Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Thoughts of foster care - grieving my 'perfect child'

Today I was listening to the radio on the way home from my first ever laser hair removal treatment (yep it's time to get out there and try new things).  There was a segment on parenting children with disabilities.  A woman rang up to recount her story of how she was going to give her daughter born with Downs Syndrome up for adoption as she didn't think she could cope. Her daughter was in hospital, as she didn't want to take her home and get attached when she didn't want to keep her.  The first week in hospital she had problems with her heart and had to stay there for 5 weeks, then she went to foster care.  The mother and her husband signed the adoption papers then had 28 days to change their mind, after 24 hours she'd changed her mind and decided it was her daughter and she wanted to raise her.  She says she never really looked back after that.  She felt she'd made the decision about adoption as she was grieving the loss of the perfect child she'd dreamed of having.  Grieving this perfect child is something that really resonates with me- at this age I feel it's all so hard to keep trying to get pregnant and there is a higher risk of having a child with Downs Syndrome.  Then there's the possibility of foster care and parenting a child with lots of problems.  I think partly my concerns about foster care are tied up with grieving the dream of parenting the child I'd dreamed of.  Plus the logistics of parenting a child that will always have to have constant contact with birth parents which means never moving out of the state basically - that is a HUGE hurdle to get around!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Single and childless (not in Seattle)

I was at a residential school this week – furthering my seemingly neverending studies.  On arrival I checked into my dorm room and felt like the female equivalent of Peter Pan – the girl who never grew up.  Staying in a dorm room at university as I rapidly approach the not so tender age of 40. 

However this feeling changed somewhat when I met a bunch of fellow students at dinner – they were all basically in my age bracket or perhaps a bit older, then I started to feel like a middle aged woman and thought – really I’m not ready to be a middle aged woman, really I’m not! 

One of the women was talking to another about how there appeared to be a real lack of men in this course, which was not a good thing for us single women.  So I even started to feel less alone in my single childless existence until she mentioned her now almost grown up children.  Of course I don’t begrudge her this; I’m glad she has that, but it does make me rightly or wrongly feel somewhat more isolated.  But on the whole it was a good dinner with interesting conversation.  Then one of the women had to rush off to read a bedtime story to her son via skype.  Oh how I would have loved to be the one rushing off to skype my husband and son to see how their day had gone.  She was one of these people who you could just tell had a really great family life, a close relationship with her husband and obviously adored her young son.  This instigated the departure of most other people as they drifted back to their rooms to call their families or significant others.  I also went back to my room, made a quick phone call to a friend and proceeded to feel lonely. 

Over the week as I’ve started to get to know people they invariably start to talk to varying degrees about wives, husbands, partners and children.  I’m happy to listen (well depending on how much they go on, but that’s the same with any topic), but where does it leave me in the conversation.  Not having a child in my life is something I’m still freshly grieving after my recent miscarriage and decision to stop trying to become a single mum, it’s raw and painful and I feel it will always be a sad issue for me.  I gather (hope) the pain will lessen, but I don’t think it will ever truly disappear.  How do I connect with people when I don’t have tales of family life to share – either good or bad.  People don’t want to hear about my deep and unmet desire to have a child and partner and I don’t want to further isolate myself by sharing this with virtual strangers.  At one stage I found myself talking about my dog – talking animatedly about my dog and then I reflected on this almost instantly afterwards about how I was now ‘the lonely dog lady’.  Oh well I love my dog and am not ashamed of that.  I didn’t tell these people that I don’t have children or a partner and they didn’t ask (somewhat perceptively and politely on their behalf I feel) – but it is quite obvious I believe.  Especially when one of them asked who was looking after my dog while I was away and I answered ‘my parents’ – as if that isn’t a dead give away. 

So anyway I continue with my struggle to make connections with people in this family centric world we appear to live in, when I have created no family of my own, despite my strong desire to do so.  Also I continue with my quest to believe in my self worth despite not having the obligatory partner and/or child.