Tag Archives: hard stuff

Self-Care Tuesday

When I returned from taking Yappy for our early morning walk this morning, I seriously contemplated taking the day off. Then I remembered some things that I needed to do that seemed kind of important, and I set about to just continue on my morning routine.

I packed lunches, prepared breakfast, washed up the dishes, engaged in a bit of sniping with Hope about the continued state of disarray that is her room. I gave Yappy some benadryll in hopes that it would help his worsening separation anxiety. I showered, dressed and did hair and makeup.

I found myself well ahead of schedule and so I ran the vacuum in my bedroom and in the kitchen to clean up the crumbs that Yappy seemed disinterested in noshing.

I still just wanted to get back in bed and pull the covers over my head.

I’m just worn down and over it.

Yesterday I had to rush to Hope’s school because the nurse said she was so sick she was considering calling the paramedics. I get there to see all the signs of one of my daughter’s “spells” including the unrelated limp that accompanies her stomach ache. (#stomachboneconnectedtothelegbone) Over the years we’ve become frequent fliers at the local urgent care thanks to these spells. I don’t doubt that Hope actually feels pain and discomfort, and yes, I have to take every episode seriously. But I also know how this plays out 99.999% of the time. So I rush to the urgent care, where they quickly refer us to the local children’s ER (the usual nurse practitioner who sees us wasn’t there…#newbies). So, I rush her to the children’s ER about 30 minutes away and by the time she’s on the gurney, she’s made her usual miraculous recovery. I kid you not, Hope stammered and told the nurse that her pain level was a 1.

The nurse looked at me, and I tried to keep my irritation to myself and said, “I’m glad you are feeling better.”

And I was sincere since I genuinely believe my daughter feels the pain. I also kind of wanted to scream because I’m fully cognizant of what triggered all of this.

I wish I could say I was shocked. I’m not and I haven’t been the last 20 times this has happened.

<opening scene>

Onset of earth shattering abdominal pain that surely must mean death is imminent. Mom comes running. Mom rushes her to the ER because this is serious and needs immediate medical attention. Mom is awash with worry and if she’s not, she performs worry adequately and on cue.  A flurry of professionals scurry around to triage and get answers to the questions of life. Tests are run. CT scans and MRIs are scheduled. Hope is wheeled around on stretcher with head lolling back so that orderly double check to make sure she hasn’t lost consciousness. IVs are placed. As quickly as the episode began, it vanishes. The attention is lavished and soaked up like a sponge. All is right with the world with no findings in any of the tests. Hope declares that she has no idea why this keeps happening to her; it’s so weird.  Like good cast members we all nod sympathetically in agreement. It is so weird. We are referred for follow up (including mental health referrals) , and we are sent on our merry way.

<end scene>

And so this morning I found myself going through a more reasonable routine, and even though I did it, I just was so over it. I rallied though and got in my car, turned on the Waze app and started to head into the office. 5 minutes in Waze announced that there was a new 23 minute backup, and it would take me more than an hour to get to work.  I sat in it for 30 minutes as the traffic only worsened, and then I had the opportunity to finally turn around.

And I did.

Still I thought about just taking a different route to work. I balanced my work things to do with my own need to just have some time to get myself together.

I won; work lost.

I quickly dictated an email to the office that I was taking a personal day.

Today, I will sit in the quiet. I will not look at Hope’s room. I will walk Yappy. I will finish a trashy novel I’ve been reading. I might got get a pedicure and my brows waxed. I will drink a cup of matcha. I will let my brain rest since my TBI symptoms have been worsening and making me feel like ish lately. I will go to the parenting support group tonight.

I will just sit and rest because I really need to. Despite my robust travel schedule, I don’t do much respite. It feels weird to admit needing respite when I travel so much, but those trips are work and I’m usually pulling long hours. I might be away from home, but I’m not resting.

So today, I will rest and take care of me.

And I might do it tomorrow too because I need it.

