Over the last few weeks I’ve experienced a bunch of things that are highly emotional. They aren’t necessarily bad things just things that in the long run will provide benefit. In the last two weeks I’ve had two experiences that have made me extremely sad and hurt but at the same time relieved and happy. The hard part is that it wouldn’t be right if I shared it because in order to explain it I would have to explain things that aren’t mine to share. The question is there a way to share some version of it where I would feel right sharing it? I don’t know. It may just be that something’s are better not shared no matter how important they are to your story.
In the last week, I’ve gotten into some heated arguments with many people on twitter over the whole Baby Veronica case. In one exchange with a birth/first mother who goes by the screen name @RandomMusing23, I became a bit irrational and a bully. I feel awful for doing so as I hate to lose someone I could learn from. Plus she seems like a very nice person and I don’t enjoy upsetting nice well intentioned people. I was wrong and apologize for that. The discussion with her and others misrepresented my feelings and position on adoption so I am writing this piece to clarify my fears with adoption.
Before I get started let me explain when I talk about Adoption, I am referring to Domestic Infant Adoption. I’m not talking about Foster Care. Foster care is not something I’d be comfortable or believe I’d could handle. I’d rather avoid having to deal with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) which is common in older adoptees. I’m not saying an adopted infant won’t have any emotional issues but I believe that making adoption more a part of their life from infancy working with birth/first parents can help avoid it. The other thing I don’t like with Foster Adoption is the government not the child’s parents select you to parent the child. I feel we’d have a better chance to have a relationship with the birth/first parents because of it. I also have concerns about being able to bond with an older child than I would one who knew who we were since birth. Finally, I desire to experience parenthood from infancy to adult watching the child grow. I want the challenges that come with parenting an infant. There are very few infants available for adoption through Foster Care. All in all I am not confident I’d be a good Foster to Adopt parent. It’s not for everyone. Though there are those who are great at it such as Rebecca Hawkes of Sea Glass & Other Fragments. I don’t have confidence I could be and that wouldn’t be fair to a child that deserves much better than we could provide them.
Now that is out of the way, its time to go through what I am fearful with adoption. To begin I will discuss my fears with the process. I don’t like the idea of having to sell myself to expectant parents competing with other hopeful adoptive parents who could go to greater lengths to pimp themselves out to get the baby they desire. Just this weekend I saw one of these couples advertising on a billboard on the Jersey Turnpike. It’s something I would not ever be comfortable doing. I understand why it has to be done after all these parents are entrusting you to raise their child. I fear looking for an ethical agency may delay or hurt our ability for an expectant mother who is interested in placing their child for adoption to select us. But I would rather do things right and not parent than do things wrong and mess up the child and their birth/first families lives. Still no guarantees it ends up being ethical and that’s scary. The waiting process scares me as I am not a patient person. And finally the risk we would take in being selected by an expectant mother only for her to decide to parent. Now it’s not my place to tell her what to do. It’s her child and her decision not ours. It will always be her child. I wouldn’t be offended but would be hurt by getting my hopes up. One thing I refuse to do is pay any expectant mother expenses directly. Up until she signs the papers caring for the child is not something that is our responsibility.
The process is the easy part…..LOL If we make it to have the privilege and joy of being selected to parent and the adoption is finalized the real challenge begins, being an adoptive parent in an open adoption. I’m going to stick with just aspects of adoptive parenting rather than the day to day parenting. First part of parenting I am scared of is being able to create a comfortable forum where the adoptee doesn’t feel tentative to express themselves. I know this might be out if our control but I don’t want to fail the child. Second is being able to have a great relationship with birth/first family. Ideally we would have a great relationship but adoption itself isn’t exactly an ideal situation. What if we don’t have a good relationship and that negatively impacts the child? It just makes me scared. This is something that is very important to me in a open adoption and it goes beyond medical information. There are things we won’t be able to provide that birth/first parents can. The third thing that scares me is would we raise a confident adult where the adoptee could say my parents supported me and did all they could for me (even if they have hurt). This last thing is something that would define whether we succeeded as parents. It’s what matters more so than anything. More so than anything this is what scares me.
The bottom line is right now, I’m not ready to pursue adoption. Do I think I could overcome these fears, yeah I think so. But it may take me some time. It wouldn’t be fair to the child or birth/first family if we did pursue adoption before we were ready to take on the challenges of adoptive parenthood.
The past week has been a major roller coaster for me. It all started last Saturday when I backed out of the garage and clipped my wife’s side-view mirror on her drivers side. This led to a major fight that brought out a lot of my frustrations and sadness stemming from Infertility. Then on Monday we had another blow up that led to things being as tense as they have ever been. I love my wife but I wasn’t sure how the future would look for us on Tuesday morning. That was when my IF grief became secondary and my marriage became front and center. Eventually cooler heads prevailed and we are getting along. We’ve made a commitment to go out to dinner once a week to help reconnect. Hopefully things are turning the corner.
Which brings me to my therapy session from Wednesday night. I realized that my grip that I’ve had on IF has been so tight that its caused me to lose enjoyment in the things I had enjoyed in my life. Hanging out with my wife, the fact that my 10 club membership helped me land Pearl Jam tickets for the October show in Philly, going to baseball games (though the Mets suck now), looking forward to the NFL season/NY Giants Football, planning vacations, going out for bike rides and even watching some of my favorite TV shows. I’ve let IF consume me in so many ways that its made me a miserable person. I need to loosen that grip.
The example my therapist brought up is that she gave a patient of hers a ball to hold and told him to hold onto it for dear life. Then she asked him pick up a pen with the same hand he was holding the ball with and he couldn’t. The point is if you are holding onto something so tightly that its hard to grab something else. That is where I need to move forward. I need to let go a bit and relax before I move forward with anything for myself and certainly before my wife and I move forward with our next step in our journey. Otherwise I can only expect more of the same with my death grip that IF has on me.