I dreamt I was having a panic attack. I woke up having a panic attack. I don’t know if my real life panic attack invaded my dream of if my dream panic attack triggered my real life panic attack. What I do know is that it’s time to resume therapy.
I’ve known for awhile that I needed to return to therapy, but since moving to the wrong coast I’ve yet to find a good fit. I’ve found one therapist who earned a second visit and even a third, but not a fourth. Or maybe it was a fourth but not a fifth. I don’t know I lost count.
A few weeks ago I tried to get an appointment with somebody, anybody, in the big health center’s behavior health clinic. Basically, they decided I’m not crazy enough for them and referred me out. Since then I’ve been researching the names they gave me. None seem to be “the one” at first glance.
But today is the day I make contact. I’ve decided to email every single practice they gave me. I’ll email them my symptoms, my story, my previous diagnoses, and my questions. Most importantly, my questions.
Questions like, If after reading my history you feel one of your clinicians would be a good fit what makes them qualified to work through adoption issues? Please include actual professional experience and training not simply being an adoptive parent. Has this clinician ever successfully worked with any first parents? Is this person supportive of open adoption? Does this person have experience working with grief and loss? Ambiguous loss? Infertility?
Might these questions put some people off? Probably. Do I have the time or energy to worry about their feelings? Not at all.
I’ve somehow come across a new blog crush and I can’t even tell you how it happened. What i can tell you is that i’ve spent way more time than is rational reading Victoria Elizabeth Barnes’ blog. She writes about renovating/restoring a victorian house and gardening and being fabulous. None of which apply to me I’m renting a 200sq foot apt with no outdoor space. I’m a phd student who shuns pants most days and has no time or energy to even pretend fabulousness. But I could be writing my theory midterm and instead i’m reading this blog from start to finish.I’ve also started a post about my latest visit, but i’m avoiding adoption right now because: feelings. It’s a problem. But I overlook the problem because i feel like i would be friends with this person. I SHOULD be friends with this person. WHY AM I NOT FRIENDS WITH THIS PERSON?!
As some know I’m currently in my third year of my doctoral studies where I’m researching adoption (shocking I know). Today I’m working on a research proposal and I just have to take a minute. I’m sorting through articles, none of which I haven’t seen before. And none of which fail to make me need a minute each and every time I read them.
Each of these articles written before I worked in the industry, before i placed my son, some BEFORE I WAS EVEN BORN tell us things that go ignored. For instance in 1997 it was recommended that (birth) mothers get post placement support. That they be advised about the prolonged grief. That services be available for open adoptions that close. That couples counseling be available for those parents who remain in relationship with each other.
I relinquished in 2001. That’s 4 years after this article was published. Four years for the information to pass from journal to practitioner. Four years where none of these recommendations were implemented.
I worked for the industry in 2012. Thats 16 years after this article was published. 16 eyars for the information to pas from journal to practitioner. 16 years where none of these recommendation were implemented. 16 years and still I was told to close cases as soon as possible after relinquishment papers were signed. 16 years and still my coworker and I were met with so.much.pushback. when we tried to start a support group for our post placement clients.
I left direct practice so I could do research that would impact the way the industry works. But what if I just write more articles to be ignored. What if nothing changes. What if this is all a waste of time, energy, and money?
I dont have any answers. I just need a minute before delving back into the stack of articles that had they been heeded may have changed the entire course of my life.
Yesterday I stood frozen in a store. The errands that should have taken only a few minutes were now stretching out as I tried to force myself to breath. To slow my heartbeat. To stop shaking. To focus my eyes. To move from the spot I was frozen to. To not block the aisle. To not draw attention.
15 years ago I was newly pregnant. Scared, but hopeful. As the holidays approached I imagined what it’d be like the following year with a baby. How I’d share traditions with the little being who by then would be 4 months old. What I’d give him or her, as it was still too early to know which it would be.
Of course that’s not how it would turn out and that holiday season 15 years ago is the last one I’d spend in a hopeful anticipatory state. Now I spend the holidays demoralized and fearful.
Demoralized because I will never have the holiday experience with my first born child, possibly my only child. Fearful because I know anxiety and panic now trail me at every step. Waiting for an opportunity to make me freeze in my tracks while in the middle of benign errands.
