Category Archives: birthparents
Just noticing, our little guy is all ears when we least expect him to be. We can tell him to do something a hundred times and he continues on as if you said nothing. You can raise your volume, ask him again, whatever. He can’t hear you (or so it seems). But rest assured, he IS listening.
In casually talking with other adults, if I mention the word “mom,” he’s listening (“How’s your mom doing these days?”). He responds, “who are you talking about, MY mom?” If I mention someone with his mom’s name, he is right there, asking, ” N? My N.?” He is always listening. He wants to hear more. He wants to know what we’re saying about her. He is always on alert. Its a cue to me that we probably need to initiate more conversations about N. with or around Woob. It seems he craves it.
A few times when N. has been on FB, I’ve told him she’s there and asked if he wanted me to email a message to her–each time, he excitedly says “yes”, and dictates a message along the lines of “I saw you at your house and we should visit and I love you, Mom,” which I dutifully send exactly as spoken. I wonder if that catches her off guard, but it seems to please her. The other morning when he first woke up and we had just finished our good mornings and our snuggles, he made the proclamation that “we need to visit my mom more often.” I did pass that proclamation on to her, and she said Woob is on their mind, too. Woob’s little sister J. apparently told a random stranger the other day at the store that she wanted to see her Bubby now 😉 . So, here’s hoping they’re able to come down to see us before the month is over. We’re checking our calendars.
I know I’m generalizing the behavior of my child onto others, but all of this makes me wonder about kiddos who grow up in homes where they know they were adopted, but nobody ever talks about it. Their little ears must be on alert all the time, waiting to pick up pieces of information, cues about their family and how to feel about them. It makes me wonder about the kiddos who don’t act like they’re listening, but they are, while their parents say unflattering things about their first parents, thinking their little ones aren’t paying attention.
While the last post went over the big picture of the visit with N., there were some things that happened during and since that are pretty notable, I think. Things to ponder and plan an approach. When we talk about open adoption being a relationship that is fluid and ever-changing, there really is no doubt that that is correct. We’re each navigating unknown territory, we’re each at such different developmental stages, how could it be anything other than constantly changing? And Woob? he’s just working it all out in his own way, and we’re letting him.
During: As we’re all happily playing along, Woob says, “Hey Mom!”. As usual, I come back with “yes, Woob?” To which he replies, “Not you, HER!” This was really unexpected by me, though I don’t know why it should have been. He has referred to her as “my mom” or “my other mom” several times in speaking with me, and it goes without comment because I know who he’s referring to. But it did catch me off guard, and I immediately looked to see N.’s reaction and didn’t see much of a clue of how that felt for her one way or another. He did do this a few more times through the course of the day, and I learned to just sit back and pay closer attention to who he was speaking to. Am I offended by his reference to her as mom? Absolutely not. I love the way Dawn and Madison have been explaining the Mom relationships in open adoption, and am glad I’ve been reading along to see how other families work these issues that don’t need to be as complicated as we tend to make them. Anyway, so there’s that.
Then over lunch, N. let me in on some information about Woob’s first dad, whom we’ve never met in person or otherwise. You know, he was VERY young when Woob was concieved. From what we know, he’s had a somewhat troublesome past and an unclear future. But heck, as young as he is/was, there’s lots of leeway for change to happen at any time. The gist of the information was that for the first time, he’s starting to ask questions about Woob. These are questions she doesn’t feel comfortable answering or addressing, given their brief relationship and his departure before she even knew she was pregnant. Anyway, I let her know that NOW, contact wasn’t something we were actively pursuing. She’s relieved. But, I added, anyone can find anyone online or otherwise these days. It would be very easy for us to be found if someone looked hard enough and had just the right amount of information. And if S. turns up one day unexpectedly, we will deal with it, we’ll tell the truth as we know it, and we’ll do what’s right for Woob and the given circumstances. Sounds like a cop-out, I know, to say that we don’t know him, that he doesn’t sound like a safe person, etc. Especially since we DON’T know him at all. He’s never had a chance to prove himself to us, aside from whatever opportunity he was given to step forward as a young father in the beginning. Anyway, that’s out there now, and something we will undoubtedly need to be thinking about. Just maybe not today. Not this minute.
After: All was well as we made our way home after the visit. The next night, as Woob and I were doing our routine before bed, Woob stopped and said, “Mommy, I’m sad.” “Why are you sad, sweetie?” “Because I love my Mom.” Which made me a little sad because I don’t want loving N. to equal sadness. I reassured him that I was so glad he loves his other mommy, and it sounds like he’s a little sad because he misses her when she can’t be nearby. Gave him a hug and a kiss and he was ready to move on to the next thing. My thoughts on this? Anytime my son can come to me and feel safe enough to express his feelings around this, that makes me happy and makes me feel successful as a parent.
