The movie we were watching was The Return of the King--the third installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Good movie, by the way. What was I thinking, supposing I could compose a blog post--and follow the Steelers game, and pop on Facebook occasionally--while watching the movie?! It is a movie that needs to be viewed, not just listened to, so I am afraid my original blog post would have been sorely lacking anyway. And the Steelers game wasn't too much of a distraction. I was just viewing web updates on NFL.com. I guess after being out of commission the last several days (with Strep throat, I just got the diagnosis yesterday), I feel the need to make up for lost time, by multi-tasking.
Back to my point (hmm, maybe tonight is not the best time for me to be blogging; I seem to still be a little out of it). Anyway, I decided I needed to move away from my original post which was a little preachy and kind of melancholy. Watching the movie inspired a different sort of theme.
It was right at the end, the scene where Frodo and his friends head out to see Frodo's uncle Bilbo Baggins off as he leaves Middle Earth on a ship with the elves. And suddenly Frodo's friends realize Frodo is leaving too, and he smiles at them, and even though they are sad to let him go, they see that it is the best thing for him. The book covers that part of the story in so much greater depth, I was trying to explain to my kids why it was so important for Frodo to leave then.
I remember reading Frodo's story, experiencing vicariously all the trials he went through. I remember when he came home to the Shire, it was not the same place to him. In the books, it literally is not the same place they left, and they still have a lot of work to do to bring it back to that point. But that is not the story shown in the movie. Still, in both, there comes a point where all is happy and peaceful again, but Frodo feels out of sorts. He has gone through so much, he cannot celebrate life the same way his dear hobbit friends do. And they haven't been without trials of their own, but it is such an ultimately different experience, no one can possibly relate. And when all is said and done, he needs to find a new home to find the peace in his soul which he seeks.
I am not a hobbit. I did not journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring.
But I did have a unique experience that set me apart from many. I was the heroine in my own story.
In the Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke, the author discusses the concept that a writer always creates characters who are forced to go through extraordinary circumstances, usually ultimately triumphing in their own unique ways. It is the mark of a good book to show an interesting, though apparently normal individual conquering incredible odds. Think of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, or Kendra and Seth in the Fablehaven books.
I was like Frodo in that when I returned home, I knew I was different. I knew my experience had changed me, for the better I believed. But as I said before, it made it hard for me to find my place. As time has passed--yes, 18+ years have passed--I have come to accept more how different I am. Not everyone can understand where I am coming from, nor are they meant to. But I am grateful for those who have made the journey with me and who value the person that I am.
The end of the month is quickly approaching. I had many things I wanted to cover in telling this story, but as we have moved along, I have felt inspired to spend more time on certain parts of my story, and the need to avoid too much detail in other parts. I do not mean to skip over or not recognize the difficult times. They were very real, but I do not wish to dwell on them now. There is so much more to tell. . . .
As I have read others' stories, I have seen a common theme. Whatever their reasoning for choosing an adoption plan, and whether they celebrated their choice or ultimately regretted it, many felt guided in the process, as I had been. And many, many felt disappointed and broken once their rights were ultimately revoked. There is an unimaginable grief that comes to all who take on the title of birthmother. We know it will be hard, but so few of us can fully comprehend the agony we will experience in choosing not to parent that child born to us.
I tell you this not to give you the impression that I regret the choice that I made, or to say that I wish I could have avoided the pain I suffered then. In many ways now, I believe that pain was mostly unavoidable. I do wish I had found healthier ways to cope with the pain; but I learned from those experiences as well, so that, again, I do not regret.
I now believe that anyone considering an adoption plan, whether an expectant parent (or parents), or hopeful adoptive couple, needs to understand the excruciating pain that is living after loss. There is not necessarily a remedy. But while the reassuring calm that accompanies those seeking to do the right thing by their unborn child is a gift, it can also be an extenuating factor in making the devastation of their loss later that much greater. They need to be aware the pain they will feel will be very real. But it can be softened, if they continue to pray and seek the comfort that they need. And hopeful adoptive couples who choose to be receptive to considering the benefits of welcoming an open adoption plan can make a huge difference in alleviating the pain of suffering birth parents.
Mine was not open. That was not an option then. But even though it was closed, I had a beautiful relationship with my birth daughter's parents, through letters we exchanged via LDS Family Services. The family's letters were a balm to my aching heart. I was grateful for the love they expressed to me. I was sad that our relationship could not be more open, especially as I witnessed others who were able to communicate openly and often, not limited as I was by agency policies.
Maybe it was not meant to be open. Some things we simply cannot know until we can see the whole story, and that may not be until years, decades from now. There is always so much to learn. Even if things were not exactly how I might have wanted, that doesn't mean it wasn't right for me--and for her--at that time.
I don't mean to be preachy. I have had an amazing month, reading awesome adoption-related posts all over the internet. Most that I have seen have been beautiful, inspiring, instructional. I am so grateful for the joy that is adoption, for the blessings that come to those touched by adoption. I hope those of you who have been following my story have recognized some of the ways I have been blessed. I hope you have opened your hearts and minds to accept your family member who is currently affected by adoption, whether as a new adoptive parent or as a birth parent. We need to strengthen and support each other and show others that adoption can be a wonderful thing!
There is still a stigma associated with adoption. It affects families who adopt. It affects families who place. Many people simply do not understand adoption. Even people who have been affected by adoption may only see adoption through their limited experience and believe that choosing an adoption plan indicates that you are a terrible, selfish person. I did not think I was being selfish, so it was difficult for me to accept that other people would see me that way. As much as I suffered, I also thought it was ridiculous that people thought I had taken the easy way out. That choice has affected my life for years. It still does. I also think it is ridiculous when people think those who have created their families through adoption followed the easy route. I don't think there is anything easy about adoption.
But like I said, when I began this post, we are the heroes and heroines in our own stories. When Britt and I met, we were drawn to each other. He had experienced his own trials in life. He was interested in my experiences and especially how the Spirit had blessed my life. We are not the typical characters who only get mentioned in a couple paragraphs and later forgotten. We have fought victoriously in epic battles, separately and together. We are not living a fairytale. It is an epic love story, and it just keeps getting better and better. . .
(I have pictures and more about that, but I am going to try to get that in another post tomorrow)