Category Archives: open adoption

The Wind Speaks Back

I can’t really account for why she’s come back, but surprisingly enough, she has. After a year and a half, and what seems like a million “nudges,” N. finally responded at the end of last week. I half-heartedly sent a PM of “hi there” on her FB page, knowing she wouldn’t respond, and then there she was. As if she’d never been gone. No explanations for the absence, or the reappearance (I wouldn’t ask for any), she’s just back. With that one “hi there,” we now have emailed several times, spoken over the phone with both the Woob and I, and are looking at our calendars for a visit each way.

All this makes me really, really happy. Really glad for my boy, and even for myself, as I had gotten to feeling like we were friends before. Maybe we are, but how would I know if we weren’t?

At the same time all of this makes me really, really nervous for us all, too. I’m afraid of fun and visits and familiarity being taken back again. Eighteen months from this side of it seems simply too long; the questions get too big, the silences are so loud. Ah, the risk of heartbreak…its a tough one.

I have heard other adoptive parents say they avoided openness, afraid that it would end and they’d be left holding their child’s heart in their hands. I’ve heard from first parents who’ve indicated the openness would be too hard, too painful to keep opening the wound and having to try to reheal after every contact. I don’t know that there’s any painless way to do adoption for anyone. I know I figure least in the whole equation by far. By its nature its just hard (understatement, I know) dealing with questions and separation and loss. But I do believe that this is worth the risk in the long run. Even if we don’t ever meet again, I think it has been worth it for Woob to know where he comes from, that they are “out there,” and that they love/d him. Right now it seems like we’re on the right track again to good things and I’m going to do whatever I can to keep that going for as long as I can. N. gets the task of taking responsibility for her own feelings and what she can and can’t do; what is or isn’t good for her, and while she’s letting us in, I’m going in. If she needs to back out again, she can (I just hope she warns us a bit first).

I believe its the right thing for us to pursue these relationships because Woob himself tells me in different ways all the time that his first family is on his mind. Here’s an example…hubby had a Montgomery Gentry cd in the car, and Woob kept wanting the song “something to be proud of” to be played each day on the way to school. I was getting pretty tired of that song! If you’re not familiar with it, here are the lyrics:

There’s a story that my daddy tells religiously

Like clockwork every time he sees an opening

In a conversation about the way things used to be

Well I’d just roll my eyes and make a bee-line for the door

But I’d always wind up starry-eyed, cross-legged on the floor

Hanging on to every word

Man, the things I heard

It was harder times and longer days

Five miles to school, uphill both ways

We were cane switch raised, and dirt floor poor

‘Course that was back before the war

Yeah, your uncle and I made quite a pair

Flying F-15’s through hostile air

He went down but they missed me by a hair

He’d always stop right there and say…

That’s something to be proud of

That’s a life you can hang your hat on

That’s a chin held high as the tears fall down

A gut sucked in, a chest stuck out

Like a small town flag a-flyin’

Or a newborn baby cryin’

In the arms of the woman that you love

That’s something to be proud of

Son graduatin’ college, that was mama’s dream

But I was on my way to anywhere else when I turned 18

Cuz when you gotta fast car you think you’ve got everything

I learned quick those GTO’s don’t run on faith

I ended up broken down in some town north of L.A.

Working maximum hours for minimum wage

Well, I fell in love, next thing I know

The babies came, the car got sold

I sure do miss that old hot rod

But you sure save gas in them foreign jobs

Dad, I wonder if I ever let you down

If you’re ashamed how I turned out

Well, he lowered his voice, then he raised his brow

Said, lemme tell ya right now

That’s something to be proud of

That’s a life you can hang your hat on

You don’t need to make a million

Just be thankful to be workin’

If you’re doing what you’re able

And putting food there on the table

And providing for the family that you love

That’s something to be proud of

And if all you ever really do is the best you can

Well, you did it man

That’s something to be proud of

That’s a life you can hang your hat on

That’s a chin held high as the tears fall down

A gut sucked in, a chest stuck out

Like a small town flag a-flyin’

Or a newborn baby cryin’

In the arms of the woman that you love

That’s something to be proud of

That’s something to be proud of

Yeah, that’s something to be proud of

That’s something to be proud of

Now that’s something to be proud of

So I asked when one day, when I couldn’t listen another time, “what is it that you like so much about this song?”  He answered,  “When he talks about the newborn baby crying, it makes me remember my mom.”  And there it is.  His ears are always listening, his eyes are always looking for her in different ways that there’s no way I can always tune into.  Its important to him.  So its important to me.

