Tag Archives: african american adoptive parenting

Ten Things on Wednesday: 1/20/21

  1. Today I breathed. It’s not that I think Biden/Harris will solve all the problems, but I certainly don’t think they will cause as many as we’ve seen during the last administration.
  2. Watching VP Kamala Harris take the oath of office with Justice Sonia Sotomayor with my daughter this morning was…amazing. #RepresentationMatters
  3. I can’t really describe the relief I felt watching the Troll in Chief and Troll Barbie take flight and disappearing.
  4. My only sadness is that I couldn’t take Hope down to the mall to watch it in person. Don’t get me wrong: inaugurations are cold (it flurried here this morning) and usually crowded, but the energy is amazing. It’s actually very cool and super patriotic.
  5. Did y’all see Michelle Obama and that guy she’s married to? (I love him too.) My gawd that woman is gorgeous. The hair, the outfit, the lashes…the gorgeous former president. I live!!!
  6. I really needed today. It’s like a bright spot in a dark time for me. The pomp and circumstance! The lofty, aspirational charge of it all. The hope. I needed it really badly.
  7. Things around here are still precarious. I’m still fighting burnout. I’m still trying to prop Hope up in the midst of new traumas.
  8. I think I’m going to tackle my front closet and my bedroom closet. They are both a disastrous mess. I was always taught that your closets are a reflection of your life, and well, those 2 closets are a disastrous mess. I’ve been consciously avoiding them for months. I know that tackling them will help.
  9. I also need to do some purging. Things feel really cluttered around here. So, stuff has to go. Of course I’m also still shopping for a new low profile treadmill; so part of my motivation is to make room for new ish.
  10. I’ve been really trying to be more introspective right now. I’m honestly feeling a bit lost. Motivation is low. I slap on a functional face on workdays and feel like collapsing after 5pm. I really have not experienced these feelings in a very long time. I don’t like it, but I’m fighting through.

The Robe

Merry Christmas folks.

I know I have stopped writing as frequently. I hope to really embrace writing again in 2021, but this year my brain was already at max cap.

Anyhoo, we are surviving. Some days are better than others, and this time of year can be emotionally challenging during regular times. I have enjoyed a lot of downtime this week and still have another week off. I really needed this time, and Hope has needed me with fewer distractions.

So about this robe… About 5 years ago we were picking up some things at Walmart. Hope spotted these robes and beelined to them. She played in the racks; she rubbed the robes on her face. She begged for me to buy her one.

I scrunched up my nose. This robe was cheap velour with a front zipper and a nehro collar.

In short, it was your grandma’s winter house coat. I was like, “Um that’s kinda old for you. It’s kinda a granny robe.”

Hope saw something different.

She saw luxury.

She saw comfort.

She saw functionality.

So, I bought her one. And she loved it. She’s asked and received a new one every Christmas since. Two years ago, she was so delighted, she slept in it on Christmas Eve.

This year, none of the local stores carried the robe. I snagged one on the website. As it does every year, the new baby blue version has brought her immense joy.

Shared with her permission and urging… Because she’s proud of her granny robe. Her college friends even *call* her Granny! It’s a whole persona.

The 2020 Robe Unveiling

She’s already posted on her own socials. I’m amused that at 19 she still loves this robe so much. It’s very much become a part of our holiday tradition!

Now we’re watching The Christmas Story–the Muppets version. 😂😂 #mychoice #ihatemusicals #butlovemuppets

Have a great holiday for those who observe and for those who do not, may your take out be delicious! ❤️


Busy, Busy

I live for rest time on the weekends. The number of Zoom meetings I have during the week exhausts me. By Friday evening I just want to go to bed immediately after logging off.

These days the second shift really starts after work as I try to help Hope work towards some sense of normalcy after the summer drama. I try to spend a few hours of quality time with her and try to get her up and around a bit. It’s not easy, but we’re getting better at achieving a few small goals everyday.

