Tag Archives: New Adoptive Moms

What Happened and What Didn’t

I just did a lessons learned recap that covered more than a week so I thought I’d share some highlights of the last couple of days that just seems to be a good commentary on where were are on our journey.

Our Super Bowl trip has been booked! The end of June promises to be a time for big celebrations around these parts. My degree completion, the end of Hope’s school year, her birthday and finalization of our adoption. So what do folks do to celebrate so many events? Go to Disney World of course.

I actually hate Orlando (no offense to anyone who’s from there or currently reside there). But Disney is a bit of stimulation overload coupled with an outrageous mouse tax. Fortunately, we’re staying with a friend and we look forward to the days enjoying the sun, beach (Daytona) and the big rat’s park.

God has jokes. I know I mentioned on a previous blog that Hope recently asked me to read her a bedtime story at night. This is something that’s been integrated into our evening routine. This weekend we hit the library to check out a few things and I picked up some evening reading for us. At some point yesterday I found myself rooting around in a closet where I found this gem.

God's got jokes making me buy this book years before I needed it.

God’s got jokes making me buy this book years before I needed it.

I bought it years ago. Actually I bought 3 of them. I gave two away and have been searching for a kid to give this book to for several years now. Ha! Well, I don’t have to look any further since I read my lovely princess a story from it tonight. You just don’t know the plans God has for your life. He had me scoop up this book probably 4 or 5 years ago, only to have me trip over it after my 12 year old daughter asked me to read to her nightly. I have long believed that God is going to send an Isaac into my life since I am so aware of how he jokes me.

Hope’s hair is growing. So Hope’s hair has been out of the braids now for about two months. We’ve got a routine down now—full wash on Sunday evenings in preparation for the week. I’m a lazy naturalista. I don’t fret over products. I don’t put too much heat to my hair because I’m lazy not because I’m afraid of heat damage. I’ve taken increasingly to wearing fro’d out twist outs and when my hair is stretched scooping it back into a banana clip.

I have to blow Hope’s hair out for her twist outs. We’ve tried wet twists, and let’s just say no one is happy about the results—lots of sucky sighing. We’ve discovered that el cheapo ORS Smooth and Hold Pudding works well as a styler for both of us. It’s great; not too heavy and leaves her hair shiny. Not my favorite product on my hair, but it’s good.

Hope wants long hair. She’s is frustrated by shrinkage. I have to blow her hair out again mid-week just to loosen things up a bit. But I’ve been snapping pics along the way. Top left-first day post braids before I trimmed those see through ends off. Pink shirt about a month ago. White shirt is today.

So much hair!

So much hair!

I can’t wait to show her the progress, especially when every few days she’s stretching and saying, “I think it’s to my jaw line now.”

She wants to do a memory project with me. While standing in the Dollar Tree today, Hope describe a craft project in which we capture memories in a wooden box from this time and put them away to show to her future kids. It was so sweet. She has written out a plan and everything. Next weekend we’ll hit the Lowe’s to make this project a reality.

I put together an emergency anxiety kit. I should’ve done this ages ago. It’s got a silly putty, a stress ball, a backup external charger for electronic devices and a granola bar. Into a Ziploc and Into the purse it goes. We had a bit of a social meltdown on Friday and I thought to myself, “You’re a mom, you don’t even have baby wipes, what the hell is wrong with you???” Now I’ve got things that help her manage stress, which helps me manage my stress.

Movies in her bedroom are the gift that keeps giving. She really would prefer to watch things with me on the big tv but there is something decadent about watching a DVD in her room that is a special treat. It’s a treat that gave me 5 hours that included an adult beverage, 5 chapters of a trashy novel, several episodes of Will and Grace #justjack and several episodes of Designing Women #lightsoutinGA. She actually went to bed on her own and fell asleep watching Finding Nemo. It was awesome.

We had not one fight. Not one fight or bickering moment. I’m starting the week with such a positive outlook. I can’t wait to see her smile tomorrow.