1 Comment

Filed under adoption, open adoption

Talking into the Wind

NOTE:  I wrote this post before I realized the Open Adoption Roundtable #47 was about stalled adoption relationships.  And boy, is ours stalled!  This is the first post I’ve written in eons.  I have to tell you, it felt good to write it, despite the fact that its such a sad thing for my family.  Maybe its time to step back in to blogworld…

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

ttp://openadoptionbloggers.com/2013/05/08/roundtable-47-restarting-a-stalled-relationship/

 

Christmas, 2011:   Mama2Roo and Woob visit Mama N. and the girls at their house.  We exchange small gifts, catch up, laugh, wonder over the kids and how fast they’re growing.  We eat pizza at the nearby Pizza Hut, and go back to the house to get the little girls down for a nap.  No one naps.  Instead we have a Nerf Gun war.  M2R and Woob leave tired and happy, as all exchange hugs, kisses and promises to get together again very soon.  M2R receives text message a few hours later from Mama N. making sure of a safe return home.

Last night (May 9, 2013):  Woob has been in bed about 15 minutes.  As is his usual habit, he comes out of his room, delaying bedtime yet again.  “Woob, what are you doing out of bed?”  He climbs next to me on the couch and whispers, “Mom, I really miss my sisters and my mom.  I really want to see them sometime soon, can we?  Its been such a long time.”

So here we are, a place I didn’t really think we’d ever be.  I mean, I guess I always knew there was a possibility that we’d hit some kind of wall, take some kind of break.  I suppose I thought that if that ever happened, I’d have some kind of warning, or precipitating event.  Something.  But there wasn’t.  It just…ended.

 I’m feeling pretty sick about the whole thing.  At first, I was able to shrug it off as, “she’s really busy,” or “her computer must not be working.”  Over a period of months, this past year and a half of trying various means to reach her–emails, facebook, cards and letters, texting, calling, offers to travel, offers to host–I’m no longer in denial.  If she doesn’t want ME around, I get that, and am cool with it.  But Woob is no longer a baby.  He’s seven and smart.  He knows these people and loves them, despite their distance and that fact that he’s seen them no more than a few times a year.  He knows these people are HIS in a way that our family is not.  So my heart breaks for him every single time he mentions them or asks if we can go visit them or wonders why they’ve been silent.

I have become the mom who wonders if it was the right thing to want openness.

I have become the mom that contemplates lying to her son by writing him a letter and signing her name.

I have become the mom that tries to make excuses for the person who isn’t there.

I have become the mom that has done everything short of begging (perhaps I have begged a little bit), that this person just throw our kid one little crumb of something .

I feel ugly about all of the above.

Make no mistake.  My head knows that we aren’t the only ones in this equation, that there are hard emotional hurts that have to be tended to.  That maybe sometimes its just too hard to see what was, what could have been, what should have been if only…  My intent is not to be insensitive to that.  But my boy is hurting now, too, and my mama’s heart is shattered and doesn’t really know what to do next to help.

5 Comments

Filed under adoption, grief, open adoption

Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011
 
Hi, everyone!  Apparently, no one in the world had the power to wake this little blog from the dead except for Heather PNR, when she announced this year’s Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project for 2011.  This year I was paired with lovely Jodilee, who writes at Simple Perfect Life.  Jodilee lives in Minnesota and is the busy adoptive mom of three great little kiddos.  She’s got a son in Kindergarten as I do, and he was her first, so I found myself joining with her immediately when I started reading her blog.  She’s also got two sweet little daughters.  Their lives include the kids’ first mothers, each in their own way, and Jodi shares her daily joys and struggles in her blog.  You can also read my answers to her questions here.   Here is my interview:
 
 
 
1.  Tell me a little about your original journey to adopt your son.  He wasn’t a newborn anymore (yet SO cute in his footie jammies!) when the blog seems to have started.
 
