Tag Archives: Adoptive Moms

A Beautiful Day

I went into Mother’s Day with some complicated feelings. I find that it helps to simply acknowledge them, make a plan and keep it moving. I’m glad I did; it made for a nice low bar that set us up for a really lovely, lovely day.

I took Yappy on a three mile walk; he was super worn out afterwards and slept most of the day as a result.

Hope and I started our day at the local UU church we’ve been attending. Rather than go hang out with the other teens, my daughter chose to sit by my side. She even wore a dress—gasp! It was flower communion, and after some gentle coaxing, she even came with me to get a blossom. I lit a candle and said a prayer for Hope’s first mother. I prayed that she was as happy and healthy and that hopefully she knows that Hope found a permanent home as is no longer without permanence. I prayed that one day a healthy reunion would be in their future.

We headed to brunch at one of our favorite restaurants. We have celebrated all major family events here—my successful dissertation defense, our finalization, and her completion of middle school, just to name a few. We both love the food choices, and I especially love the wide range of beverage offerings. She suggested we order the usual—I reminded her that it was mom’s choice and I wanted to shake things up. I have a particular fancy for fries; I ordered up truffle-Parmesan fries to start, with a yummy coffee laced, chocolaty stout for me.

I think I opened Hope’s eyes to a whole new world related to quality French fries. She raved, danced in her seat and marveled at how yummy they were. I still smile to myself about how fries made her so happy. I actually have video of her; it was awesome.

We ordered our entrees, and bickered to the enjoyment of our waitress.

I told her that I was proud to be her mother; that even in the rough times I loved her so very much. I told her that being her mom has hopefully made me a better person all together. She smiled. She thanked me for giving her a permanent home that allowed her to call a place home, allowed her to not have to start over and over, that allowed her to just have a chance. I smiled and we went back to grubbing.

Yep, I used her account to pay, because…Mother’s Day. #noshame

We headed to the bakery across the street to find something for dessert. We selected individual key lime pies with beautiful meringues to go.

We took a few hours apart. I did some shopping and hit the hookah bar for a while.

Once home, we ate our desserts, and watched TV on the couch with Yappy, who incidentally, loves when his people are together on the couch. We have a huge couch, but he loves when we are huddled up so that he can sit between us and snuggle. I love that our dog wants his family close.

She gave me her homemade Mother’s Day gifts; a beautiful friendship bracelet that I immediately put on, and a beautifully decorated sheet that required me to pull off some cotton clouds to reveal the message underneath.

It was a far more detailed expression of gratitude for adopting her, for loving her unconditionally and for giving her a good life even when she’s a pain in the butt. She apologized for not getting me something fancy, but her message reduced me to a puddle of loving tears. She complained and eventually wriggled out of the vice grip hug I enveloped her in after reading her message.

It was perfect.

I have never wanted Hope to be grateful about her adoption; I hate thinking of the things that necessitated her adoption. That said, I got her meaning—it was about us being a family, about stability, about permanence, about unconditional love, about parenting, or in our case mothering, and about normalcy.

And I am grateful for those things too.

She didn’t say thanks for being her mom; instead she thanked me for meeting her needs.  I know that meeting her needs is what I do as her mother. The language is different, but the meeting of the minds is there, and to hear that from her—I’m so proud and blessed to have been chosen for this gig.

Those moments were a beautiful capstone for the day. I could not have planned it. I could not have anticipated it.

It was a beautiful day, and I will treasure it forever.

I love you, Hope.


My 4th Mothers Day

This weekend marks my 4th observance of Mothers Day. Thinking about that makes me smile, and then I remember how complicated this holiday is for my daughter and I and my smile fades a bit.

I know that I adore Hope. I know that Hope loves me very much.

In a perfect world, we would never know each other. Hope would be feting her biological mother this weekend 3,000 miles away. They might go to their favorite restaurant. There might be a card; there would be lots of hugs and “thank you mom, you’re awesome” statements.

