Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15, Blog For Adoption Day

Earlier this week, the Joint Council On International Children's Services issued this call to action in response to the tragedy surrounding 7 year old Artyem Saviliev.

We Are The Truth – an adoption blogger day: To ensure the world knows about every successful adoption, on Thursday, April 15, 2010 blog about your adoption or the adoption of someone you know. It doesn’t matter if your adoption is with Russia, domestic or otherwise international. Let the world know your truth!

This is my truth.


Motherhood is a hard landing.

My son came into our family in the usual way. His birth and early infancy were incredibly hard for me. I struggled with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety*.

Sleeplessness, caused by Gabriel's intense dislike for sleep and my own anxiety-driven insomnia, drove me the brink of sanity. My thoughts became jumbled, fixated, dangerous. I believed my son would not be able to breathe if I fell asleep. Even as I recognized that such thoughts were ridiculous and impossible, I cannot stress enough that my belief in the truth of that insane conviction went to the very core of my being.

I took to sleeping with my hand curled into Gabriel's bassinet.

Or I sat in a rocking chair watching endless episodes of Law & Order re-runs, my hand resting on my baby's abdomen, so that I could physically feel him breathing.

My desire to insure his continued breathing battled with my exhaustion. The burden of keeping a child alive, the burden of having to be awake to make sure he was breathing became impossibly heavy. I resented what motherhood was asking of me.

I wished someone would come and take Gabriel away, that someone else could bear the burden of making sure he breathed.

Only then did I realize how ill I had become.

Fortunately, my family practice doctor is a wise man. Far wiser and more compassionate that my then ob-gyn.

(To this day I wonder if I had never shared my concerns with Dr. D~, if I had only shared my concerns with my then obstetrician...I worry what might have happened to Gabriel and I.)

After I was feeling better, I shared with my doctor that I didn't ever want to feel that way again. I didn't ever want to feel my sanity slipping away from me. I told him I didn't ever want to be pregnant again.

Dr. D~ agreed that never again being pregnant was one solution. He suggested not making any rash decisions.

Years went by.

I grew to love Gabriel with a fierceness I cannot begin to describe. But I still had no interest in becoming pregnant again. (In fact, on the evening of my grandfather's funeral in November of 2001, Husband and I looked nervously at a pregnancy test in our small bathroom, hoping for a negative result. Earlier that day, my great-grandmother looked me in the face and said, "girl, you're pregnant again." Thank God she was wrong.)

Gabriel was five before I could even rationally consider the idea of another child.

Husband and I made a decision, on the day after Christmas in 2005, that we wanted another child. And we felt sure that that child, our child, the child meant to join our family - we were sure that child was already here, already living, breathing...somewhere.

We set about to finding that child. And only two months later, when we found the child we believed was meant to be ours, we suffered a heartbreak. As it turned out, that child was a red herring. (A child who went on to meet the forever family who was supposed to be his and I truly wish them every happiness.)

What was helpful about that heartbreak was that it pointed us in the right direction, and I will always be grateful to that little boy for that.

Four months of painful choices went by. We were presented child after child by our agency. None of them was meant to be.

And then, we found our Lana. She was living in the same city as that first little boy. And when we saw her file, we took a leap of faith. Our agency approved us as a match to Lana only 3 days later.

When we brought Lana home, at the age of 4, six months wasn't easy.

It wasn't easy and it wasn't magical and it wasn't what we expected.

It was hard. She was angry. She missed her foster mother. She missed her foster sister and the little boy who was fostered in the same home. (Later, in one of Lana's first real English communications with me, she would hold up a photo of that little boy and ask me, "Where is my brother?")

Lana's heart was broken. My heart was battered. I won't speak for Husband's heart, but I suspect it was battered as well.

On that first Easter Sunday after Lana had been home about 2 1/2 months, I sat in a chapel with my mother, and I told her that I didn't like this little girl very much. My mother struggled with what face to put on (her clergy face or her mom face.) And then she said, "I guess it doesn't matter how our children come to us, it can be so hard. But time will fix this. That child is not broken. She may be damaged and hurting, but she isn't broken."

My mother was right. Time WOULD fix it. Time and love and care and patience. And Lana wasn't broken.

I cannot tell you the exact amount of time it took to fix it. I can tell you that after 20 months had passed I had a realization that my love for her was intense and equal to my feelings for Gabriel.

I'm not going to lie and tell you that this is an easy road. I am not going to tell you that Lana doesn't struggle with issues surrounding her adoption. She questions, she challenges, she demands reassurance that she is loved as much as Gabriel.

I struggle to be equitable in all things between my children, but I think most mothers know how hard it is to walk that tight-rope of fairness.

But at the end of the day, there is no other child, no other means of being a family, no other option - she is my daughter. She is Gabriel's sister. She is her daddy's little girl. We are complete, we are four, and that is the perfect number. For our family.

That is my truth.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the same anxiety. I was terrified I would go insane from lack of sleep, even before the first baby was born.

Luckily, I was already under the care of a psychiatrist for depression. So I knew it wasn't rational and that it would pass.

The second pregnancy and baby were the complete opposite. I think it had a lot to do with a natural childbirth. No drugs at all. Not that I had that choice with the first.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 3:12:00 PM  
Blogger mam said...

I have goosebumps (and it's humid as hell here, so it's not the weather). You're awesome, and your family is perfectly, awesomely, wonderfully just as it should be.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 3:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truth is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 9:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I really think it's the hard times that make us sure and strengthen our bonds. I wish the easy way worked as well, I envy those who have fairy tale stories (birth and adoption) but from my own life, and from reading your story, I am more and more convinced that the perserverence and determination we are forced to develop is a blessing that we could not get any other way.

Friday, April 16, 2010 9:49:00 AM  
Blogger Special K said...

A part of me is grateful for the very long wait for my daughter. Because I've had more opportunities to hear the truth of other BTDT parents... and that will make me better prepared when my time comes. Thanks for sharing.

Sunday, April 18, 2010 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Your truth is beautiful, Gretchen.

Saturday, April 24, 2010 1:09:00 AM  

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