This weekend I was determined to get us up and out to enjoy the gorgeous 80 degree days. Yesterday I got us up and out to visit a farm to do some good shopping: fresh pressed cider, apples, tomatoes, honey, and jams. Then we got Whole Paycheck for a sorbet Hope had been wanting to try. Then we headed home to watch Lucifer on Netflix while I made a dog sweater for a colleague.

We celebrated the election results, and enjoyed a special moment watching VP-elect Kamala Harris give her speech. Gotta say, watching that speech with my daughter was something I will never forget. For me it was reminescent of Obama’s first term and all the emotions I felt then.

Today I’ve been up since about 3:30am when Hope’s early morning insomnia antics disturbed my sleep. Since then I’ve been on the move, cooking, cleaning, bathing Yappy, finishing the dog sweater, returning Amazon items, shopping for new sheets, meal planning, reworking a slide deck for a workshop I’m conducting tomorrow, cleaning the kitchen a second time, and do on and so on.

I’m finally sitting, noshing on some reheated chicken fingers, thinking about just crawling into bed. I’m so exhausted.

And tomorrow, the rat race starts all over. I’m taking some time off later this month and a couple of weeks next month. Of course that means nothing tonight. This adulting thing is so dang hard.

Yesterday, on the long back from the farm, Hope asked me what were the top 5 things about being an adult… That weren’t material. It was one of the best and most challenging questions she’s ever asked. I talked about learning about myself, learning to be authentic, the joy of constantly learning, the freedom to do most of what I want with little consequence, and then Grammy called and I was spared from coming up with the final reason.

The exercise really did make me think hard about my own life and how I want to encourage Hope to keep pushing forward. Adulting is hella hard; it’s great but it’s really hard. Hope sees that and her first brushes with adulting have made her rethink independence all together. I low-key don’t blame her some days.

This is another busy week ahead, another week of adulting and another week of nudging Hope towards the same. Wish us luck


Election Anxiety

In undergrad I majored in government and politics. I worked on Capitol Hill during my senior year of undergrad. I went on to study public policy in graduate school before switching over to education for my doctorate.

I have loved politics since…well, before I can actually remember. One of my earliest memories is this US Bicentennial dress my mom dressed me in during the summer of 1976; I was 3 years old.

I know the shine started to dull with the 2000 election and the drama with “hanging chads.” As a Democrat, I was heartbroken by the outcome. I lost friends over it.

Today, the 2000 election almost seems quaint.

Today, the US election is taking place, though just about everyone I know personally and professionally has already voted. The stakes for this election feel really high. Will we pull back from the brink of all out devastating crazy or will we push our poker chips all in?

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I really wasn’t fretting much. But having endured two elections where the outcome was completely unexpected, I know better than to trust the polls any more. I started getting a bit worried. This weekend my anxiety really spiked.

Can me and Hope really do another 4 years of this? Do I want to? Where can we go? Do I really want to leave the US?

No.

No.

I dunno.

Maybe.

I really could use a major change of scenery, but essentially going into exile seems dramatic–but so is having a White supremacist as head of state. I am seriously considering heading somewhere at least for a few weeks–but with our COVID -19 cases spiking…I’m guessing no one in their right minds are welcoming refuge seeking Americans in the middle of a pandemic.

So, I’m doing my best to cope here. I’m limiting my news consumption. Staying off of social media most of the day. I stressed shopped (blowing any sense of a budget, mind you) and bought me and Hope our favorite foods, because I needed comfort food. I’m getting my Fitbit steps in, and I made devil’s food cake for dessert.

It’s not enough though. It’s hard enough to suffer through the pandemic and Hope’s challenges right now. I’m usually in my bed by 8pm; and folks have no boundaries. People will still call or DM me. It seems they’ve figured out that my phone snoozes messages after 5pm, so folks routinely text me as late as 10pm. I’m sooooo exhausted. Last night, I dragged my weighted blanket to my bed and crawled under it. I slept soundly.

