What Child Is This ?

The Christmas story, is to me, a story of mothers. It is the story of a man caring for a pregnant woman and finding her a comfortable place to birth her baby. It is about protecting the mother and child from political danger and about immigrants. Christians make it about much more than that but to me, that is really what the Christmas story is about.

It is about a Census that required the pregnant woman to ride a long distance on a donkey to be counted in the birthplace of the man. It is about a town so crowded there was no room in a decent inn. It is about being forced to birth a child in a stable full of animals.

It is about hearts drawn to the baby and the wonder of birth that keeps the human race going – whether lowly shepherds sensing a significant event or kings traveling with expensive gifts from afar. It is about the Star of illumination shining for all to see.

It is about a narcistic and power hungry king who feared a little child could unseat him from his throne and so proceeded to kill many young children trying to protect his own self. The grief in the mothers of these children (if they weren’t killed along with them trying to stop the slaughter) had to be enormous.

What child is this ? It is every child. Every child should have their own mother who gave birth to them and then raises them with love in her heart. Every family should be supported and helped with the challenges of parenting and providing for the basic needs of their family.

These are what this season reminds me about.

After Terror, Come Babies

I’m not certain what this image conveys about what we teach our children.  Like many people on this date, my thoughts return to 19 years ago and a photo we took of our 6-1/2 month old oldest son sitting next to a TV with the image of the Twin Towers burning real time.  One of those iconic things one does in an attempt to capture a moment in history, which we instinctively knew it was.

So my thoughts turned this morning to the orphans of that event.  These children are what comes after 9/11. Gabriel was born six days after the death of his father. They are the joy, the salve, the ointment. They’re the love.

“I could only imagine how much courage someone could have to go into a situation like that,” says Lauren, who was born less than three months after 9/11.  Her father died after running into the South Tower to save others.

Ronald lost his dad at the Pentagon while his mother, Jacqueline, was five months pregnant with him. (She was working on the other side of the building during the attack.) A high school basketball player, today Ronald Jr. wears the number 33 on his jersey, the age his father was when he died. “I feel like my dad is watching me,” he says. “Every move I make, he’s here.”

Robyn was born seven weeks after her father died.  She says the loss has given her a different perspective from her peers. “I’ve always been aware of the world.  The world should be a place where it’s okay to be who you are, and to love whom you love and believe what you believe. Underneath, what we’re made up of is the same.”

Allison’s father was on Flight 11, traveling to be home for his daughter’s imminent birth – has learned that her sadness is also coupled with happiness.  “There’s always an empty spot.”

Sadly, death is a part of life, no matter how that death happens.  At this time, there is a lot of death all over the planet and the terror of never being certain if one will be infected with this virus and lose their own life to it.

When An Adoptee Becomes A Mother

Adoption is a lifelong process, and becoming a parent adds a layer of complexity as it causes adoptees to revisit, or consider for the first time, the losses that go along with adoption.

This can be surprising for adoptees that were comfortable with their family situation for a couple of decades.  I do remember (since both of my parents were adopted) that we had no medical history at the doctor’s office but we knew there was an explanation – adoption.

Adoption can be a delicate subject. The spectrum of the adoptee experience is vast, and the conversation often feels dominated by adoptive parents who have deeply ingrained fears about losing their child or children.  This is why I focus more on the adoptee and the original parents who usually have a diminished voice in society.

Feelings and issues are bound to come up when adoptees become parents themselves. Questions arise about family and cultural histories, medical concerns and the role of identity in the parenting experience. An adoptee frequently wonders, “Who am I, really?”

One adoptee shared this – “If there was a part of me that yearned for something – a hole that was difficult to fill – I didn’t connect that with being adopted. I struggled with anxiety and trust, and that worsened as I grew into adulthood. But I was certain I wanted to have biological kids — to create them, to grow them, to birth them. I didn’t know why I needed that, or why I was lonely and struggled to trust others. I just knew I needed to fill this hole, to find this missing piece.”

I have felt this with each of my three biological children – it is an emotional response when I see my baby for the first time, feeling a definite bond to that child. It is a tidal wave, taller and more powerful than falling in love. When an adoptee experiences this it is much more – like they had missed something their entire life but didn’t realized what it was until that moment.  The adoptee may even wonder if their mother felt something like that for them.  Or if she didn’t.  What did that say about their worthiness to be loved ?  I wonder if my adoptee mother had these sudden realizations.  She is deceased now and I can’t ask her about it.

An adoptee may struggle with how their own original mother could carry them for nine months and then simply let them go – permanently.

For many adoptee moms, this grief is new, something they don’t understand until they become pregnant themselves. New ways of thinking about their adoption often heighten the myriad emotions experienced during pregnancy and birth.

All adoption is rooted in trauma. Being separated from your original family, and from the woman who you grew inside of, is trauma. The baby does miss that heartbeat, that smell, that undeniable bond. For an adoptee during a pregnancy, it may feel quite novel to realize they are about to meet their very first blood relative.  Adoptees often experience an added layer of appreciation and gratitude for as well as an added connection to their children.

