Tag Archives: Adoption and Emotions

Ten Years

Yesterday, Hope and I observed the 10th anniversary of her moving in and me taking custody.

I knew the day was coming, but I wasn’t intentionally keeping up with it. And then, last night a fleeting thought crossed my mind…

“Wait, is today the day? We probably missed it.”

::Looks at calendar::

Oh damn, today is the day.

So, I sent Hope a text.

Our celebration.

It is pretty crazy. In many ways it flew by, I flipped thru her graduation pictures recently. And then there’s evidence of the struggles, each one feeling like it was its own eternal path.

I see the nearly totally gray head of hair. The few new moles on my cheeks. The meds and supplements I take now that I didn’t take then (I’m looking at you, raggedy arse Estrogen that I can’t seem to live without about 15 days or of month, but I digress).

Hope is a legal adult now. She’s so different than the little kid who sat on my cousin’s floor on Thanksgiving and looked the sole of her own foot for an hour desperately willing our attention. What I didn’t know then, but I know now is that When Hope didn’t get enough attention she will have us at the urgent care within 24-36 hours. After a couple of years of unnecessarily dramatic ER trips, I have to try really hard not to be skeptical when she says she’s not feeling well. I know my kid, I swear I’ve experienced so much that I struggle with empathy desensitization. Not proud of it.

Hope is a early twenty something with tats and a nose piercing, a huge head of natural hair, who loves her body, is trying to figure this next chapter out, wanting so much more freedom and never admitting that she knows she’s not ready for it but all her peers are doing all the things.

And our 9th year…

Our 9th year was as difficult as the first 2 years. Now that I think of it, they were mirrors. How the problems manifested differently, but the core issue? Trust and attachment? Yeah.

I’ve been meaning to create a new vision board for the year. The years that I have done them, consistently the things came to pass within 2.5 years. The last one I created was in 2020 before the pandemic. And despite the pandemic, much of it has come to fruition in its own way. But during these 3 years I’ve also experienced some dark emotional stuff that’s made me so different from the person I was 3 years ago. So it’s something I need to do to recapture my bearings. I’ve felt rudderless for some months now.

Some of that is because I’ve been really working hard to process these years. Some of my absolute worst fears came true, just one devastating trauma after another. Every damn year. I’d think, Aye, it’s been two months and we might have leveled out. But, no.

So I’m hitting it hard in therapy these days and wrestling with that stuff hasn’t gotten to the much better phase quite yet. It’s better, much ‘much’ is a stretch.

I’m also seriously considering what it would be like if I did the work I do with some other group or freelance. What would it be like to drive hard for 3-5 years and walk away. I legit feel a deficit in my lifespan after last year especially. I’m feeling like a stretched too far hair tie when the elastic is clearly broken but we just pretend that it still works perfectly.

Yeah, like that.

So I’m trying to figure out financially what’s possible and then after a year or so of nothingness but granting my within-budget heart’s desire, what then? What will make me happy and fulfilled. What level of financial freedom will I have? What’s next?

And how does Hope figure into the plan? Will she be able to create a fully independent life? What other things can I do now to help her scaffold and construct her adult life

So there’s quietly a lot going on over here. Hope is doing well, getting a job really helps emotionally. And I’m just figuring out just what I went thru last year and how do I recover and regain my confidence. It’s easy to say I wouldn’t do xx again when you couldn’t think of anything better so…?

So anyway, I’m ok. We’re ok. We survived together.

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Things I Got So Wrong

Of course, I’ve worked hard to be a good parent, but like so many there are countless things I have done, still do, and probably forever will do wrong.

And by wrong, I mean, I effed up, and added more trauma and drama to the mix. I did my best with what I knew at the time, but like many things, more days of living leads to more knowledge–usually about the ways you effed up, but still more knowledge.

I came across this video on TikTok recently.

Whew, was I hit in the gut. Now, this wasn’t my consistent approach to parenting, but from the start, Hope leveraged illness as a way to get attention. We were regulars at the local hospital ER and at the urgent care when I could not continue to justify the $100 hospital co-pay and additional doctor bills.

It was almost always a stomach ache that triggered the visits. Consistently, the diagnosis was dehydration or no diagnosis at all. It was always an unfulfilling medical visit–for her, no diagnosis meant no sympathy attention and for me no diagnosis meant here we go again.

