Monthly Archives: June 2009

Grief and Loss

I am a firm believer that loss is inherent in adoption, even infant adoption.  I also believe that children, even from the earliest moments, grieve and mourn these losses, not because they understand them, but because they feel them.  I do think that all children have different levels of resilience and feel these losses and cope with them very differently, not just at the time of the loss, but throughout different parts of their lives.

As a first time  parent, only three years into this gig, I also know that I can read things into a situation that aren’t there from time to time.  But I don’t think this is one of those times. My gut tells me that Woob is dealing with grief related to his adoption. 

  • He doesn’t like to be left behind.  Example:  we went out on a rare date Saturday night, and took Woob to the grandparents’ house.  He knew where we were going, he knew he’d be staying with the GPs, he knew we’d be back in a few hours and he’d be sleeping in his own bed.  But when it was time for me to leave him there, he freaked a little.  Then, when I was gone, he apparently parked at the front door looking out the window for awhile, and repeated many times, “Mommy is coming back.”  That is a common reassurance at our house, “Mommy will always come back…”  The following morning, he was all over us both and told us time and again that he missed us.  “You came back!  You went dancing and you came back!”  As if it was this miraculous surprise that we did so.  Makes total sense to me–he has another mom that didn’t come back…why should this one?
  • His feelings run VERY deep.  There are times when his anger, usually starting with something small, turns into something very…intense and focused.  I’m not talking a regular tantrum–we have those too.  We handle the two things very differently.  And after the intense anger episodes, he crashes and get SOOOO sad, as if he has said or done something shameful or unforgiveable.  He will sob and need a million hugs.  When we reflect on our feelings during or after these times, he denies he’s been angry…always identifies himself as sad.
  • Also, regarding his feelings, he seems to really identify with characters in his little movies that experience loss.  Seems every child’s movie out there has a theme of something happening to the mom or dad, whether the character is a child or a dog or something.  His little voice always pops up with a “what happened to his mommy?” or “she’s so sad her daddy is gone!” and he says it with such sadness in his voice.  I don’t know.

I do agree that pre-schoolers have a tendency to be clingy and emotional.  Their little emotional systems haven’t leveled out yet and they don’t know how to work their own wiring to keep things on an even keel.  I get that.  I also get that I might be more sensitive to issues of grief and loss as I carry on in my own role with the adoption.  But.  I can’t help but believe that he’s expressing things that are very real to him, very scary at times to him, and are over and above what the usual three year old is feeling.

So, tell me Adopto-mom friends…what’s been your experience with this?  AM I over the top here?  Do you have similar experiences?

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Filed under adoptee, adoption, primal wound

Open Adoption Roundtable 2: Father’s Day

Installment 2 of Open Adoption Roundtable from Heather PNR.  Assignment in a nutshell:  Talk about the first/birth father of your child.

Hi there, S.–

You don’t know me, but I’m raising your son.  Heck, you may not really even know you have a son, but that’s something to sort out another day, I guess.  Despite that fact, I’m thinking about you on Father’s day, wanting to share some information, and wanting to get some, too.

Your little boy, Woob, is already three years old, and we couldn’t love anyone more…he is ALL. BOY. and keeps us on our toes.  He’s absolutely the funniest person I know, and he’s learning things faster than we can teach him.  He loves monster trucks and skateboards, swimming and climbing, jumping (~sigh~) and isn’t afraid to get dirty.  He can quote Bugs Bunny cartoons and has the ability to remember EVERYTHING, even when you think he wasn’t listening.  He feels his emotions so strongly that it tears out my heart sometimes.

Someday he’s going to want to know more about you, if not know you personally.  Honestly, I don’t know how to wade into those waters.  Feeling great about keeping an open adoption with his firstmom (making sure he knows her, knows he grew in her belly, all those things) I feel at a loss as to how to introduce you into that picture knowing so little about you.  Sure, we’ll cover the biology of the whole situation, but that seems so…empty.  Here’s what we do know:

  • your name
  • your age at the time Woob was concieved (oh, my, SOOO impossibly young!)
  • N’s feelings about you and your ability to handle the responsibilities of fatherhood for various reasons (not favorable)
  • that you had moved out of state for awhile and may have moved back (??)
  • what you look like as of last year.  N. gave us a few pictures of you to keep.  For maybe the first two years, he looked identical in our opinion, to N.  But man!  There are moments when he is the absolute spitting image of you.  As he grows into his adolescent years, I have a feeling he will begin to look more and more like you.  It is a blessing to get a glimpse of what he might look like as a young man.

