Tag Archives: Adoptees

Scratching the Itch

Last night the man in my life asked me if adopting Hope satisfied my need to have a biological child.

It was a heavy question for any number of reasons.

  1. I will forever be wounded by my infertility.
  2. My beau is an adoptee. He shared this with me recently after dating for quite some time. Turned out to be game-changing information for us, and I’d like to thank adoptees for teaching me to act like I got some sense.
  3. Beau is childless.

I was honest, and I said no. It satisfied my desire to be a mom, which was ultimately a stronger pull, and Hope is absolutely my daughter. But did it “replace” my desire for a biological child? No.

I thought so much about this over the last 8 years.

My grief around infertility has changed a lot over the years. Initially it was really messy, as all grief is. I did grieve the imaginary scenario that I’d been cultivating since I was in high school. I would be married in my early 30s to an amazing partner with whom I would have a couple biological children and then look into expanding our family through adoption.

That was my script.

So as I slid into my late 30s, unmarried and suddenly considered infertile, I really grieved the loss of that ideal I had constructed for myself. I remember feeling like it was the last bit of my dream that I lost. Never-mind that my career was going great, I was working on my doctorate, and I was enjoying a really good life. The door definitively closed on my dream, and that was what my grief was about. And sometimes it still hurts acknowledging that, but that’s not where my grief lies now.

I told Beau that my grief has less to do with any imaginary biological child and more to do with how betrayed I felt and feel by my body. We’re conditioned to believe so much of being a woman is about the ability to incubate a new human and have all these warm, nurturing, maternal feelings. Well, not being able to have a child because my body “failed” was and remains hard. I’m like, I’ve always been overweight, but my entire adult life I’ve tried to eat decent and be as active as possible so that I would be able to handle pregnancy like a champ. Instead my body wasn’t even riding the bench. It just sucked when I needed and wanted it most.

My grief wasn’t about having a baby. I was never all jazzed about babies. I just wanted the chance to be a mom. Ultimately it didn’t matter how; it was just that my body was supposed to be able to do this thing that women do. And, well, it couldn’t.

Hope satisfied my desire to parent; that part is the same as what I desired in having a biological child. But in answer to Beau’s question, no it didn’t satisfy my desire to give birth because it was about my body and not the child.

He seemed to understand. I reminded him that grief is a wicked thing. He agreed.

Then I told him about how in 2020 I worked hard to focus on what my body can do rather than what it can’t. While I didn’t commit to doing it because of grief, the reframing definitely helped me resolve some of my grief. Of course the fact that I did get to be mom to Hope is really the story here. I am a mom, which is really what I wanted. I am fortunate to have matched with Hope and be accepted by her. There are times when I really marvel at the fact that I have a version of the family I dreamed about. It didn’t happen as I thought, and the life partner is still missing in action, but I have this family–me, Hope and Yappy.

It’s more than enough.