I’m a GenXer with numerous medical conditions that I just grin and bear it through. I admit, like the video–I have adapted to my limitations, accepted them, and found ways around them. I could never understand why Hope wouldn’t just push through.

Eventually, it became easier to dismiss the tummy ache or encourage her to shake it off. Then she actually had kidney stones, but she was unwilling to make a few modifications to prevent future attacks. It was frustrating–she was finally legitimately sick and wouldn’t do anything to help herself.

Then the pandemic hit and drove through the two of us like a buzzsaw. So many traumatic things have happened during these three years; ironically none of them were COVID-related. She got very sick a few times during this time and tests revealed some truly serious medical issues. I was always frustrated because Hope was unwilling to pursue treatments, and of course, I took that to mean maybe it wasn’t so bad.

But it was. All of it fed into our upheaval this year, and I bear the bulk of the guilt around why. Try as I might, I wasn’t able to consistently be the mom she needed. I was dismissive. I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t meet the challenges. I was angered by her refusal to see her part in her health improvement.

She made a few videos about me and my lack of empathy, which initially made me double down in my own foolishness. Now, many months later, I see my own role in our struggles so differently.

I thought I was meeting her where she was, but I wasn’t. The expectations were definitely not aligned with her capacity levels. Not at all. I kick myself often about how I stopped taking her complaints seriously and then wasn’t able to respond the way she needed. Sure, she was trying to get my attention with the medical shenanigans, but I was so wrong to expect her to behave completely rationally when she was really testing my ability and willingness to embrace her as she was and is. And, well, those tests were completely rational to her.

I’ve been working on my own alignments this last month in particular. It’s like I had some awakenings on things that just were not working in my parenting. It’s all resulted in a nice list of things to work on in therapy, like why does that attention-seeking behavior trigger me so? What daily things can I do to reduce her need for such behavior?

Even with Hope being a young adult; I’m still actively parenting. I’m realizing that there was a part of me that assumed the heavy lift would be over with Hope nicely ensconced in college somewhere. I did so much of my growing away from my parents’ watchful eyes while away at school. Hope is home; I’m seeing it all from the front row. It’s difficult to know when to intervene and when not to because the “adulting” line can be so murky at this age. It’s like jumping into a double dutch jumping session; and I have trouble jumping rope with one rope, much less two.

I’m continuing to work on being a better parent and I’m fortunate that Hope notes my efforts; even when I fail miserably, which is invariably often. All these years later, I’m still figuring this parenting thing out. I’m hopeful that I will continue to grow and break cycles of dysfunction for myself and my daughter. None of this is easy, but it is necessary.

Onward.


Turning the Corner

We seem to have really, genuinely turned the corner at Casa d’ABM! I lowkey had kinda lost hope that we would ever get back to some semblence of normalcy around here after so much drama this year.

And yet we have.

After so many months of festering anger, bickering, fighting, crying and so much more, Hope and I are clawing our way to our version of normal. And it feels so good.

You barely remember how gloriously boring normal is unless you’ve been mired in conflict for so long. I finally feel like I can breathe.

It’s been a few weeks since Hope finally seemed to emotionally regulate. I’m not fooling myself into believing all the angsty, emotional feelings are gone, but it seems she has a much better handle on things these days.

In fact, she recently decided to try out some medication. She hasn’t agreed to therapy yet, but I’m totally gassed up that she was able to decide that she needed some help through medication. I am optimistic that a return to therapy will happen in time.

Moving out has been removed from the discussion now. She’s not ready, not to mention she’s still unemployed. The skill set just isn’t there yet. She’s also been able to better articulate what’s overwhelming her. What I’m trying to say is, I finally see effort from her. That effort is allowing me to stretch a lot more than I’ve been willing to in recent months.

It also means I’m able to make some holiday decisions and move forward with other plans I need to make about 2023. These last few months just made me feel trapped with respect to planning things for next year. I finally feel like I can plan without upsetting her in ways that will set us back.

The big lesson learned: connection. It always comes back to connection. More than anything, Hope wants to feel connected and accepted as she is. I know that there will be more boundary pushing, but I think I’m a bit better equipped to handle it now.

My biggest hope for 2023 at this point is for Hope to fully embrace needing help with some things, that neither of us feel trapped in a toxic cycle, and that we will continue to work to be our version of normal and something akin to happy.

That still feels like a lot to hope for. The pain and trauma of this year are real, and my heart still hurts a lot. But I do have hope for the direction we’re headed in. And for now, that’s a good thing.


