Tag Archives: Single Adoptive Parenting

Five Years

It’s hard to believe that it has been 5 years since Hope moved in from her last foster home. In some ways it seems like couldn’t possibly be that long; in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago.

I’m about 15lbs heavier, and I have a LOT more gray hair than I did back then. I have grown a lot. I’ve learned so much…about everything.

I learned that parenting is a lot about fake finding your way through the universe with only a vague road map based on your personal upbringing, values and resources. So much of it is just…wandering in the wilderness trying to keep kids alive and as close to thriving as you can get them.

For me, Hope and I dropping into each other’s lives…yeah, we’ve wandered a lot. We’re still wandering.

The wilderness is dark and thick for parents with kids who have experienced trauma and who have special needs. So much of what we endured post placement was confusing and just felt crazy in a never-ending way. I had tried to prepare myself for parenthood, but really, can you?

In a word, no.

So, I talked, wrote, reflected, talked other parents, listened to a lot of folks, especially adoptees, got help wherever, however I could figure out how to cobble it together.

I also lashed out, withdrew, and apologized to a lot of people in my life, over and over again, including my daughter.

I eventually got the hang of things, as much as you can with parenting. I can’t say parenting has become any easier over these five years. There are always new challenges, new goals, new problems, new therapies, new stuff to find your way through. I figured out that the way I had powered through other things in my life, I would power though parenting too.

Hope and I have done so much in the time we’ve been together.

We’ve been to 5 kinds of therapy. We’ve both taken many meds for depression, anxiety, and mood stabilization. We have connected with birth family. We’ve tackled grief. We’ve resolved legal stuff from long before I came along. We’ve cried more tears than I ever dreamed. We’ve argued and screamed and cursed. We found tutors and tutoring programs; we quit those as well. Music classes came and went. Programs for teen girls, yep did that.

We also traveled to 10 states and 4 countries. We went to the theatre. We did a lot of sightseeing, a lot of edutainment. We read a lot of books, including going down the rabbit-hole romance sub-sub genre of interracial relationships featuring Black women and Asian men—because KPop. We went to a lot of concerts and movies. Our dining palates grew to try lots of new things. We raised a puppy after saying goodbye to my beloved Furry One. We have laughed and danced and stayed up late doing silly things together.

And now, somehow, some way, Hope and I have gotten to year five, and she will graduate in 116 days days. We are waiting for decisions on her college applications. There are decisions to be made about the future, driver’s licenses to still get and just so much to still do. It’s really amazing.

Another 5 years from now, I’ll be in my early 50s and Hope will be in her early 20s. No idea what life will look like then. I’m sure that my parenting will continue to evolve; hopefully it will continue to improve. I’m hoping Hope will launch smoothly. I’m hoping that I’ll continue to reflect on this day that I became a parent, while it fades from my daughter’s memory. I just want it to be some day that happened, but that she moved on from. There are so many moments that stick out for her, big and small, painful and joyous, I’m ok with this day fading away for her.

I’ll remember though; I’ll always remember her emerging from security at the airport and stepping into my arms to give me a hug. It was a sweet and scary moment in time that has turned into such an amazing chapter in my life. I’ll always remember it.

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Messy Life

I’ve been trying to get back into writing now for more than a week. I haven’t struggled to write like this in a while. It certainly isn’t because I haven’t had things to write about; I guess I have just been so blue and overwhelmed that I could only manage to start and stop and start over again. I’m also in the midst of a huge writing period at work and that’s exhausting me in ways I knew it would but still find surprising. I’ve been dog paddling the last week or two. It didn’t feel like I was making progress; in fact it felt like Hope and I were sinking a bit. My “lesson” posts really do help me to gain some perspective at times; so I know it’s important for me to do them.

