I’M Not Giving Up On Her

It’s been months since I’ve heard from birthdad…

He moved hundreds of miles away last summer for work.
We stayed in touch for a while, texting multiple days a week.

Then around my birthday, he just stopped communication..

I kept trying to check on him, but it was hard when I got nothing back and knew nothing about what was going on. He’d never just disappeared without a reason like this before.

Thanksgiving passed and I still hadn’t heard from him. It had been almost three weeks by that point, so I chose to stop reaching out.

It came time to start planning the next visit with our daughter, which I had been delaying in hopes that I’d hear from him – which didn’t happen. So I went ahead and emailed adoptive parents, telling them that I hadn’t heard from him for weeks now but I was still including him, just in case.

About a month after I’d stopped reaching out to him, I drafted an email on Christmas Eve. But I knew I couldn’t hit send immediately. I sat on it for about 36 hours. I read it, rewrote a few things, read it again, and finally hit send.

New Years came and went, still no word from birthdad.
The visit got delayed first due to major snow we got, and then delayed again because I tested positive for covid.

When we did finally make it to our visit, I was able to find a small silver lining to birthdad being absent – we’d had to reschedule twice, and that might not have been possible if he’d flown in from where he moved to.

When I had a moment alone with adoptive dad during lunch, I asked if they’d heard from birthdad. He said they’d reached out and hadn’t heard anything back. I told him about the email I’d sent a month prior giving birthdad six months before I stop including him on visit emails. I wanted to tell him for honesty sake, what I’d done, but I still nervous about how adoptive dad would react to what I’d chosen to do.

To my surprise, but also not surprising at all, adoptive dad was totally supportive of what I’d done.

That may partially have been because I told him I would never speak ill of birthdad to them or to our daughter. I will always encourage him to have a relationship with our daughter if he comes back into the picture. If adoptive parents want to invite him to a visit if he’s in town, I’m open to us being there together.

My decision to give six months had nothing to do with birthdad, and everything to do with me. I knew that I wouldn’t be okay sending planning emails every six months and never knowing if he would respond or show up at our visits. I knew I had to let go of him and to to start walking away for myself.

Now that we’re over four months into the six I gave, it’s gotten a lot easier for me to talk about him being m.i.a. I still have no clue what’s happened to him though.

I don’t know if he’s okay.

I don’t know if he started dating someone new and doesn’t want to bring up the complicated past with me and the fact that he has a kid he has no rights to because we made an adoption for her.

I don’t know if he’s just busy with work.

I don’t know if he got covid and had crazy complications.

I don’t know if he was in an accident and wound up in a coma.

I honestly don’t even know if he’s alive or dead.

For weeks, my worry about what happened to him was all-consuming. I knew that I couldn’t change the situation, no matter what I wanted, so eventually I had to put his absence in a metaphorical box in the corner and ignore it.

It hasn’t been easy to move on not knowing what happened to him or what’s going on, but something my therapist had me do really made a difference. They had me write a “goodbye letter” to birthdad. I had to put into words why I was letting go, and force/allow myself to remember the good things from all the years he and I knew each other. Remembering the good doesn’t negate the struggle I’m facing because of his absence, but it reminded me that the good memories still exist even if he doesn’t come back into the picture.

So, I don’t know if I’ll be disappointed on Mother’s Day that he’s still out of contact, or if I’ll be grappling with his return. But that’s when I will officially stop hoping he comes out from whatever hole he’s been in for months – even though I’m kind of already there. I’ve had two visits with my daughter without him and planning them was always my thing even when he was around, so not a whole lot will change anyway.

Isolation

Isolation: the process or fact of isolating or being isolated
Isolate: cause (a person or place) to be or remain alone or apart from others

Loneliness: sadness because one has no friends or company

Solitude: the state or situation of being alone

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Isolation and solitude can seem rather similar, but (to me at least) one is more of a forced thing and the other is voluntary.

No one I know really enjoys isolation, but there are plenty of people who enjoy their solitude.

Isolation is when you are intentionally moved away from people or left out of things going on.
Solitude is when your introvert battery is low and you choose to be alone to recharge.

It’s Been Twenty Years

So many people in my life remember where they were and/or what they were doing when they heard about the planes hitting the first World Trade Center tower. 

I don’t remember, and sometimes that makes me feel like I’m somehow less than. 

But I was only 8. I was in 3rd grade. I had no family in New York, or at the Pentagon. It had no direct impact on the safety of the people in my daily life. 

Thousands of lives were lost. 

