My life completely changed 8 years ago today.
I am definitely not the same person today, as I was then. For.sure. I believe I have changed for the better.
Every year, I'm asked if I'll write an update about Dylan, adoption, and answer adoption focused questions. I didn't last year. No, there wasn't any one reason why I didn't. But, this year I am. So many of you have written me and have shared your beautiful adoption stories. Adoption really is a beautiful and wonderful thing. I'm grateful to those of you who have shared your experiences, they touch my heart and in a way, reaffirm my decision to place my beautiful and perfect son for adoption almost 8 years ago.
A few years ago, I shared an in-depth post about my experience with adoption - both as an adopted child and as a birth parent. It remains as my #1 viewed post, over the last few years. Below are updated answers to your questions, and answers to the most frequently asked questions (if they were not answered in my previous posts).
It is my hope, that my answers be used to share my personal experience with adoption. I know that adoption is a bit different for everyone. It touches lives in different ways, and each of us interpret situations differently. These are my personal opinions, thoughts, and feelings.
~ Do you regret your decision?
I cannot say that I don't think about how my life would be today if Dylan was part of it - as I do reflect on it from time to time. However, I do not regret my decision. I do however regret the situation I found myself in; a situation completely created by myself and my lack of appropriate decisions.
I remain confident that I did the absolute right thing for Dylan. The decision wasn't about me, it was then and remains today, about him.
~ How do you deal with it emotionally?
I find that I end up packing the month of September with oodles of projects, tasks, and other busyness to avoid thinking about "it". I am fantastic at blocking out difficult emotions and conversations. I am brilliant at sarcasm and at poking at myself to avoid dealing with the real feelings of it all.
Now that Fred is part of our family, it is somewhat easier. Mother's Day isn't nearly as painful - and is actually more of a celebration than a reminder of history.
~ Has your decision to place Dylan, changed or influenced how you raise your son, Fred?
I can't really say that it has changed how we're raising Fred. We work to give him as much love, attention, and fun as we can (and without completely spoiling him). However, I am more aware of developmental stages and milestones he should be and is meeting than I would be if I had not had Dylan.
Dylan was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome a few years ago. Studies are inconclusive as to what causes it and whether it is environmental or genetic. As such, I have tried to inform myself of the signs, arm myself with accurate studies, and prepare myself with possible treatments should Fred be diagnosed also. I am somewhat over reactive to anything that can possibly be seen as a potential "sign". I know that early intervention is the key, so I am greatly aware so that I can get him the assistance he could possibly need.
I do wonder if Dylan did the same things as Fred does. If he scrunches up his nose at the same things, or if he laughs a certain way too. I suppose they are the same similarities that parents any parent would notice between their children.
~ Do you communicate with his parents? Do you get to see photos of your son?
I don't communicate with Dylan's parents. Would I like to? Yes - in annual updates so that I know what's going on in their lives. I do not receive photos or other updates.
~ Has the communication plan that you arranged with his parents, prior to placement, worked out? Would you change original plan?
Well, quite honestly, the communication plan we arranged has not worked out as I thought it would. Our original plan was for annual updates after his first birthday. I'm not sure what changed, or what brought it about. Am I sad? Well, I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. However, as I mentioned above, the decision I made was not about me. So, if I pushed the subject and contacted our adoption agency, I am sure I could get the updates I was promised. However, that would mean that I am putting myself above Dylan and his family. It is more important to me that his family focus on their family relationship than focusing on updating me on their family relationship.
Would I change the original plan? No.
~ Do you do anything special on his birthday? What about his "Gotcha Day"?
I don't do anything specifically special on September 25th or September 27th. I do make sure I have plans for both days so that I'm busy without time to dwell on the choice I made. Of course, I think of him often and soak up my memory of the incredibly strong spiritual experience that this placement day was. Dwelling on the emotions and actions of the few days I had with him, is incredibly emotionally overwhelming and causes me to weep buckets. So, I choose to not dwell on them and instead focus on others. I do write him a letter each year, updating him on me and on the changes I think he has likely made (going by standards for ages, etc), and sharing my thoughts on him in general. The letters are in a journal that his parents gave me at placement. Someday those letters may find their way to Dylan. Someday those letter might find themselves no where. Who knows?
~ What kind of relationship do you have with your birth parents?
My relationship with Sheri remains a friendship - almost like an older sister. I continue to be grateful for the decision she made to place me and for the amazing family and life experiences I've had because of it.
~ Will you and your husband pursue adoption?
We would love to add one or two little people to our family. If they join us by adoption - we'd be overjoyed!
~ Have your feelings on adoption changed?
I'm sure that over the years, as others share their adoption stories with me, and as my life develops my feelings on adoption change a bit here and there. I still believe that adoption is an amazing and wonderful thing.
So many families are created. Women become mothers. Men become fathers. Children get parents. Families are made. Yes, all of these things could occur without the gift and blessing of adoption. But, adoption makes it so much sweeter.