Friday, January 18, 2008

The Time is Drawing Closer

Twenty years ago this month, my husband and I began the home study process for adoption. To this day, I wish that ALL parents were required to go through that process, and not just adoptive parents. While parenting doesn't come with an instructional manual, it should be something which one enters into with desire, gratitude, some knowledge of what makes a child "tick", and with just the right amount of fear so that you proceed cautiously and learn how to respect the child as a human being.

I remember the questions which were asked. Mind you, as a social worker myself, I already knew what to expect because I had asked the same questions to other parents - but it's entirely different when you're on the receiving end of the "inquisition" rather than the one actually doing the evaluation. I kept on wondering why I had to answer certain questions which I thought should not be anybody's business - but I knew what they were looking for, which was any red flags that might get in the way of being a good prospective parent.

I remember going to our lawyers office, and filling out a lengthy questionnaire, after which we had a long talk with him about the process of adoption - from the legal to the financial to the emotional aspects of becoming a parent in this manner. In our state at that time, adoptions were closed, meaning that there would be no contact between the birth parent(s) and the child and/or the adoptive parents until the child became of age at 21 years old. When that time came, then the child can go to the courthouse to see the records of her adoption. If the birth parent(s) have indicated a willingness to be contacted and have kept current information on file, then the child can legally contact her birth parent(s).

I remember thinking how long off 21 years sounded to me - a lifetime away - and that I would have all the time in the world with my daughter to love her and nurture her and help her become a wonderful young woman. But the lawyer cautioned us that the 21 years would slip quickly by, and that in the meantime, we needed to prepare ourselves and our daughter for whatever decision she would make at that time in the future.

I knew that I would tell my daughter from the beginning that she was adopted, and that she had a birth mom who loved her very much. I have read the letter composed by the birth mom to my daugher so that she could get to "know" her. We have included the birth mom in our prayers during the special times - like Mother's Day and Christmas and on our daughter's birthday - and I have kept her in my heart and prayers on a daily basis, as my daughter has, I am sure. What I didn't anticipate those 21 years ago is how I'd be feeling now, now that the time is so close for my daughter to make her decision next year. I thought I'd be prepared for it, as the lawyer suggested - and I've done many things to not only prepare my daughter for it, and to help myself as well - BUT - I am not ready for it. At all.

I'm scared. I'm afraid. I'm worried. I'm anxious. I have to keep on reminding myself that this is NOT about me - it's about giving my daughter the chance to do whatever she deems is right for her - but it's still difficult. I have loved her forever, I have been there when she was so deathly ill, I have been there when she gives me those wonderful hugs and kisses and tells me she loves me, I have heard her say I'm the "bestest and prettiest" momma in the whole world. But, I'm afraid that once she meets her birth mom, then she will compare us and find me lacking. I'm afraid that she will become so attached to her birth mom that I will become an afterthought.

A few years ago, when my best friend died, my daughter (who was about 6 years old at the time) saw that I was crying. She immediately went and found the blanket which my friend had made for my daughter's adoption, and my daughter handed it to me and said "Here, momma - take this because then you will always have a part of Ruth with you where ever you go". When it comes time for my daughter to leave and meet her birth mom, I am going to give my daughter a special gift, too. The gift of my loving her enough to let her go so that she can meet the wonderful woman who gave birth to her, the unselfish woman who gave me the glorious opportunity to become a mother, the courageouse and brave woman who trusted virtual strangers with the most precious gift of her daughter. I will do this because I know that Sara will ALWAYS have a part of me where ever she goes, and vice-versa. If, by chance, Sara decides to not meet her birth mom, I will support that decision, too. In my private practice, the majority of adoptees who've met their birth parents have had very negative experiences. Of course, I am concerned that it might happen that way for her, and I'll be here to help her through that. But, either way, it's her choice as to what she's going to do. She may even decide to wait until she is older before making her decision.

All I know is that it doesn't matter how much one "prepares" for this to happen, it still comes as a shock when the time draws nearer for this decision to be made. Where did the last 20 years go? That little pink bundle which I first met in the lawyer's office was all wrapped up in Ruth's blanket and lots of love. She has grown into a beautiful and intelligent and compassionate young lady with a loving heart, who takes your breath away when she enters a room because she has been graced with an inner beauty shining through those gorgeous eyes which are filled with God's love. And I love her - pure and simple - because she is, without a doubt, my daughter.


