I listen to an absurd number of podcasts. Today on the way home from Hope’s orthodontia appointment, I cued up a recent episode of Modern Love. The episode featured essays read by recent Emmy winners. The first essay was written by a birth mother and her experiences with an open adoption. It’s a beautiful story that is full of love, heartbreaking and shows that these relationships can be beautiful but complicated.
At one point in the story, she says it is like being invited to dinner but not knowing where to sit. I totally get that. Even with the privilege that comes with being the legal parent, it’s awkward as hell.
Sometimes, depending on the content of a podcast, I might switch it up. Hope gets regular doses of politics, essays, crime stories, diversity and inclusion content…yeah, she is subjected to a lot, and at some point I’ll write my own essay about why this has been an academically good thing for her.
Today, I inhaled deeply as I realized what essay was about to be played. I’d heard the essay when it first aired, but Hope had not heard it. I thought about changing to another podcast, but stopped myself. I know she listens when she’s in the car; it’s one of our most sacred spaces. I guessed that she might not want to talk about the essay later, but I was curious what she might say when she heard it read.
So, I just let it play.
I periodically glanced to see if Hope had any reactions; she really didn’t. But know she was listening, and I know that at some point we’ll probably talk about it.
Then I got lost in my own thoughts, thinking about how our own family has expanded in the nearly three years we’ve been together.
We observed the birthday of one of her first parents earlier this week. It was healthy, but emotional observation complete with a birthday cake.
I wondered what it must’ve felt like to be separated from Hope.
I wondered about how difficult it was to know that legally they would be separated forever—legally, not necessarily physically.
I wonder what Hope’s extended family thinks of how our relationship is going? Do they believe that Hope isn’t very chatty or that I am preventing her from calling them? I’m not, but do they recognize how complicated this relationship is for her? Do I realize how complicated this relationship is for them?
Do they also feel the push/pull that both Hope and I feel? The desire to build this healthy relationship and to try to quickly foster something, some kind of connection with the need to feel and be emotionally safe?
I wonder what will the future look like? I have information that some days burns a hole in my lock box because I want to chase Hope’s mom. I wonder what things will be like when we all do meet one day, since I believe that we will.
As the story concluded I gathered my thoughts and put them back in that emotional box that I keep on the shelf and put them away.
I looked over at Hope, still no expression, no words, no facial movements, no nothing.
But I know her; I know under her stoicism that a lot runs through her mind.
As that segment of the show came to a close and another reading began, I saw her reactions. She giggled and asked questions.
Like me, she had put those emotions away for another day.
Figuring out how to *do* this adoption, family, open thing is complicated, but something we’ll continue to try to figure out together.