....and I'll take the high road

So, I'm a woman who chose a bad father.

I really should have known, likely did know, but by the time it "was time" to have my first child, I went ahead and had one anyway. I'd always wanted children, always. Not unlike many other little girls, my plan was to have a baby without being married and my particular plan to accomplish that was to adopt. It only made sense. I didn't want to get married and I am adopted so, it was obvious.

When I decided boys weren't so bad, my plan changed. I still wanted a child but getting married was now appealing. I met my son's father, went out for 3 years, got married, and had my son 3 years after that. Before "settling down" I went out with more than my fair share of guys, had my own apartments from a young age, sowed my wild oats, if us girl types can do that.

I admit I had concerns before I actually said my vows, but, went through with it anyway. When it came to baby making time, my son's dad started to hedge. He knew from day one I'd be wanting kids, he had insisted on getting married in the Catholic church for his parents, so I told him flat out if he wasn't willing to have kids now, I'd see what I could do about getting our marriage annulled. I still have no clue if that would be grounds or not, but no matter, it did the trick. We tried once, I was preggo, and I had my son. Simple. Yet not.

While I was pregnant, my son's dad enjoyed the thought of becoming a dad but wasn't having any of the responsibilities that went with it. I managed to convince a friend of ours to help with the nursery reno, nothing big, just something that would indicate we had a baby coming. It was also sweet for my husband to have a personal designated driver. When I had my son his dad tried to get away with not telling anyone he'd been born, no hospital visitors, not surprisingly my parents would have nothing to do with that. I remember my dad saying there was "no chance in hell" they'd not be coming to the hospital to see their daughter and first grandchild.

My son's dad clearly loved our son from the minute he was born. He was a very good baby dad, no problem feeding, changing, bathing, playing. Unfortunately at this time though, he wasn't a great husband. Good dad, crappy husband. Sucks to be me.

I'm a firm believer in not making adult's problems kid's problems. If things got out of hand between my husband and myself, I would remove my boy and I from the situation. When my son was very small, I tried to discuss ending our marriage with my ex but he managed to be remorseful enough and make just enough promises to change but it never happened.

I remember daydreaming about being out of the marriage. I'd look at new apartments being built in our neighborhood and ache to be gone, be done with the day to day angst and stress I lived with. But how could I? I had picked this man. Nobody had held a gun to my head to marry him, to have a baby with him. I had become extremely adept at protecting my boy from the fights, the anger, my pain. I attended everything I wanted to attend with only my son as my date, I played all my sports with my boy in tow, I worked opposite shifts to avoid daycare until he was in school full time. The good of an intact family still outweighed the bad.

And then he started to grow up. I had already made the decision to have no more children with this kind of father. It was clear to me what I'd done, the problem now was it was also becoming clear to my son what I'd done. What he was seeing wasn't yet what a poor father he had but rather what a poor husband his dad was to me, his mom. I could no longer hide Christmas being miserable or explain why daddy wouldn't help us with a flat tire. How do you explain waiting for hours on Easter to hunt for bunnies because dad is still in bed? How do you tell a child not to defend his mom when dad is screaming as he drives? When he's swearing and name calling because the door isn't unlocked as quickly as he'd like it to be?

It wasn't an easy decision. I remember the day I went to tell my parents I was leaving my marriage. I can honestly say I was very surprised when they told me that they were surprised I hadn't done it years prior. I remember the relief because I truly felt as if I'd failed, that they would be disappointed in me.

We made the decision to split when my son was 12. After deciding, I remember living as a couple for the few months until school was done for the year. I remember the day we told our son, how frightened I was, how sad he was initially, how quickly he appeared to get over his immediate reaction.

I got to work finding a place to live right away. I included my son in all of my apartment hunting. There was one place in particular that was going to be within my budget that he was very opposed to. He had his reasons, they were valid, I kept looking. I was determined to find a place within walking distance to our house, the one he'd grown up in, and I did.

