I started this blog to help me start healing with the loss and grief surrounding adoption that hit me completely by surprise. To help me look directly at myself and write it all down...the good and the bad. It is not so that others can feel sorry for me, or that they can agree with me. It is strictly FOR ME to confess my sins and then deal with them here. It is my way of looking at myself in the mirror. I have never kept a journal in my life, but somehow this is freeing and comforting to me. It IS my therapy. It is my refuge, where I can throw all my love and my hate and my dedication and my confusion and then be done with it. But like therapy, I think it only works if you take it seriously and are honest with it. In dealing with my adoption journey, there is a very big chapter that I have left out of my story, and recent events are now forcing me to deal with it. So I come here, loving Blog...looking for clarity once more....
I have been reading a lot of blogs lately, and have heard the outrage that comes when people compare adoption to other things, such as death, or more importantly divorce. And it seems to me that there is always an outrage at that. People get angry at the comparision, and comment wars start, and it gets ugly quickly. Consider this my disclaimer now...I am going to make some of those comparisons, BECAUSE THIS IS MY BLOG, and it is where I need to go at this time. I am going to do this blog in two parts...one to give background to the story...and the second to show how it directly affected my adoption decision, and is educating me further on what's to come ahead on my adoption journey.
I have always lived my life in "chapters". I am like a chameleon, in that I assimilate into whatever is going on, and do not remember a life before it or worry about what is to come after it. I sink my entire soul into whatever chapter I am on, and do not linger heavily in the past, or worry too much about the future. My life keeps me busy enough that I don't have much time to worry about either. I am not one of those people who maintains constant contact with friends from 20 years ago. I do not have "roots". I like to relocate every few years. Being in one place too long is not good for me...my soul is that of a restless wanderer. And because of that, it takes an enormous amount of attention and focused dedication to maintain the relationships that are important in my life. And it takes a tremendous amount of acceptance and patience from those who need to love me. It is NOT something to be proud of, but at a very real level, it is who I am. There is a lot about me that is bad...that needs work...that is selfish and hateful. And there is a lot about me that is good too, especially the wisdom that comes with life experience.
"Chapter One" of my Adult Life started in 1996, 8 days after high school graduation, when I married my "high school sweetheart". Don't let the cutesy title fool you...I knew when I said "I do" that I really didn't, and being young and foolish, I assumed that it would be easy as pie to get a divorce when I was bored with it. (oh the ignorance of youth!) Not that there was or is anything wrong with him. In fact, he is actually a very nice guy. Midwestern, Christian, polite, a good Dad...just not the right person for me. He was active duty military and I was a Manager for a Big Box retailer, so we each worked 60-70 hours a week and rarely saw each other. We had a child in 1997, and while life was wonderful with her, things were no different with him. He was actually in Japan when she was born. For 2 years, I worked 18 hour days, and lived my own life. So did he. We were polar opposites, and the worst possible match that could have ever been made, but from our two sets of genes, we managed to make a miracle. Taryn was born, and since birth has been gorgeous as she is brillant. At age 2, she could carry on a full conversation with an adult. She is a rare, wonderful gift to this planet, full of beauty and light and wisdom well beyond her years. And yes, she is "my" child.
Whoa....wait a minute...3 (that I am raising) + 1 (that was placed in April) + 1 (That we are talking about right now)= 5 children that I fit the Webster's dictionary version of mother to. But I only parent three.
This is where it gets weird... In the current chapter of my life, it is easy for me to say I have three kids when I run into people at the grocery store, or when I am talking to someone new in passing. It is also a true fact, that in this current life, more people know that I placed a child for adoption than those who know I have a 12 year old child from my first marriage. That's strange right? Not really. Let me explain...
When I divorced from my ex, we sat Taryn down and discussed with her that her Dad and I were not going to live together anymore. We asked her who she wanted to live with. She chose NEITHER of us...instead choosing her "Nana", who was at this point basically her babysitter. (Granted, she was amazing, loved Taryn like no other, and will always be beyond special to me-no matter how far apart we have grown. She loves Taryn just as much as any of her biological grandchildren, if not more so) Who could blame Taryn for her reasoning? We both were gone all of the time. I was much more dedicated at the time to advancing my career than I was to spending time with my family. At that time, I didn't know what I was missing. I thought if I worked hard while she was young, that I would have more time in the future to enjoy her later when she was older and would remember more of our time together.
