Tag Archives: Adoption Stories

I Marvel – Part 1

I marvel:

  • At how it’s been about a year since Hope even knew I existed and how now she wouldn’t dream of calling me anything but “Momma.”
  • That I finished my dissertation on time.
  • At how quickly she bounces back from a setback now.
  • At how our conflicts have changed.
  • That she can accept some responsibility for her behaviors now.
  • At how effective hypnotherapy can be.
  • At how we have defied the first psychiatrist’s horrible predictions about Hope’s prognosis.
  • That I have found my inner momma bear.
  • That despite adopting an older child I got to briefly experience some aspects of younger child rearing because we needed to address some developmental delays.
  • At how each month brings a new developmental challenge that we muddle through.
  • At how marginalized she has felt because of race, class, family status.
  • At how dismissive she has become of members of her biological family.
  • That I haven’t taken every electronic away for more extended periods because they prevent personal engagement and hinder emotional development.
  • That she doesn’t want me at the bus stop at all anymore.

Filling Holes

Today I went up for prayer at the altar during church. Nearly every week I do, and someone prays a prayer that gives me hope. Today I asked for prayer as a single mom struggling to figure out the coming weeks’ schedules in the absence of support I thought I would have when I started this journey. This weekend I found myself stressing about a major scheduling snafu that’s coming up in the next few weeks. I know I can get it covered but will that coverage be what’s best for Hope? Also, this is just the first business trip of the fall. I’m overwhelmed, and recent appeals for help were declined. I’m sad and, well, a bit scared about how things will come together.

I didn’t share the whole drama with the person at the altar, but my prayer partner prayed that our holes be filled and that our needs be met. Somehow it will be ok. This feels like another huge test of faith and frankly, I’m angry that the tests just don’t ever seem to let up. Still I was hopeful after this prayer.

Sundays are so difficult around here though that by sundown Hope and I are experiencing the routine meltdown that stresses me out and makes me wonder how I managed to have much hope that day in the first place. This Sunday was no different.

As I sit, sip a rosé and eat left over chocolate frosting from the freezer, I wonder how much of our Sunday meltdown routine do I trigger? I know I get cranky. Is it because she utterly refuses to do anything asked that frustrates me so or is it just me picking at insignificant things? Is it because she’s freaking out about the start of a new week? I imagine it’s all of it. I try to just let some things go; I even practice letting go in my head. I’m getting better at it, but in the moment it’s just…every button that can be pushed does get pushed.

Hope and I tried to have a game night tonight; we were both really trying to have fun, and we were both utterly miserable. We eventually just gave up; we don’t know who won the Game of Life tonight. I suppose there is much hope in us just trying to play right?

I don’t know how many of our emotional, spiritual and/or support holes got filled today; it feels like whatever was poured in, spilled right out. Anyway, here’s a couple of lessons from the week before I totally get chocolate wasted and switch from wine to rum because tomorrow is a holiday.

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Teenagers have messy rooms. I know, I know, this should not be a real lesson.   Listen, I’m not a neat freak. I’m not. On the last Add Water and Stir podcast I talked about the state of my house during my home study, weeks before I defended my dissertation proposal—it was a semi-messy pile of papers that I took care to square up the corners and put in 18,000 pretty cardboard boxes from Ikea. Our home looks lived in.

Well, everything but her room looks lived in. Her room looks like a cyclone hit it, and this is causing me so much dissonance about the state of my house. It’s stressing me out. I thought I was a packrat, but I hold no candle to my little hoarder. I understand why she does it, but I also recognize that part of this is just run of the mill teen-esque laziness. That ish is driving me crazy. At least I don’t let her eat any wet or moist foods in her room—dry goods only so maybe there’s a chance for that sty after all.

Parents have meltdowns too. Also not news, but I’m trying to figure out how to be more gentle with myself and my own expectations of me, of Hope, of our relationship. My sense is that some of my emotional upheaval is rooted in an expectation misalignment. Did I harbor some deep seated notions that post-finalization, post-13th birthday that Hope would somehow get her ish together? I don’t know. Maybe. If I did/do, then no wonder I’m pissed all the time and why she continues to speak so poorly about herself when I’m pissy.

Goodness we need a schedule and we need it stat.

