Monday, October 19, 2009

Grieving, Moving Forward, and Rematching

Some of you are not going to understand the way that James and I have coped with this loss, but I’m going to try to explain as much as I can about what happened last week and what’s going to happen now.

It’s been not quite a week since Mary called and told me that birthmother had changed her mind about the adoption. I was surprised, yes, but I’d be lying if I said I was totally shocked. Mary, after speaking to her further in the past few days, was completely blown away by BM’s decision and said that she’d been totally blind-sided by it. She talked to BM much more than I did, and she said she never saw this coming.. particularly because their conversation about James and I two days prior had gone so well. Mary thought that surely we were past the worst of BM’s cold feet and that everything would go smoothly. And I’m sure that’s how most everyone else felt that’s been following our story. On the surface, it looked like everything was going according to plan. We’d met with BM the Saturday before for 3-ish hours and everything seemed great when we left. Part of me has wondered if it would have made a difference if I had called her on Sunday and again on Monday to check on her. But at this point, I doubt it.

I don’t know what is says about James or myself that we weren’t as blown away as everyone else. I don’t know how to explain it best. I wasn’t EXPECTING this to happen, but in a way I kind of knew that it would. I’d been having a gut feeling about BM for several weeks now. In fact, my gut feeling was that BM would change her mind on the day the baby was born… that seeing the baby would make her have a change of heart. But I kept telling myself that I was just afraid and that I couldn’t let my fear take control of me. So I was trying to let it go. I can’t say I was 100% successful, but the intent was there. I wanted to trust her and trust in this journey.

But, to be completely honest, I was bracing for this news long before I got it. It didn’t hit me as hard as it hit everyone else because I’d already dug in my heels to prepare for the emotional tsunami. It makes me sad because it means that I really don’t have much faith in people, which I thought I kind of did. And it makes me wonder how much trust did I really put in God to take care of us? I’ve been trying so hard to let go of my control issues and put it in His hands, knowing that whatever happens is part of His plan and it is neither my job nor my right to know what’s in the plan ahead of time. But if I was already subconsciously planning for what would happen when birthmother changed her mind, then how much trust did I really give Him? One of the most important life lessons I can take away from this experience (if I can get it through my thick head) is to let go of the control. I still haven’t gotten it yet, but I’m making good progress and it’s something I’ve been praying about much more.

James took the news much harder than I expected (and I expected him to take it really hard), but he bounced back much more quickly than I expected, too. I was quite relieved about that, because I didn’t have it in me to try to take care of him while I took care of myself.... and my mother, and his mother, and my father, and all our friends, and our friends from church, and all our family members. I’ve never been surrounded by so much love and support during a time of crisis, and I can’t tell you how much it has helped, but with that comes the responsibility of breaking the news to everyone I know as gently as possible. I love each and everyone one of you very very much. Some of you took this news much harder than I expected and having to see that just ripped my heart out.

Telling my mother-in-law (who had JUST driven up from Florida when Mary called me - as in, she was still in the parking lot of the hotel) was gut-wrenching. She held it together okay while I packed up my car and prepared to leave. But when James called her later that evening, she had apparently fallen apart. I told my dad because he was in town with me (he was at an impromptu college buddy reunion when Mary called), but I couldn’t even call my mother. I let him do that dirty work. She was at my house when I got home at 1:30 AM, but thankfully she wasn’t a tear-streamed mess. I hope BM understands that her actions didn’t just hurt James and I. They hurt everyone we love and there’s just no way of taking that back. I can protect myself and, to a lesser degree, James. But I can’t protect all of you and I hate that.

So now what happens? James and I are still trying to pursue an adoption because that’s the only way we’ll be able to have a family and it would be pretty stupid to give up on that because of one person. I talked to Mary about how we would set ourselves up for a rematch with a different birthmother/couple. With our agency, rematches due to a disruption don’t cost us anything. So they will remarket us and put our adoptive parent profiles back on the web and in their files for free. We can’t offer as much money in birthmother support each month because BM pretty much drained our savings dry, but we do still have something left to give.

I know many of you are going to think that we’re jumping back into this too fast and that we need an appropriate period of time in which to grieve. But the truth is that losing that baby is still going to hurt in 2 weeks, in 6 months, in 3 years.... quite possibly forever. Waiting to move on with our lives isn’t going to make that hurt any less painful. At this point, we’re both just ready to move forward (cautiously, of course) and leave the past in the past. Dwelling on what happened doesn’t make me feel any better, so I refuse to let myself do it. The grief will come slowly. There will be good days and bad days, but moving on helps me to cope with it a little bit better.

