Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Acta est fabula

The drama has been acted out.

Most blogs are a process. But this one has been a project, and the end of it has come. This means there are no new entries, but the old entries are still available (and relevant to anyone musing about infertility and/or adoption) through my archives (see StoryLines on the left).

Years have passed and we now have more than a decade of adoptive parenting under our belts. I chronicle some of those moments on my main blog, Over the years I have become a strong advocate of child-centered open adoption and have published several articles in Adoptive Families magazine.

I invite you to subscribe to for entries on parenting, adoption issues, politics, trivia, and Perfect Moment Mondays.

And check out my new book (as of April, 2013) born from listening to adult adoptees, first parents and other adoptive parents. The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is now available through Amazon and other online booksellers.

If you're embarking on or in the midst of your own adoption story, I send you my very best wishes for a smooth journey.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Legal sequel

(Fall, 2003) -- Our agency counselor, Sheryl, visits our home a few times, and we take more parenting classes at Lutheran. Six months pass and it’s time to go to court again. FOR THE LAST TIME!

Much as I love Sheryl, I am ready to be finished with social workers.

Same month, same judge. In October, we again go into the judge’s courtroom to finalize Reed's last name and to make us legally a forever family. Grandparents, aunts and uncles surround us to share our joy in welcoming Reed as a card-carrying member of our clan.

We remind the judge (who himself has been through three adoptions through Lutheran) that he presided over our daughter’s adoption almost exactly two years ago. He shows us photos of his family, and poses for photos of our momentous day.

We go out for brunch, secure in the knowledge that WE’RE DONE WITH AGENCY HOOPS! Woo hoo!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thinking the unthinkable

(Spring-Summer, 2003) -- I have never been a depressed person. I have had sad times, but I get through them. But now, my therapist notices that I am speaking in sweeping generalizations. Example: “I am the biggest loser in the world, and I deserve to be miserable.”

She thinks the depression might be chemical, and she encourages me to ask my doctor about anti-dep.ressants.

I don’t like to take medicine, but this seems necessary to the health and well being of my family. I begin to take a very low dose of an SS.RI (Selective Sero.tonin Re.uptake In.hibitor). After a few weeks, I begin to feel better.

I try to figure out what’s going on in my body. I discover that serotonin is produced during deep sleep. No wonder I’m feeling like crap –- I’ve been getting no REM or deep sleep.

Later in the season, in a message surely meant just for me, my mail carrier hands me the current Adoptive Families magazine that holds a feature article about PADS: Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome. This monster inside me has a name! I am not the only monster in Adoption World!

As I'm working on the physical aspect of the depression, my counselor is helping me with the emotional. She suggests I envision disrupting the adoption.* It's something that's really, really, really, really hard to think about. What kind of a person would do such a thing? Oh yeah. Me, the monster.

What will happen to Reed? I ask, in tears. What about Michele? I cannot go back on my word to her. My counselor tells me that none of that matters: I simply need to decide if I want to parent Reed.

I manage to form a scenario in my head where I disrupt the adoption. In the imagining, I tell Roger I can't parent Reed. I tell the agency and they come for Reed. I weigh this scenario against trusting the process and knowing that this wrinkle will work itself out if I just outlast the monster.

I look hard at my choice about releasing Reed. I realize I HAVE bonded to him. I DO want him in my life. I AM his mom.

I am finally able to break free from the grip of the monster. The freedom of choice, the article on PADS, and the anti-depressants (which I stop taking a year later) bring me back to center. I finally can feel gratitude for all my blessings. And parent Reed wholeheartedly.

* For the record, I don't believe this exercise was actually about disrupting the adoption. It was about getting to the place of choice. My counselor trusted this process when I was unable to. And I'm deeply grateful :-).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Everything I wanted and nothing like I thought

(Spring-Summer, 2003) -- I did it. I completed the plan I had for my life. Met a wonderful man, proposed to him and got married. Traveled the world together and had loads of fun. Grieved and recovered from the setback of infertility. Became the mom to the most perfect daughter and son. Several weeks after all my dreams came true, I should be happy. Deliriously happy.

But I’m not. And I can’t even blame hormones for my moodiness. I become depressed, edgy and easily upset with Roger, Tessa and Reed. I am supremely pissed at myself. I feel guilty for not being 100% grateful for all I have. I fall into the dark abyss of self-loathing. It seems bottomless because I keep plunging. Falling, falling. Spiraling down.

I see my counselor. I am stuck, I tell her. Stuck with a life that is no longer my own. Stuck with a colicky newborn who keeps me up much of the night. Stuck with a toddler who sucks my energy by day. Stuck in a hell I don’t have the resources to deal with or get out of.

I am not bonding with Reed. I bonded instantly with Tessa, and I am panicked about this un-liveable situation. Is it because he is a boy? Because he is the second child? Because I didn’t attend his birth, and I missed his first few weeks of life? Because I am a waste of a human being?

Years ago, to heal from infertility I had to recognize that I DID indeed have choices. My counselor helps me see that I have a choice: I do not have to parent Reed. Finalization is still months away.

She encourages me to sit with this awhile. To KNOW that I have the option to back out.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Denver, we have a problem

(Spring-Summer, 2003) -- I am not bonding with Reed.

I am mad because he does not let me sleep.

I feel more like a reluctant babysitter than a previously eager mom.

And I hate myself.

This is gonna get bad...

Friday, January 22, 2010

How the #*$% did mom do this?!

(Spring-Summer, 2003) -- Now I am a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom). But before kids I was in the world of academia. I ran adult education programs (which really is nothing like adult movies or adult bookstores) at a state university. I got a charge out of making lists and checking things off as I got them done. Checking was a terrific motivator. In fact, I was known to add items to my list that I’d already done – just to check them off.

But I’d retired my daytimer once I left the paid work world to stay home. After all, I didn’t have courses to schedule, students to check up on, instructors to negotiate with. Just a 2 year old and an infant. I’d have no problem getting things done -– I’d have all day to take care of things, right?

Wrong. Roger comes home at the end of the day and I shove Reed at him. Take him! I exclaim. And Tessa too. They’ve kept me from doing anything on my To-Do list! Roger is kind enough not to mention that I’m still in my pajamas.

Dishes are piled up almost as high as the laundry. We’re running out of formula and wipes, since I didn’t quite make it to Costco. I have no idea what we’ll have for dinner tonight. It could be Cheerios, except that we’re also out of milk.

And for all I know we could be in danger of having our electricity shut off. Or the phone or the sewer. The bills are in disarray, and my once perfect system for paying bills at just the right time has been shattered. I have no clue about our financial picture.

How did my mom do this? She had three kids and I have only two.

I have plunged from being a valued employee to an incompetent, bathrobe-clad lame-o who is incredibly busy all day (24 hours!) but gets nothing done.

Tomorrow I'll at least get dressed. And check that off my list.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010