i’ve been in some “adoption flux” as of late. maybe because its because a person can only listen to so much Bob Dylan without becoming a trifle introspective. maybe because its because we’ve been trying so damn hard to get pregnant. maybe its because an email from Betty arrived a few weeks ago, falling out of the ether and into my “in” box with a soft chiming noise.
the idea of a visit, a glimmer of hope, are overshadowed by the past and bad juju.
but i want to see the Kiddo. i want to see my son. can i weather the tumultuous whirlwind of a visit? will it wreck me from tip to toe for six subsequent months? does the Kiddo even want to see me? does he have questions for me? is it beneficial for him to have reminders of me red faced & puffy eyed?
the biggest disappointment in this whole situation is how we don’t really “see” each other. sure we know “things” about each other, but we don’t really “know” the other parties. i had hoped for better in those first few years, in the early sunlit moments of my experience in open adoption. i had hoped for an open dialogue about our respective situations, rather than stilted, jaw clenching visits fraught with uncertainty & strategic toeholds.
i have so many questions, for the Kiddo, for Betty. and most likely, going by past experiences, they will go unanswered. i’ve come to terms in the past 18 months that my idealistic visions of open adoption are simply not my reality. it never occurred to me that an honest discussion of feelings was unrealistic. i didn’t know that a visit with the Kiddo & the family would be so emotionally blindsiding.
right now i expect nothing. i’ve seen the carrot, i’ve acknowledged it. i’ll even play along if & when the time comes. my formerly super-vulnerable places, however, are presently off limits. i’ve spent too much time with mental masonry tools, sealing cracks, repairing damage.
some of you know that Chris and i have been trying to conceive since late last fall, with nothing to show but a midwinter, early-in-the-game miscarriage. quite bluntly, it sucked, as many of you can attest no doubt.
while i was sitting in the waiting room of Dr. PinknPretty back in January, (not) staring at women in various stages of life & pregnancy, i bit the insides of my lips trying my best not to cry, shying away from Chris’ reassuring hand on my back. and all i could think was “no more loss, i can’t take more loss”. i’m amazed that i always can. i suppose some folks would chalk it up to a god of their understanding/divine intervention/that whole closing door – opening window theory.
in the past months, grieving in some weird way a several week old clump of cells, i’ve been somewhat revisiting Kiddo grief. if it had “stuck”, i’d be about 6 months along or so. there’d be movement, heartburn, a protruding navel & looking forward to finally becoming a mother in practice, without that special prefix. instead i’m looking in the mirror, running my fingers over pre-existing stretch marks. the only visible physical evidence of my biggest loss.
my paternal grandfather died late last week after a long debilitating illness. his funeral services were Monday evening. i’ve not been close with that branch of my family for a number of years, for a host of reasons. many family members i hadn’t seen in almost a decade, even though they live a mere 2 hours away.
after paying my respects to my grandmother, aunts & uncles, i found a comfortable overstuffed chair in a side room adjacent to the main gallery. my cousin Wanda, whom i played with at family gatherings as a child, came over to me and did her best to make me feel at ease. she gestured to the gallery, filling up with relatives and friends of the family, “we’re your family. that doesn’t change”.
after she moved on to corral errant children, i intently watched the branch from which i’ve descended. our genes are strong, and i could see my facial features in my uncles’. i could see my potential body type 20 years from now. i heard the bark of laughter from another room and identified it as my father’s, so close to my own.
for a moment i thought about the Kiddo, because these people are in some way, his people. from the last pictures i received about 16 months ago, he is still so “me” in facial structure & expression and thus my paternal side in turn: the German/Dutch coloring, the nose that could have been lifted from my father to me to the Kiddo, the eye crinkle when smiling.
i know where i came from: physically & emotionally. i believe emotional traits aren’t just learned behavior. i marveled mentally at my relatives; our history for better & worse. i hope at some point, some day, i can tell the Kiddo pieces of that history. because for better & worse, its part of him as well.
the pictures don’t come and i wait and wait and wait by the mailbox week after week.
and i pretend it doesn’t matter. and i go about my days, drinking coffee, working, taking photographs, paying bills, killing time. i laugh with my friends, take drives up and down the coast, not thinking about the Kiddo. lying.
i wonder how he’s grown, how he’s changed, how he’s doing in school, if he’s playing ball this year. and when i think about it too hard i hear whispers about my selfishness echoing in my head. key phrases on repeat. and i drink more coffee and smoke more cigarettes and look at old pictures, one in particular where its he and i and we’re smiling at each other.
and people ask and i am cavalier and i smile and toss my head, shrug my shoulders and pretend. my stomach folds in on itself while i’m writing unsendable emails, unpostable entries. fodder for the trash bins.
i lock myself in the bathroom periodically, like a tantrum throwing teenager, shaking with frustration and sadness and fear. but i’ll soon wash my face and straighten my clothing and clean up the mess i’ve made. and emerge smiling. and lying.
yesterday we took a hike through one of our favorite spots. we’ve been going there, separately and together, since we were teenagers. you can take the main path down through the sand, about 1/4 mile, to the largely-unknown-to-the-public beach. or you can take one of the lesser paths. through forest & overgrowth, over fields, down beyond the “dune forest”, you can also come out to the ocean, a mile or two south. we took the “scenic” route.
we parted ways for awhile once we reached the shoreline. he was in seaglass-finding zen mode and i had my camera, full of energy. i raised my arms above my head, spinning in the sand, feeling the wind whisk through the few light layers of shirts beneath my pullover.
and in a moment it was gone. there was nothing but me, the beach, the salt air, the sun, my husband and our laughter.
i spent the Kiddo’s first birthday in New Orleans, doing Mardi Gras. my mother called ahead to my sister to remind her, just in case i became “emotional”. heaven forbid.
the ten days i was there are a blur of liquor, parades, hanging with a strung-out childhood friend who had recently moved to NOLA, and chasing my personal ghosts around the French Quarter. while my sister served locals their Eggs Benedict at an Uptown cafe, i wandered around the familiar streets where i had played several years prior. i remember clearly missing her, my younger self.
on The Kiddo’s actual birthday, my sister worked a double, and i was left to my own devices. i read, watched movies, smoked a lot. i wasn’t sure what i was supposed to be feeling, but i felt next to nothing. this birthday thing that i had been warned about was a snap.
the streetcleaners faithfully whisk away the discarded beads, empty to-go cups and tattered feathered masks. leaving a clean slate for Ash Wednesday, for atonement.
in our course of talking about things randomly yesterday afternoon, Chris said to me “are we going to watch that Juno movie?” i laughed. i laughed because he’s such a good sport, really. i wouldn’t have brought it up myself, but it amuses/warms me that he’s attuned to me in that way.
i know how the movie ends. i’ve read enough spoilers, reviews and critiques. and yet somehow i’m compelled to want to see it. i have to see for myself what all the fuss is about. unfortunately, i live at the end of the world, and it probably won’t run in a theater here. so i’ll just wait until its released on DVD.