And that’s it.  I’m sure for a lot of kids growing up in adoption, or their parents, that is more than they could ever dream of knowing, but as I see it from my little corner of the adoptive parent world, its simply not enough.  I want to know what sports you like, and if the two of you move the same when you walk.  I want to hear your voice and notice any similarities that might be there.  I want to know really how much information you had about this child, the choices you made, or the choices you weren’t given the opportunity to make.  I want to know if you ever have other kiddos out there–siblings to Woob, so that he can continue to have bio family after we’re long gone.  I want to know that you might be “around” if and when Woob needs to know more.  I want you to know that we’re “around” should you decide to be, and want to be a positive person in Woob’s life.

But until that might happen, please know that Woob’s everyday Daddy loves him beyond measure and is doing his very best to make sure he grows to be a kind, smart, and honorable man.

~Woob’s parents

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Filed under adoption, birthparents, open adoption

Open Adoption Roundtable–Better Late than Never!

Okay, Okay…I’m lame at this whole blogging thing. In my own defense, I’ve been battling laziness, potty training a three year old, working full time, going on fabulous beach vacations (well, just one), laundry, various family events, and elderly in-laws—one of which just had knee replacement surgery yesterday morning a county away. Oh, yeah, and facebook 🙂  Forgive me?

And, because I’m lame, I missed the deadline for Heather PNR’s inaugural Open Adoption Round Table discussion topic, but since I am somewhat of a rule follower, and want people to like me, I’m going to go ahead and submit a post.

This whole blog started because we were not really in an open adoption when we began. For some, the fact that Woob’s firstmother “chose” us via profile and phone discussion, that we all actually MET in person and spent two days together following Woob’s birth, and that we started out writing letters and sending pics to Woob’s grandpa would constitute an open adoption. But to me, the fact that his firstmom stated she didn’t want contact after we left the hospital (but were welcome to keep in touch with her dad) meant that the adoption was very closed, indeed.

I had such anxiety leaving that hospital, especially after getting to know N. and her mom and dad, thinking that we would never be friends, that Woob might never know his biological family—especially siblings that might come along (and two did come along!). Looking back I guess I don’t know exactly what I though our imaginary future open adoption might look like for sure, other than I just KNEW it would be lovely, and satisfying, and ideal for everyone involved. 

And so things went for about a year, and BAM! the following spring, we hear from N. and everything changes!  We started having visits, emails, and occasional phone conversations.  I was going to get my lovely, satisfying, ideal-for-everyone adoption scenario after all!  Um, reality can be hard sometimes, folks.  Now that you have the quick background, we can get to the given assignment. 

What would I tell my “then” self about open adoption now that I’ve lived in it awhile?

  • Even though it may very well be lovely, satisfying, and ideal-for-everyone sometimes, there are also times that it is none of those things, a combination of those things, or true for some people in the party but not others.
  • There is no way you can actually picture the way the relationships will flow from day to day, week to week, or month to month.  We all will have things going on that do and do not relate to adoption that impact what we’re able to focus on or give at any given time.
  • You will have insecurities about things that you don’t expect, and will feel secure in things that you thought you’d feel insecure about.
  • When you let another person, or people into your heart, you have more people to worry over–this has its problems and its blessings.
  • This thing called open adoption is a privelege, certainly not a right, and should be handled with care.
  • Trust your heart.  Despite all that’s involved, for our family, this will be a GOOD thing.
  • As much as you’d like them to, and try to help them, some people in the world will NEVER understand open adoption, nor do they apparently want to…that’s their problem and not yours.

Bottom line:  our contact comes and goes, we parent differently, we make different kinds of choices, lead different types of lives.  We care about one another and our families.  We celebrate the growth and accomplishment of our children.  We care what happens to one another.  My son knows who his first mother is and can see her and learn from her and know who he comes from and who he looks like.  He gets to know his great grandad was in a barbershop quartet and his grandma was in the Army.  He can play ball with his grandpa if he wants.  He can curl up on N.’s lap to read a story, or go chase after his sisters.  Our open adoption offers him far more choices in how he can pursue his relationships and definitions of family as he grows.  It doesn’t mean its easy for us or will be easy for him.  We just all feel like its the best thing we can do for him and for his sisters.  Someday (WAAAYYYY down the road!) all of the sets of parents will be gone, and he’ll be able to keep a sense of his past and share the future with family without having to struggle to hunt it down and make sense of it.

I believe that its one of the biggest gifts we can give our son.

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Filed under adoption, birthparents, motherhood, open adoption, reflection