Tag Archives: Adoption and Bio Families

We Are Family

I grew up in a very traditional nuclear family. So did my parents. So did my grandparents. And so on, and so on. I remember thinking nothing of it.

Today all the folks we consider kinfolk has expanded dramatically. Adoption, marriage, babies, step kids…I often joke that we have duct taped and stapled folks to our family tree.

And that’s a good thing for all of us.

Over spring break we visited Hope’s side of the family. Previous visits were short,this one had us in the area for 3 days. It was worth all the driving and all the angst.

I’ve always known this but I see and know it more than ever now: There is something about being with your people that is incredibly powerful. Nature means folks look like you and sound like you, act like you. Hope’s biological relationship with her kinfolk is undeniable; she looks just like them.

We learned a lot about Hope’s family on this trip. I better understand why kinship adoption wasn’t the best fit and how that truth has nothing to do with love. I wish that things had been different for Hope and for them, but we can only look forward. On this trip I learned what it feels like to also be grafted into a family tree. I imagine that this isn’t quite what Hope felt, but maybe something along a parallel track.

This is the family visit when it all came together.

Well it did for me anyway. I think Hope is still trying to figure it all out. For us adults, we have life skills and emotional intelligence to make this work more easily. I see their love for my daughter; they see my love for their daughter. There doesn’t need to be any drama; we are a family and we’ll do what we have to in order to make it work for Hope because that’s what sensible grown folks do.

Hope still has some work to do in this area. She has quickly become territorial about aspects of the experience and even the chocolate cake her grandmother made because she knows I love cake. Hope isn’t a big fan of cake. It will likely go uneaten because I decided to just let it be her cake, which I know she will not eat (more on the cake in a separate post).

It is a strange thing for all the adults in a room brought together by the love of a child to get it together only to watch the child struggle.

My daughter was frustrated by the family desire to talk about her parents; she quietly complained that she didn’t want to talk about them unless they came up in conversation, but they did, a lot. My inner monologue also was running and said, “Well why the hell are we here if not to be around your family who will no doubt talk a lot about your parents???” I knew better than to ask that question out loud.

I relished in getting pictures of my daughter as a little girl with her parents, while she alternated between balking and sobbing at the imagery and demanding copies of everything. Mid-trip we talked about what it felt like to sit up at night and intensely study the pictures looking for resemblance and connection.

While I’m happy to have taken this trip, now that we are home I’m realizing the real emotional cost. It is hurts to know that my daughter doesn’t understand that there is enough love and loyalty to go around. There will be more questions, there will be more trips. I feel grafted into the family, but I’ve still got lots of questions and curiosity from my own biological family about “them.” If history is predictive, there will be big emotions. There will be clingyness. There will be pulling away. There will be anger. There will be just a lot of stuff. It exhausts me thinking about it.

But I would do it again. How could I deny Hope her family? How in good conscious could I do that? My emotional output is minimal compared to the opportunity to reconnect with family. To see her family delight in seeing her again, getting reacquainted, to have the chance to share childhood stories of her lost parent, to see themselves in her…it is a beautiful thing to witness.  This isn’t just for Hope; it’s for all of them.

We’ll visit again and again. I look forward to inviting them to visit, to graduations, to a wedding, to birthday parties and other events.

We are family.


ABM & DAI – The Sequel

I am so excited to share the second part of my series with The Donaldson Adoption Institute! In this post I discuss how same race adoptive families of color can also struggle with racial identity issues.  Sometimes class and race issues are socially tightly knit together.

For our children coming from hard places, becoming a part of a new family is a paradigm shift.  They may be struggling with big emotions like grief and fear; they are learning to be a part of a family that is likely a lot more functional that what they understand…there are new people, new schools, new everything. Often times there are also more resources.

My daughter Hope had a very different understanding of what it meant to be black before meeting me. It’s been a challenge for her to reconcile that black folk are not a monolith. Whether she or I want to admit it or not, the truth is that Hope is a solidly middle class kid now. Most of the time she seems comfortable with that, but in this Dondalson post I talk about when it’s not quick so easy for her.

Again, I’m delighted that the organization thought my voice was important and valuable. I’m totally jazzed that the good folks there have decided to feature my story as in honor of Black History Month.