And if we get matched too quickly, or with a baby-born (meaning that the birthmother decided to give the baby up for adoption and is almost at her due date or the baby was just born), and it feels like we’re moving too fast then we’ll turn the opportunity down and wait a little longer. Personally, I’d much rather be matched with a baby born because it lessens the amount of time I have to deal with another birthmother, and I just don't know that I'm ready to do that yet. But we’ll be okay, whatever happens. BM hurt me, but she did not break me. Everything I had to endure at the beginning of this year made me stronger than that.

Now I just need to figure out what the heck I’m going to do with our frilly pink nursery if we end up adopting a little boy!

We love you all. Thank you so much for your messages and prayers. We couldn’t have gotten through the past week without you. And if anyone wants to ask me questions about what happened or whatever, I’m okay to talk about it now. You don’t have to walk on eggshells.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Everything Fell Apart

As I’m writing this, that sick feeling at the pit of my stomach that I first felt yesterday afternoon is beginning to return. My heart is pounding again and I can feel my hands shaking, but I need to get this out while I’ve still got the protection of the numbness that has overcome me. If I wait too long to tell everyone the bad news, I will have to face all the hurt that I’m trying so hard not to feel. And I just can’t bear that right now.

Birthmother had the baby sometime on Monday or Tuesday. Since she never called to tell me, I don’t know exactly when. I don’t know who drove her to the hospital, since it was supposed to be me. As of Sunday afternoon, when BM spoke to Mary about how well things were going, everything was right on track to proceed as planned. But sometime after that, BF got to her. I can only assume that he further emphasized his threats of leaving her if she went through with the adoption, that he gave her some kind of ultimatum, because ultimately she broke and gave in. BM has decided to keep the baby.

I can’t begin to express everything that I’m feeling because I’m trying so hard not to feel anything at all. In my gut, I’ve known for a long time that she was going to do this to me. I knew that she would wait until the day the baby was born to break my heart. I knew and yet I told myself that it was stupid to be so paranoid. So I convinced myself that I was just afraid and that I should face my fears head-on by trying to trust her.

The strange thing is that, although I would expect to be overcome with anger and deep-seeded hatred for this woman, all I can feel for her is pity and utter sorrow. I cannot imagine loving myself so little that I would choose to stay with a man who had used and mistreated me the way that he has used and mistreated her. And I am sad for the two little girls she now has to raise, because they are going to grow up without any strong female role models. They are going to learn that it is acceptable for a man to treat them like trash. And they will likely grow up and allow themselves to be mistreated by men the same way that their mother was. And I think that hurts me almost as much as the devastating loss we have suffered.

I have more to say, but I can’t put it into words right now. I drove home from her state late last night, so I’m going to busy myself with putting the house back together. Hopefully I can fill my time to keep the pain at bay, at least until James can come home next week.

Thank you for your love and prayers. They are a comfort to me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Meeting the Birthmother

James and I met with our birthmother yesterday. As someone who’s watched entirely too many Lifetime made-for-TV movies, I was a little wary of how this was going to go. I don’t know very much about the birthfather except that he has a history of being violent and that he’s not super crazy about this whole adoption thing. Leading up to this weekend, BM had made it pretty clear that she wanted BF to be there when we finally met in person because she’s trying to get him more involved in this process. But they’ve been so on-again-off-again lately that I wasn’t sure what to expect from him, but I told her that whatever she wanted to do would be fine.

We took Piper to the dog park yesterday morning to wear her out so we could leave her in the hotel when we went to meet BM and BF. When I was finally able to get her on the phone, I made the suggestion that we meet somewhere for coffee or that we take them out to dinner (you know, somewhere out in public with lots of witnesses around). She’d spent the day at her mother’s house and sounded like she wasn’t in the best of moods. She went on to say that she’s just a “homebody” and really didn’t feel like going anywhere because the weather’s been so dreary lately and she’s feeling kinda low. She suggested that we just come over to her house (big red flag there), but tempered it with saying that she hadn’t heard from BF in two days and that he wasn’t there at the moment. I wasn't super crazy about the idea of going to her home for our very first meeting, but I agreed.