I really worry about money. We are in good shape, but I feel like I’m hemorrhaging cash these days. Home repairs, back to school shopping, hypnotist visits and co-pays…it just doesn’t end. Tuesday I’ve got a handy man coming to fix stuff in the house. We will have lots of things fixed but is it all worth the few hundred dollars for someone else to fix this stuff? Yeah, it is, but I still fret. I don’t understand how folks in this area finance more than one kid—I just don’t. I would lose my mind.

I bought myself a pair of shoes recently. I really need some new things for work, but I sense that I will wait until things are nearly threadbare before I do any substantive shopping.

I’m currently over saying everything is mine. I know this is temporary. I can feel the Selfish ABM lurking underneath the surface; even though she has regular respite. Life is just getting on my nerves right now, and I find myself fanaticizing about an alternative version of my life. Oh well. I’m still here. But my compelling need to hide cereal and be crazy seems to have passed. This is a good thing I guess. Bring on the start of school. T-minus 2 days.

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So, I’m out. Stay tuned for an announcement about a special episode of Add Water this week. We’re going to dig into important stuff around race and adoption this week.


Negative Energy

Can I just say that I cannot wait until school starts? I might do cartwheels to the bus stop. This month has emotionally exhausted me. We need routine, and we need it bad.

The last month has been filled with a lot of bickering. Admittedly my patience in the midst of loss has been absurdly short. I was already tender and ouchie. Add to that Hope’s anxiety about returning to a school she says she hated and all sorts of adolescent drama and you’ve got a powder keg house. We can go from 0 to 60 faster than a sports car. It’s not been pretty. We really should be calling the fire house regularly because we can burn this joint down.

I hate admitting it because it makes me feel like a bad parent and certainly not a therapeutic parent. I’m kinda filled with shame at how just downright furious I feel 80% of the time.

During this period, I’ve noticed Hope absorbing and reflecting lots of negative energy.

evil-queen-mirror-o

Her self-esteem is already low, so whenever there are moments of angst, conflict, correction or whatever she sucks all that up and spits it out either with venom at me or with self-loathing. There is never a moment of bright, airy light. It’s always so negative. And whether it’s venom directed at me or her own self-loathing it sucks for both of us. It’s. Just. Awful.

I do a lot of affirmations with her. I work hard to shine some light and positivity on her—“Hope you’re smart, you’re funny, you’re lovely, you can do this….” It’s almost always deflected.

There are moments when she swings to the other end of the continuum. It’s during these moments that she can’t take correction because she is absolutely, unequivocally correct in all things. The need to be the “right” one is so strong that her very identity is wrapped in that rightness. When presented with evidence to the contrary there’s just rage. She rages a lot. The world isn’t really as she knows it; it’s dynamic and what was right yesterday may not be right tomorrow. That upsets her greatly.

I don’t deal with that well. Oh, I get the underlying need to be right; I have issues with wanting/needing to be right. But my identity isn’t defined by it. I see how this negatively impacts her ability to learn; she’s right and you are wrong so you couldn’t possibly teach her anything.

I am really worried about how she will do school this year. During the last couple of weeks I’ve been giving her worksheets for her weaker subjects so that she can get some practice. I’m heartbroken to find how far behind she is on foundational concepts she should’ve learned in 3rd or 4th grade. She missed so much school over the years, moved around so much that she was never even exposed to the material, much less learned it. And yet those few academic compliments she’s received from caring teachers on her journey are clung to with vice grips.

Trying to help her wrestle with academic shortcomings is hard. At the end of the day, Dr. ABM is just another dumb parent who has no effing idea what she’s talking about, according to Hope. The ego check isn’t the thing for me; the fact that she shuts herself off for growth and learning is the thing. Being smart is her shining beacon in an otherwise dark, dank self-worth. Anything that she might interpret as questioning her all-knowingness is to be crushed.

I worry about school this year. And I’m not sure what to do.

phoebe-sad-o

And everything else is out of whack too. It’s hard being 13, man! It’s hard being the mom of a 13 year old, man! It’s just hard around these parts.

This week we’ve navigated revealing more abuse that wasn’t in any of the disclosure documents, dumb adolescent ish, shopping for a birthday card for her bio-grandmother when all the granny cards are all lovely dovey and well, it ain’t that kinda party around here. Schedule changes, foot dragging, temper tantrums (mine and hers) and just dark, icky messiness that has made the house feel so negative that once a day I have to step out on the balcony just to step into the light.

