Category Archives: The Transition

By Any Other Name

I had chosen names for the children I would never give birth to. I only chose what would be first or middle names so that they could be adapted to names desired by my would be husband/life partner.

Those names were so important to me; each had special meaning. Each were strong names on which my children could scaffold their identities.

And then, one day, the realization set in that I would not get to use any of those names for biological children.

Even now, writing this, the sting of quiet tears fill my eyes.

And then Hope came along.

Hope got her pseudonym from being my “Hope Kid.” When I started the blog, I had just received her profile. I remember sitting in my office, opening the email, reading the little bit of information attached and then opening the attachment to see her picture.

I immediately fell in love with her.

In my heart I felt like she was my daughter. I just knew, which was ridiculous because she was the first profile I received having just started the national search with my agency the week before.

I also knew that there were many steps to be made before she and I might be matched. I dubbed her my “Hope Kid.”

After we were matched, I started just calling her Hope in this space.

It’s turned out to be a good strong pseudonym for her. She and I are both so hopeful.

At 12, I never once thought about changing her name. Her in real life (IRL) name is unusual and lovely.

A few folks asked if I considered changing her first name.

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No. I mean, she was 12 and It. Is. Her. Name. And well, Hope had lost everything else, everything, why on earth would I take her name from her too?

And she’s feisty, why on earth would I want to start our life with a fight about changing her name?

As we neared the date of our finalization, I did have to make a decision about her last name.

Sounds like a no brainer, right?

I mean, she would just drop her given name and take my name.

No.

It was her given name. It was hers. It was given to her by her parents, who loved her even if they didn’t always love themselves.

I thought about all those adoptees who talked about their birth names and the surnames of their birth family.  How hard it was to find people when names changed. How challenging taking on a new identity could be.

Because Hope is an older adoptee, I had the luxury of having a real conversation with her about her name. I’d like to think that even if she had been younger, I might have come to the same conclusion because it works for us.

Hope had just assumed that I would make her change her name. She understood why I might do that. She has resolved that it was just the way of the world, or rather the way of her world. In Hope’s world, she rarely got to make decisions, she lost lots of things and well, she supposed she was just happy to be getting a forever family.

I asked her what she thought about a third option.

I asked her what she thought about just adding my last name to her existing name.

The first thing she did was write it all out and count the letters.

There were a total of 29 letters in this proposed name. Four names, two of them last names, no hyphens and 29 letters.

She asked if the name would fit on forms.

So, I cruised the internet and found a few forms that we would have to eventually fill out and printed them and let her practice filling them out.

It worked.

I asked her if taking my name would be hard for her; she said maybe. I told her that she could drop it she wanted, and just sign things with her birth name. The four-name thing would just be her “government name.” I explained the times when she would need to use it.

I asked her to think about it.

When I told folks that this third option was on the table…well, there were so many questions. So many.

Why couldn’t I just change it? Why didn’t I want her to be fully a part of the family? Wouldn’t this be confusing for her? How would this help her move on?

There was a lot of criticism.

I stayed focused on me and Hope during the whirlwind.

In the end, extending her name was our choice.

During our Facetime finalization, Hope exclaimed to the judge that her new name was 29 letters.

She continued to use her birth name for a while, and then one day, she didn’t.

I’m not sure exactly when she started using both last names, but I know that now she wouldn’t dare sign her name without both.

When her birth family found us, they were surprised that I didn’t drop their name. I think it brokered some trust with them; I had no intention of erasing her identity.

Again, I have the luxury of having an older child who is capable of telling me her feelings. I know that even during the worst of times she endured, she would leave me in a flash if she had the chance to be parented by her birth parents again.

I’m hardly a saint and I’m judgmental as hell, but I’ve also had the luxury of having my birth family my whole life. I get it and I don’t blame her at all. If I had known them before, and known what I know now, I would’ve been rooting for them.

But our paths were different, and all I can do now is honor her family by supporting her in keeping the names she was given.

Our family is stronger for it.

And what have I really learned from this part of our journey?

I learned that I’m glad that we didn’t have to make a choice based on her safety and a desire not to be found. I think this would have been so much more difficult for her if that was necessary. For her to have to change her name, her identity, to remain safe, is a whole other level of trauma. We are fortunate that we were not faced with that situation.

