Tag Archives: Adoption and Holidays

More Thoughts on Holidays and Adoption

While laying on my parents’ couch earlier today, I was listening to Hope tell me some random story about something or other. I was only half listening, scrolling through my Instagram feed.

I suddenly stopped and interrupted her.

“Do you want to call your grandmother today?”

Hope was mid-sentence and her voice just trailed off. She just looked at me. I wasn’t looking at her, but I could feel her staring at me. I finally looked over at her.

“There isn’t a right answer, you know that right? Whatever you feel or decide is cool. I just…felt like I should ask. I’m sorry I interrupted you.”

About two minutes of silence passed; one of my sisters was sitting in a chair in the room with us. As those seconds continued to pass, it kind of felt like we were all holding her breath.

“Ok,” I said, and resumed scrolling through Instagram.

Hope never responded; instead she picked up where she left off with the story she was previously telling me.

I mailed Hope’s grandmother a framed copy of her senior ROTC portrait and a letter. I wrote that I know she would rather hear directly from Hope, but that for whatever reason it was left to me to provide updates.

As the months stretch into what will soon be two years since Hope had direct contact, I find myself wondering how things will play out for Hope and her biological family. In moments like today, I feel like I can genuinely feel Hope’s and her family’s pain in this rift. I think about how I talk to a member of my immediate family nearly daily, and how gleeful my parents seem on those occasions when I am able to drive down to visit them. I think about how it must feel to not have those feelings, or those expectations or any of that. It is honestly hard for me to conceptualize, and I’m acutely aware of how fortunate I am since the absence of all of that is experienced by many people throughout their lives and especially during the holiday season.

While I do not badger Hope about connection, I do try to bring it up during times that seem appropriate or advantageous. I make myself available to all parties to facilitate contact. I work out the logistics for possible phone calls, letters, social media interactions, whatever. One of the college’s Hope has applied to is about 50 miles away from her biological family; I’m planning a campus visit for us next month. My offer to set up a visit while we’re close by was again me with chilly silence. I’ve learned to just leave those responses there. Ultimately, I do not believe I can or should force Hope to have contact that she doesn’t want. I do not want her to engage in things she feels are unhealthy for her. Her feelings and well-being are paramount.

And yet, my heart strings wish desperately there was something I could do to help them bridge this gap.

I’m glad that I have provided Hope a beautiful extended family. I chuckled to see her and her cousins holed up in a funky teenager room (why do they smell so bad???), shooting the breeze, playing video games, talking trash and making plans to hang out together tomorrow. I smiled inwardly as I grimaced outwardly when I had to tell her “let’s go” for the 6th time because she really didn’t want to come with me to check into the beach hotel. I’m glad she has this family.

But she does have more family; she just doesn’t know if she wants them, if they fit, if she can have a good, healthy relationship with them. And there’s lots of legit reasons to ask so many questions why. I respect my daughter’s inclination for sell-preservation. But it still hurts to watch from the sidelines. But as Hope slides into her 18 year, that’s my position on all of this—the sidelines.

So I will continue to point out or provide opportunities and follow her lead. Somehow, it will work out, right?

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Adoption & the Holidays

This was my and Hope’s 5th Thanksgiving holiday together, and each year I learn a little something new about my daughter and about family in general.

My family is close, really close. We joke; we laugh; we eat. We are comfortable. Spouses and significant others adapt and adjust and eventually the seams that connect them to the family fade away. New children are born, and families are blended. We are family.

Hope is family, but adopted at 12 and only having 5 years and a bunch of baggage, her seams of connection are still visible. Add to the fact that she a 17-year-old who is physically attached to her phone and the connection is hard to honestly assess.

Hope is a bit caught in between families: there’s the family of her birth and the family she joined. I often find myself wondering how her first family feels during times like this. Do they think about her? Are they waiting for her call? Are they afraid to call her?

Of course, I also wonder how Hope feels.  Does she think of them? Does she miss them? Would she like to be with them for holidays? What does she remember?

As my family has grown, Hope and I have moved from staying at my parents’ home to staying in a hotel. Hope usually loves staying in hotels, and she’s certainly enjoying staying in one over the holidays. She does love staying in my old room more; she will say that she gets the best sleep of her life there. She’s not lying; I get the best sleep of my life in that room as well. At any rate, at some point in the late evening, we make the journey to retire to our hotel digs.

As we headed downtown, I hesitated to ask my daughter if she wanted to reach out to the other side of our family. I managed to get it out. I kept repeating no pressure, no pressure. I said, there’s no right answer. I just wanted to bring it up.

We rode in silence for a mile. It was awkward and painful. There was so much unsaid because there just aren’t enough words to articulate all the feelings. I wished I could take the painful parts away.

I can’t.

I finally said, Hey, never mind, I shouldn’t have brought it up. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. She said it was ok. It didn’t feel like it was ok.

There was so much left unsaid; I didn’t know what to say.

From a parenting perspective, I often wonder what the right thing to do is. I never want to force Hope to be in relationships she doesn’t want to be in. She is my priority. But I can’t deny feeling obligated to repeatedly raise the issue so that Hope knows I support her being in reunion if that’s what she wants.

