on, gigi, and dig deep. Believe in yourself and know you are good enough. Know your letter is heartfelt and real enough that a courageous woman will choose you. And you will meet her and thank her and love her, and need her to be part of your life forever.

And the daughter she will share with you?

Well, she is simply beyond all of your wildest daydreams and nightdreams.

I promise.

Love,
2007 You

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Filed under Adoption, Birth parents, Children, Family, Love, Maeve, mamagigi, Parenting, Promises, Relationships, The Call

Adoption’s Doors

maevetomsmile1.jpg 

 The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round,
round and round, all … day … long.

The doors on the bus go open and shut, open and shut,
open and shut, all … day … long.

Since Maeve was about a year old, her love of music and her animated participation in singing this, or any song for that matter, has made for delightful moments. Since music is a constant in our home, she’s becoming accustomed to its myriad forms, including children’s sing-a-longs, classical, rock, folk, blues, jazz and reggae.

Wheels on the Bus is on the set list for our morning carride cabaret. And whether it’s the bus driver’s order to “move on back” or horns going “beep, beep, beep,” her chunky little hands and sweet segmented baby arms are in full musical orchestration from her carseat podium in the backseat.

Recently, her favorite stanza details the bus doors that “open and shut, open and shut,” while her arms stretch to their widest limits, then quickly, and with as much force as she can muster, her hands slap together — clap — with precision.

Open and shut. Open and shut. Open and shut.

On this morning, though, those words rattled in my mind long after the song’s end. Not just as juvenile lyrics about mass transportation, but as concepts, as realities.

Both are realities in adoption; both are realities in my world:

After all, I am mother to an 18-month-old girl in an open adoption.

I am wife to a man whose adoption remains tightly shut by the laws in his Ohio birthstate.

A stark contrast between the two, to be sure:

***

I have never set eyes on the woman who brought my husband into the world.

Not only have I met the woman that brought my daughter into the world,
I have hugged her — long and hard.

*** 

I have never heard my husband’s birth mother speak.
I know not whether his voice and its intonations echo hers.

Not only have I heard the voice of my daughter’s birth mother, we’ve spoken —
sharing conversations, sentiments, moments.

*** 

When I gaze into my husband’s distinct eyes
or admire the dark, loose curls upon his head,
I have no point of reference from which to travel, branch-to-branch,
along a family tree of physical attributes.

Yet I can trace the rosy hue and heart-shaped curves of my daughter’s lips,
even the contour of her jaw and chin, directly to her birth mother’s siblings.
Because we met them and I saw the similarities for myself.
And on that warm summer day, we sat, on a blanket in a park
and played with the baby that connects us all.

***

In a moment of medical crisis, there would be no family history on which
my husband could rely. No way to shed light in a time of darkness. 

Yet, for our daughter, there are forms completed by her birth mother
that reference three generations of medical matters. More than that,
if our daughter’s health were in peril, her birth mother could be reached.

***

Based on decades-old recollection from my husband’s adoptive family,
two possible names for his birth mother and one for the hospital
are scrawled on a sheet of looseleaf paper.
Although agency records cite such specifics, they are black-lined to him.

I don’t rely on recollection for fundamental facts about my daughter’s story.
Her birth mother’s name is Known. Written. Spoken.
Photographs of her birth mother are in our home, within our daughter’s grasp.
The hospital where our daughter took her first breath? We were called to it.

***

For my husband, there are questions that remain unanswered.

For my daughter, there are stories to share, memories to make,
friendships to forge, milestones to mark.

***

Open and shut. Open and shut. Open and shut.

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Filed under Adoption, Birth parents, Children, Family, Husbands, Love, Maeve, Making a difference, Music, Open Adoption, Parenting, Promises, Relationships