In a Year

Last May, I knew something was about to change. I knew that I was walking into territory unexplored, and that I would likely have to restructure my whole perspective regarding all things adoption.

I had no idea how much restructuring would happen in a year. How much could happen in a year and how much I actually needed the change.

A year ago the first, of what would end up being many, bomb went off. I sat in my last visit with my therapist telling her I would never be able to look at my adoption with the same rose colored glasses. I knew that I was being forced out of my comfortable little closet, and blasted into the real world of adoption loss. That day I shook with anger, sadness and fear, I spoke of a lack of trust, sheer unadulterated guilt, and a devastating realization that I had been lying to myself for years, a sort of self-protecting denial. For the first time since the day I left the hospital, I allowed myself to be swallowed by the intricate, deep, haunting loss that I suffered. Unlike many moments over the course of the last nine years, I did not hold back, and I jumped in.

And I went deep. Deeper then I ever thought I would possibly go.

If only I had any indication of how right I had been, how drastically my perspective would change. I had no idea that there was a word, or a phrase for the numbness I had succumbed to. When I first heard the term Adoption Fog, a light went on. I had no idea that there were others who felt a depth of loss continually and daily like I had for years but had hidden it in the hopes of eventually earning the title of “Good Birthmother”. I had no idea that I was about to embark into a new world that had been purposely hidden from me for years. A sisterhood of women who have lost, who have willingly and sometimes not willingly awoken from the deep spell that we are put under in order to convince ourselves that we are not and were not the best option for our own children.

When I began writing, I had no idea what I wanted to write about. Did I want to join the advocacy movement that I saw steadily increasing? Could I even think to be involved? Did I feel comfortable in beginning the painful journey of writing my own story and risking the obvious vulnerabilities that came with it? I had no answers, so I just started. Some months, I wrote nothing, and sometimes I wrote things that I thought were nothing, but others thought they were incredible enough to be shared with a bigger audience. Other months I blogged and blogged and blogged until I hurt in more ways then I can accurately describe. More importantly, I have learned that I have so much to say, and I am now a far cry from the girl who sat in her car last summer wondering what the hell she would put on her empty adoption blog that she felt was useless. Not unlike herself.

I have stories that deserve to be told, that I have learned. Even further beyond reason, there are people who want to hear what I have to say.

In the past year, I have stumbled upon other mothers, adoptees and even adoptive parents who share similar views, plights and concern. However, I have noticed a divide between those of us who dream of adoption reform, and those who believe that we are bitter and anti-adoption in our stance. I have unfortunately learned of adoptive parent privelge and the silencing factor it can have on the mothers who relinquished, and their children who were adopted. I know there are mothers who subscribe to the honorable title of birthmother as defined by our society, and look down on me for feeling like so much needs to change in order for the adoption triad to be an actual triad. I have become astutely aware of the booming business adoption is, and how easy it can be to ignore that obvious fact. Rage and passion surged through me as I realized how this issue, the issue of coercion and young mothers, is such a valid feminist issue and yet, is readily ignored.

I have learned of language and the impact it has on others and even on myself. I no long wear the title of “birthmother” as a crown like the agency and many others indicated I should. The title birthmother is nothing more then a label that was slapped on me to remind me of my place in their adoption triad. It is not an indicator of who I am, or what I want to be, but a reminder of what I had to become in order to survive. It is a statement that shows a loss of my rights and of my child, nine years ago. This year I have opened my heart to the realization that I am just a woman, a mother who gave up her child, her parental rights, and a part of her, nothing more. I have started to remove the secrecy and shame that I was draped in, and have allowed myself to realize that there is no shame in who I am. Not because I am the “selfless birthmother” they said I was, but because there is no shame in admitting truthful ugliness that lies beneath the surface of my adoption.

In the last year, I have cried, and ranted. I have hit literal and proverbial walls as I struggled to grasp the reality of how my adoption has altered who I am. I wondered what the real point of searching and digging was, gently being reminded by those who were further out of this process that it was necessary. I wondered how I could relate so drastically to the women of the scoop era but yet be so far away from them at the same time. I have overcome anger, though I still feel the burn of it throughout my skin, and understand that in order to live, I will always feel it resonate within me.

I have made connections (and even lost some) because I made the choice to begin talking. I have found bloggers with shared experiences, I have found organizations that truly get it. I have found a whole chorus of voices who are singing their own songs, with melodies similar to my own. I have found the power to give voice to my own experience, the beauty of my own worth through the words that land on this blog. I have connected with readers, and with real life friends who are touched by adoption in their various ways. Instead of hiding in darkness, i have turned the frustration, anger and self-loathing into a wonderful opportunity to grow as a woman.

Words that I didn’t think I had, support I didn’t know existed, have all found their way to me in just a year. If this is all that I can accomplish in a year, the next ten ought to be a real adventure.

Tomorrow is May, and tomorrow is the month that will drag me to the roughest parts of my adoption loss. I will likely have moments where I wonder why I even bother to write, or why I can’t just hide in my bed and ignore the whole situation. Last May, I would have never guessed that I would have written over 100 different posts on my own experience, and that I would have my writing featured, and shared throughout the internet. I would have never known that I could write this much, because last year, I was afraid.

This year, I’m no longer afraid. I am no longer afraid of a past that has changed me. I am no longer afraid of my own truth.

And that has made all the difference, in a single year.

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