Not sure how I feel about my adoption relationship right now…

Posted on January 21, 2008. Filed under: Adoption emotions, My Adoption Story | Tags: , , , , |

By Joy A. Kennelly

I’m listening to my latest favorite myspace musicians as I write, The Sky About to Rain. Don’t you just love the syncopated beat and electric guitar vibey sound? I guess they’re out of England. Way cool.

I want them to come to LA and create an English wave with them. We’ll see. Just wanted to set a mood as I write. I see it as perfect backdrop for a fashion show.

This weekend has been really fun, but also a wee bit emotional. I went to a special vision board art workshop over at A Window Between Worlds, whose tagline is: Art as a Healing Tool.

Here’s a blurb explaining the mission of the non-profit:

A Window Between Worlds (AWBW) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to using art to help end domestic violence. Through creative expression, battered women and children gain a sense of renewal and power. Their images of hope, survival and strength educate the public and become “a window between worlds” for survivors taking steps to change their lives.

I had volunteered with them years ago while I was pregnant and still searching for the right parents to adopt my child. (If you look under an earlier post I share how working there released old feelings and helped me accept my fate better. Plus, that post is the story of how I came to find the adoptive parents.)

Anyway, I had run across the organization a few months back by accident while driving around and had joined their mailing list. This Saturday was the day a special vision board creation workshop was happening which is why I decided to go. Normally, I’ve lead numerous art workshops like this, but I really felt the desire to just enjoy the experience.

I didn’t have any idea what to expect since I don’t feel I necessarily qualify for this group since I’m not in an abusive relationship now, but knew I can always use nurturing environments. Plus, I was curious what would come up in this vision boarding experience since I wasn’t the leader and could relax and just create.

There were probably about 10 of us and it was interesting to look around the room to realize a lot of these women had come out of abusive relationships. One was actually still in one which was a little disconcerting, but explained her touchy behavior when I touched her back to ask her a question since she wasn’t facing me.

Also, why she became touchy about something I had done as part of an earlier art exercise to prepare us for our actual visioning and totally natural. She was just especially sensitive. It was very sad to hear, but gave me hope that since she was here perhaps she was ready to make a change.

After the warm-up exercise we were introduced to all the art materials at our disposal which included beads, shells, stickers, wrapping paper, game boards, color construction, stencils, paint, glue, jewelry, buttons, beading, mesh, lace, scrabble letters, and on and on and.

It was really wonderful to be able to play and create with so many things at once. Normally, when I’ve lead visioning and attended others, all we’ve ever used was magazines. This was actually much more freeing. Totally creative and a real release.

I’ve created about ten vision boards in my lifetime and somethings have definitely come true. Others I’m still waiting on, but since so many people have achieved their dreams creating them I’m sure when the time is right all mine will happen too.

My girlfriend Shana had created one four years ago with images of people working out and doing pilates. At the time she was pursuing a catering business and set on becoming a chef. However, when her bubbe died she lost the desire and began pursuing a pilates certificate completely forgetting that any of that was on her vision board since she kept it hidden under bed covered by dust.

It was only when she was half-way through the pilates certificate that she found it again and realized her vision was coming true even when she didn’t know it! Her husband was so impressed that now he wants to create one too. Now we’re all going to get together (me, them and some other friends) and create more! Can’t wait. I love her and her family a lot.

Back to my experience yesterday. I love setting a background before I create on top of the color. We were asked to take a game board we thought applied to us and use it as the board we visioned on. (Does that make sense? It was game boards like Monopoly. Does that help?)

In any case, since one of the words from my earlier art warm-up was money, I chose the Payday game board. Then I promptly covered the entire thing with beautiful paper all in gold, rose, salmon colors all fading in together the way I laid it out.

I had no idea what I’d end up with since I’ve done so many I’ve pretty much put out every dream and desire out there already (or so I thought.) I had ripped up all my old love vision boards though because I realized I had made them almost impossible for one man to fulfill.

Since I was starting with a blank slate I decided to make love an aspect of this particular one. Then because I now live at the beach I decided to make the beach part of it. I wish my camera worked because then I could take a picture to show you, but just know I think it’s beautiful. And I’m a harsh critic.

