Wednesday, March 23, 2011


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.


  1. I'm here with you, holding space for your pain and grief. I've never walked in your shoes, but I think I understand everything you are saying. I don't know how to say this strongly enough: You're response is valid.

    You don't sound judgmental to me. I absolutely see your point of view, and it is, in fact, on of the things that holds me back from adoption--the trauma of abandonment that must be there on some level for all adoptees. I don't know if anything can take that trauma away, and I'm not sure how I feel about participating in it as an adoptive parent.

    Not that I think adoption is morally wrong. It's just that the more I learn about the complexities on all sides of the adoption triad, the more committed I feel to doing everything I can to have biological children before turning to adoption.

    Sorry, I didn't mean to make this about me, but you brought up issues that have been on my mind lately. Really, I just want you to know that I hear you. I hear your pain. (((Hugs)))

  2. Oh you are coming from such a painful place! Those are your experiences and it has made you who you are. You were four, plenty old enough to understand :( I am so sorry you had to go through that. I don't have a lot of experience with this but I can totally understand you not knowing how they could walk away. Take care xxoo

  3. Oh, Alex, I am really sorry all this pain that you carry in you.
    I get your point of view, very much so. And, I thank you for sharing it with us. Adoption is complex for everyone involved, and especially if the child was old enough to remember, as you were. I would be very angry and resentful too. But I guess, and I hope you don't mind me saying, you will not be free until you've forgiven your birth parents - something which I know takes a lot of time and energy.

    As you probably know people put their kids up for adoption for all sorts of reasons. Regardless of the fact that you and me don't agree with the line of thinking that leads someone to abandon their child, these people think that's the right decision for them at that particular time, under those particular circumstances.

    I do hope that you get to work through these issues, because I believe that resolving them will be nothing but beneficial to you.


    Now I'm off to read the post titled "Heartbeat", which I see you've uploaded as well. :D

  4. (((Hugs))) I can't imagine how that would feel but I don't find it judgmental. It is apart of your history and your experience. Personally as I am going through the process, they are always talking about honoring the birth mother, respecting the birth mother. On the other hand, we are asked how much drug use in the birth mother is acceptable to us, how much alcohol use is acceptable, etc. I appreciate getting her child. I don't agree with the decisions she made getting to where she is actually giving away her child because if I could get pregnant I would never ever make the same decision. I think it is a fine line.

  5. First of all, many congratulations on seeing your little one's heartbeat! I am so happy for you. I had an SCH also and it resolved on its own after a while without any problems past the first bleeding incident. I will be praying for the same for you!

    As for this post, I obviously can't understand your pain since I have never experienced it, but when people told me to "just adopt" I experienced a deep feeling like I couldn't and I think a lot of it had to do with my difficulty understanding the birth mother's situation. I think with time I could have moved past that, but it was very confusing for me. I can't imagine as an adoptee how much more difficult that would be for you. Thinking of you and sending hugs and comfort, Alex.

  6. Thanks for sharing this post, Alex. I know I can never truly understand what you're feeling, but this post helps a lot. I imagine it might have helped you to write it too. I hate to sound all therapisty (since I'm not at all qualified), but it seems to me that really recognizing your anger is a good thing. You get it out there. You're able to look at it and think about why you're feeling that way. And maybe accept that that's the way you feel. Of course, all easy for me to say....maybe hard to do. And I can totally understand how that affects your thoughts about adopting. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Adoption isn't the answer for everybody - and probably for a whole bunch of different reasons. This just happens to be your reason. Take care! Thinking of you.

  7. Alex- I am sorry you had this breakdown, but I think it was more of a breakthrough! Even if it feels rotten right now, this is going to be so helpful for you to process with your therapist! As you know, I am adopting, and I do understand what you mean about wondering about the birth mom's situation. The problem is we are coming from the IF camp where someone would NEVER give up a baby. These birth moms often see the alternatives as abortion or adoption. And thank goodness your mom or another mom didn't make that choice. (And I am pro-choice and saying that...) I don't understand why they can't make it work, but I can say as a children/family thearpist, I saw many families where the parents were bipolar/ drug addicts/ batshit crazy- and I realized it was the wrong decision to keep a child. I hope that doesn't offend you... but you wouldn't be the Alex you are now if they had raised you. Parents play a big role in shaping our personalities and so much more. And I see so much child abuse happen in these situations- physical/ sexual/ emotional/ neglect- that I can't say I could ever want to expose a child to a situation where that might be the possibility just to remain with blood relatives. (Not to say all cases are like that, just the ones I saw.) Some people don't have them it in them to parent, and in trying to do so, they cause children pain.

    That all being said, you have EVERY RIGHT to your anger. EVERY RIGHT. And your situation was different- you expereienced abandonment and neglect at the age of 4. That is a trauma. And yes, a choice your mom made. I hope that processing this information will help you in your new role as a mommy. I think it's a GREAT thing!

  8. This was such a well-written post! I am impressed that you were able to express your feelings so eloquently when these thoughts are clearly so new, and such a breakthrough. And thanks for sharing-- hearing about all of this makes me admire you even more than ever.

    I wonder how you would feel if your birth parents had put you up for adoption at birth. Do you think the abandonment issues would be less? If your birth mom went through the pregnancy with a conscious knowledge that parenthood was not right for her, and with the plan to entrust you to the care of a good family? To me, that seems a lot more responsible and potentially even noble than the crummy decision to give up a child who has already bonded to you as its parent.