A few days passed and as I continued to think about how this open adoption works, I really felt the need to be more open with N. and ask for her thoughts, which is something we’ve been lax or avoidant of. It was a little late in the evening, but I sent her a facebk message, thanking her for letting us come on the spur of the moment and disrupt her schedule, telling her about what a great day we had, but also asking her how she felt about the whole “Mom” thing. I asked her to please let me know if there’s something we do that makes her uncomfortable because I can’t know what things are like for her, what things are the hardest, what things she is or isn’t ready to deal with. There are so many landmines in adoption, it seems, that I could step on one without even knowing it. And part of her reply:
It just melted my heart when he said mom. 🙂 It was a wonderful feeling and that is the first thing I told S. and dad and mom. I know it is hectic and confusing and def. all first time experiences for the both of us, and I think we are doing darn good….except for last night S. got out elefun for J. and she said “Bubby play too? Where’s bubby?” and normally I am fine, but it just caught me off guard, and of course she has no clue so I think it is time I start talking to her as well! Too be honest, I had not thought much about my girls questions, and I am not sure why. The more I think about it the more I understand it will be hard for them too. I am so glad I got to see him and so glad you could come up random. I think those are the best times! 🙂
How simple was that? To ask an honest question and get feedback? I love the fact that she thinks we’re all doing a good job. I love the fact that she’s thinking ahead to the girls’ questions. I love the fact that she took the time to answer mine.
So, this is where we are on our path together. These are some of the challenges we need to prepare for and successes that we’ve had on this leg of the journey.
This winter was a long and cold one, and left me kind of unmotivated and blah. And now all of the sudden we’re headed into June. Finally, this week the sun started shining, and I was able to take a little tiny bit of time off last week and perk up a bit. Kind of like a pre-vacation vacation. I spent Thursday on the couch watching piled up DVR episodes of “The Good Wife” and napping.
I also managed to wrangle a fairly spur of the moment visit with N. for Friday, with just about a week’s notice. We haven’t seen N. since her wedding in October, and there has been an increase over the past month or so in Woob bringing up questions or comments about his sisters, about how big he was when he was in Mama N.’s tummy (the size of a peanut? a jelly bean? the size of a kitten?), about who was at the hospital when he was born, et cetera. It was certainly time, certainly past due.
Anyway, we had a few days to prepare the Woob for the visit, which is always tricky, because of what-if-something-happens-that-this-falls-through? But we forged on, and were in contact about the trip up til the time that we left the house, so I felt pretty good about it truly happening. And happen it did! Friday morning, 6:00, Woob pitter patters into my sleepy bedroom and chirps, “Are you ready for our adventure today?” Have I mentioned that I love that boy? He really was ready for our adventure–in such a good mood, and totally going along with the program for the day, including the quick trip to W.M. on the way to pick out some things that a 1, 2, and 4 year old could actively play with together. Stickers with princesses, Spider-Man, ponies and Star Wars went in the cart first, followed by a few bottles of bubbles, and the final dash of brilliance–Elefun!
We got there around lunch time, and took some time to reacquaint. They live in a different house than the last time–much bigger and safer. There was plenty of room for the kiddos to play. The girls had definitely grown since October, and were obviously bright, active little things. Miss N. really has her hands full! We found that Woob wanted to spend more time with her and the littles were kind of curious about me, so we did a lot of switching of duties throughout the day. We all played together awhile, but hunger won out, as did Gatti’s pizza buffet–easy and fun and the kiddos could safely run around without too much problem. It was a hit, and gave her an opportunity to follow Woob around a little more one-on-one. Help arrived a little later, as her husband got off work and was able to spend some time with us there. All in all, pretty exhausting, but a positive memory for the kids.
We went back to the house, and had snacks, did more stickers, showed the girls’ daddy the joy of Elefun, and went outside to blow bubbles. Woob made good friends with S., who played with him just rough enough to keep him engaged, and protected him from his littlest sister who wanted to attach herself to him nonstop, which was kind of freaking him out. Grandpa G. came over for a little while to say hello when he got off work, which was good, but certainly not long enough. It was getting late, and we had a 2 1/2 hour drive ahead of us. And we were TIRED. Ended up getting home about 8:30 that night. Whew! But it was good, Woob was good. We needed to make that trip. Hopefully, come July, they’ll be making the same trip down this way.
- its soooo cold and snowy and it makes me a little depressed anyway.
- my hubby and I and Woob in tow are going to a neighbor’s church Valentines dinenr.
- it is ONE MONTH til Woob’s FOURTH birthday!
- I have to plan a March birthday party and buy cool gifts!
- I REALLY need to book our beach vacation soon!
- I have not yet filed our taxes, but hope we get a refund again due to said vacation.
- my motivation to do anything is way out the window
- our annual work fundraiser (nonprofit) is finally OVER (highly successful!)
- work is about to become bearable for about a month, and then become unbearable again soon after.
- my parents celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary
- I need to buy a lamp thingy that emits simulated natural sunlight
- we just paid our truck off–time to start looking for a new car for me!!
- I’m sick of all my winter clothes but its too cold to buy any summer clothes
- can it be a year since our sweet kitty Jack died?? Really?
