Posts Tagged ‘adoption’

Supportgroup

Yesterday, I made the brave and bold step to attend my first birth parent support group. It wasn’t that I had to be dragged kicking and screaming – it was that 1) I didn’t know groups like this even existed and 2) I haven’t allowed myself to think about my experience until recently.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am a birth mom. I surrendered my baby boy back in 1984. Notice, I say surrendered and not “gave away.” This was my first lesson I learned in my new group: how we phrase and choose our words reflects directly back on what we think and how we feel about ourselves.

I had always used the term “give up” in reference to my situation, because I felt powerless at the time. I was convinced my “mistake” (I’ll get to that word later) was no longer mine to own. As soon as the words “I’m thinking two months pregnant” came out of the doctor’s mouth, my parents went into damage control and I no longer had a choice or say in anything that was going to come next. I “gave up” my power that day and let others tell me what to do, where to go, etc. The one thing they didn’t allow me to do was “feel”. My feelings were irrelevant at the time – because I obviously wasn’t able to make good choices, right? So, I acquiesced and did whatever I was told to do, including remaining dead silent and hidden away, as I moved through my pregnancy.

Then, came the day to “give him up”. Another moment when I had to grit my teeth and, with my needs’ and feelings entirely irrelevant, sign the court papers and walk away — never to be allowed to  talk about it again, at least to my parents.

But yesterday’s support meeting was a real eye opener for me. I met other women who have been in this group for years and have dealt with and processed their feelings of anguish, anger, shame, guilt and a myriad of other emotions I am only beginning to draw up and out of me. Right now, shame and anger (close to rage) are the “Emotions of the Week.” I know I will eventually get through them, but I’m letting them fairly and deservedly wash over me and consume me until the tidal wave passes. Because, frankly, I fucking deserve the right to own these feelings.

The other word that triggered a reaction from some members was my use of the word “mistake.” I made a “mistake.” Sex happens. Pregnancy happens. Babies are not mistakes. While this all sounds so logical and agreeable, I am not yet able to remove that word from my vocabulary of words surrounding this situation. Once I can, I feel I can start to rewrite my internal dialogue and frame of reference and really let the healing begin.

But here is the real lesson I learned from yesterday’s group:

1. I am not alone in my experience.

2. My unresolved grief and feelings over this are authentic, genuine and should be acknowledged and expressed.

3. I no longer need to remain silent and ashamed to share my story — I have a voice and a support system of others who will stand beside me as I raise that voice.

4. I am saddened and angered to learn that so many women in situations such as mine were forced to remain silent and shamed due to outdated, sexist, religious doctrine that punished and threatened us instead of helping us when we needed it the most.

I am a birth mom. I surrendered a baby boy in January, 1984. And I’m no longer ashamed by this.

I matter.

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*If you are a birth mom who is still trying to process and heal from your experience, please consider joining a local support group in your area. It might be exactly what you need to help you heal.

 

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Until recently, I was never a big fan of support groups. I used to think they were just comprised of a bunch of high-maintenance people sitting around pissing and moaning about the small, insignificant problems they have in their lives: “I can’t find a decent pair of heels to match my burnt orange Hermes bag” “My bottled water never seems to stay cold enough during the day” “My pets aren’t being properly groomed at the doggie spa, I’m thinking of suing.” The “first world problems” folks.

But lately, it seems like I keep uncovering little nuggets of buried issues that I didn’t even know existed. Each time another shifts up to the surface, I think “I bet there’s a group for that.” and I hop onto the internet to check if there are any support groups within a two-mile radius of my house (because I’m not spending 45 minutes of my time driving clear to the other side of town just to hear a bunch of people drag me down with their problems). If I want to be dragged down or caught up in the swirling tides of emotional release, it better be close enough to a coffee shop and my warm bed waiting for me to crawl back into and curl up into a fetal position.

Fortunately, each of the support (interest) groups has met my criteria for self discovery: one group takes place at the Tim Horton’s down the street, and the other meets at my local library. I don’t believe this was a godsend for me, because I don’t believe in a god, but I do believe that this happened because there are a lot more people out there with similar interests and/or issues to address. That makes me feel better and less likely to sit at home and get all my advice from repeat episodes of Dr. Phil.

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The first group I joined isn’t really a support group. It’s a writer’s group. Why do I classify it as a support group then? It’s very simple: writing helps me work through the issues I have uncovered. For me, it is much easier to sit down at a computer and let my mind unhinge and purge itself of whatever I happen to be thinking at that time. In fact, as I type this, I have no idea where my writing will lead me. I just know something enlightening and illuminating is unfolding before my eyes.