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Raising a teenager is messy. I often get a sympathetic pat on the back when folks hear that I adopted a tween, now teenager. I usually just smile and nod. It’s weeks like this when I get a clue about the downright foolishness that folks mean. Teenagers do dumb ish. It really is astounding. They do dumb crap even when they know you’re looking, watching and monitoring. I remember some of the dumb crap I did back in the day, but fortunately my adolescent years were rather low tech, so there was really but so much I could get into. Today, these kids just don’t even realize that all this technology leaves breadcrumbs right to their foolishness.

Your parent-snoop game must be strong. Yeah, I low jack errrthang. And even the things that I haven’t figured out how to low jack, Hope thinks I have and usually that’s enough of a deterrent. And then I just go back and just peruse and read every keystroke or finger swipe. I’m sure there will come a time when I really do have to give Hope some privacy, but she keeps demonstrating that she can’t handle privacy, so she has little. Teenagers do dumb ish. Sigh.

Grief is also messy. I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I received The Furry One’s ashes this weekend, and I sobbed. I still sleep with one of his toys (it’s been laundered). And TV shows with puppies make me cry.

But my crankiness is subsiding. I finally broke down and stopped hiding a box of cereal that I didn’t want to share, just bought some more cereal and decided to be grateful Hope wants to eat crunchy raisin bran rather than Lucky Charms. Yes, I’m still being a bit petty. I can’t help it. #dontjudgme

There is a lot of anger in grief. I get why kids of trauma rage so much. I never noticed how much anger resided in grief. I just never realized it until this last week.

I realize it now.

You’re apt to say things you don’t mean. You’re less likely to be gracious. You actually don’t want to be gracious at all. You just feel like you can’t find your way out of the dark maze.

It’s messy. But I’m starting to push through to the light again. Realizing I hadn’t had respite in a while and getting a couple of free evenings has helped immensely.

Nearly 8 months in and the transition is still hard. Hope still hates new experiences; they scare her. She would never say that; she can be prideful. Not as many things are new, but lots of things still are. We haven’t been together a full year. We went to a new place for a fancy brunch today; she shut down. Our brunch companion remarked, “I see dollar signs just flying away” because the brunch was pretty expensive. Yeah, well, given that we didn’t use the Six Flag tickets from last week, and I shelled out a few hundred for hypnotherapy this week, this pricey brunch was just a drop for what was a financial hemorrhage of a week. It was a new experience and she was overwhelmed. The fact that she accidentally revealed some dumb ish she did during the week didn’t help matters.

Trust is so hard to build and so easy to lose. This isn’t new, but we’re dealing with hard trust issues around these parts these days. I don’t trust her right now, and she doesn’t trust me. We were doing so well and we will recover, but right now, neither of us seems to be budging an inch. It’s interesting; the trust breeches on her part are typical dumb, teen stuff; the trust breeches on my part are that I don’t give her a pass because, well, she thinks she deserves one. #girlbye We’ve got some backtracking to do around here. Loving her through things helps; when I withdraw she sinks; but this teen thing is a beast yo. There’s lots of reprogramming, trust building, attachment building…it’s just a lot going on.

It’s getting harder to quantify what issues are just teen stuff and what issues are adoption/trauma stuff. This makes life interesting, but I’m glad we’re in this space. I can’t always tell the difference which means we’ve hit a better blend ratio. I used to be able to say things like 60/40 trauma stuff. Now I’m not as sure. That’s kinda cool.

Single parenting is hard. I thought things would be a bit different with the availability of different kinds of support. Those support structures aren’t there so I’m having to artificially create them. It’s tough, but I’m managing. It is hard to not have a partner who can tag me out so I can just take some time. It’s hard. I’m doing it, but it’s hard. I’m grateful for other kinds of resources that I’m learning to use and learning to leverage.

Hypnotism can work. We’ve had one visit so far to tackle the bug phobia. OMG—saw bugs and she didn’t windmill and freak out. We have another visit for fine tuning in a few weeks. The relief already experienced is earth shattering. Yay!

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That’s it. This is the last week before school and I’m counting down the days until we can get back to a routine. I’ve got a ton of work to do, but will be taking a few days off to celebrate the end of summer this week. Hopefully fun times ahead.


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