Today, I spent some time reading blog posts by the awesome Jenna of Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land, and I found myself personally affected by the thought of adoption in ways that I never thought I would be.
It made me wonder: how many other people have been in the places where I have been?
1. I could have been relinquished. My mother was 17 when she got pregnant with me. She was a high school senior, class president, Honor Society student–a “good kid.” Her pregnancy, which she kept secret for the first five months, was a total surprise. She didn’t even have a boyfriend! And my dad was, well. My dad was a hot mess, always has been and still is. So word on the street is that giving me up for adoption was a consideration. (The scarier alternative was an option according to one aunt, but my mom and grandparents have vehemently denied that they would ever go through with it, and knowing their religious beliefs I am inclined to agree.)
Thinking of Jenna’s relationship with her daughter made me think of what it could’ve been like for my mother and I if she had gone through with it. Knowing her, she would’ve blamed herself forever and she would’ve been ashamed and wanted a closed adoption. Even the thought of that is difficult because, hurtful and ridiculous as they can often be, they’re my family. They’re mine. Would I be a different person if I had grown up somewhere else, with other people? Would I have ended up in Chicago? Would my life be mine? And what about my dad’s other four kids (with three other women) and my mom’s other daughter?
Sometimes I spend so much time remembering how hard things have been and how I lacked love from some people in the family and I forget to be grateful for them. Thinking about my life without them has opened my eyes to that.
2. I could have been the birth mother relinquishing. This isn’t my proudest moment, but I’ll come out and say it: I’ve just had a pregnancy scare, and it essentially shattered my world. The chances of it actually having happened were minimal, but any of you who know me know that I have terrible luck and that I’ve been outside the statistics before. But I know that, if you’re surprised to read this, it’s a lot less because I could’ve been pregnant and a lot more because I thought about giving it up.
The reasons are practical, so to speak. As much as I want a child with all my heart, I don’t know that I’m emotionally ready to do that. I’d just started recovering from the depression when my last relationship left me shattered, and I am so afraid of not being stable enough to be good to my kid. I also just moved and I don’t have space, or things, or enough savings to make a baby happy and comfortable as they enter this harsh world.
And then there’s the father issue. After reading Jenna’s posts about how she feels like she cheated her husband out of being a father to her daughter (who wasn’t biologically his) and reading this blog, I have to admit I am ashamed of myself for thinking of not telling him, of making a decision on my own. But let’s get real for a second: he is not ready to be a father. He’s not even ready to be an adult. I left that relationship feeling broken, used, and entirely manipulated. I left that relationship feeling that my voice didn’t matter, that I didn’t matter as anything other than a vehicle to fulfill his desires and needs. So I know I could never raise a child with him, regardless of his biological claim. The thought of it makes me want to protect my hypothetical child from him, and I’m so conflicted by that.
For years, I resented my mother for resenting my father. I thought it was so unfair that she held these grudges, and I thought she was just angry that he’d married someone else when I was only a couple of months old. But she once said that what she really resented was that he’d made a family that didn’t include me, and that he’d skipped visits and left me waiting. She was upset that he’d hurt me, that I felt like I lacked his love–she was upset that he wasn’t a good father to me. Every time I cried because he wasn’t there for me, she resented him a bit more. And up until this very moment, as I sit here writing this and thinking of my ex as a father to my kid, I didn’t understand. Yes, I’d begun to see his shortcomings as I grew older, but I always said to her, “He’s my father. You can’t change that. And you can’t force me to choose.”
So I want to say to my mother: Mami, perdóname. Ahora sé lo que es arrepentirte del hombre que escogiste, del error que cometiste. Ahora sé que el error no fui yo, sino él.***
3. I could be the mother adopting. Between all of my physical health issues, the likelihood that I’ll hit menopause early, and the lack of serious relationships in my recent life, I am aware that there’s a chance that I won’t be able to conceive. And, while I can pass on the marriage as a life goal, there is nothing that I want more than to be a mother. I feel called to that like my friend’s brother feels called to be a priest–it is a vocation that is unexplainable and so complete that any other option isn’t an option.
I think of R and her years of fertility treatments after the birth of her only son. I think of the children she lost and how much she still wants one. I think of my stepdad’s brother and his wife and all the children they lost, both before and after birth. I think of suffering for them and not being able to fathom their pain while asking myself, “What if that’s me later? What if the one thing in my life that is non-negotiable is the one thing I can’t have?” But then I think of them and how they adopted a little boy who is irrevocably theirs, and how all that love they have is going to him. They’re not perfect, but they’re his parents.
So if my body and my love life don’t cooperate? I’ll foster. I’ll adopt. And I’ll strive to have a family like Jenna and Dee’s, a family somewhat like mine–the titles don’t always fit and there are relationships you can’t explain, but we love each other and we’re family. No questions asked.
***Translation: Mom, forgive me. Now I know what it’s like to regret the man you chose, the mistake you made. Now I know that the mistake wasn’t me, but him.