My husband and I were not getting pregnant and really had no clue what to do about it.  He was a delivery driver and drove by a local adoption agency and brought home some informational packets from them.  We are both not worldly travelers (and this agency specialized in international adoption) and the thought of having to travel to another country was terrifying to both of us–and wondering how we could manage to get off of work–and seeing the ‘estimated’ cost all together made it seem completely impossible.  There was nothing in the packets about domestic adoption so we didn’t even really know that it existed for us normal folk.  C.L.U.E.L.E.S.S!  With that, we went to see a fertility specialist and with that came the dye test, tubal surgery, six rounds of drug assisted artificial insemination and nothing.  In the meantime, we had found out a little more about foster care adoption as I had some clients at work that did foster care and we also learned more about domestic adoption.  My mother knew how much I wanted children and at one point said, if it was me, I would do whatever it took, and with that, we decided to attend the IVF informational meeting required to sign up for the process.  It was a bear to get off of work for it–and being completely hormonal from our plight to have children and the fertility drugs–I was a complete mess when they canceled the meeting due to not enough people signing up.  By the grace of God (well, most definitely His plan), somebody I had had conversation about adoption with at the community center where I worked, walked in to the fitness center and informed me that there was an informational meeting that night at an adoption agency they checked out when they were exploring adoption.  We went, and that’s all she wrote! :0)  After completing all of our paperwork, homestudy and profile, we waited in the book for about 4 months and were matched with our son’s birthmother about three months before he was born.  It was about one year total time from the day of signing up with the agency to finalization.  We were with an independent adoption agency and talk about treading in uncharted water with no guidance or support….The first three months after placement were simply horrific–at least not what we envisioned it to be.  Our son’s birthmother was grieving and we were at a loss as to how to help her.  When we contacted our agency to check in with her, they never did.  To be honest, we were under the impression that she would just be able to move on like nothing ever happened.  Lack of truth in some of our training.  All relationships change when children arrive in a home, and then you add the complexities of an open adoption and poor support and you are most definitely on a train wreck!  My husband and I sought counseling on our own…and they sucked.  haha!  NOT a lick of experience with open adoption.  No, sir, closing the adoption is not an option.  It is obvious that my husband and I made it through as we have since then adopted two more children.  We are not ashamed of telling people we had counseling.  Our relationship with our son’s birthmother is in the ebb and flow of rebuilding.  The fact is she was a teenager when she placed him and she is also growing into her own self.  With that, we have grown to disagree on some things and have grown apart since May.  It has been a very difficult time for me.  I can’t stand to not have her in our life but I am thrilled to say that she has started emailing me again and as soon as we can finagle it we will be getting together.  We are lucky and blessed that we are still all sticking it out through the thick and thin.  Our son will be six this January!  AMAZING!  And we are always working on perfecting our relationship with his birthmother and her family.  
 
2.  Tell me a little about your start in blogging?  Who was your intented audience at that time and how has that changed (if at all) since 2008?
 
I happened to meet someone at the community center I work at who overheard me talking about our second adoption process.  They too were ‘waiting’ in the ‘book’ at the same agency we were at so we connected and she told me about her blog and, of course, I had to start one. :0)  I had been blogging on myspace at the time, mostly for sharing things with our son’s birthmother (the reason I joined myspace–of which I haven’t logged onto in eons! haha!)  I’m not sure I had an intended audience.  It was kind of a way to share photos and happenings in our life.  If I were honest, I think what I wanted was an online journal, but then my blog would probably have to be private! I have a dream of having my blog focus on the nitty gritty of open adoption.  After adopting our son, we thought we knew what to expect…..ha!  Not one of our adoptions is even remotely similar to the others.  You should always expect the unexpected.  I love and respect each of my children’s birthmothers and their story…and some things are just meant to be ours and not to share with others.  My passion with adoption is maintaining that open relationship when things don’t go as planned (and what really does go as planned?)  I hope I can help others feel the same way.
     