I learned that even though I have replaced Hope’s birth parents in parenting her, I am additive in her life. For Hope, I didn’t just replace them. I am her mother, without question, but I am her second mother. I can never replace Hope’s birth parents; I can’t erase them. Even with a name change, that history, however brief, is still a real part of her life.

I learned that Hope’s name is her name. I am honored that my name has become a part of her name and a part of her story, but her story didn’t start with me. It won’t end with me either.

I imagine that her name will change again sometime in this lifetime.

And again, it will be Hope’s choice to shape her identity.

I learned that there are various ways to integrate a child into your family.

I learned that a last name can be more than enough of a connection to a new family.

I realized just how much power adoptive parents have…to change a child’s whole name…or just to get to name a child…it is a privilege that should be acknowledged as such.

I learned that the sting of not being able to have biological children rears its head more often than I care to admit. A discussion about changing a child’s name precipitates asking what might you change it to? And then your list of dream names springs to mind…and it drags that little bee sting with it.

I learned to treasure my own name even more. I love thinking about the origins of my name and the story my parents tell me about naming me.

I don’t know that at this point in my life I will change my name even if I get married. I’ve been with this name a mighty long time.

I do know that I’ll still be ABM whatever name I chose, and that Hope will always be my Hope and joy, no matter what her name evolves into during the course of her life.

 


New Car, New Chapter

Yesterday I bought an SUV.

Other than the exterior color, it’s really amazing. It’s fully loaded and pretty lux. But the truth is that while I am happy about the new car, and new car smell and all of that, I kinda hate my new car.

Or rather, I hate what it represents, which is another piece of pre-Hope identity kicked to the wayside.

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In recent months I’ve really embraced motherhood and really tried to meet Hope where she is. We both have benefited from this effort.

But there’s something about this car purchase that sits on me like a giant thud.

Yesterday morning I was the owner (free and clear by the way) of an adorable little red Mini Cooper that I called, the Chili Pepper. “Chili” was my dream car. I’d wanted a Mini for years, but really never thought I’d get one. I’d had a sports car right out of college and then I had a cute sporty wagon. So when I started my doctoral program, I took the plunge and headed to the Mini dealership, where I fell in love with Chili.

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I loved that car. Me and Chili had seen a good chunk of the east coast. Like all of my previous cars she was a stick shift. and I loved the handling and the power this little car channeled. She was distinctive with her little personalized plates. People would walk by Chili and  smile. People would ride in Chili and marvel at just how awesome she was. When Hope moved here, my ownership of Chili was definitely an indicator of my potential “coolness.” She was different.  Did I mention that I loved her?

I owned Chili for 5 years, almost to the day. Her warranties were just about up and repairs and upkeep can be pricey on Minis.  She’d just endured a repair that would’ve been about $6K but for the fact that it was covered under the warranty.

Then there was Hope’s instrument; she plays a tenor sax. The dang thing took up the whole boot trunk. If I ever offered another band kid a ride they couldn’t be from the low brass or percussion sections, that’s for sure. And Hope plans to take guitar lessons this year so there’s really a need for more room.

Finally, there’s the trip to Boston and Martha’s Vineyard of 2015. I had to get a roof bag to accommodate all of the luggage. We stayed at the sexy Boston W hotel for a few days, and when we drove up, we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies traveling in a clown car. It worked, but it was clear that it wasn’t optimal and that something was going to have to change. I was simply too cute to look like a traveling vagabond on vacation. The faces of the uber hot valets when they saw up pull up invoked all kinds of shame.

Sigh.

So yesterday, I cleaned Chili out and sold her out for an SUV—a Nissan Rogue. It’s gray, which I hate, but it is what it is since the deal was just something I couldn’t walk away from.

So, what’s the rub?

Losing Chili for a much needed family car is another way my life has changed since becoming a mom. It was the end of another chapter. It was another thing I gave up for the good of my family.

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I don’t regret it, but I’m so sad, so so sad. I’m all in my feels. Cause I’m a wee bit selfish and petty.

I knew trading Chili in would be hard for me, but I teared up as I stood in CarMax, looking at her one last time, reminiscing about our good times and how I was sad to close this chapter on my pre-Hope single, footloose and fancy free life.