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We are Enough

You are Enough

Parenting a child with trauma is exhausting, and often doesn’t feel as rewarding as we know it is. The return on our love and attention investments is a long-term proposition. And it isn’t about just us and our evolution in parenting, and it isn’t about finding all of the new folks that this quote suggests. It is about helping our children find themselves, their true selves. Our job is to help them realize who they are and who they can become in spite of all they’ve been through, all they’ve endured and all they survived.

And despite having so many unmet needs, as human beings and as parents, our job is to  show empathy and to help our children find themselves and their work. It really isn’t about us. That’s hard, and sometimes it’s very painful.

I hope one day I will look at my daughter and see the return on my investments. Parenting her is the greatest challenge of my life, and I learn about myself through her every day.
Some of what I learn I’m not proud of, and some of what I learn surprises me. I never would have thought I was this strong; I never would have thought I was this courageous; I never would have thought I could work this hard. I also never realized I was this weak; I was this sensitive, or that I was so easily hurt.

This journey changes you.

I hope it changes Hope too.

In the meantime, we are enough as we are.


Learning to Win Differently

Never say that parenting won’t show you ish about yourself. I swear…these “real life” lessons just don’t stop.

I like to win. I like to win arguments. I like to win with better research. I like to win with good food and wine. I just like to win. It makes me feel better about myself.

Like most people, I worry about how I’m perceived. I fret about being “good.” I fret about being smart. I fret about liking myself. I worry about feeling whole. I aspire to self actualization, despite probably being nowhere near it.

And that’s all ok. I’m guessing in the grand scheme of things, I’m normal, right?

This drive has propelled me to achieve some pretty cool stuff in my life. I’ve done well for myself, but there are certainly still things to achieve.

In comes Hope, my daughter, my sweet girl. Hope is a kid who is a survivor, but has a hollow sense of self, who needs building up in a big way and who has no idea what or who she really aspires to be.

Why, oh why, does my own internal competitive drive and intrinsic need to win, need to win against Hope?

I mean, really? How lame is that? As if this kid doesn’t have enough ish to contend with, she has a mom who just HAS to have the last effing word all the time.

And, why do I feel like I need to win…against Hope? How is it that this is my default setting? How is it that we aren’t always on the same team? And, really, what are we competing for?

Being a mother has totally changed my sense of self. It makes me feel like I have to fight and scrap to be a “good mother.” I’m probably not even really competing against Hope; I’m really competing against my views on motherhood and what I’m supposed to be, rather than what I am—a Black adoptive mom with a teenaged daughter who needs quite a bit of help getting herself together.

My need to win arguments with Hope is really about this underlying belief that Hope is preventing me from being a magazine cover mom.

Ain’t that some messed up ish?

Yeah, it is. I’m horrified that this is really what is below my surface. #shame

I spent some time watching Brené Brown videos (because my dyslexia is making it increasingly hard to read books) and yeah, that shame monster is a beotch. #moreonthatlater

So, I’m working on just letting Hope win—she’s ironically a lot like me. She needs to win to feel good. I hardly ever let her win because my own ego is so bruised and needy. This week, I’m committed to just saying “Ok…” during some of our bicker-fests. It’s ok to just let her win. It’s ok to just stand down. It’s ok to let her feel good, and let her get one over on me.

In fact, it’s essential to heal her own bruised and needy ego. She needs to win.

And if we’re on the same team, then her win, is my win. There are no losers. I just need to learn to win differently.

I’m working on this lesson. It’s important. I’ve had a lifetime of wins, and truth be told, I don’t have anything to prove. I really don’t.

Hope needs some wins to fill her tank. A full tank for her is really a win for both of us.


Pushing For More than Performance

A week has passed and I’ve met with Hope’s counselor, her teachers and consulted with Absurdly Hot Therapist.

It’s true, Hope has issues. Everyone is willing to help Hope develop better strategies to manage her shortcomings in executive function and pull her across the finish line of this school year.

Hope’s reaction?

After we got through the excuses about why she can’t do stuff, and she was confronted with my newfound knowledge about her bad behavior at school (which really should have resulted in detention by now) and the realization that she might not make it to 10th grade…well, she at least expressed some interest in turning things around.

