Sunday, September 5, 2010


This post, for lack of a better term, has more in common with a journal entry than its counterparts. If this interests you please read on. If not perhaps this forward saved you a bit of time.

I find I'm having a difficult day today. The emotional unrest began last night. The difficulty began in truth one year and nine months ago.

Yesterday Athena and I went into town to purchase some chocolate I'll be sending in a "thank you" package and a stuffed animal for Festus. Yesterday was Festus' first birthday. I kept wondering that day if we should do something to commemorate the significance of this anniversary. I asked Athena for her thoughts. She preferred the day go unmarked. It wasn't until we went to bed that night after a very tiring day that I began to feel uneasy. Something felt amiss. I didn't know how to put it. I felt as though I should have done something to recognize and signify my experience of what happened one year ago on that day. After talking about it for 15 minutes or so I came to the conclusion that the more honest approach was to allow ambivalence to have its place. I didn't need a name for this feeling because I had never had it before. I didn't need to know what it was so long as I listened and knew where it came from.

Today, through a curious coincidence, I found myself once again driving to the home of Athena's parents on the same road that lead to the birthcenter. The light was different but so much was the same. The colors of the trees and the blooming wildflowers on the side of the road were all the same. I remembered what happened exactly 366 days earlier. I remembered the crying. I remembered the screaming. I remembered the smell of blood, a face of terror, and the deepest throbbing ache in my heart I will ever know. I remember visiting my father in the waiting room. I remember how surprised and relieved I was that someone in my family actually came. I remember equal surprise when he refused to see his first grandchild. I remember carrying Athena with her father to the car. I remember carrying her into the house with him again. I remember the look on Ms Scarlet's face when we first introduced her to Festus. Prof Plum wore a big, toothy grin. We drank champagne out of paper cups. Two hours later, weary beyond anything I could imagine, I lay Athena down on an air mattress in her parent's den. We lay together and cried. Eventually we fell asleep.

I am very happy for my son's first birthday. I am glad to know how much his mom and dad love him. I am very sad that one year ago Athena had the most painful and traumatizing experience of her life. I mourn the father that I am not. There is still a part of me that doesn't believe I made the "right" choice. A part of me believes that I should have chosen to parent without regard to the happiness of my son.

My elder brother, E. once asked me "why are you doing this to your family? Why are you putting us through this?" I explained that I couldn't lie to myself, and I couldn't accept how removed from the rest of the family I would become were either of my brothers to parent my son. The idea of the cliche "older brother to the rescue" on a scale this large would mean not looking my family in the face again. It would mean leaving them behind. E. responded that I wouldn't be the screw up. "You'd be the hero of this family." That's the funny part of it. After making the decisions that I did my family can now look at them and say it would have been heroic to ask a brother to parent my son. It would seem so altruistic to save them from the experience they've now had. But had they not experienced it, would I still be considered a hero for making the same choice? Had I never placed Festus with Ms Scarlet and Prof Plum would anyone in my family consider placing within the family heroic? I honestly don't think so. Had I placed within the family I suspect that parenting Festus would then appear to be the more appropriate choice. Had I chosen to parent marrying Athena would appear to be the better choice. For each step taken deeper into the comfort zone of my family there is always going to be another step deeper they want. In this situation perfect didn't feel good enough. So instead of the perfect choice I tried to make the choice that would give us a chance at being family again. I don't know if I did a very good job of that. I tried my best but it may not have been enough. I allowed my family to hurt. My hope was they could then recognize my pain as well. More so I knew protecting my family from the truth of my experience would hurt me exponentially more than their responses to pain.

I'm sad today. My family relationships are difficult at best. I see my son once a month but know he will never look to me for comfort. I'll not be one he runs to. Is this better than the alternatives that were available to me at the time? I think so. But even the best life hurts. The happiest people cry. Today is just a bad day.


