Here is our interview....
Q. Your blog is written very honestly and openly. You don't pull any punches, and touch on many taboo subjects in addition to being a birthmom, including race, religion, and drinking. Do you find that your approach touches or influences more people that way as opposed to some of the "fluffier, more fairy tale" like approaches that others take?
A. I've never been a fluffy person. I'm what some call a pessimist but I see myself as a realist. I don't think life is all sunshine and rainbows and therefore the various aspects of life aren't all sunshine and rainbows. I'm sure my attitude or tone turns some people off. I'm pretty sure that more people dislike me than like me. I'm ok with that. I stopped living my life for other people awhile ago (although from time to time I have to remind myself of that). I live for me and I blog for me. My blog is about getting my feelings out. If others find that entertaining or helpful or educational then awesome. If they comment and make me think about what i've said and it starts a discussion BONUS. If they don't then well, at least I got it out. And yes some of the topics I cover are taboo but I don't think maintaining taboos is healthy. I've been implicitly and explicitly hushed about race all my life. I've seen the secrecy that stems from the taboo surrounding adoption and how detrimental it can be. I don't want to be silent I want to talk and discuss and listen and think and maybe change my views and maybe be even stronger in them... And sometimes i just like seeing peoples reactions when I "dare" to speak about something they dont think I should be vocalizing. lol
Q. You have survived 8 years of being a first mom. Do you have any advice for those that are new to the journey?
A. Wow when you put it like that it sounds like such an accomplishment. I still feel like I'm so new to this and I'm still figuring it out. And maybe thats my advice, that it is something you have to constantly keep working on/figuring out like any relationship. Only more complicated. I know Jenna has gotten some flack for using the marriage analogy but I see the parallels so I'm going to borrow the comparison momentarily. In a marriage your relationship with your partner can influence and be influenced by the relationship you have with the in-laws in adoption the relationship you have with your child can be influenced by and influence the relationship you have with his/her parents the difference is that in a marriage you get to know the people over time before they become your spouse and in-laws in adoption they are these important people in your life and then you have to get to know them.
Q. Is your adoption as open as it you want it to be? If so, what do you think the secret is? If not, what do you think went wrong? Are you included as a regular part of their lives, and if so, has it always been that way?
A. No. I don't think anything necessarily went wrong. I knew next to nothing about adoption when I signed the papers and I knew even less of open adoption. I didn't know what I was allowed to do or say or ask for. How to go from the scared confused teenager who had been convinced I was completely unworthy of raising my son to asking for visits? I think we were all sailing in unchartered waters and I think we still are to some extent. I think we are as much a regular part of each others lives as we can be 3000 miles apart,although since i'm not with them on a day to day basis I can only speak for me. I have pictures around the house not only of Kidlet but also of his brother and his parents J&M. I mention them in passing by name and my friends/family know who I'm talking about (for example "I'm reading this book right now that M suggested" without having to explain who M is) M and I are facebook friends. We email and talk on the phone. I visit when I can. I've been getting better at sending cards/gifts for Kidlet and his brother. I wish I'd realized earlier that sending updates about my life was just as important to building a relationship as receiving updates but I didn't think they'd care what I was up to (again I was still unworthy in my mind). But I keep reminding myself that it's not too late and hope that I'm right about that.
Q. I noticed that you often mention things that "trigger" sadness over the adoption. Do you think that over the years it has gotten better, or do you find that more things bring those sad feelings on now?
A. It has gotten better in that I expect there to be some sadness and so when I feel that it's not debilitating, especially if it's something I see coming. For instance this weekend I was packing and came across some adoption paperwork. I was prepared to need to sit and sob and braced myself for that, but instead I was just sad. I looked through it, put it aside, and continued packing. No tears shed. However, watching The Duchess is another story.
Going back to the idea of being prepared for the sadness I'm reminded of Pauline Boss's work with ambiguous loss. I'm going to paraphrase so if I explain this wrong don't blame Boss. My interpretation of something she talks about is that suffering is inevitable. Not that people should resign themselves to being miserable, but that we need to re-define the goal. If my goal is to never be sad, to never miss Kidlet, to "just get over it" then I fail. That failure compounds my sadness and my grief is worse. If my goal is to handle the sadness as it comes. With tears instead of sobs. With a short break from my roommates instead of a day in bed. With some time spent with pictures of our last visit instead of dwelling on the distance between us. To move forward then I have a chance at meeting that goal.
Q. Like me, you have a strong annoyance with people who feel that firstmom's should "just get over it", whether it is said aloud, or implied. There is no getting over it...but have you found ways to lessen the daily impact on your life? Or does your adoption experience still influence everything in your life? Does it happen every day?A. Our society likes people to be happy. If grief occurs it must be over something society deems worthy of grief and it needs to be tied up in a short period of time. I think what gets me is that there is a daily impact the fact that Kidlet isn't part of my daily routine, that missing piece thats the impact. So I guess the answer is yes AND no. Yes the adoption influences everything in my life but no I don't spend everyday consciously thinking about how the adoption is influencing every aspect of my life. I think most of my sadness now is of the "Kidlet would have enjoyed this" variety especially as I watch my nieces experience things.
Q. I noticed you do a lot of posting with drinking references and then follow with some of my favorite insightful wisdom. I get like that after I drink wine...lol. Do you think the alcohol makes you think harder about all of it, or is it a comfort?
A. For me alcohol and adoption are connected in that it was one of the things I was told I'd be missing out on if I parented. I can't remember how many times the lack of "partying" was used to try to convince me to place. The thing was I wasn't a partier. When I got pregnant at 17 I hadn't had anything other than a sip of wine at Christmas. I didn't actually start drinking until I was 21 and even then I didn't like it. It wasn't until my mid-twenties that vodka and I became friends. It was sort of a well this is what I'm supposed to be doing so I might as well do it kind of thing at first but I found that Vodka allows me the courage to say things I need to say. Allows me to cry when I've been refusing to let the tears fall for days, weeks, or even months. The things I write while...shall we say tipsy aren't things I've never thought before, they are things I don't allow myself to vocalize while sober for various reasons AND they are things no one really wants to hear so I blog them.
Q. If you could do it all over again, would you still choose adoption?
A. Its going to sound like a cop out but honestly, this is one I can't answer. I know that if today I were to find myself pregnant I would not choose adoption. Despite being currently unemployed and on the verge of moving back into my parents house (yes this is my last week of freedom). Despite not being married and only 4 months into a relationship. Despite not being done with school. Despite the economy. Despite the stigma associated with public assistance. Despite all those things adoption would not be an option for me now. That said, I don't know what I'd do if I was re-living life as my 17/18 year old self. I know Kidlet has a good life. I know I love his parents. I know I would have been a high school graduate with only a part time minimum wage job. I also know that I would have had support from my family. At the time I thought I was on my own. I know I'm a ridiculously hard worker and even with a child I would have finished college even if it had taken longer.
My main wish is not to go back and undo the adoption. I wish I could go back and do more research. That I could have made my decision with more information. That I could actually know what types of questions to ask preplacement (especially about post placement contact). I don't feel I had enough information to make a decision and maybe with all the information my decision would have been the same but at least then it would have been an informed choice.