Milestones and Lessons

I think I might be milestoned out. I’m tired of all the celebrations and am ready to get on with life. But alas, it’s summer and there are lots of fun times planned. And all of the activities are like milestones for Hope because the summer is full of new experiences.

I should’ve given more thought to this; I might be overstimulated. Not that I’m not enjoying watching Hope’s face light up and all the cake (ABM LOVES cake), it’s just that we’ve crammed a lot of lifetime highlights into the last couple of months. I suppose this is another lesson learned, speaking of which here’s my latest revelations.


Hope is growing. I mean, like, Hope is on her way to being a total glamazon. She’s been through two dramatic growth spurts since January. She’s nearly grown out of the most recently purchased clothes. Now she’s healthy and her diet is pretty good—she’ll eat fruits and veggies but she wants junk food like any kid her age. She gets fast food twice a week—once midweek and once on the weekend.

I recently read up on how once really stabilized former foster kids can go through rapid growth; the previous emotional trauma often results in some stunted growth and development. I knew this was true emotionally, but I didn’t count on it physically with Hope. At 12 she was already 5’5’! Who would’ve thought there was stunted physical growth somewhere in a kid that tall at that age?

Called up the family physician who said, yeah, basically, he’s seen it many times during his 30+ years of practice; all kinds of wackery with the endocrine system.

Ok, so I’m not crazy for needing to take Hope shopping so frequently. I used to love shopping, but shopping with a tween is not all that amusing. But it’s a necessary evil; she’s literally growing up out of her clothes.

Sadness still chases joy. I wrote a bit about this earlier this week; Hope often remembers sad things when good things happen. It makes for a weird juxtaposition, and I suspect that it may also be why I’m over all the milestones. They just aren’t exclusively celebrations; they always have a drama chaser.

  • Birthday concert tickets trigger memories of broken promises.
  • Finalization feels like both the end of life and beginning of life.
  • Going on a plane ride to a fun destination is marred with the anxiety of that ONE time she had an ear infection and
  • Being proud of her adoption means exposing herself to ridicule about her biological parents.
  • During the “Best Night Ever” (aka the Katy Perry concert), there’s a short crying spell about feeling guilty about being adopted and why couldn’t her bio family take care of her like this.

I get the ying and yang of life, but dang, I wish the “balance” of emotions would just give Hope a break and just let her be happy and just be happy for a nice long stretch.

Same race adoption has certain privileges, but those privileges can cut too. It’s really awesome to never have to answer questions like, “Is she adopted?” by perfect strangers. There is a nice privilege associated with same race adoption; though I still don’t think we look anything alike despite the protests of many friends.

The sticky wicket is that the innocuous nosey questions asked while folks are making small talk trigger anxiety. A lovely couple in seats next to ours at the concert chatted us up. They were lovely really, but when they asked if Hope had any siblings and were they jealous that I took her to something so special, I could see the panic in her eyes. She didn’t want to lie, but it was just so complicated knowing there are other bio siblings out there somewhere. I saw a whole sordid history in her eyes and the delightful ease with which we were recognized as mom and daughter got tripped up by the lack of biology. I quickly replied, “It’s just the two of us!” I saw her visibly relax, after pulling out the silly putty she uses to cope with anxiety.

As we sat quietly during an intermission, I realized that it isn’t the big adoption questions that cause is a bit of angst; it’s the ones that don’t question our biology at all that test us. We both have our lives before one another; I choose to follow her lead in disclosing, though my acquaintances and colleagues obviously realize that I didn’t have a tween/teen a year ago and now I do. Hope loved her dad and struggles with how to weave these two chunks of her life together. It’s the little questions that she wrestles with.

I realized that these little questions trip me up as well. I struggle with my own identity. I love being “mom,” but honestly I have my own feelings about the invisibility of our adoption because of race and what that means for my identity as a single Black mom. I find that I easily slip off those feelings in order to reduce her discomfort, and that’s how the sacrifice should be. But I do feel some kind of way about it.

In those moments I realize that Hope and I talk with our eyes; we know our secret and we navigate this life together.

I’m a little overwhelmed by the next bunch of paperwork.  I’ve got the final decree and birth certificate in hand. Now, to change Hope’s name all over North America. I’m overwhelmed by the visits to Social Security, the phone calls and the forms. I’m tired of forms. Just when you think you’re done, you get a piece of mail that reminds you that you’re not. I pledge to finish all the name change stuff post vacation.

The goal of increasing my patience levels is a work in progress. There are really days when I wonder how the devil did I end up here. I am terribly impatient. I like things now and on my terms. I don’t like to be questioned, and I loathe being reliant on other people’s schedule. I do. I really do. So, when Hope says she can be ready in 20 minutes and I know it takes her no less than 90 minutes to get ready to go anywhere, I’m annoyed. When Hope asks a litany of questions about why the sky is blue like a 5 year old, I hate admitting it, but I’m annoyed.

I’ve gotten better at being patient when it counts—when she’s upset, when she’s sad, when she just needs things diffused. I’m still working on being patient when she freaks out over the bug phobia or when she is complaining about her latest attention grabbing ailment or when she wants to sit with me on the couch and actually sits on me on the couch. I just don’t do that well with those things.


So, there you go. Next up, the Disney vacation. Yay. Have I mentioned that I hate Orlando? No? Oh, yeah, I kinda hate Orlando, but it’s all good. I am looking forward to seeing Hope’s delight in going to Disneyworld. I am not looking forward to the first time she sees palmetto bugs…#jesusbeavatofdeet

Oh, Hope lasted about 18 hours on the hugs and kisses strike. Ha!


About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted my now adult daughter in 2014, and this blog chronicles my journey. Feel free to contact me at, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©, 2013-2022. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

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