Ten Things on Wednesday: 3/24/21

  1. Another Wednesday; anyone else feeling like they are just coming really fast? This is the 12th week of the year, according to Google Assist, and it’s only the 83rd day. I feel like I’ve had too much “life experience” for 2021 already and I’d like to just skip the next part.
  2. I made this week’s cake with cannabis infused butter, and let me tell you…the best sleep!!! I wake up refreshed and really rested. Will go back to regular cake tomorrow, but I expect I’ll be making another one of these soon enough. It was gentle magic.
  3. I had my annual physical today. Healthy! The only “dings” is continued loss of the lower hearing registers and my incredibly stubborn vitamin D deficiency. It’s like no matter what I do I can’t get it to get to and stay in a normal range. When doc heard about these last three months, he kept asking if I’d like to try an increase in one of my anti-depressants. I told him I’d like to think about it. Like do I need it? Will it make any of this easier? I just feel like I need to name how I feel vs. how I want to feel vs. what’s chemically possible. I’m not into unnecessary suffering, and there was a time when I would have happily accepted the new dose, but I really need to check in with myself first, I guess.
  4. Hope is the same; which is good in that at least things aren’t worse. With improving weather I’m keen on getting her outside a bit. I have a very small window to do that in before the bugs hit in late spring. Getting Hope out of her bed and into the shower regularly is the daily goal; look at me with BHAG goals trying to get her out of the house. She is eating a little more now that I’ve given up on balanced eating and leaned into just getting calories into her. My gawd, I’m buying vienna sausages and pop-can biscuits. Last week we had breakfast sandwiches for dinner because she gobbled them right up. I just buy whatever I can get her to eat, and I cook often to create additional choices.
  5. I’m starting to think about the fall, and what it holds for me and Hope. Will she go back to her college? Will she be able and ready to? Will I be ready to begin traveling for work again? If Hope does go back to college, how will my life change again? I’ve got just under 2 years until I turn 50; how do I want to end this chapter? I’m really starting to think about all this. It’s like my 2021 pt 2 vision board is coming into view. I do really wonder what will become of my sweet daughter? Will she begin to find her way again? Will she feel strong enough to make decisions again? Will she be able to go back to doing dumbass college shit? I mean, after this last year, and especially 8 months or so, I am almost mad at my naive self and how irritated I was when I stumbled upon Hope’s stash. I wish we could just go back to that. Knowing what I know now, I would have just taken that stash, made brownies and gone on about my business. Yeah, I just want her to be doing dumb college ish again…at college.
  6. I have not been spending as much time on social media lately, but I have noted all kinds of drama rumblings about transracial adoption and the recent tragedy of hate crimes committed against Asian Americans. Asian TR adoptees have been sharing their stories of struggling culturally and identity-wise having been raised with no cultural connection, being raised to be grateful for being adopted, and being considered the “not like the other Asians.” White APs who do believe in this stuff come out of the woodwork to troll adoptees. Whew what a mess! I was telling Hope about it, to which she replied that White folks and APs need to talk less and listen more. She’s not wrong.
  7. Work is…ugh. This just continues to be a tough go of it. Maybe a med adjustment would give me better coping skills for work. Today somehow I’ve got swept up in some drama over a private company. Owner and I have chatted about diversity; this week it’s been like he thinks I’m his personal diversity guide. Anyway, tomorrow I have to intervene and guide a major course correct that ain’t even my job. I literally have to Olivia Pope this thing; why you ask? White supremacy + patriarchy = some bullshit every day and 5x on Sunday. I’m already over it.
  8. I get my second vaccine this Saturday. #joy I got Hope on the state registry this week; hopefully she won’t have to wait too long. I will see my parents in less than 2 weeks.
  9. I’m off next week. I think I’m going to get us a hotel room. In fact, I need to look into that right now. A room with a view, good cable channels and a mean room service menu. I just want someone else to take care of things for a couple of days.
  10. I’m heading into a recipe rut. I’ve got tons of recipes, but I think I’ll be trolling for something new soon. I need to revive my kitchen creativity. I’ve been slowly building the pantry back up with things for different recipes. I really just need to get into the kitchen and put in some work. I occasionally invite Hope to cook with me, but it stresses both of us out. I tend to use recipes as a guide; I love improvising. Hope hates this and freaks if she misses any step of the recipe. We are cooking opposites. In any case, maybe that’s what I’ll get her to research this week–new recipes.


