Archive for December, 2006

Bob Geldof on fathers’ rights

Posted in Addiction, Adoption, Adoption Related Ramblings, Adoption story, Lamentations, Rants on December 22, 2006 by Brad

 

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Peace on earth, good will to all men

Posted in Addiction, Adoption, Adoption Related Ramblings, Adoption story, Mumblings on December 22, 2006 by Brad

I wonder what it says about my state of mind when my listening pleasure is vacillating between the frighteningly Catholic Gaudete (though I prefer the Mediaeval Baebes version to the one linked here) and The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York. At least they are both seasonal.

Speaking of which, the Christmas pornography is interesting this year. My favorite has to be the two Swedish blondes wearing Santa hats and going down on each other while some Swedish carol is playing in the background. Except towards the end, a kid starts singing in the carol and that was quite distressing given the visual content.

Does anyone have a vegan recipe for kartoffelpuffern?

Ain’t it fun when you know that you’re gonna die young

Posted in Addiction, Adoption, Adoption Related Ramblings, Adoption story on December 17, 2006 by Brad

I think the investigation required to respond adequately to this comment from Regina is worthy of a post all its own, rather than trying to answer in my comments section.

Interesting…that which has caused you so much (the most?) pain is that which has transformed you… If not for Sprog, and if not for the sacrifice of (parenting) Sprog, would you still be a junkie?

I must admit that for a long time I maintained that I would never have been a junkie at all if not for Sprog’s placement. I never considered myself an addict until a scant few weeks before his birth when I tried to quit and discovered I could not. Maybe I had been an addict a long time and just never realized it because I had never tried to stop before, or maybe it was because my usage increased during my girlfriend’s pregnancy. I had never injected anything before that, ever. The very thought of mutilating myself with needles, loading my veins with filthy crap, was abhorrent to me. Someone asked me once what possessed me to start using needles, and I really had no concrete, reasonable answer. “Desperation”, I guess.

If we were (or I was) responsible for parenting Sprog, I would like to think that I would have cleaned up an awful lot quicker. Whether or not I truly would have, I cannot say. It has taken more than six years to get to where I am today, and while most of that time was spent using, most of it was also spent wishing I did not have to. In fact, I spent most of the time trying (but not really trying) to quit. I would go on a run for days or weeks, just getting loaded and damn the consequences (“fuck it all and fucking no regrets” being my catch-cry). Then I would run out of money and my conscience would start to prick me so I would make a half-assed attempt at quitting, fail miserably and go into maintenance mode – using just enough to keep me from dissolving into a sobbing mess and telling everyone who tried to intervene to get the fuck off my back because I was a functional addict. Honestly, functional addict? Sheesh. /facepalm

If Sprog had never existed, would I still be a junkie? Would I ever have been one? I honestly do not know. I hazard to say that if I had become a junkie, I still would be one today. I cannot think of a good enough reason not to be.

I guess it is alot to put on a kid. The notion that their fate determined their father’s fate too. So in practice I try very hard not to equate where I am at and where I have been with Sprog-related incidents. He is not responsible for me using. He is not responsible for me quitting. I would hate for him to ever think that anything he did would have repercussions that huge on me. These were not his choices, they were mine.

My writing skills are woefully inadequate, so I cannot possibly explain the complex nuances surrounding this issue. I would be lying if I said that things that happen in my life regarding Sprog do not affect me. They do. Every time I see a new picture of him, hear his voice on the phone, see his name in his own baby handwriting at the foot of a letter, even hear his name uttered by a complete stranger talking to her own boy, every time it is like the air is gone from the room and time stands still as I wait for it to hit. FROM HELL’S HEART, I STAB AT THEE! Like a head-on collision, those crystal moments where you can see individual pieces of broken vehicle hanging in the air like a scene from The Matrix and you think if the moment lasts long enough you can get out and glue all the pieces back together and everything will be OK. But then there is the jarring jolt and you realize you are too badly hurt to face the light so you shut your eyes and reach inside for the familiar and the safe. It may sound hideously wrong for a syringe full of filthy crap to be familiar and safe, but in my hands it feels like salvation and in my veins it feels like peace.

So yeah, do not wish me peace either.

Lucky star

Posted in Addiction, Adoption, Adoption story on December 13, 2006 by Brad

So I guess I should explain why, in my previous entry, I said I am very fucking lucky.

Kim (again, bless her sweet soul) excused my behavior after Sprog’s birth, due to me being in the throes of active addiction at the time. I don’t know. I do not think I can excuse myself on that basis anymore than Kim excuses her daughter’s birth father on that same basis (ie, she does not excuse him at all). So I guess, rather than being excused, I count it as being forgiven. Because what I did was inexcusable, no doubts there.

So… I am lucky to have extremely forgiving people in my life, people who are kinder to me than I am to myself.