People decided to stop for coffee, so they weren’t in the building when they usually would have been. 

Parents stayed home because their child was sick. 

Some slept through alarms and didn’t wake up until after the first plane hit. 

Innocent people on planes that were hijacked lost their lives. 

Flight attendants who should’ve been on the flight that hit the second tower weren’t because they’d worked an extra trip the day before. 

Just because I was young and don’t have detailed memories of where I was when the news broke doesn’t mean I don’t know the gravity of that day and what it meant for us. A date that will live in infamy that showed us the brevity of life. 

I know September 11th was a tragic day in our nation. 

Kids lost parents. 

Parents lost kids. 

The military lost soldiers, sailors, marines, coast guardsmen, airmen. 

Companies lost employees. 

It changed a lot of things here in our country. And through the world. 

Total Shock & Awe

I got off my monthly Bethany birthmom group call and took my coffee mug back downstairs. I had a piece of mail from BraveLove on the table, and dad asked what BraveLove is.

I didn’t know what to say. He’s never really been one to want to know about my adoption. So I said I wasn’t sure how to tell him cause it’s a difficult subject. It’s a birthmom education group.

There was a discussion about how he didn’t want to know anything about my adoption in the beginning. He admitted that was true. He was glad I didn’t have an abortion, but he was distressed I “gave it away”. I was somewhat offended and said “‘it’ is a girl”. I didn’t go into the whole “I didn’t give her away I placed her” correction, but maybe another day. Somewhere in the future.

I figure since we’d already blown open the adoption doors, I told him I would be getting off early next Friday and getting in a Zoom with my adoption agency to speak to couples who are hoping to be approved to adopt.

He then blew my mind and said he would like to meet her one day. So I shared her name and just a few pictures – the first was from our visit last month and the first words he said were “she doesn’t look like you.” (I wasn’t even sure what to say to that. Mom said she sees more of David in her as she grows up.) Dad asked how often I see her, and where they live, and if I buy her birthday/Christmas presents. So he can help me buy the presents.

Then mom said that adoptive dad is a pastor. I said he used to be at a church up here on 123 but now they’re building their own church down there. They bought the land during lockdown and should be breaking ground soon for the building.

Dad asked me if I talk to them a lot after I shared about their church. Well, I follow their church’s Instagram account.. That didn’t answer his question. We email every now and then.

I’m in total shock and awe…

I spent most of 2019 (subconsciously) letting go of the expectation he’d come around, and had finally accepted that he wouldn’t be involved in her life. 14 months later he drops this information on me. I had fully released those expectations, so now he’s exceeded anything I had.

It’s a lot to take in.

It’s a MAJOR thing to process.

It means that things aren’t the same anymore.

I have to adjust to a whole new reality.

I used to stop talking about adoption-related things if he was around. I would out my phone down or change apps if I had a picture of her up on the screen and he walked by. These are behaviors that have been ingrained for six and a half years. Now they’re not really necessary. And I don’t know what to think, or what to feel, or what to do.

I mean, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

I would have never expected that from him.

Ever.

Church? Faith?

I grew up in church. I went every Sunday. My grandparents took me.

My sister was baptized before I was. When I was 9 I followed in her footsteps and was baptized. Looking back, I don’t know that I really understood what the decision to do that made. I mean, I’m sure that I understood on some surface level at a child’s understanding, but I don’t think I fully grasped what it meant to ask Jesus into my life and accept him as my savior. I think I wound up changing churches not long after that happened. About seven years later I really started thinking about wanting to be baptized again. I never really talked about it with anyone because it was made into such a big deal and honestly couldn’t fathom trying to explain why I felt the need to do it again. I was at that second church for nearly 17 years – the last 10 were spent staying silent about wanting to be baptized again.

I don’t think there’s a short way to summarize why I’m sitting here talking about my faith and the church I’m at. It’s a “God thing” that I’m in the place that I am now. I feel so weird saying it, but my adoption – my daughter’s adoptive parents indirectly – played a role in it too. I remember finding their church online, watching some of the messages that adoptive dad had given, and feeling like I wanted to find somewhere like that for myself. Which led to me searching for a new church…

End of May 2019 I really started looking at different churches. I went to multiple churches, trying to find the right fit for me. It was not as long of a process as I thought it would’ve been. It only took me about six weeks. Sometimes I knew right when I walked into the church that it wasn’t the right place for me.

