Friday, July 16, 2010

My Journey Through Adoption: The end

My counselor was a surprise. I was very suspicious of my lawyer by January. I was starting to think that she had purposely kept the profiles from me so that I would feel like I had no choice but to select from her list. There was no time left to find the other lawyer and get to know him in order to get his profiles.

My counselor pushed me hard about my decision to give up the baby. The first thing she asked was, "What's stopping you from keeping your baby?"

"Mostly money. I don't want to have to work 2 or 3 jobs just to make ends meet. I can't live with my parents. I'm not done school. I forfeited my maternity benefits (about $500) in order to get off work early".

"Money should not stop you. Have you looked into welfare?"

She told me about her past experiences with birth mothers. You usually stay in the hospital for a maximum of 48 hours, unless there are complications. You get 48 hours with your child before the adoptive parents take him/her. It's recommended you don't see the baby. Wait, WHAT?

I couldn't believe what her words. I thought maybe she was confused about my situation. I wanted an open adoption. I wasn't just give birth and walk away.

"The girls who stay every minute with their baby till the hospital throws them out are the ones who suffer the most. Honestly, I've had to carry girls out of the hospital because they're crying so hard. I love my job, but I hate this part".

She looked me straight into the eyes.

"Theresa. Trust me on this. You have no idea how much your heart is going to break when you walk out of the hospital room and leave your baby lying in her crib. You don't know when you'll see that baby again. Once your parental rights are gone, you have no say in that baby's life. Don't make it any harder than it has to be".

I'm pretty sure a part of me died when she said this. All I could picture was my counselor cradling a 16 year old girl slumped in her arms as if the world had beaten her to the ground and there was nothing left. Was that going to be me?

The next day, I looked into welfare. I'm going to rant a bit about how stupid the system is. Hopefully, you'll never even have to call and inquire about welfare. The system wouldn't qualify me for welfare until I had $500 in my bank account. By then, I had about $1000 left from my savings. If I was put on welfare, they were going to force me to get a job and get off welfare as soon as possible. The entire thing sounded ridiculous. The process was idiotic in itself. You had to be in immediate need of money (ie. on the verge of poverty) for them to CONSIDER you.

"Screw that", was my response.


I, finally, got my profiles a few days after meeting my counselor. Let me shatter your world for a bit. What comes to mind about these profiles is NOTHING like in reality. I received 8 profiles, was told to read through them and to only take, maybe, 4 of them home.


You mean I can't even leave the office and take my time reading through them?

"No, I just don't want 4 good profiles leaving the office that I could maybe give to someone else if you're not even going to pick them", was Andrea's reason.

I think it was in that moment that I decided I was going to keep the baby. Everything after just reaffirmed it.

You would expect these profiles to be lengthy, highly descriptive and informative. Again, NO. I can't even describe to you how disappointed I was at this essential part of the adoption process. The profiles were hand-made, duotang type packages that were self complied by the potential parents. They had headings like "How I met Julie... Why Andrew is the perfect father... Why we believe spanking is wrong".

That was the stupidest column. Of course you're not going to say you believe in spanking! No one would choose you. Why do you even bother to waste space writing it!?

I felt like I was carrying fairytales in my hands. Every family sounded too perfect. Fake. Guess how thick these duotangs were? I'd say no more than 10 pages. Maybe 4 if you took out all the pictures. I was going to choose the future parents of my child based on 4 pages of fluff.

I asked to see the notes that the social worker who evaluated the parents took.

"Oh! I can't give you those. blah blah bullshit bullshit. I can read you them though". She scanned and highlighted the good stuff.

This is the part that always makes me facepalm and want to punch something really hard.

"When can I meet them?" I asked.

"Oh! Meet them?" (why the fuck are you shocked that I want to meet them?) "You need to make sure in your heart of hearts Theresa that these are the parents you're going to choose if you want to meet them. Don't break their hearts. These people desperately want children and you don't want them to get their hopes up".

I left with 4 profiles but I knew that I was done with this. I knew I could raise the baby. I knew that I was the best option. I knew that I didn't want Andrea to get one penny from my baby.

