Wow! It’s been awhile since I’ve had a stork sighting and this week suddenly storks are everywhere! There’s a new animated movie called Storks and the ads are everywhere I look. I’m in NYC this week and I even rode in a yellow cab with a big Storks movie banner on its roof. I’m taking this as a good sign…
This week Bodhi and I celebrated his birthday. Bodhi got a birthday dog cookie and a new chew toy which he promptly chewed to bits and we took a sunset walk at Point Isabel, one of our favorite local dog parks. It’s actually more accurate to say that this is our anniversary, since I don’t know Bodhi’s real birthday and I count back to the day we found each other at the local animal rescue. That was three years ago and I always wonder who rescued who. The day I met Bodhi, I was just coming off of a few difficult and stressful weeks culminating in one day that just felt shattering. I had been dealing with some very disappointing news and was feeling very sad, alone and regretful. I remember crying a lot that night. But after that dark night, when I woke that morning, something in me said “today’s the day you find your dog.” I had been thinking about getting a dog for sometime, starting around the time my Mom died, a few years back. But somehow the timing and situation never seemed right. But that morning was fate. I woke up drove over to the rescue to get there when they opened and there he was, this little guy curled up in his bed, looking up at me with his big brown eyes. I knew he was “the one” instantly. Bodhi is named after the Bodhi tree, the tree under which the Buddha found enlightenment. I often joke that Bodhi was meant to be my little enlightened zen dog. Well, I’m not sure if “zen” is a word that anyone who’s met this little dynamo would use to describe him, but he has, in many ways, brought some touch of enlightenment to my life. Through Bodhi, I’ve learned to let go, slow down and be more present and in the moment. I used to rush when I walked and bolt out the door for work every morning. Bodhi is a sniffer and every blade of grass and every dog he encounters is worthy of a sniff. With him, the world just slows down and I pay attention more to the little things. With Bodhi, I never come home in a bad mood. Any stress or worry I’m carrying around melts away when I open the front door and there is this little guy wagging his tail madly, bouncing up and down, so happy to see me. I’ve learned that dog people are great people. I’ve met so many interesting, kind and generous people at dog parks and on walks. People who love their little furballs are generally good people. Bodhi’s taught me about being a kinder and more open person, to look on the bright side. To trust more and judge less. Or as the bumper sticker on my car says “Wag more, bark less.” Bodhi holds no grudges or regrets. For Bodhi, every day is a new day and every walk is a new adventure. Most of all, I’ve learned about the expansiveness of love. Bodhi loves everyone. Well, everyone except postmen, UPS truck drivers and squirrels. I love Bodhi with all my heart. He makes me smile and laugh every day and has brought more joy to my life than I could have ever anticipated. I can’t imagine my life without this fifteen pound fuzz ball and am so glad he came into my life when he did. Bodhi has been my constant companion throughout this adoption process. Going through the adoption process really tests your personal resilience and your willingness to believe. Whether you’re in a couple or single, it’s a tough process, but going through this alone, as a single person, is just particularly hard and can feel terribly lonely, even with my many lovely friends and supporters rooting me on. But having this little guy to cuddle and love and seeing how much he loves me has helped me not feel so alone. Stepping into the adoption process is a giant leap of faith. You place all your bets on hope and luck and the faith that somewhere out there, there is a child waiting for you. It’s a lot to believe in and hope for but knowing that Bodhi and I found one another just when our time was right, helps me believe that this, too, will work out and that someday Bodhi and I will both have a new baby at home to love.
Check out some of my favorite photos of Bodhi. I’m totally biased, of course, but I think he’s just the cutest dog ever!
It’s funny how sometimes the universe speaks to you in mysterious ways. Yesterday, I had two unexpected experiences where I feel like I really learned something about the value of openness and vulnerability.
For the first incident, it was the end of my day and I was chatting on the phone with a work colleague who I know fairly well and consider a friendly acquaintance. I hadn’t seen her in quite a while and we were catching up, mostly about work related things, with a bit of professional gossip thrown in. We were checking in a bit on how we were doing work-wise and personally, but I hadn’t intended to tell her about my adoption plans. My adoption journey is something that I haven’t shared with many people in my professional life. I’ve kept this part of my life private, sharing it selectively. It’s not at all about shame or fear or worry about potential repercussions for my career, but more just because I am naturally a very private person. Key people at work are in the know about my adoption plans and they are very supportive, but I try hard to keep my private life separate from my professional. It’s a level of balance that works for me. So back to the conversation with this work friend, from catching up about professional stuff and changes in her work life, we drifted into the realm of more personal and then there came a moment where it just seemed right to open up about my adoption plans. She herself adopted her son and is a single Mom, so I think that had something to do with it. I’ve also been recently feeling more and more stressed and anxious about being in this “waiting limbo” and somehow, I think I just needed to unload with someone who would understand, where I could be vulnerable and open up. We ended up talking for ages. The office cleared out, lights went dark and there we were still talking and soon I was crying on the phone—and somehow this was a much needed catharsis for the stress that I had been carrying around. It was a really good conversation, uplifting and reassuring when I needed it.We talked about adoption and being a single Mom, about the parts that are hard and the parts that open your heart. And remarkably this letting go, opening up and being vulnerable when I didn’t expect it or plan it, managed to put me more at ease than I’ve felt in a long while.
The second experience happened right after, on my way home. I was waiting for my train and was scrolling through Facebook and my eye caught on a post from a friend that mentioned adoption. I’m not sure why this friend posted about adoption. I don’t know whether there’s a personal connection but she’s a pretty prolific poster about all sorts of things. The post was titled “Shame is sticky“and was from a blog written by a woman named Marci Glass. In it Marci tells her her adoption story–having been placed for adoption as child 48 years ago, finding and trying to reconnect with her birthmother but being rebuffed, and now trying to come to terms with the situation that her birthmother does not want to reconnect.
I found myself just so struck and moved by Marci’s blog post, this random post that popped up on Facebook page on a night I was feeling vulnerable and open. She writes so honestly about her longing and sadness, and hers is a moving and heart-breaking story. She makes very clear that the heartbreak she feels is not because of the adoption which she respects and expresses gratitude for, but rather the heartbreak comes from the loss and shame that she feels in her mother’s decision not to be open to meeting her. She writes:
I completely support her decision in 1968 to place me for adoption. I am, quite literally, the woman I am today because of that decision, and I am so grateful she gave me life and gave me up…I am quite certain that shame is at the root of why she won’t meet me now…for my birthmother, shame appears to have silenced her and is keeping her from speaking to me and speaking to her family about me. As I am navigating the discovery of my own story, I’m learning how “sticky” shame is in my life. I do not feel shame about being adopted. It’s been a gift in my life. I do not feel shame for having been born. Yet as I navigate the places her shame requests my silence, I feel her shame trying to cloud over my life too, making me feel that I can’t claim my story, trying to keep me from asking questions, meeting my family, etc.
In what she writes, you could really feel the hurt child, even now, so many decades on. And It really reinforced for me what it feels like not only for the child who is adopted but for the adult that child becomes. It made me think again about what I would want for my own child, what I would want them to be able to know about where they came from and how I would want them to feel good about themselves and their story, the history I would want them to have access to and the family they are always going to be part of in some way. Her story became even more poignant when I learned, scrolling through her blog to an earlier post (a post about her conflicted views on Mothers Day) that not only was she adopted, but she also placed a son for adoption when she was a college student. She talks about her relationship with her first born son (whom she placed in an open adoption and has remained in contact with) and writes about him with such obvious pride and love. She tells us that she later married and had two more sons, who also have been able to get to know first born son. She talks about how placing her first son for adoption — a decision she does not regret— has made her a better, more devoted mother to her other sons. And so, she really lives both sides—as a child who was adopted and a mother who placed her child for adoption.
After reading Marci’s story and her experiences, from both sides, it made me even more committed to wanting to insure that my child will have the opportunity and the gift of knowing his/her family history and birthparents. I know you can’t always control what happens but it made me even more committed to doing my part to approach our mutual adoption story with openness. Reading Marci’s story and feeling vicariously, through her, her birthmother’s shame also made me even more sympathetic to how hard all this is for the mothers who give birth and place their children for adoption. I’m really grateful to have stumbled on her blog (thanks, Universe and Facebook!) and Marci’s story. I hope you too have a chance to read her blog. Her openness and her willingness to be so honest, vulnerable and open in putting this all out there has been a real gift of insight for me—here from a stranger who whose post randomly wound up in my Facebook feed.