Ten Things on Wednesday: 3/17/2021

  1. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I wore my green glasses today.
  2. Things are…all over the place. I almost hate it when someone asks, “How are you?” Like, there’s a pandemic, I’m an extrovert trapped at home; my daughter is struggling and I don’t know exactly what I can do to make it better, work is emotionally draining 99.9999999995% of the time and my own mental health always seems precarious.
  3. So, I”m doing fine.
  4. Except, that’s not really true.
  5. I am fighting the good fight though. With daylight savings I can get more outside time and I’m delighted by that. I’ve taken Yappy on an evening walk every day this week. The increased sunlight and exercise is always great for my mood. I’ve started sleeping with my weighted blanket again. Sometimes that added weight, pressure just is so soothing.
  6. I’m really struggling with parenting right now. We have a good medical team. We’re really trying to give Hope autonomy with her care as a young adult. I’m trying to give her structure, but it’s really a lot with everything that’s going on. The issues are just like whackamole; we get one thing under control and something else pops up. Depression is getting better, but now the anxiety is debilitating. I can only imagine what it must be like for Hope. Not being able to find a “fix” is killing me. I really feel helpless and super frustrated. I don’t see this ending anytime soon.
  7. At the end of every day I’m exhausted. I would probably allow myself to get in my bed at 7:30pm if it didn’t sound SOOO early. Sometimes I do it anyway, but days like today…I’m trying to wait until at least 8pm.
  8. In other news Yappy is now using steps to get on and off of my bed; I’m so proud of him. A few months I noticed he was starting to have to work harder to get up on my bed; it’s a big jump. I bought some doggie steps, tried a couple of times to train him to use them. He looked at me like I was stupid. I shrugged and just left the steps there. After a month he started randomly using the steps, just like that–no prompting, no treats, nothing. He just started using them. Now he uses them consistently unless he’s feeling frisky and wants to hop up. If only everything was that easy.
  9. I am supposed to get my second vaccine next week. I’m now able to really count down the days until I can see my parents, who will be getting their second shot tomorrow. Just knowing I will be able to hug them in a matter of weeks nearly brings me to tears.
  10. I still wish I was motivated to write more, especially about parenting and older child adoption. Sometimes I get so frustrated because so much of the adoption conversation is dominated by infant, international and transracial adoption. I really wish more folks were writing about families like me and Hope. There are absolutely threads that are similar, but there are narratives that are different–not better or worse, just different. I often find myself trying to decide if I want to weigh in on posts even though I know the conversation isn’t about older child adoption and I want to hear about those stories and from those adoptees. I’m realizing that I might need to reconstruct my adoption squad. Our challenges never really go away, but I don’t necessarily seek the same kind of engagement and help that I used to seek. This young adult thing is different, and while in some ways it’s hard to remember what life felt like before Hope, it’s only been 7 years. It’s crazy. I just wish there were more folks talking and sharing about this kind of journey. Sometimes it’s lonely out here.

Ask Hope vol. 5

Now that you are in new educational and work environments, has being adopted or a former foster youth come up? If you have shared the information with new friends or colleagues, how and when have you chosen to share that information with new people?  

Yes it has come up before. In high school and middle school people wouldn’t really think much of it being adopted. Since I’ve started working I’ve found that surprisingly a lot of people including adults are oblivious to the fact that not everyone has two parental figures in their life. They all assume that I have two parents, and I’ve had some really immature reactions to telling people that I’m adopted.

As for when I choose to share that information, there isn’t really a specific time. If someone asks about family I usually just say I’m adopted; I’m pretty open about that stuff. It’s never really been anything that was difficult to talk about. Sometimes people can’t wrap their head around how I have a mom that isn’t the one who gave birth to me, even though it’s not that difficult of a concept. It’s only difficult when I say it and someone acts like an immature 12 year old. More than anything I just can’t be bothered with someone who would act immature over such a thing.

I imagine people assume you and ABM are bio family most of the time in public? If that is the case, how does that make you feel? I imagine a lot of TRAs feel extremely hypervisible, which seems quite stressful and like they never get a “break” from being obviously adopted. I’d like to think that it would feel better to not be so hypervisible, but I don’t want to assume.

I like that people think I’m biologically related to my mom, it makes me feel like we are blood related family. I’ve never had any issues with it. Since I was adopted people have said that I look like my mom and that makes me happy.

I don’t have any problem with people knowing I’m adopted, It doesn’t make me feel any different from anyone else. If anything, if someone I know doesn’t know then I tell them, and most of the time people I know forget I’m adopted. I don’t know if It has anything to do with the fact that I was adopted into a black family, but I’ve never had any issues.

Have your thoughts/feelings about adoption changed at all over time? And if so, in what way?:

I don’t know if I can say my thoughts or feelings on adoption have really changed but there are things that I definitely understand more since I’ve grown up.

I can say that I maybe understand myself more during that time and just the entire adoption and adjustment process in general.

I’m not gonna lie, before I was adopted I thought adoption was something out of a movie, I never really thought I would be adopted. Adoption seemed like a really fancy movie to me; it seemed almost unreal in a sense. After a short while I realized that we would have disagreements and good times just like any other family would, though I didn’t really know how other families were.

In the end, I am the daughter of my mother and that is just that.

If you have a question for Hope, feel free to send it to the main blog email adoptiveblackmom@gmail.com; be sure to put “Ask Hope” in the subject line!