I feel like I’m shadow boxing some kind of fighter that is straight kicking my ass. I’m almost on the defensive as soon as I get up in the morning. I try not to raise my voice. I try to just be quiet sometimes to just avoid escalating things. How we practice civility during the day would be very upsetting to the Nobel Committee because there are no peace prizes in the making around these parts.

I feel like I’m suffocating from the negative energy. It’s just negative energy in negative space.

I’m ready for school to start next week.

This post has been added to the Adoption Social’s #WASO link up.


Messy Life

I’ve been trying to get back into writing now for more than a week. I haven’t struggled to write like this in a while. It certainly isn’t because I haven’t had things to write about; I guess I have just been so blue and overwhelmed that I could only manage to start and stop and start over again. I’m also in the midst of a huge writing period at work and that’s exhausting me in ways I knew it would but still find surprising. I’ve been dog paddling the last week or two. It didn’t feel like I was making progress; in fact it felt like Hope and I were sinking a bit. My “lesson” posts really do help me to gain some perspective at times; so I know it’s important for me to do them.

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Raising a teenager is messy. I often get a sympathetic pat on the back when folks hear that I adopted a tween, now teenager. I usually just smile and nod. It’s weeks like this when I get a clue about the downright foolishness that folks mean. Teenagers do dumb ish. It really is astounding. They do dumb crap even when they know you’re looking, watching and monitoring. I remember some of the dumb crap I did back in the day, but fortunately my adolescent years were rather low tech, so there was really but so much I could get into. Today, these kids just don’t even realize that all this technology leaves breadcrumbs right to their foolishness.

Your parent-snoop game must be strong. Yeah, I low jack errrthang. And even the things that I haven’t figured out how to low jack, Hope thinks I have and usually that’s enough of a deterrent. And then I just go back and just peruse and read every keystroke or finger swipe. I’m sure there will come a time when I really do have to give Hope some privacy, but she keeps demonstrating that she can’t handle privacy, so she has little. Teenagers do dumb ish. Sigh.

Grief is also messy. I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I received The Furry One’s ashes this weekend, and I sobbed. I still sleep with one of his toys (it’s been laundered). And TV shows with puppies make me cry.

But my crankiness is subsiding. I finally broke down and stopped hiding a box of cereal that I didn’t want to share, just bought some more cereal and decided to be grateful Hope wants to eat crunchy raisin bran rather than Lucky Charms. Yes, I’m still being a bit petty. I can’t help it. #dontjudgme

There is a lot of anger in grief. I get why kids of trauma rage so much. I never noticed how much anger resided in grief. I just never realized it until this last week.

I realize it now.

You’re apt to say things you don’t mean. You’re less likely to be gracious. You actually don’t want to be gracious at all. You just feel like you can’t find your way out of the dark maze.

It’s messy. But I’m starting to push through to the light again. Realizing I hadn’t had respite in a while and getting a couple of free evenings has helped immensely.

Nearly 8 months in and the transition is still hard. Hope still hates new experiences; they scare her. She would never say that; she can be prideful. Not as many things are new, but lots of things still are. We haven’t been together a full year. We went to a new place for a fancy brunch today; she shut down. Our brunch companion remarked, “I see dollar signs just flying away” because the brunch was pretty expensive. Yeah, well, given that we didn’t use the Six Flag tickets from last week, and I shelled out a few hundred for hypnotherapy this week, this pricey brunch was just a drop for what was a financial hemorrhage of a week. It was a new experience and she was overwhelmed. The fact that she accidentally revealed some dumb ish she did during the week didn’t help matters.

Trust is so hard to build and so easy to lose. This isn’t new, but we’re dealing with hard trust issues around these parts these days. I don’t trust her right now, and she doesn’t trust me. We were doing so well and we will recover, but right now, neither of us seems to be budging an inch. It’s interesting; the trust breeches on her part are typical dumb, teen stuff; the trust breeches on my part are that I don’t give her a pass because, well, she thinks she deserves one. #girlbye We’ve got some backtracking to do around here. Loving her through things helps; when I withdraw she sinks; but this teen thing is a beast yo. There’s lots of reprogramming, trust building, attachment building…it’s just a lot going on.

It’s getting harder to quantify what issues are just teen stuff and what issues are adoption/trauma stuff. This makes life interesting, but I’m glad we’re in this space. I can’t always tell the difference which means we’ve hit a better blend ratio. I used to be able to say things like 60/40 trauma stuff. Now I’m not as sure. That’s kinda cool.

Single parenting is hard. I thought things would be a bit different with the availability of different kinds of support. Those support structures aren’t there so I’m having to artificially create them. It’s tough, but I’m managing. It is hard to not have a partner who can tag me out so I can just take some time. It’s hard. I’m doing it, but it’s hard. I’m grateful for other kinds of resources that I’m learning to use and learning to leverage.

Hypnotism can work. We’ve had one visit so far to tackle the bug phobia. OMG—saw bugs and she didn’t windmill and freak out. We have another visit for fine tuning in a few weeks. The relief already experienced is earth shattering. Yay!

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That’s it. This is the last week before school and I’m counting down the days until we can get back to a routine. I’ve got a ton of work to do, but will be taking a few days off to celebrate the end of summer this week. Hopefully fun times ahead.


Add Water Episode 4 is Live!

In the latest episode of Add Water and Stir, Mimi and ABM discuss the matching process. Preparing and completing the matching process requires serious contemplation about your parenting aspirations.  Mimi and ABM explain some of the intricacies of the matching process and how your matching tool might be interpreted based on whether you’re fostering to adopt or moving straight to adoption.  The Add Water hosts also explore the emotional challenges involved with matching.  Everything hinges on that match!

ABM and Mimi wrap up the podcast with a hilarious chat about Married at First Sight, the new show on FYI.  You need this show in your life, so check it out.  According to Mimi, you may also need bacon flavored sunflower seeds and some Oyin handmade hair products!  #TreatYoSelf.

Show Notes:

Recommendations:

  • #TreatYoSelf – Tweet how you are prioritizing your self care with the podcast hashtag #AddWater and we’ll read them on the next podcast!
  • Bigs Sizzlin’ Bacon Sunflower Seeds – found at your local corner store/bodega but Amazon will deliver directly to your house.  You know you want to order these!
  • Oyin Handmade Hair Products – oyinhandmade.com

And We Survived

In all my pre-trip fretting about a near week away from Hope, I did have some concerns for The Furry One, who was recently diagnosed with some serious brain issues. Turns out that Hope was fine, and The Furry One came completely unhinged. My poor, furry, first born was scared out of his mind (he’s also nearly blind and deaf) and no amount of sedatives seemed to knock him out for the count. He came home a shadow of himself, prompting our family vet to have an “end of life” conversation with me as we discussed whether he had what it takes to bounce back. At nearly 15, I’m not sure. I know we have entered the final chapter; I just don’t know how long that chapter will read. I’m nursing him this weekend, remembering all of our years together and teaching Hope the value of life and dignity and how we’re all worthy of kindness, compassion, love and snuggles. She’s also learning that when you’re old and sick you get just about anything you want—The Furry One noshed on a deboned pork chop last night and pizza crusts tonight..

Throughout this week, all kinds of things—good and challenging—have transpired. Here’s a list of things I learned without too much elaboration.

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How we behave with our early tween/teen crushes is right out of the Disney-Young and the Restless text book. The things I’ve heard come out of my daughter’s mouth this week are things that a Disney princess with a daytime TV habit would say. I think when we’re crushing we just emulate ish we’ve seen on TV. Gawd, I’m glad I’m grown and have my own script with my own words now.

Sleep is healing. The Furry One is currently sedated with some good stuff. He needs to heal and sleeping pretty much around the clock is essential to the bounce back. We all need more sleep and more rest. It’s healing. Find a way to get that rest. #TreatYoSelf #iwishicouldborrowhisdrugs

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Despite needing more sleep, I will sacrifice sleep for cookies and wine. This is becoming a nightly ritual. On the last podcast I mentioned that I’d made cookie dough in anticipation of my return home from the recent business trip. I didn’t get my couple of days of “Me” time, but I’m having my nightly cookies and wine—even if I have to stay up later to do it. #TreatYoSelf

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It’s true—have looser reigns at first and you’ll be able to tighten up the house rules later. I know firsthand that it’s hard to believe that not “laying down the law” with older adoptive kids will lead to all kinds of mayhem, but honestly the trust isn’t there to respect all the rules at first. Here we are 6 months in, and I’ve earned the right to have firm rules about stuff in our home. I can “lay down the law” with no issues these days. It works.

