Tag Archives: Adoption Blogs

Thoughts on Being Invisible in Adoptionland

Hope shared an interesting tidbit with me today. We were recently asked to participate in a video for our adoption agency recruiting other potential adoptive parents for older foster kids. We haven’t decided to do it yet, I’m leaving the decision up to Hope. She was telling me about the reaction she gets when she shares that she is adopted.

Hope said most of her peers are like, oh wow, that’s interesting. But, invariably, there is always at least one person who says they don’t believe her because her mom is black.

#recordscratch

Say what now?

Yeah, Hope says, kids think only white people adopt kids, especially black kids. They think we’re rare. That’s messed up, right?

Uh, yeah, that’s messed up. I am so done!

Of course, there are folks of color who adopt, but we’re largely invisible. Unless it’s a transracial adoption (POCs adopting white children) we just sort of blend in. Our voices in the adoption sphere tend to be muted and the few of us who are vocal and visible are just not enough of a critical mass for folks to take a shine to us. I just made the wonderful list by Healthline of the best adoptive mom blog (Second year! Woot, woot), but I’m the only person of color.

The only one.

This invisibility means that folks think we aren’t here. It leads grown folks and kids to think my daughter is just joshing them by saying she’s adopted because if it was true her parents would surely be white.

Sometimes it feels like the only reason we’re invited into adoption spaces is to help white people raise children of color with free advice and well wishes. This phenomenon makes it hard for people like me to construct our support systems, our villages. There may not be folks comfortable talking to us, building relationships with us, not having one-sided transactional relationships involving our kids. It makes for a lonely journey unless you hunt down and/or fall into your safe space that includes folks who are willing to share their lives with you.

Adoption journeys require intimacy.  As parents we open our homes and our lives to children; children who need homes have to find a way to learn to live with and hopefully trust these parents. The people around us don’t simply play voyeur; they often are parts of our extended family and close friends. Even if they don’t see everything; they see a lot. Parents and kids need specific support systems, and those systems must be safe enough to share some our darkest secrets about our wins and our challenges.

We are invisible, we aren’t able to even build the scaffolding necessary to create what we need.

It is so hard sometimes.

And on top of everything else, our absence from the adoption narrative makes kids doubt my daughter’s adoption story.

That’s effed up.


Curious about Her

Earlier this year, Hope asked me how I would feel about her trying to find her birth mother. I immediately replied that I would help her any way I could and that if a healthy relationship was possible I would help facilitate it.

Then she never brought it up again.

I know it’s still in there somewhere. Hope has strong feelings about her mother; I’ll say they are complicated and leave it at that.

Having been found by her paternal extended family just after finalizing our adoption was emotionally challenging for both of us. It brought up a lot of resentment, a lot of grief, but also a lot of love and connectivity. Frankly, it remains a challenging relationship with our extended family, but families are complicated, right?

Right.

So Hope’s mom…I’ve always been curious. Not much is known about her. I know certain things about her and I know what Hope thinks she remembers, but was more likely told about her mother since they were separated at such a very young age. No one has pictures of her; I asked.

A few times I broached the subject with Hope about wanting to just know where she was, and Hope said no. She seemed intent on closing this door.

Given all that I’ve learned over the last few years, listening to adoptees, I figured it would come back around, probably more than a couple of times.  So, when she asked me about how I would feel about finding her; I wasn’t surprised by the inquiry. Actually I felt prepared for it.

Now that I look back on it and our growth through these last few months, I suspect that she was might have been curious  about*my* feelings on finding her mother than on her desire to actually find her mother.

But, even the most remote interest gave me permission to pull out my keyboard and start searching.

I had her mother’s name and not much else.

About two months ago, I thought I found her on Facebook. Some of the sketchy details matched up; not everything, but really close. I could not stop looking at her picture. I searched it for Hope’s features, her skin tone. I wondered what my daughter looked like as a newborn; did she look like this woman?

I was consumed by this profile for a good week or so, and then one day I convinced myself that this was not Hope’s mother.

I was disappointed.

I wondered why was I looking, would it be better if I waited for Hope to be ready? Clearly, this was more about my curiosity at this point than hers. What would I do if I actually found her? I wondered if she even wanted to be found. Most of all, having realized that I didn’t find her, I felt a little twinge of pain in thinking she was lost to me, to us, to Hope. I wondered what that twinge of discomfort felt and how exponentially magnified it must feel for my daughter…to be lost again.

