Monday, November 10, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 18

Actually, life went on from there just fine for a couple of years. Jan and I e-mailed somewhat regularly, and we saw her and her friend once or twice a year. It worked out well for us all… And we didn't really talk about or even think about Frank much, which also worked out well. J

In the meantime, it's time for a little sidebar… Babies. Within the first year of marriage, I decided I was ready to have a child. Jon, though, very wisely thought that we should take some time to get adjusted to married life. But by the time we had been married for a year-and-a-half, I had worn him down… We were off of birth control and trying to get pregnant! Little did we know that God was on Jon's side—He felt we needed more "couple time" before throwing kids into the mix………. It took us almost two years to get pregnant.

Our journey into infertility was nothing compared to others I have known, and it is a whole separate story I could tell. For now, though, let me just say that God is so very good. While I can't say I would like to relive that time in my life, I look back and see His hand and His faithfulness through it all. I know that much of what I know about compassion I learned through that time. I know that my idea of who God is and my perception of trust were shaped during that time. I see amazing opportunities that Jon and I had—like a three-week trip to Europe, a two-week trip to Hawaii, and even building our house—that probably wouldn't have happened if we'd gotten pregnant in our timing instead of God's. All that and so much more… but I digress.

Finally, in mid-2004, we discovered through an exploratory surgery that my tubes were blocked. They were able to remove the blockage, and just a few short weeks later we were expecting our beautiful little Gracie. We were, of course, elated!!! From the moment we found out about her, Grace has been an unbelievable blessing.

Anyway, adding a new generation to the mix also added a new twist to this ever-evolving relationship. At first… well, to be honest, I was kind of angry about it—not about the pregnancy, but about trying to figure out how this whole situation was going to affect my children. I knew that Jan was looking forward to being a grandma alongside my mom and mother-in-law, but I wasn't sure that I wanted her to be one. I wasn't sure who she would be to my children, but I was quite sure that she wouldn't be "Grandma Jan" or anything like it.

I'm embarrassed to say that this lasted for a while—even after Grace was born. In fact, once Grace arrived, Jan made several trips up to visit, and I was always glad to see her… but at the same time I continued to have this inner struggle with the whole idea of how Jan fit into my family.

And then one day, it hit me: I was being completely unfair. I had set up completely unreasonable expectations and had dared her to live up to them. I had been adamant that I did not want her to be a mother to me, then expected her to act like one. I had pressured her to keep in contact more, then pushed her away when she did.

I'm not sure why I had been behaving like such a child. Maybe deep down I had felt some sadness or rejection over her giving me up for adoption, even though I have always been quite grateful to her—even before I knew who she was—for giving me to my family. Or maybe it was because it was such a unique situation, which made it difficult at times, and I just chose to blame her because I needed to place blame somewhere. Or maybe it was just plain a bad way to handle a relationship. Who knows! But it was suddenly very clear that I needed to change my way of thinking.

OK, so we had a unique relationship, one whose rules weren't easily defined by looking at society around us. So? Lots of people have unique relationships—step-parents, step-siblings, half-siblings, parents they see once a year (or once every five years or ten years or whatever), foster parents, etc, etc, etc. And the bottom line is, every relationship between two people, no matter how "common" it is, is unique because it involves two unique individuals. I had been trying so hard to find a defined role for our relationship that I hadn't just let it be.

It was time to take a deep breath and relax a little bit.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 17

I'd like to just stop for a minute and say thank you to each of you who commented and/or e-mailed me. I really appreciate your support and I am so glad that you're reading this! J You are absolutely right—I need to post more often, both on this topic and just in general. If I tried to write all of the things that are going on here, it would make your head spin. In fact, this morning in ABF (Sunday School) I was asked to share my high and low for the week (an activity that I initiated and led, by the way, so I have no one to blame but myself), and I could hardly narrow either of those down to just one thing, and ended my sharing time in tears! It's just been CRAZY. But I guess that means that God is giving me lots of experiences to write about, right??? So anyway, I promise to do better about writing more often. So now, here's your next look into my story………….

Jan had the unfortunate luck of being the second person to tell me to "respect her feelings." If I'd gotten her e-mail before Frank's, I probably wouldn't have said anything. But her e-mail was second, and I was fed up. I sent her a response that still gets me fired up, seven years later! I made it clear that, even though I am now an adult, I was the innocent child in this whole situation. I was tired of her and Frank acting like I was the one inconveniencing them when they were the ones who got themselves into this mess in the first place! Their awkward feelings were not my responsibility—and by the way, this whole situation was no bowl of cherries for me either. I finished by explaining that she was welcome to join us at my graduation party or not, but that she needed to realize that we would not rearrange our lives to keep from inconveniencing her. There would not be separate graduation parties or birthday parties for our future children. If she had a problem with being around my parents, she would have to miss those celebrations, as well as school programs, recitals, and maybe even things that Jon and I were involved in. It was her choice.

She chose to come to the party.

She actually sent me a nice apology. To be honest, I know that I was probably laying more on her than was really fair, and I think she understood why. But I think it was also important for me to figure out just how much she truly wanted to be a part of my life. From the time I had found out that she was my birth mom, she had been adamant that she wanted to have a close relationship… But then I would go weeks or even months without hearing from her. It was frustrating, and it was also very hard on the people-pleaser in me. Every time that she said she wanted to be closer, I thought it was my fault and that I wasn't doing enough, so I'd try harder to e-mail her and keep in touch, but still get little response. I was very stressed over a relationship that I didn't feel should be occupying so much of my worry. So I guess this was the straw that broke the camel's back, and I think it was a good release in a lot of ways.

So Jan came to the party, Frank obviously didn't J, and we all moved on. For a while.

I know this is a short one, but this seems like a good stopping point for today. But believe me, more is on the way!