When I realized that her ADHD and issues with executive function seemed to be a problem last fall, I took a lot of time sifting through my own “stuff.”

What are my expectations? Are they too high? Do I expect her to be like me? What if she had to repeat the grade? What if she didn’t go to college? What did Hope want out of life? Did she know yet? Did she know what she might need to do to get there?

Were our hopes and dreams even in the same universe?

Well, the answer to the last question is kind of. The reality is that Hope is finally emerging from the childhood fantasy that she will be the next Beyoncé and settling into pursuing some kind of career in music. I’m totally cool with that. She still has no appreciation/understanding for what kind of persistence it takes to achieve.

And the absence of this appreciation/understanding is where I see my gaps in appreciation/understanding as well.

I had numerous luxuries growing up—not monetary, but I had both of my parents, a safe home and home life, a supportive community, access to good schools with teachers who recognized my talents. I had no shortage of encouragement to achieve anything. I also had the luxury of self-determination. I’ve always had a sense of what I wanted to be and what it took to get there. Sure it evolved over time, but, directionally I had the internal drive and the external support.

It’s strange to think of those things as luxuries, but each one is a unique luxury for a child.

For most of Hope’s life, she didn’t have any of this stuff, and two years is simply not enough time to believe that what exists now is true permanence.

I get that.

I have a lot of hopes and dreams for Hope, and like her own hopes and dreams, they are a work in progress, an evolution.

But there are a few things that are crystal clear in my desires for Hope.

I want her to grow up to be self-sufficient and independent. I also want her to have the additional social-economic and political protections that come with being educated. I want her to have some kind of privilege that might buffer her from succumbing to racial profiling, stereotyping and police brutality.

There.

I wrote it. #realtalk

I’ve been struggling with articulating this for months, and very much so since my last post.

As a mother to this beautiful cocoa hued kid, I am terrified for her. I see whatever privilege outside of race that I have managed to amass as a set of wings of protection for her right now—even if they can’t stop all of the foolishness, they can protect her from a lot of it.

I want—no need—her to do reasonably well in school in order to create the base for her to step into this privilege as an adult. I worry about the cascading effect of academic underperformance in how she’s treated, how she’s perceived, how she feels about herself and how that in turn affects the decisions she makes. She had 8 years of a messy home life and she’s got multi-generational baggage of involvement with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. I know that when she’s a mess emotionally she creates chaos around her; as an adult, not only are the stakes even higher, but given all that’s happened over the last couple of years, I sincerely worry about her very life.

I lay awake thinking about it.

Just so you know, this is what living in a structurally, marginalizing system looks and feels like, and what persistent exposure to racism and perceived racism looks and feels like. It doesn’t matter if you think I am overreacting or if you think that failing algebra can’t possibly turn into all of this—it is my reality as Hope’s mom.

I am sincerely afraid for her, and the potential absence of privilege associated with education and class makes me feel like she will be even more vulnerable than she already is.

I am afraid.

But there is a selfish component as well.

I struggle with my and Hope’s struggle. Honestly I don’t know where the strength comes from some days. There are still times when I go into my bedroom, close the door, then go into the bathroom and close that door, and sit on the side of the tub and have a snotty nosed cry about how hard this path is.

It is lonely. It is painful. It doesn’t always feel like there’s a silver lining and sometimes when you think it can’t possibly get worse, it does.

There are times when I wonder if Hope will make it. Can I really help her heal enough to be self-sufficient, to be independent? Or will I spend my latter middle and gold years, supporting her financially and physically. Will I ever have to bail her out? Would rehab ever be in our future?

In another 10-15 years, I’d like to be in a position to wind down the formal part of my career and start shifting to do other things I’m passionate about. If I can’t help her be a blended version of successful (philosophically hers and mine) will I be forced to sacrifice those personal dreams?

This is real, existential ish, I’m talking about.  When I talked about this post with my therapist this week I just melted down into sobs.

Man…sigh.