3.  Who are your biggest supports with regards to open adoption–who are the people in your life that “get it?”  Are there those close to you that don’t, even three children later?  

My biggest supports are my friends who have also adopted.  They are the people I cry with, tell all, share my biggest fears, share my biggest dreams, share private photos because I know they will truly respect the desired privacy and share my faults and weaknesses with.  To be honest, I don’t have a whole lot of time for friends–so only my besties get me for now!  Anyone making a completely purposefully hurtful or insensitive idiotic remark is deleted! :0)  I give kudos to my family and for their acceptance and support and unconditional love they give to my kiddos!  Growing up with pretty much NO diversity whatsoever…in a small town….I wouldn’t have expected the openness and support I have received.  SO thankful for that!  My family doesn’t always ‘get it’, but they will say that outright and ask questions to try and understand something.  My non-adoption friends don’t always get it either, but they give me the time and an open ear to learn about it.  
 4.    What have been some of the biggest misgivings/doubts over the course of building your family through adoption (thought of this as I read the Mothers Day post from 2008, where you were wondering if you should even send a card to one of the kids’ moms).
 
 This question made me laugh out loud! :0)  I think I actually thought adoption was as easy as signing up, getting a baby, and living happily ever after.  Don’t get me wrong, I am living happily every after (on most days).  I am not talking about feeling true love for my children.  I love them more than life itself.  They are my world.  And I cannot imagine my life without them.  I cannot know the emotions a birthmother experiences when she places her child, but I know how I would feel if I had to live my life without my children and I imagine that a birthmother just has to deal with a lot of pain and hurt–and that hurts me.  I do cry about it, still. I’ve cried with them while visiting.  I never knew my love for them would be so intense.  I think there is also a lot of added pressure to be that perfect parent.  Like I don’t have a right to feel stressed or overloaded or like I always need to have it all together.  I’m responsible for making my dreams come true, my child’s dream to come true, and my child’s birthmother’s dreams for her child to come true.  It’s especially tough when you think you might be letting someone down.  From my experience, we already know what we want to do about any one situation and if we choose to seek advice, we will seek it from those that will give the advice we would approve of.   
 
5.  What have been some of the biggest truths you’ve found as related to open adoption in general; or your personal adoptions specifically? 
 
 A true open adoption requires work and sacrifice from all persons involved.  We have been walked on, taken advantage of, been disrespected, had our boundaries crossed and still expected to be there when people are ready to be involved at their discretion, their times, no compromises.  Now before you all get angry, I have to say that I, too, have been disrespectful, cheesy, immature, bossy, and inappropriate in how I have set limits or decided to talk about an issue or handle something I’m uncomfortable with.   It’s the part of developing a relationship that I HATE!  It’s the truth that with any relationship, there will be conflict of some sort at some point.  The truth is even my husband and I are not always (hardly ever) on the same page and I’m sure it will get super interesting when the kids are old enough to give their input too!  Then you add expectations from birth parents and family and sometimes it can be just plain difficult.  Sometimes there just isn’t an easy solution and all you can do is pray it will all work out.  
 
6.    What would be your best and first advice to families considering pursuing adoption, as well as to a mother/couple considering placing? 
 
 To those considering adoption:  Expect the unexpected, expect to be flexible, remember that your journey doesn’t end with placement and that your work has just begun.  Don’t make promises that you don’t intend to keep.  Just because your child doesn’t talk about something, doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it. Encourage them to talk about their adoption and their feelings.   Don’t ever make them feel like they have to choose between you and their birth family.  Let them love who they want with all their heart.  Teach them how to love big!  
 
To someone considering placement:  You should never feel coerced or pressured to place.  You have the right to change your mind.  Nobody could ever possibly know how they are going to feel when their baby is born.  Find support.  Possibly an agency that offers extensive post placement programs–not one that is going to kick you to the curb after placement.  (sadly it happens).  Or a private counselor.  If you don’t click, find a new counselor.  Or a friend, or a blog, or someone who has placed already.  Do what feels right for you.  If you want time with your baby in the hospital, take it.  I would encourage it.  I don’t think anybody has ever regretted spending time with their baby….but I have heard many regrets about not spending time with them at all.  Choose families wisely.  Sadly, there are some who make false promises.  Take your time.  Life long decisions shouldn’t be made in a weekend.  If things don’t go as you envisioned, don’t ever give up.  
 
