About Cheerio

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In general I am a cheery and energetic person. But I am enshrouded in a cloak of iron. That cloak is the weight of greiving my son, whom I've lost to adoption.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Whenever I hear the word, "Freedom"

For the past few months, whenever I hear the word, “Freedom,” I have a vivid mental picture that plays out in my head.

The backdrop is that of a prison dug into the base of a mountain.
It had been there for so long, that the vines and brush had grown over and around it. It was naturally camouflaged and blended in with the mountain as if it had always been there and was just part of the scenery. It was obscure and barely noticeable.

The hidden door was thick and seeming impenetrable.
On the other side of the door, it was cold. There were no windows or any openings to the outside that allowed the sunshine to spill in. It was beyond the reach of the sun, and the warmth of the sun’s rays could not be felt here.

A cold stone staircase spiraled downward.
It ended in a maze of hallways and dead-ends. This was a dark place of sadness, gloom, depression, and hopelessness. A strong smell of earth and musk hung in the air. When looking closely, it appears that the prison was crudely dug. Further investigating reveals that this prison is not fortified. There were no guards, there were no cells with iron bars, and there was no warden.

It was peculiar to notice the mirrors scattered throughout.
Some were hanging on the prison walls, others sat on a bench or table just within arms reach. All of the mirrors had broken jagged edges. Some had stains of blood where it was held by what should have been a polished handle.

The most puzzling sight of this prison was
standing inside looking back at the door which would lead to the outside.
It was not locked from the outside, yet it was barricaded from the inside. There was furniture, rocks and all sort of objects stacked up against the door.

What I’ve described to you is the prison that I lived in for many years.
It is a prison that the adoption industry wants to keep society ignorant of. The adoption industry does not want original mothers to talk about how adoption has affected them. Instead the industry wants to continue marketing the beautiful ‘win/win’ picture of adoption to society.

Their goal is simple.
Sell as many babies as possible so they can continue making a profit. In order to obtain this simple goal, they will do ANYTHING to strip mommas of their babies, so those babies could be ‘sold’ aka ‘adopted.' Much of what the industry does is not technically illegal, but it is immoral and unethical. Adoption hurts mommas. Adoption hurts babies.

The prison that I found myself in is a common one,
as the adoption industry has spent a lot of money into researching “HOW TO CONVINCE WOMEN TO GIVE UP THEIR BABIES.”

Their primary tactic is extremely subtle, yet precisely effective.
It’s called eroding the momma’s self esteem. It is subtle, because they have created a very specialized vocabulary to cause the momma to have a negative view of her self and her ability, all the while using positive words to do so. Words like “loving,” “stable,” “best,” “deserving,” “selfless” and “right” are all positive words – I think we’d all agree on that.

But here is what the adoption industry does with those words, it draws a line.

The momma is on one side of the line,
and adoption is on the other side of the line.

When the adoption industry uses the positive words,
it does it only in the context of adoption. For example, the word “Loving” they only use it on the adoption side of that line. For instance, “you’re making a loving choice with adoption.” This leaves the antonym to fall on the momma’s side of the line. The antonym of “loving” would be “unloving.”

They tell her that with adoption,
her child could be raised by a “loving couple.” Again, the word “loving” falls on the adoption side of the line, and the message is that if the momma were to try parenting, she is “unloving.”

When the industry counsels the momma,
they talk about what is “best” for the child. And they talk about money (which the momma probably doesn’t have at that time), they talk about stable home (which the momma probably doesn’t have at that time), they talk about promises for a better future (which the momma probably doesn’t have at that time), they talk about everything that potential adopting parents could offer her child now, and all those things are “best”.

Hence the momma starts to think that what is “best”
is on the other side of the line - with adoption. Adoption is “selfless” because it is making a sacrifice, not only for her child to have the “best,” but also for a loving couple to have a child, when they cannot have a biological child of their own.

Since adoption is where “best” is,
that means that if she keeps and parents her baby, that would make her “selfish” because she would not be giving her baby the “best” he/she could have.

The terminology of deserving is where the digging of my prison began.
I was expecting a son. My son “deserved” a two parent home. My son “deserved” to be in a financial “stable” environment. My son “deserved” the promise of a bright future, like college. My son “deserved” to have love poured on him by a couple who could not have biological children of their own. Basically everything my son “deserved” was on the other side of that line.

On my side of the line,
he “deserved” someone better than me as a momma.

Therefore, adoption was the “right” thing to do.
And since adoption was the ‘right’ thing to do and was on the other side of the line, it implies and leaves me, as the momma, with the clear message that parenting my own son was “wrong.”

