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.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

you don't define me

There is a phrase from Barlow Girl’s song, “Mirror” that I keep replaying in my head. The song is about a girl who doesn’t like who she sees in the mirror and starts to starve herself to become thinner.  While the song has an important message to our young people (yes, both guys and gals) about self-image, that isn’t what I’ve been clinging to.

The phrase I keep replaying is “you don’t define me.”

Who or what defines us? 

There can be danger in who we allow to define us.

I think this is something someone who is in an abusive relationship probably struggles with. 

For me, as much as I hope for a reunion with my son – I cannot let that hope for something in the future define me today.  I cannot let him (my son) define me either.  He is who he is, somewhere distant and not inviting contact.  And I HAVE to be ok with that.

This has been on my mind for quite awhile, and I’m just now making the time to sit down and really focus on it – for myself.

It is hard, really really hard.  It is a decision I have to make.
I cannot let it define who I am today, right now.
And I will have to continually remind myself of this going forward.
Yes, I hope for contact, and will continue to hope.
But I cannot hold onto that hope so tightly that it defines me and what I do.

It is the same with shame.
That is what I see when I look in the mirror, shame.  When I hear or think about the words of this song, it is shame that I feel defines me, from the shame I am trying to break free. 

I have to define who I am.  I have to look myself square in the eyes and acknowledge it, and embrace who I am.  No side-stepping, no sugar coating, no wishful thinking, no consideration of turning back time. 

Perhaps this will be the way to start to not be so bound by the constant shame.
I think this is going to be much easier to write than to live by.

This you tube video shows several quotes at the end.  This is one of them,
"Other people’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.  -Les Brown”


Saturday, November 16, 2013

three years ago today

today - three years ago, I found you.

at the time I was shaking and so incredibly relieved.

today I know so much about you, but I still miss you terribly.
be well, my son. 
please don't stay away any longer than you have to.

Friday, October 25, 2013

burn it all

sometimes I wonder
it would have been better
found you

Ironically I found this graphic on a blog post about forgetting
finding you
another huge mistake
I've made
still lost

Saturday, September 28, 2013

his voice

his voice
i don't know why I do this to myself,
but I found more stuff online relating to  my son...
i found pics from around the time of his High School Graduation
(he is quite a handsome young man)
and there are some short video/pics of him at his xc events away at college...

just had to keep digging 
why didn't I just stop with the three new pictures?

- i don' tknow,
i guess it's like a little kid picking a scab?
i am so curious,
i am also very happy for him relating to good things in his life, to see him smiling and doing what he seems passionate about

i found a video of an xc event this month, and after the race, the person wandered around asking guys how they felt about their time.
and so,
19 years later

I finally get to hear the sound of his voice...from a stupid video!! 

not over the phone,
not skype,
not f2f,
but some stupid impersonal video...

it is so hard being on the outside.  

yeah, I know - I know,
patience patience patience

He is happy, he is healthy, he is in a good direction for life ...
yes, it brings both relief and genuine happiness for him

at the same time
i am tired of finding stuff about him
- it always leads me back to this place of more hurt from still missing him

i don't want to know "about him" - i just want a chance to get to know him

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

five years ago

Not really expecting any replies ...

I have been struggling a lot with depression lately.
Last Friday I was just so glum, even the forced smile was obviously fake.

I can't write about it now, but I lost my "little princess" my sweet little Pussy Willow early August.

Pussy Willow kitten n Cheerio

Not able to fall asleep or sleeping well.
I haven't even been sleeping in my own bedroom -- which has been "Willow World" for the past several years.  That was her room, her territory, her domain.  So going in there to sleep just isn't possible.

I think the sadness is combined with that event 5 years ago.  I didn't even tell my hubby when it was the anniversary - I just cried myself to sleep. 

Monday I called a friend and she let me talk about it.  Tuesday I was in a much much better place.

anyway, not an exciting post ... just reflecting, I guess


Friday, September 13, 2013

Where there are boundaries, there is safety?