I told her a week later that I had decided to keep the baby. She asked me to return the profiles and said, "Yes. I had a feeling you'd keep the baby considering how attached you were to it".

Of course I'm "attached" to it you stupid woman! It's my god-damn child!

I returned the profiles with a fake smile saying I'd keep her updated. I've never heard from her since. My counselor emailed me once to ask why I changed my mind and never responded when I told her the nicer version of the truth.

The experience was horrible for me but, maybe, it won't be so bad for someone else. I talked to an old elementary school friend who had given up her baby for adoption 3 years ago. Her process was infinitely different than mine. Her lawyer gave her profiles the day after meeting her. She gets to see her baby whenever she is in town. Her parents are just as involved in the baby's life as they would have been if the baby had stayed with my friend.

Maybe it was fate the entire process for Rosie to stay with me. Maybe what happened to me is just the standard. Maybe this is something that we'll never know because no one wants to re-live their experience ever again.

That is my adoption story.

My Journey Through Adoption: Part 4

I guess I should continue my story.

After I came home from my failed abortion appointment, my parents shook their head and said, "Ok, let's get you a government job to raise the baby". ha ha. My parents (and I think all asian parents) believe that working for the government will end all suffering.

When I told my parents NO, I was going to give up the baby for adoption, they didn't believe me but said to do whatever I thought was best for me. So, I started the process. I had previously met with a counselor at Planned Parenthood who gave me the names of the only 2 private adoption lawyers in Ottawa.
Note: My experience at Planned Parenthood was a huge disappointment but maybe that's just me. Probably best to try every resource possible if you find yourself young, single and pregnant.

I called up the lawyer, let's just call her Andrea. Andrea was beyond reassuring. She picked up her cell phone as she was backing up her car into the garage. Needless to say, not the best first impression but she called me right back as soon as she got in the house. I remember the experience to be very prompt. She said what needed to be said, she arranged what needed to be arranged and left me feeling assured surprisingly.

We met. We talked. Things were going well.

I stopped talking to D for my entire 2nd trimester. I was done with his foolishness. Andrea told me that it was best to keep him out of the process. From her experience, the men tended to get in the way and make things harder than they needed to be. What if he didn't like the family I chose? What if he his criteria differed signifcantly from mine? What if he didn't sign the adoption papers to give up the baby?

I was terrified of D. I didn't know how far he would go, I still don't.

I dropped him, cold turkey. He texted once the entire time. I worked with him a few times at the pool but never gave him a second glance. My friends told me he would watch me like a puppy, craving any bit of attention. I laughed and felt empowered.

School came and went. December approached and I still hadn't seen any family profiles. I was starting to panic. The baby was due in 3 months and I had no family. What kind of mother would I be if I just handed off my baby to someone I had known for less than 3 months?

I wanted an open adoption. I wanted to be in my baby's life from beginning till end. I wanted visits, I wanted photos, I wanted her to know me. I knew the only way I could get this was if I had a good relationship with the adoptive parents, but I needed time to build that. Time was definitely running out.

I kept subtly pushing Andrea to get me profiles. I had to be careful because she was the one selecting profiles for me. Here's what scared me the most. There were only 2 adoption lawyers in Ottawa. Each has their own separate list of parent potentials. Those lists contained 30-70 people. If I exhausted Andrea's list, I would have to run to the next lawyer and Andrea would lose her money.

The abortion counselor had warned me. At the end of the day, the only way the lawyers get paid is if they get a baby.

Andrea was having hard times in her private life too. I understood and pitied her, but my baby's life was in her hands and she was not doing enough. As a birth mother, I'm allotted one counselor to help me get through the process. I met her mid-January. By then, all I could think of was, "I'm not going to find parents. How am I going to raise this baby?"

