Tag Archives: adoption support

Uncontrolled Cries

So today is the day I have hit my emotional bottom.  It’s been 54 days since Hope arrived.  We’ve had ups.  We’ve had downs.  I’ve learned a lot; I’ve endured a lot.   I’ve laughed a lot and I’ve cried a lot.  There were a few days when I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed.  I finished writing the last two chapters of my dissertation during these 54 days and sit on the precipice of attaining my highest academic achievement.  I met someone who brought a little color and calm in an otherwise difficult time.  I love my daughter; I am committed to her, and I’m hopeful that one day we will be the kind of mom and daughter that I dreamt of a long time ago.

And on this 54th day, I sit in a local Panera crying uncontrollably while shoveling obscene quantities of carbs in my mouth, knowing I’ll regret it later, but unable to stem the tide of snarfing.   Several very nice ladies have stopped over with stacks of napkins and kind smiles.

I don’t lose it in public often, very rarely.  I cry a lot, but I try to do it privately.  Today, I really am unable to pull my scattered self back together.  Today I am completely unhinged, and the only reason I’m not in my bedroom crying in a ball with The Furry One looking on fretfully is because a loving cousin rushed over to kick me out to find some respite alone.

I debriefed with Grammy this morning and the full on rejection, accusations and inability to believe in me or the long term success of me and my daughter is just too much to bear.   All other real or perceived battles with Grammy are unable to even come close to the emotional upheaval I am grappling with today.

I didn’t say much on the call.  I attempted to call her to debrief yesterday, but told my dad I didn’t have the courage to do it.   He didn’t understand.  I won’t bore you with all the gory details but here’s a little Sports Center highlight reel:

  • Hope is going to bring me down; all her problems will negatively affect me.
  • Grammy is physically afraid of Hope and will not provide respite for me.
  • Grammy thinks that smelling wine on my breath after coming home from a work reception means I have a drinking problem.
  • Grammy insinuated that my daughter might be possessed.

Oh and one from earlier in her visit:

  • She didn’t think it wise to make hotel reservations to go to my graduation until after my defense because you know, I might eff up.

I’m not sure what to do with this and all the rest that I can’t write here.  I’m so disappointed, but most of all I’m angry…angry with myself.  Grammy had already shown me repeatedly that she was not the person I would be able to rely on during this journey.  But she told me she wanted so much for me to give her a chance, for me to open up, for me to lower the cloak I had around me and my daughter and let her in to help us, to love on us and to be Grammy.  So I did.  And the first exposure to our reality sent her doing a drive by drop-off.  And me sitting here with a heart full of regret that I ever let my defenses down at all and a feeling like I never will again.

I know at some point I’ll let Grammy back in because I want to model for my daughter how to get over such incredible pain and how to forgive.  But I have no earthly idea how or when I will be able to muster what’s needed to do that.  Hopefully next time I’ll be better prepared to wrestle with the possible rejection and abandonment that may follow.  Also, maybe next time I won’t carb load while sobbing at the local eatery.  Maybe next time I won’t need respite because my reserves will be deep enough to plug the gaping hole that might appear in the aftermath.  Maybe next time I won’t be hurt and disappointed at all because Grammy’s reserves will be deeper, and she will be able to embrace us as we are, thorns and all.  Maybe she will believe in us then.  Maybe she will actually believe in me too at that point.

When I first started this journey I was rather put off by how conservative the adoptive community seemed to be.  I had a healthy sense of my faith and belief system, but I rarely saw folks who were like me—pretty liberal, comfortably Christian, but not showy about it, progressive, Black…the list goes on and on.  I still don’t always see myself in this community, but I know and appreciate how much I have found my place and how my faith in God has evolved, especially during these 54 days.  I’m in a constant state of prayer.   I’m still not as conservative as I perceive many in the community to be, but I get it now…this calling requires something more, something deeper than ourselves.

I’ve often said I don’t know how something would get done, only that it would get done.  It always has gotten done.   I have a set of footprints and a small cross on my right ankle reminding me that when it’s only one set of prints, it was then that God carried me.  My faith has always been there, but it is a bit more on the sleeve now.  And so I’m puzzled that the model of faith I’ve had, Grammy, just doesn’t believe in Hope’s healing from trauma and in the ultimate success of our family as I believe.  I believe we will be delivered.  I believe that Hope will grow up to be happy and healthy.  I believe in her restoration.  I believe that we will be ok, better than ok.   I don’t understand how Grammy doesn’t believe that.  I don’t understand how she can utter words that don’t speak wholeness over us.  I just don’t understand, and now I don’t think I want to hear what she is saying at all.

What’s the adage? If you can’t say something nice….

I know she loves me, but today was just too much.   It was just heartbreaking.

Today is the 54th day in this post-placement journey, and it was so, so very hard.