My last blog post was end of May – over three months ago.  There have been so many situations since then I’ve wanted to blog about.   But as a full-time student working a full-time job, blogging time is very limited (to non-existent).  Perhaps it would be faster to record an audio file than it would be to type, which would allow me to share more of what is swirling around in my brain. 

The post in May was about my son’s high school graduation. It seems that the well is dry so often these days.  I was really hurting and originally posted because I was hoping for encouragement.  Instead I was caught off guard by the responses I got on FB. 

Now, let me make it clear that I am not upset with anyone who commented to that post.  I am just taking that discussion and blogging it, because I feel the subject of boundaries that surfaced is very important.  I have read MANY discussions about adoptive parents “setting boundaries” against the original parent(s).  But don’t recall boundaries being discussed between original mothers relating to our children when they are older. 

Healthy boundaries are different for every one of us, whether we are original parents, adoptees, or adoptive parents.  We all need to figure out our own healthy boundary lines – even with relationships having nothing to do with adoption.  Sometimes we move or change those boundaries as we grow personally.

So, back to the graduation thread …

Several responses had to do with the idea that I should “just go to his graduation.”  I tried to explain that around here, you don’t “just go” to a graduation.  Seating is limited and they give out tickets in advance.  You do not get in the door without a ticket.  Apparently not all High School Graduation ceremonies are like this across the country, but here it is not open to the public.

*Even with this information one response was that I could go to the graduation anyway and just sit out in the parking lot in my car. 

I know the woman who suggested this is hurting very much and gets very little information about her young son, and that makes me sad for her.  At the same time the suggestion was out of the question for me.  My own boundary is that I will not do anything to cause me to hide and duck from police/security.  Where is the honor in that? 

Think too for a few moments about the violence we’ve seen this past year on school grounds.  I imagine any one responsible for security would be more vigilant than ever to look for anything “out of place.” 

Imagine, had I gone, and was asked or leave or arrested, imagine if my son witnessed that?  He would be mortified!  Imagine if one of his classmates saw it – my son would be embarrassed.  Imagine if it would have ended up in the local paper!  None of those situations would bring about positive results.

*Another was asking that if I did go and sit out in the parking lot, wouldn’t it make me feel good just knowing he was in that building?

Quite frankly, no, it would not. If anything, it would have made me feel WORSE – knowing that he was in there and I was not invited, but excluded.

That was his big day.  I did not want to do anything to take the spotlight off him.  Knowing full well that his adoptive family is there, I did not want to do anything to put him in an awkward situation.  Even if deep inside he would have wanted to invite me, it would have likely caused too much turmoil for him. 

The reality is that I am second fiddle right now, and sitting in a parking lot would have only been a stark reminder of how incredibly true this is.

 *Another push-back I got was asking how showing up at his graduation would be different from going to any of his sporting events over the past two years.

Regular readers here know that we (my husband/his father and I) have gone to see our son at a few track/cross country events.  We went to the larger events that would have a larger crowd and each one was a public event.  There have been some events I found out about, such as one that was not sports related.  But I did not know if it was open to the public, therefore I did not go.

To me there is a very clear distinction between public and private space.  This is actually my first test to determine if something is within a healthy boundary or not.  I believe it is crucial to respect his private space.  He is not a seven year old boy, and I need to allow him to have privacy and I must respect his private space.   His adoptive parents do not “own” him and neither do I. 

*One last comment I want to mention was the input “But he has not told you to stay away.”

My thought on this is – Exactly!  Nor do I want to provoke him to the point that he would have to tell me to stay away.  I feel that I must weigh all of my actions carefully to avoid this kind of negative confrontation.

If I were to continue acting with the frame of mind “he didn’t tell me no” – and I do that over and over again.  If it finally gets to a point that he would actually tell me no, then I have already crossed one of his boundaries and it would then be much harder trying to repair the damage.

I hope that restraint will be worth something someday.  I have known his last name for almost three years.  In that time I have not been to his high school, his hometown, or driven by his home. 

All opportunities to watch at public events are over now as he went off to college last month – eight hours away in another state.  That will be his territory.  We won’t be able to watch, unless he opens the door and invites us into his space.

