E. turned 8 on Saturday.
8 years ago today I left the hospital and handed her off to her parents. I was euphoric. We have pictures from that day. I was smiling through tears, Josh looks like he had the soul sucked out of him.
I still wonder at the power of my...denial? illusions? that got me through placement. I believed without question that it was the right thing to do, I think if I had doubted it at all the whole house of cards would have fallen and I would not have been able to place her. I knew this at the time, I planned strategies to keep myself from reconsidering after she was born. Sending her home with the adoptive parents directly from the hospital was a big part of that plan.
I believed I knew better, was more clear-headed, pre-birth than I would be post-birth. I planned for the "temporary insanity" induced by becoming a mother. I indentified myself as a birthmother long before E. was born.
I was looking forward to a shiny new life, where I could put my bad girl self behind me and pick up the pieces, go back to school, get myself a real life. Keeping the baby represented the loss of all that hope. Keeping the baby felt like going backwards, going back to my parent's house, back to dependency and childhood, in a way. Letting my mistakes trap me into a life without possibility, which is what motherhood was to me. (That is a post by itself. It is not an uncommon sentiment in my post-feminist generation; motherhood is the End of Everything. People are very quick to remind you of evertthing to be lost when you become a mother, from your girlish figure to your intellignce and personality.)
Placing the baby felt like a "do-over". It felt like I was moving forward, rectifying mistakes, giving myself another chance.
It's all so ironic. Placing pulled me backwards: depression, disordered eating, drug abuse, thank god I got married or there would have been all kinds of inapropriate sex in there too, and all the baggage it leads to. All that stuff I was looking forward to? It evaporated. No new life, no new hope, just my worst self with an incurable emptyness in my soul. No redemption. All that stuff I wanted, that I thought mattered more to me than my baby, turned out not to matter at all.
Maybe someone tried to warn me of the scale of the loss I was going to expereince. I don't remember. I know that in my state of mind at the time I would never have heard them. I was doing adoption in a modern, pragmatic way, researching and planning and I was different than they were, adoption is different now, I am not going to fall apart like that.
This is the reason I simply cannot deal with women considering adoption for their babies. I can't stand talking, knowing my words are falling on deaf ears, and remembering how immovable my own mind was. I can't stand not talking, and letting them walk into the silent, thankless world of birthmotherhood without a warning.