Paper gowns and other realities of post-adoption depression

This is where it had all landed me. The months of torture I had endured all boiled over me that Sunday morning. And by Sunday evening I was being watched by a police officer. Not even a police officer. I think he was a security guard who had just graduated. So here I was all of my womanhood on display for someone still going through puberty who was probably more interested in twitter than keeping me safe. I was being monitored one on one so that I wouldn’t harm myself. My purse was taken away. My clothes gone.  I was left laying with a paper gown trying to plead with the doctor to not lock me up. I hadn’t shaved my legs or worn pretty underwear. My mother always told me to do these things. Although I am sure my mother never thought her daughter would be laid out on a gurney being evaluated by a psychiatrist that December morning. These are things that you think about and cry over when you realize that this may be the beginning to the end. My biggest fear was coming true. I was entering into a world I thought I would never return from.

I had had a “breakdown” years before when my car caught on fire with two of my kids in it. I was in a Starbucks drive thru and my toddler at the time started yelling “ MOMMY FIRE!” I turned around to the back seat to see flames coming up the side of the door at his feet. While the fire department came and put the fire out I sat and watched while holding my little ones. I had been alone for days as my husband was trying to piece his family back together in Ohio after his baby brother died suddenly. Nothing had made sense and I was losing it. After almost losing my children to dealing with the stress of a loss we could not comprehend I lost it. For two days I lie in bed heavily medicated and watched. My mother came to stay with me to make sure I remembered how to take care of myself and others. She made lists of things for me to follow. Brush your teeth. Make the bed. Pick up kids. The smallest things accomplished made me feel useful and needed.

But this is what grief and postpartum depression do. They take hold of your neck like a stranglehold and they continuously pull you down. They try to convince you that you will stay there forever. That your truth is the disease and not the overcomer. And here I was seven years later.

 I wanted to drown into the bed. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare. “Please” I am pleading with him just don’t lock me up. This doctor who looks like someone I know. Someone I would be friends with if I were not naked and covered in paper. In my head I am going over the possible scenarios.

I know what it’s like.

I do.

I know how they over medicate. I know that they will put me in a room and give me pills that make me forget who I am. I know they will feed me with sporks and my children will never look me in the eyes again. I know that people at church will find out. I know they say that church is a place for the broken. But only broken enough that a conversation will fix. Messy is not even the beginning to describe what is going on. They say that they will look past this and forgive me. But they won’t. I know.  I know when they find out the truth or the truth they want to believe and start gossip prayer chains. It will be so far removed from what happened that I will never know whose knife I have in my back. I  know that  I  will be looked at as the “crazy mom who had to be locked up”  “ The mom who couldn’t handle it” “ The one who fell off the deep end”  I  know how I  will never be the same. I will never be who I was meant to be. This is how you think when you haven’t slept in days and are naked on a gurney.

I lie staring at the blue wall pleading to God to show up. Of any moment in my life this would be the time for him to reveal himself. I was willing to take a vision. In middle school some of my classmates said they saw the virgin Mary at a sleepover I was at. They swore they saw her on the living room wall. Although we also believed we could turn potato chips into communion during lunch hour and serve each other as a priest who talked with a lisp.

But in this moment. I needed God himself to be real. I didn’t need the truth of a disillusioned catholic school girl I needed the faith of a girl who literally was at her rock bottom. I lie there crying, shaking.  Begging Him to be real. In this moment of all moments in my life I needed to feel Him. To hear His voice. To feel His arms wrap around me. I pictured myself at His feet barely able to lift my head clinging to His ankles. Begging for mercy to be tangible. For this one moment all I ached for was hope.

 

 

Grieving the high chair.

untitled (5)

I bought the high chair at a rummage sale. It was wooden with chipped, white paint flaking the sides. I had known from the moment I saw it that I wanted it to be mine. It reminded me of high chairs I would see in vintage black and white photos. It had no safety precautions, yet I am sure it had stories it could tell. Stories of the families and children it had served.

At the time that I purchased it for ten dollars,  I was not even pregnant. We had just started the process of filling out the paperwork for our adoption. And as we all know that high chair did not get used for a very long time. What we expected to take months took years. Years of waiting. Years of praying. Years of hoping. Years of anxiety, anger, frustration, signatures, home studies, finger prints, and did I mention paper work?

Yet after three years we were sitting across from our sweet little boy.

That high chair became the place where my little one ate his first meal as a family of seven.

It became the place where he clearly showed us that broccoli was never going to be one of his foods.

It became the place where he fell asleep when days were just too long for him and he couldn’t make it through dinner.

It became the place where he discovered pasta for the first time and decided the walls needed it too.

It became the place where his personality began to emerge and he entertained us all.

What I didn’t expect is that it would become a symbol of grief for me.