In the words of Ice Cube, “Today was a good day.”


Spring Break???

I’m not exactly who spring break is a break for, but it doesn’t really seem to be a break for me. I know Hope is happy to be out of school but here it is pushing midnight heading into Thursday and I’m exhausted physically and emotionally. Hope and I have covered a lot of ground in the last few days and frankly, I’d appreciate acting like she does in our therapy sessions—avoidant.



But alas, I’m the grown up and thus am in the position to actually be required to act as such on a semi-regular basis. So there’s the road trip to Philly.

“Is there anything here besides historical sites?” Hope says while standing waiting to go see the Liberty Bell.

Sigh. I found our spring break trip to the City of Brotherly Love an exercise in reminding me just how selfish I really enjoy being, but can’t actually be anymore. Oh and I’m petty too. It’s ok, admitting it is the first step to recovery.

Case in point: Hope had a hypothesis that Subway cheese steaks would taste better than an actual Philly cheese steak (on what planet??). So we skipped on over to a shop near our hotel that came highly recommended by the concierge. We get to the front of the line, and Hope chokes on her sub order: “Well, I don’t know what I want…how is it normally served?”

Dude taking our order is looking at me like, “For reals? It’s a cheese steak!”

After putzing back and forth for what seemed like an eternity of indecision but was really only about 45 seconds, I ordered two cheese steaks, one with onions and one without, since she managed to pantomime that she didn’t want onions. Once back at the hotel she, was insistent that she have half of my sandwich to taste test the difference between onions and non-onions. Wait…what??? But you didn’t want onions!?!?! I complied, but I seethed. I wanted my damn sandwich intact. I gave up the radio station. When we switched to my Google Play, I let her favorite song go on repeat. I listened to her read Teen Beat and learned about people who I didn’t know existed who were supposed to be famous. I endured Big Bad Wolf style huffing and puffing about seeing historical sites. Got dang, can I have my whole onion filled sandwich???

Apparently not, for half of my sautéed filled onion sandwich made its way over to her plate—where it lay untouched and eventually discarded.

UGH! Yeah, just ugh.  I wonder what will trigger a deeper level of selflessness in me and when…clearly it didn’t happen on this trip. I was really in my feelings about only having half of my delicious sandwich; Hope’s half was ok, just bland. Booo.

After a long drive home in a wicked spring monsoon, I was grouchy, tired, sore from stress and just really needed a hour of recharge in my room. An hour I didn’t get because she wanted to watch Believe (the Justin Bieber movie) on Amazon. Awesome. #notreally

By bedtime, I was a mess and totally botched a talking to about picking clothes off of the floor and putting them in the hamper. Not even sure why I picked that fight at that time. Things deteriorated fast, and in my head I saw the reproachful glare of our hot family therapist, who I telepathically told to kiss my ass in the moment, even as I KNEW I was botching this corrective action and going down in flames. #ifyourepissyandyouknowitclapyourhands,

Awesome. And this morning the saltiness simmered as we got ready for another road trip. We recovered.

Instead of bickering, we covered emotional sinkholes. After the giant eff up of the night before I was actually impressed by my ability to navigate confabs about the spiritual presence of her dad, the introduction of new extended family, fleeting memories of how her biological mom smelled, the loss of a puppy pre-foster care days, how foster parents didn’t keep their promises regarding countless things and on and on and on. There really seems to be no end to the emotional sinkholes, none. But I’m conscious that her ability to talk to me about this stuff is evidence of our growth. At the end of the day trip I was again, exhausted, and we spent the evening untangling a skein of yarn and putting it into a ball.

I swear this yarn thing is going to be my new adoption metaphor. Trying to help a kid untangle the mess around them and make sense of it by reorganizing it.