The presence of trust allows for healthy purging. We purged closets and drawers today. We did it on the fly and I told Hope the rules—1) you have 15 minutes to purge, 2) if you hesitate toss the item in a secondary pile and come back to it, but keep moving, 3) if there’s a strong emotional attachment it’s ok to keep it and revisit that attachment at the next purge session, 4) itemize, bag and donate immediately. She purged a bag of things—including things that she brought here. She was relieved not to be expected to get rid of things that held emotional connections. Hope enjoyed making room for school shopping and taking account of what she owns. She trusted me and the purging process. We actually had fun.

Hope’s self-esteem is on the come up! Yay! If you don’t read Mollytopia, you should—gosh she’s funny as all heck. This week, she wrote a post called, Make the Game Your Bitch, all about developing her and her daughter’s positive self-image. Well, I played the game with Hope today. I sucked, but Hope? Hope rattled off her three things she loved about her insides and outsides so quickly that I am jealous. It made me proud of her and how far she’s come. She still will claim that she’s “bad” at least once a week, but to know that she sees her body, mind and heart as lovingly as I do made me happy. Go Hope!

Have I mentioned that I’m happy? No really; I know it all isn’t over but I believe the worst, the roughest part of our journey is over. We’ve survived!

Grown up time is essential. I missed Hope and The Furry One while I was away last week, but keeping my own schedule was priceless. I actually took time to put on the good make up and do my hair in more than a puff, piled on top of my head (which is becoming my summer of 2014 standard—I’m lazy, what can I say?). I even wore a couple of new dresses. I worked my fanny off, but I also took time to skip a few receptions, order room service, and cool my heels taking care of me-ABM the grown up, not just ABM the mom. Good stuff. #TreatYoSelf

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There’s more, but right now, I’m going to sip on this tempranillo and these cookies and finish watching Law and Order: Criminal Intent before I scoop up The [passed out] Furry One and take him to my room so I can watch him sleep.


The Only One

Hope is currently in a day camp at local animal shelter. She’s been looking forward to this week of camp for months, and really is thriving there. She keeps asking can we adopt some critters. The answer is always no. No. Did I mention the answer is no? The Furry One is the center of the animal universe in Casa d’ABM.

This camp has triggered some difficult conversations about race between Hope and me. Hope is the only brown kid at the camp. #oneofthesekidsisdoingherownthing The ONLY one. We talked about it the first day, how did she feel about being the only one, I wondered. For the record, she brought it up first, no seeds planted here.

Hope really has internalized some unambiguous ideas about how Black folks behave; she wasn’t surprised that she was the only one. I hear a lot of “Black folks don’t do this,” or “Black folks do this” from her. It really is black or white with her. Her declarations about how we act are usually a negative characterization, i.e. “Black folks do all the stealing.” It stings every time I hear it. I hate the sense of self-hate that it implies; because Black folks don’t do certain things, she thinks that some of her opportunities are limited.

She thinks that as an educated Black woman I’m different, not the norm. I might as well be a rare bird. She’s actually told me that I wasn’t really Black because I didn’t act Black enough by any measure. Yes, she actually revoked my Black people membership card.

#membershiprevoked

#membershiprevoked

She rationalized that she ended up at her dream camp because her new mom was White enough to support her going.

Sigh. Damn, damn, damn.

I was taught all the good stuff about being Black and being descendants of African kings and queens, and I was brought up in an environment where Black History Month was all year long. I understood early that when I walked into a space, I brought a community of people with me; I had to represent by putting my best foot forward. I’ve been called Oreo and called out for acting White, and while it hurt from an adolescent social angle, it didn’t matter because I was making sure I carried myself in a way that showed White folks that people who look like me can get ‘er done. Pressure? Yeah, but pressure gladly shouldered—I’m a descendant of kings and queens remember? #KingdomofZamunda #ComingtoAmerica

comingtoamerica

But Hope’s racial development took a different trajectory. Black history was Tupac and Biggie. She’s been left to sort out her understanding based on what she’s seen Black and White folks do in her 13 years and in her limited environment. The separation and characterizations of racial groups is sharp with her.

It’s a struggle to figure out how to course correct some of this, and sometimes it’s like we’re not even speaking the same language. I want to teach her that we Black folks can do whatever we aspire to do, and we don’t surrender our Blackness to do any of it. There’s a need to learn to code switch in our culture in order to move from surviving to thriving. There’s a need to cultivate an image and narrative about whom and what Black folks are and that we, like any other racial group, span a pretty diverse group of folks and behaviors. Behaviors aren’t racial, they transcend race. Trifling folks will be trifling irrespective of race. Nose to the grindstone folks who are working towards something meaningful go beyond racial and cultural dimensions.

But, uh, supporting positive racial development at 13 is so messy. Some folks would rather embrace a color-blind paradigm. I reject this; I think it’s naive and it’s easy to say sure we don’t see things but the research about racial attribution, discrimination and marginalization is overwhelming in education (as early as toddlers–racism is learned behavior) on through the life-span. I want to teach her to own her color, but not to feel limited by small, biased bit of data she has that shapes what she thinks her cocoa brown skin means for her life.

The dichotomy of race in this camp experience comes up as a part of our daily chatter. This morning she pointed out how some girls thought she was hilarious. Hope is a funny girl, she uses humor excessively, almost like performance therapy, to gain acceptance with peers. She has a hard time. Given our discussions, I probed—I was concerned about inadvertently building the image as the class clown…the Black class clown. I already worried that such an image could be, and is often, aligned with the class troublemaker, instigator and so on (lots of data on this too). I want her to be herself, but I worried about the pressure of being the only one, trying to make friends and be socially acceptable.I worried that if she acted out, would folks remember that the Black girl had a meltdown or if Hope–personalized and personified–had a meltdown.

It may sound like I have little faith in anyone else in the camp—oh I’ll admit to being suspect because I don’t know them. But I also know that Hope is “comfortable” with being Black and she’s comfortable with a paradigm in which being really Black doesn’t have to be about anything more than spitting rhymes on a corner while sipping a forty. She only kind of got my concern.. Somehow, I think we’ll have many future opportunities to wrestle with this topic. We’ve got a big internal Black folk, culture clash going on around these parts. Fun times.  #notreally

Apparently, racial development is a rock to kick over in same race adoptions as well. Silly me to assume I had dodged that bullet.


Today in Images

I simply can’t recount the drama of the day in detail.  It’s just meh…sometimes you just can’t. So, every now and again I try something different.  Here’s today in pictures.

 

Two hours of sleep after the On the Run concert. I’m too old for this mess.

Then I get this phone call…

Then I get this phone call...

cliff 2

hell no 2

When I get to the spot…simmering. I didn’t actually say this, but I thought it. I did give the look though.

And the administrator thinks I’m about to cut up and act a fool because of the events of the morning.  Didn’t know me from a can of paint.

And the administrator thinks I'm about to cut up and act a fool.

No boo, that’s Dr. ABM to you. #respect

No boo, that's Dr. ABM to you.

After the “Dr” thing, all sorts of privilege turned up and solutions magically appeared.

After the Dr thing, all sorts of privilege turned up and solutions magically appeared.

But I was still about to come undone about what happened. It was serious.

But I was still about to come undone about what happened.  It was serious.

It was going to be on like popcorn.

It was on like popcorn.

 

And our ice maiden alter egos made an appearance.

And our ice maiden alter egos made an appearance.

And after the thaw-ie several hours–we had the heart to heart that didn’t involve me wringing her neck.

I used my communication skills and everything.  I also kept my hands firmly at my sides.

And then we had the heart to heart that didn't involve me wringing her neck.

And we hugged it out.

And we hugged it out even though there are consequences in place.

But there are some serious consequences in place.

blackhole

 

And now red wine…and bad TV.

Don’t forget to check out the second episode of Add Water and Stir–this Thursday night, 10pm EDT/9pm CDT! 🙂

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Podcasts and Vacations, Oh My!

