but not for all the reasons I might have thought in the beginning.
We had a get together this weekend with Woob’s mom and baby sister, the first in a few months. We had finalized plans earlier in the week, with N’s preference to be this weekend as opposed to down the road, which worked great for us too. We were driving there, so packed up everything a 2 year old needs for a day (which means simply: EVERYTHING), and hit the road, leaving as usual, about an hour later than planned. I put in a call to her cell phone to let her know, but the voice mail was full. I figured she’d call us if she got worried.
Woob was excited about the trip and knew who it was we were going to see. We’d been looking at pictures of N, J, and C in the week prior, getting him prepared and re-acquainted before hand. He stayed awake most of the two hour trip, but for about a half hour, napped. When we stopped to get out at her apartment, we had to wake him up, let him know we were here, and he got his little gift for J. and headed into the building with us. He helped us knock on the door, and we waited. Knocked again, waited. Nothing. Silence. No one coming to the door. No sounds of the baby or the tv inside. Just…nothing. Just the sound of my heart beating in my own ears.
Did I misunderstand? Are we going to have to turn around and go home? Did she forget? Did something happen? ?…?…?…? Of all the things that I expected out of the day, this was the very last thing that would have entered my mind.
We try the cell again, still with no success. We bang on the door yet again. Nothing. I call Grampa G., N’s dad, which I hate, because its like I’m ratting out his daughter, yannow? Just wondering if maybe he knows where she might be. I get the impression they’ve not been in great contact lately, but he starts making some calls and will get back to us.
By this time, we’ve tried to get Woob back in the truck after riding in it already for 2 hours, and him fully knowing that he has not yet seen those whom he came to see. And he’s been awakened from his nap. All of which together is a total recipe for one pissed off 2 year old. There is no reasoning; he will not listen to us say that we are going to lunch. The Meltdown has begun.
I will stop here and tell you that I am not at all angry at the situation at this point in the story, just utterly, utterly perplexed. I know that many readers may be angry on my behalf that we got jilted by the “evil birthmother” and be yelling “see, we told you this wasn’t worth it!” Which is why I’m writing this here and not telling anyone I know IRL about this mix up. I don’t want to hear that from them, and if you are someone who is thinking the same, just relax and don’t get your undies in a twist about it. Read on.
The Meltdown continues through wrestling the boy into the truck, taking him out to go inside the restaurant, through ordering and finding a seat, and through lunch in general. This is the kind of meltdown in a restaurant that causes strangers to either look at you with hatred because you are somehow infringing on their right to peace and quiet, or utter empathy because they have children or grandchildren of their own. Its the kind of meltdown that causes nice McD’s workers to come out with a special toy from their stash in hopes the crying and snot will stop. For the record, it didn’t work. Neither did french fries or chicken nuggets.
Grampa G. soon meets us in the restaurant and gets to witness his first grandchild in all his cranky glory, but he has located N. and notes that she is simply mortified at the mix up, at totally forgetting, but she was in the process of moving. She is on her way. Woob eventually calms down. We visit with G. until they get there. We learn some things. Things have continually been rough. As always, there is the priority of survival of self and family, and as it should, thinking about that came first. The necessity of moving yet again to ensure her little girl would have formula, a roof, stability and support–that comes before worrying when there would be a visit. When you have a six month old and are without money because you have no job because you are without a car–well that kind of thing takes piority. I get that and I respect that. End of story.
They finally get there and we head to a nearby state park and have a really, really nice visit. Woob got to show off his climbing, sliding, running, talking and rocket launching skills and make funny faces at his sister. We got lots of pictures and fresh air. We sweated our butts off in the sun, but froze our feet off in the creek. We talked.
C is looking to enlist in the National Guard on a 10 year stint this week and we wonder what this means for all of us. Will she marry him and move far away? Will she move on from him while he’s gone? That step could either be the best thing he could do or the worst, depending on so many factors.
After several hours, we decided to call it a visit, and work our way towards home with our tired, tired boy. If we went on any further, we’d be pushing our luck with another meltdown. We all exchange hugs and blow kisses and talk about the next time, when, where. We feel good about the time spent together.
The ride home gives me and P2R a chance to rehash. We usually don’t have long discussions about N and C in between visits, just talking about the latest and plans for a visit and such. But directly following a visit, we really take it detail by detail, playing out scenarios, sharing what the other might have missed, mulling over the situations and challenges their young family is facing and feeling really crappy that there’s little to be done about it.
So here are the hard parts we didn’t expect in this relationship we share, when we started on this journey:
- We had no idea we’d care so much. They have truly become our extended family, and because we care so much…
- We want to help however we can. We know we can’t, nor is it our responsibility to fix the hard parts, but we also know that we are in a position that we could help in many ways. We’d like to offer lots of things, including advice, different forms of support, etc., but the bottom line is, they haven’t asked. And this means…
- We have to keep good boundaries. My nature is to try to fix, to try to mother. If I had my way, they’d be living in my house and I’d be finding student grants and daycare subsidies and…and…and… But really, would that be the best thing, any of it? Maybe or maybe not. But me bandaiding up their problems would probably create new ones. Oh, and then there’s that whole thing about me NOT being their mother and them NOT asking for us to bestow upon them our well-meaning help and advice.
- We have to keep good boundaries. We have to find a way to be clear about visits and expectations for the sake of the Woob. He is obviously old enough to become disappointed if expectations aren’t met. We cannot pump him up for a meeting that isn’t going to happen. Although he certainly doesn’t yet understand the finer underpinnings of what’s going on here, he does need to be able to depend on what we say and know we are all following through so that he can trust in this relationship down the road. Every day he gets a little older and a little smarter, and soon, nothing will be able to be simply waved away as an “oops.”
- There are very few people who understand this whole thing from the outside looking in. Far too many people in the world would allow these things to validate their fears about open adoption, so, IRL we choose not to talk about it with any detail. We are still learning how to talk about the whole thing with people in our family so that they understand WHY we’re doing this, but are afraid of talking about anything but the sunshiny parts. Which leads to few outlets and really good discussions except for my friends out there in bloggerville.
So those are some things I’m struggling with right now with adoption. We’ll continue to keep the communication open so that they know we are here for them, will help, will listen, whatever. I’m open to thoughts, feelings, suggestions, or the sharing of personal experiences with this.