After seeing some of the art displayed at a gallery the other night I am beginning to wonder if some of my work could find a gallery. I really want to start painting again. I miss it. It makes me so happy to create in that way. Probably why I love working with artists so much. I get them because I’m one too. Just in private right now. 🙂

Anyway, what came up when we all went around the room sharing was how much I miss my youngest sister who I’m taking a break from to sort out my feelings over something that happened between us before Christmas.

I don’t see us not communicating forever, but I just need to figure out a few more things before I restart the relationship. I need to heal and deal so to speak. I do love her very much which really came up doing this artwork.

I had to laugh tonight though because she had given me pajamas for Christmas that were huge! When I first received them my feelings were still very raw. I became angry that she thought I was so fat, but now I can laugh over it.

My good girlfriend who is happy to wear them big and all said when I send the thank you note I should tell her they make great sheets! Yes, they’re that big – size 3x anyone? OY! It was funny when she gave me that big of pj’s when I was pregnant because they actually were the only comfortable thing I could wear around my stomach because even then that size was big, but now! OY!

I know she meant well, but… If I wore them now, it would only remind me that we weren’t speaking over Christmas or now. I don’t want that memory right now. My friend is happy to wear them and it has no meaning to her at all which is as it should be.

How does this relate to adoption you’re probably asking yourself about now. I know, but trust me I’m getting there. I’m just setting the stage for what happened tonight. So, anyway, the workshop was really special and I’m really glad I went.

I didn’t have time to really process much because I dashed off to my good friend Shana’s bday up in Hollywood and spent the rest of the night at her party which was a lot of fun. Tonight as I was driving back from Barnsdall Art Gallery after viewing Gali’s sculpture display and the rest of the exhibits, I decided to go see 27 Dresses since Shana had recommended it so highly.

I normally go see movies by myself since it’s usually spur of the moment and too much of a hassle to find someone to go with. Plus, I have a peculiar habit of needing to watch all the credits when the movie is done which some people don’t always appreciate.

I like to leave the theatre after everyone is gone because then the emotions (happy or sad) the film has brought up aren’t diluted by everyone else’s stupid comments. Plus, I like seeing how many people are involved in making the film, if I recognize anyone, what the music was, who the DGA trainee was, and silly stuff like that. I’ve done it forever…

This particular night, since I was driving by my friend Kirsten’s home, I decided to give her a try. I’m so glad I did. She was thrilled to join me and totally into the last minute of it all. I picked her up and while I was waiting for her to get ready began watching the animated film Meet the Robinsons with her little boy.

I enjoy animated films and was happy to see a bit because I remembered it had looked good, and had missed it in the theater. What I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that it dealt with adoption!

I know I told Coco, my one commenter, that perhaps since she hadn’t dealt with her feelings concerning her adoption which made her hesitant to see Juno that she should go to counseling. How arrogant. Just being caught off guard like this, the film really made me feel sad just a bit into it.

I would like to see the entire thing though because my friend and her family all rave about it. I almost suggested we stay home to watch it right then and there, but Kirsten’s husband pointed out she’d been home all day and would probably enjoy getting out.

I’m glad we did. It is the cutest chick flick ever. James Marsden is really adorable in this. Katherine Heigl is perfect as always. She is really, really talented in giving just the right reaction at just the right moment. The writing is extremely clever (“I’m Jesus” – there were more, but I don’t want to ruin it. You must see this film.)

The trailer doesn’t give the entire film away for once. Thank you very much. The music really sets a mood and is great. I may just have to buy the soundtrack if it’s available. Everyone can totally relate to bad bridesmaid dresses. I loved the closing titles – very clever too. It’s just an all-over great film.

The only thing that bugged me is the actress who played Katherine’s sister, Tess. I just couldn’t get the image of her standing over Ben Stiller in that other stupid movie (which shall remain nameless to allow it to fade away quickly and easily) with a huge fake bushy crotch with a ring in it peeing. TACKY, TACKY!

Plus, since she’s pretty like Cameron Diaz, it made me think she was emulating Cameron’s style of acting which can be shallow. I like Cameron, don’t get me wrong, but she’s pretty one note acting. Although it’s a fun note, it’s not one I want to see repeated in someone who looks and seems like her twin.

