Monday, August 29, 2011

What I learned at the 2011 FSA Conference

I am finally home from my tour of the western states. It is good to be home! The first thing people have seemed to ask me when they see me is "How did your class/presentation go?" I know they ask because they love me and want to know but honestly it is the thing I wish they didn't ask. According to my very supportive friends and family who came, it went well. They said, it was real and not sugar coated and.....well I can't remember what else they said. It is good and reassuring to hear that but to me..... it wasn't my best.

What do I think? I think it went ok. I've done better adoption presentations but it wasn't a failure. Over all I am glad that I did it. It was a bit of a challenging subject for me because I feel like my strength is found more in the topic of what to do post placement and dealing with the ups and downs of that. But I learned that I do know a thing or two about pregnancy and adoption plans. Huh. Who knew?

As for the rest of the conference, it was good. It was a fun change to have Meg, her husband, and of course my sister there with me. After the conference C asked me what I had learned. I quickly tried to think of something and the only response I could come up with was..."nothing". I think that's because my mind was probably on a hundred different things during those two days that it was hard for me to focus in the classes.

However, when I read over my notes I remembered I did learn two things and I even wrote them down so i would not forget them! Looks like I need to look into ginkgo biloba. For those of you who are still reading and are interested these are my two take aways from the conference.


Saturday morning Meg, Matthew, and I went to a grief and healing class because it was the only one we were remotely interested in. I sat there thinking that it had been a while since I went through the intense feelings the presenter was talking about. It was a process that happened so long ago for me, and the realizations she was talking about were one's I had realized already. I was feeling pretty dang good about myself and decided I could check out. And so I did. Until the presenter read a quote. I don't remember who it was by....sorry. It said, "You wont be the same person after this event, but why would you want to be?" Right then, I woke up and my immediate reaction was, "Why WOULDN'T I want to be?!" That's when I realized ther is something I haven't quite let go enough to stop grieving.

I don't grieve B anymore. Don't get me wrong. I still think about him and have days where I miss him, but my heart doesn't hurt anymore. I don't ache every time I think about him. However, I still grieve some one. I still grieve the girl I was before I was pregnant. This grief has nothing to do with the adoption and began long before I found out I was pregnant. The only connection it has to adoption is the fact that it transformed from an unconscious grief to a conscious grief at an adoption conference. I realized that I still actively grieve my 18 year old, naive, bubbly self when that loss of innocence so plainly stares me in the face. I am still dealing with the consequences of no longer having my innocence. I still find my self thinking about the what if's. There was a part of me that was lost during that time. I grieve that loss. There are still times I am brought to tears by the thought. It is hard for me to really describe my thoughts about this with out getting too personal but this is the first big take home I got.

Now that I have shared that with you I must say it is still a new thing for me. I mean, yeah I have dealt with it for the last 8 years, but it is new that I am actually aware I am grieving. It is still raw and I feel vulnerable. I love and appreciate your comments (actually I crave them) but  in this situation any comments that dismiss the thoughts and feelings I described above in your kind efforts to make me feel better are better left unsaid. This is a time where I need you to only listen and say, I am sorry you hurt and leave it at that.

The second take home I got from the conference was more of a relief. It was in the communication class (a class about how to effectively communicate with adoptive parents and vica versa). The presenter (a Birth Mother) wasn't really talking about communicating and I don't remember exactly what she said now, but it helped me realize that I should not feel guilty. Ever since I've become more active in the adoption world I have felt an unsettled feeling that I now reacognize as guilt. As adoptions are becoming more and more open I feel like birth mothers are talking more and more about their birth children. And although I learned early on not to compare my adoption to another and I try really hard not to.... I still sometimes do. And I felt guilty because these women are so active in their birth children's lives and I am not. I felt guilty because B is not the center of my life. I still love him more then I love anyone on this planet, but he is not the center of my world. He is the center of his mother's world. She is the one who lives to take care of him and that is ok. That is great actually! It felt good to realize that. It also felt good to realize that I feel guilty that it takes me forever to write a post about adoption because frankly, I do not think about adoption everyday. And some days I have nothing to say about it. And that is ok too. I walked away from that class feeling uplifted and a little freed.

At this point in the post I am exhausted (and I'm sure you are too) so I am going to go to bed. Have a wonderful night!


Red Hot said...

Oh hey, we were in the same communication class I bet :)

ESN said...

When people (like me) ask you how it went you should just say, "Read my blog, I'll write about it someday." Then you don't have to answer the question if you don't want to. And if you never get around to writing about it...then oh well.
I am glad you learned something. Er two somethings. You are awesome. I thought your lessons were good lessons to learn.

merilee said...

Thanks for sharing...I learned a few very helpful things from reading your last post. I appreciate you putting out your feelings.

Alder Family said...

I just found your blog through Eve's blog and was going to simply lurk but I wanted to commend you for the courage it takes to put your vulnerability out there about the first lesson you learned. The grieving process can be a wily friend; often startling us as it rears its tricky little head when we thought we were done with a particular experience (probably the most forgotten part of the whole process--who wants to go through it multiple times?!)

Thanks for sharing that experience and thanks for the reminder that we can continue to grow through our most difficult experiences.

Deborah said...

Thanks Megan!