Friday, September 04, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It's been a tough week for me emotionally. Those of you who read here are sure to know about the death of a beautiful little girl many of us came to know and adore through stories from her adoptive mother. Mom put up SOME fight to be able to bring this little girl home who was already a toddler. She also had a severe cleft lip and palette which was in desperate need of repair. There is a lot more to this story but this same beautiful child was murdered and the suspect just charged; that being her own mother. I have fought posting on this topic for so long because I want this to be a happy place where I can document our life together as a family. I may remove this at a later date in order to respect that some day this won't belong in my daughter's story. For now, it shall remain. My journey to adopt began in October 2005, shortly after the demise of a toxic relationship. I always knew I wanted to be a parent but was single and not in too many long-term relationships. My dreams started to become reality when I was accepted to my agency of choice to adopt a child from China. Why I chose China is of no relevance to this story so please, keep going. It was a long and arduous journey and although I yearned for it to happen, I also was grateful for this same wait which allowed me to grow by reading, watching and asking a lot of questions. I spoke to doctors and nurses and read clinical journals. I spoke to adult adoptees and heard their stories of having their names changed, having an American flag thrust into their hands and never to speak of their birth country again. Hearing these stories, makes me angry because it is my belief that EVERY adoptee has the right and deserves the respect of knowing their stories. In my case my child and I are not the same race so while we DO look alike in many ways, it is more obvious. Among the things I learned, the signs of Post-Adoption Depression (hereafter PAD) was really not discussed. It was only through speaking to my adoption coordinator (god bless you M.R) that this became knowledge. Meanwhile I am a licensed social worker and even throughout school had never heard the term. So when I experienced this incredibly painful ailment with the heart palpitations, watching the clock tick and wishing sleep upon us all, what did I do? I vacilated back and forth while in China if I were perhaps making a mistake. I had proverbial buyer's remorse. I wanted out but in my heart I knew I could not walk away. This was my daughter and for better or worse we were now a family. So forget her grief for a moment, what about mine? Where did these panic attacks come from which I had never in all my years ever experienced? Why was I afraid to be left alone with the child who kissed my nose and wanted to sleep with me? The answer is simple, I was suffering from PAD. In my case it lasted about three months. During those months I met with my primary care physician as well as my daughter's IA pediatrician and a course of treatment ensued. As a social worker trying to locate a therapist proved to be the most annoying task and in the end I relented and asked for a parenting coach/therapist through NYC Early Intervention. I ended up with a really nice male social worker who walked in and told me everything right I was doing. He noticed my growth as well as my daughter's on a weekly basis. He printed articles, he gave me homework and little by little I didn't need a pill to calm down. I no longer wished my daughter to sleep but instead wanted her awake to play with her. As a single parent going back to work sooner saved me and probably her too. She was used to being with children all day and I was used to being a career woman. A year later and I have managed to balance the best of both worlds. I couldn't love my daughter any more if I birthed her from my womb and while she wouldn't word that verbatim, she feels the same way about me. It's hard to believe I ever considered coming home "alone" or that there was something wrong with her. In essence there was something keeping me from realizing the gift I had been given but the grief that came with it. A year later we are mother and daughter in ever way and I would do anything for this child to show her how much she is loved. We make efforts to honor her birth culture and when she is a little older we will return to China so she may see where her life began and also to visit with special friends. I urge anyone reading this to please know you're not alone as you nod your head or you find yourself wiping a tear away. Through this journey I have met some of the most amazing women (and Jeff) who I am honored to call friends. There are supports out there and places to turn even in cyber-land if you need. There is the post adoption depression yahoo group for starters. It's not an easy read but some wonderfully strong women there telling their stories. Sometimes you have to endure the pain to reap the rewards of the pleasures of life. I was one of the lucky ones because I knew what it was and I RAN and didn't walk to my support network. Whether married or single, you must build those villages and build them strong. They need not be large but they most be strong enough to get you through the worst and to celebrate you with the best. Peace, Harmony and Justice for L.B and all those who have suffered unncessarily.

9 comments:

Michele said...

Such a beautiful post. It is only through the honest words of those who have dealt with PAD that others can be helped. I remember all too well your rough time in China and knew in my heart that you were meant to be her Mommy. It makes me so happy beyond simple words to see how wonderful you are together. A match made in heaven. Now if we only can find some time to spend together, we'd be golden.

dreamer said...

I agree whole heartedly about the village, it is not at all the size. It HAS TO be made up of people that when you call on them are there no matter what. And I can attest to it personally, you don't know till you knock on the village doors, it can be a harsh reality in a horrible time when the knocking goes unanswered.

I am grateful that your village was a rock and a foundation to build from.

"M" said...

This is a great post! I am so glad to for the honesty and authentic sharing. There just isn't enough of that here. Glad you got the help you needed and that you made it through the hardest parts. Glad for the true joy you are experiencing. It is wonderful that you are now wanting to help others with your experiences.

Jill said...

Thanks for this powerful post, and feel feeling open enough to share your story with us. I know this will touch many people!
Hugs, Jill

~ Alison n' Mali~ said...

"Sometimes you have to endure the pain to reap the rewards of the pleasures of life." <~~ beautiful, Lisa. What a great post.

I don't know much about PAD, I've never even heard of it. In our case it was RAD - but I can relate whole-heartedly to everything u just put into words. Medication & all.

HUgs to you & Em

Jess said...

Awesome post, Lisa. wow. Im also reeling with the news about this little girl. Im not sure if it was PAD involved here- but certainly PAD is a real issue and new adoptive parents need resources and support. Whatever good can come from this sweet child's loss... my heart just breaks for her.

Twice Blessed China Mom said...

Lisa, thanks for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I, too, have been very sad at what happened. You've chosen a brave and constructive way to respond to this tragedy. I'm sure that your words will encourage a parent to call upon their village for support.
Jeana

Snowflowers Mum said...

well said.

I was asked to write a paper on PAD for DONA, the Doula network in the USA. They train their Doulas to care for women post partum and to recognize PPD. When I told them about PAD they were extremely open and wanted to know more to assist adoptive mothers in their journey. the village is there, it's just not on the map.

Chasity said...

Lisa,
I know your story all to well, as our first 6 months of bringing our dauther home were the most difficult in our lives. I think the most difficult was that everyone always posted only the happy times, which made me feel like I was the only one. I thank God for my support network, which consisted of doctors, family, and friends. I'm so greatful that God helped me to realize there were bigger issues that I could not manage or handle alone. The beautiful thing is as my husband and I look back, we know that although we questioned many times our choices we knew God knew we were a family and through his strength we got through the tough times that no one talks about when they talk about adoption. We are so blessed to have this precious little girl in our lives and we will continue to pray for those who think they have no where to turn, we always have somewhere to turn for help.