So those are my self-imposed boundaries.  I am not ashamed of any actions I have or have not taken.  I also think these boundaries keep us from falling into a stalker category.

Open for discussion, ideas, or thoughts. . . How did you approach finding healthy boundaries with your adult adopted son or daughter?


Wednesday, May 22, 2013


This needs to be a short post, as summer classes have started and I have a few chapters to read before class tomorrow night.

The past few months have had their ups and downs, with some down times being darker and valleys deeper.  I am thankful that I have a good network to lean on during those times.  It worries me that my son may not have such support.

It is hard to believe it was two and a half years ago that I ‘found’ my son.
I did not attempt direct contact until his 18th birthday last fall.

I have often used the analogy of a double paned window.  Until his 18th birthday both windows were closed, the ones on my side as well as the ones on his side.  When he turned 18 and I sent him our full names with contact information, it was as if I had opened the window on our side.

While that is great and fantastic, it isn’t the end of story.
It isn’t time for contact or reunion yet, because he needs to get to the place where he too opens the window on his side.

I have done what I can do, and the rest is up to him at this point.

BUT that does not mean I am in the clear.  I still need to be very careful with everything I do, because it will influence his willingness or resistance to opening that window.

This is his senior year of high school, and it has been wrought with incredibly painful milestones.  Each milestone is a wonderful celebration for him, his progress, his growth, and his accomplishments.  These steps he is taking as he is closing this chapter in his life before beginning a new one.  This is good.  He has worked hard and it is paying off.

At the same time, it is difficult to sit here still being an observer in the shadows as he approaches and then passes these milestones.

I remember co-workers showing off senior pictures of their son, or niece, or other relatives they’re proud of.  I enjoyed sharing in their joyful moments.  For my son, I was hopeful he or his parents would send a senior picture, but I should have known better.

Early this spring, he, and other classmates signed their intent to stay involved in athletics when going off to college.  You should see the big smile on his face in that picture!  He’s a tall kid and easy to pick out in the group.  But I see this from the still-closed window.  I know of his college plans from a newspaper article.

The Friday before Mother’s day was their Senior Prom.  But he didn’t excitedly (or nervously) tell me about it, instead I found the date and information on their class blog.  I have not been able to find any hints or clues of him going to the prom.  If he did, it is another milestone where he was most likely smiling and I’ve missed it.

In two weeks he will graduate from high school.  I know the date, place, and time the ceremonies will be held – thanks to the information online.  He should be proud.  Even though we won’t get invitations to the ceremony or a party, we are still proud, very proud of him.

This past weekend was the district track and field competition.  He did well in the league championships and was seeded to do well in his events for districts.  While Mr. Cheerio and I went to watch him run, it was such a difficult time realizing that this was his last track event of the school year; therefore it was my last chance to see him until – until who knows when. 

 Back to the window analogy; not only has his side of the window remained closed, now the curtain has shut.

I am left here in darkness and silence.
There is no future date to look forward to anymore.
No more glimpses at running events.  No more news articles with pieces of information.  No more online pictures.
What do I do to recover now?


(sounds like another post for another day)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The power of being a Birth Mother

This is a very personal thread today. 

I want to show the progression of change since the last time I saw my son, 19 years ago.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and these three say it all.

This is a picture of me just after the adoption was finalized.

This is a collage of pictures of me during my son’s childhood years.

This is another collection of random pictures of me as my son was maturing into a teenager.  He is now 18 and a legal adult.  Included below is a shot around his 18th birthay when I sent him our names and contact information.

What did you notice about me throughout this journey?
What you couldn't see me in the pictures?!?!  I am there, it's just that, well, I am invisible.

1st pic of Invisible Me -- Once the adoption was finalized, the adoption agency was not concerned about me anymore.  They got what they wanted, a fresh womb-wet white healthy baby to sell.

2nd pic of Invisible Me --The aparents sent me pictures until he started kindergarten, and then I became invisible to them too.

3rd pic of Invisible Me -- My son is now a teenager and old enough to contact us when he is ‘ready’ for contact, but right now I am invisible to him too.

