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.
December 1st, 2018 at 2:20 pm
Thanks so much for this….I kept bringing up writing a letter to dad in jail…it took many reminders to get the letter written….it feels like an important and uncomfortable part of parenting my foster daughter, 9, who misses her father, who was brutally abusive to her brothers and mom and forced them to commit crimes, but doted on her…I appreciate reading about your struggle with bringing up the hard stuff…..good job mama….
On Fri, Nov 30, 2018 at 2:57 PM AdoptiveBlackMom wrote:
> AdoptiveBlackMom posted: “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” >
December 1st, 2018 at 5:34 pm
Gosh, this must be hard! But … look, I hesitate to offer “advice”, but this is just a suggestion from an outsider’s perspective … I wonder if she might not struggle with something as basic as logistics. She knows that you get it, but maybe she doesn’t want to say or do anything that reinforces her “outsider” status within “your” family.
Maybe if you said something like, “Hey, I know you think of your birth family at times like this – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and so on. And you know I support you contacting them. But I know that when we’re in the middle of all the chaos of family stuff, it’s hard to step aside and take care of your private business. So I just want to remind you that if you need time out to call them, without having to deal with comment and questions from people who don’t necessarily get it, just tip me off and I’ll make it happen. We can take some ‘just us’ time and go shopping, and I can drop you somewhere that you can make a private call.”
Just a thought. Hope you don’t mind me making a suggestion… 🙂
December 1st, 2018 at 8:03 pm
i had a talk about this subject with an uncle of my twins. He is a nice guy and really tried to step in and help way back when. He is one of those big, easy going guys that is deceptively smart and deep. I just asked him this same thing. If I were separated from these kids for a birthday, holiday, school assembly – whatever – I would go insane.
He just plain told me outright that it is a relief for the family. Sometimes the twins come up – but the unspoken consensus is that that they are in a better place, sometimes things happen for a reason, all that kind of stuff. He told me the pain of dealing with their parents and even with them was traumatic for everyone and although wounds might heal the scars are gruesome.
I don’t totally get this, in my mind, I am like “&+$#@!!!!!!!!!!!” But at least he was honest and I have a kind of weird sense of closure on my mama bear feelings.
December 28th, 2018 at 11:39 pm
My own (very limited) experience tells me that sometimes the uncomfortable things parents say are the most important. When I was in my teens and the culture frowned heavily on girls having sex outside of marriage (not that it didn’t happen, of course), my mother–very uncomfortably–said something along the lines of, “You’re a modern woman and you’ll probably have sex with a man before you’re married. I just want you to know that if anything happens, you can talk to me.”
I wanted to die. I wasn’t having sex with anyone yet and didn’t want to. Yet. I don’t remember answering. She probably wondered if a single word of what she’d said went in, but I’ve remembered it ever since–I could even tell you where we were standing–and I have nothing but admiration for her courage.
And for yours.