I would be at my own brunch with my biological children, smiling, laughing with them marveling at these little miracles that came through my body.

But this isn’t a perfect world, and Hope and I have each other, each with all our imperfections and challenges.

I think we both ponder that, even unconsciously, during this holiday. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t a solid family. It does mean that we still have to make time and space for grief.

I know that I won’t have a card waiting for me in the morning when I wake up. I made my own brunch reservation at one of our favorite restaurants. I plan to make her use her debit card (which I finance) to pay for said dinner so that at least I have the illusion of being “treated to brunch.” I figure it will also help her learn what she’s supposed to do—not necessarily for me, but in general regarding these kinds of things.

And then, I will post up at a local hookah bar, order a glass of something yummy and puff away the afternoon. This will give me some time to enjoy myself with no drama (join me if you’re in the DMV area, just drop me an email!). It will also give Hope some time with her own thoughts, which, I’m finding she needs.

During our recent trip to see some family, we acquired some pictures of her mother. I recall just watching Hope look at the pictures. During our time as a family, I’ve gotten pretty good at reading her emotions, but I couldn’t read Hope’s reaction. It was almost vacant; but I know it wasn’t vacant at all. There were and are a lot of tangled up, complicated emotions going on just under the surface. She had no desire to process it with me either.  In a nutshell, Hope’s emotional connection/reaction towards her mother is complicated and it’s very much exclusively hers at this point.

I imagine that one day Mother’s Days will be different me and Hope.  That we will have a different kind of balance between grief and celebration. We will have fun brunches and lots of smiles and lots of love. This weekend we will have those things, just tempered a bit. It’s ok. Monday will be a new day and we will have gotten through another year of this day, together.


Serenity in Short Bursts

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

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

It’s been a peaceful week; well kinda.

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

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

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

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

And she was ready with full on teen attitude.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It kinda hurts so good.

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


Lonely Single Mom

Yesterday was rough.  I am traveling for the first time in months, and none of our regular sitters were available this weekend.  I was pinched and had to go with someone new.

This woman has spent the week driving me nuts.

We talked, we negotiated a 4 day/3 night job, I promised to follow up with an email outline and texts.

I thought it was all good.  Until this cuckoo bird called me yesterday, saying she had not received any of my communications and that because I apparently hadn’t sent anything, I had failed to confirm.

Oh, and her rate was her “live in” nanny rate—basically I’m paying her like Hope is an infant, needing 24 hour care, which roughly came to about $2K

Say what now?

She said, well what if Hope get sick at school and needs me to pick her up? Ok, right, but 1) we have a contact for that, 2) Hope would rather shave her head than go home from school sick and miss seeing her crush in gym class–the last class of the day and 3) unless she is projectile vomiting, I’m going to tell that nurse to put some ‘Tussin on it and send her behind back to class.

Lady, you have got to be kidding me. I cannot.

So, we renegotiate because clearly she did not understand my needs. I resend the email and text messages.

I think we’re cool.

3:34am, in all CAPS: MISS ABM, MY INTERNET HAS BEEN OUT FOR DAYS BUT NOW I GET YOUR EMAILS. I WILL BE THERE. I UNDERSTAND. THANK YOU.

Um, ok. Yes, in all caps. She yelled at me in the middle of the night.

Sigh.

Sooooo, you accused me of not sending emails, but you weren’t able to access the internet.  Yeah, this is just peachy.

At 9am, I have a conference call with the new tutor, while I’m out getting some exercise. Never mind that I think I’m going to do three loads of laundry and I haven’t started packing and my flight leaves at 1:10pm.

10am, sitter calls again because there is a discrepancy between the time I originally requested with the sitter service and the time I asked her to come.

