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.

Mommy Issues & Help [Right Over a Cliff]

I’m a young mother. My mother became a mother young. My daughter has a higher risk of becoming a mother young, but I’m doing what I can to decrease that risk.

Going through the hell of relinquishing an unplanned child for adoption reduces the likelihood of my reproducing before I choose to significantly. There’s a specific statistic that, I think, puts this percentage in the low to mid seventies. I found it disconcerting that birthmothers’ reproductive habits were more highly impacted than mothers that had aborted. Consequences of actions are weighed in a completely different manner.

One manner is trust. For some reason, society has designed men’s role in reproduction to be subjective. Women are supposed to ward off advances, think on behalf of both parties, and make decisions based off circumstances that the other party voluntarily or involuntarily contribute to. Being that things are this way, after coming to terms with consequences that are life, death, agony, grief, loss, struggle, and maybe bittersweet joy of course family planning takes a predominant role in a woman’s life. We are conditioned at that point not to trust everyone just because they sweetly ask us to, yet to let a politician work us over much the same way…total chaos.

But those are all patterns that have been influenced by relationships and interactions that we didn’t always have complete control of. Don’t get me wrong…I believe as adults that we are accountable for OUR actions. But we cannot be held accountable for the actions of the adults who molded us or made manipulative impacts on our lives. From the way things seem to be going, it’s no wonder why fear is such a commodity in media today. We fear from lack of trust. We fear from difference. We fear what we don’t know and understand. And those fears also contribute to our decisions.

My family was not happy with my choice to give my child up for adoption. They were actually very supportive of the idea of me keeping Maxton. However, I knew [some of] their support to be a double edged sword. I grew up knowing that some people did things, not out of kindness, but because they’re investing for the sole purpose of a return. I’m quite careful about who I owe things. And while my dad was sincere in his desire to help with baby 3, I didn’t want my responsibility to be his burden because he does so much to help everyone else. He helps to the point of enabling, actually. And I didn’t feel like I was in a parenting position to be able to totally commit to my role for Max. My other children get what I think to be “just enough” of me. It wouldn’t have been fair to deny any of them time, love, affection, or ability. I had seen how frustrations from parenting made my mother with the three of us girls. I had seen how it translated into a sense of fault to us. That was NOT going to happen again.

So, while mother and trust issues played into the decisions and consequences surrounding Max, I was looking at many other things. It stung to be considered so petty that my mother would accuse me of placing him for adoption to spite her stance. It stung because I so outwardly and sincerely love my children that someone would have to be intentionally blind or delusional to make such a claim on my character. I knew that I COULD have raised Maxton. I knew even more that I shouldn’t. Not just as I am and where I am in my life. Between family and society giving and taking from the scope of ability and accountability to fit whatever stance they had on a given day on the subject of being a woman, a mother, a child, and a human, it just seemed like what I wanted was/is being shuttered out from selfish opinion.

After my second child had surgery two days ago, I was in a really strange place again. I had family trying to force “help” down my throat and was berated with questions of why I wouldn’t accept said “help.” I didn’t want or need it. At the same token, I knew I’d need help to raise Max…preferably from a loving father figure…but I did what I had to to keep the lack of at my hand from impacting his life. Changing tires, playing nurse, being career oriented, and being a hobbit are simple. I get this overwhelming sense that people want to help me now because I’m getting into a position to be able to help them…and that just seems disgustingly shady.

The Elephant in the Room

It is utterly painful to know just how many women go through the transition of being simply a mother to being a birthmother. It’s painful to know because of the thousands of different feelings that go along with the process. It’s painful because even if you’re not naturally empathetic toward others, a birthmother that can clearly describe her anguish can make you feel it.

I’ve noticed blogs lean one of two ways: angry and bitter or sad and confused/coping. (If anyone comes across something different, please send me a link!!)

Realizing that all the things I’ve read incites either/or of those emotions makes my heart very heavy. Adoption placement is not an easy thing to do. It can be equivocated to other traumatic occurrences that can happen to a woman only in the sense that it can leave a lasting mark on the soul. It absolutely terrifies me to see writings from women who are way further down the line in this transition who are still coping with very heavy emotions. Is any human being supposed to be able to handle decades worth of that? My stomach is lurching and churning at the mere thought of feeling just the way I do another year; the plain hard truth is that I did not consider the possibility of battling emotions of this decision continuously my entire life. Maybe I was being delusional or maybe it was innocent naiveté, but I thought that developing a relationship with the adoptive parents would help. I’m not getting any information that corroborates that. “Help” in regard to this particular subject is like Neosporin on a molten steel burn.

Something that seems to be universal is that none of us came to adoption as a simple “want”. I really wonder if there are mothers who seek adoption placement because they just have the desire to. It is amazing how powerful the hand of society is on this subject…the assumptions, impressions, and strong opinions on the subject…even if a person has never directly participated in the process. Is there any awareness at all that one side of the story is bittersweet at best? That the best excuse to be fathomed is “at least ___”. All the reasons people told me that the choice I was making was great have lost quite a bit of sheen, sparkle, and appeal. Every true benefit lies in the fact that the child is happy and safe and the heartbreaking fact of life is there is no guarantee on happiness or safety. That fact makes it even harder to get over the emotional speed bumps and flat-out road blocks associated with separating from a child. (As I write this, I’m trying to block out the sound of a cooing and garbling infant in the lobby…)

I’ve carried all three children I’ve been pregnant with to term, but I’m even more pro-choice now than before. Although my personal choice would always be life, I would never presume to think every woman should be subjected (or forced to figure out the hard way they are unable to adapt) to the certain torment of adoption. Just like everyone is not cut out to parent, not everyone is going to handle the emotional purgatory of relinquishing flesh and blood regardless of open or closed status. I don’t think I’d wish this on my worst enemy. I’d probably hug my worst enemy if I found out she had gone through this at any length. Since I have a daughter, I’ve hoped that our talks and her watching this experience for me has lessened the chances of her ever needing to make a decision like this. I’ve told her about waiting for marriage and I’ve begun having discussions with her to get her ready for making choices in regard to her health and her body as she gets older. While I think that she understands I don’t feel like it’s quite age appropriate to discuss the full consequences of this decision.