Now that I’ve made numerous people uncomfortable at the Panera, I think I’ll take my weepy self to the beauty supply to buy crap I don’t need.  I will blow out my afro tonight and paint my nails and give myself a facial.  I will reach out to the new sitter service I found and see about setting up once to twice a week respite so I can practice some self-care.  I will thank my friends and family who have come to my rescue.  I will pray for me and my daughter.

I will pray for Grammy too, even though I am not sure what to say.


When Support Groups Jump the Shark

So, for about 4 or 5 months I’ve lurked a FB older child adoption support group.  I posted a few times, didn’t really get much notice.  The group is dominated by older child adoptive parents, usually women, and overwhelmingly international adoptions.  I never quite felt I “fit” there.  Only saw only one or two other non-White faces in the group members’ FB photos.  Couldn’t relate to some of the issues unique to international adoption.  Still I found the group to be generally educational and supportive of posters who reached out to seek advice, camaraderie, support or just to vent.  It was a fine group to just hang with the pack and lurk about.

Until the last 24 hours.  Jeesch louise!  Some people have way too much effing time on their hands.  Way too much.

A woman posted yesterday that she and her husband found themselves with a CPS case investigation concerning a bruised adoptee.  The couple had used corporal punishment and things had gone badly.  It was a sad story, and the woman was seeking prayers and support to help her navigate a very tragic and sad situation.  It was really sad.

I was raised with spanking; I don’t intend to spank Hope, nor could I since my state makes you sign a form saying you won’t.  Had I had biological kids, I might feel differently.  I don’t know all that happened in that family; it’s not my business.  They had a horrible moment that they may pay dearly for in more ways than one. Corporal punishment is a ouchy-touchy subject that I won’t debate here because it’s just not the point of the post. (<<<<See what I did there?  Stay on topic!)

What I found curious about the post was how many supposedly supportive, compassionate fellow adoptive parents WENT IN HARD.  Oh I get it, spanking, beating, corporal punishment is a controversial subject.  The mother posting knew that–I can’t imagine she just landed from the planet Zoron–but she was scared and in need of some help and prayers and compassion.  Now maybe it’s hard for some folks to have compassion for such a parent.  I can dig it, but you know I would’ve expected a couple of judgy comments and for folks to just move on.  You know the adage, if you can’t say something supportive for this mother and father who lost their ish then pass this post by.

These folks tore this mother a new one, and when she was online begging for mercy, they went in again.  She deleted her post, posted something more conciliatory, and these folks went in again.  #wheretheydothatat?

Seriously there ended up being FB blockings, accusations of harassment and bullying and all sorts of mayhem.  It was crazy.  This morning there was a grateful post thanking those folks who just said they would graciously pray for the family.  This afternoon came a post from a responder that raised the issue again and went on to shame the mother and the family without calling them by name.

No really, that happened.  Seriously, people have so much effing free time.  If we could refocus half the energy that some folks spend doing dumb ish on social media the world would really be a better place.

This shaming post went on for hours more.  As I watched it unfold, folks were debating Christian parenting, the nuanced distinctions between beating and spanking, and a bunch of “who shot John” foolishness.

As I mentioned, I usually lurk but decided to post a message about how I, as a group member who has learned a lot about parenting and was on the precipice of my daughter’s arrival, was just offended by the overall tone, lack of empathy and compassion for a family in need on the forum.  Finding support among fellow adoptive families is so important because there’s so much that other people just don’t get or understand.  So to see folks tear down each other with the nastiest posts, all in the name of “dialogue” mind you, was just sickening.  That’s not support at all.

Some motor-fingered poster decided to try to school me on what happened over the last 24 hours along with her two cents about corporal punishment.

#girlbye.

For reals?

I saw the meanie posts, the passive aggressive language, and just overall disgust that she tried to coat with the air of authority of a frequent group poster, also known in this context as a bully.  I politely responded that I saw what was happening and was disappointed in this kind of “dialogue.”  Then I went to the group settings bar and “ungrouped” myself.  Did a quickie search for another older child adoption community and sent a member request.  Let’s see what they’re serving across town.

This journey is hard enough, does there really need to be public shaming?  I mean really?  I already felt like I was way out on the periphery of this support group, why would I ever feel safe enough to post how hard life might be with Hope on some low days?  God forbid I make a big mistake and need to find someone to just send me some positive energy.  I got enough stuff to muddle through without watching a support group be anything but.

I’m all for dialogue but e-yelling and e-screaming is still yelling and screaming.  For all of the judging going on of the original poster, I can’t help, after seeing some of the nasty things parents said to each other ,wondering what’s going on in their homes.  “So, are you raising your kids with those poison fingers?”

Lesson learned:  Find a group where I can feel safe and truly be a part of a community of adoptive families.  Sure there will be disagreements, but there isn’t a need for lack of grace or compassion.  Life is much too hard and much too short.

I suppose this lesson is also more broadly life applicable.

So disappointing.

 


Whatever Day: Top Five

I am tired.  I am weary.  There have been good hours and bad hours.  I have had more controlled cries than I’d like to admit.  I know I can do this, but there are those sad, sad moments when I wonder how.  Anyway, here’s the most recent top five observations/lessons/musings, whatever.

5.  Everyday includes a meltdown.

Every. Damn. Day.

We could be going just fine; things can be awesome.  Hope and I are getting along.  We’re bonding and we’re giggling.  And then something triggers a tidal wave of emotion and the wave smacks me in the face full force.  Waves of sadness, anger, frustration, roll off of her.  Oh it isn’t usually tears.  Usually it’s a temper tantrum or a verbal assault.  Then there’s the quiet boil. I have no idea what happened.  There’s no reasoning with her.  I’m left trying to figure out what the trigger was and if it can be avoided, while trying to pretend that my feelings aren’t hurt, and trying to scrape both of us off the pavement so we can get onto the next thing.

It happens every day.  Some days it’s several times.  Some days it’s late in the day when you are starting to think you might be spared from a meltdown today. Whenever and whatever it is, it’s is emotionally exhausting.

4. I need meds.

My ability to keep the cries controlled is diminishing.  I need help.  Doc has been called to update a prescription to help me keep it together.  Mentally I’m ok, but my ability to control my physical emotional expressions is starting to shake.  I’m strong enough to know that I need to get ahead of that; I have neither the time nor inclination to be sitting around physically incapable of being functional during this transition.  Oh there will be times when such a thing might be healthy, and I will stop, drop and roll with it.  But right now, I need to get through the tasks at hand and I need help.  I’m ok asking for it.

3. Culture clashes are real.

I’ve given in on having Top Ramen in the house.  She complained about the taste of lactose free milk (which I need), so I bought regular to my own detriment.  When she threw a hissy about going to church and going regularly…well, I threw a hissy back.

Yeah, I did that.

Church is important to me.  I practically ran to the altar yesterday to ask for special prayer and specifically patience.  It is one of the few places I can get my cup filled.   And these days, I need that cup filled to the brim (see #5).

She resisted.  I insisted.  She tried talking in church, I shushed her.  She doodled, I allowed that, despite the fact that she was annoyed the pen didn’t work at first and I shot her a dirty eye, snatched the pen and swapped it out with one that did.  She ended up crying.  I cried all through the prayers.

She talked about how she had never been expected or required to attend church regularly before.  I told her this was one of the things I would insist on.  It is expected now.  She huffed.  I puffed.  We eventually sat quietly.

It is essential to me that we go and go regularly.  It’s ok if others chose to do something different in their house.  Very cool, they can do that over there.  This is what we do in Casa ABM.  I believe it is the right thing for me and my kid.  Yeah, this is not up for negotiation.  Folks can feel however they feel about it, too.

That said, the culture clash between Hope and I is real.  Ugh, we bump heads on all kinds of things.  But church is a mountain I will die on.  I’m ok with that, but Lord do I need to stay prayed up to get through that clash.

2. Hey, I’ve conditioned us to go to bed at 10pm!

This is probably the only win I feel is concrete enough where I can say it’s an achievement.  A pox to folks who are like that’s still too late.  Yeah, I’d like for her to be in bed earlier, but getting us to “lights out” at 10pm for several nights in a row without a meltdown is epic.  I’m realizing that late evening rewards work well in achieving this goal.  I will work it back to 9:30 in time, but 10pm is a coup.  It also means I have some quiet time before bed.

Hallelujah.

1. The chuckles aren’t funny.

Yeah, I’m trying to be a good sport about things.  I try to look at the bright side.  I post some of the amusing things for friend and family on social media.  I see my own strategic error, now.   I’d love to think I make this transition look easy, but it’s not.  I had a personal meltdown this weekend that had me calling my adoption agency’s support line to help me navigate and pull myself together.  I was a sobbing, blubbering mess.

And the social worker laughed at me.  I guess she hears these kinds of calls all the time.  This was normal for her.  It wasn’t normal for me.

Oh she said all the right things.  She did help me get through my little crisis.  But the exchange made me feel silly for calling.  I felt stupid for going to the support line to confide that I needed help.  It didn’t matter that I got through the crisis.  I felt like I had to lay down what little dignity I had managed to salvage this week to get through it.  I felt judged and dismissed.   I don’t know if I’ll ever use that number again.

Honestly, I’m feeling dismissed a lot during a pretty vulnerable time.   It puts my fledgling parenting skills on the defensive every time.

What I choose to post about this journey is fairly transparent, but it is going to be increasingly sterilized because it’s too much drama to sift through.   Without the context, things seem light and easy.  Behind the scenes, it’s not.  It’s hard.  I’m dealing with some very real ish over here.