I gave him the big bedroom so he'd have somewhere to be with his friends. I bought him a new bed so his room at his dad's would remain untouched. His cat came with us even though it was against the rules because his dad "wanted it out!" I took no formal child support, deciding to leave it up to his dad to step up to the plate and contribute to our child's well being. I didn't want any more fighting, and took much criticism from friends and family but I didn't care. He was my son and I could do it myself if I had to.

It wasn't easy, but it was so much better. I took the highest road I possibly could. No child support, very little in the way of furniture or household items. One lawyer to serve us both in a legal separation, I didn't get an official divorce until years later, when I had to, and again with one lawyer to represent us both. No court, no excess expense. Custody was joint with me being the main caregiver. That I wouldn't have any other way. We lived close enough that our son could walk between homes as he desired, although his dad did try to force my son to visit fifty percent of the time, in case I ever decided to take child support.

My son's dad never once put our son before himself. He spoke badly of me to our son. He did nothing to make his and our son's time together enjoyable, something our son could look forward to. Eventually the only time my son would be at his dad's, in the home he'd lived his first twelve years, is when his dad wasn't there.

Now, he doesn't even do that.

After we left my extended family last week, my son and I were discussing the tragedy of these women  and their children that we care so much about. We talked about how important it is to realize when the good no longer outweighs the bad. How important it is to think about what kind of an example we're setting for kids. How one can only sympathize for so long and then it just becomes pity and disdain.

I will forever regret choosing a poor father for my son. It kills me to see the hurt in my boy's eyes but I listen, I encourage, I understand.

I take pride in not being selfish and having more kids with a poor father in a bad marriage. I take pride in how I handled myself through divorce. I take pride in knowing when it was time to stop the madness.

I take pride in watching my son treat his girlfriend with respect, kindness, patience, and in knowing my son will be an amazing father.


Be grateful, because you should be.

I've just spent time with women who chose to have children with men who are bad fathers. One has children who are grown and are helping their mom with the death of her husband, their dad. The other has three daughters, with the oldest being "almost 14". I know the parties involved as they're my aunt and cousin, two different generations of moms who for some reason refuse and refused to protect their children as best they can or could from fathers who are unwilling or unable to put their kids before themselves. As a result, NOBODY is putting their children before themselves. They refuse and refused to see the good no longer outweighs the bad, and didn't and won't do anything about it.

The women in my story are not evil. In fact, I love them both very much. My aunt is sweet...now. She wasn't always, in fact I use to look at her in horror when I was a child, wondering how a mom could verbally abuse beautiful, innocent little kids in the way she did when her children were young. Somehow along the way though she was able to turn this around, become a sweet, caring woman who I've been very fond of for many years. Maybe she just didn't like babies or little kids. No matter though, damage done.

My cousin is sweet, has always been. She lost her own father at a young age and luckily had a mom who was completely dedicated to her kids and grandkids. A mom who did all she could to raise 3 children on her own, and to me was a hero in how she coped with the many severe health issues that ultimately took her life, far too young. One would think that with a role model like this, my cousin would be strong when it came to her own children, she'd emulate her mother's determination and dedication to mothering, but no. She's weak, more concerned with keeping her daughters' father as her husband than how this "man" is influencing three little girls' view of themselves, and of the world.

It's strange to care about and love two people that I can have such disdain for. I watched my grown cousins console their mother and accept words of condolence from family friends.I heard the priest tell them how their father will be forgiven and cared for now by god, heard people tell them how great a guy their dad was.I listened to my grown cousin tell me how difficult it was to stand there and have people tell him what a good guy his dad was when he knew the truth, had suffered and still suffers from the truth.

