This was my and Hope’s 5th Thanksgiving holiday together, and each year I learn a little something new about my daughter and about family in general.
My family is close, really close. We joke; we laugh; we eat. We are comfortable. Spouses and significant others adapt and adjust and eventually the seams that connect them to the family fade away. New children are born, and families are blended. We are family.
Hope is family, but adopted at 12 and only having 5 years and a bunch of baggage, her seams of connection are still visible. Add to the fact that she a 17-year-old who is physically attached to her phone and the connection is hard to honestly assess.
Hope is a bit caught in between families: there’s the family of her birth and the family she joined. I often find myself wondering how her first family feels during times like this. Do they think about her? Are they waiting for her call? Are they afraid to call her?
Of course, I also wonder how Hope feels. Does she think of them? Does she miss them? Would she like to be with them for holidays? What does she remember?
As my family has grown, Hope and I have moved from staying at my parents’ home to staying in a hotel. Hope usually loves staying in hotels, and she’s certainly enjoying staying in one over the holidays. She does love staying in my old room more; she will say that she gets the best sleep of her life there. She’s not lying; I get the best sleep of my life in that room as well. At any rate, at some point in the late evening, we make the journey to retire to our hotel digs.
As we headed downtown, I hesitated to ask my daughter if she wanted to reach out to the other side of our family. I managed to get it out. I kept repeating no pressure, no pressure. I said, there’s no right answer. I just wanted to bring it up.
We rode in silence for a mile. It was awkward and painful. There was so much unsaid because there just aren’t enough words to articulate all the feelings. I wished I could take the painful parts away.
I finally said, Hey, never mind, I shouldn’t have brought it up. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. She said it was ok. It didn’t feel like it was ok.
There was so much left unsaid; I didn’t know what to say.
From a parenting perspective, I often wonder what the right thing to do is. I never want to force Hope to be in relationships she doesn’t want to be in. She is my priority. But I can’t deny feeling obligated to repeatedly raise the issue so that Hope knows I support her being in reunion if that’s what she wants.
I also know that the time is coming, or may already be here, where I just need to step aside and let it be, to just support whatever engagement or none she wants. I’ve been very transparent with her family about how she’s doing and that she’s in charge of the connections. Most have been very accepting, but I hear the pain in their voices. I get it. I so get it.
We’ll send cards and a few gifts over the next couple of weeks. We do enjoy that; there’s some joy that happens when we think of sending gifts to our family.
I think about it a lot about adoption and the emotions that surround it a lot during time of year. It tinges the season with a bit of sadness for all of us, I think.