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Friday, October 22, 2010

Perspective

Our journey to foster/adoption was impacted along the way. From the time I was a child young enough to need a babysitter to the time I was the babysitter and now as an adult. But yesterday something odd happened and I was reminded of the Safe Haven Baby that was in fact not placed.

It was May of 2009. A co-worker of mine was talking at lunch about her Sister who was pregnant and giving the baby up for adoption. We had friends that were going through the process of working with a domestic adoption agency. I decided to open my big mouth.

Oh are the adoptive parents going to be there?

No she didn't do that she was just going to leave the baby at the hospital under the Safe Haven Law

Oh. Well you know we have friends who are trying to adopt.

Do you think they'd be interested in the baby?

I could ask.

So I did. I e-mailed with the details I knew. Baby Girl. Due in a month. Bi-racial. Dad in Jail. Mom Drug user. No Prenatal care. The friends were interested. So I texted my co-worker. I recieved one back. I talked to my Sister she wants to give her to your friends. WOW. Just WOW.

These friends of ours had tried for years - undergoing every fertility treatment possible. Even trying massage and acupuncture and there was no medical explination for their inability to get pregnant. They didn't have any trouble with their first pregnancy and they desperately wanted to give their child a sibling. I was excited! Maybe working in this office finally had MEANING. We were facilitating a much wanted adoption helping everyone out. (Yeah I was that arrogant.)

Then the sister went into labor. That night. She labored for 2 days. The families talked. They decided to go forward. Could we come and introduce them at the hospital the day she is born? Sure. We walked in and saw this tiny beautiful baby girl hours old. I got to hold her. And went to change her diaper not realizing it was her first diaper change. We listened as her Mother told the potential adoptive parents how she wanted her to have better and that she was sure of her decision. Hire the lawyer. Hold your daughter. I would never tell you I was going to give you the baby and then change my mind. Until she did. And the social worker told the adoptive family's lawyer that there was no baby to adopt.

I was angry and upset. I felt responsible for bringing this heartache into our friends lives. How could she do that to them? To her Daughter? These people could give her EVERYTHING. I was concerned about the $1,000 retainer they plunked down. And this was all complicated by the fact that I worked with the Aunt. Maybe this is my Sisters chance to change her life around. Perhaps now she'll stay clean (apparently her 15 year old wasn't reason enough, or her boyfriend who over dosed and died at her house the previous year). She quailifies for state insurance and she can get a voucher for a free high chair. The updates on the baby started to sting as I heard them. My office was careful not to mention it around me but I did hear things here and there. I found out the Aunt had taken custody of the baby in order for her to leave the hospital as she tested positive for drugs at birth. I saw her picture and her beautiful curly hair. And a gigantic smile.

Then we ventured down the road of foster parenting and adoption and I learned a ton. That drug abuse is a common reason for children to be taken by DCFS. That an adoptive family in a "better" situation does not give the chid an automatic pass to a great life. That often adoptive children have trouble coming to terms with how they came to be adopted and that knowing their birthfamilies becomes very important for many of them. That the best interest of a child is to stay with their birth families if at all possible. In reading the blog of a woman who did place her baby up for adoption under Safe Haven I learned of the pain that birth mothers go through. I know that with the joy of adoption for the adoptive family also come with a great loss to the birth family and the children.

Yesterday I was sitting at my desk working at my computer with my back to the hallway. I heard little feet running down the hall and I turned to look. It was her. Full of energy, same big smile. She came running straight to me. Her Aunt laughing. She came straight to you. Thats so wierd! And instead of the prick of heartache I felt joy. Joy for this little girl that her Mom was able to parent. Happiness that she looked well cared for and adorable. Relieved that she seemed healthy. Blessed that she popped into my life. I have a different perspective now and I'm glad I was able to be a part of their difficult journey so that if ever faced with the situation again I'll have a better understanding of the emotion involved.

You might ask what happened to our friends. They found out they were pregnant not too long after going through this situation. Their baby was born in May and while she had some serious health problems she is now home and doing well.

Friday, October 1, 2010

We Don't Have Kids

Ok I'll admit I was a little mean. And it wasn't the woman's fault.



This week I had to go to Babies-R-Us to get a shower gift for a friend of ours. Now as I've stated before right now we don't have fertility issues. We have an autoimmune disorder that won't go into remission and I'm sure the feelings and experience I'm about to share are 1% of what women who go through fertility problems and treatments experience. The person we were buying the gift for had one such struggle and after 8 years of treatments and testing she finally got pregnant - out of nowhere. This couple is apart of our adoption journey as they opened our eyes to the possibility and at one point was had tried to help facilitate a private adoption for them for a baby that was going to be placed as a Safe Haven baby. (The mother changed her mind.)



I was not in the mood to be shopping I was tired and hungry and irked. Irked that my Husband had discussed my lack of going to the store to get a gift with the person receiving it. (I couldn't make the shower.) And the moment I walked in the store and saw all of the pregnant women registering I became annoyed. I tried to keep my feelings in check - Its silly to feel that way no one has told you you'll NEVER have kids. You haven't even tried yet. We couldn't afford a baby now. Don't you love being able to flit here and there and only have to think about who will take care of the Dog? its not always about you - you are here for the baby who has struggled to get here and you should be happy she's home. Then I started with the registry computer and my patience flew right out the door - I couldn't find the registry and then the printer wasn't working. And as I'm swearing under my breath my Honey tapped me on the shoulder. He decided to meet me there to help me out. And I felt better that he was there it was really sweet of him but at the same time I resented that my opportunity to wander the aisles and dream was gone. As we started to walk past the clothes section my heart started to break. All the cute little glittery dresses and shoes for Christmas. The Halloween costumes...the nursery decorations and then the cribs with THE MONKEYS on them.... We found the toys and aisle we were looking for and its safe to say that my Honey had a blast. And really everything was cute. We picked up a bib that said "I'm Stuffed" to go with the toys and headed to the checkout.

Then the inquisition began:
Did you find everything?
Did you need the registry back?
These take batteries. Do you have them?
You sure?
Did you want to open up a charge account and save 20%
No?
You sure?C
an I have your rewards card?
What's your phone number? I can look it up.
You don't have one?
Do you want me to start a card for you? It only takes a drivers license?
No?
Ok Well how about an e-mail address?

To which I answered - "We don't have any children" and then looked away.

Now I know she was just doing her job. I worked 6 years of retail I know that she is just following prompts and that someone at the corporate office thinks its a great idea to annoy the customer as they leave. And I know it sucks to work a Monday Evening. And I hated when customers took their personal issues out on me. Normally, this makes me a very patient and helpful consumer BUT at that moment I just wanted to get the darn transaction over with. I wanted to grab our bag and get the heck out of the store. Those questions wouldn't normally stir up feelings of inadequacy and anger. Fear would not normally bubble to the surface when being asked. Fear of being told I won't be able to have kids, that it will be too late when I'm told I can try, that my disease will not go into remission. Helplessness at this thought that I could be in real pain forever. Fear that if we only adopt no one will throw us a party because they just aren't as excited as we are. Sadness that I can't start a job I feel I'm meant to do, that of Mom. Frustration that I can't keep these feeling in check and then shame that I took it out on the lady.

The rest of the transaction happened in pretty much silence. As we walked out of the store my shame started to creep up. I said to Honey "I'm sorry I just could't take the questions anymore." Now normally he would tell me I was in the wrong but he replied "I know..it was ridiculous."

I didn't share with him my feelings. But I suspect that maybe he was having some of the same ones and it occurs to me as I write this that perhaps I really do have a sensitive soul for a husband.