Monday, November 15, 2010

Adoptive Mamas' Club

If you have adopted a child--voila--you are automatically a lifetime member. I entered the club officially on May 12, 2007 when guardianship of a certain brown-eyed boy was signed into my name. And even though the law didn't recognize me as his parent until November 21, to say that he was not "mine" until then--well, them's just fightin' words.

There are all kinds in the AMC. All kinds of hows and whys. All kinds of whens and wheres. Sometimes we are united by our shared experiences, and sometimes even the common ground is not enough to forge a real bond. So we choose those who lift us up and we keep them close.

I have not struggled with infertility like the vast majority of adoptive mamas. There was no grieving process for me to wade through before I considered adoption. So I cannot fully relate to most of them on that level. I made the decision to adopt long before I was married and trying to become pregnant. However, I gained some understanding of that grief when I experienced my first miscarriage 8 days before the birth of my son. My grieving over the loss and my joy in adopting happened simultaneously; somewhat seperate, yet inevitably intertwined.

Just like in the general population, there are varying opinions of birthmothers/fathers in the adoptive community. It is nice to think that there are other people in the world who just might really know what it is to love the woman who gave you a miracle. It is nice to have someone else who understands the battle we fight to protect the birthmother's/father's name and our child's right to their own story. It is nice to stand beside others to declare to the world that birthmothers are not the sixteen-year-old druggies that you think they are. They are mothers, in every sense of that word.
On the other hand, it is disheartening to see an adoptive mom not fulfill the contact agreement-letters, pictures, phone calls, visits, etc.-because she can't be bothered, because "other" moms don't have to do that for their kids, or because contact somehow threatens her own motherhood. It is sickening to have to walk out of a room because you just heard an adoptive mom tell somebody that they don't send pictures anymore because, "It's been a year and we are just over that. We've moved on with our lives."

Before you adopt you think you know a lot more about adoption than you do after the fact. One day you wake up to find your sweet little baby is three and can understand when a stranger asks a probably-innocent-but-completely-inappropriate-not-to-mention-stupid question in front of them. Or a family member makes a comment about your "real kids". Or someone at church tells you how noble you are for adopting. It's then you realize that all those responses you thought you had prepared fly right out the window. And it's then that the only people you can hash it all out with are the AMC (after your husband of course). They are the ones that really get that yes, the little remarks matter, yes, our children notice and learn from how well and how quick we respond, and yes, what we really wanted to do was blow up in their face but that was not in the best interest of our child--you know, the one that we want to hide from the ignorance of the world because we've never loved anything like we love them. Yeah, that one.

The AMC is where you go to discuss birthparent gifts and lifebooks. It's where you go to talk lawyers and birth certificates. It's where people know just what a big deal finalization is and the relief of not having to officially document all that is parenting anymore. It's where we find inspiration and where we learn from those that have gone before so we can pass it on down the line. It's where we learn from others' mistakes and where it's okay to admit our own as we cry buckets of tears. It's where we ask questions that might sound bizarre to others and where we go to freak out because sometimes we need to do that. The AMC is all of these things and more. We're just a bunch of mothers trying to get it right, change the bad and the ugly, and love our babies like there's no tomorrow.

*A special thank you to the few people in my life who, having never lived it, get it anyway. I have dubbed you honorary members of my AMC.


Kyle and Janel said...

Lisa I really am so glad you shared all that! I miss talking with you and seeing you all the time! Love ya girl!

Sukey said...

Very insightful, Lisa. I shared this with several friends who have examined some of those same issues, so I can forward a heartfelt note of thanks for your shared thoughts in the posting.