Onward

It’s the day after Labor Day in the US, and that marks the beginning of fall. It’s my least favorite season. I mean, I love the clothing evolution–booties and cozy sweaters–but emotionally it tends to be one of my most challenging times of any year.

Despite my best efforts, I usually succumb to depression by the time winter rolls in. I’m kinda nervous because I know I’m already a bit down, so it’s going to take extra effort and intention not to fall down the rabbit hole.

I kinda chuckle at the irony of needing to fight depression, when the absolutely LAST thing you feel like doing when you’re depressed is to fight anything. It’s just so much easier to lay down into it.

But, I’m pushing forward and creating some things to look forward to and work on.

I relaunched my little crochet Etsy storefront–I sell sweaters, blankets, and other handmade items for dogs/cats. I also do baby blankets on commission as well.

I’ve initiated a modest master bath renovation. I’m costing it out and of course “modest” is really, really subjective. The highlight of the upgrades is an electric bidet on a “comfort height” toilet. Seriously, I’ve had a non-electric one for years and love it, but I DESERVE less of a squat, heated water, and warm air on my aging tushie.

I’ve scheduled a beach trip for next month, and if I can get my Mr. to take a few days off, I’m hoping we can do a long weekend in a glamping situation.

I’m also trying to pull myself together to modestly increase my workouts, schedule massages, and check out a local stretching studio. (If you are on Fitbit, hit me up. I’m all about the weekly challenges!)

I’m trying y’all. I’m doing what I can to keep my head up.

And yet, things still are what they are in terms of the home. I miss the way things were with Hope. I hate that we have this conflict that has cracked us apart. Last week in therapy I started out saying, “Hey, I think I’m doing ok; I seem to have a handle on things.”

Narrator: And then she cried for an hour.

The grief is just overwhelming sometimes. I’m constantly hoping on the 3 days I go into the office, that things will be and feel different at home when I return. They don’t.

I know some of this is growing pains. I know that some of it is the long tenacles of trauma–hers and mine. I know some of this is untreated mental health. I know some of it is both of us being headstrong and deeply, deeply hurt.

I’ve written many times about being a fixer. Daily, I have to talk myself down from *fixing* us. I know that this is something I can’t fix. I know that all the things I would usually do to fix things will not work; they would potentially make things easier in the short term, but I doubt a “fix” would hold more than a few days. I also know that “fixing” things would mean that I would have to go back on my word; I know for a variety of reasons that would not help things in the long haul.

So, while I grieve the loss of the closeness I had with my daughter, I feel helpless too.

I anticipate that the intensity of these feels will only grow the closer we get to the end of the year. I seriously have no idea what will happen to us on New Years 2023. I do not know if Hope will be ready to move out. She has made it clear she doesn’t want to discuss it, so it just looms over us…kind of like a guillotine. And it makes me feel guilty, not because I do not believe the consequences are appropriate. No, I feel guilty because I fear she really isn’t ready and that she is willing failure to prove to both of us that all she’s capable of. I stay researching alternatives, solutions that will head us off to a different resolution.

And yet, I know that the course we are on…is what it is right now. I’m really trying to be helpful, loving, affirming and a believer in her capacity to do great things. I know she can, but I don’t know if she knows she can.

So, another week has passed. There are other updates, but they aren’t mine to share. I can say that I know that Hope has had great opportunities for explanation and healing of past trauma recently. I’m hopeful that seeds are planted and that they will bloom in the coming months. I’m hopeful for the continued sense of peace, or at least detente, in our home. I’m hopeful for a lot right now.

So, for this week, the motto is simply: Onward.


Just Breathe…

Time flies, doesn’t it? Seems like posted more recently, but alas, almost two weeks!

Things are kinda stable right now. I guess.

It’s hard to definitively say that they are because I so traumatized by the events of the last couple of months. It’s hard to buy into the fact that there hasn’t been an eruption in a couple of weeks.

I’ve been trying to resume normal activities, but it’s hard, My anxiety is high. My depression is dark. I’m exhausted, always exhausted. I break out in hives every day because I’m so stressed.

A few posts ago a follower inboxed me to suggest looking into a particular mental health issue. At the time, I just couldn’t because I was so overwhelmed. Ha! I’m still overwhelmed, but it kept swirling in the back of my mind. At the beginning of last week, another mental health provider suggested the same potential diagnosis, and so like the nerd I am, I got to reading.

