Children, adoption, babies, pregnancies, etc. seem to be everywhere I go lately. I feel like I'm surrounded by four walls with those four words painted all over them and they are slowly caving in on me. There's no ceiling, and I can still see the sky through the top, but I'm scared I'm never going to get out. I couldn't count on my two hands the number of times Arianna's biological dad said "when this is over..." and he'd fill it in with either 'we should take some time apart,' 'we'll always be family in a way,' 'I'm going to do better for myself,' etc. These were all valid points and good ideas, but I always countered it by saying "this will never just be over.'" He didn't seem to undersand that. He'd say "Well, I know, but you know what I mean." What he meant was simply 'after we sign the papers,' which to me was never really the end, but the beginning. Yes, I knew it was the end of my legal rights to call myself her mom, I knew it was the last time I'd see her for a long time, but I also knew that didn't mean anything was over. I just didn't know, at that time, how right I really was. I think, in a way, he was looking at it as if I was getting an abortion. I know it sounds crazy, but that's how I think he was seeing it (at least in the very beginning). He only saw this sequence of events - she has the baby, she gives the baby up, we move on. Now, I'm not downplaying the emotional impact of abortion on a girl (or guy), and especially never having had one myself, I don't know the emotional repercussions of that procedure. I'm also not downplaying miscarriage or death (of any age) in any way, either, but I do believe there is more of a sense of it being 'over' after an abortion. There's nothing more to work with - you were pregnant one day, the next you were not (by your own voluntary choice). I know there are emotional consequences and some are very similar to those of a woman who chooses adoption...the thoughts of never wanting to be around a baby again, the depression, the grief, that 'I can't get out of bed' feeling...they're both in the middle of a venn diagram between abortion and adoption. But adoption will never be as concrete, as black and white, as final as abortion. I see both sides of the argument between adoption and abortion, I really do. Adoption has its pros, of course - for one, your child is still living, and if you're lucky, you get to see that child grow up, even if only through pictures...and there are SO many more pros. It also has it's cons - you always know that there's a piece of you out there, calling someone else "mommy." You have so much time (essentially that child's entire lifetime) to wonder if you did the right thing, to worry that your child will never love you, to worry that he or she will want nothing to do with you. Abortion is the same way - pros and cons. I don't want to get into the whole "abortion debate," because I don't want to seem judgemental, and personally I don't know if I'm pro-choice or pro-life. As I've said before, I always said that if I got pregnant I would never be able to have an adortion...but I also said I could never lay eyes on my own baby and hand him or her over to someone else, either. I would never pass judgement on someone who did have an abortion, but the minute I heard my daughter cry and saw her little chest moving up and down I was in such awe that I created something that was breathing on it's own, that I decided right then and there that no matter what, I would always choose life (although I hope I'm not in the position to have to choose again - I hope that if and when I ever am pregnant again that it's because I planned it!).
There are words that still sting me, even though it's been almost eleven months. People that have nothing to do with me will say innocent things and they go through me like a knife. Today in my psych class, we had 7 minutes to write down things that we are committed to. I wrote down that I was committed to not only finishing school, but excelling in it, being financially stable, my relationships with my friends and family, and most importantly, I am committed to maintaining the healthy relationship I have with my daughter's adoptive family. He called on some people to share their ideas with the class, and thankfully, I wasn't one of them. Most people said they are committed to finishing school and a few said they are committed to making their children's lives better than their own. After the discussion was essentially over, one girl raised her hand and said "I agree with the part about being committed to kids, because I just found out this morning that I'm pregnant." It felt like my heart tore in half, and I can't even explain why. She wasn't happy about it, either. Someone said 'congratulations!,' and she replied with 'UGHH!!!' I don't know why it hit me so hard, it just did. I was jealous, deep down. I never thought pregnancy was such a beautiful thing til I went through it, but I think that's the way it goes with a lot of things. I was jealous because there's a part of me that wishes I could experience some parts of it again - like seeing her move around on the ultrasound screen, feeling her kick my hips in the middle of the night, anticipating the morning that I got to find out if she was a boy or a girl (granted, I only had to wait one night, since I was so far along when I found out, but still), choosing a name for her, holding her for the first time, etc. I would love to do all of that again, but when the time is right. I've read a lot of statistics that state that girls who have abortions or lose a child to adoption try to 'fill the void' by becoming pregnant soon after - I would never do that. At least not for those reasons. I know that no one will ever fill that void of my firstborn, my little girl. She will always be my first child, my first girl, and the one and only Arianna. I could have eleven more babies in my lifetime, and none will ever take her place in my heart. That's just the way it is. I'm sure all other firstmoms would agree.
People sometimes ask me if I am happy with the way things are. My daughter is safe, loved, and will want for nothing (except maybe answers when she is older). How could I not be happy about that? If I think only of her, I am so happy I can't even tell you. On the flip side, when I think only about myself, and how my child is not in my arms, there's no carseat in my car, I don't get to take her to dance... no, that doesn't make me happy. It's hard to answer that. I might not be a mommy that buys her diapers, takes her to the playground or goes to parent-teacher conferences, but the aspect of motherhood that implies that you put your child first, above all else, still thrives in me. That's why I say I'm happy when people ask, because I'm happy for her. In a perfect world, would I wish she were here with me? Of course. Had my circumstances been different, she'd be in her crib in my house right now. But they weren't. And it wasn't just one thing - it wasn't just money, it wasn't just who her father was, it wasn't just my schooling, it was all of those rolled into one, and then some. I know deep down that she is where she should be, I just don't think I'm where I should be yet.
I'm working on it, though. I contacted a therapist last night and she emailed me back and told me to leave her a voicemail and she would call back to set up an appointment. I've exhausted all of my ideas of 'self-help,' and they have gotten me nowhere, so I'm turning to therapy and my anti-depressants once again. I hate to be medicated, but sometimes, a little boost is all you need. By this time next year I plan and hope to be in a much better place than I am now. (I said that last year, too, but I had no idea what the year had in store for me. Now, I have a bit more of a better idea, although I've learned to never say never and I've especially learned that adoption itself can take twists and turns).
Monday morning I woke up to an unexpected email from my little one's adoptive mom! She already sent me a very long update filled with tons of pictures on September 5th, so I wasn't expecting another update until at least the beginning of October. In it, she updated me on the theme for her first birthday and told me that she and four other interior designers were already starting to plan the party, and told me what she is going to be for Halloween! She also told me that she loves her music class, loves singing and 'dancing' and shaking the rattle. She promised to get pictures or videos of it for me soon. In the email, there were some pictures of her apple-picking, pumpkin picking, and at a petting-zoo. Those were hard to see, because I remember last fall when I was looking through their adoption booklet, one of the pictures was of C and C and their adopted son in front of a bunch of corn stalks - and one of the pictures she sent me was identical to that photo - only plus one curly-haired little girl.
I definitely think she was meant to be their daughter. She fits right in so perfectly, and I remember looking at their book last year and I could vividly imagine her being in the pictures, too. Now, I'm seeing it for real and while it hurts to see it...it also reassures me. I did the right thing for her, for me, for them, for all involved.