7.      It seems the common thread through our previous emails up to this time is that you are busy and I am busy :).  However you seem to have your act together far more than me and you have three kids and I only have one.  Can you give me some valuable/useful time-management tips that work for your family?  Also, three kids sound expensive!  What do you do to help save money in your family budget?  
 
haha!  My house is a mess!  An incredible mess!  My husband hates clutter and I’m terrible at doing something about it!  I rarely shower and my kids are never dressed if we aren’t going anywhere.  There are always 3 or 4 baskets of clean laundry on any given day sitting around the house.  We dig out of those more than out of our closets and dressers.  I stay up late to get things done and then on Friday or Saturday night hit the hay around 9pm.  I have to write lists and notes and charts to make sure the bills get paid and appointments aren’t missed.  I am chronically early to everything–even with three kids. I even pay the bills early–once I paid one twice because I couldn’t remember if I paid it or not–all still two weeks before it was due.   We do a lot of cooking at home–making extra–and freezing for later meals.  This helps with time AND money saving.  But, makes for a very messy kitchen!  I make bread (I know, how could I possibly have time to do that?)  haha!  The kids help and it is awesome for their sensory stimulation to be able to beat, squish, squeeze and pound the bread.  It is soothing and makes the house smell awesome!  We garden in the summer–lots of fruit and veggies.  We totally simplified our life and cut our budget.  We rarely go out to eat, no Starbucks or Dairy Queen.  I just recently got a basic cell phone and my husband’s cell is provided by his work.  We buy in bulk at Sam’s and coupon shop.  We do our own oil changes and I totally skimp on haircuts and colors.  We visit family in Wisconsin for vacations, rarely pay full price for anything and mostly buy used when we can.  We shop at garage sales, use cloth diapers, make our own baby wipes, made our own baby food, and do our own home repairs when we can.  We do have cable TV and DVR…our entertainment budget.  AND of course, the internet–which we had dial-up for a VERY LONG TIME! haha! I was even selling tons of stuff on ebay when we had dial-up!  We have made a ton of sacrifices and truthfully, didn’t notice a whole lot.  My kids are perfectly happy doing activities at home with the family and love being outside playing and gardening!   I am thankful for the Federal Adoption Tax Credit becoming refundable this year.  We were able to use our return (along with a little help of a cashed out retirement fund) to pay off our house a couple of months ago.  So, we are pretty much debt free.  We have gone out to eat a couple of times, but truthfully, after cooking at home for so long, it is hard to find a restaurant that we think was worth the horrific amount of money it cost to eat there! :0)   It pays to be stingy! haha!  I like to call it smart with our money.  If groupon, living social, crowd cut, centerpointenergyextras, or amazon deals, happenings coupons, etc, don’t have it, neither do we! haha!   

I think the best time management tip is to make lists.  Spend 5 minutes before bed writing what needs to get done the next day.  And plan meals ahead too.  I know some people who plan the whole week or month.  I just plan a day ahead since that is all my brain can compute.  I didn’t write anything down last night and NOTHING got done today!  AND, don’t get dressed if you don’t need to! :0)  I feel like I’m in college again cramming to get my paper done, how’s that for time management?
 
 
*Just a note:  I apologize for the qonky font sizes.  Somehow in the cut and paste from email, they didn’t maintain any routine size, and me?  I was just too lazy to try to figure it out 🙂
 
 

5 Comments

Filed under adoption, birthparents, open adoption

Open Adoption Round Table #21: Holiday Traditions

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

Publish your response–linking back to this post so your readers can browse other participating blogs–and leave a link to your post in the comments. Using a previously published post is perfectly fine; I’d appreciate it if you’d add a link back to the roundtable. If you don’t blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

How do open adoption and holiday traditions intersect in your life?

