With all the amazing people that have come into my life and blessed me in so many ways, this lady has given me such support and love that I couldn’t possibly thank her enough. My adoptive family has never been supportive or welcoming. It really was meeting with adoptive parents that helped me process the negative with my family and know that this is not the case with all others. They have shown me what true love really is. When I met Rachel it was such a joy to speak with her and see the true love she has for birth mothers and now seeing her being an adoptive mother. She is glowing with love and KINDNESS and is an example for others to emulate. Although this month’s subject is on kindness, I felt having her position on jealousy go unheard would be a loss to us all. She brings a great perspective to us from the adoptive parents which should be shared. Please enjoy her outlook and know how much we are appreciated as birth mothers by those who know it is a blessing we have given them.
The topic I am writing about is what jealousy means to me as an adoptive mom; what jealousies do I feel, and what do I have a right to feel?
For me jealousy is real. Besides the basics of wishing I could bring my child into the world the way a woman's body is designed to; I worry and I am scared of not being enough. It's a real fear that seems ridiculous at times but at others overpowers me.
A little about me. I have two biological children ages 13 and 11 years old. I had a life saving hysterectomy at the age of 27. Two years later, I prayed to know if we should adopt. I felt my deceased grandmother tell me yes, and that she was with our daughter that had not yet been born. Present day, it has now been almost 7 years since we began preparing to adopt. We did foster care for about a year. We moved out of state and back; each time securing our home study for our next house. We were matched twice and things fell through. We had over 40 potential situations that we applied for that also fell through. I honestly wondered what was wrong with us that no one chose us. I felt jealous over those who had been chosen and placed with a child. Three years into our journey I dreamed vividly one night that I was holding our baby and he was a brown baby boy. When I awoke I told my husband. I was so at peace and happy, but it was a baby boy. My husband said maybe it was the Lord's way of telling us He had a baby boy for us, and to not give up on him too... Since then I have felt it is time to get ready for our daughter. We know this may take a while and we are now okay with that. We waited 5 years for our little Malachi; and I've realized in my 35 years of life on this Earth our timing is not always the same as God's. Our baby boy is almost 18 months old now which is hard to believe. His sweet spirit in our home is such a great blessing.
The times I felt jealousy in our adoption journey were very often. It was every time we applied for a situation and some other couple or family was chosen. I was hurt, upset and wondered what was wrong with us. When I first felt it for our son's birth mom it was the day I held him for the first time. He was three days old, a tiny newborn. I knew legally my sweet birth mother had the right to change her mind for another 4 days. We met her for the first time two days after meeting our son. The feelings of jealousy I felt was that even though he was in my arms she had complete control over us being a family. Did she have that right? Absolutely! I was scared to fully bond with our son. So I was jealous that she had power over making us a family. I knew many of the reasons she was making her decision and I knew it was more than fair for her to have that time to make her decision. After all, this was life changing, and it made logical sense to me, but I still felt jealous over it. Many times over those days, I would take a deep breath, push the fear away from the front of my thoughts. I would find faith in the fact that despite all odds she chose us and there must be some good she felt about our family to raise her beautiful child. I would then think of her, how hard this decision must be for her. How could she do it? Why was she doing it? How was she coping? And I would cry for the ache I felt she must be overwhelmed with. As scared as I was, she must be feeling it worse than I could possibly fathom. I would express my fears to my husband and then I would cry. He would agree with me and then tell me to look at our beautiful son and know all that he is, was because of her. And when the tears wouldn't stop my husband would gather our little family around the baby and we would pray for our beautiful birth mother. We never prayed that she wouldn't change her mind. We prayed that she would feel our love and she would feel peace in what ever decision she made. The day that relinquishment was final was the hardest day I have ever gone through. I cried uncontrollably. I didn't cry for me. I cried for her and her beautiful little man. I cried for the change of their relationship.
We have a beautiful open adoption with Malachi's birth family. We talk about everything. We talk a couple of times a week. I send pictures and videos. We video call each other. They are moving across the country to live closer to him and us. We are all so excited to spend more time together again. His birth mother and aunt call me "sis" and his cousin even calls me "auntie." Do I think we will never have disagreements? No. Do I think they like everything I do? No. We are different human beings. I'm sure she would do things her way if the roles were reversed. She doesn't tell me those things though. I imagine as our relationship continues to blossom she will. I am nervous about that time. I try not to let it worry me. I know we will get through those times and become stronger as long as we both are committed to each other.
The second time (and last time thus far) I have felt jealousy towards our birth mom was when he was four months old. I drove to pick up her family to come spend a few days with us after Thanksgiving. It was a two hour drive one way (They lived closer back then.) They made food to share with us from their culture also. The car was packed. While they stayed, I cooked and cleaned like a busy mom almost as if I that didn't have a newborn. I let them have every minute with Malachi. The first time Malachi was awake and his mom held him, I watched closely. I wondered if he remembered her. If he would love her and be okay with her. I remember thinking that he was so little that he would probably wonder about this visit one day too. So I had my camera on my phone ready. The most beautiful picture I have of the two of them (I feel) is that moment. He smiled the biggest toothless grin. His eyes lit up as she held him, nuzzled him and spoke to him. I was in tears. Tears of happiness. I was so glad he could give her that moment. I was so glad I documented that moment not just for him, but for her. They had spent all day with us, and each night I was more than happy to pick him up and carry him to our bedroom for the night to sleep. I missed him and was surprised how much I ached to hold him. I cried again thinking of how those feelings must be magnified for his birth mom. Exhausted I pushed away thoughts of jealousy as I fell asleep.