I walked away from the search that day.

A few weeks later, one Sunday morning, while sipping coffee in my PJs and watching Law and Order, I found myself searching again.

I can only explain it as a deep, bottomless curiosity about my daughter’s background. I wanted to know her full story; I love her and want to know everything about her. I want to know or at least see the person who birthed her. I didn’t know what I would do if and when I found her, but I just wanted this information so badly. I’d like to say I wanted to have it for when Hope was ready and I could just give it to her, the truth would be that I desperately wanted to know for myself.  Who is Hope’s birth mother? What does that biological link look like?

I don’t know if it’s my own infertility grief or that I’m nosey, or if knowing would somehow bring me even closer to Hope. I still had no plan for what I would do with the information after finding it. Who would I tell? What would I tell Hope? Who would support me in this crazy wild goose chase?

I never doubted that searching was the right decision; I just couldn’t comprehend what I would do with information about Hope’s mother when I found it.

Well, thanks to the power of the internet, a big hint on a search string and $35 I found her in short order from the comfort of my couch that Sunday morning. It took me longer to get out my credit card and decide whether making the information purchase was the right thing to do than the actual search for the info.

Before I knew it, I had her address, her phone number, and a background check. Two minutes later I was looking at her face on Facebook.

When I saw this woman, I knew right away, this was Hope’s birth mother. I saw that as much as my daughter looked like her paternal family, she bears a striking resemblance to her birth mother: the shape of her face, her eyes, her hair, her long limbs. It was meaningful to see the woman who gave her life because so many people comment that Hope looks like me and I think that it’s just not true. Putting me side by side her birth mother and the blood relationship is apparent.

I read the report over and over, committing some of it to memory. I saved it to the external hard drive. I printed out a copy and put it in my file box.

And then I went back to Facebook stalking her. There wasn’t much to see, with us not being friends. I saw a few pictures, a few pictures of friends and relatives.  I would check ever so often in hopes that she was one of those folks who changed their profile picture frequently. She’s not.

I began talking myself into reaching out to her, but what on earth would I say? Was that the right thing? Who was I reaching for—me and my own curiosity? Or Hope? Was this contact in our immediate best interest? What if the contact was completely rejected? What if the contact prompted a lot of expectations?

The what ifs are endless.

I eventually discussed it with my therapist. She asked a lot of questions, a lot, over a couple of sessions. She convinced me to put the brakes on things. She also asked me to broach the subject with Hope and AbsurdlyHotTherapist.

I sat with it for a couple of weeks, worried about Hope’s reaction.

During a game of 20 questions I asked Hope how she would feel if I found her birth mother. She grimaced, and said very little. I let it go for a couple of weeks. I circled back around and reminded her of our conversations about finding her and how she reacted to the possibility of finding her. I told her I had found her, that I knew where she was and knew how to contact her. Hope thought quietly and said, “That’s ok, I don’t want to.”

And so, I dropped it. The file is away on the hard drive and the papers are in the box. I sense that we’ll revisit it when she’s ready. I’ll be with her every step of the way.

I would be lying if I didn’t say I thought of her birth mother often. I still have all of these questions. I still want to know if there are baby pictures, what Hope was like as an infant. I have a deep desire for answers about our daughter’s life. And I want to know about this woman who gave Hope life. I just want to know more about her, since she’s just such a mystery to me and to Hope.

But that’s all for another day. I may find out, I may never know. I’m not even sure I’m happy I found her since it feels like she’s kind of off limits. She’s like money burning a hole in my pocket, I want to spend by asking a million questions. But it really…all this curiosity is for another day.

I know that, for now, the status quo is what Hope needs to feel safe and secure. I don’t know what is behind her birth mother’s door, and I have to trust that Hope’s memories and stories are what they are. More than anything I want to support my daughter and her continued healing and development, and right now, it seems that she wants me and just me.

So, curiosity won’t be killing me this time.


Thoughts on Infertility

I wonder if I will ever stop mourning my fertility. I imagine that there will always be a tiny part of me that will be sad and wonder what if…

What if I had done something differently?

What if I had tried to have a child earlier in life?

What if I hadn’t been selfish in loving my single, child-free life for so long?

