Tag Archives: Adopotion

It’s Ok

The last couple of years have been an immense journey. I’ve learned so much; I’m sure knowledge is just spilling out of my ears. Each day, week, moment and month bring new lessons about myself, about Hope, about our life together, about parenting and well, about a bunch of other stuff.

This year, I’ve had the pleasure of befriending a number of other adoptive parents. We share our struggles. We cry together. We whisper on the phone while hiding from our kids and slurping wine on a stool in our showers with the curtain drawn. We’ve problem solved. We’ve pep talked. We’ve planned trips together.

I’m blessed to have these folks in my life.

I was thinking during a call this week about something I usually tell folks in the midst of crisis; it’s something that they tell me too.

It’s going to be ok.

We rarely know how it’s going to be ok, but we just know that somehow, hopefully, it will be ok.

And it usually ends up being ok.

Sometimes we all just need to know that our struggles are ok; they just are. So, this post is an open letter to parents of all stripes, but especially my fellow APs, foster parents and parents that are roughing it.

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It’s ok to be mad.

It’s ok to not understand what the heck is going on in your house.

It’s ok, to have that glass of wine in the evening (unless there’s a medical/emotional reason not to).

It is ok to occasionally drink wine from a tumbler.

It’s ok to plan and practice self-care.

It’s ok to believe that eating tater tots and lucky charms with wine in your bedroom counts as self-care.

It’s ok to be tired, nay, exhausted.

It’s ok to be annoyed by all the activities.

It’s ok to foster the puppy’s affection for you because you need some unconditional love too.

It’s ok to go shopping alone so you don’t have to share.

It’s ok to feel like maybe you can’t do parenting.

It’s ok to feel ambivalent about parenting all together.

It’s ok to totally give up on parenting and then change your mind 15 minutes later.

It’s ok to cry.

It’s ok to cry daily.

It’s ok to ask your doctor if there’s something that might help you stop crying all the time.

It’s ok to call in sick after the kids have gone to school that you can have a mental health day.

It’s ok to think parenting books are full of it.

It’s ok for your foster care/adoption halo to be tarnished or missing because it fell of the pedestal you got put on.

It’s ok to feel sorry/not sorry about pulling away from friends and family who don’t understand why your family would be experiencing challenges.

It’s ok to find new friends who “get” what you’re experiencing.

It’s ok to mourn the loss of those previous relationships even if you think those people sometimes acted like buttheads.

It’s ok to cry for your child.

It’s ok to cry for everything they’ve loss.

It’s ok to cry for every reason why adoption ended up being their path.

It’s ok to cry for every reason why adoption ended up being your path.

It’s ok to cry because it comes with challenges that you feel ill equipped to manage.

It’s ok to go back to your doctor for a medication adjustment for all the crying.

It’s ok when you make unpopular decisions that are right for your family, even if they are hard for you.

It’s ok to momentarily admit that the challenges seem so insurmountable that you consider just turning back and giving up.

It’s ok to not celebrate the fact that you trudged on and worked through it because you simply don’t have time to get yourself a cupcake for doing what you were going to do anyway.

It’s ok to be mad at God for even allowing the need for you to be in this kid’s life like this.

It’s ok to be mad at God because it’s so hard.

It’s ok to recognize that anger masks sadness.

It’s ok to be mad when the people around you who are verbally supportive aren’t really supportive.

It’s ok to hate lip service and its best friend hypocrisy.

It’s ok to leave spaces that aren’t healthy or safe or supportive of and for your family, and this includes churches and other family members.

It’s ok to get help for secondary trauma.

It’s ok to get help for coping with everything.

It’s ok if you find one day that you go to therapy alone just to have a safe place to cry and vent and *then* you go to family therapy or trot your kids to their appointments.

It’s ok if your version of therapy is occasionally eating a double chocolate iced donut in your tub with the shower curtain pulled closed—alone.

It’s ok to wonder if you’ll get your life back.

It’s ok to think about the need to forgive yourself for inviting unique challenges into your life.

It’s ok to recognize that your family’s triumphs look different.

It’s ok, more than ok, to celebrate all of your family’s triumphs whether anyone else believes they are noteworthy or not.

It’s ok to beg off the comparisons against “normal” families.