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Since then, I’ll admit that I’ve had two all out snot-riddled sobbing sessions since coming home with the new car.

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Grief is a beeotch and it hits you in the worst ways at the worst times.

I know it’s not about the car; it really is about what the car represents.

Now, instead of this distinctive cute car, I’ve got a great car that is just like everyone else’s great and reasonable car. . Heck I’ve already tried to break into two other cars like it while shopping ,and it’s not been quite 24 hours since I signed the papers.

I always knew where Chili was in a parking lot. <snif>

And did I mention that Hope is unimpressed?  The source of disinterest in part stems from the fact that I deviated from my intended purchase plan.  In essence, she’s salty because I didn’t buy the car I originally intended to test drive and purchase and plan changes generally don’t make her feel safe. So, there’s all that drama left to unpack too.

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The new car is new and different in a cool way, but it’s another change, it’s another accommodation required of this life, that frankly I didn’t give a lot of thought about until about 6 months ago. Another naive parenting pothole for me, I guess.

I will fall in love with the new car. It will get a name and develop a personality, and I will learn to find her in the parking lot.  In time the new car will allow me to cart Hope and some friends around, take her to summer band camp and maybe even take her away to college. This will be a great chapter. I know it will.

And in time, I will be able to remember Chili and our time together and not be sad. I’ll remember it for what it is—a chapter in this life—and I will think about when I’ll be able to get another Mini. It will happen, and we’ll all be happy.

Until then, I’m a bit sappy about this required change.


About that Post-Finalization Life

On Friday, our hearing by Facetime lasted only about 6 minutes (#DougEFresh). The video seems corrupted so the event will only have to be viewed in our minds. We were sworn in, the phone was panned around so we could see this ginormous stuffed animal that will be sent to Hope. I was asked to give my government name, she was asked to give her new government name and her date of birth. Then there were hugs and tears and it was all over. I’m glad I chose to “appear;” there was something important about the ceremonial marking of the occasion. I’ve been Hope’s mom since last fall, certainly since Christmas Eve, when she first decided to call me mom.

Not appearing seemed to reduce this major event into just a paperwork thing, and it’s so much more than that.

We had barbeque and a special cake that had an obscene amount of frosting (some of which was blue and I managed to get it in my hair). We spent time with family. At times she withdrew into her electronic devices just to have a few moments to cope with being a little overwhelmed. Then she invited her young cousin to watch movies in her room. Peeping in on them snuggled together on her bed, laughing and giggling was probably the second best view of the day—the first being the judge declaring us a legal family.

Hope and I’ve laid low since finalization, just trying to soak in the begininngs of our new chapter—That Post-Placement Life. Everything leading up to those 6 minutes exhausted us. We cleaned up after the party was over, and went to bed early. We lounged by the pool on Saturday; I had a night out and Sunday was our usual routine of church.

I did summersaults inside as she filled out her church offering envelope, signing her new name. We both played it off, but it was a nice, non-verbal moment for us.

There is a peacefulness that cloaked us after those 6 minutes. I know that it may not last forever or even very long. But I know for me, this was the first weekend in 4 years when I didn’t have something school or adoption-related going on. We relished this time together.

Hope is mine, and that’s that.

And I’m hers. We got each other last Friday. That’s pretty cool.

I can only report my observations, but it seems that permanence has had an immediate effect on her. Much more patience. Calling herself “Fappy” —a combination of fat and happy. She’s laughing and laughing from her belly this week. She feels good. I can actually see this.

I’m also ‘fappy.’

Totally worth it!


Fear Still Rules the Day

Up until last evening, I wasn’t sure that we would finalize this week. We had one document that required my signature and the signature of some higher up in CPS. My attorney confirmed the date yesterday. Friday is Gotcha Day.

I told Hope last week that we would be finalizing soon. But I was nervous to tell Hope that it was happening this coming Friday. It will all be official in three short days. I just didn’t know how she would react.

I told her over dinner. She sat there stunned. Then she changed the subject and pretended like I never said anything about it.

She does this sometimes in therapy too. She was just avoidant. I decided to just let it go.

But of course it can’t be the simple. It’s never that simple.