Ahhhh, with some distractions in my life (vacation and the emergence of the bio family), I have neglected to blog about the Add Water and Stir podcast!
Yes, Mimi from ComplicatedMelodi and I made like Kool and the Gang and “got down on it” with our inaugural podcast last week. The description? BAM:

This is the inaugural episode of Add Water and Stir, a new podcast devoted to exploring adoption in communities of color.  Hosts AdoptiveBlackMom (ABM) and ComplicatedMelodi (Mimi) share how they came to be adoptive parents, and they delve into how their adoption stories differ from the mainstream adoption conversation.  Show highlights include receiving the child’s disclosure records, “passing” in same race adoptive families and the shade associated with parenting children of trauma.

Mimi says a write purty. She’s very kind.

Anyhoo, if you want to kill some time and check us out over the US holiday week/weekend, you can find us in these streets on YouTube:

On the podcast page:

addwater3

Click me to reach the page!

Or at the actual podcast location for Episode 1.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/addwaterandstir/AWAS_001.mp3

We’re podcasting live every two weeks, be sure to check us out on July 10 at 10pm EST/9pm CST.

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In other news…

Hope and I are vacationing in Florida this week, enjoying the joy that is humidity and messy thunderstorms. We visited the Magic Kingdom yesterday which was plagued by a massive deluge as we arrived. After shelling out a couple of hundred bucks to get in, another $20 for obnoxious ponchos I was ready to make the best of the day and make some magic happen.

Hope wanted to wallow in self-pity.

“Woe is me.” “Whenever I want to do something it never works out.” “The world is against me.” “God doesn’t like me.”

Ok, so like Michelle Obama, there’s one thing I don’t do well, and it’s this: wallowing.  No ma’am. I allow moments of wallowing self-pity, but they are moments. I collect myself and move on. Hope LIVES at an emotional address called 1234 Self-Pity Street, The Universe Revolves Around Me, VA; USA. It drives me nuts and is a total buzz killer. #icant I know that so much has happened and not happened in her life that it has created this address for her, but I do not live there.

So, I told her she got one pass for wallowing, but that was it because I know the rain was disappointing.  But wasn’t the end of the world. We were at Disney, dammit. Pretend to be happy, put some positive energy in the universe and live in the moment. #powerofpositivethinking #thesecret

During the next mini storm, Hope went in hard on the wallowing. And I lost my shiz. What I wasn’t fitting to do was listen to misery all day after spending a grip to get here when we could still have a good time. I read her the riot act about killing the vibe, refusing to have fun and getting on an emotional plane back to Self-Pity Street.

I also threatened to leave. Oh, but I did.  I threatened to pull the plug on that giant mouse trap and didn’t blink about it either.

Now if you’ve never been to Disney World, you should know that it’s incredibly hard to stalk off in a huff after threatening to leave when you need to walk a mile to the monorail and then catch a tram to your parking lot. I mean you need a serious, “you pissed me off and we’re leaving” face for at least 40 minutes. But Hope also knows that while I am responsible and serious about money, I don’t fret over money that has already left my wallet, so if we needed to leave after dropping a grip to get up in Disney, then stalk on the monorail and tram I would… with a resting b*tch face I would. And there would be no stopping at any gift shops on the way out. #noearsforyou #herfacetho

Then I made like Elsa and went all Frozen for 30 minutes. I quietly went, with her in tow, to get something to eat, checked the FastPass situation for the cancelled rides, and sat on a bench while I got myself together and gave her time to get herself together to. Then we went on It’s a Small World After All. And all was again right with the world. We had a great time with no more drama. She got her ears and her dog Pluto and had a great, great time.

Negative talk is a big problem for Hope, and one that I’m constantly working on with her. It may sound harsh, but she has a flair for the dramatic so I have to go in hard with her. I’m proud of her for choosing to enjoy Disney.

In Hope’s family news, I checked in with all those family members who contacted her, let them know that their friend requests were denied, messages erased, they’ve been privacy blocked from her page and that they needed to come through me if they want to eventually have contact with Hope. I would determine when and how that would happen. So far the response has been respectful and understanding, but I can’t help not trusting them. We’ll see where things go, and I hope that one day Hope and her family will have a good relationship, but for now I’m going to keep tight reins on this situation.

Well, back to sunning myself with Hope and the friends we’re visiting. Peace out!