The girlfriend I abused and walked out on is now my wife. When I finally stepped out of denial and into the horror of what I had done to my son, she was there. And, like Kim, she forgave me because active addicts do terrible things to the people who love them, and to her, Sober Brad is not the same person as Addict Brad. Out in the real world, she is pretty much the only person (besides Sprog’s family) that I talk to about Sprog.

I am lucky to be in recovery. I am lucky that I hit rock bottom before the drugs killed me. They did try. In September of 2005 after a couple months clean, I relapsed. As I jumped off the wagon, I misjudged quite horribly, and I overdosed. I woke up in the hospital, found my high was gone, and I was unimaginably ticked off. From there I went directly into a rehab program. Within one week of release, I was using again. Nope, amazingly, almost killing myself was not my rock bottom.

Rock bottom happened in March of 2006. We were all lined up to visit with Sprog and in the weeks leading up to it, I was trying desperately to get and stay clean. Unfortunately I was failing miserably, constantly strung out and borderline suicidal. I was not using enough to get high, just enough to keep myself from getting sick, and I caught myself thinking “This is my normal. If I show up like this, it is normal and I bet they will never even realize I am using. If I am normal-for-me, that should be enough.” Yes, I really did consider spending an entire week with my son while in active addiction. I actually did consider bringing needles and drugs into his home. I truly thought it would be better than showing up the way I eventually did show up – strung out and dope sick, sweating and shivering, puking out the car window on the way from the airport to his family’s house.

So this is my Lucky again. Sprog’s family. Imagine for a moment that you are an adoptive parent, and your son’s birth father has just shown up at your front door looking like an extra from Shaun of the Dead. Imagine that your one stipulation for visits has always been “You will be sober when visiting with Sprog”. And this foul creature from the depths of hell is standing there, begging for entry. You would be perfectly within your rights to tell him to fuck off. But they did not. They felt it would do more damage to Sprog if he did not see me at all after he had been told I was coming, than to see his genetic ancestry in all its glory of heroin withdrawal. They compassionately gave me the benefit of the doubt, opened their home and their hearts to me… and I totally fucked them over. We had rented a car at the airport, because I had every intention of attending an NA meeting every single day. For three days, I religiously drove to those meetings. Just as I was starting to feel human, four days into the visit, I left around lunch time for my meeting. And I never returned, because instead of driving to the meeting, my brain switched off and drove me to an old friend’s house and we sat at his kitchen table and got high together and talked about old times. My cellphone rang, many hours later, and I could see it was a call from Sprog’s house. “Fuck”, I thought, “I have been here for hours. I should get back”. Uh… no… you can’t show up high. I did not answer the phone. I stayed with my friend until the flight home.

My wife was the ice queen. She came home to get some stuff and then she went to stay with a friend. I spent a couple weeks so wasted that I cannot remember a thing about them, other than I completely failed to go back to work. I had no communication with Sprog’s family and I knew I must have blown the whole deal. Father’s Day rolled around. They always send me a card on Father’s Day. Not this year. I was certain I would never get to see Sprog again, they had cast me out and that was it. I sank into depression. Lost my job because I was never there and never offered any explanation for my absence. In desperation, I wrote a letter to Sprog’s parents apologizing for what had happened. Their response seemed cryptic to me at the time.

A few weeks went by, and Sprog’s father called. He wanted to take me on a camping trip so that we could talk. I was terrified. Normally I am a reasonably confident person, but Sprog’s parents are incredibly intimidating because they are Sprog’s parents. My self esteem plummets as I start comparing myself to them and I forget they are just people like me. So this camping trip was the most horrific way I could think of to spend a weekend, but somehow my mouth said “OK” despite the screaming in my brain. That trip changed my life. Finally, something clicked inside my head when Sprog’s dad said to me “It is OK to be sober. You screwing up your life makes no difference to where Sprog is now. No matter what you do, he is still going to have the life he has now. The only difference is: do you want to be someone he is proud of when he gets older, or someone he pities?” Proud. I want him to be proud of where he came from.

I stopped fucking up my life to prove to myself that he is better off where he is. His life is not better, just different.

I am lucky to have these people in my life. I am lucky to be in recovery. I am lucky that I get to see my son. I am so fucking lucky.

You could be mine

Posted in Addiction, Adoption, Adoption story, Observations on December 12, 2006 by Brad

I took a walk this morning. Not around my neighborhood (boring!) but around a neighborhood where the rich people live. It is not so terribly far from where I live, and yet it is on a whole other plane. I think there must be way more crime there than in my area though, because one place had a motion sensor, light and a camera pointed at the trash cans. If the trash has that kind of security, I dare not even contemplate what must be required for the rest of the house. People must be doing pretty sick things to trash cans around there for it to be warranted. I sleep with the windows open. I figure if anyone comes into my house while I am sleeping, my naked will scare them away. And if they want to steal my trash, uh… feel free?

