Egoism of the Control Freak

I’ve had plenty to distract me from my pity party lately. Funny how I feel guilty for having enough going on that I don’t dwell on Max. He’s on my mind all the time, but lately tucked further back than usual. I guess the guilt comes from feeling like I’m prioritizing things ahead of him. That seems crazy.

It’s summer, so the kids come to the office with me in the morning. As I’m getting situated and getting them quietly settled at their own desks to stay out of the way, I notice my daughter has my phone. She was adding stickers to a hospital photo of Max. Appearing deep in thought, I just let her keep the phone and proceeded on with something else. It didn’t take long for her to start asking questions that were undoubtedly on her mind. She wanted to know who had seen his newer photos. Would we be able to visit? I began to wall off after a few questions because they got impossible to answer. I clearly need to make her understand that we have no claim on her little brother. It’s aggravating to me that I didn’t put further thought into their views of this decision.

Being aggravated is truly pointless. What’s done is done. I’m saying that not trying to take the defeated approach, but because there’s literally nothing I can do to make amends. For whatever reasons I chose to go through with it all, it’s irreversible. And even if I could take it back, I’m having trouble accepting all the changes that would have called for. The domino effect of either decision seems to go on infintely. Though the a-parents probably couldn’t imagine having another child in their arms, that’s what would have happened…and they wouldn’t have been able to imagine any other child but that one. Had I kept Max, I wouldn’t have had a vicious cycle of emotional self abuse. But I would still have some emotional battles…guilt, anxiety, and the balm of love. I always come out swinging when I feel bottomed out. But I really don’t know the depth or the adversity that would have arisen with raising a third child alone. I have learned to trust my instincts, but this time it’s always going to pull at me due to the nature of the situation.

The kids seem to bring him up a little less. A little. But when they do, it gets to me in a different way than when Max ambles across my mind. Because it means that they were thinking of him. It means there are things that they dwell on, too. I certainly don’t like the idea of passing on what I feel and have felt to children. The prolonged sense of wonder, I’ve noted before, is a lot to take on for a grown woman. I don’t like that I’ve misguidedly put them in the position to always wonder. But I defintely couldn’t and wouldn’t have lied to them to try to curtail the consequences. That would have made it worse.

This is an ego blow of massive proportions. I feel like I can do damn near anything else I want to do….this is one thing I’m not sure about. Coping. Dealing appropriately. I don’t like not being sure. I hate it. It may be strange to be 29 years old and feel so assured of every other decision I could make, but I do. This puts a chink in my armor. It proves there is a flaw in my process and ability and decision making…which makes everything else wavy. The control freak in me is battered.

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Pure Hell

Did I really willingly sign up for this? What in the HELL was I thinking?! I know that I’m a control freak and worrier…even more so a worrier when talking about a child.

I’m in a blank space. I feel like I’m being forcibly weened off interaction revolving around Maxton. I feel an unspoken “This is for her own good” sentiment — and nothing makes me angrier than trying to MAKE me do anything. What’s worse is that I was never outwardly made to make this decision to part with my child. However,  I’m punishing myself  and getting an administered detox from elsewhere.

I’m already tired of this. Not even a year of this and I’m sick of it. I have about twenty years to go. I don’t want pity, sympathy, or anything….I want to see what’s becoming of my baby. If I didn’t, I’d have chosen closed adoption! I want consistency and continuity from his new parents. I want to not feel like I’m taking a twenty year walk-of-shame for making a self-deprecating decision for the sake of his future.

Attach whatever spiritual or religious sentiment to how I should cope all you’d like…the fact remains, I’m supposed to just shut up and deal with these feelings. And for so many other scenarios, I’m GREAT at shutting up for the sake of everyone else–my mouth can cause irreparable damage. But in this case, I don’t want to shut up and deal. To best describe this, I feel like the girl who was guided into bed with months of “I love yous” and then dumped the next day. I feel like the woman who never noticed the tan line on a man’s hand who suddenly has a future she’d built with someone ripped away when the lies are brought to light. I feel like a woman who was promised things that mean the world to her and then left wondering what happened.

I did everything right and everything still seems to have gone to shit. I replied relevantly, with interest, without ownership, and in aching consideration of their role in his life. What went wrong?

Contact agreements, if they exist, don’t mean a damn thing after finalization in my state. Nor do they mean much in other states. The legality is fleeting and is overridden by parental control. To a custodial parent those words are empowering. To a non-custodial parent or birthmother, they can be hell.

Adoption agencies don’t have legal power to enforce contact agreements after finalization.

