Her Bad Mother

Friday, August 22, 2008


And then, there was this:

wow, you don't understand what your post really did for me today... I am right now in the middle of an adoption plan gone wrong... i have so many emotions going through my mind... Its hard for me to look at her sometimes because I know what I should do, but why can't I do it?! ...just got word the adoptive couple just wants to back out completely... is this a sign? do I keep my baby girl even though if I do I will be sacrificing the lives of all my children... this baby is #3... I would love to have your opinion... please...

Her name is Marie. When I saw her comment, the other day, I stood up from my chair, closed my computer and walked away. I walked into the room where my baby was sleeping, and sat down on the floor with my knees curled up against my chest, my arms wrapped around my legs, my heart pounding. I didn't cry. I was cried out already, from having written that post, from having taken that story that I've been carrying for days and bringing it to life, from having made public my pledge to do this remarkable, difficult thing. To find my brother.

If I wanted to make this story more poetic, I would say this: that I stood up and looked at my baby - my precious baby boy, this boy that I could no more give up than carve out my own heart - and, overwhelmed by my love for him, made my mind up to help Marie at once. But that's not what happened. I stood up, and took extra care to not look at my boy - for fear that I would be reduced to a sodden mess of tears - and went back to my computer. I opened it up and logged on to Twitter and prattled something about could anyone, anyone please go respond to this comment please please I just can't and then I went and ate some cake.

Then I went back to my computer and posted a response to Marie: Please, Marie. E-mail me.

And she did.

I found your blog one day just browsing and you are amazing... It was so ironic to find your story and here I am going through this... I haven't made a decision yet... I haven't even named my baby yet, she's been with me since monday and all I can call her is Beaner, what I called her when she was in my belly... I'm really confused, I don't know what to do..... She's not my only child, this is kinda a big mess...

I started my adoption plan 2 months ago, I told my family... they are not happy.. I live in a shithole little town that sucks the people in and i don't want to be one of them... My family threatened to take my 2 older kids 2&4 away if I placed this baby... I went into labor early, I had her on July 23 and she wasn't due until Sept 3. After my mom drove me to the hospital where I gave birth alone, I got a summons that afternoon stating my parents were granted temp custody of my 2 other kids because I abandoned them...

I picked a family and because of all this drama, they backed out and now I'm left with deciding do I try to get to know another family as fast as I can? Or do I take it as a sign and keep my baby... I'm just afraid of the life I'm destined to have w/ my kids in this shit hole town if I do... If I place her in an open adoption, I can still see her grow and be happy...And then I can move out of shitville with my kids and away from my family....

I don't know...

I wanted to say to her, keep your baby. Keep your beaner, please. But how could I say that, when I didn't know that would be the best thing, the right thing? My own heart is bruised and sore, struggling to come to terms with my mother's loss, with my own loss, a loss that I had never known, a loss that might have been for the best, who knows? I didn't know. I don't know.

I'm not the best person to turn to on matters concerning the heart, right now.

I said this:

Oh, Marie.

I wish I knew what to tell you. All I can think is, you haven't said what you *want* - what do you want most? It's so hard to predict or know what the best path is - but what one do you *want* to take? Do you want to keep your beaner? Can you get out of your town with all three kids? Or do you really think - and this might be true - that beaner's best shot at a good life is with another family? SO HARD.

I wish that I could do more to help, other than say things like 'follow your heart'...

It's not necessarily true that her heart will guide her to the best decision. I know that. Maybe the heart should be left out of decisions like this. I know that my mom tried to put her heart aside, or part of it. It was why she didn't hold her own beaner. She was afraid that she would never let him go, and that that would be the wrong thing for him. That it would not be the best thing, that she would get carried away by her own selfishness, that she would give in to the selfish thrum of her heart and keep her boy. Her heart was divided against itself: do what was best for her heart - keep her child - and do what she believed was best for his heart - give him to a family that could give him everything she couldn't.

She did what she believed was best for him. But it broke her heart. The cracks have never gone away. And now here I am, her daughter, her love, suffering for knowing that those cracks existed, that I could never fill them, for the fact that I never knew they were there.

But this isn't about me.

I don't know what to tell you, I told Marie. Can we ask some others for help?

Yes, she said. Please.

my heart wants to keep my beaner but my mind says i cant... i don't think i have asked my self what my heart wants... i need all the advice i can get. this just hurts so much i love all my kids so much and i just want the best for them.


I can't, we can't, tell Marie what to do. We can't know what the best thing is to do, anymore than I can know what the best thing would have been for my mom and for my brother. All we can do is hope and pray that they find - that they have found - some path to happiness.

And we can hold her hand while she finds her way. Please, any words of support you can offer... so many moms never get to have this kind of support. My mom didn't. Offer it to Marie, and to all the moms that do and ever did need it.


To all of you who have been sending links and tips and stories: thank you. I love you. I just do.