It’s ok to sigh and roll your eyes a lot in your head because people say dumb ish.

It’s ok to be pissed when you are subjected to foster care and adoption related microaggressions.

It’s ok to be happy with a C, when your child worked so hard and was below grade level when he came to live with you.

It’s ok to be frustrated about all sorts of foster/adoptive kid things like hoarding, executive function, night terrors, defiance, RAD and feel like you can’t breathe a word of it to your friends because they just wouldn’t understand.

It’s ok to lean into an online community of similarly situated parents who “get your struggle.”

It’s ok, despite what your tell your kids about online relationships, to know that *your* online folks are great cheerleaders and, over time, friends.

It’s ok to feel like it will take forever to find your parenting “tribe.”

It’s ok to mourn with like-minded folks, to celebrate with them, to ask for advice, to just shoot the breeze.

It’s ok to see the world differently once you become a parent, and to be both happy and disappointed.

It’s ok to look forward to work travel as an opportunity to peek back at your old life.

It’s ok to look forward to the end of a trip because you miss your family and can’t wait to get home to your personal brand of crazy.

It’s ok to feel disillusioned by all the boogeymen in the world that take the shapes of gun violence, police brutality, racism, sexism, homophobia…and the list goes on.

It’s ok to listen to adoptees, to hear their voices.

It’s ok to allow the adoptee voice to shape how you approach meeting your kids’ needs and how you decide to help them shape their life experiences.

It’s ok to believe that adoptees have something incredibly meaningful to contribute to foster care and adoption conversations.

It’s ok to believe that everyone’s feelings in the adoption triad are legit and not be threatened by that.

It’s ok to feel joy in parenting.

It’s ok to see how much everyone in your family evolves and changes.

It’s ok to celebrate every little and big achievement.

It’s ok.

It’s ok, really, to just try your best, to be…ok.


Add Water and Stir 19: Adoption Disruption and Rehoming

The Podcast!

The Podcast!

Be sure to join Complicated Melodi’s Mimi and AdoptiveBlackMom’s ABM this Thursday as they wade into to touchy subjects of adoption disruption and adoptee rehoming.  What kinds of things lead to adoption disruption and how common (or uncommon) is adoptee rehoming?  The ladies will talk about various articles on the topics and share some of their own musings about some of the scary topics no one really likes to talk about when it comes to adoption.

The ladies will catch up on their respective homefronts, chat about trash tv, and mayhaps, drop a few recommendations, too!

Tune in live on Thursday, April 16th at 9:30pm EDT/8:30pm CDT on Google Hangouts.  Or catch us later on Youtube, our podcast page, Itunes and Stitcher and be sure to leave us a review!


Filling Holes

Today I went up for prayer at the altar during church. Nearly every week I do, and someone prays a prayer that gives me hope. Today I asked for prayer as a single mom struggling to figure out the coming weeks’ schedules in the absence of support I thought I would have when I started this journey. This weekend I found myself stressing about a major scheduling snafu that’s coming up in the next few weeks. I know I can get it covered but will that coverage be what’s best for Hope? Also, this is just the first business trip of the fall. I’m overwhelmed, and recent appeals for help were declined. I’m sad and, well, a bit scared about how things will come together.

I didn’t share the whole drama with the person at the altar, but my prayer partner prayed that our holes be filled and that our needs be met. Somehow it will be ok. This feels like another huge test of faith and frankly, I’m angry that the tests just don’t ever seem to let up. Still I was hopeful after this prayer.

Sundays are so difficult around here though that by sundown Hope and I are experiencing the routine meltdown that stresses me out and makes me wonder how I managed to have much hope that day in the first place. This Sunday was no different.

As I sit, sip a rosé and eat left over chocolate frosting from the freezer, I wonder how much of our Sunday meltdown routine do I trigger? I know I get cranky. Is it because she utterly refuses to do anything asked that frustrates me so or is it just me picking at insignificant things? Is it because she’s freaking out about the start of a new week? I imagine it’s all of it. I try to just let some things go; I even practice letting go in my head. I’m getting better at it, but in the moment it’s just…every button that can be pushed does get pushed.