 

No, You Don’t Deserve A Baby

Regarding adoption, one prospective couple wrote – “I want a baby not a full grown kid. My husband and I deserve a baby. We both crave a baby to raise as our own”.

I get that.  Not that I believe they deserve someone else’s baby but that they are hoping for that blank slate that Georgia Tann always advertised her babies as being.  Science has determined that isn’t the truth but anyway.

Another prospective adoptive couple stated, “Older children come with so many issues. You can’t mother an older child like an infant. Especially as first time parents”.  Though I was not a first time parent, my husband was.

When my husband decided he wanted to be a father, we did talk about adoption but decided that we wanted a truly blank slate as our beginning position.  We wanted to conceive and for me to carry our baby in my womb, give birth and breastfeed that baby for a reasonable length of time.  We did need considerable medical assistance and there was a compromise involved that seemed reasonable but still must be faced fully and accepted.  Which I believe I have for the most part.

Regarding the expense of adoption, someone was quoted as saying, “Adoption should be free like abortion is”.  Now that does blow my mind because abortion is not free.  I know.  I had one back in the mid-1970s.  There is a cost in dollars at the time and over the long run a cost mentally and emotionally with making such a significant decision.  I continue believe it was the right decision at the time I made it but that doesn’t equate to the reality being easy to live with.

Here is another statement that is absolutely not true – “If adoption wasn’t so expensive, there would be more kids who find homes”.  Fact is there are 4 couples wanting to adopt for every child available to be adopted.  That is one of the reasons that over the most recent decades, many couples have gone out of the United States to obtain a child to raise as their own.

One of the major interests among the members of the adoption community – original parents and adoptees – is reform.  Part of reform is actually raising awareness and changing perspectives.  That is the hope and the purpose for which I write a blog on related topics each day.

Birth COVID19 And Visitors

You probably already know this but the rules have decidedly changed.  For expectant mothers, giving birth at this time can be fraught with more than the usual anxiety.  For an expectant mother considering adoption for her newborn, all the more so.  And yet, it may also be a silver lining that hospitals are limiting visitors due to the COVID19 virus.

Adoptees have long suggested to these kinds of expectant mothers not to allow the hopeful adoptive parents to be present during labor and delivery nor for some days after birth.  The adoptive parents will have a lifetime to bond with your baby.  If you are truly determined to go through with relinquishing your baby, at least take this time to spend with the delicious reality of new life – especially during a time when death is dominating the news.

The hospital staff has the ability to support you through your birthing experience.  They have been through this many many times and in such a time as this, when extra precautions will keep both you and your baby safe from contracting the virus, it is all for the good.

It has long been felt, especially if you are not 100% convinced that giving your baby up for adoption is the right thing to do, that the presence of the hopeful adoptive parents at such a time is coercive.  Surrender is a permanent solution to a temporary situation.  None of us know what the future will look like after the threat of this virus passes.

Many of the mothers who gave up an infant regret their decision the rest of their lives.  It is a lifelong sorrow no matter how necessary it may seem at the moment.  If you are considering relinquishment and have access to an original mother who made that choice many years ago, do listen to her.  And be grateful the hospital is limiting visitors at this time – it is for the good on so many levels.

It’s Complicated

I find myself in conversation with a diversity of people about a diversity of issues related to adoption and mother/child separations.  I am always amazed at how many people have some such issue in their family and friend’s lives.

Even though I have had a radical change of heart about adoption due to learning about the wounds that causes, I also acknowledge that the issue is not simple but very complicated.  There are times when children definitely need a safe and loving space to exist in.  There are times, when knowing the circumstances, we can admit that adoption was better than the alternative.

But there always are alternatives and some are less damaging than others.  Harder to arrive at is why people become wounded and messed up.  Why they don’t do better.  Why the children are often the ones to suffer the most.

Learning about all of the circumstances at play in my own family’s lives has given me an appreciation for the big picture and how things progress over time.  I am in the midst of editing a new manuscript that I actually wrote the rough draft for six years ago and then events delayed my return to it.

At this point in the story, I am in heaven.  And the topic of predestination and free will comes up between me and a trusted friend of the heart there.  I think this perspective may be close to the truth of the matter and so, I share –

“Are you telling me that everything is preordained and that I had no choice in how my life unfolded?”

“Absolutely not.  The nature of reality in this realm is that everything is adjusting instantaneously to every choice and circumstance that happens.”

What happens if different choices are made ?

“It would have all morphed and changed to suit new circumstances.  In fact, there are layers upon layers of redundancies. There are trajectories and unfoldings that are the natural outcomes of current events and like your own micro circumstances it is all morphing and adjusting continuously.  There are situations that, if they don’t occur,  could delay your next lifetime.  Other situations could speed up your return to Earth in another incarnation.  We really don’t know the hour of our birth, just as we really don’t know the hour of our death; and yet, it is all completely natural.”

Though Life is so very complicated that any action we may take could be beneficial or detrimental regardless of the best of intentions, even knowing all that could possibly happen that we never considered, we act anyway – for not to act might bring some irreversible harm that could have been prevented.

