Tag Archives: Adoption Transitions

AWAS 026: Making the Big Move

On the next episode of Add Water and Stir, Mimi and ABM talk about helping foster and adoptive kids make the transition home.  Transitions can be hard for our kids; often they’ve been shuttled about before a match is made.  It takes time to build trust, to reduce anxiety and to help kids feel safe. These can also be trying times for parents too, and self-care can be a low priority.

On the second segment of the show, the ladies will discuss college savings for adoptees and foster kids. With older kids, time to save may be limited. ABM and Mimi will talk about their strategies for helping their daughters plan for the future.

Of course, no episode of Add Water would be complete without a brief confab about the latest in pop culture!

Join ABM and Mimi live on Thursday, August 20 at 9pm EDT/8pm CDT on Google+!

Or listen to us from our podcast page, addwaterandstirpodcast.com, or on Itunes and Stitcher! Don’t forget to give us a 5 star rating and tell a friend about the show!

Feel free to tell us about your transition story below!

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Looking Forward, Looking Back

Last week Hope and I celebrated her placement with me one year ago.  I read other blogs in which I was cautioned to not expect her to want to celebrate what was a rough transition for us.  I started to let it ride, but then thought better of it.  I mentioned it.  She smiled.  Hope was surprised a year had passed already.

So, we did dinner at the fancy burger place nearby and settled in watching tv.  Nice low key and easy.  Maybe we’ll do something special to observe our finalization date, maybe, maybe not.

Adoption is tough.  Adoption of older kids who have lived a lifetime before meeting you is rough, tough and awesome.  It’s all awesome, really, somewhere in there, but make no mistake, it’s rough and it’s tough too.

Since the new year, I’ve been working on getting some of my parenting swagger back.  I’ve learned a lot this last year, but I have so much more to learn.  Parenting Hope is…sigh…well, I suppose it depends on the day.

We have come so far, but the tentacles of that previous life are always threatening to pull her back in and drag me with it.

I see the impact of neglect in how she engages me sometimes.  I see her easing in to this life with me evidenced by her low desire to care for herself in some ways; she wants me to take care of her, almost baby-like at times.  I see her joy in having a mom to talk girly stuff with.  I see the social struggles that come with a lower emotional age and her Saraha-like thirst for attention, accepting negative attention in lieu of positive reinforcement of more mature behaviors. I listen to her abuse disclosures, stuff that never made it into the files or were so epically understated that they could be characterized as nearly lies. I see developmental delays revealing themselves as her hard shell softens, and I try to figure out how to balance them with my own academic expectations. I work with her through lingering legal issues from her life before me; decisions that make me question all kinds of things I’ve said believed about the criminal justice system for all of my adult life.  I sometimes feel the effects of all the trauma just rolling off of her likes waves in an ocean.

Yeah, my therapist says it’s secondary trauma.  Nice…not really.  It sucks.

Sometimes all of the messy is so clear and evident; other times I’m just hanging on for dear life moving from one crisis to another.

I don’t cry so much now, but I do cry.  I fell out of praying for a few weeks not long ago; I just was tired, I was (am) still pissed about how my church treated us..  Didn’t really lose my way, but just really couldn’t say anything to the Holy Homeboy without being furious that the space I felt safe in was no longer safe.

As we mark a year together, it’s a strange time, trying to figure out what the future looks like.  Older child adoption is special; there’s something really, really different about showing up with a teenager who is taller than you when just last week you didn’t have one.  To some degree we are open about our story; sometimes less so.  Hope and I appreciate the ability and choice to just blend in and be mistaken for biological family.  We like to give each other knowing looks when it happens.

We’re considered a success story.  I’m not sure I know what that means or how I feel about it.  We constantly get requests to use our image on adoption awareness and promotional items.  On the one hand, it’s flattering, on the other hand, it makes me wonder if we will be able to maintain our ability to hide in plain sight.  We’re comfortable with disclosure now, but what about 6 months or more from now?

Aside from that, I don’t feel like a poster family.  We have struggled this year.  We’re still standing and we love one another, but success?  I guess.  We finalized…so there’s that.  We haven’t killed each other…so there’s that.  My vocal cords from the epic NY’s day meltdown seem to not have sustained permanent damage…so there’s that.