  9. I absolutely love Shameless. To me, this show is the best example of "reality tv" that has yet to air. I, too, had issues with that episode (wait til you see the one from this week! prepare for another sob, this time courtesy of Ian and Lip), not so much the abandonment issues, but wanting to chop that mother's head off, for being able to walk away from her kids like that. Though you could tell, she was experiencing some pain, anyone who can just up and leave their kids not once, but twice... should be shot on sight!

    hugs coming your way... now I know everytime I watch the show, I'll be thinking of you!

  10. The feelings that you have are valid and real and you should not feel judgmental. You lived a hell like no other. I often times feel very angry at my mother for her abandonment of me and my siblings (time and time again) and there were always excuses...but the bottom line is that a child wants their mother. Regardless of the situation (most times). Those are my fears about adopting, too. You've read my posts on that topic. It scares me because I sort of know how it feels to be in that situation. All I ever wanted was my "real" mother...whether she was sober or not, had money or not...I just wanted my mom. I fear that an adopted child might feel that way, too and I just don't know if I could handle it.

    I think you have made major progress here. Realizing these feelings can hopefully help you deal with them and maybe, in time, move on from them and let go of the anger. I'm not suggesting that it's I said, I'm still angry at my mother a lot of the time. It has helped that I have slowly started to just accept what happened....not neccessarily forgiven her, but accepted that she is who she is.

    Sorry for rambling...I can't imagine the conflict you are in right now, but I hope that you can begin a new chapter heading towards better motherhood. :-)


  11. *hugs* It doesn't come across as judgmental to me -- I think it's a very reasonable, albeit painful, reaction to not just being adopted, but also being infertile. Either one could trigger those sorts of anger emotions and I suspect the combo is an extra whammy.

  12. Oh sweetie, I wish I could give you a hug. I think attachment issues are very complex. With you, you are so lucky to have your loving family (not that I have to tell you that), but I think you cant disregard the first 4 years of your life. I imagine this is something that most children of adoption go through, but possibly more complicated in this case b/c you were not adopted as a baby.
    Also, now pregnant, you are preparing for your own baby and family so I think that just makes it even more messy.
    I am amazed by you for your openness and your willingness to share and work through these issues.
    thinking of you...
    P.S. We are watching Shameless- E loves it!!!!

  13. Alex,
    I'm so sorry about the pain you are feeling, but I think it's a good thing that you are letting yourself feel it.

    I can't pretend to really understand the complexity of the emotions you are feeling, as I've never been through anything like that. In deciding to adopt ourselves, DH and I realized that a big part of adoption is loss. Loss for the child and for the birth parents. uge irreplaceble losses. There really isn't anything simple about it. I certainly can't imagine giving up a child now, but I also know I wouldn't have been the best parent at 16 or 17 or 18.

    I hope this breakthrough helps you move forward in processing your feelings. Thinking of you.

    P.S. Yay for that tiny heartbeat!! :-)

  14. I'm so sorry about your pain, Alex, but thanks for sharing it with us, and I hope it helps you progress through your feelings.

    PS: I'm a crier, too, and my husband teases me about it, too.

  15. (((BIG HUGS))))
    Everyone else has made some really good points, and covered what I was going to say. But, please know that I am thinking of you and I know that you're going to be an amazing mom to your little one.

  16. first.Thank you for sharing what you are going though. It must have been very painful going through being adopted and now...having all those memories come up while watching that crazy show. I have been addicted to that show too. I also had an angry feeling watching that show..those parents are so selfish...they have no idea how good they have it with all those children. The emotion at the end made me cry pretty hard too:(
    I am thinking of you:( Have you ever written a letter to your parents? Not sending it..but writing it. This must be so hard.:(

  17. This was really so beautiful. I feel like you've communicated what you're feeling so well. And, to me, it feels like you've had an incredible breakthrough in understanding something about yourself and how you feel about your baby and your life. And, I think it is completely understandable.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  18. I haven't watched this, and probably shouldn't, for all of the reasons you've outlined. I do find myself though, despite that opinion, drawn to shows like this, or intervention, or hoarders, because it reminds me of what I've been through and come from. Why I watch, I have no idea because I end up frustrated in the same ways, annoyed like I always am, and it always touches someplace deep and sad. I'm sorry you've went through those things, and I think its human nature to put the best face on the parts of our stories that aren't positive; sometimes I do that because I don't want to admit that happened, other times because I'm still embarrassed and think I in some way contributed to the mess that was my early life.

    And like you, I'm just not considering adoption as an option. It may be for other people, but just not for me, and it probably has to do with many of the reasons you've mentioned here as well.

    Thanks for writing this-it's very raw and truthful. I hope that getting it out there has helped.

  19. Hi, my name is Julie and I'm 41, going to be 42 in June. I just became re-united with my birth mother. She lives in Texas, I live in Michigan. She is very independent and strong and has suffered MAJOR trauma and loss in her life. Our reunion was sweet at first, but I found myself becoming angry as time went on (and we're only taking since January) I found myself making comments to her that I knew would be hurtful....I don't know why..but I wear my heart on my sleeve and she does not. I basically have taken all the joy out of the runion for her, so she says. I feel like I am walking on egg shells with her..she has already told me once not to contact her ever again. We're past that now...she has never been rude or mean to me but I feel like I have to impress her. I am really struggling with this as my adoptive parents are SUCH good people....I think I was testing her to see if she would "leave me again". I don't know, I'm very confused and sad, although some of the heart ache has been removed. Any thoughts?