And? That thing that I said we were going to do? We're still doing it. Next week, if I can stay on top of everything.
Info here.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lost Boy

His name was William Frederick Hunter, and she only saw him once.

Once, from behind the window of the nursery. He was wrapped in a blue blanket, and he was oh so small. They asked her if she wanted to hold him, and she said no. Just as she had in the delivery room, right after he was born, when she had squeezed her eyes shut so that she wouldn't see him, her heart, the heart that she was giving away. She said no.


It would have killed me,
she said. It would have killed me. I couldn't have gone on. I loved him.

She had loved his father. They had planned to marry, as soon as he divorced his wife. Nobody had believed her, but it was true. It seemed true. They'd run off together twice. They both went AWOL from the Air Force, running off into the night to be together. Her family pursued them, his wife's family sent private detectives after them, the Air Force searched for them. They were wanted. They ran. They were found, and they ran again. He left his family for her, risked his career for her. He was happy that they were going to have a baby. They hid out in motels.

At the time, she said, I thought it was romantic. She shakes her head.

She was nineteen years old. He was nearly twice her age. When her family found her the second time, they didn't bother to reason with her. They just took her. They took her and put her in a home for unwed mothers. She stayed there. She doesn't know what happened to her lover. She never saw or heard from him again. She thinks that he probably went back to the Air Force, and to his wife.

I would have liked for him to know that he had a son, she said. I think that would have made him happy. She paused. Or maybe not.

When she went into labor, the nurses at the home for unwed mothers gave her some money and put her in a taxi. She arrived at the hospital alone, labored alone, gave birth alone. Gave up her child alone.

She was alone when the social worker came into her room and asked her if she knew anything about the parents who would adopt her child. It's a private adoption, she told the worker. My doctor arranged it. The social worker nodded. But did she know that those parents were in their 60's? That they were old? That the province would never approve it if it were a public adoption? She didn't know. She didn't want that. She wasn't giving up her son to new parents, only for him to lose them in a few years. Like he was losing her, now. She wanted the best for him. That was the only way she could do this. She had to know that she was giving him a better life.

She called her doctor in. She told her that she wouldn't do it. She wanted her son to go to a young family, to parents who had their whole lives ahead of them, to parents who had years and years and years to love him. Her doctor was furious.

I was terrified, she said. I'd never spoken up to anyone older than me, not to anyone with any authority. But I had to do it. For him.

Her baby went into foster care while adoption services sought new parents. She didn't go to see him.

My parents went to see him, I think, she said. They never talked about it, but I'm sure they did. My mother put him in her will, and kept him there. Through revisions and revisions until the end of her life, she kept him there, always a member of the family, in her heart.

The man that she would some day marry came to her side during that time. They were friends. He held her hand, a lot. She grieved for her lost love and her lost baby, and he held her hand. He said, I'll marry you. We can get your baby back. I will love that baby. With you. We will love that baby, together.

But it was too late.

William Frederick Hunter was adopted by a Vancouver couple. Professors at UBC, I think, she said. It was too late for me, she said. For us. Or so we thought. We didn't know any better. We were so young. We might have been able to get him back. But we didn't try. We didn't know to try. We thought he was gone.

She grieved for years. Her husband held her hand. She couldn't bear the idea of having children. Just the thought of seeing another baby in another blanket... it was too much.

The grief became less acute, as time passed. One day, she realized that she could have another baby, and bear the pain. She could imagine not transposing her lost boy upon a new child. She could love again.

It took seven years, she said. Seven years before I knew that I would be okay. And then I had - then we had - you.

And I loved again.

I squeeze my own baby boy, pulling him tightly against my chest, wondering how it would feel to let him go. Even if I thought it best, for him - could I let him go? My heart screams.

I understand why she couldn't hold him, her lost boy.

I've thought about him every single day of my life, she says. Every single day. Every single day I see that little baby in that blue blanket, and I wonder.

I wonder.

She pauses. I imagine that her hand trembles as she lifts her wine to her lips, but I can't see in the dim light of the late summer evening. I'm glad that I can't see, and that she can't see me. Tears are streaming down my face and wetting my baby's head.

I've never looked for him. I couldn't. What if something had happened to him? What if he hated me? What if he didn't want to know anything of me? What if he never forgave me?
Her voice cracks. I couldn't stand knowing.

We sit quietly. I reach for the wine bottle between us and fill her emptied glass.

Still, she says. Still. I've often wondered whether you or your sister would ever look for him.

Would you want me to?

She takes a sip of her wine. She doesn't look at me.


Then I will.

Thank you.

We sit.

I just want him to know how much I loved him. How much I love him still.

I know.

Thank you.

His name was William Frederick Hunter, and he's my brother. I'm going to find him.


PS: Because you are asking: he was born in July of 1963, at Grace Hospital in Vancouver. William Frederick Hunter was the name given to him to at birth. One or both of his parents were - we think - professors at UBC. That's all I know.

