Handling Our Circumstances

Last night Walter read my blog posting from yesterday and we landed up having an extended discussion about how best to handle these types of potentially damaging statements going forward. Ava is at the age now where she really does understand most of what is being said around her.  So we really do need to give this some serious thought.

Marcia sent me a rather thought provoking email in response to yesterday’s posting, here is a piece of it:

I totally agree – that’s why your response in front of Ava is what is going to count in terms of how she takes it.  Don’t let them catch you unaware, that’s when she’s going to sense that something upsetting is going on.  If you have a few standard, calm responses ready, it’s going to bounce off her like you’re talking about the weather.  Children pick up on emotions far quicker than they pick up on the words being said!  And when she’s sees you dealing with it in a calm, matter of fact way, that’s how she’ll deal with it when she’s faced with questions later on in life when you aren’t with her.

I couldn’t agree more with what Marcia said above. The problem is that I hadn’t even thought ahead to the day when Ava would be able to understand what is being said in front of her. Or perhaps I thought that people would be a little more cautious about what they said in front of her as she matured and grew up. But it would seem I may have been a little short sighted in that regard.

The incident on Monday left me so dumb founded and so caught off guard that I couldn’t respond appropriately and I’ve been berating myself since then. I feel that I didn’t just fail Ava but I failed our BBM too.  I let somebody go, unchecked, thinking that Ava’s BBM was some kind of uncaring monster who, without a second thought, handed her baby over to a stranger and skipped off, carefree, into the sunset and that simply is the furthest thing from the truth.

I know that she agonized over this decision for months. I know that she worked hand in hand with our SW’s for months leading up to Ava’s placement, to exhaust every possible avenue, to be sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt that giving Ava up was in her (Ava’s) best interests. I know for a fact, that as part of the counseling process with our SW’s, they help the BBM’s ensure that there is no way humanly possible that they can keep their baby’s. If part of the reason for the placement is financial, they will go with the BBM’s on a “shopping” expedition. Where they will price every item a baby could need in a month, then they work together to formulate a budget for the BBM’s to see if there is now way possible for her to keep her unborn child, of course, this only applies when the reason’s are financial. I know that our BBM was extensively counseled, both in the months leading up to Ava’s placement and in the months following her birth. I know that our BBM agonized over who to place her with. I know that she was afraid of meeting us for fear that we would reject her and her unborn child. I know that she laid her soul bare and laid all her cards on the table, ensuring that our SW’s had made us aware of every detail that had led up to Ava’s placement. She did this in the interest of her child. Not for herself and not for Walter and I. She did this out of a deep lover for her unborn baby.

So to say that I feel I have failed her by allowing even one ignoramus to think that she was some uncaring monster to “gave her child away” is an understatement. I am wracked by guilt because of this.

And I’m wracked by guilt for my child as well. That anyone would think to devalue her in this way is simply unacceptable for me. She’s so perfect. So beautiful. So special. So innocent in all of this.

My most precious child.

And for that reason, Walter and I have started talking seriously about how we will handle these situations going forward. I never want to be caught off guard like that ever again.


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  • Reply Kimmie

    It just amazes me that in this day and age people are so insensitive and down right rude!

    August 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm
  • Reply St. Elsewhere

    I read your previous post to fully understand where this post came from. Seriously ouch!

    Marcia said a beautiful thing – very sensible. And yes, I guess it is the time for you and W to evolve a staple list of responses.

    All I know is that the world can’t be completely cured of stupidity, nor should we waste our time and energy beyond necessary in doing it, but we have to be lions and lionesses for our family.

    Ava is beautiful and very special, and I am sure her birth mom would have had to think a lot to decide what she did.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm
  • Reply Sian

    I think its very important. And I agree fully with Marcia!

    August 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm
  • Reply Mash

    You absolutely haven’t failed anyone! Oh my word, you are so thoughtful about things like this. And going forward, I have no doubt at all that you will be paving the way for a much better understanding, and most importantly for Ava to feel comfortable and secure. I so love that you are taking a clear and conscious stand on this issue!

    August 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm
  • Reply darylfaure

    Don’t beat yourself up Sharon – I don’t think anyone would have known what to say to a response like that. I think it is wise for you and Walther to prepare some standard responses though, and Marcia’s words are very wise and true. Hugs.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm
  • Reply Marcia (123 blog)

    I love the other Marcia’s response and I LOVE how intentional you two are being about these things going forward.

    There’s no need to feel guilty – you’re learning from it – and when you see the lady next week, you can maybe pull her aside and say, “something’s been worrying me about the conversation we had last week and I just want to clarify some things” and there you go.