So, really this isn’t just about making sure that Hope gets the help she needs, this is about the long term set up. I do need to be careful about making sure that she feel supported and that she knows that I believe in her and that my nagging doesn’t undermine her already fragile sense of self. But I can’t help but feel like so much is riding on everything.

I am trying to take a step back and breathe. To make like Elsa and let it go. I want to feel safe and that I can find other constructive ways of protecting my daughter from a world that undervalues her life. At the moment, I’m hung up on this.

I do think that since last week, we’ve found some tools that can provide some additional supports and I’ve strengthened relationships with teachers and counselors at Hope’s school. I work on my delivery so that it’s less judgmental. I’ll pray even harder for her safety and well-being. I’ll pray for Hope’s security and for her motivation as well.

I believe in a bright future for her…and for me. I just need to help us get there.

It is about a lot more than performance.

I need to go lie down. Chronicling my fear has exhausted me today.


Boss Behavior

We are struggling with Executive Function (Boss Behavior), and when I say we, I mean we—though our struggles with boss behavior are quite different.

From my perception of Hope’s view of things (we’ve talked about this so I think I’m being fair in my interpretation) goes a bit like this:

  • Most homework gets done when I remember it.
  • Hey I manage to do about a third of my chores each week.
  • I know that there’s a test coming up in one of my classes, but I don’t know which class or when the test actually is.
  • I manage to take my meds most days of the week when mom reminds me.
  • On a day home from school, I’ll still be cramming to do my homework at 9pm at night.
  • I just don’t like school, or chores, or the lists that mom makes me or well, anything that requires much organization.

Here’s my take on things:

  • Holy HeyZeus, according to ParentVUE, Hope didn’t do her French homework for a week.
  • Holy Batcrap, Hope didn’t do her math homework for two weeks.
  • I wrote her a list of things to do on her day home, one thing got done today in 8 hours.
  • Good gawd, I have to tell her to do EVERY. SINGLE. THING, will she ever function independently?
  • I’m so glad she’s cooking dinner, but whycome did she need a recipe to make a grilled cheese and her sudden need to follow details has resulted in an ice cold sandwich—I mean really, why does it take 2 hours to make a sandwich with a side of apple sauce????
  • But I told her to tidy her room and now I’m yelling and she’s pouting because this joint is messier than when she started because she is overwhelmed.
  • Impulse control and freak out = $7-$8 school lunches with pizza, a couple of chicken sandwiches, fruit snacks, candy and a stop at the 7-11 for more candy after school.
  • WTH????
  • WTF????
  • WT??????????????????

Yeah, so…all of that.

I flipped out again yesterday because I had provided my lovely daughter a list of things to do, and she accomplished 2 things on the list and could not for the life of her describe how she spent her day. I had forgotten how she struggles with organization, following lists, following directions. I seethed.

I worried.

We are in a dangerous spiral at school, which also has me freaking out. Her teachers are struggling with the right thing to say to me about her behavior in class, that is until I said, “so are you trying to tell me that she’s just checked out?” They all sigh and say, yeah.

We’ve tried tools. We’ve tried different kinds of lists. We’ve tried memorization techniques. We’ve tried all kinds of things: meds, apps, cognitive strategies, etc, etc.

Yesterday I finally popped off emails to the school counselor, the Absurdly Hot Therapist (who is looking mighty fine) and the psychiatrist.

We need help. I have done all I can do and I can’t drag her to the next level of development. I just can’t.

This is tough. I’ve gotten better about asking for help since Hope has come into my life. I see so much return on my work with her. I’ve marshaled all kinds of resources for her.

But figuring out this Boss Behavior thing has just got us stuck. I only recognized that it was really an issue a few months ago. I have read copiously. I have tried to figure out where the boundaries of her limitations are. I’ve tried to help her manage her stress so that she can better cope with her areas of functional difficulty. But I finally concluded this week, that I can’t do this.

Heck, half the time I shoot first, think about it later, meaning, I nag and needle her about what she didn’t do and later remember the pattern of the behavior that triggers one of those limited boundaries. It’s like when you see where the surveyor uses those little sticks with the flags on them to mark the boundaries, but you don’t really know where the boundaries are?