I devoured websites, podcasts, Instagram, and TikTok accounts. I joined an online FB group for parents. I felt like this information was so helpful in trying to understand what was happening with my daughter. I consulted with Hope’s provider, who said, yeah, she meets the criteria, but he wasn’t ready to diagnose.

For serious?

Oh, ok. I mean, I get it but help me out here dude.

In any case, I know that Hope would reject the diagnosis anyway, so….yeah.

As for me, I’m proceeding with approaches that are consistent with what I’ve read. It’s hard, but I needed some kind of framework to move forward. I’m not *looking* to pathologize my daughter; I’m just really trying to give myself some scaffolding to help me meet her current needs. And after a couple of months of feeling completely lost, information about a possible diagnosis feels like a gotdamn GPS appeared out of thin air.

Hope has been going through a lot. She’s really emotional. She occasionally does things to try to provoke me (So far I’ve successfully kept my cool), but mostly she’s just moving the way she usually does. Of course, all that had me concerned before the summer started. I’m sadly not new to this; I’m true to this.

My family has so many questions:

Why are you sitting down with her to make monthly goals? (Because I do not have a deathwish.)

Should she really go visit her biological family? (I’ve made the primary contact fully aware of the current situation; we’re on the same page and Hope needs all the love and support she can get right now.)

Why doesn’t she have a job? (Because she doesn’t.)

Why isn’t she in school? (Because she isn’t.)

No. No you may not.

It’s honestly my least favorite part about this whole thing. I told my peeps right at the outset, there were going to be decisions that you won’t agree with, decisions that seem tough or harsh, and I don’t want to hear your thoughts on them because you ain’t living 24-7 in this here house. It’s just like biting into a cake that appears to be drizzled with chocolate, but upon tasting you realize it’s really motor oil. Ugh. Just say you love us and send love and chocolate without all the questions.

But, here we are. I’m just trying to be as gracious as possible because without them I would crumble. So, I take the good with the questioning and make it work.

I don’t know what will happen next. I still am reeling from the trauma of it all. My heart hurts because I have new knowledge of what Hope’s thought processes underpin her behavior: It’s fear. It’s always been fear. It might always be fear. I’m consumed with fear as well. I’m just hopeful that at some point I can steer us towards a path that offers us more support.

For now I’m counting breaths and just trying to push forward.


So Many Shoes

Things are mimicking something akin to normal. The time I had away last week was good for me and Hope.

Hope attempted to push some boundaries, and I decided to just give no reaction. One boundary really, really pissed me off, but I just kept those emotions to myself.

It’s been a quiet week.

But I’m still so incredibly anxious. My partner got to see the full scope of my anxiety in the last week. It’s good he’s a calming presence because I can only imagine he was a bit like, whoa!

For her part, Hope was just…something like normal?

No.

No really.

I got home to a totally different person.

So, yeah. It’s fine. We’re fine. It’s fine.

Narrator: It isn’t fine, tho.

I’m kind of having a mini-meltdown every day because I’m so traumatized by the last few months that I am unable to cope with this sudden change.

It’s like, if you were to see life in a mirror. It’s all the same, right? Wrong, everything is there and totally backwards.

That’s what I feel like I’m experiencing right now.

I swear I felt like there was a possibility that she might disappear while I was gone, and I’d never see or hear from her again. It was that fraught in our home.

I’m trying to enjoy the calm, but the energy is way off.

I’m trying to enjoy the calm, but I’m waiting for another shoe to drop on what feels like conjoined octopi. #somanyfeet #somanyshoes #somanydropping

My nerves are bad y’all. My muscles feel like rubber bands. My shoulders could double as earlobes. And those neck muscles that run behind the ear down the neck? They just ache.

But I’m working on keeping it all together. My gut tells me I can’t afford to have my own emotional meltdown at the moment.

Beyond my own reactions to this chapter, I worry incessantly about Hope I have no idea how she’s experiencing all this, how it feels for her. It’s disorienting to me, so I imagine it must be really hard for her to navigate all her feelings and behaviors.

I’m hopeful that this period of peace is long and settles into an authentic peace.

Hopeful. It’s also feels naively ridiculous because I *know* there is a shoe dropping somewhere in a forest right now. I might not hear it or see it, but I know that ripple will hit our doorstep at some point.

