Tag Archives: Adoption Journey

Blank Stares & Nods

Hope doesn’t like confrontation. I’m guessing she comes by that quite honestly. Unfortunately, life has a lot of opportunities for confrontation.

I am pretty comfortable with confrontation, but during these three years, I’ve had to learn how to manage my ease with confrontation in order to meet Hope’s needs and to not scare her off from conversations that must be had.

I have greatly improved how I initiate these chats, how to tell when I need to abort the mission and navigate how to keep it going long enough to have something close to the desired impact. And what is the desired impact?

Well…who knows. It’s complicated, and to be honest, sometimes I get so flipping frustrated.

I often chat with Grammy to better understand how she parented me when I was Hope’s age. Oh, I know that it’s entirely different, but I just want a baseline—I’m also checking to see if I’m just crazy.

I also chat with Sister K, who has a son close in age to Hope. We often talk about how our children practice the “Blank Stare.”

The Blank Stare is apparently some sort of protective mechanism that teens use when parents are providing correctional confrontation. Kids actually seem to go mute and just stare blankly as you discuss the issue, ask questions and await responses.

My mom assures me that my sisters and I did not practice the Blank Stare; we immediately started talking, apologizing and doing/saying whatever was necessary to reduce anticipated consequences (my peeps were firm believers that a hard head makes for a sore bottom). But Hope and her modern-day colleagues seem to prefer to hold their tongues and just retreat into a Stare mode.

Hope does have a whole set of behaviors that surround the Blank Stare; it’s not the only thing in her unresponsive bag of tricks.

Initially, she’s defensive; Hope is likely to try to offer some rationale to explain her position; when that proves unsuccessful she descends into what I call Mime phase.

The Mime phase is when Hope’s voice volume lowers with each word until she’s just mouthing inaudible words. At first, I thought that she was trying to make me crazy by thinking my hearing was going out.

 

Notinmyhouse

via giphy

 

Nah, she seriously just turns the volume down on herself.

That’s when we hit the Blank Stare. It’s epic really, much respect. It’s as though Hope is encased in some imaginary, sound proof box that apparently requires no resistance. It’s almost as though she is focused on sending me soundwave messages to join her in the box. She’s nearly doll-like. I know she can hear me and see me, but there is zero response. She blinks, she *might* cock her head to the side, but really, she just stares, making direct eye contact.

 

christ

via giphy

 

As a resistance mechanism, it drives me batty. I have to fight back all the rage. I cannot stand the Blank Stare.

But it doesn’t stop there, from the Stare we fall into the Nod.

 

Kimmy2

via giphy

 

She pulled this avoidance technique during a meeting with her counselor, teachers, tutor and me last fall–a whole room of folks discussing her 504 and her school performance. I’m sure it was overwhelming, but OMG. 

The Nod is Hope’s peak avoidance schtick; it’s all downhill from this point on. It was so impressive that the guidance counselor asked if she could be doing drugs. I was horrified, and apparently so was Hope since she snapped out after the inquiry.

The Nod is reserved for Hope’s most uncomfortable moments.  I don’t see it too often anymore, thank goodness, but it’s there.

Sometimes, there’s so much drama with Hope.

I do find some comfort in knowing that some of this foolishness is completely normal. I am aware that some of it isn’t normal, and I just have to deal and wait her out. I really spend a lot of time breathing through my own emotional responses and thinking about ways that I can offer confrontation, correction, and consequences in ways that don’t make Hope feel bad about herself and in ways that avoid this continuum of, ahem, artistic avoidant responses.

I’m hoping for a day when more engaging interactions tip the scales, but from the looks of the Blank Stare and the Nods lately, it’s going to be a while.


Who Am I?

Today my adoption agency let me know that Hope would be told about me this coming Monday.  I was asked to provide a short bio this weekend so it could be used to help tell her about me.  Awesome right?  Super awesome, and I’ve been writing bios about my professional self for years.  Except this isn’t a professional bio.