Today I will rally. I celebrated Hope’s first time voting weeks ago. I was excited for her, but sad that she didn’t get the full experience of going to the polling place and getting her sticker. I will work most of the day, scoot Hope to an appointment late afternoon, use my coloring app, leave the TV on mute or off all together and check in periodically to see what’s happening on Twitter. Despite all of the food I’ve purchased, we will likely get takeout tonight, because I frankly don’t see myself being functional enough to pull together dinner this evening.

How are you practicing self-care today? Are you anxious like me? What’s at the root of your anxiety? What are you telling your kiddos? Do you have a “post-election plan?”


Realizations

Hope and I have had an interesting journey. The first year was tough–getting used to one another, trying to create a sense of normalcy, trying to get the healing started. I remember when my depression kicked in and when I started learning about secondary trauma. Hope was in yet another school–she’d already been to so many, and had difficulty making friends.

We connected with some birth family, dealt with a lingering criminal investigation back in Hope’s hometown, estrangement from my mother and oh yeah, finishing a dissertation. I think of that year often nowadays; there’s something about 2020 that reminds me of our “bonding’ time the first few weeks.

I made a cake every week.

I have baked cakes most weeks since March. It’s one of my ultimate comfort foods. As Hope doesn’t really get into cake like I do, I also do not have to share my cake. Yes, that admittedly gives me some petty pleasure. And yes, I just had my nightly piece of chocolate frosted cake.

I have struggled with depression most of my adult life. It’s managed by meds and therapy. Even though my very high intrinsic motivation is one of several triggers for my depression and anxiety, it’s also likely the thing that keeps me from tumbling over into the abyss.

My drive and inability to sit still for very long has meant that I won’t just lay in bed watching the ceiling fan for hours. There have been times when I have wanted nothing more than to do that because the sadness, emptiness and darkness had taken over. The anxiety keeps me up and functioning. It’s frankly an awful vicious cycle.

Proof? I took today off to rest, to just be. Instead I worked on finishing up setting up my new desk, checking and responding to a few emails and drafting a couple of things that need to go out tomorrow.

I did lay on the couch for a couple of hours with Yappy while playing on a coloring app, so there’s that.

Today it really, really sunk in that Hope’s depression and anxiety don’t look anything like mine. They aren’t even in the same neighborhood. They manifest so differently that it has taken me 6 years to realize this. I feel really foolish that I’ve failed to see it as clearly before. I’m also embarrassed and ashamed that there are times when I said things without realizing Hope’s emotional limitations in the moment. I am certain that there are times when my dimwittedness really harmed her and our relationship. That will weigh on my heart until I die.

I’m grateful for whatever grace she has extended me because I certainly don’t deserve it.

Tomorrow brings another parenting pivot. I never stop learning and try to incorporate the new knowledge and make changes. This pivot requires some significant changes. I expect to stumble…a lot, but Hope needs some things from me and those who love her that I really didn’t understand.


Hitting the Wall

This week, I feel like I hit the wall. I’m just over and done with everything. I feel like I could just crawl into bed and sleep indefinitely. I’m just emotionally exhausted.

Nothing about this year has been easy, but these last 4-5 months have just been brutal. Work just exploded after the murder of George Floyd, and while the intensity has died down some the expectations and work haven’t. I decided about 2 months ago to stop accepting speaking and writing engagements. That hasn’t stopped people from asking though, and I’m getting better at saying no without explanation.

My job cuts across so many other programs within my organization. During a recent meeting I swear I hear my name over and over and over on projects led by others. It was then that I realized part of why I am so effing tired. I’m spread pretty thin.

And then of course there’s home life. While we are past the crisis of the last two months, we are still very much in a tender phase. We’re stable, but fragile. I don’t feel like I’ve had much time or space to process anything because I was just trying to soldier us through it. I threw myself into finding support for Hope, figuring out what needed to happen with the rest of her college semester, dealing with health issues and just babying her, because she needed it.

Oh and can’t forget about Yappy and the day he shat all over the living room and dining room. Or the second COVID scare. Or the inability to get away from here and take a vacation. Or…Or…Or…

And Thursday evening, I feel like I just cracked. I don’t even want to watch TV. I don’t want to read. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want much of anything but to be left alone to just drift away to lala land. My brain just doesn’t wanna. I know that after I post this I will curl up on my couch and go to sleep. I already have my blanket and my pillow.