I remember walking into one church, a place that some friends of mine go, and thinking that it was too commercial. They had fountain drink machines in the atrium… I’m sorry, but if you think that’s necessary in your church then I questions what the purpose of your church is…

The church I decided to join was actually the very first church I went to when church shopping. Expectation Church. I was looking for a church that had more a contemporary worship service. I needed somewhere that had a larger group of people my own age. I craved a place that felt like home to me, rather than somewhere I had tried to “make” home for too long.

I started attending during their transition summer, between leaving the old building and moving into the new building, when they were meeting at the university. That’s when I met S+N, who lead the young adult eGroup, and really started meeting people my age. I kept coming back week after week. Then around the middle of September, I officially joined the church. When I did that, I also spoke with one of the pastors about wanting to be baptized again and explained my reasoning for it. He told me that he’d done it as well when he was growing up, so he saw absolutely no issue with my doing it. So I chose a date in November – three days before my birthday, and it wound up being the week before the church’s grand opening for the new building.

In October I started volunteering in eKids Jr (our preschool department) and met the pregnancy counselor I had worked with when I placed my daughter in 2014; however, I had realized she and I attended the same church in August. Months later, I can’t remember exactly when, I met other people from my adoption journey – the interim couple who had my daughter between hospital discharge and placement.

Then in January I started serving on the Production team. So I’m with a bunch of other people on all our tech stuff to make the worship experience look nice and run smoothly when we stream online.

After being in quarantine and watching church from home for just shy of 4 months, I’ve realized just how angry I’ve been with God. And the concept of church. Yes, a fairly big piece of that anger is from being a birthmom, but that doesn’t make it any less valid.

I’ve been struggling in trying to find ways to grow in my faith. I struggle with sitting down to read the bible. I purchased a bible study that goes through the whole thing, but I’m struggling to even get through more than the first three chapters of the first book. It’s a lot more difficult that I thought it would be.

I’ve watched so many videos on YouTube of people (okay, women) who are talking about their bible studies and morning devotions and prayer journals, and everything looks so idyllic. I know it takes discipline to create/develop this routine and stick with it. I just feel like things never worked for me because I don’t have the “right” things.

Growing up, church/faith wasn’t really a present topic or thing at home. I can’t recall ever really seeing my parents inside a church if it wasn’t for a performance or something big like that.

Stepping away from the church I’d been at for sixteen years took a long time to actually happen. Probably started thinking about it two or three years before I did anything about it. I was afraid of how people would react if I left the church. I’d been here so long and never voiced a desire to leave to anyone other than my mom. I’m an Enneagram 4, but I was afraid of leaving what was “comfortable” to do what was right for me.

Yes, it was worth it when I did leave somewhere I stayed out of habit. But that didn’t make it any less difficult.

I still feel awkward talking about living at home with my parents and not going to the same church, but a lot of people have made the comment that at least I’m still going to church. And while I understand where they’re coming from, it still hurts a little (and is a little offensive) that they (somehow) thought that if I left where I was then I would’ve just stopped going to church.

Regardless, I’m sitting here writing this and trying to figure out how I can best grow and further my faith journey – especially now that my church has opened back up and I’m able to sit there to hear the pastor’s message surrounded by people again.

Maybe I’ll do an update down the road so y’all aren’t sitting there clueless wondering what happened to me on this journey.

Get to Know Me Better?

I’ve had this blog for quite a while (it used to be coffeetattoos.wordpress.com but I decided to upgrade recently) and never really introduced myself. So maybe it’s time for me to do that…??

I’m the middle of three kids – my sister is four years older, my brother is seven and a half years younger (he was an oops… lol). My sister also has two kids (ages 11 and 12).

I’ve been diagnosed with Depression with Manic Elements (which was originally misdiagnosed as Bipolar Disorder Type II), Anxiety, and PTSD. I have taken medication at various times for the bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety but have not been on anything since early 2018.

I’ve been drinking coffee since I was probably 12 or 13, granted back then it was in the equivalent of a frappuccino so I couldn’t really taste the coffee. I started drinking coffee (with cream and sugar) in high school when I was probably 15.

I got my first tattoo in I think December 2011 when I was 19 – it’s on the right side of my ribs. I got the Scorpio symbol, but it’s got vines coming off either side so it sort of all blends together.
Then I waited about 8 years before I got my second – on the left side of my chest – which has more meaning behind it than my first. It’s the adoption symbol crossed with the Celic knot, aka triquetra. I have adoption connections (this will be talked about later, and I have several posts about it) and I have Scotch-Irish heritage on my mom’s side, so it blends my future in adoption and my history together in one piece.