Who am I in 200 words or less to my new daughter, who’s an actual person who can read this bio?  Gee, the “winging it” of having a newborn who doesn’t expect a bio sounds strangely appealing in the face of this task.

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I work on issues related to diversity, and a lot of my work focuses on multiple identities.  We all have them.  I am Black.  I am a woman.  I am 40.  I am a doctoral student.  I am a professional.  I am a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a friend.  Each of these identities are unique, but they are layered, making me (and everyone else) pretty complex.   And those are just a few of my identities.  Hmmm, this is making me sound a little Faces of Eve.

This adoption journey is really making me think about my life through some different lenses.  So, I’m flipping my skills at writing my professional bio and focusing this evening on constructing my personal bio.   I’ll mention that my current immediate family includes this loveable, but increasingly ornery, 13 year old beast (aka: The Furry One).

Image

Maybe I’ll include that I drive past the famous Washington Monument almost every day (that’s kind of cool right?).   I have a view of a river from my patio.   I talk to at least one of my sisters just about every day; family is super important to me and I’m super jazzed that a supportive contingent of family just moved to the area.  I like to cook, and I always have homemade bread in the house because I don’t like store bought bread.   I work hard, study hard, play hard, and love hard.  I like roller coasters.  I like the pool and the beach, but don’t particularly care for water so I watch everyone’s beach bags during excursions.

I like to salsa dance, though I so rarely go dancing these days  because the recovery time on these knees is in a word: brutal.  I’ve been keeping a journal since I was in  elementary school.  I have all of my journals that I’ve written since I was in high school.   I am reflective and like to go back and read them and ponder things like why I didn’t really crush on my co-worker, Curtis, at the grocery store where we worked when we were in high school.  He was cute.  I know, I digress, but he really was cute…oh wait that’s right, we might’ve been related somewhere in there, on my mother’s side.  I remember now.   Oh well.

I know that Hope and I will have phone calls soon and Skype sessions as we work up to a visit in the coming weeks and months, but I have an urge to use every tool in my writing arsenal to cram as much information into these 200 words because they are my initial ambassadors.  They seem pretty important, right?  But on this evening’s walk through the neighborhood, I remembered that my daughter (OMG, I have a daughter!!), who will learn about me for the first time this coming week, is only 12.  And when she hears about me, she’ll probably wonder what I know about her.  And I know a heck of a lot more about her than she knows about me at this point.   Advantage:  AdoptiveBlackMom… for now anyway.    I’m sure a time will come when she will have advantages all over me.

But, this isn’t the time for super dense writing.  It’s time for the basics:  Who, What, Where, When and Why.   Or at least something like that.

I’m going to pull some stuff from my home study essay and start there.

 ******

In other news, my dissertation study launched this week and my response rate is already over 30%.  Awesome!!


Erica Roman Blog

I write so that my healing may bring healing to others.

My Mind on Paper

The Inspired Writing of Kevin D. Hofmann

Mimi Robinson Online

One black woman's journey through infertility, adoption and now being a SAHM

My Wonderfully Unexpected Journey

When Life Grabbed Me By The Ears

Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

These are the adventures of one family in foster care and adoption.

imashleymi.wordpress.com/

finding the balance between being a mom and a marketing maven

Stephanie Rodda

Pondering Faith and Family

wearefamily

an adoption support community

Fighting for Answers

Tales From an Adoption Journey

Transracialeyes

Because of course race and culture matter.

SJW - Stuck in the Middle

The Life of Biracial Transracial Adoptee

Pryvate Parts

I'll show you mine ...

Hypervigilant.org

Let's be honest. Adoption isn't easy, pretty, or fun. Except when it is.

Becoming A Mama

A Reflective Blog About Pursuing Motherhood

Harlow's Monkey

an unapologetic look at transracial and transnational adoption

%d bloggers like this: