Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences.
When I placed K for adoption thirteen years ago, I chose to have sterilization surgery after giving birth to her. The thought of having another baby agonized me. How would I ever justify keeping a baby after placing K for adoption?
I made sure to purposely avoid newborns. During one of my visits with Carrie and Andrew, K’s adoptive parents -- this was after K was born but while she was still in foster care with another family -- we were eating at a Japanese restaurant and someone walked in with a baby. Thankfully it was towards the end of our meal, and Carrie instantly picked up on my feelings about the situation. She’s very in tune with her surroundings. We quickly left the restaurant and said our goodbyes outside. I remember telling Carrie that it was difficult to be around babies after placing one. The wound was still very deep and very tender.
Thirteen years later, I am now the proud grandmother of a newborn baby boy named Liam. I have never loved anyone this much. It’s crazy, but I think I love him more than my own kids. I’ve noticed within the past week that I am a helicopter parent.
My hovering became apparent to me when my daughter E was in the hospital delivering Liam. I was all over the place. I even joked with the nurses and my ex-husband’s wife about me being a helicopter parent. E, of course, enjoyed telling me to hover somewhere else. LOL. E lives with me, as hers was an unplanned pregnancy, and she and the father are no longer together.
In the past week, I have lost five pounds and haven’t slept an entire night. I try not to interfere with E’s taking care of the baby, but I wake up whenever he cries. I watch to make sure E changes him, burps him, dresses him. I don’t mean to hover, but I justify it, because she is still in pain from the birth and she has not had much experience with new babies. E has reassured me many times that she doesn’t feel like I’m doing too much for her, but how would she know? Haven’t I always hovered over her? Isn’t this the life she’s used to, with me taking care of her?
Maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe it’s my emotions resurfacing because I have avoided this situation for so long. Now that I’m aware of the problem, I need to evaluate the situation and try to correct it. I’m sure this will take some work and open some old wounds.
After all, this is another baby that I will love unconditionally but will inevitably lose again when E gets on her feet and can start living her life independently. One day, she and Liam will move out.
I am going to have a hard time letting E be the mother she needs to be, because this situation reminds me where my bond with K was broken. I just want to hold the baby all the time and stare at him. Whenever I have the chance, I do that with K too.
When Carrie brings K for our annual visits, I always ask K to let me hug her. She’s not a very touchy feely kid, but she gives in and gives me snuggles. I catch myself staring at her all the time. I’m just overwhelmed by her loveliness and I miss her face so much.
I know Liam will not replace K. I know I will be okay and that I will be the best Mimi I can be for my little guy. It’s just going to hurt my heart a little until these old wounds are properly healed. I have noticed since I’ve become a grandmother that the effects of placing K for adoption will always be with me. I'm very cautious when I'm around Liam, because I have to remember that I am not his mother, and knowing that I will never have another baby is difficult.
I missed out on so much of K's life by placing her for adoption. I tried not to get attached to her when I was pregnant with her, because I knew I would be placing her for adoption, but the grief is still there.
I feel like I'm always thinking about K when I'm looking at Liam or playing with him or bathing him. These are all the things I miss most about placing K for adoption. I've thought about how old she was when she reached certain milestones, and what type of life she would have had if I had been able to keep her.
As I look at Liam, I often look for signs of K in his facial expressions. He's just so beautiful. I still feel the same way about K thirteen years later. Her beauty just overwhelms me, and I want to soak up every single part of her. I want the image of her face to be with me all the time.
She may be thirteen now, but to me, she will always be the baby I didn't get to keep. Although I can honestly say I don't ever regret placing K for adoption, at the same time, I don’t know if I will ever completely get over placing her.
I'm definitely in a better spot now emotionally than I was a few years ago, but it still tugs on my heartstrings to be around a newborn after all of these years. It's probably like an alcoholic that has been sober for a long time, but takes a trip to France and stops to smell all the wines, but knowing that taking a sip could be detrimental for my recovery.
All I can do is take it one day at a time and remind myself that this is not my baby. I am not his mother.
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