What if I could’ve done something to prevent the surgery that closed the door on my fertility?

What if I could’ve, would’ve, should’ve…

What if.

As if, it would’ve made any difference. It probably wouldn’t have made any difference. But the thing is, I will always wonder, and I will always have feelings about it.

Someone close to me recently announced her pregnancy. Gosh, I’m so excited for her. Thrilled. Over the moon. She wondered whether this day would ever come.

I’m so glad it did.

But the news of her pregnancy…oh dear. I hate admitting the jealousy I feel. I hate feeling like I both want to hear more and hear nothing about it. I hate feeling alone in not being able to emote anything but joy around the subject as though it is the only emotion I feel.

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Joy & Sadness     Giphy.com

I both delight and loathe the gushing in our circle about the pregnancy. I can’t help but compare it to the emotion exhibited when I announced my adoption of Hope. It’s not the same. I don’t have much to compare it to, so I don’t know if it’s supposed to be the same. I feel like it should be the same, and yet, it isn’t and that brings its own set of feelings.

I also wonder if I really, really did not give myself enough time to mourn. I moved to adoption phase only 6 months after my invasive surgery and only 3 months after my specialist told me that a pregnancy wasn’t in the cards for me. I often wonder if I had it to do again, would I take more time?

I don’t know.

I know that so much of adoption can be about timing, what if I missed Hope? Or Hope missed me or we missed each other?

Right now, with all that I’m enduring with Hope, this unanticipated mourning of my fertility feels like the thing that has drawn blood. It’s the event that has pushed me right over the edge of sadness. It’s the thing that took my damaged, cracked heart and crushed it.

And, really it has little to do with the pregnancy announcement, it has everything to do with the fact that I will never make one. My body won’t do one of the things that it’s supposed to be able to do.

And I can’t fix that either. It just is. And like much going on these days, it sucks.

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giphy.com

It keeps raining here in the DC area. It’s doing nothing to improve my mood these days. The gloomy, overcast days…well, I can’t tell if they are reflecting me or if I’m reflecting them.

Sigh.

I’m headed for a change of scenery this weekend with work travel—cherry country. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to shake off some of these feelings while there. They are pretty heavy these days. Some work travel is probably just the thing I need to turn this frown upside down.

 


Serenity in Short Bursts

I’ve really, really, really been focused on maintaining calm in the household for the last week.  And you know, it works. I have let Hope’s stank attitudes about various things just roll off me like water. I’ve very calmly let her know when she has crossed certain lines and what certain expectations are. The energy I would usually expend being emotional with Hope, I’ve transferred into dedicated self-care.

I’ve exercised every day. I made it to bed one night at 9:30pm. I ate healthy. I enjoyed the sunshine taking Yappy to the dog park.

It’s been a peaceful week; well kinda.

Hope told a whopper this week (she even lies like a little kid); I busted her and punished her.

I also signed Hope up for a commercial tutoring program this week.  I did not spring this on her. I told her; we went to the initial assessment last weekend.  When I told her how this would affect her weekly schedule; she lost her ish. She was furious; I just let her be, but she gave off some nasty energy with her icy silent treatments.

Through it all, I remained serene. It was all good.

And then, this morning, the third morning in which Hope dragged arse in the morning. The thought of her missing the bus (again) and cutting into my workout (me) time made me hit my limit. I mean…I just couldn’t do the calm thing again. I lit right into her.

And she was ready with full on teen attitude.

She still had attitude later at the orthodontist. And I had no serene patience for her.

I’m realizing that I did pretty good for keeping it chill for a whole week. It gave me some perspective; I had time and energy to invest in myself. I felt better. I slept better.

Trying to keep things calm around here is a good goal; there are going to be flares and I have to accept that and know that it’s normal. I mean, really my blow up with still so much less intense than usual. My try for this month is really going to be to focus on parenting with calmness. I gotta believe that Hope will benefit from it, but honestly, I am doing it for me.

I need more serenity—and it’s not about knowing the difference about change vs. no change; it’s really about me having a sense of calmness and happiness. That’s my goal. I want to be happy. Parenting is hard. I told someone it’s the greatest bait and switch that ever existed.