But I’ve also seen a lot of episodes of Law and Order. I’m not stupid. And being the super paranoid person that I am, I immediately called a friend and told her where we were going. I instructed her to send me a text message in about two hours just to make sure everything was okay. If I didn’t respond, she was to text me again every 30 minutes until I responded… and if I still didn’t respond, to call the police (I know, I know… a bit much but I'd rather be safe than sorry). I also left an open Word document on my laptop giving the name, phone number, and address for BM, left information about our next of kin, described our vehicle, and left instructions to please feed Piper and give her to my parents. It seems crazy, but if BF had shown up and chopped us up into little bits to feed to the gators, I’m sure the police would’ve found all that information very helpful during the investigation of our mysterious disappearance and/or gruesome murder.

We got ready to leave the hotel room and Piper started barking as soon as we closed the door. We hung around the hallway for a minute or two to see if she’d quiet down, but she didn’t. Not wanting to get kicked out of the hotel, we opted to take her with us and leave her in the car. She’d make a good excuse for why we could only stay for so long and she’s a great traveler/car sleeper.

So off we go to meet BM. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I spent most of the drive briefing James on things to say or not say and issues to mention or not mention. Don’t bring up BF. Don’t talk about the stabbing incident. Downplay the sometimes dangerous nature of your job. Play up how excited you are about the baby. Be funny. Be yourself. Relax. NO PRESSURE. Quite surprisingly, it didn’t feel awkward and weird at all when we first drove up and went inside the house. BM had brewed a pot of coffee for us, even though she doesn’t drink coffee right now, because we’d mentioned getting coffee earlier. I thought that was sweet.

But no sooner had we sat down in the kitchen to chat, and she starts to cry. Apparently she and BF had a really big fight a few days ago and he’d threatened to break up with her (that solves the mystery of whether or not they’re together) if she goes through the with adoption. She hadn’t heard from him for two days, had called the jails and hospitals, and had no idea where he’d gone. She talked a little bit about how hard it’d been for her without anyone there to support her. Her mother still wasn’t in support and she’s not in contact with her sisters. She can’t get through to BF and has been feeling really depressed lately. But I reminded her that we are here for her and that we’re here to help her in any way that we can, even if she just needs someone to listen while she rants about everything that’s been frustrating her. And I reminded her that, at the end of the day, all she can really do is whatever she can to take care of herself and her other daughter. And she agreed.

After that, we spent the next three hours or so just talking about this and that. I think meeting both of us together seemed to really put her at ease about the decision she’d made. Her mood seemed to pick up and brighten a little during the course of our visit. My friend texted right on schedule and I texted back that everything was fine and BF still hadn’t shown up. Although I did notice that BM kept looking out the window whenever a car drove by, expecting (hoping?) that it would be him. It was actually really hard to watch how disappointed she was every time it was someone else.

After we left, James and I were talking about it in the car and apparently we were both going over worst-case-scenarios in our heads about how it might go down if BF showed up all pissed off and crazy. He’d been thinking over submission holds in his head and had noted the location of the kitchen knives. I’d been noting which windows were open or closed, where the exits were, and thinking about how to place the kitchen island between myself/BM and BF. I don’t know if that’s a sign that we’re perfectly matched because we were both right on the same wavelength, or if it just makes us both totally crazy.

But I think the visit went really well overall. I definitely feel much better about it than I did two days ago. She’s at 39 weeks and 1 day now, so she could go into labor any time. James left to go back to his training school and my dad is on his way down from home. As long as BM doesn’t go into labor in the next 7 hours, I should be good to go (knock on wood).

Thank you for all your prayers and all the messages you’ve sent to me. I haven’t had a chance to thank everyone individually, but please know how much I appreciate it. I have the best family and friends in the world and I love you all.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rush to See BM

As some of you already know, my dad and I were planning to drive to the birthmother's state on Monday so we could be close whenever she goes into labor. Since this is her fourth baby, I’m expecting her labor to progress pretty quickly and I don’t want to miss the delivery. That was all fine and dandy. I’d told birthmother a week or two ago that we’d be coming down a few days early and that she and I could go to lunch or something to meet in person and have some time to chat face-to-face. It felt like everything was going smoothly and I was starting to relax and really get excited. Big mistake.