I held my tongue as I listened to my cousin's daughter who's "almost 14" be told parents know best, that she was to listen to her mom and dad as they know everything. This little girl has the honour of being confidante to her parents, the privilege of knowing all the gritty details of her father's infidelity and mother's heartache and pathetic attempts to "keep her man". A little girl who wrote emails to the would-be mistress telling her to stay away from her daddy. A little girl who shed tears in my home when her dad sulked in the car because it hurt his feelings to be told it was uncomfortable to have him around so soon after he decided to fuck over his family, no pun intended. A little girl who is blessed to have as a father a man incapable of even sucking it up for an hour so his wife and daughters could enjoy a family reunion. A little girl with two younger sisters she tries to protect, who may also never know there's another way.

Both of these mothers had and have opportunity to leave these men who are a detriment to their children but chose and choose to stay. The effect on their babies is not as important as their personal desire to remain married to these bad fathers. To allow these men to influence their children in life and haunt them in death is  cruel and selfish and not a way any parent should behave.

But parents don't always behave they way they should. If you happen to have gotten one or two that do, whether blood related or not, be grateful, cause you should be.


How can you, or why should you, trust a psychotherapist?

 I had been wondering how people who are in therapy can trust their therapist. People who've rarely, if ever, had anyone prove to them they were worthy of trust. They are in therapy because they have issues trusting others, so how do they become comfortable, trusting, enough of the therapist to achieve their goals?

I asked Dr. Jean Mercer at CHILDMYTHS about this and she kindly agreed to share her thoughts here with me so that I could share them with you.

How can you, or why should you, trust a psychotherapist? I know many people wonder about this, and although I can’t completely answer the questions, I want to make a few comments. Before I do that, though, I need to say that I don’t speak as a therapist. I’m not trained or licensed as a therapist. I do have a doctorate in psychology, so I’ve studied a lot of material connected to psychotherapy; I’ve been in therapy myself; I was trained and worked dealing with telephone calls at a suicide prevention center; and I led therapy groups under the supervision of a licensed therapists. So, I speak as somebody with some experience of the field, but as it’s not a main part of my professional life, I don’t speak of therapy as a person would who is deeply identified with that kind of work.

I understand the real confusion between the therapist as a professional helping person and the therapist as a possible friend. When we tell therapists our deep feelings, we can’t help being reminded of the way we’ve done this, or wanted to do it, with friends, and it can feel very strange when the process doesn’t go the way it would with a friend.

When we tell a friend our secrets or feelings, he or she normally responds in some predictable ways. If we cry, the friend might cry too, or at least look sad. If we tell what someone else has done to us, the friend will usually speak up and say that we were in the right, our attacker in the wrong. And often a friend will respond to our problem by disclosing something similar, or at least equally secret and disturbing, in his or her own life. All those things are comforting and make us feel as if we have been heard and can trust this friend--  trust him or her to empathize, to take our side, and to share secrets with us.

Friends also sometimes do things that are predictable but not necessarily what we want. A friend may be embarrassed or annoyed by our emotion and try to change the subject. A friend may accuse us of making up part of the story, or state that until he or she hears both sides of a conflict, there will be no deciding who’s right. A friend may say “that’s nothing, listen to what happened to me!”. Those things are not comforting, and we may decide that while we can trust that person to do just what they feel like doing, we can’t trust them sometimes to give our needs first priority.

Talking to a therapist can feel very confusing because the therapist’s responses are pretty predictable, but they don’t follow either of those friend patterns. Well-trained therapists have learned that they need to empathize enough to know what you feel like, but that they should not become so “enmeshed” that your feelings seem like their own. If the therapist was that engaged, he or she could not think rationally or objectively about what’s going on with you and what approach should help you most. In the same way, if you’re talking about a conflict with another person, the therapist may want you to get better at understanding the other person’s perspective, so he or she is not going to tell you that you’re right and that’s all there is to it. 

And the therapist is not going to try to win your trust by disclosing inappropriate matters from his or her own life. Therapists have been carefully trained to avoid telling personal secrets, and know very well that the whole point of therapy is to concentrate on what is happening with you, not to talk about their own lives, unless their stories can make a point that will really be helpful to you.

In all those ways, therapists are not supposed to act like friends, even friends who are being comforting. And of course they are not supposed to tell you off for what you say, or to insist on telling their own story to you, so they are also not to act like the kind of friend who does a poor job of listening.