Twenty minutes later she picked a mini-battle over a myriad of little dinner-related things. And then there’s the blow-up, followed by the stomping to the room, followed by the concert of badly sung Justin Bieber covers (done for the express purpose of annoying me), door slamming, muttering and other self-soothing behaviors.

I let her be, interrupting her only to tell her to ready herself for bed and to refill her water bottle.

She was still grumpy when I came in to tuck her in, hesitating about whether she wanted me to read her a story.

Of course she wanted a story, and I deliberately chose a longer one to read last night just to be close to her a few minutes longer.

Then when I kissed her good night, she huffed and she puffed, and she screeched at me to close her closet door. Then she bid me goodnight back.

Fear is wicked.

She’s been through this adoption thing before. It never got this far, but someone else tried to tell her that it was forever. It wasn’t. She’s been through this before. It’s terrifying to think that something awful could happen before Friday that would cancel forever. So, the best option is to try to trigger the worst possible scenario before it can happen on its own.

Finalization, for all its celebratory notions, is also a reminder of things that she doesn’t want to be reminded of: all the reasons why she even needs to be adopted at all. And that sucks. It really, really sucks. And when stuff sucks, everything around here sucks, at least or a while. It doesn’t suck quite as long as it used to, but yeah, it sucks for a while. Attitudes, short tempers, tantrums and tears, push/pull behaviors, fight picking, and sometimes, mercifully, the silent treatment. I don’t really like the silent treatment when she retreats into her own little world, but honestly of the choices, it’s the one that is easiest for me to face and for me to overcome.

And even though somewhere in there she’s happy, maybe even ecstatic, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter that I’m planning a family party. It doesn’t matter that there will be cake. It doesn’t matter that she’s been practicing signing her new name for the last week and a half. None of that really matters.

All that matters is whether Friday is really going to happen. Hell, she’s having a daily meltdown at school and having the school staff call me daily to see whether I’m really picking her up or whether I’m going to be home if she takes the bus because she swears I’m going to abandon her.

This is happening every day. She was telling me that they were making her call. When I met with the staff today to discuss how the calls were heightening her anxiety, I realized that it had nothing to do with the school at all. She just wanted to know if I was going to be there.

Right now, all that matters is whether or not Friday is really going to happen. Will Friday be the beginning of forever?

Yeah, and after it happens, the all that will matter is what happens after Friday.

It’s a new chapter, and neither of us knows what the hell we’re doing or what to expect next.

It will be fine. We will muddle through. Someday we might even thrive. Hopefully, we will do more than survive. We will be fine.

But right now, we are a slave to Hope’s fear right up until the court’s declaration. Sadly, fear will still rule the next few days. I’m praying that the chains of fear will be broken before Friday.

This is my reality of getting me and Hope to permanence, and it continues to be the other side of happy.


The Other Side of Happy

So, yes, I’m happy. I am. I’m screaming happiness. Just screaming it! So happy. So stinking happy.

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And I plaster that poop-eating, heel-clicking grin on anytime someone asks, because really, let’s not kid ourselves, no one really wants to hear about the other side of happy when so many great things are happening in your life.  #tripsondenialriverforeveryone

So, I’m so overwhelmed that there’s a part of me that is just miserable and empty in spite of all of the happy, and I really am happy.  I wasn’t lying about that.

I marvel at how all these feelings can just coexist.  The duality of emotions on this journey will forever stun me.  #getsmeeverytime

So much has happened in my life in the last four years, the last two years, the last 18 months, the last 4 months, the last month. In fact the last month represents the time when so many things have come to fruition. So many hopes and dreams and things I’ve worked hard for and prayed over have  come to pass. And it doesn’t stop there.

Next week, I’ll finalize Hope’s adoption.  Yep, we have a court date.

When I got the date from my attorney by email yesterday I actually started sobbing.

OMG, this is happening.

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I was happy but I was also scared schnittless. If I hadn’t been illegally reading my email while sitting at a traffic light, I probably would’ve passed out. Instead I cried. But in the moment, they weren’t tears of joy. They were tears of fear, of the smack of reality, of wondering what was next, of hope that things will get easier, of wondering will I ever feel confident enough, of wondering if and when all of my own supposed support systems will ever feel stable, supportive and safe enough.  Will I fail her?  Am I really, really that selfless?