The parenting counselor from my agency told me recently that now that we’ve been together a year, ish is about to get really, real.  Dear Holy Homeboy help me.

I worry about my own attachment with my daughter.  I wonder (full of guilt just thinking it) if I made the right choices.  I ponder what my life would be like, now, 2 years in to this adoption journey if I had made different choices.  I wonder what new trauma will surface next week, and whether my mouth guard will survive the pressure when I am grinding my teeth trying to maintain my composure.

It’s crazy that it’s been a year already. I look forward to many more years, but that anticipation is mixed with some fear and anxiety probably from both of us.  This ain’t easy, but she is worth it.  We’re worth it.


Adoption Awareness Month Musings

About a year ago, during National Adoption Awareness Month 2013, I announced to the world that I was adopting Hope. We were already matched. I had been out to visit her, and I was anticipating her nearly two week visit later in the month. All things pointed to an imminent placement with the goal of eventually finalizing.

I was excited, elated, high off of joy. I was going to be a mom! I knew it would be challenging, but I thought hey, I can do this and I want the world to know.

To quote Lauryn Hill, “It was all so simple then…”

A year later, my daughter Hope has now been with me for 10 months, and we finalized our adoption 6 months ago.

And we have been through some ish.

A lot of I’ve written about or rather through, and a lot I haven’t written about at all. Some of it seems…unspeakable, and in those moments I felt as broken and as alone as I ever have and probably as much as Hope felt at the time.

Along the way, I’ve found a cool community of fellow adopters. Day to day support has been…tricky at times, but truthfully, even if I didn’t feel like it, someone was there. It wasn’t always the person I wanted, but someone was there.

I got some things right, but I’ve made colossal mistakes. I’ve triumphed. I’ve failed. I’ve cared, been accused of caring too much and have not cared so much as to give one more damn at times over the last year.
I’ve experienced so many emotions that I’m convinced I created some new ones along the way. I’ve experienced sadness and anger the most, to be honest. Happiness is something I often have to deliberately pursue because that emotion hasn’t taken up permanent residence here yet.

In all, it’s been some radical highs and some spirit crushing lows.

And if I’m really, really honest, I am not sure I would do it again. Oh, gosh I love my daughter fiercely—and she is MY daughter– but I would be lying if I didn’t admit I was still mourning the life I had or that the challenges of the year haven’t worn me down in multiple ways that give me pause about everything.

No regrets, just curious about what my alternative life would be like now (it’s nice to fantasize) and wondering what could I have possibly done to have been better prepared or to have done a better job along the way.

So there’s my broad stroke recap of the last year as I reflect on “adoption awareness.”

These awareness months can be odd things, you know? We celebrate different peoples, histories and cultures; we commemorate things, pledge to fight diseases by raising research money and walking and running various distances. We raise awareness about all sorts of stuff, including adoption.

Ok, so be “aware” of adoption this month. #yepstillasmartypants

I’ve been reading a lot of adoptee blogs lately.

Sometimes they make me feel absurdly self-absorbed in my thinking and writing about my trials on this journey. But then I remember this is a blog about my journey in my own voice, so there’s that.

That said, I’m learning from the blogs of adoptees that there is this clear call for voice, for agency over self, over their adoption narrative and about all the bits and pieces that make for unique experiences with uniquely framed challenges. And as I read these blogs, I wonder about Hope’s experiences—not just from the last year—but from her life. Naturally I think about these things a lot, but as I learn more I maybe see this journey much differently than I did before.

In the midst of my own joy in coming to motherhood, there sits such huge amounts of loss that at times it can be breathtaking.

I can’t enumerate all that Hope has lost, but in my nearly 42 years, I haven’t experienced a fraction of that kind of loss. And despite all this “adoption awareness” I must remind myself of that nearly hourly. When she is acting like a real pill, and it is a mixture of being 13 (plainly hell on earth) and having experienced so much in her few years, I have got to remember the role the latter really plays in the behaviors that push me to the brink. I don’t all ways do a good job of this; to be honest, I feel like I largely suck at it. This home probably isn’t as healing as it should be at times. And I imagine that it’s because I fail to be “adoption aware” in the moment.