You have the amazing drive to procreate and/or raise a child healthily and with your values and so much goodness. That drive is all about you, really. The reality is parenting is about constant sacrifice. It often is thankless and a lot of time, it’s chaotic.

For Hope and me, it’s always had a sense of chaos, and I’m tired of it. No mas. No mas.

I am seeking serenity and happiness in this life chapter, and that means that I need to step up, breathe and exhale into this like a complicated yoga pose that requires you to clear your mind and just open your heart.

It kinda hurts so good.

This evening it is back to calmness and a focus on how long can I stay in that space.


It’s Been A Year

It’s been a year since we left our old church. And to be honest, it kinda feels like I’ve been wandering around the desert ever since then. We visited a number of churches over the last year, but in the end, we landed at the neighborhood Universal Unitarian church.

We are there because Hope likes it; there are a couple of kids from her school who attend and unlike our old church, she seamlessly slipped into the social scene at the UU church.

Me? I haven’t; but I’m realizing that I’m not much of a joiner. I’m constantly intrigued by how my neighbors all seem to know each other, but despite my living here for 15 years I don’t have to many close relationships with my condo neighbors. #IDigress

It’s cool though, this church thing isn’t about me, and my discomfort at not being at a distinctly Christian church isn’t really that big of a deal. I have been creative about making sure that we get Christianity infused throughout life.

In the midst of all of these developments, I kept getting mail from the old church.

Each flyer, giving statement, newsletter cut me like glass. It has taken every bit of this whole year to try to get past the heartbreak of feeling rejected by my church.

It’s taken the whole year for me to wrestle with the fury of anger and the tears of sadness. I felt like there was a mini setback every time I got something in the mail.

Shortly after I received the last giving statement for the year that I would use to finish my taxes, I received a “reminder” about the pledge I’d made at the beginning of the year on behalf of myself and Hope. I gave towards the pledge until we left.

Last fall, when I received a “reminder” I sent them an email about how we were not in fellowship there anymore and that I was allocating those funds to another house of faith.

And then I got the last “reminder.”

And I let it sit.

And sit.

And sit.

I called Grammy to ask about her opinion. Let’s just say she hasn’t worked as hard as I have to forgive. Lest we forget, not only did they hurt me and Hope, but they denied her and my father a public opportunity to embrace Hope and join me in committing to raise her faithfully.

There’s quite a bit of pain in that too. We all hurt.

So, today, I sat down and wrote my former pastor a long letter. I talked about how I came to attend that church, how my being in fellowship there definitely marked a major chapter in my life—starting and finishing my doctorate and becoming a mother. I shared how I felt all during the 7-8 months it took for them to grow a pair and say we just weren’t the cute adoptive family that everyone wants to see. I shared about the times the pastoral staff were condescending. I shared about how ironic it was to hear adoption used as a Christian metaphor so often and what that irony felt like. I shared about my last conversation with the family pastor who was dispatched to share the news that Hope and I didn’t fit the motif of the church. I shared how we were attending a UU church now and how Hope was thriving there.

I asked to be completely erased from the mailing list. It’s simply too hard to have stuff from them coming to my little crazy sanctuary.

I printed the letter. I printed an envelope. I peeled the stamp. I licked the enveloped. I dropped it in the mailbox.

And a burden was lifted.

Just in time for Easter.

I am grateful to totally close that chapter.

The Background on The Church Thing

An Amazing Dedication

Being Gracious

An Adoption Blessing

Radio Silence

About Face

About that Church Thing

Supporting You from the Back Room

Finding a House

 


Learning to Win Differently

Never say that parenting won’t show you ish about yourself. I swear…these “real life” lessons just don’t stop.

I like to win. I like to win arguments. I like to win with better research. I like to win with good food and wine. I just like to win. It makes me feel better about myself.

Like most people, I worry about how I’m perceived. I fret about being “good.” I fret about being smart. I fret about liking myself. I worry about feeling whole. I aspire to self actualization, despite probably being nowhere near it.

And that’s all ok. I’m guessing in the grand scheme of things, I’m normal, right?

This drive has propelled me to achieve some pretty cool stuff in my life. I’ve done well for myself, but there are certainly still things to achieve.

In comes Hope, my daughter, my sweet girl. Hope is a kid who is a survivor, but has a hollow sense of self, who needs building up in a big way and who has no idea what or who she really aspires to be.

