Category Archives: open adoption

For My Next Trick, I Have a Complete Emotional Breakdown

First, a little background:

Every year, Sean takes each kid to his office for a “birthday with Daddy” excursion. Since Noah’s birthday fell on the same day as a major, mandatory securities training meeting this week, Sean took him in on Monday instead. As a result, we skipped school on Monday.

Monday night, Caleb puked. Tuesday morning, Noah puked (twice).  I never puked, but I spent the next two days SICK (ok, I was only SICK the first day—by yesterday I was just sick). Since I was having trouble performing complex tasks like consuming food and sitting up during that time period, we went two more days without doing school.

Needless to say, I started off the morning feeling really behind and determined to make the most of our day today. I was grateful for the fact that Sean’s grandmother was coming over this morning and would be able to keep the other kids occupied while Noah and I really hit the books. And the fact that she was bringing along a two year old cousin-ish person (Sean’s cousin’s son—first cousin once removed?)? Hey, I wasn’t going to complain.

Noah, however, was.

It didn’t matter to him that we were way behind. All that he cared about was that his brothers were getting to play with someone and he wasn’t. And, after and hour and a half of doing school and offering numerous warnings to pay attention, it became abundantly clear that he hadn’t paid attention to a single thing I had taught him. I told him that I was done wasting time and sent him to his room (with the understanding that we were NOT done with school for the day).

People, I have never before seen a child manage to break blood vessels around his eyes from a temper tantrum. But I saw it today. As I told Sean’s grandmother, it is probably a good thing that we live in a neighborhood with decent spacing between the houses. Otherwise, people might wonder about me. You just wouldn’t imagine that a kid could scream that loud for that long without some form of beating having occurred.

Without going into any more details, let’s just say that the rest of the day revolved around arguing about school. Which was finished approximately half an hour before bedtime.

Good times.

Of course, I have three other kids, too.

That means that in between the fighting about school, I got to fight about naps, fight about bowel movements (seriously—do you think that Activia would work for a preschooler?), and be peed on. Twice.

To round out the parenthood festivities, I got to sit in the hallway rocking a sleepwalking/crying four year old who would only be comforted back to immobile sleep with several rounds of the ABC song (while my husband stood there laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation).

But, hey, if I get through tomorrow, I get a nice, relaxing weekend, right?

Right.

Unless you count the second family birthday party for Noah that we’re having on Sunday.

Oh, or if you want to take into consideration the fact that Noah’s birth family is coming for a visit on Saturday. On one and a half days notice (and, really, that half day consists mostly of the time that I will be asleep tonight…). And as excited as I am to see them again…AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.*

I’m approaching the point of stand-naked-in-a-cornfield-screaming-while-simultaneously-laughing-maniacally complete emotional breakdown. And anyone who has been to my house knows just how accessible a cornfield is.

On second thought, maybe I should spare the scarecrows the emotional damage (and my mother the embarrassment—it is a re-election year, after all) and just go to bed. After all…tomorrow is another day.*

 

*No, my middle name isn’t Scarlett (although I did name my dog after her), and I’m not from the south. But who can resist a great literary reference in the midst of a panic attack?

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Filed under Daily Life, Homeschooling, I think my head might explode, Kids, open adoption, Parenting

I’m Ready to Impose a Vow of Silence

This afternoon, once the kids were all down for quiet time, I decided to call T~ and get that conversation (or pre-conversation) out of the way. I’m sure that she appreciated getting a call that, after the initial pleasantries, started with, “Well, I’m not actually calling for a long conversation this time, but I wanted to talk to you about having a conversation and wanted to warn you what it is about beforehand so you have time to, um, deal with it and prepare…” Yeah, like that wouldn’t make anyone nervous.

There is no question that she was surprised when I told her about the conversations we had been having with Noah over the past couple of days. Like me, she just wasn’t expecting to have to deal with all of this so soon. She suggested getting together, and I told her to figure out a time that works for her and I would make it work for us. In the meantime, though, she said that she would call back to talk to him since he asked to talk to her. She didn’t do it today, but I understand that. I’ll give her time. Of course, as she and I both know, he may not even bring any of it up with her. He has never talked to her about their relationship.

Even though we didn’t talk for very long this afternoon, T~ did seem more willing to open up to me about some stuff than she has in the past. I definitely got some information that I didn’t know before. I know that some of it is stuff that is really hard for her to talk about, so I am so grateful that she is talking to me about it. It is a tough thing, really. I don’t want to push her too far, but I want information for my son.

So, after dealing with all of the open adoption stuff yesterday and this afternoon, I deserved a break today, right?

Right.

