The response to our adoption story has been completely unexpected and surprising to Mary Tyler Dad and I. Over 30K page views for MTM posts in just three days. We are grateful for the support and encouragement, welcome the questions, and understand some of the criticism that has come our way. And this, my friends, is why I opted to write about our experience.
As we were driving away from the town where we met the birth family, as I wept and traded texts with a friend, trying to make sense of what we had just seen and heard, there was a resolve to tell the story of adoption. What happens, how it happens, the highs and lows (literally and figuratively, natch) of such a complex process.
In the first entry I wrote about my need to give order to chaos, but Adoption 101 has also been about shedding light on a part of America that so many of us do not see. Poverty, addiction, and abuse are invisible to many. Some might say that is a blessing, I personally feel it is a shame. A few commenters felt there was too much judgment attached to the birth family. I worked hard to simply tell the story as it unfolded. No doubt, some of my anger, sadness, and simple sense of feeling wrung out to dry found itself in my words, and for that I am sorry.
Mary Tyler Dad suggested I wait a week before writing, but we all know how that went. The keyboard is my greatest confidant, writing is my solace. When I need to write, I write. I am still amazed that you want to read.
Many of you have been moved to share your own stories of adoption — being adopted, having placed your child for adoption, being adoptive parents yourself. And gratefully, so gratefully, we are learning how unique this past weekend was. Someone chided me for titling this series Adoption 101, feeling it was misleading and would scare others researching adoption for themselves. I don’t know what to say to that other than this experience has been our Adoption 101. We will learn much from the past month as we continue to search for our child. And the certainty we feel, Mary Tyler Dad and I, that if prospective adoptive parents are scared away by poverty, addiction, and abuse, than perhaps adoption was not in the cards for them.
We first talked about adopting in the fall of 2007. In the midst of Donna’s treatment, as she was being prepped for her stem cell transplant, we were informed, sitting across a conference table from two of our docs, that the treatment Donna had received and would continue to receive, the toxic chemotherapies we hoped would save her, would prevent her from ever having children. That was wrenching and made me so sad to know that Donna would never get to feel the kick of a child, her baby, inside of her.
There are so many losses in cancer that are also invisible.
I started thinking about the need to educate Donna, to normalize for her the reality that giving birth does not make one a mother. Families are made in many different ways. In the spirit of choosing hope, we wanted Donna to grow up with a sibling that would feel as much a part of her as her biological brother, so that if she grew to adulthood and chose motherhood, she would know adoption. The course of Donna’s illness and the arrival of her brother made adoption impossible a few years ago. And full disclosure, there have been four miscarriages along the way, three in the eighteen months after Donna died.
It is fitting that Donna brought us to adoption. She has brought so many of the good things I value into my life.
But now it is Mary Tyler Son we want a sibling for — he was born a brother, feels like a brother, envies the siblings of his friends and cousins.
Like many folks we know, we came to parenthood late. Contrary to every fear and concern I had, I am a good mom. Not only did I have no idea I would love it so much, I had no idea I would take to it as I have. And Mary Tyler Dad? Forgettaboutit. Read for yourself what an amazing man he is.
Maybe because of that, because we realize the combination of us, Mary Tyler Dad and I, create some good parenting, is one of the reasons we opted to pursue adoption. We simply want more of parenting. We want another child to love and hold and diaper and teach and learn from and raise and nurture and discipline and laugh with and sing with and weep over and stand back in amazement as we watch them soar.
And that child is out there, that birth mother is out there. We haven’t found one another yet, but they are there. Maybe they are looking for us right now, as we are looking for them. I’ve thought for months and months that our baby would find us through Mary Tyler Mom. There are so many of you, nationwide, that read my posts, and know what kind of parents we are. I honestly had a whole campaign strategy planned, enlisting the help of my fellow bloggers, none of whom I have yet informed they were part of my plan.
Well, plans change, don’t they? And this adoption thing keeps evolving, doesn’t it? We weren’t expecting the call we received on July 16. We weren’t expecting the roller coaster we would enter, hanging on for dear life all the way.
But here we are, Mary Tyler Dad and I, still standing, still waiting, still looking. We are not discouraged by the pain and sadness we witnessed. We are resolved. Resolved to keep looking, resolved to keep telling our story, resolved that we will find our child and that child will find us. We are resolved that there is a birth mom out there that believes, as we do, that we are the people she wants and needs, just as she is the person we want and need.
Maybe you know her. Maybe she is your sister, your aunt, your daughter, your granddaughter, your friend, your sorority sister, your classmate, your neighbor, your church member, your patient, your client, your neice, your goddaughter. Maybe she is the girl who shampoos your hair, or the one who sells you coffee, or walks the cute dog down the street. Maybe she is you.
Mary Tyer Dad and I are waiting. You can find us at firstname.lastname@example.org.