At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Val, what a touching post. Your thoughts and actions reflect a mature, sensitive, confident (in the Lord!) loving mother.

This hits so close to home. I met my birthmother's side of the family, well, 16 years ago now! I must admit that the major factor in my decision to meet my sister (who was the one searching for me) and aunts, was the fact that my birthmother had already died. (At 48, no less - my age right now!) To me, meeting more 'removed' family members like aunts and siblings does not hold the same impact as meeting the woman who gave you life. That part was, in effect, taken care of for me. But the event held its own emotional significance nonetheless.

You remind me of my own mother, who was a jewel throughout the entire ordeal. A perfect picture of grace. Loving. Supportive. With me every step of the way. And she herself even met everyone too.

I just want to encourage you - you are your daughter's mother! There is no replacement or substitute for you. Ever! Your daughter knows it; and I know it too! If she does decide to meet her birthmother, the most they could ever really be is friends. The mother/daughter relationship is yours and hers alone; designed and orchestrated by God from eternity.

I just loved reading your thoughts on this. Very poignant.

At 10:34 PM, Blogger Rosemary Bogdan said...

This is a touching post, Valerie. I think every Mom can imagine what those feelings would be like. God bless you and your daughter.

At 11:50 PM, Blogger bigwhitehat said...

The older I get, the more I love being adopted.

I have come to a point now where I feel differently than I ever thought I would. While my curiosity about by birth parents grows, my love and admiration for my adoptive parents grows very strong. I realize more about how fantastic it is to be chosen.

The beautiful thing is that you were also chosen Val. Adoption is a blessing for everybody involved.

I love you Val.

At 5:20 PM, Blogger My Kid's Mom said...

Oh Gayla - Your words touched my heart, thank you - especially the part about the mother/daughter relationship being designed and orchestrated by God from eternity. I was actually thinking about you, in part, as I was writing about this. Thank you, my friend.

Rosemary - Thank you for your kind words and support.

Zane - You're such a gentle man. You always know just the right words to say to me. Thank you from the bottom of my soul. I love 'ya, too!!!

At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

val, somehow i know how you feel. i may not have children yet but i'm married to one who has a daughter. all my married life i was being compared to and i hated it. the thought that i have to be better was exhausting. i just realized one day that what i was going through was insane! my husband married me and that should mean something. i don't need to prove anything to anybody because God made me ME. God gave me my husband which means he is the best for me.

val, what i'm trying to say is God knows your fears as He knows mine. and since you're a child of God, He will make things beautiful in your life. everything will turn out perfect because God is in your situation. val, your daughter is so blessed to have a loving mom like you. and i'm sure she knows that very well.


At 11:58 AM, Blogger JodiTucker said...

Hi Val,
I can't say,I know how you feel because I don't. All three Tucker kids are biological. However, I can still pray for His peace and serenity for you as TP and DQ may want to pursue their curiosity about their biological life-giver one day. You are and always will be their mom!.....and more importantly.....His Child!!

At 9:31 PM, Blogger Gina Burgess said...

Lovely post, Val. It touched me.

Since we are adopted by God, and joint heirs with Christ... you have expressed the heart of God in a way and that is such a blessing to me.

Love you!

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Mrs. Diamond said...

Having recently started foster parenting this really touched my heartstrings. We have really become attached to our "baby" after only 4 months. I can't imagine how you must feel having raised her to adulthood. You are an amazing mother.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger My Kid's Mom said...

Pia - Thank you. YOur words touched me very deeply, and I appreciate your prayers and support.

Jodi - You hit the nail on the head - we are all His children. I pray for peace and serenity, too.

Gina - Thank you, my friend!

Mrs. D - And you're amazing for becoming a foster mom! I have thought about doing that myself, but never thought I could do it because of bonding with the child and then having that bond broken. I admire you!

At 3:25 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

That was so beautiful. It reminds me of the post in which you wrote a letter to the birth mom. Your heart really shines out in these posts.


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