One of the biggest obstacles in getting through this is the visitation, or lack thereof.
I want to be very specific in getting my niece to understand why it was necessary to resume our visitation after we reconvene in court when she is 12 years of age.
It is crucial for her to understand that we didn’t just stop seeing her.
The fact is that the stress in dealing with her adoptive parents was too great, they are literally the worse people I have encountered. It felt like they had us by the throat every time I saw them. It felt like the air was sucked out of the room, it was like I could hear my own heartbeat thumping in my ears. The right side of my face would go numb, the insomnia was a monster, anxiety immeasurable.
Seeing the faces of the people who have her, the way they looked at us, the way they treated us. Putting us through hell so they could play house. Keeping a child away from her family that so obviously wanted and needed her. They looked at us like how dare we love her. How dare we fight for her. Little things to jab the knife in further like putting a note in her snack bag that read “love mommy” at a time when she could barely speak let alone read. They did unnecessary things just because they could. Every chance they got, they added salt to the wound.
Every visit was harder than the one before it. The anger I felt was just growing and growing. Months before the visit until months after, I was so physically ill I could barely eat, couldn’t sleep, barely able to function. I would be at work dealing with patients, then I would go in the back and cry my eyes out, then go back to the front and try to smile and act as if moments before I didn’t want to just die. I couldn’t focus on anything, I started feeling confused constantly, not able to remember or process thoughts. I would be driving, forget where I was going and miss the exit.
The visits at a park in the freezing cold, paying a monitor $75 per hour because they “didn’t trust us with her”, seeing them sitting in their car glaring at us from a distance watching us like hawks, dealing with their every changing demands, dealing with Los Angeles lawyers, being at family court watching the “system” controlling so many families and lives. All the extra burdensome things they did on purpose, staying at hotels in a city I despised, the constant feeling of dread we have to carry. So many things factor into this equation, nothing is black and white. My niece needs to understand that none of this has been easy. Nothing has been fair.
It came down to risking my health further, possibly having to be hospitalized, or waiting until or next scheduled court date when she will actually have a voice. The cost of seeing her became too high, not financially, but in every other sense of the word. Along with losing her, it cost two marriages, a miscarriage, countless friendships. Completely devastated and all-consumed, our family was in a four-alarm state at all times. The restlessness, the constant flood of negative emotion, I can honestly say I have barely survived this. The cycle of grief has been like a hamster wheel.
Life separated in two timelines, before the adoption, and after the adoption. It shook us to the core and we are still trying to recover. We’re still trying to pick up the pieces. We still trying to get through each day without buckling under this enormous pressure. All we have is faith in the time we wait for her to be out from under their grip. We wait, desperate for her love and anxious for vindication. We wait to even be able to tell her who we are. We have a whole lifetime to catch up on. We have to backtrack on whatever made-up story they have fed her. I think about what this will do to my niece, how she will feel. There is no win or lose in this thing now, it’s an ugly thing that happened and now the question is, how do we deal with it?
It has been a very, very long journey, and it’s not over yet. I know there are many hurdles ahead. For my niece, I am up for the challenge. I’m stronger than I have given myself credit for. I know how much patience and prayer this is going to take. But in the end, I know it will all be worth it. I know I am worth it.