For Noah’s history lesson today, we learned about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Would anyone like to take a guess at just how much fun it is to explain to your biracial child that, at one time, people with skin like his were owned by people with skin like mine?

Yeah. Good times.

Tomorrow, I fully expect for him to ask me to explain exactly how the baby got in my tummy, including demonstrations with anatomically correct dolls. That should just about round out the list of possible uncomfortable conversations, right?

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Filed under adoption, Daily Life, Homeschooling, Kids, open adoption, Parenting

Unexpected Education

Maybe he’s better at connecting the dots than I have given him credit for.

Today, I just wasn’t feeling like doing the standard morning of phonics, math, history and language arts. So, instead of sitting in front of a computer screen and books, I packed the kids up and headed to our local children’s museum. That’s right, we had a field trip day (and, yes, I did count it as school time, although we did do a phonics lesson later in the day).

As we started our drive home, Wyatt started talking about having step-parents. I explained to  him that he didn’t have any step-parents, just a regular mom and dad. He honestly seemed disappointed that he was missing out on something (some of his cousins have step-parents). I explained to him (once again) why that was really not a bad thing.

Predictably, as I finished my explanation on step-parents, Noah said, “I have a birthmother.” We have a completely open adoption and have been very honest with him about his relationship to T~.

“Yes, T~ is your birthmom,” I responded.

“I also have a sister,” he said.

Thwack!

At that moment, I was broadsided by the realization that he may be making connections that I had never really discussed.

Honestly, at first I really wasn’t sure if it was some off-handed comment that didn’t really mean anything, or if he really knew what he was saying. But, then he continued.

“Actually, I have two sisters. And I think there is another one. Is that one a boy?”

He has met T’s two daughters a few times, but only seen her son once. If he is saying random things, he is doing one heck of a good job of guessing everything exactly right.

Wow.

“Yes, you have two biological sisters and one biological brother,” I told him.

“What does that mean?” he wanted to know.

“Well, it means that you and T’s kids all came out of T’s tummy, just like Wyatt, Caleb and Eli all came out of my tummy.”

None of this shocked him. He didn’t disagree with any of it (like he did when we told him he also has a birthfather).

Really, I’m floored that he knew this. You see, while we have always been very open about his relationship to T~, we’ve never really expanded beyond that. We’ve never hidden the rest, and never would. We just wanted to be sure that he was ready for it. I know that there are people who disagree with this, and they can feel free to criticize me (as long as they are raising an adopted child with biological siblings in an open adoption and siblings in his family who are all biologically related to each other—walk a mile first…). We’ve had our reasons.

The birthfather discussion was just a few days ago (I checked with Sean, and the siblings didn’t figure into that conversation at all). We have held off on bringing that one up because his birthfather has never been involved, and never will be.

And the siblings? Honestly, I had always thought that when that conversation finally needed to be had, I would be telling him how T~ had chosen to place him because she wasn’t ready to parent, but she was in a different position when she had the parented siblings. Except, that didn’t end up being the case. She was only in a slightly better position to parent when the other kids were born. The big difference was that, at that point, she knew what placing a child feels like. She couldn’t handle doing it again.

But he’s spent time with them (heck, they even spent a day together at that same museum once) and he knows that they are T’s kids. I’ve just never sat him down and connected the dots. The potential for painful reality was enough to make me wait until he brought it up.

So, now, he’s brought it up. He hasn’t asked the “why?” questions that I dread having to answer, but he has asked to talk to her. I had been planning to call to talk to her some about Noah’s birthfather, anyhow, so I’ll probably try in the next few days. I feel bad, though, that I’ll be hitting her with a lot at once. I remember how surprised she was when he first started asking specific questions about her. I’m afraid this might be a difficult topic for her.

But I’ll still call. And I’ll let him talk as much as he needs.

It is amazing how much can end up being learned when you take a day off of school.

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Filed under adoption, Kids, open adoption, Parenting

Adoption Math: When 4+4=7

When we first made the decision to adopt, open adoption was not my goal. Heck, even a semi-open adoption was kind of a scary idea at first but, the more I read, the more I was convinced that it would be a good idea. I liked the idea of my child’s birthmother having the opportunity to know that the child she brought into the world was ok. I liked the idea of keeping the lines of communication open in case my child had questions in the future.

But my family? Yeah. Not so much.

My mother, especially, was scared of the idea and thought that I was crazy for wanting it (especially when we were matched with T~ and she told me, unequivocally, that she wanted NO contact). She was afraid that it would be confusing. She wanted to know what would happen if T~ decided she wanted him back (answer: nothing). I’m sure that when I decided, around N’s first birthday, to completely open the adoption and go visit them, she thought I had lost my mind.