I didn’t want to do the wrong thing,
and I didn’t want to punish my child by parenting him when he deserved better, he deserved so much more.

So, do you see the subtle positive language
being used against a momma who is afraid and trusting people who seem to genuinely care and she thinks they are truly helping her? Yet those same people whom she is trusting, aren’t helping her with truth, they are using her and eroding her ability so they can get her to hand over her baby, which they will turn around and sell and make a tremendous profit.

There are many adoption myths that are still thriving in our society.
One I even read recently on an adoption agency website. “Adoption does not negatively affect the mother’s self-esteem. In fact it improves her self-esteem because she has made a loving choice. She was strong enough to make a sacrifice to give her child a better life.” This is a lie! It is an out and outright LIE!

Since I was still very pro-adoption those first 10 years after I lost my son,
the problem (depression, sadness, self hate) obviously was not adoption; therefore the problem obviously had to be me. I believed that I had done the ‘right’ thing. I believed that NO CHILD deserved me as a mother! I believed that as a woman I was defective to the very core because, honestly, what kind of woman gives her baby away?

The very fact that I gave my son away
proved to me how much of a wretch I was. It was a good thing adoption rescued him from me.

The mirrors with jagged edges in the prison,
was the broken self-image I had. I viewed myself as repulsive, pathetic, and defective. I viewed myself as a failure. I hated myself for what I had done. Does this sound like good self esteem to you?

I guarantee you that I am not alone in this struggle of self worth
after the adoption. For 12 years I lived at the bottom of that downward spiraling staircase. I wandered through the mazes and ran into countless dead ends. It was maddening and as time went on, it was increasingly painful and became harder and harder to live without the child that I felt I was not even allowed to call “my son.”

When describing this prison earlier, there was one detail that I left out.
On the barricaded door, there was a placard etched with one small word. It simply read “CHILD.”

I wouldn’t allow anyone near The “child” door in my heart.
NO ONE was allowed near it. NO ONE was allowed to touch that door! I would not even allow myself to go near that door! I was not about to open it, nor was I going to let anyone else open it either. That's why I had all kinds of stuff barricading access to it. All those things were the distractions I used if anyone tried to approach it.

Once I started coming out of the adoption fog,
and started finding out the TRUTHs of adoption – it hurt even more.

Not only was I ‘defective’ as a mother, I was duped!
What kind of fool lets someone talk them out of keeping her own child? What kind of momma gives her baby to complete strangers so they can sell that child to other strangers?

It was humiliating to realize I was used like a worthless puppet.
It was not until 2006, just a few months before my son’s 13th birthday that I started uncovering these hidden truths of adoption that the industry didn’t want me to see. I clearly saw their motive was not to help keep families intact, but to make money by creating ‘new families.’ Their creation of ‘new families’ thru adoption can only be done by separation of original families. Their motive was simply greed.

As I was learning,
I was also making connections with other moms who had lost a child to adoption. As we shared our stories, and our struggles, we also helped each other find some healing. Together we talked about the industry. I realized that my adoption loss was not because I was weak or foolish or stupid.

The reality was that I was overtaken by professional con-artists.
They make it their business to know how to convince a woman who is struggling with a personal crisis, to make it seem that they care and convince her that she can and should trust them.

Most of the women in the group had other children.
These moms gently encouraged me to look at that “child” door of my heart.

Why did I not have other children?
There was a two part answer. The first part was because I felt like having other children would be betraying him, ESPECIALLY since I ended up marrying his original dad. The women in my group helped me realize that such a way of thinking was putting a burden on him. Most adoptees do not want to think of feel like they ruined the life of their original parent(s). If he were think that my only reason to not have other children was because of him, it could cause him to feel like he did ruin my life. I did not want to put such an unfair burden on him.

Through the group I also learned
that most adoptees enjoy finding original siblings. That many of them (even if initially they are a bit jealous) like finding people that look like them, or have similar interests or traits, and siblings just make them feel like they do have a connection in this world.

Once I knew about these things
and started finding out the adoptees point of view, I soon came to realize that having other children would not be betraying him. He might even like having a brother or sister.

That small bit of freedom,
combined with the learning, growing, and sharing with these women gave me courage to look inside. To be brave enough to question if what I had believed about own self as a mother for the past 12 years was even valid? or was it the adoption marketed brainwashing? 

This leads me to the second part of my reason I didn’t have other children.
It was rather simple. If I did have other children, this would mean that I am not incapable of being a mother. This would mean the perception of myself and of my ability as a mom, was skewed, and all the reasons I ‘chose’ adoption were false.

