Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shout out to Fathers Everywhere!!

I had planned to write a lovely tribute to fathers everywhere...birthfathers who had the courage to be involved and supportive in placing their child, adoptive fathers whose love knows no boundary, grandfathers who set the example of unconditional love and acceptance.... You get the idea.

But it's not happening this week. Maybe next week.  Count this as the tribute of the moment:
And here's why:

It happened.

Yep. The day I knew would come.  I've been anticipating it for over 9 years now...and thought I'd be completely ready.  But I wasn't.

Sunday started out completely normal for our family. (normal being utter chaos and confusion in trying to get ready for church and other Sunday happenings.)  To justify some of the chaos, I should include a little FYI - which is - we had a wedding Tuesday. My oldest daughter got married to a wonderful young man.  And in the happiness and excitement planning and executing a wedding, there has been even more chaos than usual.   So yes...insane week. (in the best way possible)  Kids were bickering (as usual) and exhaustion still prevailed in all of us.  A little bickering between my 8 and 9  year olds (Meg & Mati) escalated til Meg hit a book out of Mati's hands.  As the hard back book flew in the air and I watched it land with the sharp corner right on her knee, I knew the drama and tears were unavoidable.  I separated them and sternly told them, "Stop. You two may not treat your family this way."

Mati went and sulked and Meg looked at me with huge tears in her eyes and said those 5 words I knew were coming in one form or another...

"I want my real mom!"

Ouch.  For both of us.

Whew.  It was out there.  Finally.   All these years, Meg has never wanted to or been ready to discuss any part of adoption.  She has had no interest in her birth mom that she was able to express on her own.  And the very few times I've asked her, she shut it right down. 

**disclaimer**  Bear in mind, I'm putting it all out there right now, and there's more to this than a simple blog posting will allow, but we have had great counselors along the way and much support as we have handled this the way we deemed appropriate based on our family, our daughter, and the experts we have chosen to employ.  (I'm just sayin' -- this is how we've handled it---everyone has to do what's best for their family) I'm not suggesting that this is the way -- it's a way -  take it for what it's worth. Just my two cents!

OK onward...
The counselors/child therapists we have spoken with have all said when Meg's ready, she will give us the cues.  She'll ask questions when she's ready, she will let us know in her own way when she wants to talk or is ready for information. But we were advised not to push or create a chasm that didn't need to be there.
But I was pretty sure this was the "cue" I'd been waiting for.  (yes, a "cue" that slapped me upside the head)So, with my heart breaking as I watched her little heart breaking, I tried to imagine what she was feeling.  At age 9, trying to wrap her brain around this whole process.  No matter how loving a placement is - and Meg's was the most loving and wonderful of placements - it still begins with rejection from the key person in life---mother.

I scooped her onto my lap and said, "I am your real mom, Meg. But we can talk about your birth mom if you'd like..." 

And with that, she laid in my lap and wept while I whispered in her ear a few of the many memories I have of her birthmom...
  • She was so funny.  She had a very dry wit and sarcasm dripped from nearly every word that came from her mouth.
  • She could tease Dad like no other.
  • She had a squishy nose - just like Meg.
  • She liked corn bread - just like Meg.
  • She was very athletic - just like Meg.
  • And I told Meg her name.  It's a longer name that can make one smile.  "T" is what we'll call her here.
I then told Meg that I had photos of her birthmom and the day she was born, and asked if she'd like to see them.  She nodded.

I had never shown these photos to anyone before.  Ever.  They are precious - almost sacred - to me.  They are also  Meg's private business.  I never felt it would be appropriate to share these photos with anyone before I shared them with Meg.  So for 9 years they have stayed in my top dresser drawer, unbeknownst to anyone.   I have always felt strongly that the details of Meg's birthparents, adoption situation, and all other details are for Meg to share - not me - with whomever she choses,whenever she is ready.  I would not and have not shared the private information I have on her birthparents.  I would never want anyone to make judgements of any kind, or label Meg because of those details, for good or bad. I also felt it would be a betrayal to share information with others before I shared it with Meg, even if the reason it hadn't been shared with her was simply because she was too young. 