Yesterday, T~ and her family came to our house to visit for the day. It was long overdue–we haven’t seen each other in over a year and have been trying to plan the visit for months. As I prepared for the visit, I was reminded that even though my family now sees our open adoption differently than they used to, many people still view it as odd. I still notice the awkward pause when people first find out that we have visits with N’s birthmom. I chuckle inside at the comments about our “unique” situation. It doesn’t offend me. If I wasn’t living it, I would probably think it was kind of strange, too.

I told Sean the other day that adoption is the only place where four plus four can equal seven. Why? I have four children. T~ has four children. But we only have seven kids between us. I don’t know if I really comprehended that it would be this way before we adopted N~. But the reality is, even though I am his mom, he will still always be her child, too. Making the decision not to parent him doesn’t change the fact that she loves him. And her love for him doesn’t diminish mine, nor does mine diminish hers. He’s just loved that much more.

All this being said, it might surprise you that I’m against legally enforceable open adoption agreements. I honestly don’t think that open adoption is the best thing for everyone. This comes from having known several birthmothers in real life–some who would be great to be in an open adoption with, and some who wouldn’t (I’m not going into detail here–I’ll just say that I think that adoptive parents have every right to make choices that prevent their role of parent from being completely undermined). I really believe that a large part of why our relationship with T~ is so great is because it was allowed to grow in a completely organic way. We have never spent time together because there was a date on the calendar that needed to be checked off.  It has never been forced in any way. We’ve seen each other because we genuinely wanted to, and there is a lot to be said for that. Especially because I know that N~ can tell that we visit her because we want to.

Yesterday’s visit was great. The kids spent the whole day playing together. The adults chatted while we took care of the kids. My parents came over and we all had dinner together. We’ve reached a point where it is really comfortable to spend time together. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we have done it enough times that none of us worry if this might be the last visit. We know we’ll see each other again. (Of course, I can still tell that it is hard for her when they leave, which is totally understandable.) My big surprise of the day was that N~ didn’t ask her any questions. He never once mentioned his knowledge of who she is in relation to him.

At this point, I see us as family. Not just two separate families with one child in common, but a whole group of people who are bound together. I am genuinely grateful to have T~ and her family in our lives.

 

 

The post below is a couple of pictures from our visit. As usual, if you want to see them, you can email me (or leave a comment with you email) for the password. If I can verify who you are (blogger I know, someone I’ve emailed with, someone I know in real life…), I will send you the password.

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Filed under adoption, open adoption, Soap Box

Protected: Yours, Mine, and Ours

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Done

 

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Carpets cleaned. Thanks Mom!

 

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Groceries bought.

 

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Youth watermelon spitting attended.

 

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Ferret cleaned.

 

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Bears made.

 

All that is left to do is wait for T~ and her family to get here. We’re all excited for the visit (even if I am ready to collapse!).

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Filed under Daily Life, open adoption, Patting myself on the back

Like a Chicken with Her Head Cut Off

So much to say–so little time to say it.

I got a phone call on Monday. A BIG phone call. T~ called to ask me what I was doing on Thursday and could she, maybe, come for a visit then. Of course! We have been trying to work out a visit for months now. It has been over a year since the last time we saw each other. She and I have each added another baby since then, and the other kids have done a lot of growing up during that time, too.

And, of course, N~ has really figured out who T~ is in relation to him during that time period. I have warned her that he asks questions about her being his “other mom” (she was shocked that he already gets it). I’m curious to see if he will ask her questions about it tomorrow. I’m also a bit nervous for her sake. I’ve gotten to grow into his questions. Anything he asks her would seem a little more out of left field.

So, what do you do when getting ready for company that you haven’t seen in over a year? Let’s see:

  • This morning I am trying to do my normal general cleaning stuff. If I’m lucky, I might have the chance to pull out the carpet scrubber.
  • During nap time I plan to work on the teddy bears I started last night for T’s three kids. (What? You don’t get ready for company by making handmade teddy bears? Slackers!)
  • This afternoon will be any cleaning, sewing, carpet scrubbing that doesn’t occur this morning.
  • Voice lessons at 6:00 pm.
  • Youth group at 7:00 pm.
  • Before bed I need to clean the nasty ferret cage (he “redecorated” his cage, moving the litter box out of the corner, then continued to poop in the now litter box free corner). Yuck.
  • Somewhere in there, I need to buy food for tomorrow and flax seed, cloves, and plastic eyes for the teddy bears.

No problem, right?

Right.

Oh, and to add to the day, I seem to have developed a clogged milk duct. Faaaaabulous.

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Filed under Daily Life, open adoption, Pain