I know that may sound hypocritical if you've read my entire blog. You may be re-reading that sentence or even checking to make sure you are on the right blog. From the beginning, I was very bitter with Olivia's birth father. But it wasn't because I resented him being her dad. It was for my own personal happiness and reasons. I wanted him to be there for me and in return be there for Olivia. I was hurt and I retaliated by posting rude things about him. Hoping that would change his mind or drive him further away. Because it comes to a point that you don't want them to just be half way in the picture, you either want them all the way there or you don't. For your children, you want a father. You don't want a father that's just there when it's convenient. I knew with adoption, Olivia would always have a father, guaranteed.
I may not have been perfect during my pregnancy and I don't claim to be. I didn't treat N with the greatest respect in the world and that may have hindered whatever friendship we could've had during all of this. Instead of trying to make things better between us and for Olivia, we made things worse. I was prideful the first few months, I wanted us to get married and be a family. I fought for that. Then when I suggested that I was going to parent whether or not we got married, we also fought about that. Our friendship wasn't perfect, but we respected each other on the decision that was made when it came to adoption. I respected the fact that when I told him I was pregnant, he didn't automatically tell me to get an abortion, he never did and he never will. I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful for the fact that he pushed me away so I could become strong enough (emotionally and spiritually) to get the answer of placing Olivia for adoption. Without the fighting and the difficulty, I don't think I would've been strong enough to do it. But I was for her. But you know what I did when WE chose adoption, I fought for N. I fought for him to be there because I wanted her to know his side. I didn't know him for very long and I knew it wasn't fair that I could give her the bits and pieces that I remember about him. She should know him personally, even if it made me cry myself to sleep - I wanted her to know her birth father.And I'm grateful for the sacrifice that I did as much as I could for him to be apart of her life. He didn't have to know that I was pregnant, I never had to tell him and I did. I didn't think it would be fair if he didn't know a part of him was someone out in the world and he didn't know it. I know he always wanted to be a dad, it's not that he never wanted to be one. He just knew in his heart the circumstance that we both were in wouldn't be the best for her. As much as it killed me to say that I wasn't enough for Olivia, I know that she's getting more than enough with the J's. More than N and I could've ever given her in this life.
I never fully comprehended how much he loved and cared about her until the moment we were in the hospital together. Sitting on my hospital bed, taking turns holding her. We cried together. A moment that has forever softened my heart towards him.
About 6 months after I had Olivia, her birth father kind of disappeared. No where to be found. Just fell off the face of the earth. I remember during those 6 months that I was angry and bitter and questioning why I made it such an effort for him to be involved if he wasn't going to try to make it work. I've had the opportunity to get to know his beautiful wife and more about his side of the story. I'm sure my jaw dropped multiple times. But they were the answers to my questions. Even if it some of it was hard for me to hear about it. I'm grateful she was willing to share that side of the story with me that I didn't know about. She's probably the only one, besides N to know his full story. I could never come close to knowing it as much as she does.
Mine and N's rock bottom was finding out I was pregnant. He knew that he could never be a provider for his daughter and he couldn't be there everyday for me while I was pregnant. As I progressed during my pregnancy and felt her kick for 9 months. It was something I had become accustomed to.
It was when she came into the world that it all became real for us. The kicks and my big belly, eventually was a little human and I was a mommy for the first time. And for N, he was a daddy for the first time.
We were all together in the same room, experiencing new emotions and a new little person. We all came together for one purpose.
We spent two days in the hospital together as parents. As most normal parents would be taking the time to know every single sound and movement of their little one and preparing to take her home. For us, we would memorize her sounds and movements to keep locked in our memories about her and us as parents but we were preparing for something entirely different, heartache.
Sometimes, I still only think of Olivia as infant, not as a two year old. When my arms ache to hold her, it's to hold baby Olivia. Because during that time, she was ours.
Remember when I fell off the face of the earth for about the same amount of time? I got a tremendous amount of support and I'm grateful for that.
Do you know what happened when Olivia's birth father did that?
It was something I expected from him. I'm sure everyone else did too. And we still did nothing for him. Never thinking that maybe it was a silent cry for help.
But this sends a BIG message for me and hopefully some of you will recognize it too, maybe in your own adoptions.
Why are birth mothers given all of this attention? I understand that we gave birth and we signed papers. We gave them life.
But there is also someone else in this picture too. Someone who also helped you create that little human being that you love so much.
That little human being that may be in your arms right now, because his or her birth father consented to the adoption.