I was going to be an ASL Interpreter until I was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in December 2015 (officially in February 2016) and chose to withdraw. It just wasn’t something that I thought was intelligent to continue moving forward with since it is something that can push interpreters out of the field. And I didn’t want to have to look into surgery because even that isn’t a guaranteed fix since it can come back again.

I had people telling me I shouldn’t because they said I’d never go back if I did, but I took a year off of school at that point. I had to figure out what I would do since I had only ever gone to school with the goal of becoming an interpreter.

I worked at a trampoline park, which didn’t last too long. Then I worked at in the headquarters office of a fleet car transportation company (think cars pharma reps have, dealership loaners, that kind of thing).

While I was in those places, I was scrolling though the degree programs my community college had and trying to decide what on earth I wanted to do now that a career in ASL was done for me. Nursing? Everyone tried to tell me they thought I’d be so good at it – and while I do find it fascinating, I simply didn’t/don’t have the science grades for that. Teaching? I don’t have the patience for all the parents – I’ve seen that push teachers into other positions or early retirement.

Eventually I decided that when I eventually go back to school, I will go into the paralegal studies program. My mom worked as a paralegal when I was younger. I’d made a handful of friends who are paralegals in California. And my daughter’s adoptive mom was a paralegal before she chose to resign and stay home with Peanut. It was also the only thing that seemed interesting to me and like something I’d actually be good at.

I’ve made mentions of adoption a couple times above, so let’s just get into that… I am a birthmom. I placed my daughter for adoption 6 years ago. We have an open adoption. She knows who I am. We see each other twice a year – birthday and late Christmas.

Oh, I’m forgetting something… BOOKS. I am a bookworm. I always have something – be that a physical book, kindle, iPad, or my phone – with me to read.

200

Due date: June 30 (today)
Birthday: July 8
Placement: July 18

We’re coming up on a difficult time of year for me – the end of June and just the whole month of July. Especially this year – it’s like a repeat of May 2019… All the running around, and dogsitting, and so few nights in my own bed, along with everything else happening.

Don’t get me wrong… I love the dogs I take care of, and I really love their people too. But when I’m only going to have a max of eight nights at home in my own bed in a month, I’m starting to feel burnt out and exhausted just thinking about it before it even starts.

The most difficult part of being on the go and away from home so much during when things like this are happening is finding the time to take care of yourself and do things that make you feel better.

I’ve talked with multiple people (birthmama friends, adoptive mama friends, the pregnancy counselor who leads my birthmom group, friends with no connection to adoption) about this and tried to come up with a list of things that I can do for myself while being on-the-go so much.

In all the coming and going, and moving from one house to another, and living out of a suitcase… I’ve figured out some things that make bits and pieces of my life just a little bit easier lol.

  • I’ve decided that I’m going to pick up a new bathing suit top from Target this weekend so I can lay out in the sun and get a little color before I go see my daughter and “hike” through some woods the following weekend – plus it will be nice to have at one of the houses later in the month since they have a pool and hot tub.
  • I’ve got some leggings with pockets on the sides coming in so I can have my phone more readily available for pictures, rather than having to awkwardly get into my backpack. (They’ll also be good for a friend date I’ve got with an adoptive mama friend on Friday night.)
  • I’ve got my daughter’s birthday gift – she wanted an LOL OMG doll, so birthdad and I agreed on one and I ordered that.
  • I have a lightning to aux input cable for my car so that I don’t have to keep moving my lightning to headphone adapter from my actual headphones to the aux cable in my car and run the risk of losing it…again.
  • Plus there’s a coffee grinder coming, which is for the coffee beans I ordered from what Shawn Johnson and Andrew East have started – UniQorn Coffee – which should be arriving soon too 🙂

The insanity starts on the 2nd. I’ll maybe do an update halfway through the month, and then another at the end. But for now. I’ve gotta take the last two nights I’ve got to relax and mentally prepare for the crazy that I’m walking into.

Mother’s Day Weekend As a Birthmom

My life has been a hectic so I’m just getting a chance to write this out *rolls eyes*

Mother’s Day weekend as a birthmom is an interesting time, to say the least… A lot of times, birthmoms aren’t recognized as mother’s – even though we absolutely are.

Now, not every birthmom is treated the same way – some birthmoms are recognized on mother’s day, and some birthmoms aren’t. Personally, I’m kind of in both groups. I have family who don’t know about my daughter at all, I have family who do, and I’ve got lots of friends both in the adoption community and not who recognize me as a mother and honor me.