Hope Springs Eternal

It is a story as old as humanity.  The rebirth through time of the species.  Every child spends time in its mother’s womb.  Every child carries the seeds of its father.  Every human being is precious.

Sadly, many children are born into humble beginnings.  Just as the old Christmas story tells us of the struggles of the young family who give birth in a stable for animals because there was no room for them at the inn.

All of us who live have reason to be grateful.  No one promised us a rose garden on being birthed into physicality but many many humans have proven to us that anyone with enough persistence and determination can change the circumstances of their life.

When times are exceedingly difficult, we can be comforted with knowing that change is constant.  When times are abundantly good for us, we should remember that this too is likely to pass into something else.

Christmas Eve is a time when the whole world hopes for peace, goodwill towards men.  However you celebrate and whether you celebrate or not, may your holidays be blessed with warmth, loving souls around you and harmony for at least some few moments so that you too know that it is possible.

 

Questioning A Choice

There was a woman in my mom’s group that I became close to.  We were all undergoing assisted reproductive methods of varying degrees and gave birth to our children during a four month period in 2004.

This woman was not typical in our group.  She was actively being treated for cancer and used a surrogate to conceive and birth the boy/girl twins she left as a legacy for her husband.  She was anxious about having to wear a head covering to hide her hair loss in the delivery room.

It came to pass that she died when the twins were about two years old.  The couple bought a house directly across the street from the one the twins lived in to buffer them from some of the most distressing aspects of her dying.

It is fair to ask – What does it mean to create new life when one parent is dying?

The reality is that there are countless parents who don’t live to see their children grow up, but most of those tales involve unforeseen tragedy.  Among my own acquaintances two other women have died of the complications of cancer after giving birth to children that are left to their husbands to raise.

In the face of a certain ending, some couples chose to create a beginning.  The number of people who confront this exact extraordinary convergence of birth and death is small enough that no one knows precisely how many are out there.  There are outliers facing terminal illness who have forged ahead with plans to have children.

Perhaps I know more of them than most people do.  Because of my own circumstances of conception and the circumstances of my parents’ conceptions that ended their parental relationships by their becoming adopted, I have developed a different philosophical view that also does not deny a woman’s right to choose.

That right is very broad in my own perspective – not only to choose to conceive by whatever method is available to any individual woman but to choose not to carry a pregnancy she doesn’t want to invest herself in.  It is a brave new world and the rules are changing.

Not A Choice

Imagine.  You are just born. Immediately, your tiny self is thrust into the chaos of foster care and/or adoption. You had no say in what was done to you.

Your newborn self wanted no one else in the world but the mother who carried you in her womb, who’s blood ran through your veins, who’s heartbeat was your lullaby as your neurons formed and connected. You wanted her. You cried for her. You experienced the rush of cortisol and adrenalin as your primal need was denied.

You did not sign up to be involved in adoption.

You did not volunteer to become an adoptee.

Those choices were made by others, and that was that. It is the common plight of all people, when they come into the world. Infants cannot dictate who cares for them – or the quality or lack of it that is administered. Infants cannot control where they are taken, what sort of environment they are raised in, or the people around them.

If you were adopted, when you are old enough, you can speak out about your feelings. You can speak about what you experienced, you can speak about the feelings you have had, the life you have known, and the pains you have felt.  Tell your own truth honestly.

Find other adoptees, so that you know that you are not alone in having these feelings.

Do not be ashamed that once upon a time, you told other people that you were happy to have been adopted. You had nothing to compare it to.

Do not be ashamed, if you often cry in private. You carry a profound grief. Do not think it wrong to try and find your original family. If you are able to do that, the experience may (but that is never guaranteed, as people as very complex creatures) be healing.  If nothing else, it will be the reality you were once denied.  The truth of your origins.

You have my sincere compassion. I am not an adoptee but my family of birth is full of adoptees – for one reason or another. You truly are not alone.

Abortion As An Ethical Decision

#1 – never pair the two issues.  Adoption as a counter to abortion.  Pro-Life should be positive in the support of keeping babies with their mothers.

Honestly, many adult adoptees will say “if I had a say in my birth mom doing it over again – hell yes, I wish she’d never had me.”  That may be hard to understand, if you were not adopted but this is the truth.

An abortion makes life going forward easier. If someone doesn’t want to be a parent, then putting themselves through a pregnancy and birth makes no sense. If someone does want a baby, then they’d regret adoption forever, if they chose that as an alternative when what they really lack to enable them to keep their child is the emotional or financial ability to parent that child.  This is also the truth.

An adoptee is forever the child whose mother gave her to strangers and all the emotional wounds that come with that.

If society were willing to make it more feasible for underprivileged mothers to keep their own babies by providing financial and other supports – then the truth also is that adoption and abortion rates would both likely drop.

There are options other than adoption for infertile couples to conceive children.  It is known as Assisted Reproduction and that entails a variety of potential treatments that may prove successful and be a better choice than creating huge psychological problems for adoptees and their original mothers, who are separated at birth, and under the best future possibilities, will still have a painful road to reunion.