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.

Emotional Burpees

Update received!!!!!!

Better late than never? In this case, yes. In this case, a thousand times, yes. It was a daily passing nightmare to realize I was at the mercy of the a-parents’ desire to uphold the legal equivalent to a verbal agreement. Might as well be a pinky promise.

I’m very thankful for the message and the pictures. He’s a darling child. Cutting teeth and growing in the 100th percentile range in height—my little golem :). This is, again, a process of continual growth and trust. I have no problem with continual growth…but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I have serious trust issues. There’s no immediate mend to that, but I’m making what strides I can in a handful of ways in my life. Leaving anything of consequence to me in the hands of someone else scares the hell and high noon sun out of me. Putting my heart in someone’s hands? Hoping someone holds their end of a bargain? Making partners in a lifelong decision?

Dear lord, I’ve made a pact bordering on a parallel to marriage…. :facepalm:

The more I cycle through the mechanics, I realize this was overall a bad situation for me to get into. Undoubtedly this is the hardest lesson I’m going to have to learn and re-learn. I’m seeing the ugliest and hardest consequences of making poor decisions and not clearly thinking (from conception to relinquishment). This part of my heart will remain in figurative purgatory for not making the adult considerations that I should have well before all this had to come to be.

All typical-of-me mumbo jumbo aside, he’s healthy, beautiful, and happy. That’s what matters.

And I could use a lesson in birthmother patience…if that is humanly possible. These grueling up-downs are so incredibly tiresome.

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.

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.

Anxiety Downgrade

I moved my bed and found the adoption documents I’d hidden before I wanted anyone to know I was even pregnant. The parent profiles were there. I swaddled myself in blankets and began reading them again. I feel like a psychopath for not realizing sooner in my negativity tirade that I had chosen Max’s parents for a reason…that they were exactly as they read on paper. Candid, loving, open, and real. I really like them. They love my baby and I think he has a good chance of blooming as a part of their family.

I had been analyzing all these ridiculous things. Now having said that I hate Max’s new name, I would feel awful for that name to be from someone who helped mold either one of them into the people they are today.

Though I tried to clarify that I don’t resent them, it’s pretty obvious that I’m jealous of them. Besides having a great family and relationship, they get to have the precious moments with my child that I’ll miss. I don’t feel like I chose to give up those parts of Max’s life. I feel like I chose to ensure that he had a good life. Even though I was raised in a home with both parents, I know how it feels to not have a connection or to be unsure if one parent even cares about you. And after my first two children began asking about their estranged father plus Max’s father being so willing to disconnect, I did not want that for him.

Had I kept Max, I would have made sure his basic needs were met. I’d have done everything I could to make him happy, but there’s something very fundamental and beneficial about being a part of a loving two-parent household. While I don’t feel like Max’s older brother and sister are lacking much by not having their father around, they are missing out on having the balance and love of a second parent. As a single parent I will defend any man or woman who has been left to care for a child or children on their own; it’s tough. But having the easily identifiable difference in the warmth of the relationship I had with my dad and the coldness of the relationship I had with my mother, I realized how much it sucks to have a parent (either in the house or out) that you’re not sure where you fit in with. This thought also lead to the anxiety I had of Max becoming an adoptee. Even if his a-parents love him to the moon and back, I know that adoptees wonder about their biological roots. I want him to be sure that I love him very much. I don’t want to have to explain that I don’t think his biological father has a heart to even make him capable of loving another person.

With Max’s new family, there’s a great history to their love and it’s obvious that their love hasn’t stagnated at all… I am glad that he has that as a base and not a story like his siblings to dwell on. The story of mommy and daddy’s love, your name, what type of relationships your parents had with their own parents, and the lifestyle your parents live have significant impacts on how you develop and grow. From what you learn from those instances to how you behave based on those things to how the world around you responds to the formers, development is key.

I’m never going to stop missing Maxton or wondering what I’m missing in his growth. I’ll always have a feeling of guilt, shame, and fear for what has been (for me to come to the decision of adoption) and what could be (as a result of the adoption). There is no doubt in my mind that he was meant to be in this world. So many things along the journey of my pregnancy made that glaringly clear. The way he came into this world wide-eyed and conscious of nearly everything around him also made that clear to me. No matter what my heart wanted that day or the day he went home with his new family, I did what was best for him. Keeping him would have been what was best for me, but as I learned with parenting my first two children, parents come after the kids. And I have to make sure that my emotions are not misdirected at people who were just fulfilling functions of their own lives.