I have the form L filled out for CPS. It gives her medical history and that of her parents. I am grateful for that.
It also has her Social Security number, her drivers license number, her address, her phone number and her parents address and phone number. I am also glad I have it. It will make searching easy when BJ is 18. But it also makes me nervous. I work in a field that tries to protect that kind of information. How did it get in my packet of paperwork. Was it intentional? Does L know I have it?
It is such a temptation for me. I want to know more now. But what right do I have to that information? There are more issues here as well, what would happen if I did find a way to contact her now, but that is for another post.
It also has a physical description of her and a one paragraph statement in her own handwriting as to why she decided to relinquish.
The baby had been removed from her custody in the hospital by CPS. The next step should have been a reunification plan. It would most likely required in patient detox/drug and alcohol rehabilitation, based on how consistently I saw that court order it in similar cases. L wasn't a young kid. She was living on her own, working, supporting herself. Her statement on the form is vague. She struggled with it, thought it best. A social worker told me on finalization day that L had said, she didn't want BJ to grow up in the mess that her life was.
I have a story I have in my mind about that, I told myself she must have tried to get clean before and knew how hard it was - must have wanted to spare BJ that risk, that her love lifted her above the fog that kept her from getting any medical care during the pregnancy, and smoking, drinking and using all the way through to coming in labor and high. But her love, let her see to relinquish instead of drag out a process she didn't believe would end favorably. but again, that is another post. I have read enough other stories now, that I question. I will explore that in another post.
The line that says she is willing to have contact with BJ when she is 18 if BJ wants it troubles me. It is so vague. What does that mean. Willing.
My hope has been that BJ will allow me the privilege of opening that door for her, to introduce her to L, if you will.
Willing. Why not hopeful? Why not, "would like". Willing. It sounds so ambivalent.
One day I told BJ that I had the information she would need in order to meet L someday. BJ said, I want to meet her now. I said, you can't until you are 18. I told her that L could leave notes with the SW, but I am not allowed to access that for her, only she could when she was 18. It is the rules. I told BJ that if she wanted to, she could write a note or draw a picture and we could send it to the sw who would put it in her file and if L wanted to she could ask if anything was there for her. I don't remember if I told BJ that I doubted L was checking it. BJ is only six. And I don't doubt it because of L, but because if I had been through that, would I really want to continue contact with CPS? How humiliating. BJ seemed satisfied.
I know the one exception to the communication rule that the county/state has set up is photos. We signed something that said if L requested photos that we did want to be notified.
I have a file folder that I put photos in for her. It is marked simply L. There are not tons of photos in it. I admit I forget a lot. But there are about a dozen. Of course BJ will be welcome to go through the boxes of photos and add anything she wants, but this way there is something at the ready when the time is right - not left overs pulled out - but ones reserved for her as they were taken. I bought an album this year for them. I haven't brought myself to start putting it together.
What I really want is a photo of L. I have read that the most common question adoptees ask, especially girls, is "what does she look like?". So part of it started with wanting to have a photo for the very first time BJ asks the question. No waiting and wondering, here - this is what she looks like. This is where you get your green eyes, your dimple. But more and more I want it for me. I want to know what she looks like. This woman who is so much a part of the daughter I cherish.
Though it shames me some, the truth is I don't want to invite her into our lives now. My husband wouldn't want it. If there was strife or chaos, I would feel foolish for bringing it into our lives. But I SO want to be a part of her life when BJ is grown. I realize that it will be up to BJ and L to determine the relationship at that point. But if BJ trusts me or wants me to be a part, I anxiously await seeing what it will be. But for now, I want a picture. and some info.
Late at night, I google her name, hoping to find her on a listserv, blog, or something where I can anonymously get to know her. I found other things. I hospital announcement for a woman with the same name in the same town giving birth toa baby boy almost exactly one year after BJ was born. Did she get married (the father is listed), what is the boy's name? I found an address that is back in the town she grew up in. No more married name. Is it newer or older. Did she move back? Did she divorce? Does she regret the placement? If she hadn't relinquished, would she have regained custody? How is she doing now? What is her life like? I want to know the story of her grief and how she sees it all now.
I envy people who can send photos and letters. I know it is selfish and not sensitive to what L might want or need. Right or wrong that is where I am right now. I wish I knew more about her life now, I wish I had a photo, I wish I could send her photos and I wish that would be all it would be until BJ is older.
A few years ago I toyed with the idea of hiring an attorney to contact her and inquiry if she wanted photos. I was tantalized by the prospect as much as I was terrified by the unknowns of what would happen. I had heard the same horror stories everyone has - the parent in prison who finds the family and tries to extort money under threats of making problems. And now that I hear voices of women who call themselves first mothers and see how while they voice their grief and anger to friends on the internet, they would never never show that to a child not capable of or needing to see the complexity of the emotion - I still wonder - If I knew L was intensely grieving and regretting not raising BJ - what would that mean? BJ is my daughter - I love her with the breath and tears of my life. I couldn't do anything about L's grief. But how would I sit with it, live it with it, digest it? So why open that door? to satisfy my curiosity?
The real reason I dropped it was more practical. I can't afford an attorney.
The reputable registries won't allow minors or parents of minors to register I don't think. And that word.
I really don't want to bring more pain on her if she isn't dealing with it right now. Six years is a long time, but not so long really. Many of the mothers whose blogs I am reading - it was years before they acknowledged their anger, grief and feelings of betrayal. What if L is just in 'survival mode' raising her own almost six year old, working, living, breathing and bringing out her bottled emotions only in the quiet of the middle of the night. What would a letter from an attorney not associated with the county adoption agency or CPS do to her emotions, her life. What if she still hasn't told her parents, what if she never told her husband? Who am I to risk exposing her, because I can't wait.
BJ has that right, I believe. When she is 18, I will ask her, help her, seek for her if she wants me to.
So I keep hoping that somehow I will get a glimpse, an online photo.
I hold onto the things I know. I tell BJ things as they come up.
When BJ asks about menstruation (I know its early, but she asked what it was and I told her) I told her when I started and when her birhtmother started and what that means for when she will likely start.
When BJ asks about why her blonde hair is turning brown, I tell her that L's hair is brown and hers will likely be too. When BJ plays at volleyball in the house, I tell her that L likes volleyball. When BJ asks about ancestors and ethnicity, I tell her mine, her fathers, and her birthmothers and that she is all of them.
Hopefully having those things early, before it is a great "revelation" or the teenage identity crisis, will help couteract the fact that I don't have a photo when she asks what she looks like.
BJ doesn't ask questions or comment when I insert these "birthmother" facts into converstation. So far BJ started with, "but I wish I came out of your tummy, mommy" to which I replied the same each time - "I wish you did too, honey - but a big part of who you are is because you came out of your birthmothers tummy and I wouldn't change anything about you - I love you just the way you are."
She repeated this statement, never deviating until she changed to the next and then always the same again - though it was only a couple times a year -
"is she dead?". "No, honey - she is not dead. She was sick and couldn't take care of any baby, but she loves you and asked the sw to find a family for you and that is us."
Just recently the question changed to the one about wanting to meet her. It hasn't repeated yet, but its only been a few weeks.
So far I have had answers. I wonder when BJ will ask a question I have been asking and how will I respond when she does?