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.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Why I concealed being a birthmother

 Why I do not open up about being a birth mother - an introspection

[While going through papers, I found these pages ripped out of a spiral notebook.  I have absoultely no idea when I wrote it.  It may have been around 2014.  Although I do not hide my 'status' anymore, it captures where I was at one point. It is part of my story, and I think it is still relevant.]

Why do I conceal instead of open up?

Because it is something about myself that I hate,

and I cannot change it


A substance abuser can change

and not be a substance abuser – “recovering / in recovery”

An abuser can change, stop abusing

no longer an abuser

A liar, thief, selfish

a liar can stop lying

a thief can stop stealing

a selfish person can stop being self-centered and learn to give

No Matter what I do or not do

I will never find

a way to cease being _____ a birth mother

 

There are people with disabilities that cannot be changed either

A person with dwarfism will always be a person of short stature

But the dwarf did not choose this– it happened without any decisions of his/her own

Not all disabilities or handicaps are from birth

Accidents may result in a person losing their sight, their limb(s), their ability to walk, talk, or even feed themselves

Perhaps they are permanently disfigured


 

I guess that’s it, this

Being a birth mother      is             an           emotional disability

So, this emotional disability – is internal, unseen from those who pass by.

We recognize the signs of physical disabilities:

a blind person uses a can or service dog,

a paraplegic is in a wheelchair

scars or deformities that are not covered with clothing

But emotional disabilities, signs of it are only seen by the very astute.

 

People with disabilities are often

labeled,

misunderstood,

ridiculed,

mocked,

marginalized,

scorned,

dismissed,

stereotyped, &

 judged.

So, why would I want to expose this handicap, this emotional disability to the reviling of others?

It would be like gathering tinder and sticks and arranging them around a past I’ve hoisted up, where they will surely burn me – not physically, but emotionally burn me at the stake.  (I can predict the reactions)

When you ask me to open up – this is what you ask me to do

 

I am who I am

Being a birth mother is something that has disfigured and painfully marred my life,

But I cannot change that

If I remove the veil so you can see the emotional scars

– can YOU be trusted with the burning torch in your hand?

 

I care too much, not about what people think about me, but about what they will say to me.

I did not make a “loving, selfless choice” as you believe

My son’s adoption was not a baby “saved from abortion”

It is not a “beautiful thing” or a “win-win”

[being told these things used to sting, but now they just make me angry because they are lies, lies, lies that people WANT to believe] 


NO! It has been two decades of excruciating pain and torment

 

And you want me to open up to your trite & stereotypical responses?!

 

BUT        I               Must.

I               Must      remove the veil

You        Must     see the reality of a disfigured & wounded soul

 

YOU MUST have this OPPORTUNITY to see a reality of this institution you esteem so highly

You

Must

Have

this

Opportunity

It will then be up to you


Whether you look quickly away

because it is not the picture of beauty you expect to see,

OR

Whether you look long enough to challenge your preconceived

& tightly held beliefs

and perhaps re-evaluate them

I've stopped

concealing 

that I am

a birth mother

so you can see

the UGLY  TRUTH

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Is Healing Possible


Is healing possible?

There are about 20 resources in my book nook relating to adoption (this does not include the eBook and many published research articles filed away).

  The first book I ever read in trying to help me cope with losing my son was “Silent Grief: Miscarriage – child loss finding your way through the darkness” by Clara Hinton.  I count this book as adoption related because it was an essential piece in trying to find equilibrium in life.  It validated so much of what I experienced through the adoption -- loss.  In its pages it vividly and accurately described the tremendous hurt and pain.  And yes, “the darkness” aptly describes where that pain took and left me.

  The other book that was just as essential to me was “Adoption Loss: The Hidden Grief” by Evelyn Burns Robinson.  Her book IS about the impact of adoption on the original mother (as well as on the adoptee).  This book too was validating, not only jut about the pain, but also that my story is no anomaly.  In addition to the grief and pain, this book discusses the pressure, deceit, manipulation, and coercion original mothers faced. 

  In 2001 I knew I needed help.  I was unraveling emotionally, and was struggling to keep it together.  I was unable to find any type of help from the agency.  I searched for a counselor.  Some said they worked with adoptees, but none had helped an original mother before.  Online I found forums, support groups, and books (especially lower priced used books). 