”Adoption awareness” is largely narrated by adoptive parents. I didn’t appreciate that a year ago. But now, as I see new adoptive parents praying that God gets the birth mother to stop considering to parent her child so that they, the adoptive parents, get to keep their child, I get the pervasiveness of that framework. I see both sides of the story now, thanks to the voices of adoptees.

I hear it now as I went to the altar this weekend for prayer for me and Hope as the person praying to me said that my little family was predestined by God and isn’t it wonderful how things worked out. Well, yeah, it is, but really did Hope have to suffer for me to parent her? So, her loss was predestined. I struggle with that, even as I know how many times the Holy Homeboy has demonstrated his power in the midst of tragedy; I radically question the why must Hope suffer, even today as irritating middle schoolers tease her about even needing to be adopted and as we navigate integrating our lives together.

Adoption is rarely neat and tidy. Gosh we need more complicated people to jump into these complicated situations. But we also need to keep an ear to the ground and be ever mindful about how our children see themselves in the journey, how they reflect on the journey and how they narrate their own journey.

My journey is forever linked to Hope’s and this blog is about my story, not hers. It is just one side of the adoption story. I look forward to years from now, having tea (or something stronger) on a wraparound porch (my architectural fantasy) hearing her talk about her journey. If I really try hard to pay attention now, I won’t be as shocked by the emotions that come tumbling out then as I seem to be now.

So that’s my early month two cents, musings on National Adoption Awareness Month.


Family Ties

So, if you caught the last Add Water and Stir podcast, you know that I had a big breakthrough regarding Hope’s family recently. I made a conscious choice to drop the “bio” reference; they’re just “family” now. In dropping something, I hope to add something, though to be honest, I’m not sure what that something is yet.

After we received The Package with some really personal items, I couldn’t, in good conscious, continue to make this familial distinction. These folks are Hope’s family. And now as Hope is my daughter, I’m connected to them as well. As I kicked it around, it made the distinction of “bio” or other terms like “first family” or “birth family” or any of those kinds of terms seem intentionally separatist. So, I decided to just try to drop it.

I’m hoping that the rest of me follows along with this bold choice; is it even really all that bold really? I don’t know. Given my level of anxiety regarding Hope’s family, it certainly feels bold.

I’ve been thinking about my own family a lot lately, and how much I missed certain family members, including and especially my own grandparents. I want her to have access to lots of people who will just love on her; she needs the love. Her family can, hopefully, gently, cautiously, help give her the love she needs.

So, all this maturity ish that I’m working on led me to reach out to the family member who actually respected my wishes and laid low until I was ready to talk. She also happened to be one of the two family members Hope said she would like to have contact with in good time.

We talked this weekend, or rather, she did most of the talking this weekend.

It was an overwhelming rush of chatter. There were squeals, apologies for losing her, gratitude for adopting her, lengthy explanations about her view of what happened, promises to continue to lay low, wondering about how Hope will make contact, wondering whether Hope will make contact.

It was a lot. I tried to start sentences and would just get overwhelmed with words tumbling through the phone. I finally just kept quiet until it seemed like all the words fell to a trickle. In retrospect, I imagine she’s been waiting for this call, hoping for this call, had so much to say and potentially so little time to say it. She had to get it all in.

There were moments when my eyes welled as I learned tidbits of information that explained things or at least gave me some context. There were unfiltered moments that piqued my anxiety to hear about family discussions to try to fight me for Hope, discussions questioning why I was protective, why I wouldn’t just fling open the doors of our new life to them. There were moments when I felt so angry because she just kept using the polite euphemism, “well, you know she’s been through so much” to characterize Hope’s trauma. There were still other moments when I wonder whether she knows just how long the most traumatic episodes were or whether she was just in denial.

There were times when I wished I wasn’t Southern, but was glad that I am because I understood some of the traditional phrasings that said, “I know things were really effed up, but you know we don’t talk about that sort of thing.” The cultural touchstone pissed me off because I realize how much it mutes concrete discussions about effed up stuff. And Hope ain’t Southern; I wondered how pissed she would be because of this minimization of her lived experience. I was righteously pissed on her behalf.