Yeah, that. That’s what it’s like.

So, I’m tired of wandering across the boundary and then kicking, screaming and cursing because I hit a tripwire. It hurts, and it makes me sad. It makes us sad.

This journey sucks sometimes.

I’m hopeful that I can get Hope the support she needs. I’m hoping I can build her confidence and that as a team we can help her be her best self. I am hopeful that I can inspire hope in her.

I totally want her to grow up to be a Boss Chick.


The Ghosts in the Darkness

There was a Val Kilmer movie in the mid-90s called The Ghost and the Darkness about some man-eating lions in Kenya in the 19th century. I loved that movie, probably because I thought it was cool that the movie’s stars—the lions—are in the Chicago Field Museum. I look forward to seeing these dumb stuffed lions every time I go to the museum; even as a kid, long before the movie, a trip to Chicago meant going to see these creatures.

Well, my current home is plagued with ghosts when all of the lights are shut off for the night. And it is seriously, uncool. There are no lions, but there might as well be a whole pride of them living here. Hope has started having bad dreams, she’s refusing to go to sleep until just a couple of hours before she gets up. She’s freaked out about all kinds of things around the house. Yesterday we went to Walmart to buy night lights and a clear shower curtain to help her feel safe. Meanwhile I was on EBay stocking up on sleep masks because I have issues with light sensitivity at night. #Ihatenightlights

Suddenly, she is consumed by fear, and it just bubbled up unannounced. She’s dreaming about people who hurt her. She’s dreaming about people she doesn’t know possibly hurting her. She freaks out if I walk Yappy after 10pm for a quick No. 1. When the sun goes down, the fraidy cat comes out.

I know that we are beginning to really wrestle with some of the hardest memories. We’ve managed the bug phobia, but new fears are emerging all the time. Sleep disturbances abound. It’s tough to experience as a kid and as a mom to this kid.

I’m glad she told me—incidentally, my new mood decoder ring-thingamajig is one of these:

Moods

Very helpful and I can usually get to the bottom of things a lot sooner.

I’m sure all of this stuff has always been there and that this probably some way of us making painful progress, but oy, this sucks. I feel like there’s not much I can do to make her feel safe.

I bought all the things she asked for to help her so far. I make a point of letting her know when I’m retiring for the night so she can turn on or off lights in the main areas to make her comfortable. I make a big to do about locking the front door and making sure that the balcony door is locked; even though it’s 30 degrees out and I don’t think anyone is going to break in via balcony 8 floors up. I let her know that I’ll check on her in the middle of the night. I wake her up in the morning and make sure she is ok.

I’m hoping that time will bring Hope some peace and push off the ghosts that plague her in the darkness. I’m hoping that I can just walk alongside her into the light, step by step over the next few months.


Support Group Side Eye

It continues to stun me how myopic folks can be. I left a support group yesterday because grown folk could not have a civilized conversation amongst adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees views on adoption. (I did reluctantly rejoin the group and immediately hit the “silence notifications” tab. #whoneedsthedrama)

Adoption makes for a bunch of interesting bedfellows, some of whom have big voices and a lot of privilege in the narrative. As a part of the triad, I’ve learned so much about how the diversity issues I work on professionally permeate the world of adoption. I was naive to think they wouldn’t, but I am repeatedly stunned by how things play out.

If we hope to build community with others, we have to be willing to feel some discomfort, even pain at times. I had a therapist that used to tell me that growth never occurs without some level of discomfort. We have to learn to exercise our muscles of compassion and empathy and to talk/type less and listen more.

The voice of the adoptee is an important one.  Man, when Hope speaks I’m like old skool E.F. Hutton—I shut up and listen. Why? Because nothing else on this journey compares to her voice, her needs. She is not just the center of my world; this adoption is about what she needed/needs. Oh sure, I wanted to be a mom. But honestly, I didn’t need to be one. I can’t say I feel like I was born to do this. I can’t argue that my maternal instinct couldn’t have been satiated in other ways besides becoming a mom (an all expense year of luxury in Bora Bora might’ve done it…). Hope needed a family. Hope’s family needed her to have a stable family and a stable home. I was available and a good match. I fit the bill.