OMG. I calmly tell her that the time I have told her, texted her, emailed her repeatedly is the only time she needs to be concerned with. Somehow she gets riled up, then I get riled up, then she threatens to quit, and I lose my ish since I’m supposed to be on a plane in a couple of hours. I start sobbing. She now claims to quit because I am crying; I just hang up because I’ve got to come up with a plan, and I don’t have another moment to spare with this bird.

She calls me back, I tear her a new one; she apologizes for like 20 minutes; I can’t get her to hang up.

Sigh.

Trip’s back on, though I’m stressed to the max and making a mental note that it’s time to hire someone privately.

She calls me and texts me twice more, including the text of a beautiful forest fire, that I guess is supposed to be inspirational…I guess.

She picks up Hope and I eventually get to Chicago.

I call Hope, and she politely tip toes around the fact that the new sitter is a cuckoo bird. I’d done everything I could all week to chat the sitter up and to seem optimistic about it, but come on…Hope is 14 if the sitter is a crackpot, then she’s going to know that the sitter is a crackpot.

Finding help and support can be so challenging for me.  I don’t have much family around anymore.  I haven’t been good about nurturing some of my pre-Hope friendships; life is so different now.  Sometimes Hope’s anxiety behaviors clearly turned folks off, and I just took steps away.  A great deal of my support comes from “staff.” The housekeeper every two weeks, the dog walker that helps to manage some of Yappy’s puppy energy and the sitter service that helps me be able to travel for work and have an evening or two a weekend a month to myself.

When I first started using the sitter service, things were great.  I was able to find some really kind, patient and compassionate young women to help me look after Hope.  I wouldn’t say they babied her, but she got a lot of attention and had fun when the sitters came.  These days, those awesome women have moved on to other things and this has resulted in us being a bit rudderless without consistent sitters. And please know, we need help.  No, make that *I* need help. It’s really crazy out here all by my lonesome.  This single mom situation is serious!

I’m also finding that our needs have dramatically changed.  For all the problems Hope and I may have, we are remarkably stable, these days. I think it time for us to look for someone who can meet our new needs, which means shuttling Hope to activities, making sure she goes to bed and takes care of the dog and brushes her teeth.  I need someone responsible, but I don’t need a live-nanny who treats Hope like an infant or a toddler.

I think the most striking thing about this episode is how limited my options feel in securing help with child care so that I can continue to do things that are required for my job. Family isn’t really an option.  Friends aren’t really an option. The sitter service is a great option, but a bit of a personality crap shoot.

This single mom feels pretty alone and kind of unsupported.  Not that the people around me are mean or intentionally unsupportive, but there aren’t people close enough to me to ask that they watch Hope for 3 or 4 days without costing me a grip.

I don’t have a village to raise this kid and that sucks.

I guess there might be some kinda village but it is nothing like I envisioned what it would be or what I now know I need for my family.

No village = mo problems.  At least it feels that way. It feels hard.

I can see how the lack of village affects me.  I wonder how the lack of a village affects Hope. I dunno.

I’m beginning to be somewhat withdrawn like Hope socially, despite my constant efforts to stay connected. I feel the sting of rejection when a band parent just ignores me, or worse, turns her shoulder to signal my exclusion from participating in a conversation. I’m actually starting to wonder if band parents are talking about me—I have no idea what they’d say?  Do I volunteer enough?  How come I don’t always sit with the parents during games (because they ignore my very presence). I also feel the lonely when I talk to my sisters over many cities and several states.  I feel it talking to my parents 100 miles away.

Single parenting a kid from a hard place is great, but my own journey has some really lonely spots. This feels like one.

Lonely parenting only adds to the stress of parenting in general.  This is tough job; you really need people around you, to lean on, to sob with, to take deep breaths with.  You need a village.

I’m hoping that I can try to build a suitable village, one that will give Hope and I the support we need.


Mama

On Christmas Eve nearly two years ago, Hope called me “mom” for the first time. It was the most precious gift I could have ever received since it was entirely her choice to call me mom instead of my given name.