I’m not sure how to get on top of this. I’ve taken another day off next week and I’m committed to trying to block off more time to just rest. I’m realizing that I’ve got some ego issues (but I just HAVE to be a this meeting) and some issues about disappointing others that I really need to confront and wrestle with because the status quo is not sustainable.

I’m also worried about how my mini-breakdown will affect Hope, who is coming off of her own crisis. I believe it is important that she remember I’m human, but I don’t like her seeing me like this. It can be triggering for her. But I also know that I”m simply incapable of faking it right now. I’m just empty–and this is after having a weekend completely free last week when she went to visit the grands.

I know I’ll be ok, but right now I just feel blah with too much to do and a lot of responsibility that I’m not sure I can handle. Rough times…


The Summer of 2020

We all know that 2020 has been a complete shit show. As we enter the final quarter of this crazy year, I’m frankly wary. This summer has especially been hard for me and Hope.

As a parent you do what you can to help your kids learn to make good decisions. It hurts when you watch them not make the best decisions, and you just hope no one gets hurt and wait close by to help pick up the pieces.

That’s what the last couple of weeks have been, working to maintain our home as the safe space to recover and heal. I thought the crisis was over weeks ago, but it got one last breath of life and as it finally expired, it left a hot mess in its wake. It’s been hard for Hope and for me. It’s so hard watching your kiddo suffer natural consequences.

Hope will be ok with time; I believe that. But I’m guessing like everyone, 2020 has changed her. In some ways I see her having gained some wisdom, which never comes easy. She is strong, and while putting your bad decisions under a microscope is always hard, I see her replaying things in her head, turning them over in her mind, questioning her reactions to all sorts of scenarios. Of course we all do this. Sometimes it’s healthy, sometimes it’s not.

During this time, I have done double duty. I’m mom first, but my daughter also needed a good girlfriend to talk to sometimes. It’s a hard flex to go between these identities, but she needed a friend sometimes. I shared my more of my own bad decisions, and the proof that life goes on. I talked about what I needed to do for me to move on to better choices. I told her she would find her way and what worked for her. I enlisted friends and her godmom to help prop her up. Hell, at one point I actually offered my daughter an edible because I saw she needed help settling down and trying to get to sleep. She declined–Mom ABM was shocked and happy she declined.

And then I mommed. I mommed so hard. I cooked, a lot, nearly daily. I made appointments. I juggled work and parenting in ways that felt like our early days. We watched our binge show on Netflix. We talked. We cried. I got her up and pushed her to get showered and dressed daily. I talked to our medical/mental health squad, sometimes late into the night. These last few weeks have been intense, and soooo reminiscent of our early days.

It made me remember just how challenging it was learning about how to help Hope and how much I needed to learn about trauma. It made me go through my own process of revisiting some of my decisions 6 years ago, wondering if there were things I could’ve and should’ve done differently. I had a breakdown, wondering if the summer of 2020 was my fault. I begged our family therapist to tell me what I did wrong to increase Hope’s risk of being harmed.

End the end, I realized that in spite of our decisions, Hope and I are still standing. We definitely have some dings, dents, and rust spots, but we’re ok.

Hope is taking some time off from school, and after the election, we might pack up Yappy and relocate outside of the US for a few months. We could both use a change of scenery. When Hope was originally planning to be in residence at school this fall before they went remote, I looked into packing up Yappy and going away for a while. Now I’m looking at moving all of us for a few a spell. I’ve joked that depending on the election results, I might just ask for asylum.

This year has a been crazy and this summer…well, it was rough. But we’re ok.


Looking Forward

This week I received a blast email from Hope’s college president explaining the institution’s decision-making regarding coming back to campus. It was like 5 paragraphs long, and in my opinion, the major takeaway is that it’s very unlikely that Hope will be returning to in person classes in the spring semester.