I also know that the time is coming, or may already be here, where I just need to step aside and let it be, to just support whatever engagement or none she wants. I’ve been very transparent with her family about how she’s doing and that she’s in charge of the connections. Most have been very accepting, but I hear the pain in their voices. I get it. I so get it.

We’ll send cards and a few gifts over the next couple of weeks. We do enjoy that; there’s some joy that happens when we think of sending gifts to our family.

I think about it a lot about adoption and the emotions that surround it a lot during time of year. It tinges the season with a bit of sadness for all of us, I think.


Big Girl Undies

I am a huge extrovert and I like holidays. I love them. I want to enjoy them; I do not like sulking on holidays. I want good food, some bevies, a card game, confabs with friends and families and a good ole time.

Holidays trigger Hope. She usually seems to look forward to them, but when they arrive, she is sullen, withdrawn, grouchy, tense, anxious and difficult to be around, especially since I am hype.

I get it. I do, but on a selfish note, gosh, I just want one holiday that isn’t icky, that isn’t an emotional minefield. It’s July 4th, and it’s been miserable around these parts all dang day. Tomorrow I take Hope to band camp, her first time away from me for almost a week that will not be with family. I totally and completely get that this is anxiety provoking and that she is unable to pull herself together. There has been so much anxiety today that is has been paralyzing.

I thought we might hit up a BBQ place for a late lunch, maybe take in a movie to get her mind off of things, but I couldn’t even get her dressed before 2pm and she still needed to wash hair and start packing.

It’s not right and it’s not fair, especially since I’m the adult here, but I am excited for her and it’s a holiday! I am starved for interaction and engagement, and while I shouldn’t expect her to fill that need, we’re the only ones in this house and Yappy has done all he can do for me. And as much as she is not engaging, I know that the last thing she really wants me to do is go out without her.

So, then I get all icky and attitudinal, which just makes everything worse. It has been an ittshay day.

I’m human and sometimes immature and not the greatest at this mom thing on rough days, so….yeah. I own my petty.

So, I’ve gone out for a bit, bought myself a new lippy, some new nail polish and a slurpee and picked up Peanuts from the Redbox.

In the car on the way home, I pulled on my emotional big girl undies and resolved to have a good evening with Hope…if it killed me.

Sigh…here we go.


New Traditions; New Jeans

I’m currently attempting to get back into the swing of writing while entertaining Yappy in our hotel room in my hometown.  Cutie pup is as happy as a little clam because he got to stay with his people in the hotel last night.  He’s a bit of a wild beast this morning with the playtime, but he’s just so darn cute that I’m down here on the floor playing keep away with one of his toys while trying to gather my thoughts.

I’m finding that starting new traditions for me and Hope for major holidays like Christmas is kind of like jeans shopping.  You can’t wait to get new jeans but you kind of hate the process of getting jeans.  And, you know, despite labels like “curvy” and “straight” there really seems to be little rhyme or reason to picking jeans or traditions that work.

I think that the pressure of figuring out a tradition for us made my funk of the last couple of weeks just that much more awful.  I’ve been in an awful place.  I don’t think I accounted for putting pressure on myself to some how “get Christmas right” for Hope.  I guess the stakes felt higher than I thought.  Ironically, as much as Hope was looking forward to Christmas, I think her expectations of me weren’t nearly as high as my own.

And somehow I think I got it right with Hope in spite of myself.  We did a nice Christmas Eve with just me, her and Yappy: Hot cocoa at the fancy cocoa bar (they sell wine too #winning); church, a feast of delivery pizza (what you thought I was going to cook the night before traveling???) and gift opening.  Fancy cocoa acknowledged the bougie, but the pizza kept it low brow and casual.  Church grounded us in the reason for the season, while gift giving made it all fun and universally traditional.

Hope was NOT feeling this plan initially–”Why can’t I open gifts on Christmas like regular people???”, but she came around when she realized that gift opening would be extended another day after getting to the Grands. “It’s like two Christmases!”  Oh, and we ate cold pizza for breakfast on Christmas morning, because we were rushing, preventing waste and keeping it classy! #dontjudgeournewtraditions

And my funk of the last few weeks lifted.  It’s true; giving heartfelt gifts can make your heart happy.  Hope was jazzed over her gifts and her happiness and engagement with her family was amazing.  I found myself reflecting on months ago and how scared she was and how standoffish she was.  This week she just slid right in to the mix.  It all pulled me out of my funk.

Being out of my funk allowed me to step up when the inevitable meltdown occurred one night. Strange hotel, missing first family, anxiety, sadness…it all came to a head in the middle of the night.  And we got through it.

Today we head back to our home to settle in the rest of winter break.  I’ve got some tricks up my sleeves, some fun activities to do and some rest to get. And I’ve go another new gym to join–seriously if I can’t make it to the gym that is in walking distance to the house and only $10 a month, there really is no hope for me.  Liking the old/newish gym (just joined this summer after quitting the old gym), but location and cost are driving this decision.

I think I might’ve stumbled upon the right fit of jeans.


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