Isn't that something to be grateful for? Not be intimidated by?
The adoption has happened.
Why is that something to be afraid of?
I respect Olivia's birth father because the adoption has happened. I was sitting right next to him as he signed papers and claimed that she was his daughter. He understood that she was his and he willing relinquished his rights as a father for someone else to be a father to his little girl.
For me, that's an action of love that I will never fully comprehend.
He could've acknowledged that the child may or may not be his. Or that he could've just said, "Nope. She's not mine." And walked out entirely from the beginning. But he stayed around because he knew and he loved her.
I know I've been a strong voice for birth mothers and for adoptive parents. I hope that you won't mind that I would like to be a strong voice for supporting birth fathers, as well.
I don't know the statistics or if there are any of how many birth fathers that are involved in the adoption or if there is some hope for families who have adopted to get in contact with the birth father of their child. I would keep that option open if at all possible. I'm not saying that things need to be opened right away. Obviously, do what needs to do to accommodate your family.
But I know some birth fathers that have wanted to be very involved and it has come to my attention that they have slowly faded out. Not because they've wanted to. Because that's just what has happened. I know birth moms can have a very strong bond and relationship with the adoptive family. That can become intimidating for a birth father, to want to be in the picture even if the relationship with the birth mother isn't that well.
I know with V, when I was frustrated with N - she'd be my "go to girl" about everything. I think sometimes that can put thoughts in the adoptive parents minds and they wouldn't want that in their lives. But the greatest thing about V is that she didn't let that deter her from wanting to have a friendship with him (and his family) and to let Olivia have a relationship with her birth father. She kept an open mind about the way N was and was willing to keep him involved, even if it meant making me a little upset. Not that I ever wanted her to stop contact with him. It sometimes hurt me when I would hear things about him. I wanted to ask about their visit because I was curious, but it was hurting me in the long run. So I needed to let V know that our relationship needed to be kept separate.I was hurting because I had seen little to no change in him. I thought he was still the same person.
I realized though, I had changed so much from the adoption. What makes it that he didn't change as well? Olivia motivates me to be better, why wouldn't she do the same for him? It's because she has and she does. I held on to my pride for so long that I refused to see the change.
Another thing, V would NEVER EVER post something negative about me or about N publicly. She would never tell Olivia in the future how horrible of birth parents we are because she's not that person. I know of families who have done just that.
The child that you adopted (or that you placed) doesn't need to hear from you about the annoying things the birth mother/birth father do. You do realize that is their biology? With open adoption, they will know where they got their smile from, their beautiful eyes -- if you say something like, "Your birth mother is so annoying" or "Your birth father is such a jerk." I hope you realize, they will think- "well, I'm part of my birth mom, I must be annoying too" Or "if my birth father is a jerk, I must be a jerk too." I know I'm pointing out the things that the adoptive parents may or may not say. But the birth parents need to realize they can't say anything negative about the adoptive parents to the child, those are THEIR parents. Someone who has been raising them practically since birth, the people they call mom and dad. Don't be stupid about it. How is it okay to tell your birth son or birth daughter that you regret placing them for adoption and that you wish you could take them back? That will just make them confused and upset them more.
I have seen posted on Facebook about how annoying their birth parents/adoptive parents are or how the birth father HAS treated the birth mother or yourself. Notice, has. I know I'm not perfect and I've posted imperfect things about N. And I'm going to be honest with you. I regret it. Every single day. It's there for everyone to read and I'm sure people hated me for it. I brought N down when N was already feeling crappy about himself. How fair is that? And then I had whoever read my blog be on my side of things, how does that feel when you feel like you're the only person in the world and everyone is against you? Not fun. I'm sure you've been there, and I've definitely been there. Think how he felt for 9+ months. I would want to fall off the face of the earth too.
I'm just trying to say, for adoptive parents or birth parents in general. Talk to your caseworker/counselor about it. There is a way to talk about things negatively in a healthy way. Posting your problems in a Facebook status or a blog post- isn't healthy and it's just downright mean. Like I've said, I'm not perfect and I'm sure I've done this numerous times but I hope you all understand that I learned from my mistakes.
Also, adoptive parents and birth parents need to respect each other. You need to have a relationship/friendship for that child. The child will sense any sort of wedge that is there and that's not good either. When I say respect each other. Don't push each other's "sensitive adoption buttons."
Birthparents: The family that you have placed with are so grateful for your sacrifice, you don't need to rub it in their face that all of your pain is their happiness. They get that. They don't need a reminder that because they can't have kids they had to hurt someone else.