I think it is the right public health decision. Her school is very small, less than 1,000 students, and while it is well resourced it simply can’t mount the surveillance protocols necessary to do routine testing and quarantines. It’s disappointing that they don’t, but most of the schools in my state, including the very large ones, do not have the ability to do it either. So, it’s definitely the right health decision.

Socially, I fret a bit about Hope’s continued development. She has always struggled with cultivating friendships, but at school she had settled in with a nice group of kids and seemed to really be developing good relationships. She was also getting more engaged in extracurricular programs. Academically, she still had some challenges, but I was delighted that she was doing well socially. I was starting see some wonderful developments, and then COVID-19 happened.

And now, our world is a lot smaller. The whole of this time home I’ve quietly fretted about what this loss of time will mean for Hope and other young people like her.

For my part, I am constantly engaging people, often to the point where I have little desire to engage after work hours. Even still, I regularly schedule happy hours and chats with family and friends so that I can get a bit of my extrovert energy boost.

Hope didn’t take to online chat fests where her school friends. Having a job helped a lot; she was able to meet folks and develop some social relationships. I had really resisted letting her work during the school year, but honestly, I feel like she needs the outlet. Overall,  I’ve seen Hope regress back to the small world she’s had for most of our time together. I worry that not being in a space where she can really practice socially will really be harmful the long run.

As a parent, honestly, I have so many worries. Our recent crisis, which frankly isn’t over we’re just in a period of stasis, taught me a lot about my own fears. It taught me that some of those fears are well founded and that others are less so. It’s also taught me that parenting this period of early adulthood has some really unique challenges. I want Hope to be independent, but what that looks like the middle of pandemic is a bit of a mystery. I want her to develop healthy relationships, but there are some specific vulnerabilities that worry me and again—what does that look like during this time? When the risks of getting sick, spreading the virus and frankly possibly killing someone, figuring out what’s allowable while still giving some space and grace seems really complicated.

Adding to all of this is that several months ago I decided that I would try my hand at dating again. It’s been a slow, cautious endeavor, and I’m not even sure it’s been the right decision. I don’t go out much; I try to focus on talking and connecting a lot. Dating was always complicated and now it just feels moreso. I’m also stuck trying to figure out if me stepping out to date is fair to Hope.

I just don’t know.

With each week, I think we all feel the isolation and limitations a bit more. I’m trying to be optimistic about what will happen over these next couple of years with me and Hope. I mean, I believe we will weather this storm, but I do wondering if/how much collateral damage this pandemic will leave us with when it’s all over. What social skills am I losing and what skills is Hope being prevented from developing? Will we feel safe traveling and having adventures again? What is going to happen next in a year that honestly feels like a colossal dumpster fire?

I just don’t know, and well, this part of my parenting journey feels a bit like a black hole. I just don’t know what’s next. I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic, but I’m also a realist and I worry about our health, safety, mental health and overall wellbeing.


The Sun is Shining

My last post was a lot. As Hope would say, a lot a lot. I learned that my description of my family crisis was really upsetting to some adoptees. I want to acknowledge that sometimes I write  things that may be triggering for some readers. I will write more about that sometime soon, but I want to acknowledge that reality. 

Today is a new day, and the crisis is over. There are just waves of relief. My daughter is safe.

These last few weeks have really been scary. There are always times when I worry about Hope; I worry about her in some form or fashion all the time. This was different. The stakes felt higher, the threat to our relationship seemed higher, and I was just scared, really, really scared for her. 

I know I feel lucky. Parenting is hard; it just is, and some days are just harder than others. And some days, for some parents turn into weeks, months and years. 

The thing I’m most grateful for is being so close to Hope.These last few weeks have been an emotional ringer for both of us. We kept talking. We spent quality time together. We ate together. We used good communication strategies. For most of the time we were really patient with each other, and when we were able to articulate why. I feel like we are even closer now. 

There are and will continue to be some reverberations from this episode. There’s some monitoring and support that needs to happen to make sure things stay safe. There will probably still be some tears (from both of us). There will be lifelong lessons to reflect on (for both of us). 

But this morning, I’m just happy that the sun is shining and that Hope is ok. 


