I was watching Shameless with the hubs tonight. Have you seen this new Showtime show? It’s one of those guilty pleasure, complete trainwreck, I can’t believe they just did that, kind of shows. It’s about a family of six children, ranging in age from about two to about twenty, raising themselves because the dad, who is in and out of their lives, is a raging crazy alcoholic, and their mom left. The episode we watched tonight (recorded from last week I think) was living up to its trainwreck status. The dad won some lawsuit (he’s always suing someone – it’s a way to make money!) but needed his wife to be there as the co-plaintiff in order to receive the money. And so he tracked her down. Long story short, she showed up, came to the house with all the kids, and decided that she wanted to be in their lives again. Or more specifically, her lesbian girlfriend decided they wanted to take the baby, but not the rest of the kids, and the mom wanted to be a part of the rest of the kids’ lives as well. The older kids decided that their father, who is a complete wreck, was better than the mom because at least the dad stuck around.
I have to admit that I can be a crier while watching TV. Show me a sweet commercial or something slightly emotional on a show, and there will be a tear or two. The hubs loves to tease me about this – he can even tell when a show will cause me to cry. Normally it’s a little tear or two – that’s it. But as we’re watching this Shameless episode, I could feel the emotions build, to a point I couldn’t control. Suddenly I started crying uncontrollably, sobbing, couldn’t even breathe! I didn’t want to show my loss of control to the hubs, so I ran to the bathroom, and I ended up in a pile in the bathroom, sobbing for about twenty minutes. The hubs kept asking what was wrong, and I couldn’t speak. Finally I calmed down, and mumbled something about abandonment issues.
For those of you that don’t know me well, I was adopted when I was four, after many foster homes and homelessness. I’ve been seeing a therapist for awhile, and she talks to me often about my abandonment issues. But my reaction while watching Shameless was so much more than that.
I felt so bad for those kids in the show. They realized their mom left them, and then just wanted to come back in their lives and have everything be ok. That’s how I feel about my birth parents. Both of them would be in my lives, and act like they were my parents, if I would let them. But I can’t. Until the Shameless episode, I couldn’t really figure out why.
I was so angry at that mom on the show. She walked away from her children. She kept giving excuses, about not being able to handle it, and how crazy she was. But I don’t care – I was so angry! It didn’t make sense how angry and upset I got, and then I figured it out.
Sometime when I was crumbled in a ball on the floor in the bathroom, I realized – I’m so angry at my birth parents! They walked away from me! My whole life, when telling my adoption story, I told it like my adoptive parents told me - some cute little fairy tale about how my mom couldn't have children, and how my mom and dad fell in love with me when they saw me. I always glossed over the part about my birth parents abandoning me. But here I am, newly pregnant with a baby that I’ve worked so hard to get, and all I can think about is my birth parents walking away. Yes, they were drug addicts and alcoholics and homeless and my mother was bipolar, but they gave me up! I want to have a child so bad, I would give anything for a child, and they walked away from a four-year old girl – me.
So many people in my life have told me I should “just” adopt when I tell them about my infertility. It seems so natural, right? C’mon, I’m adopted myself! Besides all the normal responses, primarily because there’s no “just” about it, I’ve always had this gut reaction inside, something was screaming, “NO!” But I didn’t understand it. Now, during a silly trainwreck show, I figured it out.
I don’t think I can adopt because I’m so angry at those birth parents - all of the birth parents. I know I should be thinking about the adoptive parents who want those children, and the children who get better homes because of adoption (as I did!), but all I think about is those parents who walked away from those children. I have met so many wonderful adoptive mothers online, and I think it’s so wonderful that those ladies were able to complete your families through adoption, but when they say some things about the birth parents, it baffles me. They say, “The birth mother gave me such a gift.” And “Giving up her child took so much courage." And "How unselfish she must be to want her child in a better situation." And other wonderful things. But all I can think about is those mothers walking away from their babies. My therapist, who is infertile and adopted two babies, and sometimes works with birth mothers, say that many birth parents feel that they don’t have a choice. But they do – every person has a choice, in everything they do. I know there are situations when women truly don’t believe there is a choice – I can’t imagine raising a child if I was incredibly young, or it was a result of a rape, or something terrible like that. But when I became sexually active as a teenager, I decided that if I ever became pregnant, I would keep my baby, because for me, that was part of being responsibly sexually active.
I know I sound incredibly judgmental, and I apologize for this. I’m coming from a place of deep pain, and I hope you can understand this. These are the things that went through my head while sobbing, and I was so surprised at these strong emotions. I usually push these thoughts and feelings so far away. It took me so long to figure out why I have such a strong negative reaction when someone tells me I should adopt. And who knows if I will always feel this way. Perhaps with more therapy and working through these emotions, I could get to the place where I could adopt. But I don’t know how, as an infertile woman, I could walk up to a birth mother and not feel negative feelings about her. I know that by the time you’re having those conversations, you’re so motivated all you can think about is the child, and completing your family with that child. Maybe it would be easier if I wasn’t an adoptee. Maybe someday I would become motivated enough to only think about the child, I don’t know.
All I know is that right now, while I’m desperately trying to hold on to this little being inside me, I can’t imagine giving this little one up. And I can’t relate to or understand someone that would give up a baby, or a four-year old child.