Monday, April 4, 2011

A Different Kind of Parenthood

It has been so incredibly long since I last posted anything at all, but life has been a bit crazy lately and the blog somehow just slithered into the background for a while. I'm not really sorry, it was a good break and I'm not sure I had that much to say anyway. Today, I do.

It's the day before Keats' very first birthday. Having been out all of yesterday playing with friends, we're all pretty tired today. Well, I'm exhausted but can't sleep anymore for some idiotic reason and Keats, thankfully, is still sleeping! Birch, unfortunately, is at work.

I'm so proud of him. Getting up early every day, getting dressed up, feeding the animals, taking out the trash, and biking off to work far before I would even consider getting out of bed on a typical day. I'm sure that all seems very straightforward and you're wondering why I put so much emphasis on something millions of people do everyday, but my husband does it for me and my son. He does it for our family, just like all those other millions do it for theirs. He loves his job in a way, it makes him feel productive, helpful, and like he's making a real difference in the world, but I know he also wishes he were farming, his hands covered in dirt and callouses, never taking off his coveralls, tending to many different animals each day, wrapping up bundles of fresh greens straight out of the ground, making his own sauerkraut, and stoking the fire in his smokehouse. With these thoughts in his head, it must be hard to go to an enclosed classroom with fluorescent lighting and deal with hundreds of people a day. So, thank you, to my husband who every day of the week gets up, does something good for the world, makes a bit of money to help our small family stay afloat, then comes home with a smile on his face and makes our lives full and complete. It's a blessing not everyone has and I'm grateful.

My sister sent me an email yesterday which I just saw this morning (we were out). It contained a link with a story of adoption and reunion. It was difficult to read, but my sister was right, it was nice to read.

Almost nine years ago, I gave my first son up for adoption. I was seventeen and though I desperately wanted to keep him, various situations made that seem selfish and impossible. I gave him up in May 2002 and everyday since have questioned that decision. It was a surreal experience and beyond heartbreaking. I know I will tell my children all about him, all about the experience of being pregnant with him and the struggle of letting him go into another family's arms. I'm not sure how, yet. I'll find a way. I'm far from being in anyway ashamed of the experience, but it is something that has felt more private the last few years. When I was still in high school, there was no way to hide it so I was very public about the whole situation, even going so far as to write in our school magazine about the experience and talking as a guest speaker to the Living Skills classes at my school. I was very upfront about it to anyone I became close to the next several years, but when I went to Virginia for school, I only told a very select few. It was strange to suddenly be among a group that had no idea about it after being surrounded by everyone I knew knowing for so long. I suddenly had to make a choice about my openness and I chose to be more discreet. I wrote more and discovered more there, made a few wonderful friends who I did share my son with, but I kept to myself most of the time.

I told Birch almost immediately after we met for the very first time. He wasn't shocked or upset, he seemed to know what the sorrow of it all felt like and just loved me more. We got married and I had to make another decision: whether and how to tell his family. I never really came right out and said it. Hints were made here and there and a few of them put together the pieces for themselves. There was no announcement and I'm still not actually sure just who of them all knows, because they definitely don't mention it.

But today, the day before Keats' first birthday, I can't stop thinking about my first son. What is he like now? He's eight years old, almost nine! I have a niece and nephew right on either side of his birthday, so I've always had a pretty good idea where he is developmentally, but what does he like to do? What are his favorite games? What color is his hair? Does he get along with his sister and brother? How are they? How is his family? So many questions go through my mind everyday and there are never any answers. Someday, I hope there will be. Someday I hope we'll find each other again. Even more I hope he'll be able to understand how much I do love him, despite what so many seem to believe about mothers who give up their children.

I can't deny that teenage pregnancy isn't a huge problem in this country, but having been a pregnant teenager myself, I know what good it can do as well. I'm not promoting it and I'm definitely not promoting the seemingly rampant idea that it's "cool," but some do step up to the plate, take it seriously, and should be rewarded with care and understanding instead of the treatment I too often see happening. They need help, not shunning. They need the love and support I received as a young mother from both my wonderful family, friends, and school staff.

Tomorrow I will celebrate my second son, Keats, with full attention and love. He is an amazing blessing in my life. I am so grateful for all that he is and all that he has brought into our lives. Since beginning this, he has woken up, eaten a breakfast of avocados, and is now sitting in his toy box with a section of wooden rainbow (the orange) behind his neck like a shawl or something. I don't know why he loves doing that so much, but he does it every day over and over again thinking it's just the bee's knees. He cracks me up, makes me smile, makes me cry, and frustrates me. He is everything all in one little boy package and I love him dearly.

To my dear sister who pointed out that link to me, thank you for sharing. No matter how many times I read similar stories, it is still always interesting to hear their stories and to realize how similar our stories are. We are not freaks or black sheep or mess-ups. We are merely waiting to be reunited so that we can feel whole once more. We are in love with someone absent, with someone we barely know yet know so well. 

To all you other birth mothers out there, be strong even when you don't want to be and know that you are strong even when you don't feel it. You are compassionate, selfless, loving, and a good mother. You are a mother.

To all you birth fathers, you are strong. You are compassionate, selfless, loving, and a good father. You are a father. You are often forgotten within the equation somehow. Know that you count, your feelings count, your loss counts, too. Know that you have my support as the true men that you are.

To the birth father of my first child, know how much I think of you and hope for your happiness, strength, and understanding. We went through something incredible together and though in the end it drove us apart, know that through our child I will always feel connected to you and that you will always be important to me.

To my children, I love you.


  1. so heartfelt! crying now. <3
    you are such a blessing to birch and you and keats are such a great addition to our family!

  2. um, i meant to say that was from zoe.