Anyway, as I was dropping Kirsten off we began to discuss Elijah and my feelings about everything. She pointed out that in my describing everything I was only seeing it from my perspective, not looking at his too. She kept referring to me as his parent and that I should have unconditional love.

I don’t know. I don’t feel like his parent right now. I’m not raising him. I don’t see him. He doesn’t call me, or the parents don’t instigate any communication. However, he’s just a kid. I should be the adult. However, all these feelings came up around that because then I realized that I’m simply tired of passive rejection.

I’ve experienced rejection by another family member who keeps her daughter away as punishment and it just doesn’t feel good to keep feeling rejected by yet another family when I’ve done nothing other than give birth to the child they’re now raising.

I know, how grand of me and what a sacrifice, yeah right. But seriously. Yes, it was and is. I lost years of my life because of the heartache and loss I felt as a result of this experience. I really don’t know how I feel about all this now except I feel tired of trying so hard to keep up this one-sided relationship.

I should have heeded the warning signs while I was still pregnant and Jeff told me about his idea for a children’s book explaining adoption. At the end of the book the parent tells the child, “One day you’ll meet your birthparents.”

There wasn’t really anything I could have done to change it back then because it was a few days prior to Eli being born, but it was a great indication of what this relationship would be like. I guess their adoption attorney’s view of open adoption wasn’t the same as mine (ever.) Oh well, live and learn.

There’s been many times over the years when I’ve just wanted to write Eli a letter telling him that I love him, I will always be here for him, and he can always contact me, but I need to let go right now. However, since he’s been so young and wouldn’t understand the reason why, I haven’t.

Maybe if I just focus on him and only communicate with him the rest of this won’t sting so much. What would you think if you always sent a card and occasionally a gift to the adoptive parents when not once have they ever sent me anything like that? At least that I can remember because if it happened, it was a long time ago.

Wouldn’t you feel like they don’t care (despite giving lip service that they don’t mind you being in his life?) if you disappeared and never showed up again? What’s so ironic is that I had months of counseling and they’ve never had any.

Although at one point I did make them speak to a counselor with me to help them understand why I felt it was important to stay in his life (not just my personal feeling, but based on the advice of numerous adoption counselors.) That helped for a little bit.

However, I’ve had to educate them on numerous aspects of this adoption that they didn’t realize. I know they’ve read some good books that were suggested by Marlou and she’s been helpful in all this, but for once I wish things weren’t so one-way driven. I always wonder if they’ve ever really dealt with their own pain of never being able to have their own flesh and blood? That must be very painful, but I don’t know. I can only surmise.

One thing that I notice about some of the adoptive parents I’ve either heard speak, or know, is that they want to believe that adopting a child is like having their own child. They just want the birthparent to disappear because we’re a constant reminder that this isn’t the case.

I really wish counseling was mandatory for adoptive parents before they could adopt. I wish there was a class that taught them what we feel like about everything to give them compassion on our part in all this.

I remember speaking to one couple who was considering adoption from Russia and their main reason was that because they didn’t want to ever have to deal with the birthparent. That didn’t sit too well with me, but it wasn’t my place to explain how that sounded. I understand, but it doesn’t make it any easier to hear.

Here’s the baby, see ya. Don’t want to be ya. Get out and stay out. You’ve done your part and now get lost. I know, harsh, but that’s how I’m feeling about it all about now. I wish people had more empathy for our side of the equation.

I wish for so much more for this whole adoption triad (as this three-sided relationship is called in adoptionese,) but I’m too tired to get into all this right now. I’ve had a great weekend. I’d rather just remember the good times from this weekend and realize that feelings are bound to come up when triggered.

However, I do wish my friend would realize that although I gave birth to my son I am not his parent in the traditional sense of the word. Also, many women in open adoptions let go after 4 years. I’ve hung on for nine, but maybe it’s time for me to let go too of the dream of the adoptive couple reaching out and caring enough to make this a real relationship for all of us because that aint really happening now or ever.

I need to just put my son’s needs first right now. I will sleep on this and tell you what I feel another time.

Hope this helps understand one birthparent’s thought processes. Maybe you’ll see things a little different in your adoptive relationship as a result. Who knows? I don’t really care right now to be honest since I’m so tired which also might explain my emotionalism tonight.

Joy comes in the morning…

Good night.


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