Anyways, on the return trip to my car, I passed a man walking with his toddler son. They had a mini soccer ball which they were kicking along as they walked, and two big dogs walked next to them. The guy looked up at me, smiled and said good morning, and I said good morning back. And I think I probably grimaced really creepily rather than smiling, because as I looked at them my gut wrenched and I held back vomit as I thought “That should have been me, about five years ago”.

I thought back to what I was doing five years ago, when Sprog was just a little over one year old. December 2001. My girlfriend and I had broken up. I was sharing an apartment with a friend and we were both addicted to EverQuest and dope. We would shoot speedballs and then smite orcs with our mighty Shortswords of Ykesha. Could have been playing ball with a toddler, but instead I was playing video games with a loser. /facepalm

So I think about that time, and then I think about the comment Kim wrote on my previous entry – she has a high opinion of me. Bwah? She did not know me back then. The things she wrote about how shitty her daughter’s birth father was? I did all that and then some. Unhelpful? Oh yeah. I was in my own little world of pixels, powders and pipes. My girlfriend and I could not see eye to eye, hence the breakup. She wanted to work through her grief, I wanted to pretend nothing ever happened. She put up pictures of Sprog, I ripped them down and tore them into tiny pieces. I felt like I had been torn into tiny pieces and she had to put all these fucking reminders all over the place, I called it cruel and unusual punishment. I really do not know what we could have done differently. We both processed the event in very different ways, we needed different things and living in the same house when what she needed was exactly what was killing me, well… we did engage in hand-to-hand combat. She probably would say I was abusive, and she probably would be right. I was definitely self-centered. I had certainly failed to take to heart the agency’s admonition “You need to be there for her after the placement”. I was pissed at her. It was her idea. I only did it because she wanted to. Recriminations. I think I wanted to hurt her. I cheated on her, and then I left her without a word.

I am not different. I am not better. I am a birth father like any other. I have behaved as badly as any other. The difference is I just happen to be very fucking lucky.

It’s time to rise

Posted in Adoption, Rants on December 11, 2006 by Brad

Today’s jolly song is Teenagers – My Chemical Romance. Any song which includes the lyrics “Teenagers scare the living shit out of me” has my vote.

Anyways, on to matters which I have been trying to put out of my mind, but which are nibbling at my soul like little nibbly things. Therefore, despite my previous protestations that I was staying the hell away, I am going to rant.

I was browsing through Jenna’s new paid adoption blog site. Naturally, I was drawn to the link Issues for birth/first fathers. There were a few posts from Jenna, who is doing a great job there with sensitive, non-judgemental posting. She accomplishes this by writing from her own personal situation and not putting words and thoughts into the mouths and minds of birth fathers in general. Thank you, Jenna. But then…. I got to this. Written by Jan Baker. Uhh… issues for birth fathers? Not really… more like issues for birth mothers who are not getting along with the father of their baby. My fingers itched to retort. Positively itched. But for one thing, the site requires you to register before you can comment, and I categorically refuse to take the time to register just to post a comment which will be ignored anyways. And for another thing, I am trying to steer clear of drama because… well, ugh, drama.

But after sharing my indignation with Nicole (who kindly commented on my behalf) I feel like an asshole not saying anything myself, so I have succumbed to the need for vitriolic dissection. But I am going to do it on my own site, because I am already signed in. So, without further ado, allow me to retort!

 

Birth dads are much maligned,

True.

sometimes deservedly so, sometimes not. I suspect that there would be less pregnancies classified as “crisis pregnancies” if men in general were more accepting and supportive of unplanned pregnancies.

Possibly. Course, it is easier to be accepting and supportive of a pregnancy if you are actually told about it. Many men are not. Yet there are still these crisis pregnancies. Hmm, maybe it is not the men after all…

However, this is not a blanket indictment of all men. Like birth moms, I believe that some birth dads are unfairly characterized as unfeeling and uncaring. Birth dads come in all shapes and sizes just like birth moms. I do not know enough birth dads personally to be able to take much of a position on what an “average” might be like. Trying to compile an “average” snapshot is probably futile anyway.

And yet, you are writing about birth dads as if from a position of authority.

The majority of birth moms have little good to say about most birth dads. On the other hand, I have met a few birth dads, and have nothing but positive impressions of them. One has admittedly changed since his son was born and placed for adoption many years ago. He admits to having been a retched jerk when his son was born, and now regrets how he handled the situation.

OK. So we have established that birth mothers for the most part do not like birth fathers, although all the birth fathers the writer has met personally have been super, as well as introspective. Not sure where she is getting her stats from. My wife likes me, most of the time.