I really hope things get better, that she has the opportunity to make different choices, and to learn to give herself some love and help. I hope she chooses to find support in health ways, with healthy people.

I’m just so worried.

In other news, the one steady freddy in the house is Yappy. He was pretty freaked out by a few significant episodes over these last few weeks, but he’s the most resilient of all of us. He just serves up unconditional love all the time. He is more bonded with me, but he always makes time to see about Hope, napping in her room and getting super excided when she comes home or out of the bathroom (yeah, the bathroom. He’s got terrible separation anxiety.) He’s been a common focus the whole time, so Hope and I do have that.


The Wild Fire Continues

I wish I could say things are improving at Casa d’ABM, but alas things continue to decline.

In our most recent episode, I had to lay down a consequence that I wish wasn’t necessary. I knew it would be devastating. I knew it would feel like rejection for my daughter. I knew it would likely damage our relationship, hopefully only temporarily.

I consulted with medical and mental health professionals beforehand.

Of all the things Hope and I have been through, this is without question the most difficult, the most hurtful, the most damaging, and just the most heartbreaking.

I feel helpless.

I feel rejected.

I hurt so bad that it physically hurts.

I can’t fix anything.

And so I just have to keep going.

I know that Hope feels all this too, probably more and probably even more intensely, if that’s possible.

These next few months will be so hard. I don’t know what to expect. I have no template, no guideposts.

I have a great support team at the ready. I have resources that could be used to ease things, but it would be like papering over the challenges. We have the support of our family and friends.

And yet, I know that both of us feel very alone.

There are a lot of things I wish I had done differently over the last few months, but I don’t know if it would change our outcomes. I saw this collision coming, and it always seemed unavoidable. I did my best. I’m trying to play the long game.

I love Hope. I want her to be safe. I wish she could be happy; she’s told me before that she’s had moments of happiness, but generally it’s never been a persistent state. I want her to have the life she deserves, which is more than I could ever dream of. She deserves the universe.

I’ve learned these last few months that she doesn’t believe she deserves that. I’ve learned that her belief in our permanence as a family was always questionable. I’ve learned that she sees herself as broken beyond repair. I’ve learned that despite everything, she doesn’t believe she is worthy.

These revelations are just devastating on so many levels. I thought I knew how she was really doing. I thought I had created space for her healing somewhat. I thought if nothing, she knew I was her forever ride or die, even if I had to allow her to feel the full impact of consequences for her behavior. I also naively thought we had sidestepped so many challenges other families had experienced.

And yet, here we are, in a place having the experience that I tried my best to prevent.

Trauma is a whole bitch.

I believe Hope and I will get through this. I know the relationship will probably look so different in the future—though right now, my priority is to maintain any connection she will agree to. I believe she will go on to have a good life after this chapter. But right now, we are in the chapter that has all of the conflict, all of the sadness, all of the brokenness, all of the devastation.

Our home is currently not an oasis for either of us.

This weekend I’m away on business. I was excused from the trip, given all that is going on at home. I chose to go in order to give both of us a bit of space and time to just breathe without being on top of one another. We’re just doing “proof of life” communications at the moment.

Please continue to keep us, especially my beautiful girl, in your positive thoughts and prayers if you’re into that kind of thing. We need every shred of positive energy we can gather.


Hat Pin Legacy

When I entered adulthood, my mom gave me a hat pin. I’m sure I put it somewhere super safe, which is code for do not ask me where said hat pin is!

Her mother, my grandmother, wore hat pins. As the story goes, back in the day–we’re talking 1930s/40s–hat pins were all the rage. Not only were they fashionable, but they were small weapons women could use to defend themselves against untoward behavior from men. You put them between your fingers and it’s rather hard to get away from you, but that pin can do a little damage.

The dude gets handsy, and you simply reach up, pull that pin, and poke them a few good times.

No more handsy.

So, my grandma told my mom, and my mom told me.

Now anyone who knows my mom also knows that she will try to stab with keys poked between fingers or whatever she might get her hands on. She’s a fan of the hat pin, even though I’m not sure I can ever recall her really wearing one. She doesn’t wear hats…but I digress.

She gave me a hat pin to potentially use as a weapon. I am the third generation of this hat pin saga, which I thought was pretty cool.

So, at some point, I told Hope about the hat pin. She thought it was absurd, really. And, she’s probably not wrong, nearly 100 years later, one might ask how effective might a hat pin really be at warding off an attacker.