Here is the link to the second of my two-part series over on the Donaldson Adoption Institute blog.  Be sure to stop by their Facebook page and hit them up on Twitter too!

dai

RACE, PRIVILEGE & FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS


Thoughts on Mothers’ Day

Hmmm. I thought I would feel different this mother’s day. Last year was my first Mother’s Day with Hope and we were traveling. I was so happy to get a nap last year. This year has been quiet. When Hope arrived home from school on Friday I announced that we weren’t doing anything that I didn’t want to do this weekend.

Umm, yeah, it’s Mother’s Day.

I’ve been a slug since then. I’ve been exhausted the last few weeks, and we didn’t have anything planned. I’ve watched lots of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. I bought myself some gourmet popcorn that I don’t intend to share. I took hour long walks and napped on the couch with Yappy.

Today, the actual holiday, I walked 3 miles, cuddled with Yappy, changed my bedding and did 2 loads of laundry. I think I might go out to shop for a couple of new workout tops since it’s time to put away the long sleeved stuff. I may get a slurpee—that blackberry ginger ale flavor is the business. I intend to cook bratwurst for dinner this evening. I like brats with lots of mustard.

Hope has largely been held up in her room, watching YouTube videos and the Disney channel since she hasn’t had TV for a few days.

It’s been quiet, and I’ve been thinking.

I’m glad to be a mom and all that, but I wonder what Hope’s birth mother is feeling and thinking today. I imagine she misses this beautiful young woman that I’m raising. I imagine that she wonders what she looks like now. I bet she wonders how she’s doing in school; she’s doing really quite well.

I bet she wonders where Hope is and whether she’ll ever see her again.

I want her to know that even though Hope struggles with her feelings about her; I don’t judge her. I don’t pretend to understand the series of events that led to Hope becoming my daughter, but I also don’t dwell on them more than I have to, no more than is necessary to help Hope heal. I regret that she couldn’t be what Hope needed her to be or that she couldn’t protect her from a bunch of foolery, but I can’t judge her.

And I can’t judge her or say anything bad about her because I hold out hope that one day, when she is healthy and happy that she will resurface in Hope’s life. I can’t hate her because I hope that Hope will one day not be so angry and that she will learn to forgive. I know I have to model that for her.

In a perfect world, years from now, we might even be friends as we watch Hope continue her life journey.

I don’t know if that’s realistic, but I hope to live in a way that at least allows for that option one day.

So, to Hope’s birth mother, I hope that wherever you are you know that Hope is safe and sound and that her second mom wishes you a happy mother’s day.


From Closed to Open

I owe a debt of gratitude to countless adult adoptees who have schooled me on this adoption thing in the last year. I’ve learned to respect my daughter’s intersecting and layered identities as an individual, as my daughter, as an adoptee, as someone who has a first family and a life that preceded me. I’m glad that I started reading their blogs, their tweets, their articles, watching their movies (Closure…if you haven’t seen it you should, just Netflix it). I’m glad that I didn’t knee jerk label them as angry, bitter, isolated bad experiences or anti-adoption. I’m glad I just shut my pie hole and listened.

I’m not sure when I really got hip to #flipthescript; certainly it was before the hashtag, but I’m not sure when I really started reading about the adoptee viewpoint.

That, some good therapy with Absurdly Hot Therapist, and lots of prayers to relieve me of anger and fear and to grant me patience and grace have helped me figure out how to pry my and Hope’s adoption open, at least a bit.

Credit: Open Clip Art

Credit: Open Clip Art

To a lot of outsiders, it may seem inconceivable to be inclusive of a first family in an adoption like ours. It’s complicated and I’d prefer not to share the entire story of Hope’s life to protect her privacy, but these were people that Hope knew as a child, visited during the summers, had fond and sometimes complicated memories about. These are people, her family, trigger strong reactions from her. And make no mistake they are her family.

I remember being totally freaked out when they found us on Facebook. Oy! It was hard. But, as I have written before, I had initiated a search for Hope’s family. I was curious. So it stands to reason that they would look for Hope. It was inevitable.

It was so very hard figuring out what to do. I struggled to construct some boundaries, some rules of engagement for the family. I struggled to figure out who in the family was “safe,” who did Hope really remember. I wrestled with what it must be like to be somewhat of a prodigal daughter, but one who didn’t hit the lotto when she was out there somewhere. I wondered whether Hope’s anger about being “lost” would fade; she was so angry about why no one fought for her or why they didn’t even call.