I got a great kid; I got to be a mom, and she is getting her Mazlow’s needs met.

During the last two years, I’m sure I’ve done and said some stupid things about my adoption journey, about birth parents, about supportive folks in and around my life, about Hope and other adoptees. I’ve had to stretch, not just to understand what might be Hope’s perspective, but the general perspective of adoptees. I get that it’s hard for adoptive parents not to take some of the sadness and grief personally; but really, it’s not about us.

Except when it is, and it is when we are dismissive and silencing to the adoptee voice. Then we make it about us, our feelings, our narrative.

We are entitled to our feelings, we are. But we aren’t entitled to them at the expense of our children. It ain’t fair, but thems the brakes.

It infuriates me to hop onto an online support group that is supposed to welcome all members of the triad to the conversation, only to find that APs are whining about everyone being too sensitive. Yo, check it, everybody in the room typically has lost something, is grieving something, is struggling with something. Let’s get over ourselves. Most of the public narrative about adoption is about us anyway, what we want, what we’ve endured to finally become parents, what we feel then and now. It really is okay to pass the dutchie to the right and let someone else take a puff on the mic.

When an adoptee tells me something is offensive—especially something I, as an adoptive parent, have said is offensive—I take them at their word. End of story.

I don’t do/say any of the following because they are inappropriate:

  • I know this other adoptee and they are okay with it. What’s your problem?
  • Hey, it was just cute/a joke/darling! You are too sensitive!! Lighten up.
  • You always makes everything so negative!
  • You always make adoption about you!
  • Hey, why are you so angry?
  • You must be anti-adoption.
  • You must hate your adoptive parents!!
  • You aren’t grateful for being adopted?

This is just a sampling of some of the things I read on a support group thread yesterday. Now, this might be hard to connect, but much of this is offensive to adoptees much the way that the following is offensive to me as an African-American:

  • I don’t see color.
  • You’re just an angry Black Woman!
  • All/Blue Lives Matters as an “opposite” to Black Lives Matter.
  • You must hate White people.
  • The upside of slavery is that you were saved from the savagery/poverty/etc of Africa.
  • 400+ years of institutionalized, legacy driven racism and genocide has no bearing on today now that you’ve been “free” for 152 years—even though the last of the slaves didn’t even know they were free for about 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

And if I need to explain why any of these bullets are problematic, please feel free to drop me a private email, and I’ll happily send you a prospectus about my diversity consulting and the attending fee scale.  I still have dates for private consulting available for 2016. #sideeye

To all of this BS, I say…

GTFOH.

It’s crap. Just crap. Let’s all spend more time respecting one another and listening to one another. Let’s all remember that adoption is really, really about the adoptee, despite all of our personal roles and feelings. It doesn’t mean those latter things aren’t real and important, but ultimately, adoption isn’t about us APs. It’s just not.  Yes, I know…we wish it was.

If a support group is going to be true to its moniker, then actually offer support by taking time to listen to all of the voices, giving them equal weight and taking them all at their words. Otherwise, just be honest about it and rock it like an old skool treehouse. Name it something clever and post a sign on the e-door that says “No adoptees or whatever” allowed. Let folks know whether they are truly welcome. Don’t waste anyone’s time, and finally, don’t be a jerk. Honestly, it’s not hard.

Rant Over.

#FliptTheScript

ETA: I will not be using the hashtag above in future posts or on Twitter.  Despite very much supporting the movement, a wonderful adoptee brought it to my attention that the use of the hashtag by a non-adoptee–even for purposes of support–is a form of attribution. I should’ve considered that, but I didn’t. My bad.

So although I have used it before with no complaints from adoptees, I recognize how it can be an inappropriate use of my AP privilege to use the hashtag. So, I won’t in the future.

See how easy that was?