 There are also a number of things therapists are not supposed to do and can get into a lot of trouble for doing, even though there’s nothing to stop a friend from these actions. For example, if a therapist thinks you’re pretty attractive, he or she is not supposed to ask you out. If you live in the same neighborhood, the therapist is not supposed to ask you for a ride home if their car breaks down, or to take care of their cat while they travel. Above all, the therapist is supposed to keep everything you say, and the therapist’s opinions about you, perfectly confidential--  not to tell anyone or leave your file lying around where others can see it.

When you pay for therapy, part of what you’re paying for is a guarantee that your therapist will not take advantage of your emotional distress to behave in ways that exploit you. Another thing you’re paying for is that complete confidentiality which is so important. If the matters you disclose to the therapist were spread around, you could possibly lose your job, your spouse, or your children.  When you disclose your concerns and history to your friend, you assume they won’t tell--   but people who have not been trained in confidentiality can let things slip quite unintentionally and cause catastrophes that they regret deeply but can’t repair.

Finally, when you pay for therapy, you’re paying for the fact that your therapist has a better understanding of how people usually feel and behave than your friends usually will. You go to the dentist rather than your friend, because the dentist has studied what teeth are like and how they should be treated. Similarly, good therapists have studied both common and unusual ways people feel and act, and how to tell the difference between sadness over a problem and serious depression, or between poor social skills and schizophrenia. In addition, where your friend might say “this is awful, but I don’t know how to begin helping you”, the therapist has studied ways to talk to you and to encourage you to talk, and can consult with medical colleagues if medication may help you. Therapists also have been trained to understand how uncomfortable it may be for you to do the work of therapy and how much you may want to quit at times.

Naturally, I don’t mean to say that all therapists do good jobs, or that every therapist works equally well with every patient, or that no therapist ever makes mistakes or even surprising ethical errors. But I do mean to say therapists play different roles in our lives than friends do, and their training allows them to do jobs for us which our friends can’t do--   jobs they deserve to be paid for, and which they could not afford to do without being paid.

When people say they don’t trust their therapists, it’s possible that they should go to different therapists. But it’s also possible that they should ask themselves, “trust the therapist … to do what?” To keep our secrets in confidence? To know how our problems can best be helped? To persuade us to keep working when we feel like giving up? If any of those points are of concern, certainly a client should make sure before going on with that therapist, and in fact should talk to the therapist about the concerns. But if the question is, “can I trust the therapist to do what a friend does?”, the answer should be “no”. Therapists should not do what friends do, and if they did, this would be clear evidence that we should not trust them. 

Jean Mercer


Tomorrow, tomorrow

So I'm strolling through blogland this morning, sipping my coffee, and another post got me thinking. Thinking about something I've meant to post on before, but forgot. No, really, I forgot. Really, REALLY.

It's not so much that I forget, although it's happened. It's that I procrastinate. All. The. Time.

I procrastinate paying bills. Always have. When I was a young'n, it was a combination of lack of funds (due to going out dancing) and procrastination, but now, most of the time, it's just putting it off. I'll do it later. K, I'll do it tomorrow. Ah I should pay those bills today. Tomorrow. And, so it goes....

I wonder why I do this. I always feel a great sense of relief when I get something done. I know when I'm not getting something done that needs doing, it weighs on me.  I know that the weight will be lifted once I take care of business.

I do it with work too. At work, like with bills, there are clear deadlines. I never miss a work deadline due to my own actions or inaction, but sometimes let it come down to the wire. I am VERY good under pressure.

Parties and entertaining I procrastinate EVERY time. I am always initially pumped to put on a party or host family events at my home, and I'm pretty good at it, but man am I busy at the last minute. All the planning and brainstorming gets done immediately, lists are made to buy this, clean that, make those, and then... nothing. I wait. I can do that tomorrow, oh and that, and that won't take me long, I'll do that later.