Many interactions off line and online are just making me consider shutting down most communications with most folks.  I know that that’s probably not a good idea either.  I need support and lots of it.  We live in a culture where support is often heavily laced with a backhanded compliment, normalizing commentary that serves as a dismissal, and competitive experiential sharing.  Yeah…no, it’s not really support.  I’ve been guilty of all of these behaviors at various exchanges.  I’m embarrassed that has taken such a dramatic shift in my life to realize what is meaningful support and how even the most innocuous comment or gesture can change the interpretation of what’s being offered.

Well, I’ve been up for hours thanks to a wicked bout of insomnia, the first since Hope arrived.  Grammy will be here in a couple of hours.   I hate that I will not be here to “manage” her and Hope’s first meeting, but I have an important work commitment that I couldn’t really bail on despite being on family leave.  It Is the only concession I made for that part of my life.   I would be lying if I said I was not looking forward to the commute into DC with music with all of the curse words.

I’m committed through getting through today and being the best mom I can be today.  That’s all I can really do.  Tomorrow can wait for now.


No New Friends

So apparently there’s a Drake song called No New Friends.  I tried to read the lyrics, and I came to the conclusion that yeah, apparently hip hop is dead.  Ick.  Just horrid.  Still the title is apropos for this post.

Hope is mad.  Her words, not mine.  Actually she’s furious and she’s scared.

I thought she was still mad about the detention/sentence fiasco from last week.  Sunday, she barely spoke to me.  Yesterday, after a little reassurance (receiving some pictures from our trip in the mail) she blurted out:

“I don’t want to move.”

I clicked off the TV in the background, and turned off the light so that I could really focus on what she was about to say.  I also took a deep breath so I could steal my nerves and hold back tears.

Hope explained that she didn’t want to leave her friends; she’d left so many friends with each previous move. “Sometimes I don’t make any new friends, and it’s sad.  I don’t want to leave anymore friends. I don’t want to move.”

Oy.

I told her I that I heard her, and I understand.  Intellectually I get it, but I never moved when I was a kid so I have zero frame of reference.  As an adult, I’ve moved to go to college but I’ve lived in the same city for now more than 20 years and have accumulated friends throughout that time.  I’ve had friends move away, but I never did.  On that core level, I can only imagine what a nightmare moving again must feel like to her.

Hope also explained that she was afraid of starting a new school where she didn’t know anything and where they are very probably working on things she’s not working.  She didn’t want to fail school on top of everything else.

Oh great, no new friends and performance anxiety.  I’d be pissed too.

I dropped her therapist an email this morning to let her know that Hope was pretty anxious about the move.  Within two hours we were setting up a two week trip to Virginia for Hope and me.  In fact, we’ll be dining on turkey and all the fixings while plotting and scheming for Black Friday next month.  That’s right: Hope is coming home for her first Thanksgiving.

Not only will she be able to have some time in what will eventually become our natural environment, but she will get to meet some family and do some sightseeing and shopping.  Most importantly, we will have a chance to visit the school she will attend in the New Year, get set up at the local recreational center, have an opportunity to create our own traditions and rhythms and just have some extended time to bond.

She’ll then get to go home for a couple of weeks before she heads back here for good.  Hopefully this will help.

I’m excited for us.  I’m feeling fortunate to be surrounded by a supportive agency and to work with a jurisdiction that is so responsive to our needs.  I never anticipated that my email would result in such an amazing development.

I hope she once here for more than just a few days that she realizes that she will have more family than she’s ever known and the basis for some good friendships to nurture when she returns in December.


Ten Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents of Older Kids

So, I’ve frequently written about some of the challenging comments I’ve heard since starting my adoption journey earlier this year.  Some of the most well-meaning, thoughtful, supportive folks say some of the most ridiculous, thoughtless cray things when it comes to adoption.   I was scanning the latest Freshly Pressed blogs today and came across the Ten Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman this evening, and thought, “Um, where is the ‘Ten Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents of Older Kids’????”

Well, here ya go.  Buckle up, this might be fun, but a little bumpy.  Ok, reading my rant, might not be fun at all, but hey, it’s my blog so…

10.  “An older kid?  Why not an infant so you can train it the way you want?

Read this part slowly:  I am not adopting a dog.  Not a dog.  I have a dog, and The Furry One is well trained.   I am adopting a kid.

If I wanted an infant, I’d be adopting an infant.  I have lots of reasons for skipping burp cloths, diaper changes, outrageous daycare expenses, and baby languages.  Some folks don’t yearn for that.  I don’t yearn for that.

I want to have a confab with a kid, now.  Like yesterday.  Like months ago.   So an older kid it is.  They talk.  Ok, tween-esque speak, may or may not be the launch pad for confabs given the propensity for monosyllabic, exasperated speech, but it likely will be better than a gurgle for me.

