Tag Archives: Adoption and Emotions

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.


Thoughts on Reunion

I’ve often written about Hope being in reunion with some of her biological family. Over the years, the relationship has ebbed and flowed. While it isn’t what I always hoped for Hope, in total, it’s definitely been a good thing for her. I don’t know what I imagined the relationship would look like, or how everyone would deal with their own emotional stuff related to the separation, the loss, the adoption, and the reunion. I just know that everyone involved has tried to figure this thing out.

Years ago, I wrote about finding Hope’s biological mom. I remember when I found her, I felt like the information was burning my hand; I wanted to reach out to her. I wanted to orchestrate the connection. Thanks to my therapist (who is amazing!), I slowed down and really deliberated my reasoning. I wanted Hope’s mom to know that Hope was ok, that I was a good mother, and that I was hopeful that she could have a relationship with her daughter. I never reached out to her, and ultimately that was a wise decision. Hope has expressed minimal interest in reconnecting over the years. I ran the risk of really overstepping in reaching out to her mother; so I stayed in my lane. I just made sure that Hope knew that I would support her at any point in her journey if she wanted to initiate contact.

I’ve kept tabs on her mom; the internet is a scary place. For less than $50 I have her address, phone number, job location, and a lot of other information. I update the information every year just in case Hope changes her mind. I never wanted her to have to go through a big search in the way so many adoptees must endure trying to find family. I keep things in a digital file with a link that’s available to Hope at any time.

I think of all of Hope’s biological family on major holidays. I wonder what their dreams of their family looked like, I wonder what family recipes Hope is missing out on, what family traditions she is missing. Sure, Hope and I have our own traditions–pizza and gifts on Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving with family, brunch on Easter–but I know that there are other pieces that are just not here.

Recently, an opportunity for more reunion presented itself. At Hope’s request, I jumped into background check mode: web searches, image searches, cross-references, reaching out to someone, who knows someone, who knows someone. within a few hours, I was pretty sure it was a legit overture. Within 24 hours, it was confirmed. I kept Hope informed the whole time.

And then she made a decision that wasn’t a shock, but it did feel…I don’t know. I’m still figuring it out. But that’s my stuff. I’m sure that Hope is navigating a lot of emotions she hasn’t shared about the situation. I’m proud of her for articulating her immediate needs; I know those needs may change in time…or not.

For many adoptees, reunion can be complicated; this one isn’t any different. Emotions can be complicated too. Decision-making is also complicated. And you know what, there isn’t a single right answer.

That’s not quite true. APs just gotta support adoptees.

Eight years ago, I promised I would always support her having connection with her family if that was what she wanted. Certainly, there have been times when holding that promise felt hard for me, but I tried my best to support Hope. These connections are her birthright.

We’re all a bit older now, and a little wiser (I hope). And my decision-making in Hope’s life is decreasing as I try to create space for her young adult flexes. It’s an interesting time for both of us. I’m hopeful for Hope’s future and will continue to walk alongside her as she navigates decisions about reunion. I’ve kind of made peace with my own curious questions about her family; none of it is really my business. It’s Hope’s business.

But on the eve of another holiday, I can’t help but wonder about all Hope’s people out there. I hope they are thriving, that they are happy, healthy, and as whole as one can be when their child is not with them. I pray that one day everyone’s questions will get answered, and that everyone can get to the next level of healing.


Thoughts on Food & Eating

I’m pretty open about my eating disorder. I am a recovering bulimic. I’ve been clean for over a decade.

I developed the disorder during my second year of college. My friends staged an intervention. I started going to counseling. That lead to more than 10 years of trying to get on top of things. Along the way, I developed Barrett’s Esophagus, have horrendous reflux, lost my gallbladder, and have to take a cancer preventative for the rest of my life. I usually joke that the Holy Homeboy gave me scraps for a GI tract, but the truth is that my illness did this.

Anyhoo, my last episode was triggered by my ex’s alcoholic relapse. I tumbled right on in that hole after him. It took 2 years of Eating Disorders Anon, Al-Anon, Codependents Anon, and an application to my doctoral program to get me out of that situation. That was the last time I binged and purged.

Well, I’m going through a high trigger spell right now.

Hope is triggering me.

She’s oblivious to this, as she should be. But she’s engaging in food behaviors that my body interprets as disordered. And it’s kind of driving me nuts.

Generally speaking, Hope is not a morning person nor does she eat breakfast. That took a lot of getting used to. I grew up in a family that sees breakfast as a form of communal worship, and getting three squares is one of the many ways I cope with my bulimia. Left to her own devices, Hope will eat one giant meal because lazy wins when you compare cleaning after 2 meals instead of one.

In recent months. Hope has gained a bit of weight, enough to concern her doctor, and I’d wager she’s gained a bit more in the two months since we saw him last. I have been trying to make sure that she has access to healthy foods: I cook. I successfully compete against the urge to stop off for take-out on the way home from work. I figured that if she was going to binge then I would make sure she had high-quality food to do it.