I struggled with how I was supposed to feel about it all. I still do, to be perfectly honest. There are so many things on an adoption journey that make you think, “I didn’t sign up for this ish.” I was deliberate in pursuing children who were in foster care but were legally free. I didn’t want to foster and give a child back (Kudos to you folks who are built for that calling; I am not), and I thought that legally free would mean I wouldn’t have to deal with the messiness of birth families. I mistakenly assumed I would have a closed adoption by default. I was absurdly naïve to miss the fact that Hope had a whole family out there somewhere and what if they found us? I didn’t start really thinking about it until Hope had been placed with me for a couple of months.

It’s nearly a year later. I’ve sent pictures and cards. Christmas gifts were exchanged. I finally spoke to an aunt and recently, after nearly 5 years, Hope spoke with her grandmother. In the moments I was monitoring the call; I ended up stepping away because the grief of missing my own grands was overwhelming. I can’t imagine what it was like for both of them. We hope to visit this summer, but I have a lot of negotiating to do to make sure my daughter is safe. Boundaries people, boundaries.

Recently I was sharing about how Hope and I are negotiating this family thing. My companion went in, ranting a bit about how they didn’t agree with my decision to open this adoption at all. Um, ok, didn’t ask, but ok.

I sat and listened to how this non-adoptee/non-adoptive parent discussed how they would feel in this situation (irrelevant, but ok), and what their friend who’s adoptive parent did (denied the child any information or contact until he was 18 and then he didn’t want it) and how I really should consult with professionals before doing what I’m doing.

Yeah, ok.   Thanks. You know, why don’t you have a seat…in fact, you can have all of the seats.

Opening adoptions that you thought were closed, even had hoped they were closed, is a really emotional thing. I can’t imagine having family, then one day just not having family and getting a new one. This isn’t what I thought it would be. But yeah, I’ve consulted with a lot of folks on how to handle this. Ultimately, I’m relying on my gut and my daughter’s readiness to connect. I’m not forcing it, but I deliberately keep the lines of communication and access open. I’ve got rules in place and everyone seems to be playing nice. Really, I want my daughter to be happy, to be well adjusted to this crazy life and able to love and be loved by as many people as can healthily love her back. And right now, that means a larger extended family.

Based on what I’ve read from adoptees, I think my approach is a good one. This doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it seems like a solid plan for now. My daughter is a kid, but she’s not a little kid. I respect her and understand her need for familial connection that’s biologically rooted. I get it. This isn’t about me, this is about her. It’s about figuring out who she is; Hope’s coming of age. I’m here to help her do that. Sometimes, that process is more complicated than we thought.

So Hope and I are slowly moving from a closed to open adoption, and all that comes with it. It’s complicated, but it’s good.


Searching for Self

The search for information about Hope’s family started a year ago for me. I starting digging for numerous reasons, I suppose, but mostly I was curious about how this kid ended up in my home instead of with her parents  or with some extended family.  I just couldn’t understand how somebody in her family couldn’t make a kinship adoption work.

Honestly, it is still a mystery to me on some levels, even if I now know–intellectually at least–why.

I poked around with the help of a friend on Hope’s father’s side of the family.  I had more information about him; I knew where he was from; I also had a better sense of who he was because Hope talks about him a lot.

All I have about Hope’s mother is her full name, nationality and a scattering of information in the adoption disclosure records.  Hope and her mother were separated when Hope was very young; there aren’t many memories to go on.

Hope has been wanting to get an account on Ancestry-dot-com. I’ve declined repeatedly.  Lots of reasons for that.  I know that as thirsty for information as Hope can be, that showing her the records I have managed to acquire over the last year, in what I hope is a safe, controlled environment still triggered some emotional tailspins.  And while that’s true, it’s is hard to say no to a kid who just wants to know who she is. Add to that the developmental teen years when identity development is so front and center, well…

This weekend Hope and I visited some family; at some point in my trip one of my sisters was cruising around looking for family on Ancestry.  It was a fascinating process, tedious too, uncovering some family history, maybe a secret or two and just seeing how far back we could go. I noted my own sister’s curiosity about our family.  Earlier in the day I had taken Hope to meet a family member who still lives in the same county, on the same property near where my mother was raised.  I spent a lot of my childhood there playing the fields, picking grapes and berries, listening to box fans whirl while propped in windows during the summer. These experiences in these places with my family are very much a core to who I am.

And just like that, unexpectedly, the tail end of Spring Break was all about family.

So, when Hope publicly asked me to sign up for Ancestry last night, in front of my family, I couldn’t say no; even though I am still not positive we are stable enough to handle what we might find.

So, on the way home, Hope and I talked. Talking about Hope’s mom is tough.  The feelings are raw; the viewpoint is unforgiving, the experiences and feelings are locked in a protective glass case.

I opened the case last night, cautiously. I shared what I knew; dropped a bombshell that I did know about Hope’s lineage. Then I spent a good 30 minutes talking to hope about grace and forgiveness sometimes being for our own benefit, and that I’m sure her parents would have been able to make different choices if different options were available; or if they thought/knew different options were available.  I tried to explain that systems are not always set up to help us in the ways we need to be helped.

Hope wondered what life for her would’ve have been like if her parents had the help and support they needed.  I remember how I felt rejected when the first time she said something like this; I don’t anymore.  I just feel sad because I wonder what life would’ve been like too, for all of us.

When we got home I showed Hope some more papers from her disclosure records that helped me know what I do know about her parents.  There are some things she wants to frame.

It was a bit shocking to me that she wanted to frame a copy of a copy of a document. But I get it. I just wish that we didn’t have to wait until she is 18 to get authentic copies of things she’s entitled too.  It infuriates me that I can’t request them on her behalf–after all, I am legally her mother now. I also know that these documents are important to Hope’s healing and development.

We also talked about what it might feel like to stumble upon some big information on Ancestry.  Was Hope ready?  Was she ok with that?  What would it feel like? Now she’s not so sure she’s ready to search for stuff.  It’s not that I don’t want her to search at all; it’s the uncontrolled environment that scares me.

Even more so, it’s the reaction to information and what it means for my coping with her coping that scares me.

Sounds pretty selfish, but honestly, other than in my own therapy and a couple of close friends, I don’t talk about what the emotional upheaval is like in my “real” life other than to say it’s hard and I’m still standing.

We go through some emotional stuff around these parts.  It’s sooooo much better than it used to be.  We’ve gotten better at processing it, but it is never easy. It takes a toll.

And I’d be lying if I said I wish I could avoid it, even though I know I can’t.

This family journey search will likely be one of the most important, most challenging, most enlightening, most shocking, most scary, most awesome journeys Hope and I will travel together.

I’m scared I won’t get it right.  I’m scared that whatever grace is needed from me will run out.  And yeah, to some degree, I’m scared that I might get rejected.

So, like many things I’m going to work on this behind the scenes for a while and see what I can find so that I’m prepped and ready to help Hope find herself–because that’s what this is really about, right?


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.

___________

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.

 


Mommy Time Out

So, I came unhinged today. Totally hit the wall and had to give myself a time out.

Vacationing with kids, I’m realizing, is a bit stressful. Vacationing with Hope has added layers of anxiety and messiness. I admit to being keyed up most of the time, waiting for, anticipating something to flip our lids. After my threats to leave the mouse trap, honestly she was great, and we had an enjoyable time away. The bugs, while they frightened her, did not trigger a full on meltdown. Hurricane Arthur delayed us by about 6+ hours in getting home, but in the end, we took it all in stride. We headed down to fetch The Furry One and ended up coming home last night.

That’s it. Vacation over. Time to jump back into reality.

But at some point today, I realized that I’m just not okay. I slept late, and the circles under my eyes are lighter than they’ve been in a while. I had great plans to go to church, hit the Costco, maybe take Hope to the library and veg out on the couch for a while. Yeah, but none of that happened. Instead, I became irritable right after breakfast. I was cranky, blue, frustrated and just really should’ve went back to bed and pulled the covers back over my head.

The last few days one of Hope’s family members has just bombarded me with messages about all manner of things. I just haven’t responded. I couldn’t. It was just too much, too soon. One family member sends messages in the middle of the night, midday, whenever. There are pleas with phone numbers and email addresses. Shout outs that she’s praying for us. Did I know she had whatever medical condition? Didn’t I want to know why she couldn’t step in with Hope? The whole family is waiting for information. They are heartbroken, elated, impatient, waiting, oh respectful, but why the devil didn’t you hit me back yet on Facebook? Last night’s midnight message begged me to call the grandmother and there was a lengthy story to go with it. Her message also gave me a head’s up that there was family bickering going on about me and Hope. #jesusbeabrickwallofprivacysettings

I have dug deep into my empathy well and tried to imagine what it must be like to find your family member who was lost to you and now found. I don’t downplay what that must feel like. I know my own grandmothers’ hearts would have burst from joy had I been lost and somehow was found. I get the Amazing Grace and Prodigal Son analogies. There must be a joyfulness and a bit of frustration in understanding why I just won’t call and put Hope on the phone.

But their emergence from the depths has just really rocked my world. I have a pit in my stomach, and I get somewhat nauseous with every new development. I hate not telling Hope yet; I feel like I’m lying by omission, but I need time to get the support team up to speed; it’s a holiday weekend.  I am trying to figure out how to tell Hope, which I know will just be straight up, because that’s how we do. The family is supposed to send some of her father’s belongings; I kind of want to wait so that I have those things. I’m just trying to figure it all out. I’m beyond overwhelmed.

I’m also trying not to be afraid of the box of crazy that it feels like has just opened in the middle of a slightly more settled life with Hope. No really, I’m terrified. Seriously one week of Facebook messaging and I see folks not respecting boundaries and spilling the beans on family bickering…about us, no less. And it’s just so much, so much. I can’t even get a good cry. Ugh.

So, as we were off to church, Hope went into one of her attention seeking spells—the infamous “I have an ear infection and cannot swallow and am now dying” routine. These spells still burn my house to the ground; I used to be able to predict them, but now they just seem so random. I usually ignore them until she pivots to a more appropriate way of getting my attention. But today, already peeved and riled up by the Facebook drama, I pulled over and, just as dramatically as her spell came on, dramatically announced that we were going to Patient First to see about her ear, nose and throat.

“Oh, I’m not that sick,”Nah, girl, we’re still going because I’m fed up with the ruse. #overit

Two hours and thirty minutes later, I’m out of a co-pay, burned my cell battery down playing bubble poke while waiting for the doctor to tell us in about 7 minutes what I knew all along: not a dang thing is wrong with Hope, who then pivoted to a spasm story—her backup ruse—which was also quickly dismissed by the doctor.

I sat there all that time getting increasingly annoyed by everything. I was annoyed by all the messaging. I was annoyed by Hope’s collection of feigned illnesses that drive m up the effing wall. I was annoyed that the budget is tight this month and a co-pay wasn’t really planned for. I was annoyed that my diagnosis of “Kid with no physical maladies” was confirmed. I was annoyed by how long we had to wait. I was annoyed that we missed church and I really needed to throw myself in prayer on the altar. I was pissed about not going to Costco and the library. I was just pissed about everything in the world.

Oh I’d worked myself into quite the quiet lather.

And then, while sitting in the treatment room waiting for the doctor to discharge us, one of the aunts sent me a Facebook game invitation and all common sense and any shred of adulthood I might have once had went flying right out the window.

Really, lady? A Facebook game invite. Get off my damn Facebook page right now, dammit, lady. #getoffmylawn I had already put the whole lot of folks in a limited access group after friending me. For some reason it was that dang invite that just tipped me right over into emotional chaos. I block every game request I get from anyone. I hate those damn things.

And sadly, poor Hope was the one that just got iced out. She thought I was mad at her, especially after her faux illnesses were called out; I was annoyed but not mad at her and I told her so. I broke down into unexplainable tears on the drive home. She comforted me, and I told her she could watch a movie while I just retreated into my personal space to gather myself after sufficient guilt-tripping, self-loathing. #mommytimeout

I think I’ll get us to make brownies or cookies or something tonight. We need a bit of healing bonding. Sigh. I think I need the resumption of our routine tomorrow as much as she does. Here’s hoping tomorrow—with the Bey & Jay concert for me—will push us to better days.


Podcasts and Vacations, Oh My!

Ahhhh, with some distractions in my life (vacation and the emergence of the bio family), I have neglected to blog about the Add Water and Stir podcast!
Yes, Mimi from ComplicatedMelodi and I made like Kool and the Gang and “got down on it” with our inaugural podcast last week. The description? BAM:

This is the inaugural episode of Add Water and Stir, a new podcast devoted to exploring adoption in communities of color.  Hosts AdoptiveBlackMom (ABM) and ComplicatedMelodi (Mimi) share how they came to be adoptive parents, and they delve into how their adoption stories differ from the mainstream adoption conversation.  Show highlights include receiving the child’s disclosure records, “passing” in same race adoptive families and the shade associated with parenting children of trauma.

Mimi says a write purty. She’s very kind.

Anyhoo, if you want to kill some time and check us out over the US holiday week/weekend, you can find us in these streets on YouTube:

On the podcast page:

addwater3

Click me to reach the page!

Or at the actual podcast location for Episode 1.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/addwaterandstir/AWAS_001.mp3

We’re podcasting live every two weeks, be sure to check us out on July 10 at 10pm EST/9pm CST.

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In other news…

Hope and I are vacationing in Florida this week, enjoying the joy that is humidity and messy thunderstorms. We visited the Magic Kingdom yesterday which was plagued by a massive deluge as we arrived. After shelling out a couple of hundred bucks to get in, another $20 for obnoxious ponchos I was ready to make the best of the day and make some magic happen.

Hope wanted to wallow in self-pity.

“Woe is me.” “Whenever I want to do something it never works out.” “The world is against me.” “God doesn’t like me.”

Ok, so like Michelle Obama, there’s one thing I don’t do well, and it’s this: wallowing.  No ma’am. I allow moments of wallowing self-pity, but they are moments. I collect myself and move on. Hope LIVES at an emotional address called 1234 Self-Pity Street, The Universe Revolves Around Me, VA; USA. It drives me nuts and is a total buzz killer. #icant I know that so much has happened and not happened in her life that it has created this address for her, but I do not live there.

So, I told her she got one pass for wallowing, but that was it because I know the rain was disappointing.  But wasn’t the end of the world. We were at Disney, dammit. Pretend to be happy, put some positive energy in the universe and live in the moment. #powerofpositivethinking #thesecret

During the next mini storm, Hope went in hard on the wallowing. And I lost my shiz. What I wasn’t fitting to do was listen to misery all day after spending a grip to get here when we could still have a good time. I read her the riot act about killing the vibe, refusing to have fun and getting on an emotional plane back to Self-Pity Street.

I also threatened to leave. Oh, but I did.  I threatened to pull the plug on that giant mouse trap and didn’t blink about it either.

Now if you’ve never been to Disney World, you should know that it’s incredibly hard to stalk off in a huff after threatening to leave when you need to walk a mile to the monorail and then catch a tram to your parking lot. I mean you need a serious, “you pissed me off and we’re leaving” face for at least 40 minutes. But Hope also knows that while I am responsible and serious about money, I don’t fret over money that has already left my wallet, so if we needed to leave after dropping a grip to get up in Disney, then stalk on the monorail and tram I would… with a resting b*tch face I would. And there would be no stopping at any gift shops on the way out. #noearsforyou #herfacetho

Then I made like Elsa and went all Frozen for 30 minutes. I quietly went, with her in tow, to get something to eat, checked the FastPass situation for the cancelled rides, and sat on a bench while I got myself together and gave her time to get herself together to. Then we went on It’s a Small World After All. And all was again right with the world. We had a great time with no more drama. She got her ears and her dog Pluto and had a great, great time.

Negative talk is a big problem for Hope, and one that I’m constantly working on with her. It may sound harsh, but she has a flair for the dramatic so I have to go in hard with her. I’m proud of her for choosing to enjoy Disney.

In Hope’s family news, I checked in with all those family members who contacted her, let them know that their friend requests were denied, messages erased, they’ve been privacy blocked from her page and that they needed to come through me if they want to eventually have contact with Hope. I would determine when and how that would happen. So far the response has been respectful and understanding, but I can’t help not trusting them. We’ll see where things go, and I hope that one day Hope and her family will have a good relationship, but for now I’m going to keep tight reins on this situation.

Well, back to sunning myself with Hope and the friends we’re visiting. Peace out!