Why, oh why, does my own internal competitive drive and intrinsic need to win, need to win against Hope?

I mean, really? How lame is that? As if this kid doesn’t have enough ish to contend with, she has a mom who just HAS to have the last effing word all the time.

And, why do I feel like I need to win…against Hope? How is it that this is my default setting? How is it that we aren’t always on the same team? And, really, what are we competing for?

Being a mother has totally changed my sense of self. It makes me feel like I have to fight and scrap to be a “good mother.” I’m probably not even really competing against Hope; I’m really competing against my views on motherhood and what I’m supposed to be, rather than what I am—a Black adoptive mom with a teenaged daughter who needs quite a bit of help getting herself together.

My need to win arguments with Hope is really about this underlying belief that Hope is preventing me from being a magazine cover mom.

Ain’t that some messed up ish?

Yeah, it is. I’m horrified that this is really what is below my surface. #shame

I spent some time watching Brené Brown videos (because my dyslexia is making it increasingly hard to read books) and yeah, that shame monster is a beotch. #moreonthatlater

So, I’m working on just letting Hope win—she’s ironically a lot like me. She needs to win to feel good. I hardly ever let her win because my own ego is so bruised and needy. This week, I’m committed to just saying “Ok…” during some of our bicker-fests. It’s ok to just let her win. It’s ok to just stand down. It’s ok to let her feel good, and let her get one over on me.

In fact, it’s essential to heal her own bruised and needy ego. She needs to win.

And if we’re on the same team, then her win, is my win. There are no losers. I just need to learn to win differently.

I’m working on this lesson. It’s important. I’ve had a lifetime of wins, and truth be told, I don’t have anything to prove. I really don’t.

Hope needs some wins to fill her tank. A full tank for her is really a win for both of us.


New Car, New Chapter

Yesterday I bought an SUV.

Other than the exterior color, it’s really amazing. It’s fully loaded and pretty lux. But the truth is that while I am happy about the new car, and new car smell and all of that, I kinda hate my new car.

Or rather, I hate what it represents, which is another piece of pre-Hope identity kicked to the wayside.

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In recent months I’ve really embraced motherhood and really tried to meet Hope where she is. We both have benefited from this effort.

But there’s something about this car purchase that sits on me like a giant thud.

Yesterday morning I was the owner (free and clear by the way) of an adorable little red Mini Cooper that I called, the Chili Pepper. “Chili” was my dream car. I’d wanted a Mini for years, but really never thought I’d get one. I’d had a sports car right out of college and then I had a cute sporty wagon. So when I started my doctoral program, I took the plunge and headed to the Mini dealership, where I fell in love with Chili.

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I loved that car. Me and Chili had seen a good chunk of the east coast. Like all of my previous cars she was a stick shift. and I loved the handling and the power this little car channeled. She was distinctive with her little personalized plates. People would walk by Chili and  smile. People would ride in Chili and marvel at just how awesome she was. When Hope moved here, my ownership of Chili was definitely an indicator of my potential “coolness.” She was different.  Did I mention that I loved her?

I owned Chili for 5 years, almost to the day. Her warranties were just about up and repairs and upkeep can be pricey on Minis.  She’d just endured a repair that would’ve been about $6K but for the fact that it was covered under the warranty.

Then there was Hope’s instrument; she plays a tenor sax. The dang thing took up the whole boot trunk. If I ever offered another band kid a ride they couldn’t be from the low brass or percussion sections, that’s for sure. And Hope plans to take guitar lessons this year so there’s really a need for more room.

Finally, there’s the trip to Boston and Martha’s Vineyard of 2015. I had to get a roof bag to accommodate all of the luggage. We stayed at the sexy Boston W hotel for a few days, and when we drove up, we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies traveling in a clown car. It worked, but it was clear that it wasn’t optimal and that something was going to have to change. I was simply too cute to look like a traveling vagabond on vacation. The faces of the uber hot valets when they saw up pull up invoked all kinds of shame.

Sigh.

So yesterday, I cleaned Chili out and sold her out for an SUV—a Nissan Rogue. It’s gray, which I hate, but it is what it is since the deal was just something I couldn’t walk away from.

So, what’s the rub?

Losing Chili for a much needed family car is another way my life has changed since becoming a mom. It was the end of another chapter. It was another thing I gave up for the good of my family.