*******************

I hadn’t really thought that much yet about how our  Christmas traditions have been impacted by open adoption, or adoption at all–I didn’t get the chance to ponder it much but then something happened at our house this week that smacked me right in the eyes and speaks again to the losses that families (ours included) need to be able to recognize and walk through with our children, yes, even during our holiday season.

I love love love love love all the old Christmas shows that come on during the month of December, from Grinch to Frosty and all the Heat Miser/Rudolph/Santa Claus stop motion shows from the late 60’s and 70’s.  I remember watching them all when I was Woob’s age and it was always an event at our house since it was pre-cable and pre-VHS where now we can watch what we want when we want and kids’ TV shows take top billing at our house now.  I have wanted Woob to enjoy these shows too, and look forward to them each year, and then when he’s older, look back on them as a lovely part of his childhood.

So I’ve been introducing these shows to Woob each year.  Sometimes he would watch halfway while he was playing, others he would watch, but not really “get” the subtext.  He was a bit too young.  But THIS year…THIS is the year we’ve been waiting for where Christmas is Exciting!  Santa is Coming!  It’s the Baby Jesus’ Birthday!  There’s Christmas Shows on EVERY NIGHT (Thank you, ABC Family!)!!  The other night I turned one on.  A really poor computer animated spin off of Rudolph, called called “The Island of Misfit Toys”.  Harmless, right?  (WHY DIDN’T I PICK UP ON THE “MISFIT” THEME??)

A quick synopsis:  The “Evil Toy Taker” has stolen all the toys from Santa, and the Island of Misfit Toys, and Rudolph needs to catch the Evil Toy Taker to save Christmas.  Except when they catch and unmask the Toy Taker, it turns out it is an old, old sweet and worn out little teddy bear (Mr. Cuddles) who had been thrown out in the garbage when his boy outgrew him.  He was only taking the toys to spare them the heartbreak of being rejected by their children.  But the way Mr. Cuddles told his story was HEARTBREAKING.   Watch the clip all the way to the end and you’ll see what I mean. 

As we are watching this unfold, I see my little Woob on the couch next to me beginning to sob silently.  He was so into the moment.  He continued to watch as Santa told him that his boy didn’t mean to throw him away, that his boy loved him and had been looking for him and wanted to give Mr. Cuddles to his own little girl to love.  He continued to watch as they took Cuddles to Queen someone-or-other to sew him up and make him just like new again.  He continued to watch as Santa delivered sweet Mr. Cuddles into the arms of the little girl as she slept in her bed, and woke happily to snuggle on him while her father watched with satisfaction and love.  Christmas was saved as all the stolen toys were delivered to their waiting children.

For the next hour, over and over again Woob asked (still occcasionally crying) “why did they throw that bear in the trash?,” “why didn’t that boy want him anymore?” “why did the ToyTaker steal all the toys?” “Why was he in the garbage?” “Why was Mr. Cuddles the Toy Taker?”   He could not be consoled at the happy ending or the revelation that it was just an unfortunate accident that poor Mr. Cuddles got tossed into the landfill (which they showed, while Mr. Cuddles sang that he “felt ashamed.”)  This, my friends, is not the Christmas warm fuzzies I was looking for that night!  In my heart I believed that Woob was of course processing his adoption stuff, trying to make sense of his story and Mr. Cuddles’.   Its at this point I think it would be a good idea to shoot the TV set and leave it for dead.  I figured it was going to be a long night.

Well over an hour after the show was over and I was going through the bedtime routine with Woob, he panicked a little when he realized he had left his favorite Care Bear in his nap cubby at daycare (All Alone!  In the Dark!  He’ll be so Lonely!).  After reassurances that Cear Bear was happy and warm, snuggling in the nap blanket, Woob dug out his “Bowtie Bear” from his blankets, caressed him, spoke sweetly to him, swaddled him in “Raggy” (Woob’s lovey), and held him close.  Finally, I had the boy calm enough to try to sleep.  He asked if his Daddy could come in, he had something to tell him.