But they aren’t benign, nothing is benign anymore. I didn’t know what to buy my kid. I never know what to buy my kid. I now don’t know what to buy my nieces either. And so I stood in the store unable to move. My ineptitude at being an aunt compounding my ineptitude at being a mother. My heart beat pounding in my ears. My vision blurring. My breathing irregular. Because I can’t even run an errand without my mind and body turning on me.
Adoption. The gift that keeps on giving.
Today is a scary day and not just because of mess left in the wake of the little ones traversing the neighborhood dressed as ghosts, goblins, and Elsa. Not just because of the sugar comas and hangovers. Not just because I’ve a paper due tomorrow and have to change it from APA to Chicago formatting (tangent: Why is Chicago formatting even a thing?). But because it’s the start of yet another National Adoption Month.
National Adoption Month was started to remind people of the youth in foster care who want to be adopted. Need to be adopted. Youth who have been removed fro their families and whose legal (not biological not social not emotional, but legal) ties have already been severed. However, over the years that intent has been masked by those who use it instead to encourage infant adoption, to advocate for unethical changes in laws to make domestic and international adoption easier for prospective adoptive families, and to pat themselves on the back for fulfilling their own desires.
This month is often a time when adoptees are ignored and birth parent stereotypes are perpetuated. However, last year the script was flipped. Adoptees around the country and around the world came together and lifted their voices. And I watched. And I cheered. And I retweeted and shared.
This year in addition to the hashtag there are blogging prompts posted on Lost Daughters. I was concerned that by joining it I might be seen as coopting, appropriating if you will, instead of sharing in solidarity. But I was encouraged to participate and so I will. During the month of November I will be blogging using the #FlipTheScript blogging prompts when they apply to me. I will be sharing my view as a birth mom in an open adoption. I will still be encouraging people to listen to adoptees. I will link and retweet and today I share this
I’ve been in a socially sanctioned relationship for over two years now and trying to conceive for one. One year. For those not in the know one year of trying to conceive (TTC) is when doctors start labeling your struggle “infertility”. On the one hand it doesn’t seem so long and yet crossing that threshold has me right in the feels.
Secondary infertility (since I have had a previous successful pregnancy) is taunting me daily. I feel it when I wake up and take my basal body temperature before getting out of bed. I feel it when I’m out of bed and realize I forgot to temp (what if today I ovulate but I miss it because I forgot to temp?). I feel it when I pee on a stick each morning to determine when/if I’m ovulating and when the result comes back as an error and when I pee on a stick to see if maybe just maybe I got pregnant this month and when the result comes back as a no. I feel it when people ask when we’ll start trying or don’t I want kids or don’t I know how old I am and I’d better start thinking about it soon.
Sometimes i smile and give a noncommittal response. Sometimes I talk about Kidlet and ask why I’d bother having more kids when I’ve already created perfection. Sometimes I tell people my body doesn’t work that way any more (cue awkward silence). Sometimes I tell them school and work keep me busy. But almost never do I tell them that I’ve failed. That I abandoned my first child and now nature won’t allow me a second chance to screw up. Even though that’s what goes through my head at least once a day. Because as frought as TTC is for everyone there’s always that extra layer as a birth mom.
Whether it’s punishment or justice or something else all together the universe has decided and I may always be a mother of one a parent of zero.
Currently I live in a teeny one bedroom apartment on the outskirts of the city. If it were just me it’d be the perfect size, but it’s me and my husband, TeacherMan, and
his our large dog and my our cat. It’s cramped, to say the least, with just the four of us, and sometimes (but not as much as I’d like) it also houses my teenager.
A few times a year I go and visit my Kidlet in his home and a few times a year he comes and visits
me us in mine ours. Unfortunately with such a small space he’s relegated to the couch. I dream of the day we can upgrade to a larger space, not only because OMG I WOULD LOVE AN ACTUAL CLOSET*, but also because I want to be able to offer Kidlet a bed when he comes to visit.
I dream of one day having a room that is his even if he only uses it a few weeks a year. I know it’s not technically practical to have an entire room that doesn’t get used a majority of the year. I can almost hear all the HGTV hosts yelling at me about “wasted space”, but is it really wasted if it makes me feel like I’m finally able to offer him something when I’ve not been able to really offer him anything, ever, for his entire life?
My more realistic real estate goal is a modest two bedroom apartment where the second bedroom could be an office/study/library, but also hold a twin bed or murphy bed so that he can at least know he always has a bed here whenever he wants.
*no seriously this is the back of our front door and we’ve another on our bedroom door