Love-and-Other-Drugs

I don’t regret it, but I’m so sad, so so sad. I’m all in my feels. Cause I’m a wee bit selfish and petty.

I knew trading Chili in would be hard for me, but I teared up as I stood in CarMax, looking at her one last time, reminiscing about our good times and how I was sad to close this chapter on my pre-Hope single, footloose and fancy free life.

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Since then, I’ll admit that I’ve had two all out snot-riddled sobbing sessions since coming home with the new car.

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Grief is a beeotch and it hits you in the worst ways at the worst times.

I know it’s not about the car; it really is about what the car represents.

Now, instead of this distinctive cute car, I’ve got a great car that is just like everyone else’s great and reasonable car. . Heck I’ve already tried to break into two other cars like it while shopping ,and it’s not been quite 24 hours since I signed the papers.

I always knew where Chili was in a parking lot. <snif>

And did I mention that Hope is unimpressed?  The source of disinterest in part stems from the fact that I deviated from my intended purchase plan.  In essence, she’s salty because I didn’t buy the car I originally intended to test drive and purchase and plan changes generally don’t make her feel safe. So, there’s all that drama left to unpack too.

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The new car is new and different in a cool way, but it’s another change, it’s another accommodation required of this life, that frankly I didn’t give a lot of thought about until about 6 months ago. Another naive parenting pothole for me, I guess.

I will fall in love with the new car. It will get a name and develop a personality, and I will learn to find her in the parking lot.  In time the new car will allow me to cart Hope and some friends around, take her to summer band camp and maybe even take her away to college. This will be a great chapter. I know it will.

And in time, I will be able to remember Chili and our time together and not be sad. I’ll remember it for what it is—a chapter in this life—and I will think about when I’ll be able to get another Mini. It will happen, and we’ll all be happy.

Until then, I’m a bit sappy about this required change.


Hopefulness in 2015

I’m glad that 2015 is coming to a close. It’s been a good, but tough year, and these last few months have left me feeling emotionally spent.

I have changed a lot this year. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I have developed better skills in a number of areas. I’m aware of shortcomings and areas I need to work on, even if I haven’t really begun the process of working on them.

It’s easy when you are going through a reflective period to pick yourself apart as you examine all your faults.

I have spent many hours replaying things in my mind, heavy sighing and shaking my head as I contend with my shortcomings and perceived failures. I often feel like I’m failing at this mother thing; I am realizing that all parents wish they were doing better, even if what they are doing is their best.

I spend hours replaying how I might’ve kept my temper and my mouth in better check with Hope as we’ve head butted worse than a couple of rams in the last few months.

I’ve mourned the life I envisioned and at times discounted the life I have because sometimes it’s just…hard.

I haven’t acknowledged how I have pulled together a support circle, instead of still sitting around waiting for validation from individuals from whom it may never come.

I’ve focused at lot on the struggle rather than the triumphs, and there have been triumphs. I put together our holiday video card during the last week and I had a grand time picking out pictures for the montage. There were definitely triumphs.

I’ve seen my daughter start to grow socially.

I’ve been able to keep a level head and not freak out when things reached critical points.

I kicked arse at work this year.

I focused less on weight and more on health.

I made time for fun.

I improved on my ability to let anger go more quickly.

Nothing major fell through the cracks.

I sustained a healthy, loving relationship with Elihu, and he and Hope finally met, allowing me the ability to integrate bits of my life together.

I activity sought help when I needed it.

Moment to moment, I did my best, even if it wasn’t *the* best for the situation.

I did ok this year.

And I’m hopeful for next year.

I’m hopeful that I will be a better person and a better mom.

I hope that Hope and I will work through our attachment issues that threaten us both so much.

I’m hopeful that I can continue to marshal the resources to help Hope be her best self.

I’m hopeful that Yappy will get over his separation anxiety.

I’m hopeful that my confidence in my home life begins to mirror my confidence at work.

I’m hopeful that maybe Hope and I can get a little closer to the visions that we had for mother and daughter.

I’m hopeful that I will focus more on triumphs and less on failures.

I’m hopeful for just…better.

And it will be better.


Better

Ahhhhh, this week has been…good.

Sometimes I find myself crawling to Friday evenings. I’m tired, worn out and emotionally drained. This week, I’m happy to report, I only felt tired and worn out.