Ask Hope, vol 4

What was the scariest part about being adopted?
I think the scariest part about being adopted for me was just the fact that I would be moving to a new state with a person that I had just met. Leaving old friends and stuff behind wasn’t really that difficult since I didn’t really have many in the first place, though there were a few people that I wish I was able to keep in contact with post-move. Moving mostly scared me because I had always hated having to adjust to a new school because middle schoolers are rude. I did have thoughts that I might end up with a person that I wouldn’t like. I was uncertain about adjustment and how I would do with such a big change. I was also uncomfortable at first since I wasn’t used to people doing things for me and caring for me so I didn’t know what to do and I wouldn’t ask about things that I wanted to know.

What advice would you give to parents of adoptees who have lost a parent?
I am not sure about the kind of advice I would be able to give. It really depends on the kid, and how the situation came about.

I think that if the parent is someone with which the kid had grown up in good-decent circumstances that they should have quite a bit of attention paid to them. If the kid brings up the parent on their own or clearly shows how they feel about the deceased then that should be a big part of how you decide to handle this. I think that they should be able to mourn the parent and remember the parent openly. I feel like you should be open to talking about the parent with the child when they feel comfortable opening up.

ABM weighs in: Create a permanent space for acknowledgment, mourning and open discussion. We have very visible pictures of Hope’s parent in our home. We were able to have these pictures because of our open relationship with extended biological family. I never thought I would have pictures of Hope as a little or with her father. Open adoption gave us that gift. Hope’s father is very much a part of her life, even in death because of a commitment to just including his memory. 

How important is it to have connections to your biological family?
It really just depends on the kid and how their connection is and if they want to have that connection. I think that the age of the kid plays a big role in this as well. A younger kid, like below the age of ten, is not very like to know how to make that kind of decision. I would say that if the kid has had contact with their biological family throughout their time in the system, and they have been having positive experiences I think that it is a good idea to maintain that relationship. If they haven’t had any contact or if they have had contact and it was a bad experience for them, depending on how they feel would be the best way to go.

I think that regardless of the two situations you should wait until they have had a decent amount of adjustment time and start off by bringing up the subject of possibly wanting to meet family or ask if they have ever thought of doing so. I don’t recommend taking it upon oneself and making this decision for the child.

ABM follow up question: How’s your experience been? Is there anything I could have done, still do, to make this connection stronger/better/easier?

My experience has been pretty good. I mean every relationship has its ups and downs but I never had any huge problems that made me think differently. When I first moved in I had a bit of a hard time adjusting. A lot of problems emerged at different points during the adjustment period. My mom worked with me a lot, she also worked really hard to make sure that I was able to experience many things. A lot of the things that she did made a big difference in my life. I was able to see just how much I had gained, and I was able to see all that I had to be grateful for. I feel like opening up would have been better for the construction of our relationship, but we were both in a tough situation that required lots of work. Another thing that I think I could have done id that I should have tried to do things differently. I was so used to how I had always done things that I continued to live how I previously did even though my conditions made my defenses useless. I was in a safe place, and I didn’t need to continue to defend myself. There is probably so much more that could have been changed that would have helped our relationship. Even though somethings could have been changed our relationship is very good, and we have become very alike in many senses. Once the bond is made is just gets stronger every day afterward. 

[ABM cries real tears. I LOVE YOU HOPE.]

Do you ever see you getting into adoption advocacy? To help other adoptees?
I’m not really sure about that. I’m not sure how I would be able to help out another kid through their adoption. I think for a kid getting adopted, it is easier to maybe give the parents some insight as to what the kids might be thinking or feeling. It would definitely be nice to be able to help the other adoptees out, but I know from my own experience that many can and will be stubborn about a lot of things and aren’t going to be very likely to be looking for another person giving them suggestions or for another person to be telling them what to do.

I think that parents need to pay more attention to the signs that their child gives them. They should follow their behaviors and work up a comfortable relationship with them. From my experience, I was very defensive and kept everything closed inside and didn’t like sharing anything. I was used to keeping to myself, and I didn’t really engage with my childhood and was used to doing everything for myself.


Parenting a College Student

Hope and I have settled into a nice routine of semi-daily texts and 1 phone call a week to catch up and talk shop.

The “catch up” part is really what’s going on in our lives. The “talk shop” part is derivative of the first—it’s how we talk about the things we need to do as a result of the “catch up” part.

If I’m lucky, I get a 2nd call a week because Hope misses me and just wants to chat for a few minutes.