I love the sound of her calling me mom. It’s become so routine, so natural now that I almost take it for granted.

And then something reminds me that mom, and other names or terms of endearment, are Hope’s little presents to me. I don’t know if she knows they are presents, but they really are.

In moments when Hope and I are really connected and things are good, she calls me mama.

On nights like tonight, when I’ve been out to a group meeting talking about this adoption journey and I call her on my way home to check in and see if she needs anything, she answers the phone excitedly, “Hi mama,” and I smile.

I know she’s excited I’m on my way home. I know she’s fine, but she missed me. I know she loves me. I know she’s been thinking about me.

I know that no matter the funky BS we may have been going through, she loves me.

Mama is music to me.

Mama reminds me that we’ll be ok.

I hope to be worthy of being called mama every day by my daughter. Most of the time I feel unworthy. Like a lot of parents I fret over whether I’m doing any of this parenting well at all or if I’m just really, really effing everything up and failing miserably.

I guess I’m doing ok. I’ve had a string of mamas this week. I’ll take that as some validation.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to earn this epic term of endearment again.

I think I can.

I think I can.


Thoughts on Mothers’ Day

Hmmm. I thought I would feel different this mother’s day. Last year was my first Mother’s Day with Hope and we were traveling. I was so happy to get a nap last year. This year has been quiet. When Hope arrived home from school on Friday I announced that we weren’t doing anything that I didn’t want to do this weekend.

Umm, yeah, it’s Mother’s Day.

I’ve been a slug since then. I’ve been exhausted the last few weeks, and we didn’t have anything planned. I’ve watched lots of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. I bought myself some gourmet popcorn that I don’t intend to share. I took hour long walks and napped on the couch with Yappy.

Today, the actual holiday, I walked 3 miles, cuddled with Yappy, changed my bedding and did 2 loads of laundry. I think I might go out to shop for a couple of new workout tops since it’s time to put away the long sleeved stuff. I may get a slurpee—that blackberry ginger ale flavor is the business. I intend to cook bratwurst for dinner this evening. I like brats with lots of mustard.

Hope has largely been held up in her room, watching YouTube videos and the Disney channel since she hasn’t had TV for a few days.

It’s been quiet, and I’ve been thinking.

I’m glad to be a mom and all that, but I wonder what Hope’s birth mother is feeling and thinking today. I imagine she misses this beautiful young woman that I’m raising. I imagine that she wonders what she looks like now. I bet she wonders how she’s doing in school; she’s doing really quite well.

I bet she wonders where Hope is and whether she’ll ever see her again.

I want her to know that even though Hope struggles with her feelings about her; I don’t judge her. I don’t pretend to understand the series of events that led to Hope becoming my daughter, but I also don’t dwell on them more than I have to, no more than is necessary to help Hope heal. I regret that she couldn’t be what Hope needed her to be or that she couldn’t protect her from a bunch of foolery, but I can’t judge her.

And I can’t judge her or say anything bad about her because I hold out hope that one day, when she is healthy and happy that she will resurface in Hope’s life. I can’t hate her because I hope that Hope will one day not be so angry and that she will learn to forgive. I know I have to model that for her.

In a perfect world, years from now, we might even be friends as we watch Hope continue her life journey.

I don’t know if that’s realistic, but I hope to live in a way that at least allows for that option one day.

So, to Hope’s birth mother, I hope that wherever you are you know that Hope is safe and sound and that her second mom wishes you a happy mother’s day.


My Voice on Adoption

I came to this journey with my own story, and Hope came with hers.  My story has some loss; her story has a lot of loss. I like to say we found each other.  We’re well suited as a mother-daughter pair.

I know my place as her adoptive mom.  I know what happened with her parents.  She needed a home, and I wanted a home.  I didn’t exactly pray for her, and I know that her family feels her loss.  I know that she deeply feels the loss of her family.  They have all told me, and I have listened.

