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.
June 30th, 2014 at 8:06 am
I can’t even imagine how you must be feeling. Discussing it with the therapist is a great idea. He will be able to help you decide when to talk to Hope and how to talk to her about it. Thinking of you both in this difficult time.
June 30th, 2014 at 11:38 pm
In a word–this development has sent me reeling. Thanks for the positive energy.
June 30th, 2014 at 8:39 am
Man, oh man, this can open a lot of wounds for Hope. This reminds me of my foster sister C’s funeral. Her biological family learned of her passing and came to it. C had been permanently removed from them as were their other children. Then they came to the funeral with their rosy colored glasses on pretending they didn’t abuse her, that they chose for her to live with us, and that they were the victims. It nearly broke my mother.
I obviously don’t know Hope’s situation or any of her biological family members, but I think you are doing the right thing. The questions you are asking are valid, and maybe their answers are too, but Hope is young still and needs her mother to watch out for her.
June 30th, 2014 at 11:41 pm
I’ve been cutting and pasting the same message and sending it to family members to come through me–her mother and to respect me and what I think is best for her.
All of their messages seem genuinely thrilled to have found her, but I just can’t believe that no one took a breath and said, hey, this is a kid; any ideas about whether flooding her with messages to call and email is a good idea??? Unbelievable. ugh.
June 30th, 2014 at 11:25 pm
Just when you feel things are moving forward in the right direction, something comes along to totally move you off of your square. I admire your ability to take time to reflect and then respond, having the presence of mind to be thoughtful in your response, firm in your request while still keeping the lines of communication open.
To be honest though, I cringed a little bit while reading this. One because my friend is experiencing a holy sh– moment – this is when adoption becomes really real. As someone who is adopting, I can’t imagine how I would feel if someone from Nana’s biological approached me or directly reached out to Nana (if she could read, ha). I would be frozen, thinking about the complications this could add to our lives, while we are still building the foundation of our family.
On the other hand, as a family member (extended) of a child who is in foster care, I want to give the family the benefit of the doubt. I can say that those relationships can be complex and family can be completely out of the loop, no matter what calls have been made, how many escalations have happened and how many lawyers have been retained. The system has its own inertia and well, life.
June 30th, 2014 at 11:43 pm
You’ve articulated my dilemma. Balancing the hedge of protection I’m trying to create with her familial birthright. It’s tough and it hurts. Yeah, ish just got really real. I have no idea how it’s going to work out. Sigh…fodder for the podcasts…
October 15th, 2014 at 11:31 pm
[…] Since June, I’ve been wrestling with the emergence of Hope’s biological extended family finding us. The irony of their emergence is that I had initiated my own search of them a mere six weeks before. I was curious about them. Hope had memories, both good and bad about some of the folks in her family. I wanted to know about them; I wanted to know where to find them if Hope wanted to reach out to them. I wanted to have some control over when and how the connection was made. And then the first day of our celebratory vacation, I got the Facebook inbox message. […]
December 31st, 2014 at 9:44 am
[…] Hope’s extended first family found us. […]
June 12th, 2016 at 3:23 am
Wondering how you decided to deal with your daughters actual real life family coming into the picture ? Did you continue to slam the door hyperventilate and make it all about you and your feelings?
Or did you at least leave the door open? Because she will be found again when you’re not in control of her media and you will get to answer for repeatedly slamming the door in their faces.
I don’t know why she was taken and it’s likely her circumstances weren’t great, that means it’s sad FOR HOPE. And she’s going to want to find them and that narrative you’re spinning about her family is kinda BS.
Adoption isn’t about you. The door has been opened and you’re going to have to deal with it.
June 12th, 2016 at 5:15 am
Wow,…Um, this isn’t a new post, I recently referenced it on my FB page that it was two years ago that this development emerged shortly after we finalized. This is simply about how I felt about it at the time. I’ve written about our interactions, and we are all one big, at times messy and complicated, family because I know what’s at stake and I don’t lie to my daughter. No lie though, this needed to be managed and my daughter appreciated me managing it and it was jarring and triggering for her the way it all started.
It’s cool, you seem new here, pull up a chair, get comfy, dig into the archives, would love to hear your feed back on how this thing unfolded. We visit at least once a year, we call, there’s a significant upcoming bday that we are considering traveling for… this post was just the beginning and a real life accounting of my feelings at the time. I mean, they are open to judgment in isolation, but as with lots in this blog, it’s a small shot.
I don’t post about it as much these days because it is incredibly complicated but I make it work as much as Hope wants me to and can emotionally stand. In short, ‘we good…’
June 1st, 2018 at 7:13 am
[…] adoption opened weeks after finalization. I didn’t want to be that judgy adoptive parent, but in many ways I was. […]