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Adoption Blog: Improv Mom

Winging It

I tend to throw my entire being into situations. I feel first, ask questions later—which is basically how I have been approaching my open adoption from the start. Yep, just winging it, folks.

Winging it to the best of my ability—just like you, I’m sure—by reading posts and articles from every side, every angle of open adoption; joining in adoption conversations online; and delving into my own research for the articles I write for Adoptive Families. All of it geared toward the hope of having the best open adoption I can have.

As much as I feel I’ve done a good job, I feel in equal measures that I’m mucking the whole thing up. Recently a constant battle of emotions has been kicking my ass, and my soul, getting the better of me.

Guilt. (Bleh.)

Let me tell you—there’s nothing quite like The Guilt of the Adoptive Mom.

I’ve been feeling so damned guilty when I think of Kim, my daughter’s birth mom. It’s a feeling that began when I first started speaking to expectant mothers and has been a steady undercurrent ever since I carried my child/Kim’s child out of the hospital. The guilt stemming from the fact that my happiness is built on her loss. The guilt about bonds broken in order to establish my own. The guilt about the economic disparities between our lives.

All this guilt has led to my being guilty of trying to “fix” things for Kim, putting her on this pedestal of Needing to be Cared For, which isn’t exactly honoring her. I can see now how I tried to “fix” things with the hopes of gaining…what, exactly? Making myself feel like the good guy? Making me feel that she wants or needs my advice? Securing the relationship? All of the above. Guilty, guilty, guilty as charged.

And here’s the kicker—for all this “fixing,” I was still left in the dark about a vital adoption detail. When it came to light, I felt angry and betrayed, which promptly led right into feeling guilty about feeling angry and betrayed. (Typical.)

But even as I was weighed down by my anger and betrayal, I knew...I knew. This was my wake-up call. My opportunity—to not let guilt rule me, to figure out how to be caring without caretaking. And my opportunity for Kim and I to get to know each other better.    

However just the thought of getting to this place, all by myself, left me feeling so damn tired and lost.

For all my adoption grunt work, open adoption was proving to be more intricate and hard than I previously cared to admit. It was in this state of feeling humbled and overwhelmed when I knew I had to ask for help.

Not in the form of an online forum, but the actual human kind—an adoption therapist. I am grateful I found a wonderful one. I was lucky enough to come across her name in a few of my adoption circles. I am now feeling lighter and greatly relieved.

My open adoption relationship is a living, breathing thing.

I say “my” on purpose and with purpose since this is a relationship between adults. A relationship that is helping my daughter process her adoption, answer her questions, demystify her identity—and who knows what else—and will continue to help her as she grows into adulthood. The older she gets, the more she’ll be in charge of her own relationship with her birth mom and family.

But right now, as a kid, she gets to be a kid in all of this—as my very wise therapist has pointed out .

Right now, it’s me wanting and needing to have a healthy relationship with her birth mom and family.

And it’s me wanting and needing to have a safe space to confide intimate details and express all of my feelings and screw ups, real and perceived, to do better and continue doing what I'm doing right. I am grateful to now have a supportive sounding board, which is helping me back to solid ground.

So I can continue onwards—winging it.

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Meet the Author

Barbara Herel

Barbara Herel

New York

I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
U.S. Newborn

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