Sunday, August 10, 2014

10 Things I want my children to know about their Adoption

The new "thing" in the world wide web is lists.  5 signs your relationship is failing.  The 15 healthiest towns.  Tonight I read "10 Things I want my daughter to know about exercise."  It got me thinking.  What do I want my children to know about their adoptions.  Why is it so important to me that I blog about it, talk about it, and dream about it.  So I started thinking.... What are the 10 things I want my children to know about their adoption.

1.  Your Birthfamilies love you.  Each member of each family shows their love differently.  Some adults never learned to show their love the same way we show love in our family and because of that sometimes their love is hard to see.

2.  There are no stupid questions.  There is not a single question we (your parents) are unwilling to answer.  We might need a night to think on it and like a lot of hard questions might not know the answer.  We will never be able to tell you how someone else feels or what someone else thinks, but we can at least think about it with you.

3.  Its OK to feel sad about being adopted.  Being adopted means that an adult that cared about you and made a choice not to raise you.  This doesn't mean they didn't want you or didn't love you.  Its hard to understand how someone could love you so much that they would choose not to get to see you every day- but it is true.  Being adopted still means that your life is different than what it would have been had you been raised by your birthfamily.  I sometimes myself get sad thinking about you Baby Girl you don't get to spend as much time with D as you want and that your birthsibilings do not get to share in your day to day life.

4.  There are people that are uneducated on adoption and its not your job to educate them.  There are people that are uneducated on a whole host of topics.  It is your choice to educate them or not.  There are things about my life I share with very few people.  That doesn't mean that I'm ashamed of those memories/stories but rather they are things that I like to protect.

5. There are going to be times you might wish your birthfamily chose to raise you.  There are going to be times you wished we gave birth to you.  You may wish we chose to keep the birth name your birthfamily gave you.  Growing up I often wished my life was different especially after my Mom became sick.  In the end the things I wished I could wish a way made me who I am today.  Without the things that made me different from others I wouldn't be me.  Its OK to try on a different name or wish you lived somewhere else as long as you stay true to yourself- we love you.

6.  I sometimes hear people commenting on your physical attributes that make you look different than your mom/dad which often are fishing expeditions to find out if you are adopted or to learn facts about your birthfamily.  Baby Girl your blond hair looks just like the blonde hair your mom and dad had as kids.  It is also the blonde hair D and J had.   You have the same blue eyes your Mom-mom and mom have.  People see what they want to see.  When it comes down to it you may not look like us but sorry darling you still are like us and looks dont' make a family (though I have to say our family is made up of lookers).  The way you talk makes me giggle sometimes because it could have been a recording of one of us.  In the end we are all human and your birthfamily and our family have so much in common- the biggest thing being how much we love you.

7.  You are not the only one.  Maybe in your class at school you are the only one that is adopted but I can assure you there will be others in your class struggling with topics regarding family.  The family tree for example isn't so easy for a child with divorced parents.  The genealogy project maybe hard for the child whose mom doesn't talk with her family any more.  The interview with a grandparent might make another student sad because their grandparents have passed away.  Come talk with us and we can help you work thru times where you might feel alone.  We are here to help you find out how others have handled these projects.  We are willing to help you include your birthfamilies if its something you want to do.

8. We will not end contact with your birthfamily unless you choose to.  It is our job as your parents to keep the flame alive so to speak and foster the relationship between you are your birthfamily.  At some point we will turn the relationship over to you.  Once we turn the relationship over to you it is your choice as to how contact continues.

9. It was love at first sight.  Adoption was in our cards from before we got married.  Although it is true we found out we couldn't conceive a child biologically we always knew we would have children.  We started the adoption process as we continued to learn about why we could not conceive.  In the end our desire to become parents was achieved the day we met each of you.  Until the day you choose to become a parent I dont think you will fully understand what it was like to lay eyes on you that first day- but it was love at first sight.

10.  We are not perfect.  Not at all.  We have learned a great deal from you.  Starting with the adoption process, navigating the world of openness and jumping into becoming Mom and Dad.  We still learn each day and realize that we have made mistakes.  We do our best each day and when we have misteped we try to do better next time.  We expect the same from you.  Like all relationships Birthmother/Child; Mom/Child; Birthfather/Child; Dad/Child; Siblings; and so on we need to remember that the other side of the relationship is another person capable of mistakes.  We need to try to be understanding and be open to forgiveness.  From every corner of your family- you are loved.

What topics did I miss?  What do you want your kids to know?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Baby2 update

We got home from our vacation in ME today to find a packet from our agency.  Its time to renew our fingerprints and update our forms.  This means we are marching up to our first year of waiting.  Baby Girl was a 15 month wait.

Waiting the first time was extraordinarily hard.  Each baby bump was a reminder of the fact that our nest was still empty.  I could not go to baby showers and my heart broke so very easily.  The hardest part was not knowing.  When I would tell people it could be today, tomorrow or next year we don't know it was in a way a reminder that it really could be tomorrow and I prayed that it wasn't another year.