Coming to one sober conclusion … I lost my son to adoption based on a lie. Losing him was unnecessary.

For weeks and months I quietly pondered things.
As I came to understand things without the adoption rose colored glasses, I started to see how chained and bound I was by the myths, by the lies, by the untruths. Once I started seeing things for what they really were, I was able to unravel some of the chains. I was able to push them from my arms and let them fall to the ground with loud clangs and clattering sounds.

One summer while working in one of my clients gardens,
I finally decided that I’d at least like to try. That is my biggest regret with adoption – that I didn’t at least TRY to keep him. I’m not getting any younger while the biological clock is ticking.

After two years of thinking, pondering, weighing it all,
that was our conclusion. We would “try.” If nothing happened, it was not meant to be. If we did have a baby, I would love him/her with everything I’ve got.

And so that is where the word “freedom” comes in.
When I hear the word “freedom,” I picture myself inside this prison. I push aside all the garbage I piled in front of the child door. I thought I was protecting myself from going ‘in’ the child room, without realizing that the child door was the door to life, to the outside world, to freedom from so many of the adoption shackles.

When I hear the word “freedom,”
I pictured myself pushing that door open and the sunlight washed over my face and chased away the darkness as it spilled inside. I pictured myself taking those first few tenuous steps outside. I closed my eyes and turned my face toward the sun and felt it’s warmth. I breathed in the fresh clean air. I heard the sounds of nature around me and I stood a little straighter. I took a few steps toward the clearing in front of me, and paused to look back at the prison that I was in for too many years of my life.
I turned away from the prison and resolutely walked away confident, steady, and strong.

Summer of 2009 and the all the tests confirmed I was pregnant.
When I hear the word “freedom,” I picture myself walking from the prison and into the clearing. After years of being a captive to the adoption lies, I was finally free.

I was halfway across the clearing from the past
into what I thought would be the joys of motherhood. Suddenly the wind was knocked out of me and I felt a sharp pain rip between my spine and shoulder blade. My arms flew into the air as the impact from behind propelled me forward. I could see the tip of the spearhead projecting through the front of my chest as my knees buckled and I felt myself falling in slow-motion to the ground.

So that’s the mental picture that plays out in my mind
when I hear the word, “Freedom” – It’s the irony of escaping from prison only to be run through with a spear just a short distance into my new journey.

The stinging reality of their words sinks in
as I lay there helplessly on the ground. The blades of grass jagged into the side of my face and every gasp for breath was a struggle. I wrap my fingers through the blades of grasses and flowers of the field as I clenched my fists tightly. I was grasping -- clinging -- dying as the words pounded in my ears… “can’t find the baby’s heartbeat...” Reality that my unborn baby has died takes over, and with that I lose consciousness.

Sooo... THIS is freedom ???

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the donuts made me cry

Today was Fat Tuesday here. It has something to do with Lent, or some religious tradition that I don’t celebrate or follow, and the Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. I’m not entirely sure of the purpose of Fat Tuesday other than it marks the beginning of that tradition, and they use fat to fry the fastnachcts (which are like an old-fashioned heavier donut). Luckily I don’t have to observe lent to enjoy the fastnachts! For the first time ever, today I’m having a dilemma about Fat Tuesday. You see, it’s not the donut itself, causing the problem. It is the person who brings them in. About 8 years ago, I suggested to Cottonmouth [as I’ll refer to him in this post] to bring in the fastnachts, because he lived near a small bakery that made “the good kind.” He embraced this opportunity and has brought the fastnachts almost every year since then. But this year is different. I am still trying to figure out how to approach Cottonmouth about how deeply wounded I was, and still am, by his responses and lack of support to my loss last September. ( I can’t really go into all the details here in a public place, but it hurts to think about, and doesn’t help that my office is near his .) All I can say right now is that Cottonmouth is one of my ‘former friends’. He is among a handful of people who became invisible last year during that very dark time. He and they have been scratched off my friends list. This morning I was hungry as I drove into work, and my mouth watered as I thought about all those tasty fastnachts that would be there. However, my gut got all knotted up thinking about who I would be accepting them from. My preference was to refuse them, because I did not want ANYTHING from *him*. Yet, I wondered if I would even have the will power to resist the smell of them all day long? (I actually did resist and went to a store at lunchtime and bought my own.) Thinking about those stupid donuts on my way to work of course had me replaying the events as they unfolded last year. I felt isolated and so alone. So many people who claim to be my friends – where did they all go? They cowered in the comfort of their own safe little world. Cottonmouth not only knew about my son lost to adoption, but he knew how much I regret it, he knew me when I was suicidal because of the adoption, he knew how the agency scoffed at me when I needed help. He listened and agreed that adoption agencies only being in it for the money. He knew that adoption was like a strangling burden that I carried every day, and that it constantly gnawed at my soul. He knew how tormented I was at the thought of “trying again’ after all those years. In other words, he already saw and was keenly aware of the hurting side of me; the part that not many people in real life ever see. When the unthinkable happened last fall, his seeming apathy cut through me like a knife. By the time I got to work, I was in tears. My mind unintentionally went to the “should be” timetable…. Fat Tuesday, and there I sat, thin as a rail. But I shouldn’t be thin as a rail …I should be 7 months pregnant! I should be getting the nursery ready with baby clothes, blankets, crib, and diaper bag, all that stuff. Should be getting things in order, ya know. Instead I'm trying to keep it together. I’m trying to deal with the sadness that's become part of who I am lately. I guess I don't really deal with it, so much, I just let it win... I don't really even fight it. And all of this was triggered by donuts??? All these feelings and emotions and tears??? By donuts! How ridiculous!
Warning: Fastnaghts may trigger emotional meltdowns

