I have to just get this one out, so bear with me here.
I know I’ve said this before, but despite the fact that I bare some of my innermost thoughts and fears in this space, I am generally a very private person who treasures her independence. I’ve been known to keep a defensive “wall” up to protect myself from feeling vulnerable and getting hurt. It often takes a lot of conscious effort to let my guard down, or to ask for help.
When we embraced open adoption as the way to finally build our family, I knew that would have to change somewhat. I’d be opening myself up to a whole new world, one in which I’d have very little control and would be extremely vulnerable to just about everything. Yet I recognize that if you’re not open to the possibility that something could be wonderful, you’re simply not open to the possibility of anything, ever.
I knew I’d have to open myself to this process, to have trust and faith that if we put it out into the universe, something good would come back in return. I had to be open to embrace the possibility for the best outcome. Sure, that means I must accept some level of risk — risk of rejection and disappointment, of loss. But the potential for happiness far outweighed the measure of risk and fear.
So we have been opening ourselves to the process. Open to learning and sharing, to new encounters, to new possibilities. Part of our process has been talking about our adoption experience with others, opening people’s minds and hearts to understanding, compassion. In opening ourselves to the possibilities, we allow others to share our journey.
This is so different from our experience with infertility. We held that close, kept it private. We had such little support. We retreated into the safety and comfort of each other.
As we become entrenched in the adoption process, we are slowly (finally) reemerging, and the world looks different to us. That is not to suggest that our infertility has disappeared, only that we have new hope and purpose. And with that, we are rebuilding our community in a new light, so to speak.
With open adoption, we are responsible for doing some of our own outreach if we want a placement sooner rather than later. So I knew we’d have to spread the word and seek help. So, symbolic of my effort to open myself to this process, yesterday I sent an email to about 25 of my colleagues announcing our excitement about our decision to adopt. I explained that we were turning to our circle of friends, family, and colleagues and asking them to hold us in their minds and hearts as we begin our search for the right match and connection.
And of course I asked them to let us know if they happen to encounter a situation in which someone they know finds themself unfortunately unable to parent and considering an adoption plan.
An odd request? Maybe, yes. But I have been told that I need to tell everyone. So I had to do that. It was a huge step for me. Ultimately, I was asking for help, which is something I’m not very good at doing.
So I put it out to the universe. Maybe something will come back to us, maybe not. The point is that I did it.
Once I got over sharing this intimate part of my life with my colleagues — most of whom have known little about my personal life over the past many years — it actually felt good to put it out there. It felt like an opening. And I invited it.
I didn’t send the message with any specific expectations. I actually didn’t expect much in return at all. But now, a day later, I can say that I guess I had hoped for something, well, more. A word of support or encouragement, or something. I heard from just three people. That’s just a 10% return. Of course I am quite grateful to the three who were very kind and supportive. Quality over quantity, I know.
I don’t know what I wanted, since I (thought I) did it with no real expectation. But I guess I expected a little more? Maybe I’ve suddenly gone from being independent to needy? After all, these are colleagues and not close friends or family. Most of us don’t even work in the same office. But I have worked with them for years, and I like to think they are some pretty cool and committed people. A number of them know that we lost our baby a while back (2.5 years ago), and some were very supportive.
It’s possible there just isn’t much to say, I guess. Sure it’s a big deal for me, but not them. Maybe it’s too personal a thing to share? Maybe they feel pity that I was unable to get pregnant again? Maybe they view adoption as second best? Maybe they don’t realize how big this is, or that it’s something to celebrate? Maybe they are not the compassionate caring people I thought they were. Expectations will so often let you down.
And while I honestly don’t care what they actually think, I do wonder what’s so fucking hard about sending a quick reply to say, hey, thinking of you, thanks for the update, or something, anything. Whatever.
I thought this would be good preparation for doing our “profile” outreach — you put it out there and nothing may come of it, for a while, yet you have to accept that and trust in the process. We must remain open. I must remain open to the best possible outcome. I must remain open to the possibility for good.