My writer’s workshop is a small one, and we meet locally over donuts and coffee just to go over our latest writings and share them with others who are kind enough to laugh, smile, cringe, or rage with us as we read our words out loud. In a way, it’s like a form of therapy, but without the standby boxes of tissues.

This past Sunday, a couple of positive things came out of this group: one, I’ve decided I’m going to force myself to write more. There is a 50,000 word writing challenge staring me in the face. The competition (?) is called NANOWRIMO. I wasn’t planning on participating in it, as 50,000 words in a month sounds like a novel, and I don’t have the focus to write a novel. Never have, never will. I’m perfectly content with short stories, opinion pieces and poetry. But, the folks in the group helped me do the math, and it appears I only have to write a little over 1,000 words per day. On a good day with a great topic I can bang out 1,000 words in about a half hour. On a great day I can write much more than that. So, challenge accepted.

The second benefit of joining the writer’s group was a sense of belonging. I’ve always loved to write but never had much of an audience for it. I love to blog and put things out there to the world, but I’ve never had my real life friends come to me and say “HEY, how about you read me your latest pearls of wisdom? I don’t have anything more important to do.” It just doesn’t work that way. But with my writer’s workshop, I know the people love to write as much as I do, and they like to share as much as I do, so it’s a win-win all the way around. Plus, I get to put my active, weird imagination to work when I am asked to submit some really off-kilter writing prompts. This past week’s was “What’s that doing up in there?” As you can see from my eggplant and toothbrush stories, that’s where my muse took that idea.

Lastly, the writing allows me to take risks I wouldn’t (perhaps shouldn’t) normally take. I can be as rude, crude and offensive as I want with the characters and story lines I create. I can be a genius or a moron, virginal or slutty, prim and proper or a raging swearaholic. That’s the beauty of being able to escape into my mind and let my id take me to places my super ego won’t.

As important my writing has become to me, it is only a small part of the other healing I need to do. As I wrote in an earlier post, I had a baby boy I placed for adoption when I was nineteen. Many years of self-imposed silence and shame have done some pretty big emotional damage. Determined to unload this shame, I’ve decided to come out from behind the curtain and openly discuss all I went through with others who have gone through similar circumstances.

I had my “aha” moment in my therapist’s office yesterday: I was never provided with a support system back then. The group I ended up belonging to were a group of teenage moms planning to keep their children. While sitting in these support group meetings, they would exchange thoughts, fears and feelings about what it will be like to raise a child at such a young age: Will they be able to finish high school? Will they be able to afford a baby? Will they be able to get a job?

All these questions didn’t apply to me. I was an island, sitting alone in a sea of baby blankets, booties and baby supplies as the mothers-to-be bonded and exchanged worries of teenage motherhood. What I needed back then was to be part of a group of teenage birth moms about to surrender their children for adoption. I needed to know I wasn’t alone in this, that my decision was self-LESS rather than self-ISH. I needed someone, anyone, to tell me that I wasn’t “giving my baby away because I didn’t want to deal with it”.

It hit my therapist and me at the same time: I need to find a local support group to further my steps towards healing. The opportunity to meet with others with similar stories to tell, in all phases of recovery and healing, could be the final piece of the puzzle that has been missing for my entire adult life.

I came home and immediately went to my trusty friend, Google, to help me find a group. And, lo and behold, there is a local meeting coming up in November that, again, is less than two miles from my home. Excitedly, I emailed the workshop organizer and gave a quick bio on me, and asked if I could register. What I didn’t expect was her amazingly supportive, concerned response. It was so heartwarming and nonjudgmental, I started to cry. She even offered me her personal phone number and said if I needed to talk before hand, not to hesitate and give her a call.

Finally, I’ve found groups of people who are more than happy to accept me for who I am, weirdness and all.

Take that, religion.

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Time ticks by

A day becomes a month.
Months flow into years.
Years churn slowly
into decades.

Never again
do we meet

face to face.

Our time
began,
occurred,
and ended
within such
a short span –

less than twenty-four hours.

Before you
became

somebody else’s.

I do not speak of you
mouth closed
by fear,
trepidation,
and

self-imposed silence.

Shut down
by others
who choose to believe

what happened
what I did-
is

easily forgettable.

But my sin

still haunts me.

Wrapped inside
the baby boy
who slipped
from my embrace
to her’s.

Born
not under her heart
But

from within