9.  “Good for you, but I want my own kids.”

Anyone who has read this blog since it launched knows that the own distinction burns my house to the ground every got-dang time I hear it.  I get it, you want to have biological kids (this is the appropriate lingo, by the way).  Cool.  All the best.  I’ll be at the shower with gifts in tow.  I will be so excited for you!  Elated!

I am not having biological kids.  That’s also cool.  My adopted kid may not be my biological kid, but Hope will be my own kid in every way that matters.

Ooh, this one chaps my arse something terrible!

By the way, there will be a shower for Hope.  Does anyone know if Charlotte Russe has a registry?

8.  Why didn’t you consider surrogacy?

Wait.  What?  What the hell?

Because I didn’t.   And, how is this your business, exactly?

Oh and see #10.

7. “Why didn’t you say you wanted to have a baby?  I would’ve made a donation.”

Sigh. If you’re an adoptive parent or just thinking about an about it, here’s a nickel’s worth of advice:   Just delete these folks from your friend list because you probably wouldn’t have slept with them or accepted a donation anyway.

Yeah, I’ve actually heard this one.  It took several glasses of wine to recover from banging my funny bone when I fell over laughing.  I laughed to keep from crying.

By the way, #10, I don’t want a baby.

6. “Your kid is so lucky…”

This probably should be number one because it weighs so heavily on my heart.  Very kind, loving, well-meaning people say it to me every day.   I know it’s supposed to be a compliment, and adoptive parents appreciate what you’re trying to say, but no, my kid isn’t lucky.

On Hope’s path to become my daughter, she lost all the family she has ever known.   Some really, really schnitty stuff happened around her and to her.  She is not lucky, and she needn’t express any gratitude for my loving her.  Finding oneself in the unfortunate place of looking for a forever home ain’t lucky.  It sucks. Yeah, finding a forever home is a beautiful thing, but the path to a forever home is just not lucky.  It is most unlucky.  I am the lucky one; I get to parent this amazing, resilient kid.

Please feel free to rub my arm (or my leg if you’re a cute single dad or dad-wannabe—heyyyy, how you doin?!) and see if my luck translates into a winning lotto ticket or something.  If it does, you owe me half (AdoptiveBlackMom’s ‘luck fee’).

5.  “So what’s the kid’s story?”

My late Granny would have responded thusly, “None-ya.”

It’s my kid’s private business.  Entry #6 has established that it’s likely a schnitty story anyway, you don’t need to know the deets.  The only reason I know the details is because it’s important information that will explain some things and help me learn how to parent my kid successfully.  No one wants or needs to know the trauma our older adoptive kids have survived.

If you want a horror story, I’m sure the offerings on Netflix or Redbox will serve up something worthwhile.

4. “Well, did XYZ happen to her? No?  Then her history can’t be that bad.”

See #6 and #5.  Adoptive kids may not have seen someone get killed or witnessed drug deals go down in the living room, but you can rest assured that finding one’s self in a position to need a new family suggests that some Crazy. Schnitt. Went Down.

Trauma is trauma; one need not aspire to a 4.0 grade trauma when a mediocre 1.9 grade trauma is devastating enough.  Actually, I couldn’t even begin to tell you the difference in the grade rankings.  Just know that whatever it is, it sucked.

3.  “You’d think they would just be giving away ‘those’ kids?”

As I write this list, I’m realizing I might need to upgrade a few of my associations.

Um, no.  They are not giving away older foster kids or any kids.  Why?  Because they are treasured little beings.  And because these kids have already been to hell and back, I need to be vetted within an inch of my life to be eligible to adopt Hope.  It’s a wonder they don’t make us do a Spartan Race or an Iron Man as a part of PRIDE training.  All of that schnitt costs money.  No one is getting rich here.  I’m sure everyone is probably losing money, but I could never put a dollar on Hope’s head.

Adoption: Potentially a bunch of money (not always though).

Adopted kid: Priceless.

2. “Are you sure you’re ready?”

Hell no.

Of course I’m not sure I’m ready.  What new parent thinks they are ready? I have no idea what I’m frigging doing.  I don’t want an infant, but I hear that this whole ‘not being sure I’m ready for mommyhood’ thing is pretty normal.  What I am ready to do is make a commitment to Hope.

I’m guessing like all parents, I’ll figure it out as I go, ask for help when I need it, occasionally have a good cry in the middle of the night and have a glass of red wine from time to time with a long sigh on the patio.

1. Any placement/adoption horror story

Why do people do this?  I mean really, why?  No one wants to hear that.

Hey, I used to judge adoptive parents whose placements were not successful.  I know better now; my heart breaks for those kids and those parents.  You want this to work out; like any relationship, there is a risk that it might not work out.  And there are lots of reasons why placements are or are not successful.  I pray that Hope’s placement with me thrives.

