Friday, November 27, 2015

The Other Side of Adoption

Yes, I know I'm only the birth mother.  I realize my story is of less interest.  That I am much less important to the adoption story than the heroic and self sacrificing 'others.'  I understand that in the popular narrative, my role is to be 'brave and selfless' and place my baby into the hands of others more capable and competent than myself- and then go away, fade into the background, forever.  But I didn't go away forever.  I found my son, after 31 years of seeking him. just a brief year and a half ago.  Since that time, my life has become a roller-coaster of emotions.  I've long wanted to write about my reunion journey, knowing full well this is not the version of adoption that people will want to hear about.
A week ago, I spent my son's 33rd birthday with him.  I traveled to the city where he lives so that we could have our first official birthday celebration together, since the day of his birth.  He wanted to celebrate with his old and new family members and assembled an assorted crew that included his bio dad and myself, his bio dad's wife and daughter, and his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew.  Tossed together like some exotic mélange of Black and White, young and old, we formed a family of sorts, our commonality being our love for and deep devotion to my new found son.  As we sat in the restaurant he had chosen, and laughed, and joked, and shared stories, another family walked in.  Two White parents and two Black children.  I would not have noticed them, but my son pointed them out to me.  He asked me what I thought about that family.  I told him, they appeared to be a family formed by adoption and I did not think about adoption as I have previously thought.  A few days later, he asked me to expound on that statement.  We talked a good long while about the adoption process from my point of view.  A birth mother's point of view.  A Black birth mother's point of view. 
My own adoption experience has caused me to feel a very deep sense of betrayal.  My son did not have the life I thought adoption would afford him. The entire situation has left me feeling abused, abandoned, and misled.  Don't misunderstand.  Our reunion has been beautiful and wonderful.  I love the man that my son is, and I understand that the life he lived has made him thus, but it was a life I would not have chosen for him (did not choose for him).  Yes, I made the choice to give him up, and in doing so, gave up the rights to influence what kind of life he would have.  Even so, the popular narrative about adoption is a lie.  Birth mothers are only good and noble till they sign over their babies.  Then they immediately transform into drug addicted crack hoes whom their babies are better off without.  In the popular narrative, I'm the stupid, knocked up birth mother.  Having come back into my son's life, I'm not supposed to have an opinion, or feel anything but gratitude for the life he was given.  But I do have an opinion, and I do feel things other than gratitude. 

This journey has been equal parts sadness, joy, regret, and gratitude.  I love my son, with a deep yearning and longing that I lack the vocabulary to even describe.  I have endured his curiosity, his anger, his sorrow, and have now I think earned his love and respect.  When I tell him I love him at the end of our weekly calls, he now says it back.  I know there has been longing and yearning on his part as well.  He and his bio dad live in the same city and  see one another frequently.  My son has become a regular fixture in his bio dad's home. He is well loved by his bio dad's wife and daughter.  We have all tumbled together to become enmeshed in one anthers' lives.  It is good.  It is satisfying.  It is all that I hoped for and more.  But it does not erase the lies that adoption tells.

In this moment, I hate adoption.  I hate all that it stands for.  I hate the lies it tells about me, and I hate the lies it told my son.  I hate the lost years that I will never get back.  I hate the lost memories that will only be told to me in past tense stories.  I hate the lie that I did the right thing.  I don't know that.  I will never know if in fact I 'did the right thing.'  There is only what did occur and what I did do.  But I don't know that it what the RIGHT thing to do, or the BEST thing to do.  I had several choices.  I chose this.  I don't blame anyone else for the choice I made. But there was deceit in it. I bought into the propaganda that adoption would make everything okay.  I will never be okay again.  Along with what I've gained comes its close companion, what I have lost.  Knowing my son now, shows me in vivid detail, all that I have lost.  All that I have gained in no way makes up for what was lost.  I am left to sit here and mourn my losses silently, since all I should be expressing outwardly is my profound gratitude. I am grateful, but I have sorrow to match.
Moving forward is where my hope lies.  I look forward to knowing him, and creating our own memories.  He is my son, I am his mother. We begin there.