On Birth Mother’s Day (which for those of you who don’t know, is the Saturday before Mother’s Day) this year, I had the opportunity to have a Zoom call with my daughter and her parents – which lasted quite a bit longer than I had expected.

On Mother’s Day, I woke up to a text from an adoptive mama friend that I’ve made. She wished me a happy mother’s day, told me that I’m strong, loved, and should be honored with all the rest of the moms out there. It was something I’d never had before.

I watched my church’s service online, and I actually had some issues with the message that our pastor shared. I talked with my therapist about things, and wound up having a discussion via email with my pastor about what had been said and how I felt like he didn’t look at things from the perspective of all moms so I had come away from the worship experience feeling uncomfortable.

Worshiping from home on Sundays has been very strange for me – I’ve been struggling with being at home, alone in my room, watching my church service online. Online worship on Mother’s Day was even more strange. I wasn’t able to see the people important to me, the ones who I know absolutely would’ve recognized me as a mom if my family didn’t …and majority of them didn’t.

Overall, if I had to be generic about how the weekend was for me, I would say it was both better and worse than previous years.

…July…

It’s almost July…!!

This means that it’s almost Peanut’s birthday and placement month. And that means that I’m about to be dealing with one of my most difficult months of the year.

As I’m writing this, my due date is 8 days away, her birthday is 16 days away, and placement is in 26 days. My daughter’s birthday is also the day I started the job I’m currently at. How can I ever forget that date? lol

This year for the month of July, I’ll only be home for about a week. My dogsitting clients all decided to book me almost back-to-back for week-long trips they’re taking. Don’t get me wrong, I truly love all the dogs I take care of. I really do. But I can tell you, actually, pretty much guarantee you, that I will be exhausted and burnt out by the time we get to August.

Especially with starting back to a more consistent schedule in the office now. It all requires a lot of adjusting to the new “normal” that we have for everything.

Send me positive vibes, good juju, lovely thoughts, prayers, whatever you like. But I’m going to need it all during the month of July.

Quarantine Day 72…

I had a post from a year ago pop up in my IG stories, and I realized something… trying to compare May 2019 and 2020 is impossible!! Because life is nowhere near similar enough to begin playing the comparisons game!

Click here to see what May looked like last year.

Now, in May 2020… I’ve spent a LOT of time at home and solo “celebrating” the fact that I’m a birthmom.

I have spent more time on Zoom than I could’ve imagined I would – but by doing so I have met multiple birthmoms in other states (plus Canada).

I spent (virtual) time with my birth daughter and her parents on Birth Mother’s Day for the first time.

Mother’s Day weekend/mommy season is it’s own thing to talk about, and I touch on it some in this post. Let me know down in the comments if you want a separate post with (this) birthmom’s experiences with mother’s day.

My last full day in my office was March 16th, and I still haven’t found any kind of “normal” or routine in what my life is now, and that’s honestly been extremely difficult for me.

Nearly the entire month of April I was out of the office because one of the people I work with tested positive for coronavirus. So we were all asked to stay away for at least two weeks. Then my boss just had me stay at home for another two weeks before resuming the “schedule” from March of going in three days a week, but I was only gone in every other Wednesday and every Friday – someone else had Mondays and the other Wednesdays. But when I started going back to the office, I got handed all three days.

I told my boss (last week?) that I feel like I’ve been busting my butt the past two months (having all work mail delivered via courier to my house in April, and then being the only one going in throughout May) while someone else is just skating by doing a whole lot of not much. Thankfully I have a boss who is honest with me and said that I’m not wrong in feeling that way because it’s true. I reiterated that I wasn’t complaining because going to the office does get me out of my house, I love my job, and I’m honestly okay with being there.

But there are times when it gets extremely overwhelming when I’m at the office… because the list of things to do never seems to end and I never feel like I have enough time to get everything done when I’m there.

But one thing that hasn’t changed from last year to this year are the frequent feelings of being overwhelmed, burnt out, exhausted, raw, and emotional.

There is always someone else in the house.
I have no real schedule.
I haven’t been to church since mid-March.
I haven’t seen friends in months.
I’ve gotten ONE hug from my mom while we’ve been quarantined.
I’m hitting a mental (and probably emotional) wall, but I’m clueless as to how to get around/past it…
I’m honestly not sure how to recharge in the current place I’m in.

May 2020 I’m ready to see you leave, because, to be quite frank, you sucked!

I’ve had to deal with so much in silence this month that it feels a tad miraculous that I survived…