Sunday, September 10, 2006

How Did It Happen?

I've been reading so much about adoption. Terminology. Conditions. Back when I "surrendered" Joy I felt that I was surrendering, giving up.

I started feeling different in second grade. Before that I wasn't really aware of separateness, just of Being Me, an enthusiastic idealistic introvert. Giving up Joy was defeat and confirmed that I was not right for the world. In the '70s fantasies of becoming a "hill hippie" living in some kind of idealized community attracted me. I quickly discovered that was just fantasy. Recently reading how other first mothers responded to their loss by becoming high achievers startled me. Perhaps they were already high achievers. I remember I was always working "below my potential", an "underachiever". I just could not connect. I wanted to escape. My escape was to her father. We were desperate for and dependent on each other for comfort and love. The first time I got pregnant I miscarried. But my parents found out. They also found some contraband in my purse and sent me to a social worker friend. She said she could tell I was pregnant by looking in my eyes.

She lived with another woman and they were pretty high up in the county social services. They and the minister were the resources my parents felt they could turn to. All that was said was I could never see him again. That ought to fix the problem, right? So I kept seeing him almost every day. He loved me. He wanted me. We didn't have much money or resources, but he did have a van... And It was easy to lie to my folks. They didn't really ask. I didn't tell. I miscarried.

I just wanted out. My folks supported that. They probably thought it was worth it just to get me away from my boyfriend. So I was moved 450 miles away. Two weeks later he was there too. I got pregnant and gonorrhea that week. Then he was gone again. When I discovered I was pregnant I told him I never wanted to see him again. I was going to go on welfare. I was scared, lonely but facing forward. He came back wanting to marry me. I knew that wasn't going to happen. But I went with him. We got a hotplate and a cooler from my folks and started camping out in a cheap hotel room. We both got jobs. I pretended to be married. We both got laid off. I was five months along and he drove towards my parents house. He was taking me back. I jumped out of the car and ran. He came back and talked me into going "home". I had a nice room there where I started sewing maternity clothes and got a factory job sewing swim suits. I was throwing up several times a day. When my mom figured it out they started family counseling, except they decided not to go. So I went alone and sat there in silence. I listened and learned a little bit.

The counselor asked where I was going to get loving? It wasn't from my boyfriend or my parents. Boyfriend didn't go to job interview set up by counselor. Counselor explained parents position that they would not let me back home with child. Minister advised me to give baby to a "good home". I had to admit I didn't have a good home. Looking back it's hard to believe that we did this all without ever really discussing it. I went to live with a girlfriend 90 miles away. Boyfriend never came to see me. I finally caved. Alright. I'll give the baby to the good family. As due date approached I was lodged with a young family only 15 miles away. No one to talk to. Soap operas and oreos. Grandpa wrote me letters every week. Grandma sent me a fruit basket at Easter. It was nice to have those gestures, even if no one wanted to actually see me. Suddenly there was water rushing between my legs. What's that? OMG I've peed all over the floor!? The young couple reassured me. Someone took me to the hospital. 15 hours later my dad showed up and rubbed my back as I transitioned. Her actual birth is a highlight of my life. It was transcendent. The doctor placed her on my belly as though she belonged there. I passed out.

I didn't see her again for two weeks, my waiting period. It was another transcendent experience, holding her, looking into her eyes, just the most amazing experience of adoration and peace. It is still precious to me.

I signed the papers sobbing. But a "good family" was waiting for her and I didn't want her to be alone, like I was.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

My Grandson

How do I write bout TomTom? Is it the sickness of regret and loss that I don’t want to look at? I can’t let go. I can let go. I won’t let go. Willfullness. Won’tfullness. I don’t want to be sorry, sad, grieving. OK. I want him in my life. Inside me he lives his beautiful life. I’ve spent a bit of time with him. I’ve delighted in wonderful stories about him from his mother. Beyond the usual ravings of grandmothers, TomTom really is a most remarkable child/young man. I know this even though I hardly know him.

I’m of the age that my peers are starting to have grandchildren. They are so proud. They ask if I have any yet, knowing Buster & Ezzy are out in the world somewhere. I don’t answer quickly. It’s too much information for someone asking casually. Recently someone who’s known about TomTom all his life forgot. She asked me if I was looking forward to having grandchildren, showing how she is looking forward to it. I reminded her, oh yes, I already have one. He’s turning sixteen now.

That sets some people back on their rear ends.

It’s hard to talk about because the relationship doesn’t manifest in the world the way we’d like. So much time went by struggling to come to terms with unifying my families. I was fearful of meeting him. I wanted to come to peace with Joy first. She and I seemed so unstable I feared involving this innocent. I didn’t want him to share the pain. In trying to keep that to myself, I kept everything to myself, a sad, sick selfishness that meant I was holding onto pain instead of letting go and going forward.

So now he’s near grown. He doesn’t want much to do with me. He’s got more than four grandparents that have demonstrated their caring throughout his life. He knows his own mother has hurt terribly in finding ways to connect with me.

He knows that more definitely than either Buster or Ezzy could. And I know how they try to protect and defend me. Even Joy protects and defends me, the childish mother she found.

Now he’s growing up and I’m wondering. Is he able to share with people? Is he trusting to share his pains and triumphs and wishes? Is he living his life fully – my vicarious wish? Am I? I know he is in good hands. And I am keeping him in my prayers, just as I kept Joy in my prayers throughout her life. I see how I’ve repeated with him, the loss experience. Not wanting to intrude seems so useless in retrospect. That’s an important lesson, learning to show up and trust in life, in God, that I can contribute something good to a situation or relationship in spite of the pain.