During an outing to a jewelry show years ago, a vendor had lovely long hat pins and I decided to gift myself a new one and also get Hope her first pin. I made a big deal about it because it’s really a family tradition at this point. For Hope’s part, she was like, “Um, that’s cool; they are pretty.”

Fast forward a few years to this past weekend. Hope was showing me her outfit on Saturday as she was about to head out to her first Pride event with friends. She had on a black Pride tunic that was open in the front but closed with sexy safety pin closures–you could see her bra. She wore short biker shorts with black fishnets and boots. I had to remind myself that this ensemble was practically a church outfit compared to what would be visible out at the parade.

As she started getting her things together to head out; I asked all the usual mom questions about who are you going with, and what time can I expect her. I told her to be careful.

Hope: “Yeah, I’ve got my pepper spray and my pin.”

Me: “Pin?”

Hope: “Yeah, my hat pin.”

And there it was on her tunic: her hat pin. I didn’t even notice it because I was distracted because her bra was visible. But she had it on.

Y’all my daughter is one of the messiest, most disorganized people I know, but the hat pin I bought her years ago, what right here on her shirt, ready to be pulled out and used for getting stabby.

My voice hitched a little when I said goodbye.

A fourth-generation was stepping out with a hat pin ready to face the world.

It was so symbolic of our bond. A couple of days later, I still get misty about her wearing her pin. It was just such a surprise, a pleasant, loving surprise. It seems so silly, but that moment means so much to me.

It’s moments like these when I am reminded how fortunate I am that I get to parent Hope and that she accepts me as a mom. What I didn’t really allow myself to dream about was whether she would want to carry on some of our family traditions; to find that she embraces them…it was just a beautiful moment.


We Need to Talk about That Draft

So, it’s not surprising to me that Roe is on the brink of being overturned. Conservatives have been on this march for a long time. The Senate Turtle was delighted to prevent Merritt Garland from getting a hearing while practically running a sprint to fill RBG’s seat.

Never mind that BIPOC women, and especially Black women, tried to tell y’all…repeatedly.

Now WW are out here dressing as handmaidens and chastising BIPOC women for not running to their rescue in droves. Ladies, we been here. Been voting for errbody’s interests consistently and holding it down. *Now y’all want to step into leadership.*

This is that allyship for suckers.

I’ve lowkey been withdrawing, talking to elders, subbing indigenous folks’ social media as they drop contraception and abortion knowledge. I’m not out here marching; I’m trying to learn the old ways of helping women retain their autonomy.

But I digress.

The draft. So, there’s a footnote in the draft that makes reference to 2008 adoption data by the Centers for Disease Control. The footnote basically stated that the number of children relinquished at or soon after birth was practically none. It didn’t take the internet many steps to interpret this as a supply/demand issue in which outlawing abortion could result in more babies to meet the unmet need.

Sigh…Yeah, I know, but the background isn’t quite done.

Fact-checkers have dismissed this interpretation as false. Rather, they argue, the footnote suggests that fetuses that are subsequently relinquished at birth will find homes because of the presently low numbers of available children.

Say what now? A tedious, semantic difference with little distinction to me. Make it make sense, y’all.

I recognize the irony of saying this as an AP, but work with me here…We are not entitled to other people’s children. Full Stop.

All children deserve to be planned, welcomed, desired, loved, etc, etc, etc. Yes, even unplanned birthed children.

There are almost a half million children in foster care who would love to either return home or join a loving permanent home. They are here. They breathe now. They have needs right now. They need us, right this minute. And as they live and breathe, they have rights. Those would be one-day siblings, in utero, do not. Full Stop.

Yet, there are folks out here who believe the first moments are not to be in the embrace of the person who carried them, but a family who is foreign to the child. That new family can be beautiful, loving, etc etc, but that separation from the start is…whew. Sure for many adoptees it works, but for many others, it begins a life of questions that may or may not be answered.

Socially, are we cool with that? Are we ok with forcing women to physically go through the rigors of pregnancy, childbirth, and the loss for both folks with uteruses and the subsequent children born because 5 people on the court are…”originalists?” I mean, I was only 3/5 when I did get a shout-out, so if we’re going back…Or are we just picking and choosing stuff?

It’s never been a secret that I’m pro-choice. I won’t apologize for ending a pregnancy with someone who was emotionally abusive. Years later when I saw my former partner, he was in rehab trying to get off drugs. Miss me with any lectures about my choice. No regrets and would do it again in a minute. If that meant I needed to cross state lines or hop a flight, I would do it without hesitation. Everybody can kiss my grits too.