And then I felt sad because I can only imagine what it must be to wonder what happened to your cousin/neice/daughter/sister/granddaughter when they were in the foster care system. My heart broke.

And even though I set up the call, I really wasn’t as sure what I wanted to say. I felt unsure and scared. I didn’t want the phone call to create a bunch of expectations of me or of Hope. So, when I finally spoke my normally loud voice was soft; I stammered because of nerves, I stumbled because I wasn’t always sure what words I wanted to us to get my point across.

This does not happen!! I make my living by largely talking. Not having words to articulate things…I don’t have the experience often. I was scared ish-less.

I had a couple of points to make: I wanted to see if Hope could have a healthy relationship with her family; I wanted to be clear about boundaries in any relationship and beyond boundaries, there were some complete and utter non-negotiables that we needed to consider moving forward with more contact.

I got a lot of “yeah, yeah, yeah’s” and “right, right, of course’s.” I want to believe her;I do.

But I’m not sure. I’m terrified that we’ll call and boundaries will get obliterated and lots of damage will be done. I’m scared, but I believe that I’m doing the right thing.

Sigh. Honestly, I’m exhausted by the call even a day later. I’m still trying to unpack it and tease through the complicated feelings so that I can be ok when I tell Hope that that door is now open.

Not sure what will happen next, but we’ll be moving forward. We wrestle with things that happened, but we still press forward. This is just another pit stop on our journey.


About Face

So, a couple of days after sending a polite, but disappointing message to my church withdrawing my request for some kind of dedication ceremony I get an enthusiastic message from the children’s pastor.

Long story short, they finally get it. That’s the good, no, awesome news.

But you know, my feelings are so messy. I’m still mad, and I’m still hurt and Lord knows I hold a grudge like my life depends on it.

Yeah, I know, major personal flaw. Whatever… it’s learned behavior for me; get burned enough and the ease of forgiving wears away over time. #jadedandcynical

Anyhoo, I read the email and just felt…tired. Exhausted.  Furious. Why couldn’t this email have come during the last 3+ weeks? Why now, after I said I just didn’t want to pursue it anymore? Why do I feel like I had to fight so hard? Why do you now say you wished you had had this great idea at the beginning of the year?

I’m relieved, and yet I’m still angry. Pissed.

And then I feel guilty for feeling furious because well, I have broken through…We’re going to have some kind of ceremony, a public ritual. It will be open to other families like ours. It will be wonderful for me, for Hope, for our family, for all of the adoptive families who choose to participate.

I think the Holy Homeboy is pleased.

And I am happy, grateful…feeling vindicated, resentful—which doesn’t even feel right when I’m talking about my church. But there you go. I feel all of this stuff, no denying it.

So, I’m guessing the Holy Homeboy is probably not quite as pleased with me. I’m prayerful that this bitterness melts away quickly so that I can really enjoy this event; so that I can really absorb its meaning, so that Hope is able to be excited about all this too. As soon as I tell her.

This will be epic.


The Package

Since June, I’ve been wrestling with the emergence of Hope’s biological extended family finding us. The irony of their emergence is that I had initiated my own search of them a mere six weeks before. I was curious about them. Hope had memories, both good and bad about some of the folks in her family. I wanted to know about them; I wanted to know where to find them if Hope wanted to reach out to them. I wanted to have some control over when and how the connection was made. And then the first day of our celebratory vacation, I got the Facebook inbox message.

I remember immediately feeling threatened—What did they want? Even though we were “legal” would they try to take her from me? Would Hope choose them over me?  Would she run to them if she got pissed off at me? Was blood going to trump me? How did they find us? I had given Hope a pseudonym on social media and our privacy settings were pretty high.   I remember feeling so panicked and so very threatened. I didn’t want to lose the kid that I had just put on lock, so to speak.

It has taken some time to navigate advancements in this relationship. I insisted that they go through me for contact. I asked questions on her behalf. I sent pictures and very modest updates. I got royally frustrated, no pissed really, when it was clear that some family members had higher expectations about my engagement with them.  It has also been rough because people who have hurt her seem to have selective memory about their relationship with Hope.