As we were going through the nightly ritual of twisting her hair before bed, I came across a letter she wrote to me during a fury filled moment this morning. It was a cogent, expletive filled essay on how to introduce new ideas and corrections to her—ie not in the way I had done the night before. It was impressive in its thoughtful argument and colorful use of language (I appreciate a well-placed, well-used curse word every now and again, though not from 12 year olds). I was somehow both amused and hurt when I flipped it over and read, “Yeah, I hope you read this you son of a b*tch!!!!!” scrawled in huge letters. In short, the gist of her letter had me dead to rights—it was good parenting advice for her. I’ll be sure to follow it in the future

So much ground we covered today.

But she was horrified because well, she wrote it more than 12 hours ago, and it hardly seemed relevant anymore. It was a coping strategy to deal with her anger. And well, was I snooping (if it’s in plain view, addressed to me as “Mom-B*tch” then I don’t consider it snooping)? She wouldn’t even show me her face to me this evening. And again, I felt sad for my sweet girl who struggles with her emotions. It must be so hard to feel so deeply and strongly and also feel like you’re dragging the world around with you. She actually refused to look at me anymore out of I dunno, shame? Embarrassment? Worry? Anger? I tried to soothe her. I told her that her advice was good, and I would follow it from here on out, but hey, um, could you not call me out my name?

Tomorrow the trampoline park, where I will pray I don’t break anything.

Forgiving and Forgetting

Grammy is here.

Hope is falling in love with her.

The last couple of days have been an interesting mini-trip on this adoption journey.  I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I had some anxiety about what life would be like in my house with Grammy staying.  We’ve just had a rough go of it.

The truth is she’s been wonderful.  She’s in love with her granddaughter.  She wants to be helpful, even offering to do laundry and cook.  She’s told me I need support, especially for respite.  She’s observed all the things I need to take care of in a day to help Hope and to manage this huge transitional phase in our lives.  She realizes how different my experience is from her own parenting experience and is gaining a better understanding of why I need to do things differently.

I realized during the last few days that it wasn’t just that I was terrified of being judged, but that my overall confidence about being a new parent was in the crapper.  Having Grammy say she gets it, as she watched me try to navigate various systems and engage with Hope during the last few days, has greatly improved my confidence.  It is hard, but I got it under control.  I do need help, but let me be the one that decides what help I need; I’m best positioned to do that.

I got this.

For all of the rosiness, Grammy still feels some kind of way about how I’ve handled the last couple of months with Hope—mainly my need to cloister us a bit so that we have time to just attach and be mom and daughter.  She still disagrees with that choice, and she’s made mention of it repeatedly during her stay.

Sigh.  #cantwealljustmoveon

I finally just told her that I needed to not have this conversation again; I made a choice, I made the right choice for my family—MY FAMILY—and I would do it again.  And it’s done, why are we still talking about it?  I get that you would do it differently, but you aren’t me and you’re not dealing with what I’m dealing with, and it’s easy to pontificate about how you would handle someone else’s life without any skin  in the game.  Can you just drop it?

Grammy just looked at me, kind of stunned.

Then she simply said, “Ok.”

I found my voice, and I had to use it.  Funny, Grammy gave me the confidence to defend my parenting decisions and to defend them to her.  #nowcanwemoveon?

I’m glad she’s here.  I love Grammy. I laid my head in her lap for 5 minutes yesterday.  I hugged her.  I do need her; I always knew I did.  But I need her on my terms.  We’re forgiving each other.  I just want to move forward.  You can’t really change the past, and forgetting it can be challenging too, but you can choose to change your future.   I’m learning to let some things go with Hope; I think I’ve got to learn to let some things go with Grammy too.

I love her, and I’m hopeful about us navigating all these new roles, emotions and ideas in meaningful ways moving forward

Grammy’s here.

Breaking the News

She whispered, “I’m not ready;” then she started to quietly cry.

My heart dropped, and I sighed. “I know.”