When Papa2Roo came out (he hadn’t been around for the viewing of the program), sure enough, he said Woob was wanting to talk about his adoption.  “Hey Dad, remember when I was a little baby and you met me at the hospital?  Remember when I came home with you to live in this house? and on and on.  I don’t know exactly how the conversation went on or finished or what Papa2Roo helped him remenisce about, but it seemed to be the right thing, because Woob managed a nice, seemingly calm night of sleep and though he was still focused on the love and nurtuing care of BowTie Bear (who is now affectionately named Mr. Cuddles, by the way), had a better handle on his emotions.  The bear went with him to daycare, still swaddled and he told the whole story about the Toy Taker to his teacher, who I encouraged to allow him to nurture the little bear as much as he needed to that day.

Exhausting.  Unexpected.  But right there, in-your-face-grief over the fact that he was giventakenstolentossed away.  How to combat that?  I honestly don’t know.  I DO know that his first mom loves him, and I know that he gets to experience that love first hand, even if not very often in person, thanks to Open Adoption.  I don’t think I or she will be able to combat those feelings, really.  It will be up to him to decide what his story means to him, how he perceives our actions and presence and words, and up to him to work out whether he thinks he was given, taken, stolen, or tossed away. 

I do know this:  adoption and open adoption continually remind us–we who were raised in our birth families–that there is much we take for granted and much we need to be contually alert and sensitive to when it comes to our children who were not.  We don’t have the luxury now of  simply saying, “that’s just pretend,” or “that never happens,” because in their eyes and hearts it has, right here in real life.  Cheesy animated stories during the “happy” holidays are no different.

On a happier note, we did manage to watch the “Frosty the Snowman” special in which he takes a wife, and it was startlingly sweet and not too sad, and it made me happy that I decided on to shoot the TV after the Rudolph episode after all.

2 Comments

Filed under adoption, grief, open adoption

Hoarders, Sneezing and Appearances

As you can likely tell from the title here, this post is going to be a hodge-podge.  I can’t believe anyone is even still looking here to find anything to read anymore, I’ve neglected so long. I’ll continue to pop back in and write as I have the urge. I do promise, though, however random this post is, it will end with an adoption focus at the end.

Hoarders:

My friend in Florida and her family have a business in which they haul away junk. They were recently on an episode of “Hoarders.”  Fun to watch them, but oh so sad to see the families on that show sufferining because of the illness that pushes folks to hold on to every little thing.  So, so sad.  However, as I sat in my office last week on one of a million days I’ve done the same, I started feeling overwhelmed by my own tendency to hang on to EVERYTHING.  My office is a mini-hoarders episode.  I have a decent sized office as far as not for profit space goes.  No window, but I’d say I have a space around 10×14.  That should be plenty of room for everything I need to do my job, multifaceted as it is.  But it has become full.  As in file cabinets full, drawers full, tables stacked, shelves packed, desk invisible for the varius piles of papers, books, notebooks, kleenex boxes, envelopes and folders on top of it.  So this week, I said “ENOUGH,” and have been whittling piles, throwing things away, filing, shredding, and rearranging.  I’m coming in to the office on Saturday, and will be making BIG CHANGES, people!  I can’t live like this any more.  I feel the need to be more efficient, rely on sticky notes less, and find a way to use a whole yellow pad of paper before going on to the next one (I have uncovered approximately 239479348737 half used pads in my endeavor so far!).

Sneezing:

Aside from sneezing from the dust I’m stirring up at my desk, I’ve been sneezing and snorking, coughing and hacking for the past week.  I can’t get rid of this headcold/sinus infection thingy.  Its wearing me out.

Appearances:

I took Woob to preschool yesterday, and sent him directly in to wash his hands in the bathroom.  Usually that means I see him 3 seconds later with barely damp hands, and have to send him back in to do it right.  This time, he was in there a really long time.  I waiting a little extra, and finally went in after him.  He hadn’t washed his hands yet, but I found him standing in front of the sink, looking at his reflection in the mirror. 