This time we are busy.  Really busy.  I actually pray that its next year more often then I pray that its tomorrow.  I do still find the unknowing part to be the hardest part.  If I only knew a due date- what a luxury!

So I'll get the papers in order, I'll get my fingers inked, and I should probably get a baby bag ready... but here we are waiting again an unknown amount of time.

The other big difference this time is the impact on Baby Girl.  I know some families have chosen not to share with their child however I think for Baby Girl it would be harder for her for us to suddenly need to go tend to a baby she didn't know would be coming.  When the actual situation presents itself we will have to delicately tackle the topic of not knowing if this baby living with us is "her" brother or sister while we wait for termination.  I think we talk about adoption enough in our house that if the baby does not turn out to be her sibling that she will be sad but understanding.  

I try not to think too far ahead since we wont know the circumstances until the baby arrives.  It could be tonight, maybe tomorrow, or even next year.

PA trip 2014

So as always my anticipation of events is always far crazier than what actually happens.  My mind is a wild place and this is the closest anyone will ever get to being in it.  Poor DH has a birds eye view of my "what if" crazy thoughts.  I like to plan and be prepared.  I hate surprises so much that I usually know what I'm getting as a gift from DH before he gives it because I hate the idea of not knowing what to say (especially if its not what I expect).

SO our trip...

This year we went for Baby Girls Birthbrothers birthday party (or at least thats what the plan was).  A week before we went we skyped with the family and found out that cousins were all away at a soccer tournament.  I do believe that some of them went to a soccer tournament however I think it also was an excuse to not have the party part of our visit.  Baby Girls birth aunt last year chose not to come because of Baby Girl being there.  I also know that D and her siblings do not all get along- so I'm not sure exactly the full reason but I think there is more to it then the tournament- I could be wrong.

This year unlike last year Baby Girl kept asking "Are we going to see M tomorrow?"  "Are we going to PA tomorrow?" EVERY night before she went to bed for about three weeks.  It was fun that she was anticipating the trip this year.  She loves her birthbrother M!  Finally it was the day we got to go to PA and she was grinning from ear to ear when we got into the car.  We split the trip like we have each time we have gone down visiting friends in NY along the way.  Baby Girl didn't like the idea of having to wait one more night.

On Friday morning we drove the last part of the trip and went directly into the city.  We went to terminal market and got a philly cheese steak.  We took the sandwich with us to the hospital and ate in the same atrium where we filled out the legal paper work with the adoption attorney just prior to meeting Baby Girl.  I ate so many peanut butter sandwiches alone in that cafeteria it was nice to be able to enjoy a cheese steak with her.  We then spent about 20 minutes trying to find the NICU!  Its funny day in day out we had the same routine spending hours on end in that hospital and the floor the NICU was on escaped me.  One woman tried telling me it was in the other building to which I responded- they moved the NICU?  She insisted it hadn't moved but that we were in the wrong building.  Gah!  Finally we started over and went to ask security where the NICU was.

A few nurses were going out for lunch when we arrived.  None of them we recognized.  They said they would tell others we were there.  While I was looking in with Baby Girl the doctor that discharged her was at the desk.  He came down to say hello.  Another doctor that was involved happened by and recognized me and chatted with us.  Another nurse passed by and said "Oh I remember her she was a premi - right?"  I told her no she was an NAS baby.  "Oh she responded- Mom you look like you are doing well."  "I am doing well as is her birthmother"  (thanks for implying I was on drugs).  Everyone as always was surprised we were visiting D and in a superficial way was happy to hear she was doing well.  I think they all think we are naive and that D is going to take advantage of us.  D isn't a monster.  D loves Baby Girl.  Yes she has made mistakes and because of those mistakes we have kept a significant amount of information about Baby Girl from her- but there is no reason not to allow her to visit as long as she is sober.  Baby Girl got to see a bassinet outside the NICU similar to the one she slept in.  She seemed to really enjoy that.

 We then went back to the hotel to check in.  We spoke to her birthsister about them all coming over to swim.  M apparently on the days leading up to the visit had been typing into his communication devise asking when they were going swimming at Baby Girls hotel.  This was D's first time seeing Baby Girl since we walked away at the hospital over two years ago.  I could tell the moment she saw her she wanted to smother her but she held back.  They gave Baby Girl the coach that goes with the princess castle they got her for her birthday.  Getting Baby Girl to say anything (hello, thank you, hi) was impossible so we went down to swim.  M and Baby Girl jumped into the pool over and over and over.  They were like fish that needed water.  D got out a few times for "air" aka smoking.  I think we were making her nervous.  Baby girl refused to go to her in the pool but no one pushed it which I think helped.  D blew bubble gum bubbles which make Baby Girl so happy.  We were in the pool I believe for 2 hours!  (DH fact check this for me :) )  It was finally time to go since Baby Girls lips were blue and chattering but she insisted she still didn't want to get out!  We said good-bye and made plans to meet at the Please Touch museum the next day.