Then it starts to build up.

Oh man, I do not want to go in to the laundry room. Those towels have to be soaking wet from that dripping tap I haven't gotten fixed yet. I have to get that fixed! But those towels, oh they're probably gross from being wet. I can't do it without gloves. Tomorrow I'll get gloves for sure and get that done. I can't get anyone to come in and fix the leak with the way that room is, man this water bill is high. I'll wait until pay day next week to pay it since it's not due for two more days.

I remember talking to my son when he was younger about how we sometimes pretend that we forgot to do something and deliberately say, oh I forgot, when we know full well we didn't. I don't know how many times in my life I've said, I'll just tell them I forgot. It was cool because with my boy I could ask him which it was, did you really forget or just choose to not and say you forgot.

Oh crap. What time is it? If I don't get in the shower right now, I'm going to be late for work. Well, maybe I can have a quick shower and not wash my hair. I can do that later, or tomorrow.

Hey! Maybe then I have time for one more cup of coffee....


Lucky to have had you

 What I am is what my life has been. Some of it out of my control, some of it my choices, my decisions.

Being adopted isn't just something that happened to me, it is me, it is my story.

I was adopted. It is me. Maybe for better, certainly not for worse, it is me, it is my story.

I try and think about how things used to be, before I met my bio mom, before we communicated via email regularly. I remember not knowing, not fretting too much about ever knowing, feeling a picture would suffice. I'd always thought I'd like to see if I looked especially like anyone, to know what my bio parents looked like.

I remember the non identifying exchange of letters, how satisfying it was to know she was well, to see she felt the same as I did.

I think about all the times I was relieved to be adopted, to not be genetically tied to my mom's (adoptive) side of our family. 

The following is an exchange between my bio mom and myself following our meeting in person.

Her: I just wanted to write you and let you know that I feel your parents did a great job raising you and your mom should be proud.  You are a very pleasant and thoughtful person, which can only partially be credited to genes.

Me: I think I credit my awesomeness (you made my day with your words, thank you) to my dad and my genes, now that I've had a peek at them. I imagine it's not easy for non adopted people to understand the combination of curiosity and trepidation about biological background. I've spent my life thanking my lucky stars not to have inherited any of the "crazy" genes in my family so if I'd discovered my heritage was the same, if not worse, it would have burst my little bubble haha. Believe me when I say this, I've been the envy of many a cousin when family shenanigans went on. Them saying, is this what I have to look forward to? and me saying, phew! dodged that bullet.

As much of the nuttiness was on my mom's side, my dad would shake his head and say, "Campbell, all I can say is thank god you're adopted". I remember us talking and me saying, what if my biological people are whacko? He'd say, nah, they're not and I can tell just by the way you are. My dad was very proud of me, as I am of him.

 Tomorrow is my dad's birthday. I was just reading a post about a great grandpa/grand daughter relationship and I feel touched and happy for that grand daughter and I feel happy for my son, my father's grandson.

"Being related by blood doesn’t necessarily mean that you are close or that your natural family will be there for you or take care of you when the chips hit the fan." - Sunday Koffron

A comment too long, and likely off topic

 I was reading a blog I always read and started to comment and it got out of control. The comment grew long, it may have strayed from what my point was, and likely didn't end up relating properly to the post at all.
But, I like the comment, so am posting here. Take it or leave it.

I think I actually understand what you're saying here. It's this weird thing between wanting to be strong, sparing others what's really going on, protecting yourself from being viewed as damaged and whatever goes along with that, shame, embarrassment, but also wanting people to know it's not easy to not be a total fuck up in life, how much effort it takes or has taken. That what's going on on the outside is not what's going on on the inside.

I kind of compare it to doing the right thing or being honest when nobody knows about it. You want to do the right thing because it's the right thing, because it's good for our souls/spirits whatever to just be good and decent, take the high road for the sake of another BUT...we're human. There's a small part of us that wants someone to notice or care that what we're doing isn't easy, that we're going against what we feel like doing, what we would really prefer to do, what would be easier.

