So, we’ve all read how social media can be a pain in the butt. It’s been blamed for the demise of countless relationships. Irresponsible posts have ruined friendships, busted up families. Heck, if we include blogging in the larger context of social media I have to own my own drama, with how I fell out with my own mother after expressing my anger and frustrations on this very blog.
Hope has a Facebook account. Now I wasn’t particularly a fan of this, but she already had one when she was placed with me. Her therapist encouraged me to allow her to continue using it to keep in touch with friends from back home. The truth is that she really is not really on it much; when she is on Facebook, she’s looking at Justin Bieber posts and absurd short videos of the latest dance moves. I check her page regularly. I log on as her to check her private messages too.
A few days ago, I got a friend request from a complete stranger. Now usually I dismiss these quickly. I keep my privacy settings pretty high and rarely get such requests from folks without a mutual friend or acquaintance. For some reason I didn’t act on the request and just let it sit for a day or so. Last night I actually clicked it and reviewed the sender.
That dang Facebook. Damn if the sender wasn’t Hope’s paternal aunt. Sigh. Panic set in. I’ve never felt panicked before about Hope’s biological family.
A few weeks ago, I set out to search for them so that I would have information to share with her at some point. I want her to know about her family and to decide what kind of relationship she wants or doesn’t want. Her mother is out of the picture and her father is deceased. She was closer to the latter and I’ve always created a lot of space for her to talk about him. She wonders aloud about them ever so often. I’ve never felt threatened—emotionally or otherwise—by her biological family. But this all felt like an invasion of epic proportions.
I logged out and logged into Hope’s account to find that half a dozen paternal family members had sent friend requests and a couple of messages, including one from this aunt, were in her private “other” message box. The messages talked about how happy they were to find her and just kind of jumped into conversation like nothing happened.
I deleted the friend requests. I deleted the messages. Then I sat down for the first of a couple of sad cries.
I thought, I will take a day or two to figure out what to say to these folks. How do I protect Hope? How do I talk to her about this? How do I wrap my own brain around how these folks could reach out to her, send her messages without consulting me and most of all—WTH (W=Where) were they for the last 4 years when she was in foster care? And where were you when she had a failed kinship placement with one of y’all bamas a few years ago…talking ‘bout some, you wondered where she was and how she was doing? GTFOH!
I don’t know if I have the right to ask some of these questions of them, but dammit where were they when she was floating around?
I hate thinking about how I’m going to eventually talk to Hope about this; I will but I don’t know how right now. I rather talk to her about anything else under the sun.
I’ll take another awkward sex chat, Alex, for $2000.
Oh, and I do not want to talk to these people. At least I do not want to talk to these people right now. I owe them nothing, right? Oh, and for the record I don’t care what they think of me. That’s not a part of my freakout.
The rush of emotions is overwhelming. I am angry that they would send her messages directly and not even think they needed to come through me. I am scared that they will persist in trying to contact her without my ok. I am sad that I feel the need to protect Hope from her biological family. I am empty headed about what any kind of relationship might look light, never mind how long it will take to get there.
So, when I awoke from a nap earlier yesterday to find a direct message through Facebook from her aunt, I freaked out again. She thanked me for taking care of Hope, and she said how she’d looked for Hope for years. She then started telling me how she’d reached out to her on FB and gave me contact information to pass along to Hope.
This was one of the few times in my life when I had chest pains. I decided to use a life line and call my sister, who validated my emotional free fall.
I eventually wrote back to her. I explained that I saw her messages and all the family friend requests to Hope. I explained how upsetting this could be and why. I confirmed that Hope is entitled to relationship with her biological family, but that right now we need some more time. I asked her to cease contacting Hope directly and to kindly ask her other family members not to either. They can contact me and I will determine when and how their contact with Hope will happen. I promised to give her some updates from time to time.
She wrote back that she understood and would respect my wishes. But will the others? I feel like I might’ve started a game of Whack-a-Mole with folks just popping up.
I will broach this with Hope sometime this summer. I discuss it with our Absurdly Hot Therapist and see what he says about this.
I want her to have this family; but I don’t trust them. I don’t trust them at all and I don’t want them to hurt her or us. I didn’t really sign up for a forced open adoption; so this is all a shock. I’m glad that we are finalized and that I feel like I’ve got the papers to legally shape what happens next. That doesn’t really help the pit in my stomach but it’s a start.