    You will feel much better 🙂

    August 24, 2011 at 10:08 pm
  • Reply Lea White

    Personally I would have just stuck to “she’s my daughter”. I would not have gone into the whole “she’s adopted” discussion just with anybody. Your family knows and your close friends and your blog readers. So what if she looks a bit different? After all, she is your daughter. It doesn’t matter how she joined your family.

    Bianca when she was really little had light blonde hair and blue eyes. Now she has light brown / dark blonde and blue eyes. Neither of us have blue eyes or blonde hair.

    I don’t think people mean to be hurtful necessarily. But for so many of us adoption is a completely foreign concept. We all know about the situations i.e. with orphans in Russia and so on where more often than not those kids are given up by their parents because of some medical reason or something. Sad, but true. And those cases generally get so much more publicity. So the comments really are just based on what people have known through the media. Right now I’m reading a blog of a little girl who is in the process of being adopted and she’s in an orphanage in the Ukraine and it is shocking how she has been treated. And those are the usual cases people like me read about.

    When she said “I don’t think I could have ever given my child up” I don’t think she meant it as a bad thing or to hurt you or your child. Just that perhaps she thought the birth mum was incredibly brave. And once again we don’t know the details of the counceling sessions and so on and the processes that go into such a thing. Before I learned more from you I always thought you give birth to your child and then that child is whisked away without you even seeing that child. Perhaps that was how it was done in the old days. But I think that would be so incredibly heartbreaking if that was the case. It is still a hard thing, but the BM was given much more support than I always thought was given, she had a chance to say goodbye. She has the option of getting updates from you.

    So more often than not I think it is just that people aren’t as informed about it. Sure they might say or ask something that you feel is incredibly hurtful, but don’t allow it to hurt you. People can only hurt you if you allow them to hurt you. Use it as an education situation. We had a few insenstive / hurtful comment throughout Bianca’s cancer treatment, but we just really tried hard to turn it around to “teach” rather take offence.

    You are not going to avoid Ava hearing some of the comments out there. And sure at times kids (and sometimes adults) might say things that will really hurt her. After my dad committed suicide when I was nearly 9 some kid said that people who commit suicide are buried facing a different direction because of the suicide. And it really hurt me a lot. I was so not prepared how to deal with that.

    For School I would share it with the teachers, but ask them to treat her no different and not to refer to it in front of the other kids or even with the other parents. This way the teachers will be aware, but the kids will treat her no different (after all she is your daughter). When she is old enough she might feel she wants to share it with her class, and then I suggest you write a little story with maybe some photos that she can read to her class like we did when Bianca wanted to share her beads. Bianca was ready to share her story with the class and the class loved having the book to read and look at the photos.

    If it was me I would simply tell others that she is your daughter. I would leave the adoption info for people you really trust and feel comfortable with. I would share it with Ava and then leave it up to her at a later stage if she chooses to share it with other people. This way she’ll feel in control. And then whenever you talk to her you prepare her with coping strategies. About how to deal with different questions. Good ways of answering them. And how to deal with the not so nice people. That’s what I would have done I think.

    But Sharon at the end of the day, you are doing a great job. A wonderful job with Ava. You have already started talking to her about it. You have made such a huge effort to keep the BM included in your lives. Don’t allow others to get to you. More often than not it is not how they meant it. And even if they did. You keep walking tall. You teach Ava to walk tall. You are Ava’s mum and nothing anybody will ever say will ever change that.

    Sorry for the very long response!!!

    August 25, 2011 at 12:09 am
  • Reply To Love Bella

    I do agree with Marica too. Very wise words. We underestimate our little people…

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, Sharon. Easier said than done, but now you can go forward with more knowledge and “ammo”.


    August 25, 2011 at 7:23 am
  • Reply Mrs. Gamgee

    I’m often stunned by the ignorance of even the most well-meaning comments. The thing that I have to constantly remind myself is that these people, some of whom are very active in my life, simply don’t know how to respond and say the first thing that pops into their head. (my mom made the awfulest comment the other day about my IF… she didn’t think about how hurtful it was) It doesn’t excuse them, but it does help me deal with my frustration.

    I think your plan for going forward is a good thing. It will help Ava to understand her place in the world, and as she watches you educate others about adoption she will experience how precious she is in your life, and in the life of her birth-mom.

    ICLW #20

    August 25, 2011 at 7:49 am
  • Reply Lesley

    I have also prepared my mind to respond correctly when in a conversation about adoption. I think even those of us who had not adopted can help to correct people’s mindsets on this issue.

    A little girl holding a kitten must be one of the cutest things ever!

    August 25, 2011 at 8:25 am
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