I am exhausted and despite my happiness, I am back to a week of not being able to stop crying. Maybe I need a med adjustment, because this is just ridiculous.

A few weeks or months ago I wrote about feeling down and some folks pointed out that I was possibly suffering from Post Adoption Depression. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I just knew I couldn’t stop crying, and I was driving a broke-down fire truck from one fire to the next and then role playing ALL of the firefighter jobs that must exist with a small water gun. I barely felt like I was functional.

About two weeks ago, I just started sinking again. The crying and crankiness returned. I just wanted to sleep or at least pull the covers over my head and be left undisturbed. I just mourn the ability to come home to peace and quiet and snuggle with The Furry One and decide, because I could, to just have a martini and cheese toast for dinner. I mourned the days when I didn’t need a sitter. I mourned the ability to pick up and go to the Caribbean for a long weekend if I found a good deal. I mourned the days when I didn’t have to do teacher conferences about questionable grades and behavior or anticipating the mayhem of being a chaperone at the upcoming band trip. I missed the days of less village drama. Life literally changed overnight, and I haven’t adjusted.

And yet, I can’t imagine life without Hope, and Hope comes with all of that and then some.  She’s a game changer.

Then, last evening I got a response email from a colleague who finished her PhD about six months before me. I’d shared in an earlier email that I was feeling like I should be doing “something” (school related) and was feeling guilty about not doing whatever it was I was supposed to be doing. Heck, one time I wrote a final class paper from a hospital—sure I’m supposed to be doing something? Surely I can’t be experiencing some post-EdD completion let down.

Uh, yeah, she wrote back—that post-doctoral listlessness is normal. Yeah, there’s a let-down period with a risk of depression after the euphoria of being done passes.

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Really, now this is a thing too? GTFOH!!!

Awesome, my doc and shrink are going to love this. Could be worse, I could be a new Dr looking for a job. So there’s that.

A lot has happened, and a lot is happening. All happy things, but things that require or recently required huge amounts of cognitive and emotional energy over sustained periods of time.  And my brain is just tired. I’m emotionally tired.  And the number of folks with whom I can share this, completely unedited, unfiltered, uncensored at all, is a pretty small number. I’m grateful for them, I am <thank you if you’re reading, you know who you are and each of you are godsends>. But I find myself mourning about the censoring I am doing; the censoring I’m required to do in some core areas of my life.  It’s really just like folding into yourself over and over again, like a bad piece of origami and you’re just waiting for the someone to toss you because the folds didn’t come out right.

Never in a million years would I think that when my dreams come true, mostly in the span of a few weeks, that I would not be wholly ecstatic and bouncing like Tigger.

Happiness isn’t without a price, and it can exist with sadness.

Here’s hoping I can swing back and stay on the topside of happiness and soon.

For now, I’ve got a Gotcha Day party to go plan.


The Day After Someday…

One day I may share the details behind these feelings in more detail, maybe, maybe not.  Just know that today rates as one of the lowest days of my life.  This adoption thing is a beast.  Trauma lingers and just wreaks havoc long, long after the original incident.  It’s stunning how the long the reach is and how devastating its touch remains.

Today was so difficult because I had to step up and be the mom of a child who has endured unspeakable trauma.  I’m not proud of the stripes I had to earn with the decisions I had to make today, but I made them just the same.   And I am heartbroken by them.   I have had some tough days in this life, but few will compare to the day I had to make a decision that will be one of my and Hope’s life crucibles. I know that everything will change after this.  It’s scary, but there’s also hope in the midst.  Just know that today was a tough, tough day for me and for my lovely Hope.  But tomorrow will be a new day for us.

Tonight I am practicing my own self soothing behaviors watching trash tv, eating fried chicken fingers, eating a rustic loaf of bread slathered in butter and cheese and losing myself in a bottle of blush vinho verde…yeah, the bottle, it’s yummy.  Oh and I’m trying to catch up on a few things at the office.  I shudder to think how my late night, tipsy emails about spreadsheets will read in the light of day.  Oh well.