  1. Happy Birthday to your son! He and my son's birthdad share the same birthday. I took your advice and wrote to him yesterday. We told him we love and care for him and are waiting with open arms when he is ready for contact. Thank you for your note and your advice :) I know you are hurting and I'm sorry, I am also incredibly proud and happy you are in your son's life. He may not run to you for comfort but, he will run to you. He will run to you because you are there and you love him and he loves you. Thinking of you, hugs.

  2. I'm sorry that you don't feel pure joy on your son's birthday, and that you are hurting.

    It is so easy, when we make really difficult, life-altering decisions, not to wonder "what if...?" Clearly, though, you made a well-thought out and deeply felt decision that was the right one given the information you had at the time. And that IS the best we humans can do, for ourselves and those we love.

    Take good care of yourself.

  3. You wonder if parenting would have been the right choice even if parenting would have been more harmful to your son than adoption.

    Well you do realize this is silly right? I know that knowing (intellectually) is different than knowing (emotionally). But all the same, the best thing to do for your son is to give him the best life possible. The only thing to question might be whether adoption was/was not more harmful than parenting for your son.

    However even in that question, we can't change the past, so the only reasons to ask that question are
    A) the noble reason of thinking about future generations
    B) the genuine desire to be honest about what your sons experience of adoption is like
    C) the desire to beat yourself for something you can never change.

    Reason C being one that can be scrapped outright. Here is why. No matter what, if you knew that at the time you chose adoption you thought it would be better for your son, then asking whether you are a good person, whether you acted with integrity, whether you love your son, whether or not you should hate yourself is totally unecessary. You already know that WHETHER YOU WERE RIGHT OR WRONG, you did in fact act out of the highest love you knew, if you placed your son so that he could have a better life.

    Ruminating on these things is unavoidable at times, but it can be lessened by reminding yourself that, rightly or wrongly, you believed adoption was the best thing.

    I know you have mentioned choosing adoption for reasons that were more about your own benefit than your sons, which will be another internal struggle in which for your son's sake it is important to be honest, but it's also important to remember what issues brought you to feeling like that was the right way to do things. I believe at the heart of every human is a deep love. I think it's this murky world of suffering that brings us to be unable to access that love. But the love is hanging out there, waiting to come out when this life of shit gives it an opportunity.

  4. OK So I'm a bit diffident about writing this but you did ask what I think, right? I read this post a few hours ago and I can't stop thinking about it. It has left me very troubled. You usually seem so resolved about your decision to continue the pregnancy and place Festus. But this post suggests otherwise. You are usually very positive about the whole thing, but in this post you describe the day Festus was born as the most painful and traumatic day of her life. Does it have to be that the moment an unwanted pregnancy results in the birth of a child that it has to be so negative? You say that if you had parented Festus's happiness would have been sacrificed (that's if I've understood you correctly). I guess what is troubling me is--and I pick this up from Lia's and Lisa's posts also--that no matter which way you turn, there is just doom and gloom all around. If you keep the baby you're miserable, if you place the child for adoption you're miserable. Why carry through the pregnancy then?
    I hope I'm not crossing any line(s) by making these remarks and asking these questions.

  5. Happy Birthday to Festus! I hope your birthday "unrest" settles down soon.

    I also think that someday your son will run to you. You are his dad, and he will grow up knowing & appreciating that. I believe it is a bond that cannot be broken, although it can be buried deep within if not allowed to exist. Therefore, how wonderful that you are able to still be a part of his life.

    As a mom who lived through a closed adoption, now 31 years later living through a "semi-open-cyber-based" one ~ I cannot imagine how hard, yet how wonderful it would be to be able to see your child grow up. To know they are loved, healthy & happy.


  6. Nothing really to say, just wanted to let you know I'm reading. You broke my heart a little here, man. I'm sorry you're hurting.

  7. Sorry for the delayed response. I'm just catching up on my blog reading...

    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this. I'm honored to have read it. Pie's birthfather really doesn't share with us his feelings, so when you ahve posts like this it gives me some insight into his world. I so appreciate your honesty and willingness to share the good, bad and ugly.



What do you think? I'm curious.