I had started creating back up plans. I had started planning my new life.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Good God that child can cry

Night 1: ferbrizing went surprisingly well.
Night 2: she cried for an hour and a half straight (even though she hadn't napped all day). I felt bad, and also wanted to go to sleep, so I let her sleep with me. Small steps, I keep telling myself.
Night 3: (which is tonight) She's been crying for 15 mins so far. I've already gotten in an argument with my mom that Rosie doesn't need a "nightlight". It's not going to prevent her from feeling scared, that's just a stupid preconception that people have had built into them. She sleeps in the dark in my room, it should be no different in her room. But, of course, opinions (and especially, parenting opinions) are hard to change no matter what the facts say.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Could I really be falling into time poverty?

I've been extremely interested in the theory of happiness lately. I would say I'm borderline obsessed but can still retain the pride of saying that I have a life.

The past month, all I've been thinking about optimizing my time. For one week, I observed how I spent my time. I wrote down everything that I did and discovered I wasted an average of 7 hours a week just on Facebook. And I'm not even that avid of a Facebook user. I only use it to read messages between me and my cousins. Maybe see some events. Maybe stalk a few old high school acquaintances. ha ha.

I "wasted" another 7 hours just cruising through the internet from interesting article to interesting article. But, it's almost like there are too many interesting articles and that the value of them have decreased. I come across an exceptional article once a day, I would say, but after collecting a weeks worth of "fascinating" articles, they all start to blur together. How much am I really getting out of these articles? I don't even remember half of them.

Though I hate commuting an hour to work, I've found that THAT is when I best use my time. Bus time is reading time for me. Uninterrupted, baby-proof reading. I've flown through my books (not at the speed that I'm used to) but I can now proudly return a book well within the 3 week library limit. If I don't feel like reading, I have the opportunity to listen to CBC without any distractions. They have the best programs running between 9am-11am. I've already learnt so much.

My evenings, despite being so crammed with just chores, I found that I couldn't push things around to get more free time. Baby feedings, baby baths, feeding myself, bib laundry and packing my lunch took my entire 3 hour precious evening. I've come to accept that this is just the reality of my life at this time and will eventually change when Rosie is 1 year old and no longer goes through 6 bibs a day.

So, despite my hard effort to optimize my time, time poverty is actually a legit existence in my life. It's there and I have to decide what to cut out of my life in order to maintain my steady stream of contentment.

Ferberizing baby

So it's 1:54 am and I am ferberizing Rosie.

Definition of Ferberization: "baby-training" children to self-soothe by allowing the child to cry for a predetermined amount of time before receiving external comfort.

It's been 25 minutes of crying so far. I've been walking into the room every 5-10 minutes to let her know I'm still here and that's it's okay to fall asleep. Let's see how that goes.

My decision to quit Rosie cold-turkey came out of nowhere. I've been having lots of difficulty sleeping with her the past month. She wakes up every 2-3 times a night now (vs. sleeping 6 hours before when she was in her crib). I gave up putting her in her crib when I started working full time. It was just exhuasting waking 5 metres to her crib twice a night and the anxiety attached to putting her in her crib made it almost not worth it for me. Would she stay asleep? How long before she woke up?

I would sleep at the edge of my bed with my glasses still on and fall asleep with the expectation of shooting awake anytime for another undetermined number of hours. Try doing that and working 8 hours a day with a 2 hour commute. Guh.

My decision spawned because she woke me up at 12:57 am after not falling asleep until 11. I was SURE, absolutely positive, that it was 3 am or so. I would have been happy if it were even 2 am. I guess my patience just snapped when I realized she had only let me sleep less than 2 hours.

I tried rocking her back to sleep to no prevalence. Sometimes I get lazy and feed her every hour just to stop her from crying. Then I'm drowned with feelings of guilt that I'm a wimp of a mother.

Fantastic. My mom just went and picked up Rosie. There goes 3o minutes of my work. I'm trying so hard to control my rage. I feel horrible and guilty but my patience is just running out. It's been so long since I've gotten even 5 hours of unbroken sleep. I just want to sleep again.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Just some picturesque updates

Life is fantastic. I'm doing good, spreading good and reading "All Marketers are Liars" by Seth Godin. I'm feeling inspired and am only on page 9.

Here are some pictures from the past long weekend and yes, I chopped off all my hair. I love it!

More to come. Rosie and I spent Saturday having a photo shoot with her great uncle. :)