Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm just lost

Damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I’m constantly feeling no one is going be happy no matter which path I choose. Be aware of my white privilege. Don’t get bogged down with guilt about the past. Don’t decide how much support a person needs. Be aware if you offer support it might be rejected. Encourage connections with the community of your child’s ethnic origins. Be aware your child’s ethnic community may not welcome you. WTF? I have enough trouble just figuring how to get home on the interstate during my hour commute home without getting run off the road in time to have dinner with my 20 month old and give him a bath and have story time before falling into bed too exhausted to have sex with my husband. Now I have to be the damn U.N.?

I’m constantly trying to make a difference. One idea at a time. One situation at a time. I use positive adoption language. I challenge stereotypes in my family and friends. I try to walk the talk. It’s hard and I’m finding myself unpopular among even my beloved family members. “Why do you have to be so defensive about everything?” I find myself wondering “Why do adoptees seem to put so much damn stock in genetics? I know my genetic family members intimately and I don’t share much with these people other than non visible DNA strands.” But it’s not my decision to decide how they should feel. It’s that individual’s decision. Of course, my son is only 20 months old …. so laying in bed awake at night because I read a blog that tells me the mere fact that I stole him from his first family and brought him to a different country and ruined him for life probably isn’t the best use of my time. There’s laundry to do. And my co-worker just informed me that if I haven’t started to potty train before he’s two, it’ll be harder to train him. And make sure I teach him standing up. Boys have to learn that way. Right. Check.

My point is that I can’t be all things to all people. I’m trying; I really am. I am so tired of hearing that as an adoptive parent my ideas and feelings are at the bottom of the heap. In the same breath, I’m told that my thoughts and feelings are always given paramount credence and I have all the power. Really? Please tell me where the power is because some it needs to start doing the dishes. I can’t be bothered. Birthmother blogs talk about being victimized and treated like whores and garbage. I try to be empathetic. I try to be attentive and listen and rarely comment so that I don’t inflame their rage or their hurt. So I simply read to learn, and end up being the evitable emotional punching bag. It’s a hat I’m getting used to wearing. I find myself constantly trying to figure out how if it’s all about the child, the adoptee, then why am I still being told what an evil troll I am and how I need to ever mindful of the pain of his first family? I’m wondering why it isn’t more important to be there for my son and to help him, when he’s cognitively and emotionally ready, to discuss these issues. I’m not sure how being in a constant state of anguish for his mother in Guatemala does anything positive for him. How does being a constant beacon of doom and gloom and martyrdom help anyone? I’m just lost.

This isn’t statistical. It’s simply an anecdotal personal experience. I have two stepsons. They live in Germany because their biological mother is German. Mr. Beans married her when he was stationed there. (It’s the stereotypical American soldier marries local girl while stationed in foreign country story.) Fast forward, the marriage ended and there were two children. Children should be with their mothers, right? Fast forward and the children are now 16 and 13. Ask the boys if they are American or German. They’ll tell you American. They don’t speak English and have never lived here. They visit when finances allow. (ie. when their father and I can afford it because their mother refuses to assist.) The oldest hates his mother. Tell him how much he looks like her and he’s likely to fly into a rage that lasts for hours. No matter how much he’s encouraged to develop a relationship with her, he refuses. He hates her. (His words, not mine.) Everyone tells him that he will feel guilty when he’s older because he’s acted like toward her.

So here I am. Trying to be the good stepmom. Holding the party line that he shouldn’t say things like that about his mother. Telling him that he doesn’t mean it when he says he hates her. But the truth is that he does. It’s not my story to tell. It’s not for me to dictate his relationship with his mother. Right? So replace the characters in the story. Gallo should want to have a relationship with his first family. That’s normal. He should be encouraged to participate in a reunion with her (them). I should do everything in my power to facilitate that relationship. I should tell him that he owes his family this. He should always remember that he’s Guatemalan. He should develop these relationships because he will feel guilty if he doesn’t. Right?

But I thought this was Gallo’s story? I thought he got to decide how he feels and what he thinks. So my wallowing in grief and feeling bad and constantly encouraging him to talk about his Guatemalan family because I need to assuage some personal white guilt about taking him from his motherland will, in the end, be in his best interest? I’m just lost.