Last Friday I got an email from birthmother in response to some pictures of the nursery that I’d sent her. That is the email in which she dropped the bomb of having named the baby. Now I get that you can’t just call the baby “it” for an entire pregnancy, but I didn't know that she'd already named the baby. It just never came up before now. I didn't want to refer to the baby by the name that we'd picked out because I didn't want to upset her. I guess I just assumed that eventually she would ask us what name we were planning to use. Maybe we could have come up with a name together, as a bonding experience. But she didn't. She's picked a first name, a middle name, and a nickname. What's really interesting is that the baby's middle name is the female version of the birthfather's name (such as Alex and Alexa or Samuel and Samantha). Is she naming the baby after him? Awesome. That’s just fabulous. Let’s name the baby after the man who’s been slapping you around for the last few months. That’s just super.

The email went on to give a lot of suspicious sounding information about how birthfather cried when he saw the pictures because he wanted to make the baby a crib (apparently now he’s a master carpenter, funny how he couldn't get a job because he didn't have any marketable skills before...), but that the baby would have just ended up sleeping in THEIR bed with THEM. That he’s always wanted a little girl (Really? Because he had a raging fit when birthmother tried to contact his grown, estranged children a few weeks ago), and he just doesn’t understand how they could let someone else raise THEIR baby. How he’s so unselfish and kind and how he loves her so much. Excuse me?! What about when he was arrested for attacking you with a knife and trying to stab you in the stomach? Did you forget that little detail??

So I had a little mini meltdown Friday afternoon and got myself all worked up and upset. I’ve had a very difficult time dealing with this woman. I don’t trust her. But my not trusting her makes me feel guilty for not trusting her. So I try to put aside all my fears and anxieties so I can really open up to her, so we can really get to know each other and build a relationship. I’m trying very hard to be compassionate and understanding, but it’s a struggle. And just when I feel like I’m starting to make some progress with all of that, she says things like she did in that email and it sets me off all over again. I’ve come to the conclusion that, as much as I want to open my heart to her, I just can’t. I can’t risk the hurt that she has the power to dish out, I really can’t. At some point, I have to think about protecting myself because no one else is going to do it!

I sent the email on to our agency because I was upset and needed to vent. Their email was acting up all weekend, so she didn’t get my message and call me back until yesterday. She agreed with my concerns, particularly because birthmother has been playing this game of telling one person one story and telling the next person something completely different. To the BM's attorney: Birthfather is really important in my life and he needs to go to counseling just as much as I do. To Mary: I’m just helping him out and being nice to him so he’ll go along with the adoption and not make a fuss. What?? To us: I don't want to have anything to to with him. We're done.

Now BM is throwing a last minute tantrum and going on and on about how she doesn’t know us and how can she give her baby to someone that she barely knows… well that's because she won't talk to me! She ignored me for the first couple of weeks and wouldn’t return my messages. What the hell was I supposed to do?? She lives over six hours away. I can’t exactly hop in the car and come visit you every week for your doctor’s appointments. That costs me money. Money that I don’t have anymore because I've spent it all on paying your bills.

After speaking at length with Mary and our attorney, it was decided that James and I need to go to her state this weekend to meet with birthmother and birthfather, assuage their fears, and just try to salvage this train wreck as best we can. Now don’t misunderstand me, I can completely understand why she’s having a little last minute anxiety. And I understand that the strain of being 39 weeks pregnant will add to that anxiety. I’m not upset about all of that. It's only natural. What upsets me is how inconsistent she’s been since the beginning. What upsets me is how selfish she’s been and how she’s been milking this process for all it’s worth in money and attention.

Our attorney pointed out that stable, mature, responsible people don’t usually place their babies up for adoption (although most birthmothers aren't this unstable and irresponsible). Unfortunately for us, it’s the unstable, immature, irresponsible, people who have issues with telling the truth, who have issues with their pasts, or are bi-polar, or have anger management problems, or who do drugs, or who live with abusive boyfriends.... those are usually (though not always thank God) the people who place their babies for adoption.

And it makes me sad because she has sucked all the joy out of this experience. The birth of a child should be an awe-filled miracle that excites and creates wonder and happiness. I wanted us to get to know each other, to be friends. But instead, I’m so upset and nervous that I feel like I’m going to puke any minute.

So please just pray for us. Pray that the labor goes smoothly. Pray that both birthmother and baby are healthy and strong after the delivery. Pray that birthmother finds some comfort and peace with the decision that she’s made. Pray that she will put her trust in God to get her through this difficult time. And pray that I don’t stroke out somewhere on I-20 during my drive today.

I will keep everyone posted as things progress.