My son was born January 19, 1990. His placement was one of the first “Open Adoptions” in the state of Minnesota. “Open adoption” had a much different meaning then than it does today. I was able to choose his family from a pool of “applicants,” meet with them once before the placement and receive updates and pictures once a year throughout his childhood. This was all facilitated by and through the agency; we did not exchange last names or phone numbers.
I don’t really remember when I realized I was pregnant, but I know I wasn’t necessarily surprised. I was having unprotected sex: it was my own “fault.” And although I considered ending my pregnancy, I just didn’t feel that was a suitable choice for me. So, I got connected with a local social service agency (Catholic Charities) and started counseling. I wasn’t really religious, but they offered free individual and group counseling, and it was very helpful. I did a lot of journaling and exercises designed to help me think very in depth about parenting, and to look at another option: adoption. And as soon as the idea of adoption entered my mind I think I was already decided.
There were so many reasons I decided to place my son for adoption…. I know I wrote them all down in a journal over the course of my pregnancy. I almost wish I still had that journal… almost (the journal went with him when he was placed). But, for whatever the reasons, that was my choice.
I remember thinking about what kind of life I wanted for my child, what kind of parents. I remember reading lots of letters from potential parents, looking at files and pictures. But, mostly, I remember "D". He was everything I wanted in a father for my child; heck, he was everything I never had! His letter was … breathtaking. I now know the agency asked him years later if they could use his letter as an example for other potential adoptive parents: he declined, of which I am grateful. That letter was for me.
I had made my decision to place and who the parents were going to be by my eighth month of pregnancy, which actually made that last month the most wonderful of the whole experience. My mind was at ease – I knew what I was going to do. So, I tried to enjoy this amazing thing that was happening inside me. I sang to my baby, wrote and read him poetry, and loved him all the more, knowing my time was short.
Labor was so hard and painful. After I got to the hospital and they finally told me to push, I pushed and pushed and nothing was happening. After several more hours the decision was made to do a C-section, but all I remember is a lot of pain and some weird hallucinations. When I woke they brought me this beautiful, flush, warm fuzzy headed baby boy! He was marvelous! I named him Foster Cameron (which would cause no end to confusion at the foster home). Having had a C-section I had the good fortune of spending extra time in the hospital with him. I held him, and changed him, and, yes, I even had him suckle - just once. I still think our time together was amazing and healing for me, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. After 4 1/2 days, I left the hospital. I left first. This was very important: I needed to be the one walking away… For the remainder of the mandatory waiting period, he stayed at the foster home. I went to visit him three times, and also during this time I met with my chosen family – dad, mom and his soon to be new brother. His brother was four at the time, and also adopted. The most memorable moment during our meeting was when he told me, after seeing adad in tears that his dad cried a lot, but that they were often tears of joy!
When the mandatory 21 day waiting period was up, both the ffather and I signed the papers, separately. I felt confident in the choices I had made, and glad my son was going to be settling in with his new family. They renamed him a good Irish Catholic name, which ended up suiting him nicely. They sent me an update at 3, 6 and 9 months, and each year after until he was 10, when communications ceased, with my permission. As he approached age 18 he told his adad he wanted to get in touch with me, and I received a fat letter in the mail, just before his birthday, postmarked from the adoption agency. It contained so much… But mostly, it contained a phone number!
So, for the next 5 years, I started the process of learning who my son had grown up to be. We talked on the phone just a couple of times, texted and emailed more frequently. We finally met in person right after he turned 20 – it was marvelous and wonderful! It ended up being a 6 hour marathon visit with my son, adad, my husband and me. It ended up being the only time we ever met face to face… I live in Alaska, very far away, which made visits difficult. He asked to friend me on facebook a couple of years ago – which was such a great tool to learn about who he was and what his life was like. I am so proud of the man he grew into!
Then, July 1, 2013, he died, suddenly and unexpectedly, of natural causes. It’s so hard to even express the complexity of my emotions… I feel like I’ve lost him all over again… Because despite the fact that I chose adoption and was ultimately at ease with my decision, I grieved and grieved for the loss of my son… And, now I am doing it all over again.
The creation of this blog is a step in the healing process for me; a way to process through my grief and to document my story. To recognize and honor the relationship I was developing with my son and talk about the relationship I now have with his adoptive family.
I am so very grateful for the time we did have together. So grateful I had the opportunity to get to know who he was. And that he wanted to know who I was. But, I am so sad too…