Monday, February 1, 2010

so, just what IS it about Jazz Dance Class???

What is it about Jazz Dance?

This is my third year of taking adult jazz dance classes. We have a new instructor this year, and she is really great stuff. The choreography is very cool. By the same token it is also very challenging for me.

We did not grow up with the funds for anything extra, so I didn’t take any dance as a kid. The year after my son was born, I started taking middle eastern dance lessons. But they were private lessons for a small group of women in the instructor’s home.

Those were not ‘formal’ dance classes, but I had a lot of fun. They allowed me to participate in some shows throughout the year. I loved the music, I loved the costumes, I loved DANCE!

I loved how expressive dance can be!

I continued with that style of dance until 2001 when my Grammy became ill. Then the dance just lost its allure to me. I went to a big show during that time, and nothing at all interested me. I drove nearly 3 hours just to get there, and I didn’t buy a single thing that day -- not a costume, no accessory, not even a cd or pair of earrings.

When I first started Jazz, it was very confusing to hear all the technical French terms. I don’t know how to spell it, but at least I recognize most of what they’re telling me to do now. So this year our instructor is very challenging. Nothing is done predictable repeated groups of 4 or 8. No, there is something different for each count. So, a 16 count section is 16 different steps, movements, or poses.

The other gals in the class have had formal lessons growing up, and I am obviously the Sloooooowest one in the group. I do my best to write stuff down and to practice between classes so I don’t feel like a complete idiot the following week.

Class usually starts in September. But that was right around the time I lost the baby, and didn’t actually start class until October. That, of course, means that being the slowest in the group just got a whole lot harder since I was a month behind everyone else.

Two weeks into January, and I realized something. I realized that each Monday night I have to talk myself into going to dance. I have to make myself go. Most weeks I find myself near tears – or already crying by the time I get to the studio.

When I get there, I don’t seem to really enjoy myself much at all. Sometimes I am struggling to keep the tears at bay, other times I want to just walk out.

It was the same thing tonight. By the time I got to the parking lot outside the studio, I just sat in the truck and tried to stop crying. A few times during class I had to leave for a drink of water, because I was near tears.

What is it about this dance class that is so triggering to me?
Most of the time, I think the sadness is related to the baby, and I don’t know why?
Granted, it was an e motional year … dealing with losing the baby … dealing with strained friendships by those who were invisible and abandoned me during that time … … dealing with difficult situations with family … dealing with my little Spuddy Wuddy (Monster Paws) being sick and dying.
Granted it’s been a really, really, really rough couple of months. So, maybe it’s really EVERYTHING all together, and I just imagine it’s just from losing the baby.
But on my drive there, my thoughts are always on the baby, the pregnancy, and relationships after the loss. Why? Why is that?
Is it because I was hoping for a little girl?
Hoping maybe she’d be a little dancer? And she never will.
She’ll never have her hair pulled back in little pony tails and tied with ribbons.
She’ll never give one of those cute little grins for the camera while onstage.
She’ll never wear a cute little tutu for dance at night, then be digging in the dirt and turning over rocks and playing outside the next day.
She’ll never be.
She’s gone.
No life, no breath, no whispers – just gone before she even got here.
So, what is it really
about jazz dance class
that is just
so triggering
for me?