That Dang Facebook

So, we’ve all read how social media can be a pain in the butt. It’s been blamed for the demise of countless relationships. Irresponsible posts have ruined friendships, busted up families. Heck, if we include blogging in the larger context of social media I have to own my own drama, with how I fell out with my own mother after expressing my anger and frustrations on this very blog.

Hope has a Facebook account. Now I wasn’t particularly a fan of this, but she already had one when she was placed with me. Her therapist encouraged me to allow her to continue using it to keep in touch with friends from back home. The truth is that she really is not really on it much; when she is on Facebook, she’s looking at Justin Bieber posts and absurd short videos of the latest dance moves.   I check her page regularly. I log on as her to check her private messages too.

A few days ago, I got a friend request from a complete stranger. Now usually I dismiss these quickly. I keep my privacy settings pretty high and rarely get such requests from folks without a mutual friend or acquaintance. For some reason I didn’t act on the request and just let it sit for a day or so. Last night I actually clicked it and reviewed the sender.

That dang Facebook. Damn if the sender wasn’t Hope’s paternal aunt. Sigh. Panic set in. I’ve never felt panicked before about Hope’s biological family.

A few weeks ago, I set out to search for them so that I would have information to share with her at some point. I want her to know about her family and to decide what kind of relationship she wants or doesn’t want. Her mother is out of the picture and her father is deceased. She was closer to the latter and I’ve always created a lot of space for her to talk about him. She wonders aloud about them ever so often. I’ve never felt threatened—emotionally or otherwise—by her biological family. But this all felt like an invasion of epic proportions.

I logged out and logged into Hope’s account to find that half a dozen paternal family members had sent friend requests and a couple of messages, including one from this aunt, were in her private “other” message box. The messages talked about how happy they were to find her and just kind of jumped into conversation like nothing happened.

I deleted the friend requests. I deleted the messages. Then I sat down for the first of a couple of sad cries.

I thought, I will take a day or two to figure out what to say to these folks. How do I protect Hope? How do I talk to her about this? How do I wrap my own brain around how these folks could reach out to her, send her messages without consulting me and most of all—WTH (W=Where) were they for the last 4 years when she was in foster care? And where were you when she had a failed kinship placement with one of y’all bamas a few years ago…talking ‘bout some, you wondered where she was and how she was doing? GTFOH!

I don’t know if I have the right to ask some of these questions of them, but dammit where were they when she was floating around?

I hate thinking about how I’m going to eventually talk to Hope about this; I will but I don’t know how right now. I rather talk to her about anything else under the sun.

I’ll take another awkward sex chat, Alex, for $2000.

Oh, and I do not want to talk to these people. At least I do not want to talk to these people right now. I owe them nothing, right? Oh, and for the record I don’t care what they think of me. That’s not a part of my freakout.

The rush of emotions is overwhelming. I am angry that they would send her messages directly and not even think they needed to come through me. I am scared that they will persist in trying to contact her without my ok. I am sad that I feel the need to protect Hope from her biological family. I am empty headed about what any kind of relationship might look light, never mind how long it will take to get there.

So, when I awoke from a nap earlier yesterday to find a direct message through Facebook from her aunt, I freaked out again. She thanked me for taking care of Hope, and she said how she’d looked for Hope for years. She then started telling me how she’d reached out to her on FB and gave me contact information to pass along to Hope.

This was one of the few times in my life when I had chest pains. I decided to use a life line and call my sister, who validated my emotional free fall.

I eventually wrote back to her. I explained that I saw her messages and all the family friend requests to Hope. I explained how upsetting this could be and why. I confirmed that Hope is entitled to relationship with her biological family, but that right now we need some more time. I asked her to cease contacting Hope directly and to kindly ask her other family members not to either. They can contact me and I will determine when and how their contact with Hope will happen. I promised to give her some updates from time to time.

She wrote back that she understood and would respect my wishes. But will the others? I feel like I might’ve started a game of Whack-a-Mole with folks just popping up.

I will broach this with Hope sometime this summer. I discuss it with our Absurdly Hot Therapist and see what he says about this.

I want her to have this family; but I don’t trust them. I don’t trust them at all and I don’t want them to hurt her or us. I didn’t really sign up for a forced open adoption; so this is all a shock. I’m glad that we are finalized and that I feel like I’ve got the papers to legally shape what happens next. That doesn’t really help the pit in my stomach but it’s a start.


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