It went really well. I was nervous, she was nervous, but we were just as amicable as we had been on the phone when we met, and the kids were great. I’m going to refer to them by their initials and age, so there was: I9, J8, I6, and J5. The Is are both boys and the Js both girls. J5 was shy and needed more looking after, which fell to J8, so I didn’t get to hang out with them as much. I6 is clearly in the thrall of his older brother, wanting to do everything he does, and I9 is a typical 9-year-old fast-talker: too excited to slow down for anyone else’s comprehension. We played MarioKart and skee-ball and some Terminator shooting game, and I also raced against BMA, which was a good tension breaker and a lot of laughs. BMA also brought along her brother, who it’s clear the kids are devoted to. I’m not sure what he thought of me, because BMA hasn’t told anyone in her family (other than her kids) that she’s making an adoption plan. This worries me, partly because of the ways I try to live my life openly (and the ways I’ve seen stealth damage me over the last couple of years), and partly because I worry about the fallout, primarily for BMA (will this damage her relationship with her family?), but also for me (what if BMA’s mother, who up until recently had custody of J5, wants to take custody of this child?). I don’t think it’s a large possibility, but I’d like to know everyone’s on board. My therapist pointed out to me that BMA is probably making the best choices she can for her family dynamic, which I don’t really know anything about, but she knows intimately. I have to remember to trust her judgement.
We also talked about BMA’s previous pregnancies, labors, and what she wants for this one. BMA (like my mother) has had to be induced for all her labors, and tends to go overdue, which is far better than underdue for the baby, but is frustrating for BMA, since her birthday is also her due date, and she’d like not to be pregnant by that point. Her kids were all born pretty large. She wants me to be there for her labor, which I’m honored by, and wants me to be able to hold the child as soon as possible to facilitate bonding, which I’m incredibly appreciative of. After doing natural labor with her first son, she never wants to labor without an epidural again, and she hated breastfeeding. It’s interesting to see the differences between the narratives of many of the gestational parents and birth-involved people I know (natural childbirth is the way to go, breastfeeding for as long as possible), and BMA’s (that was painful, and breastfeeding was completely annoying).
I also need to recognize a difficult part of the meeting: BMA is not extraordinary. I realized how much I’d been building her up in my mind, and to others, as a kind of defense against the prejudices I assumed that people have against birthmothers, and that clearly I have, too. She’s aimless in a way I recognize from so many of my peers, unsure of whether to go back to school, and if so, toward what end, but unlike a lot of the people I know facing those decisions, she doesn’t have the money or time to make that kind of aimlessness safe. She homeschools to keep her kids out of the public schools she sees as dangerous, but I don’t know if she has the resources or the knowledge to really provide them with the education they deserve. She’s not purely a victim of circumstance, she’s an ordinary woman, doing the absolute best that she can. And I still admire her, and appreciate her, for the choices she’s making with regards to this pregnancy, but I need to remember to take her off the pedestal I’m building in my mind, because it doesn’t do me, or her, or the child that’s coming any good.