I started collecting books recommended books from my adoptee and original mom friends.  I was thumbing through my books recently, hoping to find a resource for a friend.  I pulled out “Adoption and Recovery: Solving the mystery of reunion” by Evelyn Burns Robinson.  Her first book was so impactful to me, I assumed that I had read her second book a long time ago, but as I read the first few pages, I realized I actually have NOT read it yet.


I am only on page 28 and so far I HIGHLY recommend this book!
Why? 

1.) Because it is written for those affected by “adoption separation” – both original parents/families and adoptees.
I.e.:  “for parents and children…there is a suffering that comes from living with the physical and emotional distance created by the adoption. … both … exist in a life situation where a very important person is missing.  No amount of occupational success or material comfort can compensate for that missing relationship.”  (p. 6)
And, on page seven, she addresses the reality that the loss the adoptee experiences is not acknowledged, recognized, or supported in most adoptive families.

2.) This book gives me hope that healing, or “recovery” as she describes it, is possible. 
Page 24 she discusses the goal of personal “adoption recovery work” is to understand what happened (including how and why) on both an intellectual and emotional level.  To “understand the events of your past better and to change how you think about what happened in your life.  Although you cannot change what has already happened, you can achieve a sense of control in the present and make choices in the future.
…If adoption has left us only with bitterness and sorrow, we have failed to grasp the opportunities which life has offered us through our adoption experiences.”   (emphasis mine)


Was this hope for healing in other books, and I just missed it?  
Was I hurting too much see it?  Did I not want to hear it? 
I tried.
I honestly and earnestly tried to figure out how to heal.
I found the validation, and acknowledgement.
I found support from other mothers and adoptees.
I found my voice and advocated for change.
I tried counseling and therapy several times.
But the wound, was always there – was always seeping – was always sore.
As I describe on my blog, it was as if I lived life enshrouded in an iron cloak.

I do recall some mothers say they experienced healing in reunion.  I cannot recall details of any conversation because I frankly did not believe it was possible – at least not possible for me.

But now . . . I am in reunion. 
Reunion with our son is still new, our first face to face was eleven months ago.  I am continuously amazed at how much it has changed me – dare I say brought healing to this old wound?  As we drove away from that first meeting, I felt content.  Days and weeks later, I still felt content. Our reunion has grown to several visits throughout the year, including visiting his home and he and his wife visiting ours. 

Is healing possible?
Yes.  (to clarify here that by healing, I do not necessarily mean it is a complete healing that removes any pain.  I still have issues and things that sting - but other things do not hurt to the point of crippling me.  I know in our reunion we will experience tough spots too.)  More than a year ago I would not have ventured to answer this question, because it was so unfathomable.

In the past 11 months I experienced the usual seasonal events -- Mother’s Day, his birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  However, in the past year I experienced without deep sadness, depression, or sorrow.

I am fully aware that things could change in our reunion and we may communicate or see each other less.  But I will ride the wave for as long as it lasts.

So the other question, is healing outside of reunion possible?  And I wonder if I had read this book several years ago, would it have helped me heal at least to the point of not being crippled?  I can only speculate, maybe it would/could have, but will truly never know.

Nor will I ever be able to answer if healing can exist outside of reunion. 
This book offers hope that it can.  So if you are struggling and are not in reunion, or are newly in reunion, give it a read.   If you care to, shoot some feedback and hopefully by then I’ll have the book finished myself.

I think this is an important topic that is open for discussion, and if you are willing, please share a comment about your own thoughts or experience about healing  -- aka “recovery”.

Is Healing Possible?

“Adoption and Recovery: Solving the mystery of reunion” by Evelyn Burns Robinson; 2004, Clova Publications; Christies Beach, South Australia

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Christmas - the season of dread


Today is January 25th – it is one month after Christmas.  I just finished putting away the Christmas stuff.  I have also done a lot of reflecting and comparing this Christmas of 2019 to last year and others prior.

I think the last I celebrated Christmas – celebrated; as in really threw myself into it and enjoyed the season, played the music, and happily bought or made gifts and wrapped presents, was probably 2007.  Each year since then had its own wave of “hard”. 