The Privilege of Attachment

I never once thought about my attachment to my family. It never occurred to me that there was a word for the inherent trust I felt that they would take care of me. It never occurred to me that there was a word for our mutual affection. It never once occurred to me that the unspoken elements of our relationship even needed a descriptive word.

I know now how privileged I was, and am, to have that experience.

Wikipedia defines privilege as “the sociological concept that some groups of people have advantages relative to other groups. The term is commonly used in the context of social inequality, particularly with regards to social class, race, age, sexual orientation, gender, and disability.”

I’ve written about social privilege before, as well as other social diversity dimensions I’ve tripped over on my adoption journey. Chalk attachment up as another privilege of intact biological families that are, at least, reasonably functional.

I now know what it is like to not have the privilege of attachment with my daughter. I mean, we’re working on it and I would say we are more attached than not. But oy, it is tough.

I can’t and wouldn’t speak for Hope, but the range of emotions I feel as I try to form a healthy attachment with my daughter are powerful, overwhelming and, honestly, often unpleasant. When it gets rough, which it has been lately, I spend a lot of time willing myself not to miss my pre-Hope life, willing myself not to be resentful, willing myself not to just practice avoidance. I often have to force myself to spend even more time with my daughter because I know that’s what she needs even though none of my emotional needs will be met…not one.  I have to swallow my feelings when my feelings are hurt because our attachments are weak and because, as a teen, Hope’s narcissism game is real. A lot of the time, I feel emotionally starved.

Dang. Yappy and I have a stronger attachment, I think. Well, I know he does…#separationanxiety.

I cry. A lot. I go for walks. A lot. I cuddle with Yappy. I go to therapy…more frequently than we go to family therapy.

I try to check my emotions. I try to curb my anger. I try to hold back my tears, because well, when my emotions betray me and Hope sees the outburst, it only serves to push her further away. I actually find that honest emotion from me that is not anything but sparkles and rainbows is detrimental to our relationship. That is an enormous burden to shoulder; it’s heavy and it’s painful.

At nearly 43, I can still sit on the couch with my mom or dad and curl up and put my head on their shoulders or lap and feel loved and safe. Hope doesn’t and won’t do that. It is like she can’t, not just that she won’t. It is so painfully rare for her to just run up and hug me, a long, lingering hug. Those moments are so incredibly precious. I don’t want them to end because at least for that moment, I’m really mom and I can save her world. I feel like my mothering is making a difference. Those moments are rare.

Don’t get me wrong, we have come so very far on our journey. The reality though is that we struggle with attachment. We don’t enjoy that privilege. It is something we are fighting for; something I know we both want even if we can’t always articulate it. But it really is something that we don’t have in large supply.

I am hopeful that we’ll get there. In the grand scheme we haven’t been at this mom-daughter thing very long. We’re not even 2 years old yet. We’re barely toddlers. It is a journey. Wishing for a speedier process is like being 7 and wishing I could get a driver’s license. Not going to happen.

I am thankful for how far we have come, but I can’t help wishing that we were able to move things along and that both of us, me and Hope, could make and sustain the emotional connection that we both desperately long for. I think that is probably my greatest wish as I begin considering my wishes for 2016.


Adoption Culture Wars

So in the last few weeks I’ve had an opportunity to shift focus. Instead of writing, I’ve spent more time reading. I’ve been a little more active on a couple of online support groups (long time followers know I think these spaces can be a bit iffy). I’ve rested my brain. I’ve found new stories, learned about new foster care/adoption organizations, followed the #NAM2015 and #FliptheScript movements. It’s all been fascinating, largely because I’m a voyeur/people watcher-studier at heart.

Amazingly I will be getting some more time in a few months to have this breather when I have my other hand surgically repaired.

Of all my internet cruising, I found that there really are a few culture wars going on within the adoption community.

Though culture wars are fascinating, they are rarely pretty.

Where oh where do I begin?

How about the #ShoutYourAbortion/#ShoutYourAdoption trend from a couple of weeks ago? OMG, seriously, folks can’t have nothing. Folks who aren’t necessarily a part of the conversation have to clapback about ish that is really not their business.

