I am pretty proud of myself for how I managed the email that I sent out to my school, informing the masses of the end of our quest for parenthood.
First, I sent it the day before the last day of school for teachers, mere minutes before we all went out to wave goodbye to the students leaving on buses and in cars. Heh heh heh, sneaky timing, as a lot of people leave right after that. This way, there'd be enough time to not drop a bomb and disappear in a poof of smoke, but not enough time that I'd have to deal with fallout for days. Just one day. Sneaky sneaky.
I decided to finally send my email after I found out that a few people had asked friends of mine this sort of thing: "Is it true that Jess isn't adopting anymore?" and so I thought, well, these are the ballsy people (but not ballsy enough to ask me directly, although one person did do that in the hall about two weeks ago)...how many people might be wondering and at what point am I comfortable being shady corner-of-the-stairwell gossip? Really, at no point am I good with being gossip fodder. Best that it comes from me, no matter what it is.
So, I sent it. And it looked like this, with the heading "Thank You [Name of My Middle School] Family:"
Hi [Name of my Middle School],
It has meant so much to me and to Bryce to have such an outpouring of support from everyone as we fought for nearly 8 years to have a family. We have been amazed by the love, empathy, and hugs we have received.
This has been an incredibly difficult year, and as some of you may already know, after a great deal of thought and consideration we have ended our journey to expand our family. We never expected that our journey would end without a child. As we grieve this loss, we know that it is the right decision for us -- to let go of the life we envisioned and fought so hard for at great personal cost so that we can live the life we have built together despite all this adversity.
I read a beautiful book about surviving loss, The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, and in it she says, "Everyone doesn't get everything." We have so, so much, and while this is a terrible loss, we can celebrate everything we do have in each other.
I am so lucky to teach here at [Name of my Middle School], to be a part of this family that takes care of each other we're down. I appreciate your love and support now as we move onward to this new, unexpected life adventure as a family of two.
Thank you and much love,
Jess and Bryce
PS - We thank everyone contributed to our nursery, which was such a special, beautiful place of hope while it lasted. We donated everything to an organization that helps women who don't have support for unintended pregnancies -- our loss will be someone else's blessing and help another new family get a head start.
Not bad, eh? I don't think I overshared (there is that ominous "great personal cost," and I still felt the need to slap a number of years onto our suffering, but whatever), and I think I made it pretty clear that this was a firm decision and we were looking for support, not talking out of/fixing.
It went pretty well, all things considered. I had one person hug me and whisper in my ear "International Adoption is always an option..." (she adopted internationally a decade and a half ago), and I managed to accept her hug and say, "We researched that option, thank you" and leave it at that. People always think that their way is the best way. This time I didn't have anyone tell me "oh but you'd make such a great mother!" (ouch, because I'm not ever going to get to be one) and no one suggested that we try foster care adoption, either (again, researched that one). I had someone tell me how much she appreciated that I let everyone in on this journey, how eye opening it was and how privileged she felt to be a part of it. I had a coworker who is also the parent of one of my students cry and tell me that "It's not the same, I know it's not the same, but you are a mother to every one of those kids that comes through your room. This is what you're meant to do, and you have so much love for these kids -- including mine." I usually hate the "your students are your kids though!" band-aid slapped on teacher infertility, but in this case I didn't mind at all because she acknowledged that it wasn't the same but that it is a way to mother. And I'd been thinking earlier this year about how I could direct my mothering energy just towards my students (which, honestly, I already do, poor things). I got hugs, and sweet emails, and a couple "You are so strong"s, which I didn't deflect because I should own that. Yeah, I'm strong. Thank you.
There. That band-aid is ripped off and it wasn't too terribly painful. Now it's done and I don't have to talk about it at school if I don't want to anymore. Hopefully people respect that.
Now for the facebook band-aid...that one is more daunting. I think I may actually include some of the things that aren't helpful since there are some people who are real good at assvice (OMG, thank you Loribeth, x2, for this word and for introducing me to Ariel Levy's book, among other things). I know it all comes from a pretty benign place but jeezum people can really stick a lemon wedge in my oozy wounds with careless or well-meaning but hurtful words.
Thank you for all the advice, real advice not assvice (I swear I'm going to use that as much as humanly possible). Your support helps me make sense of things that are hard to make sense of, and helps me to not be so much of my own worst enemy. Repeat after me, Me: I Will Not TEll Everyone I Had A Bit Of A Mental Breakdown. I Will Not Make Excuses or Justify. I Will Just Say We Are No Longer Pursuing Adoption And Please Support Us In Our New Adventure As A Twosome.
I can do it, right? Probably not today. But tomorrow. Tomorrow I will rip off the final band-aid.