Thursday, December 9, 2010
If a Tree Falls in the Woods...
One of the most lingering silly questions in the world is "If a Tree Falls in the Woods, and No One is there to Hear it...Does it still make a sound?"
The answer, my friends, is yes.
But what in the world does this have to do with adoption? Actually...a lot.
Miscommunication happens all the time in life, and adoption is no exception. I recently read a great article on "listening and communicating" and it talked about how we, as human beings "hear something", then "think something" and then "say something" based on all that. Basically, we play the grapevine/telephone game all day, every day, because most of us (me especially) don't know how to effectively communicate. Learning this skill takes much practice, and lots of time...something I, on the wrong side of relinquishment papers, do not have the opportunity to correct. But what I want to do is share how I think my adoption story turned from a journey into a destination.
***This post is simply my processing my thoughts. It is NOT a BLAME POST. To say that L* and M* are wrong is to take no accountability for my own actions. To say that I was wrong gives them a free pass from their actions. All three of us screwed up when it came to communicating what we really wanted, and so if I want to point blame, I need to use at least three fingers...and I'm not interested in that. I just want to show where I think we all went wrong, and hope that somebody out there learns something from it. And doesn't make the same mistakes. Each of us has their own journey. M* and L* wanted a closed journey. I wanted an open one. Neither of us are wrong. We just simply crossed paths, wanting two seperate things and weren't able to communicate well enough to realize that until it was too late for it.***
In the beginning....I wanted a "closed adoption". Mind you...I knew NOTHING of adoption at the time. I thought it would simply involve picking out a nice couple to raise the child I was carrying, and both parties going back to their regular lives after it was finished. I didn't know that in order to have a closed adoption I should have walked in to an agency, have them pick someone, and then let them handle it. I didn't know that getting to know her parents beforehand would be so important to me, and then so heartbreaking when things shut down. I didn't know anything about any of it. Adoption was an abstract notion in my head...not something concrete that I had educated myself about. So after a meeting or two, I told L* and M* that we'd do an "open pregnancy and a closed adoption". And off to appointments we went. They went to everyone of them. They witnessed the delivery. L* held my leg back as Lauren made her appearance into the world, and M* cut the cord. They took her home, straight from the hospital. Happy storybook ending, as a family was finally created, and mine would be unphased.
That's the short version. In real life, they always told me they "were fine" with me wanting a closed adoption. When I decided in the seventh month that I wanted pictures and updates, they "were fine" with that as well. When I asked to do a visit, they "were fine" with that. As the end of the pregnancy drew nearer and nearer, I wanted more and more for future contact, but by then, the territorial lines were already being drawn, and I remember very clearly being extra careful in asking for anything regarding contact. Starting and ending almost every sentence with "Whatever you are comfortable with...". In pushing aside the "open adoption agreement" because they were good people and would keep me included.
Walking on eggshells, while Lauren was still in my womb.
Now you have to admit, that's almost funny. Knowing what I know now, of course. I didn't know at the time that I held power to do what I wanted. That I was the one technically in charge of how much contact we would have afterwards. That by being the one able to carry the child in the firstplace, I was the one who should have been making the rules. Power trips have never been my thing, and so when I had the chance to ride the ultimate one, I missed it. I followed their lead. I did not abuse my power in the situation and acted with compassion towards theirs. I wanted them to experience as much of the pregnancy as they wanted, and I didn't give enough thought to the life that would follow after it. When the "invisible power" that rules all of our lives made its shift from me to them. When it would be their turn to show compassion.
But those are all just details...let's go back to the big picture. When "THE" email recently showed up, there was a line in it that simply said, "When M* and I first looked into adoption, long before we met you, we never envisioned having a relationship with the birth family - so we were perfectly fine with the agreement you both suggested." That single sentence knocked my on my butt for more than a few days. There it was...in black and white. Regardless of any bonding I thought had occured during the pregnancy, regardless of how my feelings had changed as it had progressed, regardless of anything...she KNEW that she never wanted a relationship with me. From the beginning. Before she even met me, or saw Lauren on an ultrasound, or felt her kick, or anything...she KNEW that she wanted no relationship with the woman who would finally build her family when she could not. Even if it hadn't been me. No relationship at all.
Going back to my earlier comments on how we think, hear, and say things...this is where I think things got confusing. She THOUGHT, "I don't envision having a relationship with the birthfamily." (I could throw nasty comments in here for hours as to what else I think she may have thought...but I am still working on personal growth...lol). She HEARD me say at the first meeting, "I think I want a closed adoption" and she SAID, "Whatever you want...we are fine with that." And that was all she ever heard. Closed, closed, closed.
I, on the otherhand, as the pregancy progressed, THOUGHT, "Wow...this adoption thing is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I'm going to want pictures and some communication, and some type of relationship with these two great people." I HEARD, "Whatever you want...we are fine with that." thinking that there was room for future growth, and I SAID (walking on the single most important eggshells that I will ever encounter in my life, "Of course, as long as it works for you....I don't want to be a pain."
Miscommunication at it's finest.
So where do we go from here? The answer is nowhere.
The email was also full of great lines like "Despite not having any obligation to you after the adoption...", and "We're sincerely sorry if your feelings towards us have changed because we're not willing to have the adoption be as open as you would now like." That was upfront, black and white communication. No room for error or misinterpretation there. It means, quite simply, that this is now a dead end. That the power will sit where the power sits. That people will stand behind the law as a shield, despite the moral implications of it. That compassion is once and for all replaced for entitlement, and that I need to focus on other things.
But I will say this much, because I live it....
If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it...It not only makes a sound...It can kill the person standing under it.