That Dang Facebook

So, we’ve all read how social media can be a pain in the butt. It’s been blamed for the demise of countless relationships. Irresponsible posts have ruined friendships, busted up families. Heck, if we include blogging in the larger context of social media I have to own my own drama, with how I fell out with my own mother after expressing my anger and frustrations on this very blog.

Hope has a Facebook account. Now I wasn’t particularly a fan of this, but she already had one when she was placed with me. Her therapist encouraged me to allow her to continue using it to keep in touch with friends from back home. The truth is that she really is not really on it much; when she is on Facebook, she’s looking at Justin Bieber posts and absurd short videos of the latest dance moves.   I check her page regularly. I log on as her to check her private messages too.

A few days ago, I got a friend request from a complete stranger. Now usually I dismiss these quickly. I keep my privacy settings pretty high and rarely get such requests from folks without a mutual friend or acquaintance. For some reason I didn’t act on the request and just let it sit for a day or so. Last night I actually clicked it and reviewed the sender.

That dang Facebook. Damn if the sender wasn’t Hope’s paternal aunt. Sigh. Panic set in. I’ve never felt panicked before about Hope’s biological family.

A few weeks ago, I set out to search for them so that I would have information to share with her at some point. I want her to know about her family and to decide what kind of relationship she wants or doesn’t want. Her mother is out of the picture and her father is deceased. She was closer to the latter and I’ve always created a lot of space for her to talk about him. She wonders aloud about them ever so often. I’ve never felt threatened—emotionally or otherwise—by her biological family. But this all felt like an invasion of epic proportions.

I logged out and logged into Hope’s account to find that half a dozen paternal family members had sent friend requests and a couple of messages, including one from this aunt, were in her private “other” message box. The messages talked about how happy they were to find her and just kind of jumped into conversation like nothing happened.

I deleted the friend requests. I deleted the messages. Then I sat down for the first of a couple of sad cries.

I thought, I will take a day or two to figure out what to say to these folks. How do I protect Hope? How do I talk to her about this? How do I wrap my own brain around how these folks could reach out to her, send her messages without consulting me and most of all—WTH (W=Where) were they for the last 4 years when she was in foster care? And where were you when she had a failed kinship placement with one of y’all bamas a few years ago…talking ‘bout some, you wondered where she was and how she was doing? GTFOH!

I don’t know if I have the right to ask some of these questions of them, but dammit where were they when she was floating around?

I hate thinking about how I’m going to eventually talk to Hope about this; I will but I don’t know how right now. I rather talk to her about anything else under the sun.

I’ll take another awkward sex chat, Alex, for $2000.

Oh, and I do not want to talk to these people. At least I do not want to talk to these people right now. I owe them nothing, right? Oh, and for the record I don’t care what they think of me. That’s not a part of my freakout.

The rush of emotions is overwhelming. I am angry that they would send her messages directly and not even think they needed to come through me. I am scared that they will persist in trying to contact her without my ok. I am sad that I feel the need to protect Hope from her biological family. I am empty headed about what any kind of relationship might look light, never mind how long it will take to get there.

So, when I awoke from a nap earlier yesterday to find a direct message through Facebook from her aunt, I freaked out again. She thanked me for taking care of Hope, and she said how she’d looked for Hope for years. She then started telling me how she’d reached out to her on FB and gave me contact information to pass along to Hope.

This was one of the few times in my life when I had chest pains. I decided to use a life line and call my sister, who validated my emotional free fall.

I eventually wrote back to her. I explained that I saw her messages and all the family friend requests to Hope. I explained how upsetting this could be and why. I confirmed that Hope is entitled to relationship with her biological family, but that right now we need some more time. I asked her to cease contacting Hope directly and to kindly ask her other family members not to either. They can contact me and I will determine when and how their contact with Hope will happen. I promised to give her some updates from time to time.

She wrote back that she understood and would respect my wishes. But will the others? I feel like I might’ve started a game of Whack-a-Mole with folks just popping up.

I will broach this with Hope sometime this summer. I discuss it with our Absurdly Hot Therapist and see what he says about this.

I want her to have this family; but I don’t trust them. I don’t trust them at all and I don’t want them to hurt her or us. I didn’t really sign up for a forced open adoption; so this is all a shock. I’m glad that we are finalized and that I feel like I’ve got the papers to legally shape what happens next. That doesn’t really help the pit in my stomach but it’s a start.


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