My wish this evening is that someday my precious Hope will find it in her heart to know that the drastic decision I was forced to make today was in her best interest, that I did it out of love, that I did it to save her.  I hope someday, sooner rather than later that she won’t be so very sad about leaving bad things behind and embracing goodness and light, and that she will, on her own volition, someday choose to step into happiness in this new chapter with me, the Furry One and all of the many people who have come to love her after only a few weeks and months.

I hope someday that the trauma of the necessity of my decision will fade and that the hurt, anger and downright fury born today will be replaced with love, joy and true healing.  I hope someday that she will know and trust that I will always have her back, to care for her, to always put her essential needs first.  In the face of anger and heartbreak I proved that today.  I hope that we both recover from all the events of the day and that we will find our happy together, healing and healed, safe and sound, loving and loved.

This journey is the greatest test of faith I have ever endured.  Everything before was a test for this moment. My Holy Homeboy doesn’t promise us peace, he promises us peace in the midst of the storm.  I’m still paddling in the storm; you can’t see all my tears because it’s just raining so damn hard.   But we’re going to be ok, we will make it.  Be encouraged, somehow, I am.

Amen.


Musical Monday-Life on the Upswing

So if you’re an old school, hip hop head like I am, you might’ve come across the delightful knowledge that De La Soul decided to give away their entire catalog for free on Valentine’s Day.  Now I had most of the music, but there’s nothing like getting something free, and there’s nothing like getting good music for free.  Double Yes, Yes!!!  So I’m on the couch with my noise-cancelling headphones bumping to the extended remix of Buddy while re-writing a paragraph of my dissertation.  #grooving

Why mention De La Soul and the headphones, you ask?  Because I’m also in a noisy power struggle with Hope, who is doing her damnedest to play her saxophone as schnittily as possible right now.  I’m making her practice daily in preparation for a graded concert later this week.   Girlfriend thought that the agreement we made during our family meeting yesterday would be sated with a half-arsed 10 minute practice session. I don’t think so.

Had the nerve to yell at me when I politely told her she needed to pull another 30 minutes out of a hat.

So now my house sounds like a flock of geese are being tortured.

Oh wait…Queen Latifah is dropping her verse…Me, Myself and I is up on the rotation next.  #stilljamming

Oh, she’s mad, but she’s playing though.  And I can barely hear her.  #winning #sorryneighbors #TheFurryOneisNearlyDeafandDoesn’tCare

Just a minor bump in the road on this nearly perfect Monday.  That’s right, nearly perfect!

I had an epic meltdown yesterday when she effectively made us so late to church that I couldn’t find a parking spot.  This after I baked the blue cake! I secluded myself in my room for about 90 minutes while binge watching House of Cards on Netflix. Yeah, I should’ve hit a bedside Baptist service online or on the tube, but I was all about gluttonous self-medicating in those moments.

Despite my cake and self-sequestration, our first home-visit went smoothly enough yesterday afternoon.  I often read how some folks deep clean the house and such before a visit.  I tidied.  Look lady, we live here—emphasis on the live.  Laundry isn’t fully done.  I did load the dishwasher, the puzzle we are working on is still on the table and I just noticed the jam stain on the front of my dress after I offered her some water and blue cake.  Get over it.  Fortunately, Ms. E is cool.  She gave us both some good coaching and reassured me that I’m going to survive and that we are doing just fine.  She’s actually very excited for us.

Yeah, still feels like schnitt, but ok.  I’m starting to believe it will get better.

I’ve been to the gym for the last three days.  I had a nice holiday today while Hope went to school.  I’m starting to feel a little more like my sassy self.

For the first Monday in about two weeks I feel like I might have a grip on things.

She has now been practicing 17 minutes longer than I required.  She’s also playing rather well, seeing as it took a lot of effort to play all mad and crappy and I can tell she is getting tired.

Well, look at that (grinning), ABM won that struggle, didn’t cry, didn’t break a sweat or a nail and jammed the whole time. #stillwinning #stilljamming

Just maybe I can do this. 🙂


The Blue Stress Cake

I make a small cake for myself almost weekly.  Really, it’s kind of my stress recovery cake, made on or around what I like to call “Turnaround Wednesday,” Hope’s behaviors begin to improve after a rough start to the week.  I’ve been doing reasonably well about not stressing eating since Hope got here.  I’ve even dropped a few pounds.  I don’t get to the gym as I’d like, but the cake is my salvo.

