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What I am about to say does not mean that I don’t love adoption. I love it. I will always advocate for it. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that placing my baby for adoption was the right thing to do.
Except when I don’t. Because there is so much pain in my heart that I have not allowed myself to process. I am an advocate for adoption, I shouldn’t be so messed up about it. People look up to me. I get messages from strangers all the time, thanking me for being so open about my story, telling me how it has helped them on their adoption journey. My work in adoption has been incredibly rewarding, and I love it so much. In some ways, I feel like a spokesperson for adoption.
But right now I’m recognizing that I’ve been lying to myself. I hurt. Every day. There are moments, especially at family events or when it’s quiet in the evening that I can picture so perfectly what it would be like to be a parent. I want to watch my little girl play with her cousins, and hold her in my lap when she gets tired or scared.
But I don’t even know what she did today. I don’t know what new words she’s learning, or her favorite things to do. I can’t explain how hard it is to have such an incredible bond with someone, but to be so far away. When I visit my birth daughter, I feel a connection. We love each other so, so much. And the cost of that bond and that love mean that every time I have to say goodbye my heart breaks all over again. Love shouldn’t hurt, I’ve always said that that quote was unhealthy… but this love hurts. Fierce love equals fierce pain and sacrifice sometimes.
I feel so guilty for feeling this way. I shouldn’t regret it. She has the most amazing life with the most amazing family. She has a beautiful home and she’ll never want for anything. She is so much happier with them than she would be with me, all by ourselves in my crappy apartment. I can’t give her all the stimulation she needs to reach her full potential. It’s better this way, and I know that. But sometimes I just want to hold my baby. I want to be her mama.
I wish I had been good enough to be her mom. I wish her birth father had been kind. I wish I hadn’t been so young and angry and confused. I wish I had the money to provide for her. I get tired of reminding myself that it wasn’t my fault, I had been through so much and I didn’t know how to say no. I didn’t know how to be a mom at that point. I keep trying to shut off the shoulda woulda couldas but sometimes I just have to feel them.
I feel selfish. I should never even think about how much better it would have been for me emotionally to parent. I feel like I’m betraying her adoptive parents (whom I love) whenever I think of her as mine. It should always be about her, and if she’s happy I should be happy. If other people look up to me I should be happy. I am supposed to be birth mom strong. I am supposed to encourage and lift others.
There is a difference between focusing on the positive and completely shutting out the negative. That’s what I’ve been doing. I went in to see my case worker the other day. I told her I was doing well, that I’d had a few bad days but that I understood why and that I handled them, so I was fine. I didn’t really need to be there talking to her, I didn’t need help. The only reason I came in is because my psychiatrist thought I had borderline personality, but another one thought I was bipolar. Neither of them felt quite right to me.
She ever so gently suggested that maybe I was holding back some feelings. Maybe it’s neither of those. Maybe I just have trauma from the adoption and before that manifests itself regardless of whether I know that’s what it is. Maybe I’m not as ‘fine’ as I say I am. That gentle suggestion unleashed the dam of emotion that I had been keeping inside for the sake of being strong. I sobbed for the first time in a year about how much I hate being a birth mom some days. I just want to be a normal college student, or a normal mom, but instead I’m stuck in the middle and all kinds of heartbroken.
It’s time for me to acknowledge my grief. Here is where normally I would put a positive spin on it, and say that it’s all worth it in the end because I did the right thing for her. But this time I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to talk about how I’ll ride it out and be okay and come out stronger. It’s true, but I need to accept that I’m going through something in order to even begin to make real progress. So I’m just going to say that this hurts.