I wasn’t emotionally drained!  In fact there were many more moments this weekend when I thought, “THIS is what I thought life would be like as a mom!!”

I haven’t had a week like this in a while. I needed it. Hope needed it.

Ahhhhh. Inhale…exhale.

So what was different about this week?

I colored. I colored a lot. It really is meditative; it is calming and my tolerance for everything is a bit higher when I color. Of course, I’m coloring so much that I’m worried about my healing hand…repetitive movements are probably not all that great post-op for carpal tunnel. #whatever

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I was in bed by 10, 10:30 at the latest. Sleep is restorative, and Yappy is a precious cuddle bug.

I worked out everyday. Fitbit challenges have me going hard daily! I’m hitting 5-6 miles of steps a day.  That’s definitely contributed to good headspace.

I felt good after seeing friends and family over Thanksgiving.

I realized that I’m not alone on this journey.

Hope and I stayed away from meat this week after she announced her desire to go vegetarian recently. I didn’t eat much meat before Hope came along, so two years of hardcore carnivorous behavior has wreaked havoc on my body. ABM’s bod was much happier being more plant based and Hope LOVED my veggie cooking.

And finally Hope, Yappy and I had quality, real bonding quality time this weekend.

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Family movie night featured Max. Yappy is a fan. 

For once, I took care of myself and committed to meeting my own needs. know that every week won’t be like this, but dang it; I feel like a new person. It’s a powerful reminder that we parents need to practice routine self-care. The absolute bonus was getting a peek at the life I aspire to; it was totally dope!

The other bonus I discovered was that Hope’s behavior was dramatically different after pulling back on the meat. I hope that it continues; I hope it’s sustainable. It was dramatic. She was more focused, more thoughtful, more motivated about school. She was a bit more mellow. Hell, we may never eat meat again! (Hahahahah, just joking, I like bacon way too much.)

One of our weekend movie nights was Inside Out; I wish I’d gone to see it in the theater. If you have or know an adolescent and have any curiosity about the mayhem going on inside their heads emotionally, this is the movie for you. Today we talked a bit about how Hope felt when she moved here to be with me, when she started a new school and just day to day emotional upheaval. Being a teen ain’t easy; being a teen who’s a former long-term foster kid, now adoptee ain’t a walk in the park either. I can’t pretend to get it, but I feel a little closer to getting it and that’s important.

I’m optimistic. I’m going to keep plugging away and hoping that things will settle down for a little while.  It’s nice to have a little less drama during a time known for lots of it.

 


It’s Ok

The last couple of years have been an immense journey. I’ve learned so much; I’m sure knowledge is just spilling out of my ears. Each day, week, moment and month bring new lessons about myself, about Hope, about our life together, about parenting and well, about a bunch of other stuff.

This year, I’ve had the pleasure of befriending a number of other adoptive parents. We share our struggles. We cry together. We whisper on the phone while hiding from our kids and slurping wine on a stool in our showers with the curtain drawn. We’ve problem solved. We’ve pep talked. We’ve planned trips together.

I’m blessed to have these folks in my life.

I was thinking during a call this week about something I usually tell folks in the midst of crisis; it’s something that they tell me too.

It’s going to be ok.

We rarely know how it’s going to be ok, but we just know that somehow, hopefully, it will be ok.

And it usually ends up being ok.

Sometimes we all just need to know that our struggles are ok; they just are. So, this post is an open letter to parents of all stripes, but especially my fellow APs, foster parents and parents that are roughing it.

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It’s ok to be mad.

It’s ok to not understand what the heck is going on in your house.

It’s ok, to have that glass of wine in the evening (unless there’s a medical/emotional reason not to).

It is ok to occasionally drink wine from a tumbler.

It’s ok to plan and practice self-care.

It’s ok to believe that eating tater tots and lucky charms with wine in your bedroom counts as self-care.

It’s ok to be tired, nay, exhausted.

It’s ok to be annoyed by all the activities.

It’s ok to foster the puppy’s affection for you because you need some unconditional love too.

It’s ok to go shopping alone so you don’t have to share.

It’s ok to feel like maybe you can’t do parenting.

It’s ok to feel ambivalent about parenting all together.

It’s ok to totally give up on parenting and then change your mind 15 minutes later.