The elephant in the room seems to be whether or not people really and truly know the full scope of adoption. Do people have such strong opinions about a subject that they only know the Hallmark movie joy: a birthmother’s decision creates in the life of a waiting couple? While I’m completely aware of the fact that there are tons of negative and positive stories reflecting the experiences of adoptive and birth parents, is there any real scope placed on the long-term effects on people who have gone through this process? Does the society that so negatively portrays the circumstances in which a woman may become pregnant or seek options  as a result know what the positive choice (by opinion) requires of a human being?

I seriously doubt it.

Name Stigma

I have always been fascinated with people. Ever since I was a child, I’d watch people’s behaviors and actions and would subconsciously find ways to classify or sort them. Everyone does this, really, but I made it into a quiet hobby. It was thrilling for me to discover into my young adulthood that things like quality of tattoos, hairstyles, fidgeting, and names could all carry some weight (however small) in how a person developed. Some things were inconsequential, but others seemed to resonate easily with me. Names seem to have broad impact on people, so I was quite particular when selecting my eight and six-year olds’ names at birth. I even went through the trouble of selecting names that were traditional and modern so that they could choose to go by their first or middle name if it suited their personality better.

Yes, I’m a classic analyzer. And I’m pretty good with it until it’s time for me to date, but that’s another story….fact is, when someone introduces themself by name we may or may not have a connection that strikes positive or negative. Just like with a song, that name can cause a person’s eyes to soften in relative comfort or glaze over. It’s amazing how subtly or obvious a human reacts to a difference in name like Isabel versus Kiki.

Between my 3,500 high school student body, life, work, and all kinds of situations that required me to know a name and face, I felt like I got a good feel of my name game. Now, to be clear, while I do put some stock in my name analysis, it is NOT to the extent that I write someone off or immediately love them on that basis.

As the months rolled by during my pregnancy with my third child, I still sat down and heavily pondered the name I knew he’d only have (legally) for about six months. My social worker had mentioned that sometimes adoptive parents kept the birth mother’s chosen name in some form, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. In fact, within five minutes of the baby being born the adoptive parents were standing confused among my immediate family’s open-mouthed stares in response to not only their selected first name for the baby, but their last name as well.

As it so happened, there were a few coinky dinks….the adoptive parents (whose last name had previously been under lock and key) have the same uncommon last name as my stepfather and his family. This was a pleasant surprise and seemed like a “good omen”. However, the first name left me quickly interrupting my very outspoken mother to say, “MOM, don’t you say ANYTHING!”

My mom, dad, sisters, children, and a friend of mine were all in on the obvious taboo that occurred with their totally innocent selection. They had inadvertently named the baby after the abusive monster I’d run away from while pregnant with my now six-year-old. There was known contempt for the name with the baby’s biological father as well. To say that I hated the name was a severe understatement. But their reaction to my hushing my mother and the fallen faces of six people seemed to hurt them a little and I never mentioned to them why we reacted that way.

On top of a range personal connections with other men/boys with this name, I couldn’t recall anyone notable with the name that was anything that I’d like to link to a child. The name broadly aligned with pretentious, egotistical, and unsavory individuals.

Over the next day or so after delivery, I swallowed my pride and put on a smile. I decided to put faith in the fact that these two people who would raise my baby were honest and good people who would prove my name analyzing to be mere superstition. As time continues to tick by, I find myself thinking about his name more. Especially with the oddly timed resurfacing of the ultimate negative namesake…the circumstances of him contacting me didn’t make me feel any better, either. In fact, his callous demands made me all the more positive that I wouldn’t be able to call Max by his new name without flinching.

Sometimes the mental battle seems childish, and in others, I seemed to get further confirmation that I didn’t want the baby to be affected negatively by a moniker that seemed to be connected to a lot of men who went out of their way to present themselves upwardly and were actually dishonest, mean-spirited, and ruthless. No matter how I feel, I wouldn’t chance insulting anyone for their decision. For all I know, the name was chosen after someone in either of their families and I certainly don’t want to run the risk of insulting a loved one’s character.

Usually my name game has nothing more than superficial meaning/weight to me…but in regard to a child it’s immediately far more serious. I refer to my first two with their modern first names and traditional middle names and see two children who don’t fit any broad mold. Strangers don’t ask their names and immediately connect them to someone else they knew/know, but aren’t so thrown off by the names to think them strange. To me, it seems they have the ability to carve out who they are. Unlike with me…I have a name that has a lot of connotations readily attached. Anyone over the age of 45 immediately knows what my mother’s favorite motion picture was. Due to subconscious and outward assessment of names, people and society tend to place notions and expectations on people based on a slew of letters and sounds. I openly accept my use of name analysis, but I rarely make outward assessments of those names or change my behavior toward someone without any further grounds.

Though “Max” is a common name, the full name I gave him is of English origin. Phonetically, it was natural sounding enough to seem average, but was uncommon enough for there to be little chance of familiarity…good OR bad. When introduced, I think it’s important for someone to have to rely more on what’s in front of them than what they have learned by association over time. I wholeheartedly hope my little one can grow into his own and not the shadow of all the so-and-sos of past and present….because that’s just plain scary.

Or maybe this is classic me (my namesake coincidentally has this awful habit as well) over thinking the situation. I’ll resist the urge to toss in a Shakespeare quote about roses and names….