It’s that time of year again that I cannot be held accountable for what I say or do. I keep my contacts with the outside world short and sweet. I refrain from all sad stories and troubles that are out of my control. I put my blinders on and focus on the day to day- get out of bed, eat, breathe, bathe.
This time of year- Thanksgiving through my lost daughter’s birthday in February- leaves me lost at sea in emotional wreckage. Like clockwork, I know its first claims on my generally sanguine disposition; that heavy dull ache in my chest settles in just days before the holiday season begins. My sharply-crafted strength of sarcasm loses all its defenses. That heavy dull ache is here to stay for a third of the year, then a brief respite, back to preparing myself for it the following year. We have become so familiar with one another, that I have even given it a name.
“The Big Suck” is here.
I used to think I could bargain with it. Or that I could trick it somehow out of existence. That if I ignored it, it would just go away like futile hopes against a determined bully. I have come to an acceptance of its presence. Strangely, this year, I almost find myself embracing it. I’ve had visions of artwork in my head, something I’ve dabbled with in the past. A desire to start painting my visions of adoption- a young naked woman with a plump belly and engorged breasts being torn piecemeal by ravenous wolves. A small dinghy in the middle of a black ocean, on a black night, with a towering wave in the distance only noticeable by a small break of star light. You better start rowing, girl.
No, don’t give her hope. That would be cruel. The wolves and the waves are coming. There is no escape.
And that’s where I am this year of The Big Suck.
Hope is a lying bitch.
Hope is not a mercy in adoption.
I was young and dumb and full of hope. As I’ve said somewhere before in my blog, the professionals erroneously told me the first year would be the hardest. I can’t recall all the nonsense told to expectant mothers by adoption professionals, but that is one of the nonsense lines I held on to for far too long. That the first year would be the hardest. That line gives unavailing hope to someone in desperate need of real hope. The idea that things will get better. Spoiler alert- they won’t.
In adoption, there is no hope. Giving a mother hope is a cruelty, not a mercy. It sets one up for years and years of emotional suppression. Stuffing down feelings. Living a parallel life. Always “hoping” things will get better. That the next marriage, child, or that even reunion with the adopted child will be the cure to this all-encompassing grief.
Hope only taunts. There is no getting back even a glimpse of what has been lost. Instead of grieving the loss in the moment (or finding a way to avoid that moment of loss altogether), one morning, twenty years down the road you wake up in a sweat and realize “my baby died.” The flood gates open and your world turns upside down yet again. Your spouse and your subsequent children get to pick up the pieces of your fruitless grasping at sanity.
A mercy all those years ago would not have been to give me hope. It would have been pulling the trigger to the proverbial gun at my head. Exchanging it for a real gun, with real bullets, and real death. Not this psychological, hopeless, slow death bullshit.
There may be hundreds of smiling pictures of me over the last 2 decades. They are the evidence of my vain belief in hope. But I know that whatever event it may be; a wedding, a baby shower, a birthday party, that the smile was a fake and me sobbing in the fetal position on a cold tiled bathroom floor later that evening was very real. Another event, another picture, another memory without my precious girl.
And for what? For what did I sacrifice our whole lives together? I was young, poor, and unmarried. A grave sin for sure. Oh, to go back to that young dumb girl full of hope.
If we can live the rest of our lives without our babies, who else or what else can we live without? Everyone and everything. The sacred has been breached.
If you’re considering adoption for your baby, do your research. If you’re a half-way decent human being who can function emotionally even in the most mediocre way…if you’re certain you would not physically or emotionally harm a child…if you can prioritize your child before a substance…adoption is probably not for you.
You would be just as brave to parent.
There are plenty of cheerleader birth moms out there, but on further inspection, even their own blogs speak of their failed relationships, institutional commitments, strained “open” adoptions, and substance abuse that they willingly admit are the symptoms of adoption itself. They too are surviving on the vain promises of hope. Unfortunately, they are sacrificing the next generation of unsuspecting expectant mothers and aggrandizing a profit-driven machine. They are romanticizing tragedy.
Whatever your circumstance. Enjoy your pregnancy. Enjoy your baby. Find help. Comment here for help. I don’t want to find you in the same boat as me. I’m not going to be like those cheerleader birth moms; promising that hope is always just around the corner. It’s not. There will be no cat-poster language here. The first year is not the hardest, it’s the easiest. But that truth isn’t good for business or the moms who, like me, are in this for a lifetime.
Some moms in this adoption life have to believe in hope in order to function. But if there is no compelling reason for you to be in the adoption life, then I suggest you find whatever help you need to avoid it altogether.
The waves come for us all, whether we put on a brave face or not.
art by SabinaE