So at that time, I made a decision that I felt was in the best interest of my first born child. I was relocating to be closer to work, and she was going to be in Day Care a lot. 10-12 hours a day. So that she could be with the people she loved most, and was comfortable with, I made the somewhat controversial decision to allow my ex husband to have custody of her.
Our marriage was over long before it started, and even the arrival of Taryn did not change that. As time went on, and I grew more and more unhappy, I started thinking of ways out. I stayed far longer than I had wanted, because I knew that there were going to be issues regarding what was best for her. I did not do it to relieve myself of the responsibility of being her parent, any more so that I chose to do it so I could run off with "my new boyfriend" (who happens to now be my husband of ten years). I did it because right, wrong, or indifferent...I felt it was best for her. She would be with her beloved babysitter the same amount of time as usual, and I would be able to visit her as often as I wanted. My ex drove back to our parent's hometown every other weekend, so she would still be able to see all of her grandparents and other people with whom she was so close. She would have access to all of the wealth and resources that his family had, and I knew that she wouldn't want for anything. If I had taken her, she would have bounced from day care to day care and never seen any of her relatives or extended family, because time was not something I had an excess of, and I knew I wouldn't be taking her to see anyone. I didn't want her to miss out...so after what had already been months of careful contemplation, I signed over custody. I thought that things would be perfect. She would only be an hour and a half from me, and I would have access to see her whenever I wanted to. The divorce was clean, no fighting, no yelling, just two people moving on in different directions with their life. Nothing had occured that would make me think otherwise.
Shortly thereafter, my military ex decided to (completely out of the blue to me) elope with Nana's oldest daughter in Vegas and transfer to Texas. So much for her being close, and me having lots of visits...right?
When she was little, I tried hard to communicate with her as often as I could, but she was too young to really carry on a long distance relationship. As more time passed, in her mind S* (my ex's new wife) became her Mom, and I graduated to some long forgotten fairy tale. I would always think about her, and smile and cry, and hurt and ache, and ponder my decision. But even when it got overwhelming, I would stand firm that I made the right choice. As the years went on, and my other children were born, and her parents had another child, we seperated further and further from one another, until she had little to no memories of ever being with me full time. Those memories are forever etched into my soul, and forever erased from hers.
S* is a wonderful person, whom has loved Taryn as long as she has been alive. She has always been polite to me, and never openly hostile, and the two of them are a great fit for one another. They were together and married before I could even blink an eye, and long before my husband and I got married. So Taryn was whisked to TX for many years. The only ones that got to see her where their two sets of parents who flew there, and my mom if they happened to travel to the area. I did not have the resources to travel cross country to see her. Many years went by and a few relocations as well...North Carolina, California...anywhere but where I am. So needless to say, I can count on one hand the amount of times I have seen Taryn in the last ten years.
A lot of that is my fault. Actually Most of it, once you rule out their relocating. There have been several times when she has only been three or four hours away and I was invited to visit, and I didn't make it. Usually due to finances or car issues...funny how life always throws wrenches in the machine when its important. We go in spurts on phone calls, where we will call each other all the time, and then not call for a year. I keep up with her from stories my family tells me, and pictures I see online.
She is 12 now...growing up too fast. She is still far more intelligent than all those around her, and in some ways is my spitting image both in personality and physically. She is the super tall, thin one in a house of not so tall people. She is witty, funny, and very opinionated. She is being raised well, by people who love her, and by those she refers to as "her Mom and Dad". She gets perfect grades in school, does different types of dance classes with plenty of recitals, has my love for music, is always traveling everywhere, and is surrounded with nice homes, cars, and things.
I was right when it came to that part of the decision...when it comes to seeing relatives and having material possessions...she wants for nothing. And from the outside looking in, as I have done for the last ten years, her life appears perfect.
Do you see where I am going with this?