Hope has no interest in my cake.  The first week I made it, I covered my guilt about stress baking by decorating it to celebrate our first week together.  She wasn’t impressed and has never wanted a piece.

This week I made the cake on Sunday morning.  #saywhatnow?

I also had the gall to root around in my pantry to find food coloring.  I plucked out blueBlueBlue.  And I started adding drops.

Stressed much?

Now I’m looking at this stupid blue cake, thinking…I’m guessing there’s something to the fact that I made it blue.  Sigh..Blue sure is how I’m feeling.

Today is our first home visit.  I’ve tidied the house as much as I could, kicking myself that I agreed to do it before the housekeeper comes on Tuesday.  I have no idea how it’s going to go.  I’m not scared; I’m just feeling overwhelmed.  I need to do my progress report this week–we’ll celebrate a month together.

Is it wrong that aspects of it don’t feel like a celebration?  I’m miserable with flashes of happiness, which are appearing more like stunning moments of surprise.  Those moments are so fleeting right now.

I will likely cover my blue cake with chocolate frosting.  Yeah, I’m sure my therapist would have a lot to say about that “frosting as a covering” bit…but I do have blue sprinkles.  I found them in the pantry too.

Sigh…

Maybe I’ll offer the social worker some cake later.


Shoe Drop – The Sequel

Well, we managed to make it one whole week in school before I started getting the emails about behavioral problems.  Five notes in two days.

Yeah, the last few days have been tough.  Wednesdays are usually our turn around day; things improve so I’m optimistic about today.  By Friday we’re great and then it starts all over again on Mondays.  It’s an awful cycle.  And even though I can tell it’s a cycle, it’s just relentless and the severity is always surprising and I’m getting so freaked out about Monday’s that there’s a cloud over the weekend for me.

The teachers asked me how they can help Hope.

I gave what I believe to be what I would do—try to be gracious but consistent and please be patient with us.

Yeah, the truth of the matter is I have no effing idea what they should do.  I’m barely holding it together around here.

I sat her down and gently talked to her.  She was shocked that teachers would just email me.  Naw girl, no one is checking for your little “note sent home but never really gets here” game.  No boo, teachers just email the parents now.   Her defensive shields went up slowly, but when they were up, they were really up.  You see, Hope never does anything wrong.  She is always the victim.  How dare they send me emails full of lies about her!

This oppositional defiance thing is so dang serious.  And it’s so exhausting, especially when the denials and lies fly in the face of obvious fact and reason.  There’s nothing reasonable about oppositional defiance.

This week I had to start doing some consequences; she seems stunned.  I actually am stunned.  I’m always feeling stunned.

<whisper> I kinda hate my life right now.

<whispers even more softly> I feel awful and guilty that I hate my life right now.

Amongst the rudeness, the belligerence, the lies and the shutdowns, the clinginess and everything else I can’t be bothered to list here, I’m really feeling like a failure. I know I’m not, but it sure feels sucky. I never imagined that I would fly in with a cape and save Hope; I thought I had realistic expectations, but it’s just really hard.  I cannot remember the last time when I felt so emotionally stretched.  I feel awful that I can’t muster the umph to comfort her for every little thing.  I wonder when she pushed a boundary by showing me a “funny” video laced with F-bombs, was my reaction ok? Does she think I’m mad and frustrated all the time?  I’m usually frustrated and I try not to show it, but more than mad, I’m usually aghast by just how crazy this life is at the moment.

I’m really sick with a sinus infection this morning.  So she started complaining about her ailments to see if she can one up me and if I would let her stay home with me.  She didn’t have a fever, but I did this morning.  So her little narrow butt was dispatched to the bus stop, but not before we had to have another head butt about the need for her to wear a real coat in 22 degree weather with snow storm expected to start later today.  #icant

Nothing about any of this even feels rational.  I just feel like I’m riding the same roller coaster day after day, walking on egg shells, trying to keep things moving.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry…I loathe too much clutter when I’m sick.  I like things tidy when I’m sick.  I needed her to go to school so I could have time to wipe down things with my Clorox wipes, change my sheets, make some chili and homemade bread and nurse myself and my mind.  I’m praying that the storm is delayed so that she stays after for her band practice so that I can relish two additional hours of peacefulness.  The storm means all kinds of bonding time tomorrow…Sigh.  I’m planning to run and get a couple of puzzles.