- mice are coming into our house by the truckload from the field out back…they’re cold and hungry too I guess
- On this very day four years ago, we got the call from the agency worker and very soon after on that same day spoke to N. for the first time. What a journey that call has lead us on! And we are eternally grateful. ❤
What does February bring out in you each year?
Woob has become such the little chatterbox these days…he NEVER stops and he’s pretty funny most of the time. We never know what’s going to comeout of his mouth next, and the topic can change so quickly your head spins. Here are two conversations we had just at bathtime, all within a three minute period.
Woob: Mom is this my scr()tum?
Me: Yep, sure is.
Woob: I want to call it my udders, like on a cow. Do boy cows have scr()tums?
Me: Yes, I’m sure they do, but girl cows have udders.
Woob: (very decidedly) Well, I have udders.
What a hoot that boy is! Immediately following, I’m drying him off and he looks at me seriously.
Woob: Who is YOUR daddy?
Me: Pappaw is my daddy.
Woob: I have two daddies. (This is the first time he’s initiated discussion about firstdad).
Me: Yes you do.
Woob: (excitedly and with a huge grin) AND I have two moms! You’re my mommy and so is N.!!
Me: How special that you have two mommies who love you very much. (big hugs and kisses)
He’s initiating adoption (AND body parts) discussion really often lately. I’m glad he is, I think he’s just trying on the words for size and trying to understand how everyone fits together and make sense of it all. I can’t imagine being a family that doesn’t tell a kiddo about their adoption (OR their body parts) until “they’re ready.” I know people have their reasons and all, but it seems like having a head start and being able to layer all the information over time is so valuable in the long run.
I outlined N.’s wedding ceremony here. It was a beautiful day and she was a beautiful bride. We got to finally meet S., her husband, who seems to be a very nice young man. He lets N. call the shots, and he is gentle with her babies. That makes me happy. Here’s a little about what happened next.
The reception was held right there in the back yard and the garage of N.’s mom’s house. We’ve been there before, most notably for N.’s high school graduation party which was the first time we visited since Woob had been born a year before. It’s interesting, because 3 1/2 years later, I can’t get a read on N.’s mom to save my life. This weekend was no different. Step-dad is always warm and welcoming and makes time to come and talk to us, not about anything special, but it just feels easy with him. Mom is cordial and kind, but the connection is so hard, I never know how much to offer in. I never feel comfortable. She acknowledges us politely, and that’s pretty much it. (making a mental note to send her a card thanking her for their hospitality…). I even question should I send pictures to her when I’m sending them to everyone else. When I have, there’s been no response, so I just don’t know the right way to go. Anyway…
When the wedding was over, and we went to find N., she was still a little tearful and emotional, wanting to find her babies for pictures. I was so happy that she included Woob. Gave him a huge kiss and hug even though she was in a pretty white dress and he was slightly covered in mud, and made sure he was in the family pictures. None were taken without him. Again, I love that inclusion in that part of his family. And the picture turned out great as well.
While all the other festivities were going on, Woob had a chance to play with a lot of the other kiddos that were there. There was a ball getting kicked around, and a sandbox to play in (what’s a little sand when you’re already muddy??), and balloons to be let loose. It was fun to watch him enter into little games with the other kids. The ring bearer is the groom’s nephew, really a sweet, handsome little boy, probably a year older than Woob. At first it seemed like they were getting along great. I don’t know what happened to turn the tide, but soon it turned into constant conflict between those two. If one wanted to stand on the rock, the other wanted to. If one wanted the blue sand shovel, the other would take it from his hand. There was tackling involved in the ball game. There was screeching, yelling, and desperate tears. Oh, heavens, whats a mom to do? Especially the adoptive mom who’s trying to make a good impression and wants people to know her kid is well-taught, well-behaved, sensitive, sweet and kind and ALWAYS SHARES! 😉 I say that with tongue in cheek. But the fact is that I DO want people to think I’m doing a good job, and that most of the time, my kiddo IS really well behaved and plays well with others. It was hard when my guy was wailing and upset that the shovel had been taken away and everyone was watching to see what was going on. I used my best public parent skills, but to no avail. My kid was upset and wanted justice! Daddy ended up taking over. I went and cut cake.
After all the traditional wedding stuff happened, things started winding down and it started getting pretty cold outside, so we called it a day and headed back to the hotel so Woob could swim and we could get some rest. N. asked if we could get together over lunch and let the kiddos play together and visit awhile before we headed home, which I was glad of. I was hoping there would be time, and was happy that she was the one initiating. And it would be good for us to just be us. The plan was to go to her house which we’d not yet seen, when we checked out (10:30) and the kids could play and we could go or bring in lunch. I knew that the kids were staying at a friend’s that night but they were to pick the girls up around 9 or 9:30 next morning. It all seemed pretty well planned out. Woob was 8 kinds of excited, and overstimulated, and we were all so tired.
PART 3 to follow: The Visit