Adoptive parents need positive energy; we don’t want to hear the story of your cousin’s, aunt on her father’s side, you know cousin Gertrude.  You know, she adopted a little boy back in the day and It. Was. Horrible because on a road trip to Jacksonville, Robbie opened the car door and tried to jump out on the freeway. And then CPS came and got Robbie and Gertie went to jail and hell because she let him jump out of the car.

Holy smokes, get out of here with all that.  We manage to put enough pressure on ourselves such that we don’t need any help with pressure application!

So that’s my list for tonight.  I’m sure that there are other things that I could go through the rest of my life without hearing.  Feel free to include a comment about adoption comments that annoy you.


An Unexpected Gift!

So two amazing things happened today.

  1. My dissertation quantitative study response rate tipped past 50%!  This high response rate wasn’t really necessary, but it is a really awesome development for my study.
  2. Way, way, way more important:  Hope sent me a letter.

Did you catch that???

 HOPE SENT ME A LETTER!!!

 So, I up until this point, I thought the rainbow, unicorned sparklies of seeing her profile could not be topped.  They were easily surpassed by Match Day.  Then today, out of the blue I get an email from my agency that included her letter, dictated to her therapist yesterday.

So, of course that makes today the new Best. Day. Ever!

My bio was given to Hope yesterday as a way of introducing to the idea of me adopting.  She was told that it was a letter, so she was insistent on responding back.   How awesome is that???

She likes me!  She really likes me!

She asked about The Furry One and what it was like in Virginia.  She told me about her hair and asked me if I would help her with it.  She asked about the schools , if she would have to buy a uniform and if we could go bike riding.  She mentioned that she’s a chocoholic too.  She said she looked forward to our first phone call.   It was, without question, the best letter ever written.  Ever!

I was in a staff meeting doodling on my tablet when this email came in, and I began to tear up as I read this sweet, precious letter from my new daughter.  What a thoughtful thing for this child to do, expressing curiosity and responsiveness.  I’d like to think that this might be a great beginning for our future communications even long after she moves here.  I’d like to think that maybe we will leave each other sweet notes in lunch bags and on the mirror and that we’ll talk about important things on park benches with some ice cream a year from now.

I also know that I’ll have a laminated copy of this letter for those nights I’ll clutch it while I cry myself to sleep when I’m wondering what the hell kind of parent I am and if I just totally bombed that moment of discipline, bonding, or conversation.  I’ll look at this letter and remember when she was curious about me, eager to know me and how I almost had to hold myself back for fear of giving too much too soon.

I know that some moms have told me that me that loving a child nearly breaks your heart because it is like your heart can’t even hold all the love for this kid in one place.  That love just grows and grows.  I know that the affection I feel for Hope will change and grow, but I already feel my heart stretching in ways I didn’t know were even possible.  I’m starting to get it, but I’m not sure I have the words to describe this kind of consuming desire to protect and love Hope.  It’s actually startling; two months ago, I didn’t even know she was out there.

I’m so excited that I’ve cried most of the day.  Seriously, I’m going to have to get better waterproof mascara if this keeps up.   On days with breaking adoption news, I’m crying my make up off by noon.   These days its happy tears.  I  hope I get to cry happy tears tomorrow!


A Kid, You Know, a Small Human

I’m a dog person, a pretty serious dog person.  I’ve owned The Furry One since he was only 8 weeks old.  He sleeps with me.  He rides shot gun in the car without even having to call “Shot Gun!”  He’s my little buddy.   I love most other people’s dogs; and if I don’t it is usually because of the owner not the dog.  I just really love dogs.

So, this morning when I stopped by the front desk of my condo building to ask a favor related to the adoption and thus disclosed that I was adopting, Mrs. G (the desk attendant) raised a shady eyebrow and asked, “Adopting a what?”

I smiled and replied, “A kid, you know. a small human, so I think that’s a ‘who’.”  Mrs. G laughed and said, “I thought you were announcing you were getting another dog.”  She then gushed with the nicest, sweetest, supportive comments and posed for a picture for the book I’m creating for Hope.  She will see Mrs. G every weekday at the desk as she heads off to school, so I wanted to include her in the book.

And so it goes.

I know that I have written a bit about those individuals around me who have said things that are not really supportive of my choice to adopt or are just insensitive when yammering on about childbearing and child-rearing.  I acknowledge that most of these comments come from a place of ignorance rather than malice, and I’m trying to learn how to manage my emotional reaction to that static.