Of course this has been emotional for my sweet girl too. The first few mementos they sent triggered anger, sorrow and so, so much grief. But this time has also represented so many breakthroughs. Hope is busy constructing an identity that includes two last names (She kept her birth surname and just added mine—it’s long, but it works!); she now has some items that are priceless to her; she has begun to make peace with a lot of her grief. We’ve developed a few new rituals to commemorate key dates in her life before me, thanks to the emergence of her family. It hasn’t been easy and Lord knows I’ve griped, but being found has not been a bad thing.  It’s been a hell of a challenge, but it is not a bad thing.

Recently, Hope’s paternal grandmother sent her a package. I’ve been on the road so much recently that I just picked it up this week. The package included some cards, poems, some of her granny’s arts and crafts (there’s an apron for the liquid dish detergent bottle <quizzical grin>), and most importantly, Hope’s father’s American flag.

I pre-open things, and even though I knew it was in the box it was a shock to see it, lovingly wrapped in plastic, preserved for when they found Hope. The cards were addressed to my daughter using her full name, her new name, my surname.

Seeing her name and the small simple thank you card they included for me changed everything.

They acknowledged that I was her mother. There is no threat; Hope just has a really big family. I cried more than Hope did.

Hope went through everything in the box; I continue to see her grow and thrive. I’m so proud of her. These developments are so important to her.

We’ll be integrating these arts and crafts into our home; they are special to both of us. (There are bar soap cozies too. I imagine that there’s a plastic slipcover somewhere to be seen in my future; my spidey sense tells me so.)

We will be moving to phone calls soon and a visit eventually; Hope’s family is a reasonable drive away. All in good time.

This journey continues to teach me so much.


Add Water & Stir: Old Holidays, New Traditions

Every family has traditions and rituals that provide a rich source of family values and shared memories.  These rituals are particularly important for adoptive families as they help to give children a sense of belonging, family unity, predictability and security. However, developing traditions that incorporate everyone’s expectations can be challenging, particularly when considering older child or multi-cultural adoptions.

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Join ComplicatedMelodi’s Mimi and AdoptiveBlackMom’s ABM as we chat about our thoughts on creating new traditions in our families and our plans to celebrate the holidays. Of course, we will have the Wine Down with some interesting pop culture observations and offer our recommendations.

Note:  Schedule Change for this week!  Catch us live on Google+ on Sunday, October 19 at 6:00pm CST/7:00pm EST.  If you can’t make it, you can always watch the rerun on our Google+ page, Youtube or download the podcast from iTunes or Stitcher.


Being Gracious

This has been an absurdly painful week for me. I hate that. I don’t hate it just because I’m miserable or because I failed to avoid the discomfort. I hate it because my occasional sixth spidey sense warned me that I would be disappointed, and then I was still crushed even when I anticipated it.

On top of it I’m traveling and away from my Hope kid. I miss her. I can tell she misses me too. We google hangout everyday. It helps, but it’s not the same. I miss her.

googelehangout

This thing with my church is just icky. And I’m forcing myself to stay with the icky because there is a deeper something apparently meant by all of this emotional upheaval. So I’m fighting the urge to just drop out of the scene for a while; I have to think about Hope’s stability and how she has come to like it there. She’s finally starting to express an interest in going to some of the targeted programming; she’s beginning to feel safe there. I don’t want to have to find all of this somewhere else, so I have to grind this out even if I wear my teeth down.

This week, Emily H tweeted me a link to an NPR article about an adoption related ceremony at a local church. It was a short article, but gave just enough to say—look these families want and need support and acknowledgment within their church family. Ironically, I used to attend the church featured in the article years ago. I got up the gumption this Sunday morning to send the link to the pastor tasked with communicating with me. I also suggested that Adoption Awareness Month was coming up, as was Adoption Day, and mayhaps this was a time when they might consider doing something for adoptive families in the church who want some kind of ceremony. We’ve got thousands of people at our church, I’m guessing we’re not the only adoptive family.

We’ll see. I wish I could be more optimistic. I don’t like feeling like this. Hopefully it will pass soon, and we’ll be on to the next thing. In the meantime I’ll try to just focus on being gracious and brushing it off.

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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.


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!

________

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.


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