Hope and I tried to have a game night tonight; we were both really trying to have fun, and we were both utterly miserable. We eventually just gave up; we don’t know who won the Game of Life tonight. I suppose there is much hope in us just trying to play right?

I don’t know how many of our emotional, spiritual and/or support holes got filled today; it feels like whatever was poured in, spilled right out. Anyway, here’s a couple of lessons from the week before I totally get chocolate wasted and switch from wine to rum because tomorrow is a holiday.

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Teenagers have messy rooms. I know, I know, this should not be a real lesson.   Listen, I’m not a neat freak. I’m not. On the last Add Water and Stir podcast I talked about the state of my house during my home study, weeks before I defended my dissertation proposal—it was a semi-messy pile of papers that I took care to square up the corners and put in 18,000 pretty cardboard boxes from Ikea. Our home looks lived in.

Well, everything but her room looks lived in. Her room looks like a cyclone hit it, and this is causing me so much dissonance about the state of my house. It’s stressing me out. I thought I was a packrat, but I hold no candle to my little hoarder. I understand why she does it, but I also recognize that part of this is just run of the mill teen-esque laziness. That ish is driving me crazy. At least I don’t let her eat any wet or moist foods in her room—dry goods only so maybe there’s a chance for that sty after all.

Parents have meltdowns too. Also not news, but I’m trying to figure out how to be more gentle with myself and my own expectations of me, of Hope, of our relationship. My sense is that some of my emotional upheaval is rooted in an expectation misalignment. Did I harbor some deep seated notions that post-finalization, post-13th birthday that Hope would somehow get her ish together? I don’t know. Maybe. If I did/do, then no wonder I’m pissed all the time and why she continues to speak so poorly about herself when I’m pissy.

Goodness we need a schedule and we need it stat.

I really worry about money. We are in good shape, but I feel like I’m hemorrhaging cash these days. Home repairs, back to school shopping, hypnotist visits and co-pays…it just doesn’t end. Tuesday I’ve got a handy man coming to fix stuff in the house. We will have lots of things fixed but is it all worth the few hundred dollars for someone else to fix this stuff? Yeah, it is, but I still fret. I don’t understand how folks in this area finance more than one kid—I just don’t. I would lose my mind.

I bought myself a pair of shoes recently. I really need some new things for work, but I sense that I will wait until things are nearly threadbare before I do any substantive shopping.

I’m currently over saying everything is mine. I know this is temporary. I can feel the Selfish ABM lurking underneath the surface; even though she has regular respite. Life is just getting on my nerves right now, and I find myself fanaticizing about an alternative version of my life. Oh well. I’m still here. But my compelling need to hide cereal and be crazy seems to have passed. This is a good thing I guess. Bring on the start of school. T-minus 2 days.

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So, I’m out. Stay tuned for an announcement about a special episode of Add Water this week. We’re going to dig into important stuff around race and adoption this week.


Take Your Time, We’ll Wait – Add Water and Stir!

The Podcast!

The Podcast!

Join us for the next episode of Add Water and Stir with Mimi from ComplicatedMelodi and ABM from AdoptiveBlackMom on Thursday, August 20 on Google+ at 10pm EST/9pm CST! As usual we’ll be catching up on life and talking shop. This will be a special episode of Add Water as we feature our very first guest, Future Adopter! Be sure to peep her blog, A Sista’s Guide to Adoption and find out how she’s doing as she preps to dive into the adoption process.

On Thursday we will talk about all the waiting that takes place throughout the adoption process. You wait until the “right” time; you wait to get the paperwork done; you wait for the home study and licensing. You wait during the matching process. It just seems like you are waiting for ever! Mimi, ABM and Future Adopter will chat about the emotions, things we did and are doing to keep our sanity throughout the process.

And of course we’ll also talk about pop culture in our wrap up segment playfully named “The Wine Down” by Future Adopter (Yeah, we’re keeping that FA!).

Don’t forget to Tweet us (@mimicomplex and @adoptiveblkmom) at #addwater and #TreatYoSelf!

RSVP to join us live!

Podcasts are available on YouTube and on our podcast page!


Talking about #Ferguson

Oy!  My mind has been in a million places this week.  Apologies for the mistaken title and reference.