The next day I felt jealousy here and there but I buried it. I reasoned that I had no right to it. His grandmother hadn't seen him since my last visit a couple of months earlier and she was only able to hold him for 5 minutes. His birth mother had only had an hour at most since the last visit. They needed to know this baby was still very much a part of their lives and they share it with us as he grows up. I remember clearly the depth of pain I was in as I waited for our little baby to join our family during our five year adoption process. I would see babies and mothers in public and want to visit with them just hoping conversation with strangers would fill that void by visiting with me... I never did approach strangers but I could see how someone crazier than me, might do such a thing. I ached to hold crying children and comfort them. I would walk through the baby or small children's department in a store and find my vision blurry with unwanted moisture. From that pain I knew when the time came that my arms were full, I would always be aware of that achy feeling in others. I would allow my child to comfort the pain in others. I would never deny someone that opportunity to heal for a moment by holding my tiny angel. I knew thinking of his sweet birth family, they needed this baby and all the time they could get from us to be with him; and I would give them all of it. When he cried, I offered to hold him or tell them what he wanted but I never stepped in. I let them choose. I specifically said something like this, "I know you don't get enough time with him or us, I'll tell you what I think he needs but I will let you do it for him; unless you want me to do something, then let me know." At the end of our three day and two night visit, knowing I would be driving them home and thinking the baby would do better by staying at home with my husband due to the later part of the day and fussy time, I almost teared up. I wondered why but instantly knew. I missed my baby and I was emotionally exhausted by our visit. It was the best visit ever. Everything went well and there really was no extra stress or concerns to worry me and yet I was worried and stressed. I was worried my baby didn't know me or forgot about me. I was jealous of the time I had given them with my baby. I questioned if I should have structured things differently.
I found his Grandma trying to wake his birth mom to hold him so she could get a break. I told her I would take the baby. She apologized to me, seemingly worried to have me take him in their place. I reassured her, everything was okay, we were family, I did not mind holding him at all; I only wanted them to have all the time they wanted with him. She hugged me and thanked me for understanding. She thanked me?!!! It blew my mind. I have an amazing birth family and I feel indebted to them; it seems odd to me that they thank me, to this day! Later when it was time to drive them home I asked my husband to do it. I loved them and wanted to visit more but I was exhausted and ached to hold the baby. So I did, I held him, cried, thanked God for him and prayed for his beautiful birth family. Did I feel jealous? Yes. I hoped I handled it okay.
Every time we've had a visit I have seen the silent tears from his birth mom as she hugs him good-bye and kisses his face. It has always made me cry too. Her love, her sacrifices for him are innumerable! How could I ever hold my jealousies or insecurities against her? How could I ever resent her? Do I wonder what lies ahead? Yes. Do I worry I may have some of these jealousies to face in our son's future? Absolutely. I may need to write more on this topic in his teenage years. For now, I am so grateful for the blessings of having such an open adoption. So I take one day at a time. I keep our communication open and talk to her as much as I can. Why? I love and care for her. How could I not love the mother of my child? She is the ultimate blessing in our lives. His life is blessed because we know her.
I think one of the things that I replay in my head the most is when they told me, we were all family now that we had adopted their baby. I will never forget that. We ARE FAMILY! I see them as that in his life and ours. I will do my utmost to respect our differences and respect them. They are the reason my son is alive and I will always cherish their love for us and him. I remember the first time I met with a couple birth moms who became dear friends Lynea and Sonya (about 7 months before Malachi was born). Their stories haunt me. It makes me teary just thinking about their adoptions. I ache for them! How sad that there aren't enough adoptive families that truly love and respect their birth moms. I remember telling them how sad I was to hear about their stories. I felt guilty that I would put a birth mom through some of their pains. I literally felt a desire to quit trying to adopt. I didn't want to hurt another birth mom. Lynea and Sonya told me not to give up, that there are adoptive families needed. Lynea expressed the need to educate birth mothers and provide support to cope with placements. She told me she had devoted her life to helping other birth mothers like her. I admire these women and all that they do for the women they come in contact with. I want to help too.
In closing, I think I have learned jealousy is an emotional feeling. There's no logic in it. It's just a fear. I've also learned you can not have faith and fear at the same time. I have lived too much of my life in fear. I refuse to let fear rob me of any happiness I could enjoy by having faith instead. For all of the birth mothers and birth families out there in pain and hurting in your adoption, I express my sincerest sorrow for you and yours. Please know, I believe if fear is replaced with faith by all parties involved and healthy boundaries are set, and unconditional love is shown; I believe healing will happen. Healing may not come immediately or even over many weeks or years, but don't give up. Only do what you can. Do your best and forget the rest. Reach out when it is healthy to do so. If it isn't healthy or if your adoption is closed please know how loved you are! Your sacrifices are not completely ignored. There is gratitude from your adoptive families that they feel towards you; even if they do not express it or choose to suppress it.
You are loved. You are appreciated. You are not alone. There are people like me who wish to help and volunteer their time or resources to you. Do not give up. You are amazing. You are tough, strong, and smart. You are never forgotten. I love and care about you.
An Adoptive Mom