I catch all the hell that spills out from that deep loss.  I regularly express some of my own emotion related to my loss and hers.

I love her so very much. I believe she loves me too.

I can honestly say that I don’t know anything about international or infant adoption.  Nothing.  I don’t know anything.  I can’t speak to it, and I won’t try to. Heck I’m not an adoption expert on anything but my and Hope’s adoption.

I know that there many, many children in the foster care system.  Sure we can have loads of conversations about how we could have/should have preserved families.  We can talk about how to better support families, women and children especially. We can talk at length about corruption in the adoption world.

And still there would be children needing permanent homes.  And I hope that there are families who have homes to share.

Adoption is a tragic, yet beautifully, complicated process.  It is imperfect.  It can be flawed. Its very need is predicated on individual and familial loss and disasters of all kinds. The process is populated with all kinds of folks.  And like any institution it can be mired in practices and policies that are baffling, disruptive and even unethical.

All of that is true. And yet, still there are children who need permanent homes, and good people who want to and can provide them.

I am glad that I chose this path; I knew early on that adoption would be a part of my journey.  I didn’t think it would quite be like this, but it is what it is. I love this daughter that I share with someone out there.  She is without question or hesitation the most amazing, challenging person in my life and our little family is the happiest, crappiest, best thing I’ve ever been a part of.

I am not naive that she will have her own voice, her own narrative and that it will be drastically different than my own.  It’s ok.  It’s hers, and this is mine.

I want children to have families.  I would love for children to stay with their own families, but I know that that is not always possible.  I am glad I have a home for Hope.  I am unapologetic in going through this process with her, with her becoming my daughter and me becoming her mom.

I love her more than anything. She has been a blessing to me.  I hope I have been good for her.

I would hope that there are other voices like mine who can embrace the various truths about adoption that exist.  I am unapologetic in promoting adoption, particularly of older children (because that’s what I know).  I hope that more people of color will consider adoption.  I hope that more families are preserved, and when that isn’t possible that families will be created for children who need them.

So, with that I am committed to acknowledging National Adoption Awareness Month and National Adoption Day this weekend.  Adoption has been a beautifully, complicated journey for me, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to create my family through this process.


Silencing the Noise

Recently blogger, Love Hurts, posted an essay called, “am I a good mom?” I can’t say that I ask this question specifically; it’s more that I review collections of incidents and do assessments and think about where I could do better, how I could’ve done worse and be glad I didn’t.

I’m constantly looking to improve, but overall I have gotten to this space in which I try to be kind to myself. I try to give myself a break. It is an odd thing to have no kids one day and a kid, a teenager no less, the next day. It’s hard work. I get it half wrong or just all wrong every day. But I figure Hope seems happy, she’s safe, she’s fed, she’s loved, she’s learning. I must be doing something right.

I’ve come to believe that my worries about parenting are triggered by factors and individuals outside of me and Hope. There are the comments about what I let Hope “get away with” as we continue to work on big issues from her past. There are the side eyes I get because I’m apparently doing the most. Then there’s the passive aggressive commentary when I’m apparently doing the least.

I try to stay inward focused on Hope’s needs just so that I can tune out the noise. The noise doesn’t add any meaningful input into my life or parenting. It does serve to further breakdown whatever confidence I might exude on any given day. It makes me question the things I absolutely know I got right and cry more over the things I wonder if I screwed up royally.

What’s interesting about the criticism is that it rarely offers a suggestion for a better way to do anything or if the commenter might pitch in to help. Sometimes they offer suggestions, but they aren’t helpful because the offering is made without tons of nuanced information about my and Hope’s journey through trauma and adoption. So it really is just noise.

Today I am sitting in a conference room in the mid-west in a meeting away from Hope. Today she is out of school. Nanny 1 has left for the day and the other nanny won’t be in until this evening. Hope is “Home Alone.”

homealone

Hope has food.

She has a list of chores and activities.