The lack of guarantee is bothersome. Leaving the well-being of your child to entities or people who can disregard the pretense of an open adoption is a possibility I would have thought about more had I not been thinking of the 35 million other things I was when I did this. Duress doesn’t apply in adoption; that seems sound and mad all at once. I don’t like loose ends and I don’t like being pacified for any non-mutual gain.

As it seems, I have two options given how I am… I can begin burying Maxton’s existence OR I can let my subconsciousness keep eroding at the worry and wonder of the entire situation. But I’m extremely effective at forgetting people to save my feelings. People have commented at how truly unnerving it is. I doubt even my Jedi mind trickery is going to be effective in removing an organic piece of me from myself.

Reality Check

Finding that you’re just pushing through each day just trying to get to a Friday or past a Monday is a sad thing. It means you’ll eventually find yourself hundreds of Fridays and Mondays down the road wondering where precious moments in between have gone and what you could have done with them.

I still haven’t gotten an update from the A-parents. I’m afraid to ask questions at this point. It’s been important for me to be the one to reply and not instigate because of how it could be interpreted. Invasive, impatient, still too attached–I don’t want them to think anything negative at all about communicating with me about the baby.

“The baby” I say. He’s not Maxton, anymore. By all accounts, he only was Max by legal definition. And I only type his given name when addressing his new parents because it’s a sore issue for me, still. He’s not my baby anymore and he’s the namesake of a monster I have spent a few years trying to forget existed.

I’m not forced to think of any of these things as often as I had been before. Hormones have gone back to normal. My fitness kick has put my body back in place. Schedules have gone back into a recognizable rhythm. Then someone who saw my swollen belly months ago ventures to ask, “How’s the baby?”

“Good,” I say with a smile.

I assume this to be 100% true. He’s fine. I’ve never felt like I was lying when I respond that way. But I do feel like my very carefully constructed walls are being beaten on. I don’t like to be asked. It’s a reminder, and the only reminders I want are photos and excerpts from the people raising him. That, I can handle. Other reminders are so unwanted that I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes. But it’s also not good to bottle myself in fantasy…to steer from reality to cope.

Perhaps I need those uncomfortable brushes with reality more often.

He’s SO Cute!

This weeble-wobble of emotions varying from contentment, agony, jealousy, anger, and happiness is nauseating.

My current state is a mix of agony and jealousy. I am wondering if an open adoption (as it stands with just photos and e-mail) is a good idea. It provides me with just enough contact to feel like I’m missing parts of Max’s life and keeps me just enough at bay to feel like an outsider being granted access that I inherently feel entitled to. I’m so thankful that he is a happy, healthy, BEAUTIFUL baby. When I share photos with my friends and family, there’s no doubt that he’s the chubby cheeked epitome of adorable.

“He is SO cute!” they say.

I know such comments are made about him in my absense. Since people tell me all the time that I look “just” like my [step] father when I’m introduced as his daughter that I know people look at Max’s A-parents and crow the same opinion….and being that people now say such things on social media where my biological father can see, I understand his perspective of his thunder being stolen. I look just like my biological father. People compliment me. Yet my step-father is the man everyone knows as my father and is granted that moment.

Yes, wanting credit for an attractive, healthy, or smart child is desired. It’s one of the many superficial and sentimental reasons people are drawn to the idea of parenting. I am filled with pride when my eight and seven year old are lauded for different attributes and accomplishments. However, I’m just as proud when they are both just being goofy, silly children. And I’m not allowed either with Max. I can already tell from the bright awareness in Max’s eyes that he will be intelligent. Genetics wont be the factor people attribute this to…it will be his rearing.

It feels petty to feel slighted for certain things yet having made the decision to place him. It’s a double edged sword for doing what I knew to be best and feeling like I’ve copped out for doing so. The contradiction is as annoying as knowing that the reasons I find to be aggravated are small-minded. Chastising myself gets old, but I’m going to always see this gorgeous little boy in photos and see a reflection that he wont cognitively connect to himself….

Time & Salt

Max hit his two month old mark. Cade turned seven a week later. Both of my boys had milestones and I went into compensation mode for the son I actually have with me.

A day before Cade’s birthday he, my daughter, and I made a trip to Dallas. He had a pre-surgery appointment at Children’s which added salt to my cut over missing a baby moment. While the surgery is explained to be totally routine, I’m still a mom…I’m freaked out internally but dutifully smothered my brave face on to keep my child from being scared. I’m not in a good place to deal witih any potential complications. But I’m going to enforce mind over matter here: my son will be fine! After the appointment I wanted to take the kids somewhere cool. We all have a love of cars and I thought Cade would be excited to eat at Gas Monkey. But as luck would have it, his interest was in the bikes parked outside and not much else. My daughter flipped out in joy, though. lol it figures.