We arrived about 10 minutes before they opened.  I wanted to get there early because Baby Girls birthfamily is never on time and I wanted to avoid the awkwardness of paying.  They were early too!  I think they were excited to see Baby Girl and got ready quickly.  I paid for everything it was easier then splitting things up plus I dont ever give D things as gifts and I felt like paying for everyones admission was giving her the gift of time with Baby Girl.  (The only physical gift I have given her is a flower and a photo album they day we met- I send LOTS of pictures and I send physical gifts to her birth siblings but not D).

Everyone had a blast at the museum.  There were buses, and cars to pretend to drive.  There were rockets to shoot.  There was a mock grocery store, hospital, news station, and construction site.  There was a lot to do.  M and Baby Girl kinda played in parallel however most of the time they were in different spaces.  D again had chewing gum so Baby Girl kept asking her to blow bubbles.  This was they key to Baby Girls heart :)  Baby Girl, M and D had a tea party in the Alice and Wonderland exhibit.  We then went upstairs and there was a carousel.  D went and got M and Baby Girl tickets.  Baby Girls birthsister helped M and DH helped Lily.  D and I waved from the side as they went around.  After the carousel we briefly played in the water but I could tell our time before a meltdown was getting closer.  Baby Girl is pouting in just about every picture taken at the water station.  We took pictures in front of the sign.  In the other two pictures of Baby Girl with her birth siblings she is right there with them being held.  This year her siblings are standing next to each other holding onto each other and then there is a gap of about a foot and Baby Girl is standing alone.  I know its her age- she isn't as quick to warm up to people she doesn't know well but the picture speaks so much to why I want Baby 2's birthfamily to be in our same state.

We went back to the hotel so Baby Girl could re-group and take a nap. After her nap we went to Mom-Moms house.  We gave her birth siblings their birthday presents which I hope they enjoy (we got M a a kite and her birthsister a bath pamper set).  D's oldest brother was there briefly but he left almost immediately after we arrived- just long enough to say hello.  Baby Girl, M and D jumped on the trampoline for hours.  Her birthsister, Baby Girl, D and Pop-Pop blew (soap) bubbles for a while.  I chatted with Mom-Mom and Pop-pop.  It was as relaxing as the second time you spent the day with your in-laws.  It was a little more comfortable than last year but still awkward at times.  I think the in-law comparison is the closest I can come to explaining the relationship to outsiders.  These people are amazing and allowed us to parent this beautiful girl but they still love her to death.  They are as much family as they are unfamiliar strangers.

While we were at the museum D had shared with me that J had been harassing D's family.  I brought this up to Mom-Mom (baby Girls birth grandmother).  D had told me that J was saying that it wasn't fair that Baby Girl was visiting them but not him.  I told them that he had been given a chance to visit.  According to D he had seen pictures of last years visit though I never shared those pictures with him unless he looked on shutterfly.  We did learn that he had been in jail though its unclear for what.  After talking with Mom-Mom I do think that he has been harassing them by phone but I dont know the validity of his including Baby Girl into the harassment.  It was just a quick reminder of the drama of our hospital stay and to make sure I take a deep breath and take a step back.  D is an adult physically however emotionally and drama wise I need to remember that she has a way of exaggerating.  Its how she interacts with the world and I'm just not used to it.  I felt much better after talking with Mom-Mom.  I did let the agency know that D was having trouble with J and left it at that.  (true to their form they essentially said they could do nothing but I guess I'm crazy thinking that an adoption agency should support their birthmothers- even if its just a phone call to D saying- everything OK?)

We had pizza for dinner (which Baby Girl didn't eat for the first time in her life).  After dinner D and Baby Girl went back outside to play on the trampoline and DH and I stayed upstairs and chatted with Mom-mom.  We got to hear how D was doing - all positive!!  :)  Mom-mom brought the cake down to sing happy birthday to M.  Last year I regretted not getting a picture of us singing happy birthday to her birth sister.  This year I took it - and its one of the best pictures I took all weekend.  Baby Girl and M sat next to each other when they got their cake.  Their eyes and puffy cheeks and perfect chins side by side make me smile because she will be able to see herself in him because she knows him.  After cake Baby Girl went back outside which is when I realized that it was already past her bedtime.  Her birthsister before dinner had taught her how to do a summersault on the trampoline and she was practicing it again.  She was getting really good!  We let her play a short while longer and then we started to say our good-byes.  Pop-Pops health has continued to decline and he didn't seem confident he would see us next year- which I hope he is wrong about because we really love him.  Everyone asked for a hug and kiss goodbye and Baby Girl declined them all.  When D asked I interjected and reminded Baby Girl that she wouldn't see her again for a whole year.  I told Baby Girl it would mean a lot to D if she gave her a hug (this is something I never do because I don't think hugs are mandatory).  She then stepped up and hugged her- I was so so so very happy for both of them.

D walked us out to the car and told us how sad she would be to see us go but was happy we came to visit.  I assured her that we would be back.  As we drove out of town the next morning Baby Girl was already crying "I wanna see M!"  "When are we going to go to PA?!"

Can't wait for next year!!