I respect how folks feel about the issue; it is a deeply personal issue. For many, it is a spiritual issue as well (even though the Holy Homeboy doesn’t drop any verses on it), but all of that stops an inch from my nose. You don’t get to decide what I do inside my temple. It’s my temple, not yours and not the community’s.

I should’ve known adoption would come up in a very loud way as we make our way to this decision, but ugh. I hate it here.

There’s so much more I could gripe about, but WW and this adoption narrative vex my spirit something terrible.


Thoughts on Gratitude

When Hope and I first matched, I remember being so grateful that I’d such a great, smooth, and quick process heading towards adoption. It took me longer to gather all the paperwork and get my home study done than it did for me to get matched. Hope was the first profile I was ever sent. I looked at a few others as we were exploring whether she and I would be a good match, but it was like I knew from the moment I opened that email that she would eventually be my daughter.

I was naïve about a lot of adoption stuff back then, but I was eager to learn. I really leaned into my work skills to listen, read, learn, navigate and avoid some landmines (not all of them, but many). I got rightfully dragged a few times, and what I feel is wrongfully dragged others. All of it hopefully made me a better mom to Hope.

An early lesson was not to expect my daughter to be grateful for being adopted. Few moments have really crystalized this lesson for me more than one day when Hope and I were talking about what our fantasy lives would be like.  When I asked my daughter what her fantasy would be, she quickly responded that it would be to still be living with her dad. I was really struck by how easily she answered the question; it shouldn’t have been surprising. I should’ve known that she thought of continuing a life with him. The fantasy would’ve been never having even had to meet me.

That’s not to say that Hope isn’t grateful to have been adopted, but I’m a second choice. I get that and respect it. I think all APs should.

During the pandemic, Hope and I have had a lot of discussions about gratitude, and most of them have not been about adoption. But indeed, some have. We’re in this transitional space where Hope is going through big changes as a young adult, and ever so often she will openly talk about what her fears and feelings were about possibly aging out of foster care vs. having been adopted. She will talk about feeling fortunate for having been adopted so she didn’t have to age out. It’s less about me and more about the trajectory of her life is different and she’s still processing that.

To be honest, sometimes it makes me uncomfortable because she will be really specific about what could’ve been and what “I saved” her from (her language, not mine). I try to remind her of the joy she’s brought to my life and that I’m so fortunate that she agreed to the adoption and accepted me as a mom. I don’t like being on the receiving end of the expressions sometimes—she deserved a family, she deserved permanence and stability and she could have chosen someone else to parent her. I’m grateful she chose me. She doesn’t owe me anything.

There was a FB post recently where a new AP expressed a lot of frustration about her daughter’s behavior and overall lack of gratitude in general. She was looking for guidance on how to change that behavior. It made me really reflect on these 9 years with Hope, especially the early years. What did I expect from my daughter? What behaviors did I want to see vs. what I did see? Did I want to “change her” or accelerate her healing?

I’m not going to lie, I felt shades of all of it. I never vocalized it, but I did feel it. I learned to resist those urges and focus on getting her the support she needed. It wasn’t easy. I realize now that sometimes the frustration I felt was really about the lack of gratitude I felt from her. I had to do a lot of personal work to figure out where that came from. The short version is that as an adult in midlife I adore my parent more now than I probably did as I child. I see in retrospect the sacrifices they made for me and my siblings, how they did their very best in raising us even if it wasn’t perfect, and for those things I dwelled on as mistakes that I can see with a lot more grace than I did before.

But I’ve been adulting for over 30 years; I would hope that my relationship and view of my parent had evolved over that time. I realized that I wanted Hope to see me with the same rose-colored glasses but now instead of 30 years from now. Not ok, not fair, not appropriate. Why would I expect Hope to have understood me that deeply or extend the grace that I don’t deserve after this relatively short period of time? I shouldn’t and I don’t.

Hope and I are still evolving. We do regularly tell one another that we are grateful for the other, but not through an adoption lens, but that backdrop is always in the frame for me. I do hope that we will continue to work through this gratitude thing; it’s complicated. I just know that I’m glad she is in my life as my daughter. I recognize that this was not an ideal situation for either of us by a long shot. I also know that we’ve created a great life together.

And I’m grateful for that.


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