So, as we wait on what turned out to be really good food, I began prodding Cade for gift ideas. At seven, he still doesn’t know his birthday and Christmas are not interchangeable on gift quantity! In his sweet little voice he prattles off expected things and I feel confident I could make him smile when he got his gifts. I wasn’t so sure I’d be able to keep from thinking of what I might have done for Max on his seventh birthday.

Everything has a parallel where I briefly think of the baby and wonder “what if?”… I’m thankful I no longer spend hours inside of a day pining, but I’m acutely aware that missing Max’s milestones will make me compensate and go further to make my home sprouts’ milestones better. My mind toyed with ridiculousness ranging from bounce houses to Halloween themed ghoul fests, but I reeled it in quickly. A Hershey’s cake and a trove of must-have gifts.

It was as he opened his toys and video games that I realized that he’s at an age that he’s so innocently easy to please. I felt a pang of guilt for thinking I needed to spend more to make him happier. He’s the one who’s happy with a Hot Wheels car and a toss up in my arms. Cade didn’t care about those “awesome” toys for more than three days. He carries the cheap new Hot Wheels in his pockets like lifelines, however lol… the talking, interactive, projectile toys are on the dresser getting little attention.

I don’t need or have to go beyond what they are happy with to make myself feel like less of a weakling. My oldest two are very aware that I miss the baby. My daughter makes an effort not to talk about cute University of Texas gear she knew I’d have put him in when we are in the store. She will glance at displays and pout a bit…not because she wants for herself, but for a distant baby brother. These instances add even more salt.

I firmly believed I was making a decision that made Cade and my daughter more secure. That I wouldn’t have to make them “go without” because mommy made a mistake. The irony!! Being down a sibling is definitely going without. How idiotic of me. They both could care less about the material things I thought they needed and wanted more than an expensive, garbling baby brother. Again, how idiotic! This wasn’t my only reason for my choice, but it was one of what I deemed most definitive.

Milestones come with time. I was raised to have a powerful sense of blood bond and family. That, coupled with two totally sentimental and intelligent kids is hard to hurdle. What has eaten me about missing “week old”, “month old”, “six weeks old”, and “two months old” is that I’m seeing that missing them are wholly on me. I’m missing time because I made a lifelong decision under circumstances that are deemed duress under every other scenario outside of adoption.

I’m at least glad Max has a very loving family. No matter what, that’s a great thing. But no matter what, I have to realize that what I’m missing is not compensatory or because of anyone else. That’s quite a pill to down.

For the Record

I need to make sure that people know that I don’t resent or even vaguely dislike Max’s adoptive parents. As of this moment, they have not been anything but greatful toward me and are obviously drowning baby boy in love and affection.

My negative feelings are not directed specifically at them…the sticky circumstances surrounding the adoption, my regret, and my feelings are not in any way *because* of them. It’s sincerely regardless of them. I’d feel this way whether they or someone I knew personally had him. These feelings come from another place.

Yes, I hate the name they chose. It’s nothing personal. Yes, their eagerness for *a* baby makes me wonder if they’d have welcomed ANY other baby the way they did Max…those kinds of things cross an anxious birthmother’s mind among many, many other questions. Is my baby a plug-n-play peripheral to what they felt their set-up lacked in function and wow factor? Unfortunately, my brain went into micromanagement phase AFTER the signing, not before when my mind could have been put more at ease. Maybe…

I felt a warm connection to the a-mom and her wonderful family. Max is so doted on and welcomed by them. His addition seemed like a sigh of relief to them. I didn’t get the deep read on a-dad that I wanted. I think he is a generally good man, though. It’s just that I picked up on something subtle that gave me the impression that there was an unsaid gap there that the kids (a-parents between in-laws) may have to mediate. I could be wrong…that’s entirely possible.

That aside, Max will likely be funny, smart, and warm. But I want more than anything for him to be confident, self assured, and happy.

No, his nursery isn’t posh…they are well off, but laid back, and down to earth. Woot! I wanted Max to have a mom AND dad who loved him. Check.

Despite everything I like about them, I feel like I do because for many reasons I HAD to go through with the adoption whether or not I wanted to. When I’m not such a mental wreck, I will elaborate because in that explanation lies some key things pregnant moms will need to know.

“Dear adoptive parents” was written both to general a-parents and based on other anxieties I picked up as it was time for us all to leave the hospital.

So, no…my regret and pain has less to do with any “who” as it does questions I should’ve gotten answers on before.