I’m hoping this Wednesday turnaround gives me the emotional break I need through the end of the week.


Post-Placement Blues

The daily cycle of anxiety and relief, meltdowns and recoveries is really just…a lot.  My birthday was actually meltdown free, but as someone commented on that blogpost, the angst about whether it would be meltdown free really kind of ruined it.  It wasn’t that anything bad happened at all.  In fact, Hope fixed my breakfast (brought me my yogurt and a spoon and poured my juice); got ready for church without incident (other than being glacially slow, but I’ve come to be happy with the fact that she’s starting to enjoy going); did not throw a tantrum when I chose a place for lunch where she got to try some bison ribs, and she read to me (more Silverstein–ick, but it was a lovely gesture).

Actually it was a nice day.   But I was/am still blue.

As usual, I’m just a grab bag of emotions.  It’s like the worst PMS I’ve ever experienced.  I’m happy about going back to work and embracing that part of my identity, but I’m sad because there was something cozy about being with Hope during the day.

I love that she calls me mom all the time now; and when she calls me mom in exasperated tween-speak it annoys the ish out of me.  I am also amused that apparently adoptive mom’s, like our bio-colleagues, instantly gain superpowers like hearing through walls and making things like laundry appear like magic.  She has called me no less than 9 times from her bedroom in the span of drafting these couple of paragraphs.  I also seem to be suffering from some odd, likely fatigue induced, brain fog.  Just can’t seem to get my brain to crystalize much of anything right now.

The Furry One has broken family ranks and gone wolf-rogue.  I still maintain he would never bite, he’s much to passive aggressive for that.  No.  Yesterday, The Furry One waited until I and Hope were in her room working on homework, entered, stood in the middle of her new pink fluffy area rug, lifted his leg and let ‘er rip.

Stunned and shocked, I removed the dog, got the rug, put it in the shower to hose it down (acrylic, Ikea rug), baking soda it and then put it out on the balcony to air out and dry.  Meanwhile, Hope finally had evidence to back up her righteous wailing about how The Furry One doesn’t like her.

Turns out, she’s right.  He doesn’t.  But I still don’t believe he tried to bite her.  This passive aggressive BS is way more his speed.

Sigh.

This was followed by a series of math homework meltdowns for her, a bridesmaid’s dress meltdown for me (fitting did not go well), a herd of social workers, former fosters, former therapists, the new social security caseworker and Hope’s new band teacher all calling/emailing/texting in a 3 minute window.  It was like being in an electronic sold out hockey game of rowdiness—just too much stimulation.  So after homework was done and the dress meltdown was shelved until today for resolution and Hope was in bed, I spent the better part of an hour, updating everyone on the going ons in my and Hope’s life.  I had to, right?  Because well all these people get to sign all those papers that say I get to keep my kid. Well, a bunch of them do anyway.

Then I spent 20 minutes in tears thinking of all the stupid things I’d done/tried/effed up at while attempting to parent over the last few days.  Yeah, several moments of, “Well, how’d that workout for you?  Not so good right?”  Fortunately, Hope is more resilient than me. When I consciously eff up, I apologize, which shocks her.  I tell her how I will do better next time, and then she lets it go, and I continue to silently punish myself until I do something worthy of even greater self-loathing.  I feel like the preacher who secretly beats himself in the Scarlet Letter.  But, wait, wasn’t he beating himself because he got it on with Hester Prynne?  Sigh, I’m not even getting any and am still engaging in this kind of self-loathing.  Awesome.  I don’t even seen an opportunity for that kinda happy sinning on the horizon–despite Hope’s prediction that I’ll marry by the time she’s 16.  Yeah.

Sigh.

So, then I broke out the red solo cup, only to realize that I was down to the last swallow of Baileys.  It wasn’t even a full shot.

Double sigh.  Really?

This morning, Hope brought up the fact that we’re both going through the blues.  Is this a post-placement thing?  It’s on my list of questions to ask around about.  I asked her what we should do about these blues, you know, besides getting drugs.

She said, “Ice cream.”

Is there a Bailey’s ice cream?  Because if there is, she might be right.


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