As an adult adoptee who is now endeavoring to domestically adopt, I find myself thinking of my own adoption a lot. And, other than recent ponderings about extended family dynamics and my view of my own closed adoption vs. what will at least be a semi-open adoption for us now, most of my thoughts about my adoption narrative and how I view it have stayed the same. Meaning, no new revelations have come to light because of the introspection. It is a good thing that how I feel about my story remains steadfast.
Eight years ago, when I began to prepare to get pregnant, I had an appointment with my OB/GYN to make sure I was cleared to start trying but also to discuss his views on elective c-section. I had had a number of surgeries in my life and it was something that I felt comfortable with (vs. birthing a baby which was a completely foreign concept (more about why that was in a minute)). My doctor at the time was old school, from Ireland, and spoke in a deep Irish brogue. We were sitting in his office and I came right out and asked him how he felt if I elected to have a c-section (I wasn’t even sure at the time if I had the right to choose, but I figured I’d form the question in the positive and see how he reacted). His answer surprised me. He said, “It’s your body and your baby and you have every right to have it as you desire”. He went on to mention the risks and compared them to the risks of natural child birth but it felt like the issue was settled. I’d get pregnant and have an elective c-section.
It’s just that the universe is funny about plans sometimes. Who knew that all three of my naturally conceived pregnancies would miscarry and that I’d have to have two surgeries to remove the fibroids that were likely causing the miscarriages and that I’d then never conceive naturally again and would go on to have multiple rounds of IVF to finally get pregnant. But I digress. However, what is important about that string of events was that the two fibroid surgeries necessitated me having to have a c-section for safety purposes anyway. It seems that a uterus that has been cut into to remove disease is a delicate thing and likes to sometimes rupture if then required to contract to push a baby out. Go figure. Maybe the universe thought I was being cavalier in deciding to have a c-section before I’d even sustained a pregnancy and felt better if I had an actual reason for having one.
However, I DID have a reason for wanting a c-section and it was tied to my adoption. Even though I had known I was adopted all of my life, I had scant information about my birth parents and absolutely no information about my actual birth. So, while I was raised with the story about how my birth mother came here from another state to have me, no one ever shared any information about my birth. I, therefore, had absolutely no connection to my birth experience whatsoever. When I stopped to actually think about it, I felt instead like I had hatched, like I just came to be in this world. I completely underestimated the profound affect that not being tied to my own birth story had on me.
When one is raised with their birth story, one generally does not give it (being born) a second thought. As a child, it’s not uncommon to ask mommy to tell over and over the story of one’s birth; “tell me again, mommy, what you did when they placed me in your arms”. Since I had never been told any of the details surrounding my birth, I naturally never even asked the question. The idea of my life starting when I was placed in my adoptive mother’s arms was the beginning of my story. It was such a foreign concept for me to consider actually being born. I wasn’t even conscious of being disconnected from it.
I did go on to request and receive my non-identifying information from the agency that placed me. In it, my birth was described in detail. Of all the information provided in those documents, which included height/weight/ethnicity/occupation/health history of both my birth parents as well as fairly detailed information about aunts/uncles/grand parents, what made me cry the kind of tears that healing moments bring on and what had the most profound psychological affect on me, were the details of my birth. For 30+ years I had lived with the notion that I’d sort of hatched and just came to be and finally I had information that my birth mother carried me to term and birthed me vaginally and that I came out into the world like most newborns do. It connected me to myself and to this world in a way that nothing else before or since has, with the exception of the birth of my own son.
My scheduled c-section was flawless and my son’s birth was exactly as it was meant to be. It was preordained because of my own birth that he should have been born that way. It worked for me and was its own full circle moment. It would seem to others that perhaps I would have wanted a vaginal birth even more, but the truth is that I wanted one even less. Even though I had come to learn of my own birth, it didn’t erase the decades of disconnection from my birth experience. Even as I write this, knowing what I now know about both my own and now my son’s births, I have the same level of disconnection because it was never part of my adoption narrative. That is no one’s fault. I simply did not have the information until way into my adulthood.
So, while there may be many nuances to adoption and many degrees of openness, I encourage every mother, who has either birthed a baby or had one birthed for her, to share the details of her child’s birth with him/her because that story frames how they came into the world and connects them to their humanity. Unless you have been raised without that knowledge you simply cannot appreciate how profound it is to know.
“Some people say they haven’t yet found themselves.
But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates.”