Blogger Sandra asked me recently about the pressure that some birth dads place on pregnant women. My short answer was that I feel that pressure should not happen from anyone, not even the father of the baby. The mother of a child is impacted the most severely by her decision as to whether to parent of not. Therefore, not even the baby’s father should be pressuring her, even though her decision does affect him as well.

Excuse me? How is the mother impacted the most severely? Please, I am really curious here. I can see that she is impacted by the pregnancy, but that is going to happen regardless of whether she chooses to parent or place. Once the baby is born, the pregnancy is moot. He is the child of two people. He shares the genetic material of both his mother and his father. If birth fathers are minimized, then fatherhood as a whole is minimized, so why the fuck are you worried about your baby having a two parent home if fathers mean nothing?

Pressure from a potential birth dad can be either for or against the adoption decision. First, I will talk about coercion from a man to convince the mother of his child to relinquish. Some pregnant women suspect that the father of their babies push the adoption option because they do not want to have to pay child support. Pressuring a woman to relinquish for that reason is pretty awful in my eyes and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Other men may just not want the responsibility of having a child for financial or other reasons. I have no respect for a man who would behave in this manner. From what I hear, many birth dads are not terribly responsible and supportive of pregnant women. In their defense, however, many are quite young, like many birth moms, and it is not surprising that the responsibility of becoming a father sometimes terrifies them.

Oh, hearsay. Great! Why don’t we malign all fathers who think that adoption is in the best interest of their children, because obviously their real reasons for choosing to relinquish are creepy and irresponsible, and not noble and selfless like the mothers’ reasons.

I think a woman in a crisis pregnancy needs to stand up for herself and decide what is best for her and her baby. If she goes against what is in her heart for the sake of a man, I believe that she will likely live to regret her decision. The best interest of a baby trumps a father’s wishes in my mind. This may sound harsh, but, men are replaceable in a woman’s life, babies are not. Placing a baby for adoption because a man tells you to is rarely, if ever, a wise decision.

What about a man who goes against what is in his heart for the sake of a woman? That is what you are asking him to do here. Set aside his own needs in favor of the wishes of the mother. Does the best interest of a baby trump a mother’s wishes, or just a father’s? Are babies replaceable in a man’s life? Consider just how many cases of overturned adoptions occur because the father wanted his child, and yet the mother went ahead with the adoption.

On the flip side, what about men who want to pressure a woman to parent their child, even when she wishes to choose adoption. Pressuring a woman either way is not a smart thing to do. If a woman really does not want to parent, and you talk her into parenting, what are the chances that she will become a good mother? It is possible that she will have a change of heart after the baby is both, but, again, she is the party most impacted by her pregnancy, and she gets to decide what happens to her baby in most circumstances.

What, never heard of a single father?

However, I know one young man who sought custody of his child once he knew that his girlfriend had decided on the adoption option. I believe that he should have been given the chance to parent their child if she did not want to. I do not know why the baby’s mother did not want him to have custody. Perhaps she also had some spiteful and punitive reasons as well. I suspect that she perhaps believed a two parent family would be a better option. The baby’s father spent years fighting for custody in court, but, did not succeed. Nothing about him gave me any indication that he would not have been a warm, loving and successful parent. He was financially solvent, stable and I cannot imagine that he could not have done a superb job of parenting.

Sad, isn’t it?

If a woman believes that the father of her child is unstable or would provide an unsafe home for their child, that is altogether an entirely different situation. Several women have told me that they relinquished in order to keep the baby safe. They felt that the fathers might have harmed the babies in some ways mostly due to drug or alcohol addictions.

You know, the baby is actually safer if the mother chooses to parent, rather than place without the father’s consent.

In an ideal world, a couple would decide together if they find out that a baby is on the way how to handle the situation. Ultimately, the woman is always more affected by whatever decision is made, so she should be free to do so without pressure from the father of her baby or anyone. If they cannot agree, who gets to decide, the father or mother of the baby?

Bull and shit. Although I agree that in an ideal world, a couple would decide together how to handle the situation. The rest of this article is egocentric, partisan, unfounded drivel.

Thank you and goodnight.

Festively plump

Posted in Mumblings, Music on December 10, 2006 by Brad

My current jolly-song of choice is The Pogues’ Fairy Tale of New York. I love its irreverence and the way it pokes this supposedly happy time of the year in the eye.

Nevertheless, I am still forcing myself to jollidity, so yesterday was spent decorating the Christmas tree and performing precarious balancing acts to get icicle lights on to the front of the house. I think they look pretty awesome, but my wife is disappointed that we are not in the Griswolds’ league, or ever likely to be featured at the Ugly Christmas Lights site. Although actually ours does look somewhat like the “Dazzling Balcony” one. Frankly, the credit card was simply not designed to stretch to those proportions, in light of which I consider one string of twinklies quite enough. We did buy a festive dish cloth though. Oh yeah. The seasonal joy knows no bounds.