This is what happened when I told Hope about her moving date last night.  I told her gently, without a lot of hoopla, tempering my own emotions to make way for hers.  She didn’t get hysterical.  She didn’t wail.  She just quietly cried and sniffled.  She asked how long I knew.  She told me how her friends were happy that she returned to school from Winter break, even if no one knew how long she was going to be there.  She said she thought she had more time.

She asked for a few more weeks in Washington.  I replied no.  She counted the days until the move, sounding more anxious than happy.  She complained about not having enough time to pack.  I explained that I talked to her foster mom about making sure that her things were packed and shipped.  She sniffled some more.

I reassured her that I understood all the emotion.  The idea of moving across country, away from everything she’s ever known, is overwhelming.  The idea of getting a mom, when you haven’t had one, and a family who wants you, when you haven’t had one, is great but also overwhelming.

And she’s only 12; she’s just a kid.

I didn’t try to make her feel bad about her emotional reaction.  I sat quietly to just give her some space to think.  I told her I loved her.  I told her that it was ok to feel all she feels.

Hope’s foster mom saw her crying, and asked her why.  Hope told her about the move.

“Why aren’t you excited???” she said.  I could sense that Hope was a little stung by the reaction.  First she realized that foster mom knew before her.  Second, there was a sense of rejection; like foster mom was ready for her to leave rather than happy she was getting a family.  Foster mom followed up with more happy, happy, joy, joy encouragement.

Again, I followed up by telling her that it was ok to feel whatever she was feeling.

After about 10 minutes she asked me could she call me back after doing a few chores.  She just needed some time to think.  Sure.

Here’s what I didn’t say but felt the last couple of days.  I’m told it’s all “normal,” whatever that is.

  • I went from excited to terrified and back.
  • I’m suffering from disruptive sleep—either insomnia or falling asleep spontaneously.
  • I’m panicky about the list of a million things that need to be done.
  • I’m fretful if I made the right decision even starting this process (I know I did, but I’m totally irrational right now).
  • My eating is disrupted.
  • My stomach is in knots when I’m awake, which means just about all the time.
  • I can’t focus on things so my productivity is in the crapper.
  • I’m cranky (If this old witch in my condo building doesn’t stop asking me how my “roommate” is doing??? #b*tchplease!).
  • I’m beyond sad and hurt because I never would’ve dreamed Grammy and I would be estranged during this time in my life.
  • I’m trying to figure out who the new me will be; so many identity changes.
  • I’m sad I’m single (this foolishness again??).
  • I’m freaked about all the social worker/psychiatrist/therapist/doctor/principal/teacher visits.
  • I’m worried about the health insurance premiums.
  • I’m worried about the paperwork associated with changing all my benefits.
  • I’m wondering when I’m going to find time to have my will redone.
  • I’m worried I won’t be able to find the right voice teacher for the lessons I’ve promised.
  • I’m worried she’s going to flunk this school year, and what that might do to her emotionally, and what that will do to me emotionally.  I’m ok with the flunking, I’m  worried about her reaction.
  • I’m worried about getting my dissertation done, even though I had a huge breakthrough last night.
  • I panic that she’ll just reject me outright at some point.
  • I’m secretly jealous of adoptive parents with longer waits as though that somehow might make me more ready. It wouldn’t but the mind is so micky-flicky with irrational crap.
  • I’m scared I’ll mess up.
  • I’m glad she’s coming home, but I feel like I have no idea what’s going to happen after that.

And like I told Hope, I allow myself to feel all of this messiness.  It feels like crap.  Loads of crap.  I’m exhausted just looking at this absurd list, and I know this list isn’t even everything I’m feeling.  But, I know we’ll be fine.  Intellectually, I know where our struggle spots are, but eh, it’s the emotional stuff driving this bus at the moment.


I know I’m ready, even if I don’t have the confidence to really feel like it at the moment.  And I know that Hope’s ready, even if she loathes leaving everything she knows to start a new life with a loving family.

The 10 day count down starts today.

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