Across the table, she looked at me carefully.
“They had him diagnosed how?”
I took a deep breath again. I still was not used to this new business of talking out loud to them about The Kiddo. But I was trying to be more open. Trying, really hard.
“Well, they basically used the paperwork I wrote….”
She interrupted me,
“Wait, how much did you drink?”
I paused, feeling guilty, like usual. I hated this part of the questioning when I told people this part, “Like one and a half, really. I rounded it up to 2-3 on the paperwork because I was encouraged to say more than less”.
I saw her brow furrowed. So I continued.
“Basically, he was having behavioral issues, and based on the information they had there, they managed to get the diagnosis. Obviously, I disagree with it, but what can I do? It’s already done…”
“Danielle, that’s offensive. Aren’t you offended?”
I tilted my head to the side and looked at The Hubby who was quietly taking the conversation in, then back to her again.
“Uh…” I stammered, “I never thought of it like that. I guess it is.”
“I mean, really, who doesn’t drink in the first few weeks of their pregnancy? You drank before it was even possible to know, right?”
I nodded. It was true, I had no idea I was pregnant when I did drink, and no pregnancy test would have shown that I was pregnant at that point.
“He’s having behavioral issues, and it’s just easier to blame you rather then look at the full picture?”
I shrugged, and began,
“Well, yeah, I guess. Apparently, when a mother admits to drinking even a little in pregnancy, they have to take it to mean that she is likely lying and drank way more.”
Her eyes went wide, “That’s awful. Why would you lie about that?”
“I wouldn’t. Most of the mothers who I know wouldn’t either. One bad apple, I suppose?”
I sat back in my chair, pondering the conversation. The Hubby took over and the subject switched.
Offensive? I was so shocked, and guilt ridden by the news that The Kiddo had been diagnosed with an alcohol related defect, that I just accepted it. I was ashamed to admit it to anyone, because well, essentially it meant I was admitting that I had made him exactly the way he was, issues and all. It made me sad, it made me hate myself, and it made me dread the future when he may ask me, “Why did you drink?”
There had never been a moment where I considered the idea that the diagnosis was in part, offensive to me. As time had passed and I formed my own opinion on it, I carefully worded my objection with it to anyone who was around me. Honestly, I was more worried about offending them, that it might hurt their feelings that I essentially questioned how they had went about getting the diagnosis. So I’ve just nodded and smiled about it, even though, I feel in my heart of hearts that they have got it very wrong.
Offensive, this was new though. Offensive?
I wasn’t included in the diagnosis process, when they had access to me, and I would have willingly participated. I guess that could be considered exceptionally offensive.
They had the agency break the news to me, through a letter, which I guess, could be offensive, but wasn’t entirely abnormal given the shape of our relationship.
They had him diagnosed without talking to me about the words written so many years ago on a piece of paper, when I would never lie to them, and I would always tell them the truth. I guess, offensive fits that profile too.
I felt unsettled, and the creeping, familiar feeling of being isolated in this adoption, blanketed itself around me.
I’d been so busy worrying about not offending them, keeping to myself, and fufilling the role of perfect, quiet, respectful birthmother, that I had forgotten that they too, despite what I was told by the agency, are not perfect. Which means, they can err, and they can put others in situations where they are hurt, or offended.
As we drove home that night, I leaned my head against the window, watching the stars pass by our car as it zipped down the prarie highway. The Hubby grabbed my hand and leaned over, one hand still steady on the wheel, “Where are you, Danielle?”
“It is offensive. It is entirely offensive that The Kiddo was diagnosed without my involvement. But I can’t be offended, can I? I mean, how do I be offended when my offense could ultimately lead to my dismissal from their life?”
The Hubby squeezed my hand, and let it go,
“You are right. I would be so angry if I were you. There is no reason not to involve you, especially when we live in the same place. You would have done it, he’s your son, you love him, no matter what. But you are right, you can’t voice that opinion without the risk of losing what little you do have right now.”
I shrunk back in the passenger seat, bouncing the back of my head off the seat as shook my head,
“It’s offensive, but I will just smile and nod some more, I guess. I’m such a picture perfect birthmother, now aren’t I?”
The Hubby paused.
“You are an amazing mother. An amazing person. I wish they knew that.”
A single tear fell down my cheek, I mumbled,