Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 10

Shoshana L.
Age: 27
Date: August 26, 2010
Location: Portland, Oregon

August is upstairs packing its bags at the moment, drawing to a close its visit to the cozy brick home that my husband and I share here in Portland, Oregon. Fall is not far off. Soon the leaves on the trees will begin to turn, filling the city with the warm colors of a fiery hearth, their crooked branches dripping flames of orange, red and yellow onto grassy embankments and silvery ponds. August is a time of contemplation for me, a time of introspection as I look through the mirror of the past. My daughter was born in August, and I find my thoughts gravitating toward her and the memory of her adoption a few short days after her birth.

I don't often bring up the story of her adoption because of its intensely personal and emotional nature, but when I do I find that people always ask one question: "Do you get to see her?" I am always so thankful that I can tell people I do get to see her and that I have a great relationship with her parents. I am continually amazed at their love for her and the phenomenal way that they take care of her. Beyond that, I am amazed at their ongoing love for me, and their desire to get to know me and include me in their daughter's life. For the most part, I feel their love is undeserved and I often struggle to accept it. People often look at me with awed wonder in their eyes when I tell them I chose adoption for my daughter, but most often the feeling evoked in my own heart is shame. In the same way that explaining the brutalities of war to a civilian is difficult because the civilian has never known war, it is nearly impossible to express the feelings and self-perceptions that come with giving a child to someone else to care for. I have not known many other birth moms, so I can only speak for myself when I say that shame is a big part of my association with adoption. Someone put it to me this way, explaining the difference between guilt and shame: "While guilt is a painful feeling of regret and responsibility for one's actions, shame is a painful feeling about oneself as a person." My shame is that I got pregnant out of wedlock, that I let my family, my friends, my church and God down, and that I could not give my daughter the life she deserved. All of those things compound on top of each other to make it difficult to accept love and forgiveness, but God is slowly stitching my heart back together, and he's using people to do it; family, friends, church and most notably, Ruby's parents. My husband has also been a great source of strength, support, and encouragement even though he has never had personal experience with adoption. His compassion towards me has given me courage to push forward, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I spoke once on a panel with two other birth moms in Indianapolis, Indiana. The audience consisted of couples who were waiting to adopt, or were curious about the process. One thing I learned is that many couples who wish to adopt are apprehensive about open adoptions for fear that the birth mom will change her mind after she's had some time apart from the baby. I and the two birth moms on either side of me were quick to put these fears to rest. We love our little ones, and put lots of thought and prayer into our decisions. The choices we made were for the good of our children, and not for any other reason. It's probably safe to say that there have been situations where birth moms made that decision for other reasons and later came to regret them, but speaking for ourselves, we couldn't imagine undoing the lives of not only our little ones, but the new families they belonged to. When I was pregnant and debating my options, I didn't think of the baby inside me as merely a cute and cuddly infant. I imagined her as an adult with a career and an apartment. I imagined her in social settings and relationships. I considered what emotional and psychological tools she would need to succeed in life and to build healthy relationships. For a number of reasons, I knew that she needed more than what I had to offer. I wish that a lot of things had been different, but the reality is that I had a hard choice to make - one that would decide the path for another human being forever - and I chose to give that person the best possible chance to thrive.

I've learned a lot about myself and others through the process of adoption, and because of the mutual trust, love, and respect between Ruby's parents and myself, I'm learning about a world of grace and acceptance that I didn't know was possible. Instead of shutting me out of her life because of fear of the unknown, they have taken me into their hearts and lives as though I was a dear old friend. They've chosen to include me in their daughter's life so that she can grow up in the beauty of her miraculous story without shame or secrecy. Her life is special because she is loved by so many, and I can sleep at night knowing she is where she's supposed to be.


I cannot express to you what a gift it was for Shosh to agree to write this post for me. It is impossible for me to read her words of truth and beauty without tears. She is every bit as beautiful and amazing as you think she is.

Join me here next Wednesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 11

(To catch up on Chapters 1-9, click here and start from the bottom.)