The texts are pictures of Yappy (which as decreased because she can see every pic on our google folder for Yappy), memes, quick check ins and good nites.

I’m really loving this rhythm and what it represents: Good attachment!

I feel good about that. I’m also thrilled that I’ve managed to train Hope to tell me the important stuff by phone and let’s keep texting fun and not the place for good chats. I’m hoping that she is able to transfer that concept to her general texting interactions. #stillparenting

She doesn’t ask me to send her random stuff anymore. I nipped that in the bud after the first month. She proudly told me that she gets her groceries delivered to campus each week. Good for her, but “groceries?” I reminded her about that ‘generous’ meal plan I’m on the hook for…use it. I’m thrilled she figured out how to get what she needed.

Each conversation I see Hope growing a little. I hear her struggles but also how she is trying to problem solve things. I don’t hear too many excuses anymore. The biggest realization is that my opinion means a lot to her and that she trusts me as a knowledgeable human.

May every parent have this moment because like Jesus, I wept. Of course my tears were from joy.

This is the period of life, those adolescent years, when you just think that you are the schitts. You know EVERYTHING. And if you didn’t know it, someone in your peer circle probably knew it just like you probably knew that one rando thing that they didn’t know. And you think that anyone over the age of maybe 25 was pushing off to the nursing home any day and couldn’t possibly know more than you because they have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel and had no doubt lost so many brain cells that they should be on a mush diet.

Yeah, you know the age.

Y’all we are past it.

giphy

via Giphy

Hope doesn’t just want my opinion, she actually thinks I’m smart, like really smart. She knows I don’t know everything, but she knows that I know a lot, certainly way more than her. So Hope will text me questions; she will have deeper philosophical conversations with me. And in the moments when our chats are delving into “advice” territory, she actually pushes through the conversation, prompting, asking me for my thoughts and insights.

It’s really startling.

Of course then she will send me a video of someone trying to light farts. #disturbing #cantunsee

We have a ways to go yet.

Our chat a few days ago covered this knee injury she has, her recent cold, her grades, realizations about her ADHD and her upcoming trip home for the weekend that slid into us talking shop.

The student health clinic wanted to refer Hope to a specialist about her knee. We discussed and decided that she would see our GP when she came home this week and go from there. She’s happily over her cold, which I think developed from sinusitis and allergies. She said I might be on to something there. I told her she needed to get some Tylenol or scope out a kid on the hall whose parents remembered to pack Tylenol (I sent her with the gigantic jar of Advil. Whatever she can trade).

She confessed to not turning everything in on time and why and how she’s struggling to control her ADHD symptoms in the afternoon. I told her she should talk to our GP about that as well since he’s handling medication management these days. I told her I didn’t want him to hear it second hand (from me) and that she could just call the office to talk to him about her symptoms since we’re in a practice that allows that. She paused, toying with just asking me to do it or with the idea of dropping it. She said, send me his number. Since I’m coming home to see the doc can I talk to him about this too with him?

Me grinning on the other end of the call; “Yep.”

We talked about a hair appointment; she said she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her hair. I didn’t press but said, well, I found some salons in your neck of the woods that do Black natural hair. When you’re ready just make an appointment and check in with me to see if you need extra money to get it done. We verbally shook on it.

I swear boards of directors could take a page on the efficiency of our “talk shop” conversations. They’ve evolved and it’s really cool. It means we’re on the same page—What has to get done? What needs a step towards a solution?

And even more cool, Hope has real, cogent ideas about solutions. She may have even tried an idea or two before telling me. We’re beyond the, “maybe Beyonce’s foundation will pick us…” days. #girlwhat?

Oh there are many days when she has ridiculous ideas mixed in (all the time), but she’s more confident about all of her ideas and sharing them with me.

I don’t want to make it seem that all of the drama we have endured isn’t still there. I think that Hope and I have a bit more clarity about it and how it affects her and us. Hope is still well below her peers in overall maturity. She still is a vulnerable girl prone to being overwhelmed and succumbing to some specific kinds of peer pressure. She is not nearly as fragile as she once was, but she’s still somewhat fragile.

The patina of trauma that once was sooooo thick it just masked her is much thinner, but still very much a part of her. It covers her. I hear it in some of the pauses in our conversations about certain things. I feel it when she says she misses me. I see it when she is sad. I see it even in moments of joy. I see her conquering it slowly, but it is there.