I know the tone of this post comes off incredibly sarcastic and I’m sorry for that. If you knew me IRL you’d understand how damn earnest I am with my thoughts and feelings. I am searching. I am asking. I am trying to come to grips with what appears to me to be very opposed lines of thinking. I can’t find a way to meld them together.

Monday, March 31, 2008


I can’t even remember the last time I posted here. I’ve thought so many times, “I need to write something or folks are going to think I disappeared.” So here I am posting. My motivation is honestly just today’s date.

March 31

This date has so much meaning in my life for two very different reasons.

The first is a happy one. It’s the anniversary of the first date I had with my husband. It was supposed to be a group of co-workers meeting at a local club. Surreptitiously each member of the group found themselves otherwise occupied. Both of us arrived at the club expecting to find the big group. Instead it was just the two of us. We spent that first night talking over a few drinks and getting to know one another. Eight years later, the conversation hasn’t stopped. He’s the most amazing human being I have ever met. He challenges me as a person and has helped me grow as a partner. I can’t begin to imagine my world without him. I’m glad that I don’t have to. I hate to admit it, but he’s the first person to whom I have EVER been physically faithful. The truth is that he’s the only one I ever felt was worth it. Our relationship isn’t perfect by a long shot but we’re always willing to work at it. It’s a work in progress. And like I said, the conversation hasn’t stopped. I truly think that’s been the key.

The irony of this date is that it also marks the anniversary of the death of our first child. Miscarriage at seven weeks; delivery 33 weeks too early. You look at it your way; I’ll look at it mine. It was the most devastating moment of my life. I can’t say that time has made it any easier. The wound is still vividly raw. I can say though that time has made it easier to talk about openly. For so long I never mentioned the whole experience outside of close friends because I didn’t want to share it. I didn’t want to hear all the platitudes. I didn’t want to have to explain why I was so unbelievably devastated. I couldn’t articulate the sense of loss that I felt. When I tired, it seemed so trite. Even close friends and family did an awful job at trying to understand. Even my beloved Mr. Beans was no help. No one “got it.” Six years ago today my whole world crumbled and nothing would ever make it better. Sitting on the edge of my bed holding the .357 in my hands I couldn’t give myself a reason to go on. But obviously I did. And one day turned into another and another and another. There were good days and bad days, but I trudged along. Eventually, I moved forward. I didn’t “get over it.” I just went forward - one psychological foot in front of the other. Sadly, just 14 months later, another baby and another tragedy. But that’s another story.

I wish that had even known what the hell a blog was back then. It would have been such a light in the fog. I had no idea there were so many other women, many so much braver than I, who were dealing with the same emotions and situations that I was facing. It was only about two years ago when I stumbled across this corner of the world. Oh how I wish it were earlier!

So the point to this post?

Today I try to make March 31st a celebration: a celebration of the start of my life with Mr. Beans and a celebration of my first-born child. Remembering a first date isn't difficult. No one minds when you mention it casually over dinner. The other relationship isn't one discussed so easily. I sometimes think I’m the only one still remembering that tiny being who was with me for such a short time. It used to bother me immensely but now, I’m okay with it. I was the only one who had the honor of experiencing that life while it was here so maybe it’s fitting I’m the only one honoring that life now.

I found a poem during those lowest days that I recited to myself many times. (I’m sure those from the IF community have seen it countless times.) I’d like to post it here because it meant so much to me then. It said what I just couldn’t say myself.

Just Those Few Weeks

For those few weeks--
I had you to myself
And that seems too short a time
to be changed so profoundly.

In those few weeks--
I came to know you
and to love you.
You came to trust me with your life.
Oh, what a life I had planned for you!

Just those few weeks--
When I lost you.
I lost a lifetime of hopes,
plans, dreams, and aspirations...
A slice of my future simply vanished overnight.

Just those few weeks--
It wasn't enough time to convince others
how special and important you were.
How odd, a truly unique person has recently died
and no one is mourning the passing.

Just a mere few weeks--
And no "normal" person would cry all night
over a tiny, unfinshed baby,
or get depressed and withdrawn day after endless day.
No one would, so why am I?

You were just those few weeks my little one
you darted in and out of my life too quickly.
But it seems that's all the time you needed
to make my life so much richer
and give me a small glimpse of eternity.

(Poem Copyright 1984 by Susan Erling Martinez)