After little one clearly could not fit in the high chair any longer I scrubbed it all down and left it in the corner of the room for months. I would walk by it and think about what was next for our family. I would dream of my belly expanding and getting to wear cute maternity jeans. I would rationalize that I was keeping it for my grandchildren some day. Knowing full well that any mother would not let their infant sit in a chair with zero safety features.

And breathing in that I knew why I was really keeping it.

I was keeping it because I wasn’t ready to face my truth.

My truth, that I would never carry another child in my belly again.

Seven years before I lay on a hospital bed, sobbing as I signed on the dotted line. I wanted someone to save me. To save me from the choice. I needed someone else to make the decision for me.

I knew that the level of depression that I had suffered after each of the four children I birthed, had only gotten worse. I knew that I needed to make a permanent decision that I later would come to grieve. I knew at the time that I was scared of who I was after each child. And although I firmly believe in medication and that God created Prozac on the eighth day,  I could not function as a human.I knew that depression would swallow me if I chose to continue to grow our family through childbirth.

I remember the day I sold that white high chair in the corner. It went to a woman who loved to refurbish furniture. To make things new.

My truth, is that I grieve every moment when a friend or loved one is struggling with infertility or a miscarriage. The truth is, that I feel like I was so selfish to take that choice away from my family.

But I know this.

I know God uses everything. He opened my eyes to adoption, to safe families, to foster care and to taking in those around me. He shows me daily how I am that high chair. Chipped, tired, and covered with messes. But in His grace and mercy He is making me new. He is filling me with joy and wonderment. He is letting me heal and rest in in Him.

Where ever you are sweet one. Worn. Tired. Lonely. Grieving. Searching. Empty. Anxious. Fearful.

He is there.

He is binding Himself to you.

Making you new.

 

“Let us then approach God’s Throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

 

this is why. (truth about what Christians did in the name of adoption….and why I don’t agree)

I know this topic stirs up controversy in the adoption world. I am not claiming that this is your story. This is our story. But do not think that it doesn’t happen. It happens all the time. And we believe it just makes the problems worse for anyone that comes after you in the adoption process. It only hurts the kids that are left because of our greed and American narcissistic demands. This is our truth.

There have been moments this past year when Jesus so gently has whispered to me ….this is why. This is why you needed to suffer. This is why your family had to be separated for so long. This is why you saw what you saw. This is why you needed to obey.

This past August we began the process of adopting our sweet boy stateside. Because he came from a country that grants guardianship with the intent of adoption, we wanted to begin the next process as soon as we were able to. We handed all of our paperwork and documents over to our lawyer who presented our case to the judge. On a beautiful day in Chicago we stood before a judge as a family of seven and knew without a doubt that this was the final step.

Yet three weeks later we received a phone call from our lawyer. The lawyer that was representing our son in the case was contesting the adoption. During the nine phone calls back and forth that Friday afternoon I felt like the floor was falling out from under me. Tim and I cried and prayed and set up a plan. We knew we could not share this information with our families. The past year had been a year of so much uncertainty and fighting for us, that we could not bear to put another burden on their shoulders. His lawyer was stating that with all of the publicity of child trafficking happening in Uganda our case would not be granted. She was certain that our case was the one that was going to help her “make a name” for herself. Our lawyer was furious. She had done her research . She knew our case backwards and forwards and knew that there was no room for argument. We continued to fall to our knees and just pray protection over our family.

In that moment Jesus again said….this is why.

This is why you were in Uganda for three months. This is why you waited so long for a passport. This is why I let you fall in love with the people of Uganda. This is why you saw others leave the country within weeks and had no idea why. This is why you were at the passport office watching as other “Christians” offered to pay off officials in order to “get out of there”. This is why, when you were asked to pay a significant person in the adoption for documents on your first week there, you immediately walked out of the room and never looked back. This is why you cried yourself to sleep at night after witnessing people tracking down officials and persuading them to do what they wanted, when they wanted. This is why you came home from Uganda knowing that you never gave a cent to anyone to obtain any part of the adoption. This is why you came home so angry and disappointed at what “Christians” will claim and do “ In the name of Christ”. This is why you lay awake at night so disappointed at what you saw unfold before you. This is why this story still brings you to tears and makes your blood boil. This is why when someone accuses you of anything illegal in your adoption you can hold your head high. This is why sweet girl. This moment. This moment is why. You obeyed. You may have had to be apart from the rest of your children for three months but this is why.

This moment when we knew we could go before the judge with a clear conscience and know all we did for Christ was obey.

This past Monday I came home from a weekend away to find a large envelope from our lawyer. In it was the final ruling of our judge. The judge had decided that what his lawyer was presenting held no merit.That our family was a family of seven. Our sweet boy is ours. Officially ours. Forever ours. This is why.