  “Mom?  Why do I look like this?”    I was a bit taken aback.  I don’t think he’d ever initiated a discussion on his appearance before, and I can’t recall him ever really LOOKING at himself other than to make sure the toothpaste was off face or to see if a sucker had turned his tongue blue.  And, of course, this question could be asked at lots of different levels and mean different things…so I tried to hit them all at once.

While he washed his hands I did my best:  “Well, your face looks the way it does because it looks a lot like your Mama N.’s and Granpa G’s.  You have eyes and mouth shaped like N. and a little dimple in your chin like G.  You have a smile on your face right now because you’re a happy little boy.  I love that smile!  And you have this crazy bedhead because of the way you layed on it last night and we didn’t do a great job combing it this morning.  And that’s why you look like that.”

I don’t know which point it was he was looking for but he smiled, dried his hands and said “Okay!” as he darted out of the room.  Who knows what he was thinking as he looked at himself in the mirror.  But I’m glad he asked, as it gave us one more opportunity to talk about his family connections in a positive way.

5 Comments

Filed under adoptee, adoption, growing up, open adoption

OAR #19: Open Adoption is About…

Mommy, I’m sad.  Why are you sad, sweetie?  Because I miss my family…my other family.

That tiny confession of feelings came out a few weeks ago right before bedtime.  Me and Woob were finished reading our stories, saying prayers and singing bedtime songs and had joined in a giggle or two with some favorite stuffed animals. Woob had put one under his shirt, pretending he had a baby in his belly.  And I grew in YOUR belly, Mommy!  Silly, boy, you grew in N’s belly, right?   And he playfully argued back and forth for a few seconds (No, YOUR belly!) before turning a little bit sad.  Mommy, I’m sad.  I miss my family…my other family.

This came right before a timely writing prompt from HeatherPNR for the Open Adoption Round Table:

“Open adoption is about information sharing.” Share your reaction to that statement. How well does it match up with your experience of open adoption? If you disagree, how would you finish the phrase, “Open adoption is about…”?

Obviously, sharing information is a great place to start in open adoption.  I think its a way to Have Some Openness in the Adoption, though I think to make this an all-encompassing statement sure could limit a person in their thinking as they are launching into the adoption world and all the decisions and complexities it entails.  If a professional goes that far in talking about openness, then I sure think they need to make sure that conversation doesn’t stop there, and include all that open adoption has the possibility to be.  Otherwise, they are just plain misinforming their audience.

So, for ME, yes.  Open adoption is about information sharing.  Sharing information between our family and N.’s.  Sharing information from N. to her children about Woob and us, and us sharing information about N. and her family with Woob.  Its about sharing some of that information, appropriately, with the people around us so they have a better understanding of my child and his needs and his life experience.  But there’s more, so much more!

At our house open adoption has become…

  • our  son being comfortable enough to bring up his first family to us when things are bothering him.  Or when things aren’t bothering him.
  • being able to pick up a phone or message back and forth on FB about what’s going on in our family, our households, and our brains.
  • the adults in this adoption taking action to help the little ones feel more secure in where they fit in the family.
  • being willing to say, “I’m sorry you’re feeling this way, how about we send a note/make a phone call/draw a picture to send to your mom/sisters/granpa to let them know you’re thinking about them?”
  • being able to arrange a visit when it works out, even on short notice, so that our kids can experience being siblings together and learn to love, share, and play together.  And so a little boy can be doted on by the one who created him.
  • sharing pictures and keeping up on daily activities.
  • supporting one another in our journeys where we can.
  • laying the foundation for the possibility that the kids will continue their family relationships when they have more autonomy in what happens, or can make those decisions based on reality, not fear of the unknown.

My list could probably keep on going.  And next year, if I revisit this post, I hope our families have grown together in a way that allows me to expand my own picture of what open adoption is.  It has to start with the sharing, but I think if we stop there when there’s not a really valid reason to, we’re doing our kids a disservice.

About the conversation at the beginning of this post?  For now, Woob’s not missing his other family any more.

Check HERE to find others’ responses on this OAR topic.

7 Comments

Filed under adoption, open adoption

What Little Ears Hear

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under adoption, birthparents, open adoption