STOP with the marketed brainwashing rhetoric that birthmothers are brave
Or that they are heroic
Or  that they are making a selfless choice

Just stop – it is a bunch of lies made up by people who want to make money from legally selling babies – callously severing the sacred mother/child bond to fatten their wallet
We were vulnerable and exploited, so cut the pretty words and use the real ones

If you are considering adoption for your baby – be prepared for a life of being invisible.
Once you let go of your baby you will become invisible and powerless.  You are no longer necessary and you won’t matter anymore.  80% of open adoptions close - you really want to take a risk like that?  Let me guess, your social worker didn't mention adoptions closing?

The being invisible --
It stings when it comes from the agency. You blame yourself for believing them, even though they were so convincing and painted such beautiful pictures.  Being masters of deception it seemed they genuinely cared about you. How were you supposed to know they would drop you like a dirty diaper?

It hurts when the betrayal comes from your child’s aparents.  How could they?  We trusted them with our own flesh and blood – how could they          fill in the blank because it’s all happened.  With semi-open promises of updates and pictures that are no longer sent.  Perhaps, it is e-mails in a more open agreement that stop or go unanswered.  Maybe they’ve moved away, leaving you no forwarding address or information.  How could they?  The answer is simple – because we are invisible to them.

All of that is much easier to bear than when it’s from your own son / your own daughter.  I know it has only been a few months and he “needs time.”  I just can’t shove off the feelings of being invisible, insignificant, and worthless. 

Only he can decide if/when he wants to make contact.  And I have no guarantee that he ever will – none of us do. 
Will I be invisible in the casket too?

If you are considering adoption for you baby – it is nothing like you imagine.  All the doubts you’ve stuffed while listening to the sweet social worker, all the questions you refused to ponder. They’ll come back to visit you again and again, whether awake or in your dreams.  They'll haunt you.

So, if you are considering adoption for your baby, the day you let go of him or her you may as well walk to the nearest toilet and flush your self worth – because that is what adoption will do to it anyway.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ornaments, Traditions, and New Year's wishes

Eighteen years ago when I sent a package for my son’s first Christmas, I included a keepsake ornament.  I bought two that year and it became a tradition each Christmas I would buy two ornaments, sending one and keeping the other.  There was only one requirement when selecting the perfect ornament – it had to have at least two characters (symbolizing both of his original parents).

This is a picture of that first ornament. 

Such detail and it captures the complete opposite of what happened that first year, Baby’s 1st Christmas.  Instead of him sleeping all snuggled in his crib while his daddy and look on in awe, wonder, and love – he is sleeping in some other crib and I am miles apart unable to sleep, tormented, and bawling my eyes out every night.

If the New Year could bring wishes, I wish everyone that thinks adoption is beautiful could see me now.  Not just see me with their naked eyeball, but to see me with their eyes closed, to sense and feel what I feel right now.  Do you imagine serenity and peacefulness like a freshly fallen snow?

It is January 8th.  Another Christmas has come and gone. 

Christmas is just such a painful time.  For others it may be a time for celebration, but for me it is a time of intense and deep sadness without my son.  I hate Christmas.  I hate decorating.  I hate getting the ornaments out.  Putting them away is even harder. 

I am at home by myself as I begin to take the ornaments off the tree.  The ornament boxes are laying out on the couch – in chronological order by year, waiting for me to put everything back into storage for another year. 

As usual I begin taking down each ornament, beginning with the current year and work back in time, until they are all carefully put it back in their boxes.  This year it is more painful than most.  I found myself pondering each ornament and thinking about why that ornament was selected.  I wondered if what he thought of it (if he even got it at all).  It stings.  Each ornament hurt more than the prior one so I quickly removed them all at once from the tree. 

Every ornament symbolizes a year of separation – not just a separation of measured distance or periods marked by the calendar, but a separation of our relationship growing further and further apart.  I don’t know if or when that separation will ever come to an end.

My heart is crushed and pained at how much I miss him, pierced to know I’ve wounded him. 
Once again, this is all there is ‘of’ my son.

Lifeless eyes painted on cold unmoving plastic, and silence.

 If the New Year could bring wishes
I wish everyone could see this adoption pain