It’s ok to cry.

It’s ok to cry daily.

It’s ok to ask your doctor if there’s something that might help you stop crying all the time.

It’s ok to call in sick after the kids have gone to school that you can have a mental health day.

It’s ok to think parenting books are full of it.

It’s ok for your foster care/adoption halo to be tarnished or missing because it fell of the pedestal you got put on.

It’s ok to feel sorry/not sorry about pulling away from friends and family who don’t understand why your family would be experiencing challenges.

It’s ok to find new friends who “get” what you’re experiencing.

It’s ok to mourn the loss of those previous relationships even if you think those people sometimes acted like buttheads.

It’s ok to cry for your child.

It’s ok to cry for everything they’ve loss.

It’s ok to cry for every reason why adoption ended up being their path.

It’s ok to cry for every reason why adoption ended up being your path.

It’s ok to cry because it comes with challenges that you feel ill equipped to manage.

It’s ok to go back to your doctor for a medication adjustment for all the crying.

It’s ok when you make unpopular decisions that are right for your family, even if they are hard for you.

It’s ok to momentarily admit that the challenges seem so insurmountable that you consider just turning back and giving up.

It’s ok to not celebrate the fact that you trudged on and worked through it because you simply don’t have time to get yourself a cupcake for doing what you were going to do anyway.

It’s ok to be mad at God for even allowing the need for you to be in this kid’s life like this.

It’s ok to be mad at God because it’s so hard.

It’s ok to recognize that anger masks sadness.

It’s ok to be mad when the people around you who are verbally supportive aren’t really supportive.

It’s ok to hate lip service and its best friend hypocrisy.

It’s ok to leave spaces that aren’t healthy or safe or supportive of and for your family, and this includes churches and other family members.

It’s ok to get help for secondary trauma.

It’s ok to get help for coping with everything.

It’s ok if you find one day that you go to therapy alone just to have a safe place to cry and vent and *then* you go to family therapy or trot your kids to their appointments.

It’s ok if your version of therapy is occasionally eating a double chocolate iced donut in your tub with the shower curtain pulled closed—alone.

It’s ok to wonder if you’ll get your life back.

It’s ok to think about the need to forgive yourself for inviting unique challenges into your life.

It’s ok to recognize that your family’s triumphs look different.

It’s ok, more than ok, to celebrate all of your family’s triumphs whether anyone else believes they are noteworthy or not.

It’s ok to beg off the comparisons against “normal” families.

It’s ok to sigh and roll your eyes a lot in your head because people say dumb ish.

It’s ok to be pissed when you are subjected to foster care and adoption related microaggressions.

It’s ok to be happy with a C, when your child worked so hard and was below grade level when he came to live with you.

It’s ok to be frustrated about all sorts of foster/adoptive kid things like hoarding, executive function, night terrors, defiance, RAD and feel like you can’t breathe a word of it to your friends because they just wouldn’t understand.

It’s ok to lean into an online community of similarly situated parents who “get your struggle.”

It’s ok, despite what your tell your kids about online relationships, to know that *your* online folks are great cheerleaders and, over time, friends.

It’s ok to feel like it will take forever to find your parenting “tribe.”

It’s ok to mourn with like-minded folks, to celebrate with them, to ask for advice, to just shoot the breeze.

It’s ok to see the world differently once you become a parent, and to be both happy and disappointed.

It’s ok to look forward to work travel as an opportunity to peek back at your old life.

It’s ok to look forward to the end of a trip because you miss your family and can’t wait to get home to your personal brand of crazy.

It’s ok to feel disillusioned by all the boogeymen in the world that take the shapes of gun violence, police brutality, racism, sexism, homophobia…and the list goes on.

It’s ok to listen to adoptees, to hear their voices.

It’s ok to allow the adoptee voice to shape how you approach meeting your kids’ needs and how you decide to help them shape their life experiences.

It’s ok to believe that adoptees have something incredibly meaningful to contribute to foster care and adoption conversations.

It’s ok to believe that everyone’s feelings in the adoption triad are legit and not be threatened by that.

It’s ok to feel joy in parenting.

It’s ok to see how much everyone in your family evolves and changes.

It’s ok to celebrate every little and big achievement.

It’s ok.

It’s ok, really, to just try your best, to be…ok.


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