Adoptive parents: If the birth parents become the hardest people to love, just remember they probably need it the most. Don't push away and ignore e-mails and phone calls because communicating with them is frustrating. Just learn, that's their personality- deal with it and love it. (Clearly, if he/she is fighting and making threats all the time- that's a good time to step back). For me, there are no good reasons to promise an open adoption and then close it once you "have what you want." That's being selfish when someone has been selfless enough to give you their whole world, the least you could do is share it with them.
Also, if you have a closed adoption and your children want to find their birth parents. Don't feel like you haven't done enough for them as parents, they love you and don't want to disappoint you. They're curious and want to know everything about them. I know you've protected them since they were little, but when they become old enough to search for them- they need to guard and protect themselves and if things don't go the way as they had planned, just be there to pick up the pieces, don't be there to say, "I told you so."
Look, nobody has it easy when it comes to adoption. We all get our feelings hurt, eventually. We all have our own problems. Let's accept the fact that for us as birth parents, will never know what it's like to know the pain of infertility. And people who deal with infertility, will never know the pain of placing a baby for adoption. Accept that you don't know what they go through. Nobody is perfect, nobody deserves to be perfect. So before you start judging, criticizing, or mocking, remember everybody is fighting their own war.
Anyone could easily walk away from somebody else. Nobody is forced to stay or keep the adoption open; we all have choices. But the real test is if someone would rather stay with you, even though walking away would be so much easier. Forget about all the reasons why it couldn't work and remember the only reason why it could.
I was reading a quote that could apply to open adoption when feelings have been hurt on either side, "The primary cause of unhappiness is not the situation itself, but your thoughts about it."
6 keys to a great relationship: friendship, freedom, honesty, trust, understanding and communication.
Remember, if you feel like things need to be laid out on the table then talk separately with a caseworker first so that way you know what to talk about when the time comes. Then when you all meet together, everything can be talked about with a mediator.
I'm sure birth moms and adoptive parents aren't the ones to blame for all the negative light on birth fathers. Some birth fathers DO paint an ugly pictures for themselves and about adoption. Ones who have contested, been abusive and just simply aren't there. Not everyone is perfect. And maybe all of us need a reminder in that. We all need a reminder to let go of the hurt and the pride that we cater and hold on to. Longer than we should. I realized that holding on to that anger has never made me a better person. It has only made me better when I've realized it, apologized and have tried to make it better. And after all of that, you need to forgive yourself. Stop beating yourself for the things that you've said, if that person has forgiven you, don't hold on to your own guilt. That can almost be worse than the pride itself.
Another thing that has come to my attention, as I've said I've gotten to know N's wife, J.
I've realized what kind of person she is. She is very compassionate and forgiving of others very quickly. Some things that I need to work on myself. With N's changes, he needed someone to pull him out of his rock bottom. She did just that.
I used to be bitter and think the only reason why N was involved was because of J. I knew about his "change" but I refused to see it because she was there and it was so easy to blame. It was easy to hide my insecurity of knowing that I wasn't good enough to be with N and to raise our daughter together. But in reality, it was never meant to happen and it didn't happen and I can't hold onto something that I can't change. N changed because of the adoption and I had too. J started it all for him and has been there for him every single day. Something that I never was for him when I was pregnant.
I respect their family. I respect the fact that they're all involved in it and that J's family has been so welcoming with Olivia and that they have accepted her as if she was their blood niece or blood granddaughter. It's something that families who have been divorced and have to deal with. If they can deal with it and live with it on a daily basis, why can't all of us?
When I saw pictures of Olivia with her birth father, honestly, it used to make me cringe. But now I see them, and I get a little emotional because my heart is full. Seeing how much he genuinely cares about her and he ADORES her and she will need to know that from him. I could never give her that, I could never just tell her that he cares. She needed to know for herself that she does.
I know some of you that may have had issues with the birth father and have thought, he doesn't deserve it. How is that fair?
I used to have those exact thoughts and guess what? He knows he probably doesn't deserve it and knows it's not fair. But it doesn't matter what he deserves and what's not fair. What's fair is having his/her birth father in their life.
When you were pregnant, it's always been what's best for the child. Why has it changed what's best for the birth mother? I understand that we have wants/needs that we feel like should be met. But our birth child trumps our needs and wants, any time of the day. Agreed?
I respect birth fathers. Especially N, for letting the adoption happen.
I hope you all can at least muster any amount of respect the birth father(s) in your life for that reason.