There are many, many things we still talk about that my friends have already discussed with their 10-year-olds. Hope was in the system when she was 10. She moved a few times that year. She managed to progress to the next grade, but the lack of permanence was still there and would still be there for many months to come. And there were countless moments preceding her 10 years that led to predicament Hope found herself in at that tender age.

I hear all of that when I talk to Hope too. It’s still there. And I’m amazed to she her still pressing forward in spite of all of it. But, it’s still there, and it’s still hard for her and for me.

I’m so excited that she will be here for a few days next week. She hasn’t been home since she left in mid-August. I’m looking forward to fun chats, a happy dog, all around goofiness and to learn more about Hope in this new chapter of her life.

The more I learn about her, the more I learn about me.


Ask Hope, vol.3

Do you talk about being adopted much with your friends? Do you notice that you gravitate towards peers that have been adopted?

I have only really talked about it to my friends if a question regarding where I’m from comes up.

I have a few friends that are adopted, but that’s something that I usually don’t find out about until we’ve already been friends for some time; so I would say, no, I don’t gravitate towards others who have been adopted. I’ve known the same little group of people since I’ve been here, and that is who I stay with unless I meet someone new that I click with.

Do you think you would have accepted being adopted if you were older, like 15/16?

I’m not really sure about that, it was never something that I have ever really thought about.

While I was in the system the one thought that came to me many times was that I would just age out and move into my own apartment with some support. I think that if I was an older teen and an opportunity for adoption came up, I think that I would definitely be ok with it, I’d actually be glad and probably happy about it. Although at that point, I may have become discouraged because of how long it took for me to be noticed, but I don’t think that I would ever turn down such an opportunity.

I think that the possibility of me declining would depend on a lot, such as how far the adopter is (location) or just how I feel about moving at that time. If I were to be adopted at that at age, I would be starting or in the middle of high school.

What do you think would make the foster care system better? What advice would you give to kids first coming into foster care and what would you say to the foster parents as well?

Well, in my opinion, the foster care system needs a lot of work. It’s not the best although I know that sometimes they are just working with what they are given. I think that the system needs to be more thoughtful when choosing who is eligible to foster because some people do it just because they can get some cash for housing the kid. Sometimes it’s not even the foster parents themselves [who are the problem], but their own biological children, if they have any. I know everyone has a different experience in the system, but I can say from my own experience that it wasn’t all that fantastic but not every home was bad.

Another thing that I think would be a great improvement for the foster system is that the social workers are checked as well because some of them don’t fulfill their duties and just skim through the process, even though they are supposed to be one person the child is able to look to for help.

As for advice, I don’t know if I really have much advice to give since there isn’t much on the child’s part to do once they are placed in a home. One thing I definitely would say is to not let the foster parents you are placed with treat you any kind of way, tell your social worker. Don’t run away from your foster home, that’ll probably make it more difficult for them to try and get you adopted, and it will put you in a bad spot. It would be easier to just ask the social worker to move houses if the situation is really not working or if they are just nasty people with a bad attitude.

For the foster parents, if you have biological children and are fostering as well, please treat them like you would your own children. They are probably already having a difficult time or have had a difficult time. The mistreatment can stick with them and affect them later on, which makes it hard to really trust or believe in any other adults.  Pay attention to them and don’t tell them every 5 seconds what they may or may not be doing wrong. Foster kids need encouragement and positivity to get through it all. Don’t assume you know what they are going through or know what they feel like, regardless of how long you have been fostering. You aren’t them, so just listen to them.

If she were able to chat with kids still waiting for their very own Adoptive Black Mom, how would she coach them up, i.e., help them understand what to expect and how to emotionally prepare for life with a Forever Family?

Well, for everyone it’s different and the environment that they go to will be different for everyone. One thing that I would tell them is that they should really be serious and think when they are asked about their parental preferences and the kind of environment that they want to live in. When they do finally meet the family for them, both parts [prospective parents and kids] have to work together in order for it work out. If you can, tell your parent about things that help you and about things that upset you. Letting them know some things can really help with them in helping you and understanding your actions/behaviors. Don’t expect something super perfect; parents are people just like you are and they go through things the same as you. If you are having a hard time, let them know.

What is the best response an adoptive parent could give to a kid who is saying something to the effect of, I hate you, you are the worst parents ever.