That first Christmas after my son was born was undeniably difficult.  The following first few years I was still completely under the adoption spell and in denial.  I still believed the lies of adoption, that he was “where he belonged” that he deserved better, that love was not enough, that I would have ruined him, etc. 

During the early years I still got pictures of him each January (semi-closed adoption, all communication sent and forwarded by disgusting unholy adoption agency, bethany non-christian services), and those pictures were my way to stay afloat, and perhaps helped keep me in denial.  
When they arrived it gave me what I felt like I needed to go another year until another batch of pictures would come in.  My way of coping was to push away any negative thoughts and focus only on the positives (how happy and healthy he looked in the pictures) – denial much?

By 2001 pictures were not arriving as previously.  Also, the pain did not “fade” as the coercive greedy adoption agency said it would.  Instead, it was getting more intense.  I was still in the fog and viewed adoption as “beautiful”, but I also felt like I needed a little help with coping, and I began to find on-line resources.  My getting to the point of “unraveling” was just a few years later when the depression began to creep in two months before his birthday in October.  It got heavier at Thanksgiving and the weeks leading up to Christmas got more oppressive each year. 

I developed a survival skill of avoidance.  It seemed to work the first few years when I just skipped out of church on the days of the children’s Christmas play and such events.  But then it mushroomed
to the point that I did not go to church the whole month of December, I refused to listen to any Christmas music, thus no radio, I got angry when seeing billboards or ads in the Sunday newspaper, I would not go to any Christmas type events, I completely stopped decorating, resisted there being a Christmas tree in the house, and I would not even open Christmas cards (unless they were from my online Cheerio family”-which was my only ray of light in those days).  I pretty much tried to pretend that Christmas did not exist.  It was not fun and I woke up each day wishing Christmas was over and it would be January already.

However, no matter how awful I felt or depressed I was, I consistently sent presents, cards, letters, and pictures to my son and his family.  I did my best to make the packages as festive as possible, and wished he would only feel the immense love I had for him and I hoped the heaviness I felt never bled through for him to feel. 

One tradition I accidentally started was sending a Christmas ornament each year.  The only requirement was that the ornament had two characters – symbolizing both of his original parents.  Part of the tradition was buying two ornaments; sending one to him and keeping the other for myself.  The first few years I enjoyed getting the ornaments out – in sequence, and as I hung them I would reminisce if there was a particular reason for that year’s ornament.  But it just got to be too painful being reminded of what was not.  I wrote about it here (click to open prior post.)  When I unpacked the Hallmark Ornaments to hang this year, I was surprised to realize that ornaments I kept for myself over the past seven years were purchased and put into storage unopened.   

But this year – Christmas of 2019 – this year was completely different. 
This year it was a very merry affair

I rekindled the old tradition of going out to get our live tree the day after Thanksgiving.
I pulled out all the Hallmark Ornaments and lined them up on the couch (in sequence by year, of course).  Mr. Cheerio plugged in the lights and wound them around the tree.  I asked him – to his utter surprise – to put on Christmas music several times before Christmas.  I opened the Christmas cards and hung them above a window.  I went shopping. Yes, I did.  I actually went to stores and walked around the Christmas sections without wincing (and I should have bought the shower curtain with gingerbread men on it!).  

The difference this year is that my son kicked off reunion back in March.  He went from occasional snail mail to regular contact via fb, text, e-mail, and phone calls.  Plus there were three more visits after our first face to face, and they (he and my favorite daughter-in-law) asked to visit us several days after Christmas.  They not only visited, but they stayed with us and we brought in the New Year together!

The Hallmark Ornament I picked for us this year is a heart shaped picture frame with “1st Christmas Together” inscribed on the side.  
The photo I put in the frame is one of the four of us on a hiking adventure during our last visit at their place.  I didn’t want to take down the tree this year because it felt so good to see and it just kept bringing more joy and happiness.

If you would have told me Christmas a year ago that I would feel content and celebrate, I would have given you an incredibly harsh scolding – and good chance I would have lost my temper with you too.  Even if I knew last December that our reunion would soon start, I would NEVER have predicted this precious and priceless blessing.  I have a wonderful and incredibly thoughtful son and sweet and loving daughter-in-law.  I think this year I have experienced a healing I have heard a few talk about, but never imagined for myself.