Probably even more pertinent than it was when it was first posted in 2009.
I’m not going to go down the “what if my mother had done this” path, because there’s nothing but anger and heartache in that direction. I AM going to make sure that any child who comes into my care for whatever reason is going to be taught that yes, her body is her own and her boundaries regarding her body deserve to be respected ALL THE TIME.
And some nights are just awful. Last night being one of them.
The kind of bipolar disorder I have is called Mixed State. It means just what it sounds like – mania and depression occur simultaneously. Sometimes one is stronger than the other – sometimes to the point that I fall into a fullblown manic or depressive episode. Thankfully that’s rare for me, perhaps once every couple of years. More often, it’s simply that no matter how happy/giddy I am, there is a black cloud rumbling behind me – and when I am sad/depressed, there’s still a a bit of restlessness, a need to get up and do a couple of somethings, and a comforting little ember at my feet that tells me everything’s going to be all right.
One of my more annoying symptoms is that every evening, between about 6pm – 10pm, my mood hits a downswing. I know this, I expect it, and usually I am prepared for it – it’s just a crack in the sidewalk I have to step over. Only the downswings have been skipping nights, lately – which is great – and until last night I hadn’t had one in close to a week.
Last night, the downswing hit. I acknowledged it, told Robert about it so we could sidestep any sort of fight, and sat down at my computer, thinking I’d just play a few games before going to bed. Next thing I knew, several hours had passed and I had been crawling all over the adoption sites – agencies, information sites, message boards. This was not one of my brighter ideas.
Last night, I learned that an overseas adoption costs about as much as surrogacy with a donor egg – both can easily reach $100,000. I learned that even if I adopt a child in another country which has adopted the Hague conventions (which means I have to have a homestudy, inspection, and be certified to foster/adopt in the US before I go) I have to REadopt the child when I get her home to the US – and the INS/Homeland Security can block that adoption, denying my child citizenship. I’m not sure if it also means the child is returned to her country of origin – that was somewhat unclear. What IS clear is that it’s a cruel, cruel thing to do to a child who has spent 2-3 months bonding with you in her home country before being allowed to leave the country.
Last night, I made the mistake of visiting some of the message board forums talking about being disabled and adopting. I learned that yes, people with bipolar disorder can adopt – but that it takes much longer to do so and that there are a whole lot of extra hoops to jump through. Especially if, like me, you require daily maintenance meds.
Last night, I was pretty discouraged when I logged off and couldn’t have found hope if it crawled up my leg and bit my ass.
Today I am feeling pretty hopeful again. There are plenty of children here in the US, without looking overseas. Fostercare transitioning to adoption is actually easier than “normal” adoption. If all else fails, surrogacy remains an option if we can find a reliable surrogate willing to use her own egg.
The point is, it’s still going to happen. God/dess is going to bring us the right child, at the right time, as long as we keep doing the work – and I am not going to let a bad night stop me from doing the work.
In my teens, I hated my childhood nickname: Emee. Pronounced EeeMee. I couldn’t see that it was unique and individual – actually that’s not true. I could see that it was unique and individual and I was desperately trying to blend in with the “normal” girls. Being Eve, with all the Apple, Snake, or Adam jokes, was bad enough.
For a long time nobody called me Emee and oddly enough I missed it. In the last year of her life, as the dementia got a tighter grip on my mother, she would occasionally call me Emee and I’d have to fight tears because I knew it meant that, at that moment, she was present enough to SEE me – and I didn’t want to waste that precious time crying.
Now, as we explore adoption, I think about Emee and know how to reclaim it. Odds are, we’ll be getting a child old enough to remember having a Mom. I’ve decided that I will be Emee, until the child decides on his own to call me Mommy. And I will be Emee to our eventual grandchildren.
It feels right.
It’s amazing, how much allowing yourself to admit you really want something, especially something you thought you’d never have, loosens that knot in your chest and belly you’ve carried so long you’d forgotten it’s there. Amazing how being able to breathe strengthens your resolve, and makes you see that you are capable of far more than you’d allowed yourself to believe.
The adoption discussion has moved from a “what if?” to “let’s find out what we have to do to make it happen”. One of the foster care agencies in town has monthly orientation meetings, and classes for people considering adoption. I’ll be attending both in July. I have the approval of my psychiatrist, and a promise to write the appropriate letters when needed. I’ll be having a full physical this summer and will be asking the doctor for a similar letter when the time comes. I am lining up references for both of us. And I have placed it in God/dess’s hands, trusting that the right child will come to us at the right time, as long as we continue to do the work.
Who knew allowing myself to be happy, to say what I want, to set a goal and know I’m going to follow through, could feel so good?
I always wanted to be a mother. I also always knew, even in my teens, that I probably wouldn’t be. The husband and I have danced around the idea of parenthood for years now. I had a tubal ligation at 30 and a hysterectomy at 35 so we’ve known all along that any child we had would be adopted. There was always a reason *not* to adopt: not enough money, not enough time, not willing to screw up a child the way I felt my mother screwed me up… and oh, I was so very screwed up for such a long time… I thought it was a closed subject, and was (mostly) sucessful in accepting that.
Recently the possibility of adoption came up again – in the most hypothetical of discussions, with a great deal of caution. This time I realize that I can choose to be a better mother than my mom was able to be, I no longer work outside the home, and by the end of the year we will be debt-free and thus have the means to support a small person. I’ve also realized I’m not as alone as I’ve felt, and that there will be a lot of support available for the asking, from friends and family.
There are changes I’ll have to make: Merry Maids will have to come in and give the townhouse a top-to-bottom overhaul and reorganization for me. We may need to move to a single-story apartment or house in order to accomodate the increased demands on my physical energy. We’ll have to childproof the place, and buy a locking medicine cabinet. I may have to learn another language and be willing to spend a couple of months out of country (wups – have to get a passport!) if we choose international adoption. The cats may need to be rehomed in order for us to be certified to foster and adopt – because even with international adoption we have to be certified in the US first and some agencies are very picky about animals in the home.
There are still a lot of ifs and maybes, and we may decide against it in the end – but for the first time since my parents died, I feel as though I know how to reach a goal I’ve denied myself for most of my adult life… I feel as if I’m not just able, but WORTHY of reaching that goal – and that’s a very happy first for me.
I have realized that my current “blogstipation” has nothing to do with stupidity, or a lack of imagination, or an inability to write, and everything to do with fear: fear of exposure, rejection, excessive vulnerability and loss of love from the people I love. I am choking on words, trying to keep them down instead of vomiting them out on the keyboard… and I need to stop doing this to myself.
Here’s the thing about having memory loss due to trauma (emotional or physical): it’s not gone forever. Pieces bubble up to the surface and when they do, you want to grab on tight to the good ones and scribble them down so you don’t lose them again. The bad ones, you wish you hadn’t recovered but since you did, you want to stake them out on the ground, walk around them, poke at them, and live with the idea of them until they’re just a part of you instead of this Big Awful Thing you’re dragging along behind you everywhere you go.
Back to the blogging… writing has always been how I processed. I let the man who stole a huge chunk of my memory beat my words out of me. He left me with a decades-long near phobia of writing my deepest self, my truest heart, for fear of angering everyone who loved me. But now, I have been recovering memories right and left and am beginning to make sense of them – and so it’s time to let myself write again – REALLY write, not just let out enough words to be able to breathe. There’s still enough anonymity in writing one tiny little blog in a big universe full of them that I think I can feel safe about it.
And now, having said that… there’s a pizza to demolish, and a decision to make about where to start. Happy Friday, all 3 of you who read this! 🙂