Throughout the past few years I've had the opportunity to meet several wonderful birth mothers; each blessed with their own unique adoption experience. Some have shared mixed emotions about their child's first birthday, for some it was hard, for some it was easy. For me, it's something i can't describe with any one word. On June 1st, at 9:08 p.m. it will be the exact year anniversary of the moment Sophie ShaNae Matheson was born. It's almost surreal to think about, and feels almost as if the entire event took place in another dimension. Every now and then I drive past the hospital in Murray where it all took place, and I look at it with a disconnected sense of familiarity. In other words, I know my life changed in a room there on the third floor, but it's as if the memory has been faintly painted over. Whether that's a blessing from God or my subconscious attempting to avoid the pain associated with said memory, i'll never know. What I do know is, no matter the emotions I experienced those three days in the hospital, it was unlike anything I've ever been through, and it will never fully leave me.
As I draw nearer to Sophie's first birthday I've tried to write, journal, and scrap book every moment with/about her that has taken place over the past 12 months. I feel as if I'm almost scrambling to solidify every memory with her so as to never lose it. I want to remember everything. I want all those special moments to be in solid form so she can look at them with me someday and I can describe every detail shown within the pictures. I know she may never understand how much she means to me, how can she? But that won't stop me from telling her a million times over how much I love her and how special she is to so many people.
Sophie will be celebrating her first birthday at my house this year, on the Fourth, with a BBQ, cake, and gifts. My family and I couldn't be more excited to celebrate this time with her and her family. I'm looking forward to watching her destroy her first birthday cake, ripping open gifts (with the help of her older brothers of course:)), and soaking in more attention than a one year old should be able to handle. I can't wait to post new pictures so all can see how much she's grown and how beautiful she's become. I love her with all my heart, and seeing her learn and grow with that baby-tooth smile on her face has made all the pain I experienced through placing her, seem more than worth it. I look at the past year with a sense of accomplishment and pure gratitude; hoping for only better with the future and years to come. Perhaps I'll feel a sting of sadness on her first birthday, knowing that though I've been a part of so much, I've missed even more. But that's because I'm not her mom. I'm not her brother, and I'm not her father. And that's what happens when you choose adoption. I know that, and I acknowledge this fact, but I'll let myself cry, because at least then I know I'm alive and normal.
The past week or so I've been re-reading all my pregnancy journals and blog posts. I almost figure this year mark is the perfect time to cleanse myself, emotionally speaking. So, call me crazy, but I've been TRYING to make myself remember all the pain, joy, heart ache, and love. I want to cry, I want to laugh, I want to feel it all again so I can REMEMBER. The past year I've been so busy going to college and working full time that I never really faced what I was feeling. And now that I'm out of school for the summer, and I don't work as much, I realize this is the time to work on ME. To make sure I'm OKAY before I head back into reality with a new home, roommates, harder classes, and a different job. So, that being said, I'd like to re-post part of an old blog post I wrote describing Sophie's placement. After all, it was the single most defining moment of my life. As I signed away my rights on June 4th, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. my dad turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, "That's the most selfless thing I've ever seen anyone do." Perhaps I couldn't embrace that fact at the time, but I do now, and I've never been more proud of myself then I am on this year anniversary as I look back and see what I was able to give Sophie by placing her with the family hand picked by God, chosen through me.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Sophie ShaNae Matheson
"...I was in the hospital for three days. By noon on Friday, I was released. Once home, I was able to spend a few hours with Sophie before heading to the adoption placement. We took a nap, curled up on my parents bed, and then woke to bathe and get dressed. 5:00 p.m. was our scheduled time to meet at LDS Family Services and do placement. We arrived on time and while I was signing paper work, Sophie's birth father was in another room with Sophie and the Mathesons, saying his goodbyes. Once that was over, my parents, Sophie, and I met with the Mathesons in what they call the "group room". We exchanged gifts and spent some time together talking, exchanging memories. Then, I asked to have some alone time with Sophie. Everyone (meaning Troy, Rebecca, my mom and dad, and our case workers) left the room while I shared some final moments with Sophie. I talked to her, I prayed for strength, and I fed her a bottle. After about 20 minutes I was ready to go. I felt like I was dragging out the pain. So I called them back in and I handed Sophie to Rebecca, exchanged tight hugs, and left. And that was it. Sophie was gone.
I had spent the past 9 months preparing for that final moment. The moment when I'd literally have to say goodbye and relinquish my parental rights. Well, I can tell you that no amount of counseling could have prepared me for the real thing. It was the most heart breaking moment of my life. Living through that first night without Sophie was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. My arms literally ached to hold her in my arms. The memories of her sweet little face and her big beautiful eyes looking up at me caused me so much emotional pain that it actually became physical. I couldn't breathe and I couldn't function. I barely made it through that first night. I was screaming out prayers to just make it through with out going insane. It's only been two days now, and it's still extremely hard, but I can already feel Heavenly Father easing my pain. I know that the pain will never fully leave me, but I do know that it will fade to a point where I can start to live again...this whole thing has been really hard for not only me, but my family as well. It's been an amazing, hard journey for all of us.
I want everyone to know how much the Mathesons mean to me. The adoption itself was/is extremely agonizing and painful, but the Mathesons have made it 100 times easier. They have opened their hearts and arms to me and my family. They text me pictures of Sophie every few hours just to reassure me that she's alive and safe. They allow me any kind of contact I need to fully heal from this experience, and not just me, but my family as well. They have become another branch to our family...She's my little angel, my most precious gift. I have entrusted her to a family that can offer her more than I ever could. I've heard several other birth moms say that their adoptions were made easier because they felt like they were carrying some one else's baby. Well, I never felt like that. I have always felt like Sophie was my daughter, fully and completely, and that I was her mother. And THAT is why I had to make the choice. The choice that no one else could that would determine the quality of her future. As her mother, I had to choose what was best, since she lacked the ability to choose for herself. I know that I love Sophie with all my heart. I have never experienced this kind of love before now. It is incredible. And it is because I love her that I was able to let her go. I put her needs before my own, and though extremely painful and heart breaking, it was right. And I know I'll be blessed for it. I can't wait to create more and more memories with her throughout her life. I am so blessed to even have that choice. Thank you Troy and Rebecca. Thank you for taking such good care of her, and me."
And that's that. I'm moving forward with my life, without forgetting all I've experienced and everyone that's blessed my life. I look up to so many others who have placed a child for adoption and painted beautiful futures for themselves. Life is hard and we all go through hard things, it's how we over come them and come out of them that matters. So, have I done the best I can with what I had throughout year one? Check:)