A few weeks ago I started buying her a few Lean Cuisine’s for lunch at work. Keep in mind, she works at Target, where she could buy these same meals, but I have to make it easy. I also know that food is one ofo Hope’s love languages. I figured that these might help scale back the late-night binges, which takes me back into the first 3,4, maybe 5 years of us being a family.

Hope experienced many bouts of food insecurity as a child. She would sneak and steal food constantly. I made her one of those boxes with snacks and promised to refill as needed. She’s binge nightly for months on end. She was nearly finished high school before she really was able to self-regulate. Now she will eat every meal I offer, but the late-night buffet stays too.

All those years I was never tempted to binge and purge. She had my full attention.

But now our mother-daughter relationship is evolving rapidly. She’s a really cool person, and I enjoy spending time with her. But this food pattern has me feeling things I don’t like feeling. And I don’t know if this is a new version of food trauma, now that she’s older, or a conscious choice to just load up when her body says go, or just what normal college students today do.

(I hate the last part of the last sentence. Why don’t I just announce I am getting and feeling older? Ugh)

I know I’m going to have to talk to her about it. I’ll feel awful if she’s just currently wired to eat like this, it’s a preference. Actually, I’ll feel guilty for asking her to change the routine. But what if she might actually be wrestling with disordered eating? Maybe me disclosing my struggle with the request to change the routine for me would lead to her talking about her needs as well. I would want to help her save herself.

I hope it’s nothing. It concerns me that my ED recognized these behaviors. I have all kinds of triggers; hell my job is a whole trigger. I know what I know. So we’ll talk; and things will be fine. I just need to do this really soon; otherwise, I might slip down this slippery slope. Wish me luck and grace.


Adoption Musings on a Sunday

I just couldn’t manage a midweek post between work and tending to Hope’s injury. I’ve been to multiple stores and had multiple Amazon deliveries to make sure we have what’s needed. Dressings need to be changed often so even though I bought a lot right at the beginning, she blew through things quickly.

She’s improving a lot, though the pain is still pretty bad. Blisters popped and revealed the very tender, super vulnerable new skin beneath it. No infection and no worsening, so, so far, so good. Burn unit consult this week.

I’ve been thinking so much about adoption lately. I’m pretty certain because 8 years ago in August/September, I saw Hope’s profile for the first time. I remember there was a video of her having been on one of those Wednesday’s kids spots for the local news. I remember sitting at my desk at work, looking at the video feeling such a rush of different emotions. Love at first sight. Terror, as in, WTF are you doing??? Joy as I watched her bounce around. I excitedly sent the video to my mom, where she watched at her office desk. I called her and I remember saying something to the effect of, “This is her, this is the child that is going to be my daughter.” I just knew.

I have wanted to adopt since I was an adolescent. I’m not sure why I was drawn to it so young. I don’t recall knowing anyone who was adopted (that I know of anyway). I also knew I wanted an older child. Again, no idea why. The thing is I thought I would adopt a boy. We didn’t have any boys in my immediate family other than my dad. I thought I wanted the “boy” experience, whatever that was. The December before I met Hope, I did my vision board; I included a picture of a child’s bedroom and a faceless child. The images I selected clearly reflected “girlie” vibes. I remember thinking it was so different than what was supposed to be on the board. I was supposed to be a boy mom. Ha! The universe said, nah, at least not right now.

The fact that my current Beau is also an adoptee, also tends to keep the topic top of mind because he’s slowly telling me his story. From his perspective, it’s a doozy. And that’s real. I can see the hurt, trauma, desire, sadness, and more. My heart breaks. I can also see adoptive parents who probably did the best they could with what they had. That doesn’t excuse whatever was done or wasn’t done, but entering my own 8th young year of parenting I sometimes get feeling like every choice available is problematic for any of a zillion reasons and just trying your best to choose the one that will be the least problematic.

The truth is that parenting is probably one of the most difficult jobs anyone can possibly take on. It’s rough out here in these parenting streets, and no one gets out unscathed. And parenting books suck, and frankly so do a lot of online parenting groups, IMHO.

And adoptive parenting is its own beast. You come in thinking you just want to be a regular-degular, but somehow super duper parent, ie, neurotypical kid, same race, kinda looks like me, no trauma, no drama, super smart, gifted, talented, etc. etc. You quickly realize that even if those existed, you weren’t on that track. Precious little is discussed about some of the special needs and challenges. I think a lot of APs just think I want a child and then things will be…just normal, life will just begin and continue.

It does and it doesn’t, and maybe you low key actually were on that track after all.

My and Hope’s story started with a hospital stay and me working on my dissertation. It was rocky. The tears, especially for me, seemed endless. My relationships were strained; I felt alone; Hope couldn’t cope with much of anything because moving in was just overwhelming. We were a bit of a mess if you go back to that first year of posts.

But we got through it somehow and continue to thrive in spit of it all.

We continue to grow together and figure it out. I’m not the best parent, my flaws are many. But I have done my best to date, and Hope continues to have a safe place to grow, explore, and transition into adulthood. And ultimately providing that emotional place is the core of my job. So, I’m succeeding.

I’m not even sure what my point is with this stream of consciousness rambling post. This season is just triggering a lot of great memories about the genesis of my little family.

Anyhoo, have a marvelous Sunday.


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