I think the key is to truly figure out how to just do it for one's self. How to get pleasure from not being a total fuck up in spite of all the reasons why we should be. That the pride comes from how we feel about our self instead of how we think we're impressing others  in an "I'll show them" fu kind of way because what if they don't notice? Then it's all for nothing. If it's just for our self, we'll always notice, be impressed, be proud.

This is all easier said than done, but, it's doable. For me it's easiest when it comes to my son. I can do anything for him with no recognition. I sometimes wonder if people actually know or care how difficult it can be taking the high road in the breakdown of a marriage, but ultimately it doesn't matter. I know what I've done, for my boy, for me, and it helps me sleep easy at night, helps me look him in the face and see complete trust, total confidence in my dedication to him, that I am a safe place to land, no matter what.



Ok, there's something I have to do here on my blog. I've done it once before when a comment of mine was censored on another blog . In this instance I initially resisted commenting after reading an adoptive parent's comment(s) but ended up feeling the need to have my say when she returned to collect her accolades. My say was not accepted.

I imagine much of what I normally say appears to be in support of adoption and/or adoptive parents so when I say something strong in reaction to commentary by an adoptive parent it's surprising that it would be unpublishable by a first mother forum. Unless of course I utter the words anti-adoption-radicals and what I have to say is contrary to the reaction of said anti-adoption-radicals.

The following is my unpublished comment.

Oh Courtney, I just hope that your kids feel the same way as you when they get older. That watching you suck up to anti-adoption radicals makes them feel proud and that they'll understand "Adoptive
parents--no matter how hard they love or how much they try--will NEVER be a substitute for first parents. There is no "but if" to this matter. It is not the same."

Course it's not the same, but it can be as good or better and you won't be accomplishing that by treating them as if they aren't real, are less than your biological child.

I would be very, very hurt if I'd ever heard my parents say what Courtney said. My parents, adoptive, are my first and only parents. My biological parents are just exactly that, the people that conceived me with my mother giving birth to me. They all have their importance, their value, their influence, but my parents are my parents, end of story. As much as I'm enjoying getting to know my bio mom now, she will never be a substitute for my first parents. How could she be.


Nice to meet ya

I didn't intend for this blog to be an "adoption blog". Funny how things go. In my stats it's one of the most common search terms.... campbellscoup adoption blog. Huh. Again, funny how things go.

On this 2nd day of November I've been perusing different real adoption blogs and checking out all the Adoption Month hoopla. I guess it's an American thang. I checked back in my blog to see when I'd first started to talk about adoption and the first post was in December of '09 which would explain how I'd missed this exciting month for all things adoption related.

I just reread my first post on adoption, and I still like it. I see how I used all the "wrong" words, things like chosen, special, selfless, healthy attitude, noble, gift of a child ( I still think of all children as a gift, no matter how they appear) and readily admit I was unaware of the unethical side of adoption, the money involved these days, that some mothers are coerced out of their babies and that not all adoptees feel like I do. I've learned quite a bit in just under a year.

From that post I met Lori, someone I consider an online friend. She let me have it in my very first adoption related comment lol. I've learned things from her and am hopeful she's learned something from me.

After a time I'd revisited that first post, and left myself a comment.

Having just reread my own words I feel much better. They are so positive and real, so untainted by suggestions that I am denying my pain, that my situation is sick or sad, that my adoptive parents did something wrong, that my birthmother was coerced and what she did cannot be regarded as selfless or necessary. That my feelings of love for my family and theirs for me aren't as good or real or natural as those of families that are blood related. Not for one second did I ever believe anything different, but it sure feels good to come back home. 

I said to a friend today, "maybe I'm the only freak who's fine with having been adopted" after having read the words of an adopted person declaring they've yet to meet an adoptee who didn't have mixed feelings about being adopted.

Well, nice to meet ya. My name is Campbell and I'm an adoptee...with no mixed feelings.