Appropriate PPV movies were purchased this morning.

The crockpot is going for dinner.

I will call to check on her throughout the day.

Hope’s got an emergency contact list and access to two building concierges who can help out if necessary.

She’s 13 and will be home alone for maybe 10 hours. She will likely sleep 4 of them easily.

I did play a bit of resource Cirque du Soleil trying to have someone there to entertain/watch her today. My machinations didn’t work, and so she’s home today alone.

And you know what?

She’s going to be fine.

Are we both a little nervous? Yep, because I’m not downtown; I’m 1200 miles away.

Am I confident that the likelihood is small that she will burn the condo building down or some other cataclysmic event will occur? Yeah, I’m pretty confident.

Do I think by the 3rd check in call/Google hangout that she’s going to go all snarkily, “ Mom, geesh, don’t you have something to do?” Yep. And I will smile and tell her I’ll call her back later.

And do I think that she will be happy to see Nanny 2 this evening? Yep.

Will I celebrate her major achievement in demonstrating teen responsibility when I get home tomorrow? Yep, like a boss (provided the condo building is still standing)!

explosion570

Do I wish things had worked out differently? Yeah, but they didn’t.

Does any of this make me a bad mother? No, I’m pretty confident it does not.

Parents make tough decisions with available resources all the time. It’s what parents do. I know through this journey as a new single mom that I have much more empathy for birth families and the challenges they may face along the way. Sometimes things go really, really wrong. I’m fortunate to have resources, to understand systems, to be able to pull things together to fill most of my gaps. My heart breaks for those without those resources and ability to navigate the rocky landscape; it’s easy to see how a cascade of bad, tragic things can happen.

So instead of internalizing the critiques, staying pissy about them, and finding ways of “punishing” those who poke my mom’s eye, I’m going to send out some energy to other moms, new moms, adoptive moms and any kind of moms who need it. You’re doing fine. You’re making tough decisions, some will be great, and some will suck. You will triumph, and you will stumble. I hope that you don’t experience or internalize the negative criticism floating around about your parenting and that your would-be critics think to ask how might they help you be more successful rather than point out your perceived flaws. The former would be so much more productive than the latter.


Putting the Poison Pen Down…

When I started this adoption journey things were really, really different in my life. I was coming off of an “OMG, I’m not going to die” high after contending with a serious medical issue. I was still working on my doctoral coursework. I had gotten a new boss who I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to be productive with. I had been thinking about adoption for years, but I didn’t really talk about it much to people other than to say, “One day I plan to adopt.”

Then one day came and I started moving on my plan.

It appeared to come out of the blue for a lot of people around me. Despite my transparency in this space it wasn’t something I had talked about a lot. Many people just assumed it was an ill-conceived, knee jerk reaction to some of the upheaval in my life and not a strategic move on a long simmering plan. There were times when I got really uncomfortable questions—I still do—about why I chose to adopt and how I planned for it all to work out.

My very first post on the blog and the About ABM page gets into some of the reasons why. As for the how, well, how do other would-be parents plan for it all to work out? They don’t plan, they just do, alongside a huge dose of faith, and take steps for it to work out, somehow, someway. You just do it.

When I started the blog last summer I thought the journey, and the story of the journey, would be different.   I knew it would have challenges and be challenging. I thought I would write about the things I write about, maybe some other things, but I did think it would be different than the story it has evolved into. On some naïve level I thought it would look like this:

sound of music

Um, but with Black people and probably no singing. There would be kids and family and all the stuff this image evokes. Ok, not really running in a field on the side of a mountain either, but you get my drift.

But this journey really has me feeling like this:

:Model Fall

Like somehow I am ready to do something kind of cool (faking it), but fall completely flat on my face, over and over and over again. I suffer from imposter syndrome something terrible. I try to write about what I’m experiencing and what I’m learning on this journey doing something I’ve never done before and I’m not sure I will do again (I am pretty sure I’m a part of the one and done crowd).