So, in an effort to remove the stigma from abortion, a hashtag was born- #ShoutYourAbortion—because well, isn’t that how “movements” are launched nowadays?

Anyhoo, not to be outdone and/or ignored in a story, folks launched #ShoutYourAdoption as a response to all the abortion shouting in hopes of apparently reminding folks that adoption is an alternative to ending a pregnancy and shouting out all the families who apparently “saved” kiddos from inevitably being aborted.

exhaustion

Yeah, I get it. I do. Um, ok. But why come?

The conversations became ugly and corrupted, because well, adoption is actually *not* the opposite of abortion, and because this is what happens when critical conversations are reduced to less than 200 characters. As someone who’s been on both sides of the conversation, I would understand how it might serve to push more women who question continuing a pregnancy into a closet and away from meaningful support systems that could lead to different choices.

We all have belief systems, view points and experiences that allow us to sort information/data into categories—good or bad. This hashtag culture war about shouting to remove stigma resulted in exacerbating the frictional relationship among women. Ugh, messy and more disturbingly stigmatizing.

Really, really unnecessary.

Oh, then there was the American Girl drama.

So, AG profiled an adoptee in a two dad household. Amaya looks happy and healthy and is surrounded by lots of love. Some folks went nuts because the story dared to tell the story of the girl’s family—namely the part about two dads. They were offended because reading the AG newsletter and being “confronted” with an adoptee story that features parents in a same-sex coupled relationship was tantamount to an “agenda” being forced upon them through the pages of a voluntary read magazine.

Fo real doe?

Oh good grief, just stop it.

The child was in need of a home with lots of patience and love, she found one. She found one with two dads, and if that’s the worst thing that happens to her moving forward in her life, I’m going to assume that her future is looking pretty bright. She is on her way and apparently doing well. But the adoptee and her future is lost in all the hullabaloo about gay parenting and the emphasis is put on the love lives of her parents.

Or rather the love and sex lives of her parents, because isn’t adoption all about the parents and not the adoptee?

Again, really?

And like I do in this post, those protesting make reference to a larger culture war at play; however, their argument advances a theory that we are all being hoodwinked and bamboozled into the fall of Rome, because of all the gay folks running around.

For me, this is just another distraction from a focus that should be on the foster children and adoptees. I’m not saying that folks are not entitled to their own values and opinions, but really, can we really, focus on making sure kids who need homes find homes with stability and love and not get hung up on a bunch of foolery?

And finally, it’s National Adoption Awareness Month in the US; it’s [always] time to #FlipTheScript. I personally love to hear adoptees tell their story and discuss their trials and triumphs in being adopted. I am interested in hearing about them, from them. I’m also interested in hearing from birth families and first parents. But dang if I’m still not seeing support group posts about adoptee gratitude, about feeling defensive and threatened, about how their adoptive child isn’t so pissy about being adopted. Sigh.

Just because everyone’s story isn’t palatable to the ear, doesn’t mean the story isn’t true, isn’t valuable, isn’t worthy of you just listening and being empathic for all one stinking month of the year.

And because we *can* actually walk and chew gum at the same time, you can meaningfully listen to adoptees flip the adoption script while still celebrating your adoption, your adoptive family and whatever else you want to celebrate during the month year.

flipthescript

Before I became an adoptive parent, I never would’ve guessed that there was so much drama in the adoption world. I was certainly naïve since it’s really just a microcosm of the world as we know it.

Adoption has been a beautifully difficult path for me. It would be nice if the community could treat each other with kindness and respect. So many of us really do live with some real challenges related to adoption; it isn’t easy. These culture wars and others mean that we end up living in relative silence; there’s no more air and space for the challenges to get the support that families need.

My wish for NAAM2015 is that we just be kind and supportive to one another, no matter what brought us to this journey or even if we made choices that didn’t bring us to adoption.

End adoption culture wars. Don’t try to be kind and supportive, just be kind and supportive. Life is hard; just do it.

Yoda


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