PPS: Those of you who are offering to help - oh god the tears - your generosity makes my heart ache - please e-mail me, if you haven't already. And, all of you, with all of your tremendous words of support: THANK YOU. Going off to weep now.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Her Bad Bitchfest

I said it yesterday, and I'll say it again now: sometimes, you can't vent openly - that is, yell at people to their faces, or, say, rant freely on your blog - without risking big trouble. The Basement is always available for that kind of thing, of course, but it occurred to me that sometimes we need to be invited to spill our guts, to be welcomed to vent and rant and get all messy. So yesterday I proposed the following: a Bitchin' Bitchfest Blog Exchange, wherein we arrange some swapping of blog spaces and opening up of blog spaces so that we can all blog openly on a theme that isn't entirely appropriate for our own blogs. Like, say, 'Things (Or People) That Make You Go ARGH' (not that I would know anything about this, but, you know: family members, in-laws, neighbors, et al.) And given the response so far (you can go weigh in over here, if you want), it looks like there is, indeed, a need for the Bitchfest.

I need to work out the details - how to protect anonymity while promoting the Bitchfest, how to open up space for non-bloggers, that kind of thing - but in the meantime, send me an e-mail at betchfest@gmail.com (note the 'e' - gmail doesn't like bad words) if you want to take part. Include the following information: whether you want to exchange (post your own rant and host someone else's rant), just post (just post on someone else's blog without hosting on your own blog), just host (just host someone else's rant on your blog or post your own rant on your own blog dammit. (And if you could put that info in the subject line, even better.) And then I'll co-ordinate. And we'll all get a whole lot of bullshit off of our chests.

In the meantime, remember, there's always the Basement .


Monday, August 18, 2008

Getting Back To Business

What I did last week: read some books, ate some cake, watched the Olympics, surfed the Internet, did some laundry, Twittered (a lot), did laundry (a lot), contemplated the futility of ever having any real authority in my household, coined the term 'boobaphobe,' defended the term 'boobaphobe,' read some more books, worried that I should be reading better books given my limited amount of reading time, worried that I might have more in common with 'Twilight Moms' than is strictly comfortable, dismissed idea that I should be reading better books given fact that I've read Livy's Ab Urbe Condita in Latin and liked it, got the song 'Sherry' by Journey stuck in my head, ate more cake, watched more Olympics, did more laundry, Twittered some more, read my own blog without ever once having to worry about becoming calcified by narcissism because, hey, it wasn't me writing the blog last week! and just generally contributed nothing to the betterment of the world other than care for my lovely children, who, as it happened, managed to not kill me. Barely, but still.

All things considered, it was not a bad week. I don't feel any more rested now than I did last Sunday night, but whatever. I didn't really expect to. Until someone gives me a few days off from everything, I'm pretty much resigned to existing in a perpetual state of functioning exhaustion.

So I'm ready to commence this week. There're just a few small matters of business to take care of first:

1) You read my guest posters? You totally should. They were amazing. They talked vaginas, more vaginas, the radicalness of mommyblogging (from a dad's perspective), the reasons why the road more medicated is sometimes the road best travelled, corpses in bathrooms, team building and swallowing cameras, how to be almost sort-of always sometimes Canadian, and - because it wouldn't be a well-rounded week of guest posts if it didn't come full circle back to genitalia - balls and porn. A round of applause, please.

2) So, it came to my attention in a round-about way last week that there are maybe a few people who wouldn't mind having the opportunity to vent a little bit about persons and things that make them crazy. But on the down-low, right? Because sometimes, you can't vent openly without risking big trouble. The Basement is always available for that kind of thing, of course, but it occurred to me that sometimes we need to be invited to spill our guts, to be welcomed to vent and rant and get all messy. So, I was wondering, would any of you be interested in a sort of ranty, venty Bitchin' Bitchfest Blog Exchange? Where we arrange some swapping of blog spaces so that we can all blog openly on a theme that isn't entirely appropriate for our own blogs? Like, say, 'Things (Or People) That Make You Go ARGH'? (Not that I would know anything about this, but, say, family members? In-laws? WHOMEVER?) Would you be interested in that? Leave a comment. Maybe I can arrange something.

3) I did a lot of reading last week. I liked it. But I've run out of books to read, and have exhausted my list of recommended reads and must-reads and Things To Read Just Because Everyone Else Is Reading Them And One Must Keep Up With The Culture Even If It's Being Driven By Lovelorn Fifteen Year-Olds With Vampire Fixations. So, um... you got any recommendations? Fiction, please. And note that I'm not - as I discovered this past week - above reading books that are marketed to lovelorn fifteen year-olds with vampire fixations. But I'll read anything, other than comic books. Unless they're Archie comics. But I've read all of those. ANYWAY. You got any recommendations for end-of-summer book consumption?

4) I missed you.

This? Is my happy place. And also, the place in which I exist in a state of perpetual mental and physical exhaustion, and from which there is no vacation, but also, from which I have no real desire to vacate. Life is beautiful, and complicated. Or something like that.