The range of emotions and reactions to things have covered more emotional territory than I knew existed. There have been incredible highs and lows that were ridiculously dangerous for me and some of the people around me. There have been disappointments, so many…long before the blog and up until this very day. There have been joys celebrated with others and joys celebrated alone.

This space is supposed to be about all of that.   But it was supposed to be different. Somewhere along the way fear and disappointments surrounding my adoption journey crushed me. It’s been devastating at times. I’m not sure when it happened; I’m not even sure how. Sometimes on this journey, the hits just keep coming and it hard to keep track of what’s really happening.  But I wrote about it. I wrote about the disappointment, sadness and grief in great detail. I wrote about what I learned from it, some of those lessons were better than others. I poured a lot of it out on this blog, in part because I felt so isolated and because I wasn’t getting the type of support I thought I would or should get from people close to me. On some level it made me really, really angry and bitter. Grief is really a beotch, but so is pride. I focused most of my angst on one person, for lots of reasons—most of which don’t hold up under close scrutiny—that seem absurd in the light of day. There is no excuse other than desperately poor judgment entangled with stress and depression. All of that turned this space into something different than what was intended. The space turned into my own slam book of all the little and big perceived slights and abuses on my journey. And adoption journeys are full of tender feelings, fear of failure and judgment and all around messiness, so that leads to lots of writing inspiration.

In recent months, my blog became a place for a poison pen and a public airing of all my mom’s perceived shortcomings. And well, that’s unforgiveable because she’s really a wonderful human being and a fantastic mom; moreover it’s been a recipe for only exacerbating the damage that’s already been done.  She’s long told me that hurt people, hurt people.  quite true.  The slams shouldn’t have happened; they shouldn’t have happened repeatedly, and I regret it. I can’t say I’m over all of the drama (hardly), and I will not apologize for what I felt and even continue to feel (still painfully raw), but I regret that I shaped a public image of my mom that is woefully incomplete, and I regret that I did that in this space or even at all.

My mother is an amazing woman. She is loving and caring and generous. I know the she loves me deeply. She’s been a wonderful mom, and while I have to parent Hope differently, she has created a wonderful template. Whatever I think she’s done; I know in my heart came/comes from a good, pure place.  She’s hardly out to get me.  I also realize that these sentences do her no justice compared to all the things I’ve written before, but trust me, she is such a lovely soul and you would be lucky to know her and blessed to be related to her. I owe her a lifetime of apologies for being a petulant kid and a colossal ass.

So with that, I am adding another promise to not talk about my family on this blog anymore; certainly not in the way that I have up until today. I’ll still talk about this journey, honestly and transparently, and other things of interest and relevance. But it’s time to put my big girl drawers on and own up to my own ish, practice discretion and attempt to navigate some challenging terrain privately.

To those closest to me, I’m sorry.


Old Visions & New Identities

With the New Year, like many people, I often take time to take account of what happened the previous year, consider what I hope will happen the next year and just take a moment to breathe the present.  The last couple of years, I’ve also embarked on creating a vision board using Powerpoint.   I use pictures, words, clip art, etc to create a vision for what I want to happen in my life for the next year.  I print it out and post it somewhere in the house so I see it every day.  I’m not necessarily into the whole “Secret” thing, but I do believe in making sure I stay focused on moving things around in my life to make that vision a reality.

So, in 2013 my vision board tackled this adoption journey, a bathroom and bedroom renovation, some vacation time, health improvement, faith building, advancement towards graduation, seeing a group of girlfriends that I adore and finding love.

Well, you know how the adoption thing is going.  The dissertation is underway (Woot, starting chapter 5 this weekend!!).  I did some bathroom updates myself on the cheap, enough to get me by for now.  Hope’s bedroom is shaping up fabulously.  I saw my girlfriends when one got married. Vacations got subbed with trips to see Hope.   I grew in my faith and in my church.  I began 2014 weighing the same thing I weighed a year ago (eh, could be worse, shrug).  And then there was love; love was nowhere to be found in 2013.