A Sad Escalation

I am still in the emotional whirlwind. We’ve been stable the last couple of weeks, but it’s like a stable version of hell, soooo it sucks.

I’ve been angling for a breakthrough in this situation. I made a request that went unanswered.

I’ve been patient. I haven’t lost my schitt in front of Hope. I have moderated my outward emotions. I have not raised my voice. I have tried reason. I have tried science (I’m a nerd, leave me alone). I’ve leaned into every bit of every skill in my toolbox.

And nothing.

I announced to Hope on Sunday that she had 2 days to move the needle or I was taking matters into my own hands and escalating things.

Nothing happened so, I made my move today.

There is a part of me that wonders if it is the right decision, and there is a part of me that sees this escalation as the only path toward making sure I’m doing my job of looking out for Hope’s wellbeing.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about what I was like and who I saw myself as when I was Hope’s age. In some ways we are alike and others so vastly different. I realize just how much I took for granted looking back now.

I certainly engaged in my share of shenanigans in high school, but I was also a “good girl” so I showed up to college with some innocence. Despite all that Hope has been through, she also showed up with a bit of innocence.

I was an avid reader and continue to be an endlessly curious woman. I was certainly academically ready and my curiosity meant that I was always looking to understand all these new experiences. I am intrinsically motivated and I had some very specific goals to accomplish during college. I avoided just about everything that would possibly derail me—except a ridiculous boyfriend who was handsome but not at all what he appeared to be. Even that, I managed to escape with some emotional wounds that certainly shaped the way I viewed future relationships, but in the grand scheme of things, I got off lucky.

Hope and I are very, very different in this respect. She is not motivated in the same way, and trust over the last 6+ years I’ve tried to understand what motivates her. I still don’t know, and I’m not sure she does either. She is naturally curious, but I’m still not sure that she has figured out that she can channel and leverage that curiosity in ways that would directly benefit her.

I never doubted that my family was my support system and that they would be there for me. They had been engaged with me my whole life, so of course I felt secure in that.

Hope has only been with me for 6+ years, which on some days seems like an eternity and others seems like the blink of an eye. We are very attached, but I feel like there’s a part of her that is just out there. I get it. I will never, ever fill some specific holes, and I don’t try to. I can only be what I am to Hope. I love her dearly. I know she loves me, but the path to our family is a littered with loss.

That kind of loss changes you. It changes your brain development and function. It changes you emotionally. I am sure it changes you at a cellular level. And those changes…

Well, I believe that those changes have left my daughter vulnerable to all sorts of things.

She has come so far over these years, but emotionally, she’s not 19. She’s like a 15 year old dropped into college student aged stuff. And, some of it, she can handle and other stuff…it’s just clear she’s out of her depth.

There are few times I’ve been as afraid for her as I am right now. It’s consuming me. Between work, which continues to just be barely bearable because of workload, our family crisis is taking whatever is left.

So, I escalated things today to see if I can get this situation to some sort of resolution. I don’t know what that resolution is going to look like and that terrifies me. I don’t know what my relationship with Hope will look like when its all said and done. I don’t know what she will do next. I don’t know what the next revelation will be or how much it will hurt to hear whatever it will be. I just know that there will be more emotional upheaval before its all over.

And I just…I am just so very sad. So, so, so sad.


From Cave Walls

The Journey Home

K E Garland

Inspirational kwotes, stories and images

Riddle from the Middle

real life with a side of snark

Dmy Inspires

Changing The World, With My Story...

Learning to Mama

Never perfect, always learning.

The Boeskool

Jesus, Politics, and Bathroom Humor...

Erica Roman Blog

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

My Mind on Paper

The Inspired Writing of Kevin D. Hofmann

My Wonderfully Unexpected Journey

When Life Grabbed Me By The Ears

Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

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

imashleymi.wordpress.com/

things are glam in mommyhood

wearefamily

an adoption support community

Fighting for Answers

Tales From an Adoption Journey

Transracialeyes

Because of course race and culture matter.

%d bloggers like this: