Sunday, August 12, 2012

Emotional Theft

A cartoonist will depict a thief in black and white striped pajamas with a black mask just over their eyes. They are usually sporting the always stylish black beanie, that looks a little too small to fit on the top of their always scheming cranium. They are always being caught with a small bag with a $ symbol on the front and tip toeing like they are trudging thru murky water. Maybe there is a reason for the trudging, maybe it's symbolism for the seriousness of what the cartoonist is trying to depict. (FYI- I am a freak for symbolism! Thanks to my speech coach and favorite english teacher of all time. Love you Minick!)
Today we see all kinds of theft that the classic cartoonist never got the chance to use in a witty cartoon. Identity theft is on the rise, or so I here on the Glenn Beck program. Pirating songs or movies is something that I would probably say most people (lowering my head with shame) are guilty of. I want to address a type of theft that I know we are all guilty of and that is emotional theft. This is tricky because most of the time it is accidental with very innocent intentions. The old proverb says, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
I will do my best to explain what I think emotional theft is, only because google didn't come up with anything helpful. Here are some examples...
I am part of many adoption forums and groups. In these groups, birthparents will talk about feelings of being used by the prospective parents. As if the future parents of the child are only building relationships to get the baby. I know people hurt with loss of not being able to bare children and some become desperate. For this I am so sorry. But does this mean that the feelings of the birthparents can be neglected? Prospective parents have been known to pay for bills, give gifts, attend doctor's appointments, and spend quality time with expecting parents and once the baby is placed; POOF! They disappear. Emotions shouldn't be used to buy a baby. Many times during the original arrangements of the adoption both sets of parents will meet, some call these meetings a "face-to-face". During a face-to-face, expectations are talked about from both sides and arrangements can be made to meet those expectations. Many birthparents will talk about disappointments they have when they do not receive what was promised to them.  Neglecting the promises that were made is a great example of emotional theft. These birthparents rely on the promises to help them cope and heal after the placement of their children. To neglect that is to take away the only connection they have with that child and will leave that birthparent in absolute misery.
These examples are extreme and I do not know anyone personally to experience things of this magnitude. I think it is best explained through one of my own experiences that I wrote for a blog that I contribute too.

I was at T-ball practice with my oldest son and when it was over I let my kids play on the playground for a while. I don't make a habit of eaves dropping but when you are sitting next to a loud talker, it's kinda hard to not over hear. The two women talking were my son's coach and another team member's mom. They were talking about their kids, like us mom's do! The coach had said that she had six children and she adopted one of her younger sons. The other mom immediately had a face of concern and worry, like what she had just said was some kind of sin. The second mom asked the coach, “Does he know?” This question made my ear perk up. I was now eaves dropping intentionally.
I now needed this question answered and I needed it to be answered it correctly. “No,” she answered back. No! No? Really? The word “no” was rumbling around in my brain like a loose marble. I couldn't grasp a hold of the conversation that I had just heard. She continued to say things about his ADHD or how she wasn't ready for his reaction, but to be completely honest I had stopped listening to these women because the noise from the “no” marble in my head was too loud.
Do people really still think this way? I thought the idea of keeping an adoption secret was now an ancient practice. Among my disbelief I found my heart getting heavy with sadness for this child and his sweet birthmother. This beautiful child has not been taught of the love and the sacrifice of his birthmother. This child had no idea that another women carried him for nine months, held him in her arms for a few days, and loved him so much that she kissed him goodbye. This child deserves to know. If not for him then for his birthmother. He has no idea of her existence on this earth.
Now my heart wept for her. To imagine that the baby she loves more then life, the baby she missed so bad it hurt to breath for the first week after he was gone, has grown into a handsome little boy who knows nothing about her. Absolutely nothing! These parents have made the decision to take this little boy's birthmother away from him, and him from her. This was too heart wrenching. I couldn't sit there and listen about this birthmother losing her son for the second time. I gathered up my kids and cried in the car. 

This mother had emotionally robbed this boy of the knowledge of his birthmother; her love, her pain, and her sacrifice. This mother has emotionally robbed this birthmother of the same thing. Years later  she will find out that while she cried on his birthday every year, she was forgotten. She will find out that while she stroked the cheek of her most recent picture of him, he had never seen a single picture of her. She will find out that the word "birthmother" for him, will be nothing to honor. 
Now, I know this sounds judgmental and I don't mean to be. Please don't misunderstand me. I am sure his mother is doing and thinking about what is best for her son. I have spent time with this women, I have been in her house and I enjoy her company and I can see that she is a great mother. After all I am not his mother and I don't receive revelation for him. But as a birthmother I could not help but feel for his bithmother, she deserves to have someone to shed a tear for her.
I think I am able to boil it down to this; Emotional theft is to neglect the feelings of the people around you, with or without intentions. I am not certain that the parents who neglect promises are doing so on purpose. I am inclined to think it isn't. Parents just get busy, that I say with experience! I do not think that my son's baseball coach has intentionally forgotten her son's birthmother. I am sure she is just so occupied with trying to raise her son the best way she knows how, that the birthmother just got lost in the jumble of life.
I would say it is fair to say the we are all guilty of emotional theft. Maybe not in regards to adoption but to life. My mom always told me it's easiest to hurt the ones you love because you know they will come back. Sometimes we all do and say things unaware of how our actions may rob happiness from the ones we love. Whether they are true or not, stuff just hurts. This is where the atonement of Christ comes in. We can rely on our Savior to help us forgive those that offend and heal when we have been hurt.


And as a misplaced last thought: Those of you who are intentionally emotional thieves... well SHAME ON YOU!

16 comments:

  1. that one made me cry

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  2. As always you put into words what my heart is screaming. Awesome job, Carla. <3 you!

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  3. Oh my Carla. You make me think. Thank you. :')

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  4. A little bit too close to home, but through my tears, I thank you.

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  5. Okay, I'll write out my story here. I was looking into adoption because my home life was far from perfect, not even fixable at the time, my boyfriend at the time was pressuring me into it, he didn't want to raise a baby. And I had a not so great homelife. I was also already a single mom to a 2 year old. I called up the adoption agency in the phone book, the one that promised updates, yearly visits, albums upon albums of prospective parents waiting to adopt, this agency is called A BirthMothers Choice. And it really made it seem like it was, all my choice. It wasn't. Far from it I guess. Especially seeing as how I don't really get any of what was promised.

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  6. So I sat down and called and woman named Erin answered, she wouldn't tell me her last name, I was talking to her from behind tears telling her I didn't know what to do and I felt it was my only option, I asked her to send me some albums... of some hopeful couples so that I could make a better decision on weather I wanted to place or not... I faxed over my proof of pregnancy and such that same day... Weeks later I still hadn't recieved any albums or whatever of hopeful Aparents... So I called Erin back, she told me she wasn't going to send me any prospective parents files until I decided I absolutely wanted to place, since the Hopeful Aparents would get their hopes up knowing their album was going out and they also liked to personalize them for the specific birth mother. At the time, I was living in an abusive household... so only ONE more fight took place before I called her up and said, OKAY, send them, please send them.

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  7. A few weeks later after that I recieved 2 profiles. An older couple who lived in a GIGANTIC house, with a HUGE yard... but nothing in it, they were in their 50s or 60... really, an older couple. I thought, hm.. maybe if I were having a girl... but I wanted my boy to be a lot more active and have really fun parents, if I chose to place. The next album was a couple in their 30's, they had their college graduation photos, their pets, their whole family, vacation photos, everything you could imagine! But I felt from the start that I was afraid of them not giving me what I wanted... the other couple, the older couple, offered visits and such... but I didn't want my son living in a boring house with boring older people... I felt bad, but I just couldn't even imagine it. I wouldn't even have wanted to live there. Well, I called Erin up and I asked her to ask the younger couple what else they had to offer. She said that she could set up a phone meeting with them if I really liked them, and ask them myself... so I agreed.

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  8. A couple days later I got a call from Erin and she connected me to The Aparents I was thinking about... I asked them a lot of questions, the Amom was telling me about how she's a school teacher and how her husband did this, teach for Africa thing or whatever, and how much they LOVE kids, but couldn't have any of their own. Apparently she had to have surgery and couldn't have any kids. They tried for years and she told me she was very very depressed. She kept bringing up stories of adopted children in her classrooms throughout the years and telling me how she felt it was sad that some of them didn't even know who their birthmother was. I felt like I could fit in with this couple, that they would still let me have contact and that they might have understood the place I was in just a little bit. After that Erin gave me their number and gave them mine. The Amom called me, OFTEN, she constantly was asking about baby boy and my doctor appointments, she seemed to care SO much, she asked me about my daughter and myself and how I was doing... I really started to like her. As time went on she called more frequently, staying on the phone with me for hours sometimes, just chatting. I really liked it and I felt, YES this is the family, I'll get pictures, updates, visits, everything I've been looking for, they value me as his other mom and they care about what I feel and think.

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  9. Not too long after I got into a small car accident and went directly into active labor, I got to the hospital and they told me I was probably having baby boy, THAT day. So I called up Aparents and told them... told them that the doctors said I was probably having him that day. I was 4cms dilated and 60% effaced. They hopped on the next flight over. When they came we talked, chatted, got to know each other more. The Adad didn't talk to me very much, but Amom just LOVED to talk! The hosptial ended up stopping my labor but told me that I would probably just go back into it soon after. Aparents left though, no big deal I thought.

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  10. Only 2 weeks later I went into labor again, I called the Aparents but they wouldn't come, in fear that Baby boy wasn't really on his way again. But I told them I knew my body and that I knew he was on his way, but they just woulnd't chance it... and they missed out on our little boy being born. I kind of wanted them there... so maybe it would have been easier on me, but idk, maybe it wouldn't have been. I called them though, and they heard his very first cry via phone (which I didn't have to do for them). There was a lot... I didn't have to do for them.

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  11. Well..... then they came, after he was born.. He went straight to NICU since he was 6 weeks early... He was healthy though, healthy baby boy, 5lbs even and 17.5 inches long. Big for being so early. Well, they came... then their moms came too... I didn't really like that... but I mean, they were welcoming a new member to their family.. So I let it go and I let them in the NICU unit too. I hardly ever got to hold him.. I felt SO alienated... Nurses looked at me weird, and the Aparents couldnt keep their hands off him. I felt like a stranger around my own baby... All these other people around him, and NONE of my family came to support me or be there for me..
    2 days later I signed him over, I had placed in front of me by their lawyer a contract. This is it I thought, The reason I'm placing, the ONLY reason I feel safe placing. I looked over it and I agreed to visits, photo albums, Holiday photos, all that good stuff... I signed, then I went back up to NICU and talked to the Aparents, I said, there is only ONE more thing I ask... can you PLEASE let me know when B (what they named him) can leave... so I can say bye ONE LAST TIME? And I would REALLY just like a picture of BOTH my children together, that's all I ask and it would mean the world to me. Bennett was on pumped breast milk (doctors and nurses said I should and I already told Amom that if B was born early I was going to feed him breastmilk, but only pump it,.. she said that was fine, (but why do I need permission to do what is right for my baby?)

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  12. Well, as soon as I left the hospital.. it only took a couple days before they stopped feeding him the breastmilk.. I was told I wasn't needed anymore, that he would be FINE without me... I felt like SHIT, I couldn't even get myself to go back to the hospital and be in front of them.. I wanted to scream in their face SO bad... I continued texting Amom... asking her about B... but rarely ever she would text me back... What happened to the woman who CARED SO MUCH?!?! She apparently didn't exist anymore now that she got her baby.... I kept trying, but nothing. So I looked on her facebook and found... SURPRISE SURPRISE, THEY WERE HOMEEEE!!!!!! (In south carolina... when I live in Rhode Island...) AWESOME. F my life.
    I couldn't even get myself to talk to them anymore.... what would I say?
    For MONTHS I planned how I could get my feelings across to her, how betrayed I felt, how HURT I was, how my daughter didn't even ever get to MEET her brother..

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  13. In the nicest way possible one day, I texted her telling her how I felt.. she became VERY defensive... she told me the DOCTORS said he shouldn't have been on breastmilk, that he didn't need it at all, the DOCTORS told her DON'T let him around any other kids.. and since my daughter was 3, that was a risk she wasn't going to take, no matter what I WANTED, since that was a selfish risk on my part... She then stopped sending pictures and contacting me for 3-4 months, I can't even remember... Those were my very darkest days. I remember crying in bed for hours upon hours begging myself to just forget.. Just please please forget..
    During this time I called up Erin again and asked her for my contract so I knew what I was entitled to... my saving paper, the only reason I really signed... What I heard on the other end of the line made my heart sink and cry.
    "Oh, you really DON'T have ANY rights at all.. that was only a MORAL contract, it doesn't mean anything."
    WHAT?! Why didn't ANYONE tell me this before! Why did they all lie to me?! Oh yeah...

    to get their baby, and to get their profits.

    That's what it ALL comes down to.

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  14. My son is now 16 months... I get pictures once a month... about 5 pictures, (only if I text her and ask) other than that... we don't talk at all.. I might as about him sometimes and SOMETIMES I get an answer... not all the time though, sometimes I'm ignored and never answered. But I did find out recently that he says Mama, dada, duck, and bye bye. I get no visits, and I have no idea if she'll even tell him he's adopted.I get nightmare after nightmare of her and her family members telling me "your job is done, leave." I guess that's what I'm really stuck on...

    My life as a birthmom... so very pleasant. As you could only imagine.

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  15. Sorry for blowing up the page, it wouldn't let me post it all at once. :/

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  16. Amazing post! Think I may become a regular. :)

    And Patiently Blessed, I'm so sorry for your situation. If you ever want to talk to me, please shoot me an email. Birthmom to birthmom. :) jeskakelly@gmail.com

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