I don’t really know. I’m sure at some point all kids biological or adopted have said something like “I hate you, you are the worst parents ever.” That’s just how kids are and I’m sure at some point everyone has said or thought the same thing about their own kid or about their own parents. #itsnormal

In terms of what the response should be, I don’t really know, but I do know that an aggressive approach may not be the best choice. Everyone probably just needs time to cool down. I do think that as the parent you shouldn’t just let it go, but I also wouldn’t recommend making a humongous deal about it. Lastly, I think that this is more likely to happen during the adjustment period and is probably just a part of the cycle.

 


Being Selfish is a Human Right

I just came across an article by Angela Tucker in which she responds to the question about whether adopted persons are selfish for searching for their birth family.

Such an absurd question, amirite?

Why on earth would it be considered selfish to wonder about your origins, your people, your place in the universe? I mean, entire industries have emerged to capitalize on the fundamental notion that we all want to know where we came from. You can seriously go to Target right now and pick up any number of tests for less than $100 to satiate your desire to find out more about your genetic information and its connection to others.

And that industry sprung up thanks to the increasing interest in genealogy by private hobbyists and professional searchers.

Most of us are just curious and, for fun, we can go out and satiate that curiosity.

A couple of years ago my sister bought my parents a couple of Ancestry DNA kits for their anniversary. It was a fun and interesting thing to do. My mom and a few extended family members have turned into genealogy hobbyists during their retirement years. Well, a few months later the DNA turned up some close relatives we suspected existed but never really knew about. We now have this amazing relationship with my cousins, who bore a striking resemblance to our family and shared interests that seemed unexplainable by anything other than genetics.

My mother, Grammy, is the only surviving member of her immediate, nuclear family, and finding these relatives has meant the world to her. It gave her a connection she never imagined she’d experience. For my cousins, it was a missing puzzle piece that was sought for more than 50 years.

That doesn’t mean that the revelation wasn’t without its complications. Not everyone in the concentric circles of our family was thrilled or accepting. Not everything has been easy. There’s a lot of emotion. There’s a lot of hurt. There’s a patient hope for future acceptance. There are times when it feels like time for full resolution is running out.

There are prayers.

There are occasional wails.

There are tears, both happy and sad.

It’s complicated.

But gosh knowing has been worth it.

I gave Hope the option last year of taking a test.  I thought she was old enough to understand the ramifications of sending your genetic information to a 3rd party that profits from having such sensitive information (something all of us should think more seriously about). We talked about the possibility of finding her surviving parent as well as connecting with half-siblings that I know exist and are in adoptive families as well. We talked about what that meant for her, how she felt about it.

My own curiosity led to my own search for her parent a few years ago. It was consuming for a while; then one day I found her. I told Hope about it since she had expressed an interest in searching. I have the information, and I update it regularly. Hope has never asked for the info or to reach out. I’ve promised to support her no matter her decision. I believe one day she will broach the issue again, with or without me. I could never deny her the information or my support in searching and wanting to see if a relationship was possible.

Yes, it might be complicated.

Yes, it might not go well.

Yes, it will be hella emotional.

Yes, it might be messy.

Yes, it could end horribly.

Yes, it could also be the beginning.

I’ve committed to be Hope’s ride or die. I’m good. I’m confident in my relationship with her. I believe there is plenty of good room for people who love Hope. I believe that she needs me to just hold her hand sometimes and listen.

I’m emotionally well enough to not think this has anything to do with me, but everything to do with Hope finding her missing pieces.  I am her ally, and allies have to know their place—supportive of promoting agency, recognition that it’s not about us, and advocating for full personhood for our peeps.

So, yeah, she can be selfish. In fact, I encourage Hope to be selfish—as if that’s inherently a bad thing, it’s not—in searching for her missing pieces. I shouldn’t be a consideration. I want her to bloom into pursuing her needs and dreams, and if that includes searching or choosing not to search—frankly that’s Hope’s business.

My business is working through my own ish so that she isn’t negatively affected by it. My business is supporting my girl.

I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with some aspects of selfishness. Selfishness can be healthy and self-preserving. I don’t believe that searching for the missing pieces of your identity is selfish. I think it is a human right to want to know. I think it’s a human right to pursue this knowledge. So if that’s selfish…that’s ok with me and I think it should be ok with you too.