Sigh.  For some reason in the last 24 hours, the lack of romantic love bothered me the most.  Never mind that my life is about to be turned upside down with the adoption; nope, last night I found myself crying out to God, “Hey, what about the brown chocolate dude I put on that vision board last year?  Huh?  What about him? Where is he?  I even put a pair of wedding rings on my vision board. Come on man!!  Holy Dude, what is up with that???  Well I’m putting it on the board again! ”  Then I cried.  Oh, good grief, these emotional landmines are ridiculous…Jeesch!

I haven’t cried about being single in a long time; honestly I can’t remember the last time I got emotional about being single.  Sure, there’ve been lonely moments, but I’ve dated a lot over the years, had good relationships, not so good ones, ones that I thought would lead to marriage and others where I just knew it was never going to work, but boy were they  fun <smirk>.

All this emotion came out of nowhere, and it annoys me.  I haven’t really had time to think about dating in months.  I saw someone off and on for a few months, a lingering relationship that was kind of comfortable, but we both knew it wasn’t going anywhere.  The upside is that it wasn’t a relationship that was threatening to my goals since I knew it wasn’t going to lead to anything permanent, and require me to navigate figuring out this parenting thing, this dissertation thing and then the whole real relationship thing.  We remain friends, but we’ve moved on.

I know that I’m not in a space to handle a serious relationship at the moment, but I suppose I didn’t realize that underneath it all there’s a loneliness I simply wasn’t cognizant of until I took a moment to take stock of life.   I don’t mind being alone, but I just didn’t know I was kind of lonely until I was putting another faceless Tyson Beckford-esque looking dude on my 2014 vision board.  I do wonder whether the loneliness is somewhat exacerbated by some of the isolation I feel on this adoption journey.   I don’t really know.

I also wonder whether it has to do with the identity shift that’s so imminent.  The day that Hope arrives I’ll officially be a Single Black Mom (SBM) in addition to ABM.  I’ll be a SABM.  Ugh, acronyms.

And since I don’t plan to go around announcing that Hope is adopted, the absence of a partner potentially puts me into an identity category rife with stereotypes and unpleasant narratives.  It also creates a narrative for the imaginary man that folks will assume passed through my life about 13 years ago, whether he was a husband or just a ‘baby daddy.’  Hear me clear, I have nothing against SBMs, but like most, I didn’t expect to be one.  I’m so excited about this chapter, but something about the looming new identity and the absence of even the imaginary dude has me mourning what I thought my life would be like at this point.

I’ve been thinking about that life a lot lately.  I didn’t think I was still mourning it, but the parallels and bittersweet episodes that put me on the path to adoption occasionally lead me to think about what might’ve been.  I’m a doer, so I resigned to change my life when things didn’t turn out the way I expected, but I guess I still think about that life.

I do wish I had a partner on this journey.  I wonder when I’ll have another date.  I wonder if I’ll end up as one of those moms on an afternoon talk show, desperately needing a makeover because I started wearing “mom jeans” and just stopped grooming because I accepted never going on another date because I was so devoted to my kid, and I just let myself go.  Yikes.  So dramatic.

I don’t want to be that person either, even though I intend to be devoted to Hope.  I still hope, in time, to go out with the hot single dad that I met when I forced her to play one season of county soccer, during which time she sulkily rode the bench, while looking forward to the after-game pizza party.  I want to be that SABM.  I want to still have a separate identity as a fun, sexy, desirable woman.  I’m a little afraid that the Single Black Female (SBF) that I’ve known all these years will just cease to exist for a while.  That makes me sad…and a bit lonely.   Sigh.

This life changing stuff is a messy, messy business….a business that, apparently, will keep my therapist in nice shoes for many years to come.


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