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Hope and I were in a bit of a bubble for the last week and half or so. After I made the decision to say goodbye to The Furry One, I just kind of shut down. Truth be told I’m still kind of closed for business, but that’s for another post. We certainly were aware that Michael Brown was killed by a police officer. I was aware of the decline of Jefferson into a bit of chaos over the last week, but mentally and emotionally I was elsewhere. There was a lot of Disney Channel watching. There was a lot of Shark Week. There was little news watching, together anyway.

I would watch the news late at night. Read the news articles, watch videos, read blogs about Brown, his death, the frustrated, hurt and angry town besieged by tanks, snipers and a media circus. My heart hurt. My head hurt. I’d turn it off and return to my own grief. I’ve done this every day for 10 days.

Last night I told Hope we were going to watch Anderson 360 to.

Sigh. She whined. And then she started to watch. Then she started to wonder out loud and the questions came.

The questions she had. The commentary on race. How she described what she was hearing, thinking, seeing, believing. It’s disheartening. She deconstructed *everything.* I hardly know what to even say about it all.

The idea that somehow she has to be less threatening to others as a young black child…we talked about that. There was a lot of, “…and that’s why mom tells you to…” do something that is a tactic to be as non-threatening as possible. You have to earn the right to be completely authentic, delightfully and meaningfully confrontational and candid as a brown child. Not everyone will be comfortable with that you. These were difficult things I told her.

She hates the police. She sees them as the “system.” She’s always been very data-driven and evidence based, and Hope’s evidence says, most compellingly, that the system and all its players are not to be trusted. I wonder whether she will always have such distrust. I shudder at how she might react to being confronted by law enforcement. I cry when I think that she might be killed because of her lack of trust in those who are sworn to protect and serve.

Her anger, and mine, about an unarmed young man, just 5 years her senior, being shot in the street and left there for hours was palpable. I think she would march in the streets if she could. I would so be there with her.

I’ve been thinking about all the code-switching I’ve been trying to teach her. These lessons are second nature to me, but she questions me all the time about them. “But why do I have to….” “Because,” I reply, “You don’t want people thinking XX about you.” What I really mean is, you will find a lot of White people who think XX about you already, and you can’t give them any reason to keep believing that or worse: you need to make the White people around you feel comfortable.

Grammy has long told me this world is made for the comfort of a dominant few.

I don’t want to teach my kid to not like or trust any group of people. But I also have a responsibility to talk about and teach her ways to navigate in brown skin. I wish it wasn’t different, but it is. It’s a blessing to be privileged in so many ways, but to lack privilege in something so obvious as the color of our skin…

Sigh. It’s hard to discuss and explain to a 13 year old who’s only lived with me since January. I remember when she asked me months ago why was it ok to kill Black boys? It must be ok because it happens with alarming frequency followed by narratives that paint the kids as deserving of their plight and a killer walking away into the sunset. That’s what she sees. A lot of times that’s what I see.

I’ve been doing diversity work for more than a decade. I’m good at it too. But now, with my own kid, with her unique history…it’s a whole different ball game.

There’s so very much more I could stumble through on this topic in this space but I’m going to just have to leave this right here for the moment.  There’s been another shooting in St. Louis.

Sigh. #JusticeforMikeBrown

 


Sunday Fun Day

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.

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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.

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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.

 


Adoption is not a quick fix!

As Hope and I approach finalization this week, I’m ever so mindful about the things Family of Five writes about post. Our finalization is not the end of our adoption journey or our story, just the beginning of a new chapter.

These few sentences ring like a bell in my ears:

“Adoption does not and cannot wipe away over night the emotional and physical damage caused by years of trauma and neglect. Nor does it repair brain damage, reignite cognitive brain function or even miraculously cure delays in brain development. “

Our court order and new documents making us a legal family don’t wipe the slate clean; it just a big step to achieving an important level of permanence. We still have miles before Hope feels truly safe and secure. We still have a long journey before she catches up on some developmental milestones, including and especially emotional maturity milestones. We’re better, but there’s still a ways to go.

I don’t know what the comparable stats are for US post-finalization adoption disruptions, but I know about the risks. I’ll be writing about our emotional hiccups as we head to our hearing later this week in a separate post.

Thanks Family of Five for a great post!


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