I hope a time comes when Sundays really become fun days for me and Hope. She’s fine, but I think I get a preemptive start on the angst of getting back into the routine of the week day. I’m finding the routine, exhausting and rigid as it maybe, gives me something to look forward to and to gripe about for that matter. Saturdays I usually have activities for us to do which get us out of the house to do something engaging and fun. Sundays we have church and stuff that has to get done to make sure the week goes smoothly, aka Mom chores. I find myself getting cranky and sometimes oddly resentful that she continues to lounge about with no inkling of initiative to help. I’m guessing that has more to do with being 13 and less to do with being adopted.
Today I hit the Red Box, picked up a movie for her and am taking my weekly time out in my room, catching up on professional work and reflecting on the week. So, here’s what’s on my mind this week.
Hope’s family…well, really I don’t know what to say. Hope’s family sent me a few things this week. They sent a few pictures of her and her dad when she was young, several pictures of her dad and grandmother and his funeral program. Once I had them in hand, I decided not to wait to tell Hope all that has happened in the background these last few weeks. She was shocked as I imagined. Her feelings about her family are complicated. We talked a bit about it then, but decided to really focus our therapy session on all the family stuff.
Turns out she was only about 10% happy they found us and about 90% pissed about why now, after everything she’s been through in the last five years. Oh my sweet girl was angry, but instead of lashing out she just broke down and cried and cried. She talked a lot, and she even talked about how much stronger she is now to use her words to articulate what she was feeling. She’s been holding so much in about her birth parents and it all came spilling out, so much anger and so much hurt. She is so happy to have the mementos of her dad; they are key to her healing. We both know that now. But whether she will really reach back to her father’s family? Well, she doesn’t seem to be terribly interested in doing that. I imagine this might change at some point, but for now seems like the immediate family crisis is over.
I was oh too happy to graciously let them know that it would likely be awhile before they heard from us. I’ll send them a virtual Christmas card if nothing has changed by then.
Hearing about foster care from a former foster kid is hard. Through blogging, I’ve been blessed to meet such wonderful folks who foster children. I’ve also kept in touch and bonded with Hope’s final foster family. But Hope’s experiences with foster care sound like an incredibly choppy sea. The foster family she was placed with after she came into custody left an indelible mark with her. Given her trauma, I have no idea whether she would have ever found them acceptable, but her view of how she was treated, how insensitive they were to her overwhelming grief, how she was treated compared to other foster children in the home…she’s still angry and still bitter. She calls the members of the family by name and remembers every perceived slight.
It doesn’t matter whether her memories are true or not, they are true for her. I try to be empathetic. She remembers this family and others like it more than she remembers the folks who were very kind towards her. She talks about those folks too, but her focus on the negative always brings her back to people who were, in her mind, less than kind and compassionate.
It’s hard. So much of her grief is also wrapped up in her foster care experiences, too. All of it is so entwined. I am trying to help her focus on the positive people who have been there throughout the process, but it really seems hard for her to turn things around to focus on those folks.
Therapy works. It really does, of course it feels like 1 good session for every 4-6 or even 8 crappy sessions. When you do get to that one session though, you realize that perhaps the other sessions were productive in subtle ways. I’m glad that I encouraged Hope to put a pin in all the family stuff until we could talk about it with Absurdly Hot Therapist. She was ready and clearly had thought about things in a way that made her really ready to talk.
Things poured out of her. We ended up going long because things were still just gushing out of her. Lots of emotional stuff. She was deliberate about word choice—for the first time she referred to her birth mother as her “birth mother.” She made a point of pointing to me and saying *this* is my mom. At one point me, Hope and AHT were all crying.
On the way to the car afterwards, she said, I’ve been waiting to let out that stuff for years.
Amen to that, Hope.
We then went and bought a small chocolate cake, because well, when you finally get some ish off your chest, you should celebrate and that means cake (with a side of fried chicken).
Prioritizing self-care is essential. I tried on suiting slacks this week and had an awful reality check. Ick.
Must. Prioritize. Self-care.
So, I joined a new 24 hour gym this week and am making a commitment to workout 30 hours during the next 30 days. That’s an hour a day. I’ve booked a long term relationship with the magic sitter for alternating Fridays and Saturdays until mid-October. My sitter service is working on finding someone for a weeknight as well so I can work late, take in a happy hour or just sit in my car for a couple of hours.
This week I leave for my first lengthy business trip since Hope arrived. I’ve had a couple of overnights, but never 5 days away. I’m really nervous and excited. I’m hoping it all works out well.
July 20th, 2014 at 11:12 pm
So glad she was able to articulate and respond well to the family stuff. And while no relationship is yet blooming, how awesome that she got those pics if her dad. So happy for that. I’ve never seen a picture of my kids’ dad, which makes me sad because the younger ones probably have absolutely no memory of him and I don’t even have a picture for them. Good job on the workout commitment! I need to set some goals too…
July 21st, 2014 at 6:21 am
Yes, I’m glad she has pictures. I’ve scanned everything to reassure her that she will always have these items. I admit that I was more excited to see my daughter as a little girl in the pictures. I think adoptive parents, especially of older kids, miss the opportunity for those kinds of pictures, so to just have a couple is really a special, precious thing.
Goals are good!
July 21st, 2014 at 7:26 am
Yes! I really miss not having little kid pics of my kids, especially the older ones.
July 21st, 2014 at 1:41 am
I have been reading your blog for a while. I first saw your blog through a blog that I had followed. I am a foster to adopt mom, currently going through a tpr trial with my foster son. I used to blog about my experience as a single black foster to adopt mom, but I had to stop because of my current fs case. I miss blogging , but wanted to say thank you. I really enjoy your blog and your podcast. I hope once my adoption is finalized I will be able to blog again.
July 21st, 2014 at 6:24 am
Yolanda, thanks for the read! I edited your name to protect your privacy. It’s great to find another woman of color (single too!) fostering/adopting! I look forward to your return to blogging; I’m sure you have an interesting story–we all do! Thanks for the kind words. All the best to you and your son!
July 21st, 2014 at 2:32 pm
So so glad to hear that she is expressing herself and assigning words to it! Glad to hear you will be working on you…that will make you a better mom, friend, and everything else!