So, yeah, be selfish. It’s all good.


Thoughts on Grief

Someone I dated years ago passed away recently, and I’m finding that it is deeply affecting me. I was already sliding into my seasonal emotional challenges (damn you Daylight Savings Time), and then I received word of the tragic death of someone who I planned to build a life with at some point. It’s left me feeling all kinds of things.  

My relationship with him wasn’t the healthiest, and there came a time when I saw that clearly and made moves to get out. It was during that season of my life when I really was thinking about my future, my desire to have children, my desire to adopt, my career, my life plan. When I realized that I didn’t want to have a family with him, I knew that my desire to be a mother was much greater than my affection for him. Going back to school to do a doctorate was a part of my plan, but then it became a part of my exit strategy for that relationship.  

As I sit here pondering this loss, I am struck by the direct line from him to Hope. That relationship set me on a course that brought us together. Sure, everything before that probably did as well, but that season is when I started being really deliberate about moving in ways that brought me to mothering Hope.  

And even though the relationship ended many years ago, the connection, that line, is still there, and I grieve his death. I didn’t keep in touch; I occasionally stalked him on social media to see how life was treating him. I saw his triumphs and struggles. I wanted no contact, but I hoped for a good, long, healthy life for him.  

Unfortunately, It wasn’t meant to be for him, and that saddens me greatly. 

I’m also surprised how lonely this grief feels. It’s not like I’m going to go around telling a bunch of folks (besides, ironically, my blog readers) that I’m so sad over the death of an ex-boyfriend who was emotionally toxic and who I split from nearly 10 years ago. I mean, life continued and worked out great for me, right? Sure his death is sad, but why am I sad? I’m sad because we shared a connection and there were good memories too, and although I couldn’t be with him, I genuinely wished him well.  

I imagine this kind of grief is similar to what my daughter and other adoptees may feel, not quite but a few parallels at least. It seems almost impolite to talk about it. I mean, sure you lost people, relationships, but adoption should’ve cured all those emotions and isn’t that great? Why are you still grieving?  I don’t mean to compare the loss of an ex-boyfriend to the loss of a parent and extended family, but the inability to express grief without folks questioning your grief at all—that, that somehow feels like there may be some parallels there.  

There is a longing for what could’ve been. There’s a longing for the change you hoped would happen but never did. There’s the sadness of the separation and the disappointment that reunion didn’t or couldn’t happen. Then there’s just the heaviness that it will never happen because they are just gone, forever gone. It’s painful, and yes, it’s lonely.  

Grief sucks. It sucks so badly.  

So, as I sit with these emotions and I ponder the connection between that man and the life I enjoy today, I am grateful for that experience and for his insertion in my life. I’m hopeful that he has found peace on the other side.  

To adoptees and others experiencing grief, however it comes to you, it’s ok to feel what you feel. You are not alone, and I hope that you are surrounded by people who get it, who get you, and who understand your pain and facilitate your healing.


#NAAM2018

I’m resting this month, recovering from weeks of travel and gearing up for the holidays. I’m exhausted mentally and physically so I’m taking a bit of time for some self-care. I’m also beginning to work through some big feelings I have about my and Hope’s attachment. No worries, we’re good and my recent post on this topic remains true, I’m just realizing that I have big feelings about our long game and what that looks like and what I should be doing to not muck it up. I’m taking some time to just roll that around in my mind.

I didn’t want the month to pass without acknowledging that it is National Adoption Awareness Month in the US. Five years ago this month I announced to my larger circle of friends and family that I was adopting and that I had already matched and met my daughter Hope. I was delighted and terrified, and I’m sure Hope was really emotional as well.

Since then I’ve learned to spend a bit more time during this month listening to adoptees and what they have to say about their experiences. Certainly, this is something I choose to do all the time, but I try to be really, really intentional about it this time of year.

So to that end, I’m just going to share an old podcast that Hope and I recorded for Add Water and Stir. It’s lovely to hear her voice and to have captured this chat with her. I am just so honored to have the opportunity to parent this amazing young woman. I’m proud of her and the woman she is becoming. She’s a really cool kid.

I’ll be back soon. In the meantime, listen to Hope and share her words—she still wants to be famous. 😊

Hope Shares Her Script

 

flipthescript


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