Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Open Adoption Roundtable #33

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points--please feel free to adapt or expand on them. 

A straightforward prompt for the end of the year: What did you learn about open adoption in 2011?

I think what I learned about open adoption in 2011 was less about the process and aftermath of open adoption and more about myself as a person. From the point where I decided to place Baby Girl for adoption I felt less than. Less than potential adoptive parents. Less than my friends. Less than my sister. Less than other mothers I knew. Less than myself. I didn't feel good enough anymore. I felt like a failure and a horrible person. That feeling persisted long after Baby Girl's birth and placement. It stayed after her adoptive parents cut me out of their lives. It lingered around and made me feel terrible all the time. I became depressed and was diagnosed with depression and PTSD stemming from the c-section and placement. It was an awful, terrible, very dark time for me.

Slowly, things began to get better. I think that Baby Girl's APs did me a favor, in a way, by cutting off contact. It was horrible for me and it completely shattered me, but it forced me to move on and get past it and get better. I couldn't focus on her and her life so much because she was just gone. I had to hope that I would hear from her when she turned 18.

In October 2010 I discovered that I was pregnant. Again. This happened soon after Baby Girl's explosive first birthday and it was not planned and sad and awful in its own way. Once again I was not married and not in a financially secure place. There was one major difference, however. I knew for a fact that I would be parenting this baby, no matter what. I was not about to throw my cards in again and hope that I would find APs that would keep their word. I just couldn't take the heartbreak again.

In June of 2011 Baby Boy was born and a switch flipped in me. That sad, dark, depressed, empty part of my heart was filled up with new baby perfection. I think some people expected that Baby Boy would make me miss Baby Girl less, but the opposite happened. I thought about her more. Every time I looked at Baby Boy's tiny sweet perfect face I would see a little bit of her. When I nursed him I thought of the two days in the hospital when I nursed her. When I changed his diaper I thought of the few diaper changes that I did for her. I saw a little bit of her in him, and it healed me.

Over the summer I got an unexpected email from Baby Girl's AM asking if we would like to get together for dinner to celebrate her 2nd birthday. I said yes, of course. It went fairly well, although it was awkward and hard to know what to talk about. Not having spoken in so long did give us a chance to catch up. AM shared some information about Baby Girl that left me feeling that perhaps I did make the right choice for her. She needs things that I cannot provide yet. I don't think that I would be the best parent for her and her situation. That realization started giving me peace about my decision. A peace that I never truly had until that dinner.

We saw them again for lunch the week after Christmas. We exchanged gifts and caught up and it was less awkward than our previous meeting. AM talked about how relieved she was to know that now I could understand how crazy things were with a baby in the house, and I might have more sympathy for her not having a photo book done.

When we left that lunch I felt like that big weight with "Less Than" stamped on it had been magically lifted from me. I am not Less Than anyone. I am actually More Than many people. I may even be More Than Baby Girl's APs in some ways.

My open adoption experience has broken me to pieces and it has helped me treasure my children in ways that I never have before. It has helped me have compassion for others and opened my eyes to how very human all of us really are.

On a Boycotting Rampage

Right before Christmas I officially starting boycotting Nestle in my home. They have been violating the World Health Organization's rules for marketing of breast milk substitutes (aka formula) for longer than I've even been alive. I don't want my money to support unethical marketing practices that lead to malnutrition, illness and death in thousands of babies' lives each year. So I went to Baby Milk Action and copied the list of the known products and retailers that are connected with Nestle. It's a really long list. I'll say that we now have no Gerber products in our home (which is hard to do with a 7 month old baby!), or Purina, Friskies, Alpo, Stouffer's, Alcon, L'Oreal, Carnation, Willy Wonka, Body Shop, Garnier, Lancome, Maybelline, or Redken. That's just a partial list of the partial list that I have. There's also the fact that Nestle is a Swiss company, so the profits don't even stay in the US! Considering how very badly we need to keep our money in our country right now, I think that supporting US companies is even more important.

At a playdate last week I found out from another mom that Chik-Fil-A has lobbyists that are spending their time working against gay rights. So the restaurant chain was added to the boycotting list. I'm really going to miss their milkshakes...

A long-time friend, who owns an adorable baby store called Baby Phases Tot 2 Teen, has been losing business to After talking to her more I discovered that Amazon is doing a couple of shady things. First, they don't pay sales tax in the states where they have their distribution centers. There is a very huge distribution center in the metro area where I live, which means that the schools in my area are being robbed of sales tax revenue that could be adding to the budget. Seriously, don't take money from my kids! Secondly, started a campaign before Christmas for people to go "shop" local retailers, take photos of items, and upload those photos along with the cost of the item(s) to the Amazon website. This allowed Amazon to undercut the small business prices and make more sales. That hurt retailers, and it hurt them during the holiday season when they make most of their money. That hurt my friend. So, buh bye

I'm also boycotting my church. Not that they ever got a ton of money from me anyway, but I'm adding them to the list, nonetheless. In their defense, they are giving more money to organizations both near and far that go directly to improving people's quality of life. That being said, it's a huge church campus that's used for half the day on Sunday and a few hours on Wednesdays. They recently did a remodel on a new building that more than doubled the total square footage of the whole church. They do have a great new space for children's programming and community groups, but it's still a HUGE chunk of real estate. And because of all those buildings and that land there are mortgage payments, electricity bills, water bills, and more. It costs thousands of dollars to keep the buildings going so they can be used for 15-20 hours a week. It seems wasteful and unnecessary. It doesn't help that they often preach against homosexuality and gay rights, and make comments that are distinctly political. That's not why I go to church. Jesus loves everyone. He doesn't care if people are gay or straight, if they were married when they had their baby, if they have lots of money or none. He loves all of us anyway. And I am certain that he wouldn't condone politics or discrimination in His house.

And speaking of politics... Brawny paper towels are made by a company owned by the Koch brothers, Koch Industries. For those that don't know who they are, they started the Tea Party and their companies are huge polluters. I am certainly not a supporter of politicians and others who do their best to keep people poor, unhealthy and uneducated, so I do not support the Tea Party and its goals. I also do my best to live a green and sustainable life. Which means that I make sure not to buy Brawny products. Some other companies and products under the Koch brothers' umbrella are: Angel Soft, Zee, Dixie, Mardi Gras, Quilted Northern, Sparkle, Vanity Fair, Georgia Pacific, Invista (which produces a large line of textiles and plastics), oil & gas refineries, chemical manufacturing, and many many more. I do own a car and it does run on gasoline, so chances are good that I can't boycott them 100% because I have no way of knowing where the gasoline that goes into my car comes from. But I can make a conscious decision where possible.

And last, so far, I'm going to be boycotting my bank. Right now I am a Chase customer and I have been happy with their service. But I'm really not happy with how they were involved in the whole financial and real estate melt-down that happened in our country. Chase still managed to come out on top, even though they were part of the original group of banks and financial institutions that were gambling with other people's money. I'm just waiting for this green bank to open up so I can transfer my accounts and my kids' savings accounts. The new bank is called e3bank and it was started by a former member of the US Green Building Council.

Do you know of other businesses that aren't on my list and maybe should be?