The reality is that most of the people in my life are really, very supportive.  A friend painted Hope’s room white so we can start decorating with a fresh canvas.  I’ve had people offer airline points to help me visit Hope when the time comes.  I’ve had friends offer to connect with me with friends and relatives who live in the area to help me secure information about school districts, places to stay, places to eat and supportive shoulders to lean on.  I’ve got friends and family close by and far, far, far away who excitedly ask for updates.  There’s a “tween shower” in the works to help welcome Hope to her new home.  Even my HR director squealed with delight today when I asked about family leave options for the next year (I never got to take family leave with The Furry One in nearly 14 years!).   A young cousin already has plans to talk hair and nails and all kinds of teenish activities with Hope.

So, although those folks who say less supportive things lance me deeply, I have this amazing group of people in my life who are committed to helping me be a successful mom.  They help me patch the wounds up pretty quickly and carry on.

I don’t see too many people of color adopting.  I have heard that in-family adoptions can be more common within families of color.  As I started this process, I didn’t expect the lack of role models to affect me so deeply.  It was only after a few months of running around filling out paperwork and taking my required training that I really started to feel lonely.  I also started wondering how my extended family would react to this decision.  I come from an amazing extended family, and they never gave me any reason to think they wouldn’t be supportive.  But this was such a radical path for me, and for us, that I just didn’t know.  This isn’t a path I had much exposure to growing up.

I’m grateful, and relieved, to know that my Hope and I will be loved, supported and even championed among my family and friends.

I’m also getting better about asking for what I need, thanks to a great therapist who nudges me a long when I occasionally get stuck.  I recently asked my agency for some families who could be my cultural touchstones as I navigate this process.  I wished I’d asked six months ago; my agency sent me over a list of folks right away.

So, in spite of those annoying folks who say silly things; my love and support cups are getting filled.  I am blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.

Funny thing is…if I had just paid attention to how they treat me on issues related to The Furry One, I probably would have realized that the addition of a human child to my family wouldn’t have been a big deal.

Love me, love my kid and my dog.


Desert to Deluge & Back

The Match Period is challenging.  When you initiate the adoption process, there is always something going on.  PRIDE classes, medical appointments, fingerprinting appointments, paperwork, more paperwork and home study visits.  The first taste of “waiting” I got was the month long period between when I delivered my application packet and the beginning of my home study.  It is during this time that I waited for the fingerprints to come back.  It seemed like forever.  Little did I know that was what I now call “lowbrow waiting.”  It doesn’t even count anymore.

After the home study is completed and filed, then the matching process starts.  This is the period when the adoption agency searches for children’s profiles that meet your search criteria.  I was told that this process typically takes about 8 months before a match is made. I would get a monthly update of all the inquiries made on my behalf.   I was also told it was a quiet time in the process, and that I should just get on with life while I wait.

Oh, right, because getting on with life while you’re expecting such a major change to happen at any time is really going to happen. The truth is I’m addicted to any shred of information that comes into my email from the agency.  My program coordinator, Alex, could send me an email that just said, “Hi, hope you’re having a good week” and I will stare at it multiple times for the next 72 hours trying to decipher some kind of hidden message about Hope Kid buried between the lines.

If only I had a decoder ring…

I received the first email about Hope Kid 27 days ago.  To date, 46 emails have been exchanged about Hope Kid.  I have read these 46 emails approximately 3500 times, give or take 1000 views.  Three conference calls have been hosted specifically about Hope Kid, but only one has been fruitful because other important people didn’t show up for 2 of the 3 calls.

The intermittent silence is deafening, it’s like being in a quiet desert with no sight of an oasis in the distance anywhere.  So, I work on my dissertation and day job stuff.  I pray a lot.  I pray for Hope Kid.  I pray HK is getting along with everyone and everything ok.  I wonder if and when HK finds out about me, will he/she be as obsessive about information about me as I am about him/her.  I pray for HK’s foster family and the team of people designated to put me under a microscope to determine whether or not I’m the right fit for this kid. I pray they know what they’re doing.  I pray I know what I’m doing.

I am desperate for any information about this kid.  I loathe going anywhere without my cell phone, and get spastic when the battery runs down.  I am disappointed when the email notification is for a funny forward joke or a text message from a friend because it is not some precious piece of information about Hope Kid.  I wake up in the middle of the night to check email because, despite all reason (and the fact that this is a domestic adoption), I think perhaps that dinging notification holds the key to my future family.

And then a powerful email comes that just is like the arrival of a monsoon.  Thirst quenching, but almost too much to bear all at once.  It contains so much information and so many plans for one week that I have to sit down. I might even hyperventilate for a minute or two.  Things are moving again, and I rush to try to respond to confirm everything by phone, because I don’t want a minute to go by where there might be a question about whether I can accommodate all the new plans and discussions.  No one is there to answer my call, and I can barely hold back tears.  It’s all overwhelming after hearing nothing for days and days.  The truth is there is nothing I could’ve done to prepare for this email, so I just have to roll with it.

