When most people see a picture of your kid on your desk and they ask how old she is, it’s not a loaded question.
February 3, 2001
“Dear Abby” finally ran Tara’s three-month-old letter she wrote asking her how to handle the adoption question at her new office job. Of course that was before she was laid off two days before:
“I am 34 and a professional. Last summer I placed my firstborn child in an adoptive home, something I thought long and hard about before doing. In the last two jobs I’ve had, my female co-workers judged me harshly for this choice. Every day I had to endure comments about my decision, to the point I dreaded going to work. I quit one of those jobs; in part due to the stress it caused me. Now I’m in a new job, and I vowed I’d lie about my decision.
Unfortunately, lying has gotten me nowhere. Now my co-workers think I have custody of my child and wonder why I don’t bring pictures of her or talk about her. I don’t talk about her or bring pictures because I fear it will open up more questions, and I’ll get caught in another lie.
I haven’t forgiven myself for abandoning my daughter. I couldn’t meet her financial, emotional, physical, or mental needs – and yet I feel a tremendous amount of guilt.
I am fortunate that this was an open adoption. I get emails, letters, pictures, cards, and gifts from the adoptive parents on a regular basis, and we have a great relationship. As much as I want to be able to be honest with my friends at work, my fear has kept me from saying anything and has caused me even more stress.”
“Please stop punishing yourself. Since you have already divulged that you have a daughter, a short explanation – that you placed her where she could receive what you were unable to give her – is in order. If the questions and comments do not stop, you may have to change jobs again.
If that’s the case, don’t sabotage your work environment. When you mention to your co-workers that you have a daughter, you invite questions. When you are asked if you have children, you wouldn’t be lying to say no. (Her adoptive parents “have” her; you don’t).
Since you were unable to meet your daughter’s needs, placing her with a family who is able to do so was an act of love. I commend you for loving her enough to allow others to give her what you could not.
Counseling will help you come to grips with your decision. Your physician can give you a referral. Please don’t put it off.”
Veronica emailed Tara that she thought she should have someone with her at finalization of the adoption next month.
“On Saturday we got the paperwork from the attorney,” Veronica wrote. “Before we can go to court MacKenzie has to be living with us for six months so I think early March is the best we can hope for as to finalization. Also, since we adopted Ben some laws have changed and
we have to have another criminal background check done and this could take up to six weeks from the time we send it in so we’ll get right on that. I’m so glad your friends liked MacKenzie’s pics. She looks just like you. Remember the pic you gave me of you – – I think it was at two months? She looks exactly like you. That means she’s going to be a beautiful lady!!!
I want to get some good studio pics of MacKenzie so you can have one. Now that she weighs more, I don’t mind getting her out. The bright spot of any day for my mom is when I take the kids over. If she misses a single day of seeing MacKenzie, she can’t believe how much she has changed.
I really can’t wait to see you and want you to feel comfortable. I know we both (you and I) are always nervous about things, until we’re actually there. I want you to hold MacKenzie if that’s what you want and spend as much time with her as you want. I hope she’s in a good mood. She is trying to cut her first tooth and is kind of irritable, but if I remember right, it took Ben a month or two of eating his hand to get that first tooth to the surface. We bought her some of those bitter biscuits that actually taste good and she’s trying to figure them out.
She’s eating fruits and cereal now although the only thing she really likes is bananas. She is also very vocal with sayings of babababa, didididi, mamamama, no dadada yet but I’m sure it’s coming. We just finally put up her walker and she can’t quite reach the floor yet but loves for Ben to push her around in it and they both laugh so much. She has figured out how to turn around and around in the exersaucer. As you can tell, she is doing more and more every day. She never stays in one spot, is turning over and over and rolling all over the place.
I hope this is information that you want and that it makes you happy and not sad.”
February 9, 2001
“Our caseworker came to do a check-up visit and brought MacKenzie’s Little House book,” Veronica wrote. “Thank you so much. I sent you some pics of MacKenzie. You will love them. She is so beautiful and looks just like you. All of the sudden MacKenzie just LOVES Frank and I have really enjoyed being the ‘favorite’ one, as Ben preferred his daddy from an early age. She follows him with her eyes and laughs until he pays attention to her. I think he’s really enjoying it also.
ï¿½She wants me, honey!’ he’ll say.
“I have to admit it kind of hurts my feelings but I’m also happy for him. She’ll really have him wrapped around that little finger now. Ben is eating a Popsicle and as I just turned around he was giving MacKenzie a lick. She loves it.
I bet it feels good on her gums as she is teething. She really likes pears, but bananas are still the favorite. I have to try vegetables soon, but am dreading it as they just look nasty and most kids don’t like them anyway.
But we have to try everything to check for allergies; etc. Thus far, no allergies!!! Other than the air borne ones! We love you.”
February 15, 2001
MacKenzie was six months old that day.
She was starting to say vowels and she was rolling a lot.
Tara got new pictures in the mail. She’d missed six months of MacKenzie’s life even though she got pictures and letters. She could hardly function. She could hardly hold on to her temporary job.
February 21, 2001
“MacKenzie went today for her six-month shots. She was up to 12 ½ lbs. or thereabouts. She grows more beautiful every day. She also had discovered Frank and wants only him!!! She tried to do the Linda Blair Exorcist-thing – – turning her head so far around to just see where he is,” Veronica wrote. “Remember we think of you always.”
February 26, 2001
Tara got an email from Veronica:
“You’ve been on my mind a lot,” she wrote. “MacKenzie got her 6 month shots and weighs 13 lbs., 5 ozs.!! Hurray!!! She’s had a few rough days as she got four shots in those tiny legs!!! But she is definitely better now. And sleeping all night!! Yeah.
I can’t wait for you to see her in person. No news about a date yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as possible.
Please take care of yourself and write when you can. Hope you’re doing okay and things are getting easier.”
February 27, 2001
“Glad to hear from you but I’m so sad that you sound so down. I am saying special prayers for you,” she said. “I thank God for you every night when I put MacKenzie to bed, but tonight it was extra special. Hang in there!! I have one thing to say about your ‘friend’ who was hateful to you regarding your adoption plan. She/he is not your ‘friend.’ Anyone who knows you would know that you did not enter into this decision lightly. Can she not see that you made a tremendous sacrifice for your baby? I hope you get positive responses from other people. I have never gotten a negative comment about ‘our birth mom,’ i.e. you. Everyone always comments about how brave, wonderful, and loving you must be to place your child. My mom, who is not a religious person by any means, has said so many times that she just prays to God for you and thanks Him for you. This from a woman I didn’t even know prayed.
I learned from my divorce that you have to surround yourself with people who make you feel good about you and who will support you – –
no matter what. One friend who I considered a ‘”friend’ just not a great friend was the most caring and supportive of anyone and we are
really close today. You just never know who will come forth to lend a hand, until you let them.
I have your birthday written on my calendar. I had asked your mom actually at the hospital because I want to always honor you in some way on that day.
I don’t want to have finalization (of the adoption) anywhere close to your birthday. I think that would be too hard. So, I will make sure of that.
So, depending on how long things take, it could be April.
Please take care of yourself.”
Tara’s boss looked at MacKenzie’s pictures and thought it was a cool thing. Guys seemed to always be cool with it, she’d noticed.