Sometimes these adoption situations have legendary stories.  Some are funny. Some are sad.  Some are pathetic.  Some are full of drama and full of the things one would only see in the movies.  Yet still, they are part of who these children are.  They are circumstances that are woven into the fiber of who these children are and become.  And they need to be protected and respected as such.

So...with all that in mind, Meg and I spent several hours Sunday afternoon in my bedroom - just the two of us - looking at photos and talking.  I watched her face as she studied the face of T for the first time in her young life.  She immediately noticed the obvious physical similarities.  And she smiled.  She loved the photo of her T and I holding hands as Meg was born.  She thought it was hilarious that I was captured forever on film in The Ugly Cry. (you know the one---red face, contorted, tears and snot everywhere...need I say more?)  But I couldn't stop crying that day.  I had never witnessed the birth of a baby. And I was so moved - watching T go through that process, and then hand that baby - my sweet daughter - straight to me.  I had never felt anything like it before.

I asked Meg if she'd like to make a little book with the pictures.  I hauled scrapbook papers, glue, scissors, stickers all back to my bedroom and together we cut and pasted each photo to the paper she chose.  We had a great time putting it together and  Meg knows this is her special book.  She can do with it what she wants.  She can share it with whomever she wants - or not.  She can carry it with her or put it in a place only she knows.  It's hers.  The beginning of her story.

There has been a peace and calm about Meg since then.  She is very proud of her book.  She likes looking at it.  She fell asleep last night with a photo against her cheek - the photo of T holding her. But there have been a few bumps, too.  When I asked her to make her bed this morning, she said "I want my real mom". 

But it's ok.  I understand.  I am learning to recognize the feelings behind the words rather than words themselves. 
Meg's tears have dried up for now.  But they will come again.  I don't know when.  And until then, I'll just keep answering the questions she has the best way I know how.  Even today--two more random questions.  As we were getting ready to go on a walk, she asked "Where does my birth mom live? Is she close?"  I said no.  The last I knew, she lived in Georgia.  Then later today, she asked "Is T alive or dead?"  I just try to be honest and not overreact.  I said "Truthfully, I don't know.  But as far as I know, she is alive."  When these questions come so randomly - at such random times - it reaffirms in my mind that neither of us has stopped thinking about this since Sunday morning.  But it's ok.  She is processing 9 years of living that she hasn't been ready to process - til now.

This has been a big few weeks for Meg - and our whole family. School is out for the year. She said good bye to her sweet teacher - at least for the summer. Less than a week later, she said goodbye to her big sister who got married - and went on a honeymoon. And here it is a week later, and we haven't seen nor heard from her. (which is entirely another subject - I think honeymoons should be for families.  But more on that later!)

All in all, it's pretty big stuff for a 9 year old to absorb. Our family dynamic is different. It's not bad - it is just different now. And there are many different triggers throughout life that will bring these questions, concerns, and uneasiness to the surface for these kids.  Personally, I think when Meg says, "I want my real mom" what she may be feeling is confusion, sadness, frustration, and maybe even fear that things are different now. And she's just trying to figure out where she fits in. We all are.  And hopefully together we'll figure out where we fit in - and we fit together.


  1. I have never cryed at a blog before. But I did on this one.
    Thank-you for sharing.

  2. Thank you so much for this amazing post!!! I have just adopted a little boy about a month ago and I have to admit I got very teary eyed at work reading it especially when you talked about the photos!

    I have many things for my precious little boy that like you are going to be so sacred that I will as well keep them in a very special place. I am so grateful for adoption, so grateful for the wonderful birthmoms who give us so much trust to raise these precious spirits in this world, and most importantly for people like you who help people realize that adoption isnt just "getting a baby". its all bout emotions, feelings, sacrifices, learning to be humble, patient and so many other feelings.

    You are already an awesome mom, and she is very very lucky to have YOU!!!!

  3. Well thanks alot Shelly you got my makeup a running!!! And I was having a good make up day too. You are an amazing mother and I can only hope when stuff comes up with Boston (and it will) that I can handle it with the grace and dignity that you have. If I could I would give you the biggest of hugs right now. All my Love,Raegen (A.K.A. Bostons mama)