  • Oh wow, a conference call with the therapist?  Sure.  Holy crap, I haven’t prepared a list of questions for a therapist yet.  Why the heck haven’t I created such a list?  See me furiously typing a list of questions for the therapist.
  • A conference call with the full support team?  Sure.  I can move my meeting; I will be there!! I’m now desperately waiting for an email from the agency outlining what to expect from this meeting which is now about 22.5 hours away.
  • What?  A weekend conference call with the foster family?  SURE!  I actually have that list of questions.  Oh, not this weekend because of the holiday?  Um, ok. Sigh.

YES!!  Yes to everything.  Any conference call, any skype session, anything that will give me more information about Hope Kid. I’m almost delirious with all the new information and all the meetings that are scheduled. I’m also exhausted after receiving that email last Friday and can barely muster the energy to tell anyone about the updates or to just pass the time chatting about life in general.

The thirst quenching, nearly drowning rain of activity is over.  And I’m back to looking at my phone, willing it to ring or beep or do something…anything.

And so quickly, I’m back to being thirsty. Until the next email or phone call…


I Got 99 Problems, But Some Folks…

I think everyone knows and understands that some folks come into your life for a lifetime and others only for a season.  I’ve found that during my times of extraordinary personal growth, I either leave some seasonal folks behind or we just drift apart.  I’d have to say that adoption and dissertation writing represent periods of crazy growth.

For the most part, I have had a solid core of support from friends and family during this journey.  It has not always been easy; there have been moments that have reduced me to tears because we are all navigating new terrain.  The dissertation journey has not been quite as rocky since I’ve been in school for several years; we’ve all got a rhythm with the school thing.   Most of the challenging moments have stemmed from my adoption journey, which falls into a weird, abstract blind spot for many people. People don’t seem to just say “congrats” like they would to pregnant women.   I’m adopting an older child, and since there’s no pregnancy, the whole thing can be more conceptual for lots of folks (thank God no one is rubbing my belly).  I get it, but “congrats” would still be a nice response sometimes.

What has been challenging is when my disclosure that I am adopting an older child is met with:

Are you sure about an older kid?  They are so much trouble.

You know you could/should reconsider having your own child.

Have you thought about surrogacy?

What about infant adoption?

Are you infertile?

Why have you given up hope?

Image

What the what???  Yeah.  All up in my grill.  Other deeply personal rationalizations I have about my life, hey, you want to hear about those too? Oh let me get out my calendar so we can discuss my last menses while we’re at it.

Some of these questions are well-intended.  Some are just out of genuine concern, others are just damn nosey.  But, I know they aren’t malicious.  One person even suggested that my plans to not have bio kids was most unfortunate because I’m smart and cute and should pass those genes on to my own kid (there’s that pesky “own” distinction again).  Um, ok.  Some people strangely assume that my decision making is based on nothing, just nothing and they attempt to school me on the challenges of adoption, that I should avoid older child adoption or even make the choice to be childless.  One person attempted this kind of school session during a recent happy hour.  I’m sad to report that she was injured as I was raising my “You’d better stay in your lane, crazy chick” shield.

Life at the moment is pretty complicated.  I’m waiting for the elusive Institutional Review Board approval for my dissertation study.  The adoption process is involving conference call on top of conference call, and it also requires a level of vulnerability that I’ve never before experienced.  The day job is demanding.  The bills have to be paid; dry cleaning picked up and dropped off, and wait–what the devil is that growing on the broccoli in the fridge?  It is crazy busy; there’s a lot to do and in the words of Michelle Obama, the one thing I don’t do well is answer stupid questions about my rationale to become a parent through adoption or to parent an older adoptive kid.  As if I owe anyone an explanation anyway!

The adoption process reminds me to be thoughtful about the company I keep.  I’ve got a lot going on, and I don’t have time for a bunch of silly foolishness.  I am viewing life through a prism of impending parenthood, and frankly I’m fanatically consumed with protecting the health and well-being of my Hope Kid.  Hope Kid has already been through enough crap; Hope Kid doesn’t need folks around who doubt my reasoning for wanting him/her or second guessing why I want to be a parent at all.

I know that my nearest and dearest will still ask some uncomfortable questions and not everyone will agree with the decisions I am making and will make.  That’s cool, it’s even allowed.  But Team AdoptiveBlackMom needs supportive folks.  It’s ok, to disagree with me, but I need folks around me who will help me be the best parent I can be and who won’t waste time with a bunch of crazy mess about whether I should be a parent at all or how I should go about achieving that goal.   Totally baffled and disturbed by this life choice to the point where your mouth is burning, just burning to question me?  That’s cool, but please see yourself to the door, our season on this life journey has come to a close.  I won’t allow that conflict to be one of my 99 problems.

 Oh you think it’s bad now?  I haven’t even met Hope Kid yet!  Just know that when I do, my inner Momma Bear will be epic! Epic, I tell you!


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