Wednesday, September 21, 2016

To The Adoptive Families Who Appear Normal

When we officially adopted our three kids back in May, our family turned a corner into a new normal, one without CPS oversight and one with a whole lot less in our schedule.  No more social worker visits or attorney visits or inspections or court hearings.  No more medicine logs or doctor appointment paperwork.  Suddenly, following a few words said by a judge, we were a regular, normal family.

We began to settle into that and it began to sink in.  I went through a phase of not blogging because I felt like suddenly we were so normal I didn't have much to write about in this foster care and adoption realm.  But normal is relative, maybe surface level, maybe based on appearance.  I began to think through experiences I was having while parenting my children and found myself thinking things like "Normal families don't have to deal with this and that" or "A normal mom wouldn't feel the need to think through that particular thought process."  I was becoming aware of the fact that, though our family may appear normal now and be afforded all the privacy and perks of any legal family in our state, we will never be the same kind of normal as non-adoptive families.

I got to thinking about adoptive families out there in this world and how their own internal normal in their home may differ so much from other families who have not walked the same road.

The parents who run each bad behavior through an analysis of "Is this because of trauma or is this because he's a toddler?"

The mom making sure therapy options for her young daughter jive with her adoption assistance plan.

The family whose vocabulary regularly includes phrases like "first mom", "other dad", "where I lived before", "in my third family"...

The mama calmly clasping little hands in hers as her child intentionally and violently scratches her.

The parents packing up toys and snacks for their annual visit with their kids' first parents.

The dad hurrying across the hall to do his best to calm a night terror.

The mom seeking counseling for herself to help her face her children's challenges with grace and resolve instead of rage and surrender.

The parent managing a plethora of psychotropic medications for their child to combat the effects of prenatal drugs.

The sweet family who prays for their kids' birth mom every night.

The aunts or uncles or extended family who struggle to bond with kids suddenly plopped into their lives.

The child marking milestones...more days in this home than elsewhere, more days adopted and stable than floating from home to home.

To the adoptive families that may appear normal but feel anything but... I have walked this road, the one that looks easy enough at first glance but ends up having pot holes and bumps and erosion and a few locked gates to navigate that other people may not see or understand.  Dear families, persevere.  Persevere in loving your children, in winding your way down that tricky road, in finding your new normal, in embracing it.  I see you.  I understand you.  I am you. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sometimes I Wish I Was Their Only Mama

Of course I'm not going to go into details on the ole public blog here, but we had a little spike of drama concerning our kids' first mom a while back and it stirred up a storm of emotions in me, the second mom, that were new and weird and selfish and normal all at the same time.

You see, we have an open adoption agreement with her (more on that at some point via a guest post from the hubs) so she is by no means gone forever from our life or our kids' lives, even though her parental rights have been terminated and our adoption is finalized.   Most days we rock along in our normal routine, she'll come up in conversation with the kids here and there..."You know who gave you that shirt?  Your first mommy did"... and they'll kind of look off to the side and nod a bit like they are seeing a shadow of a memory that they are trying really really hard to bring into focus.

And then some things happen that bring all the past hurt, drama, questions and pain crashing into focus.  Suddenly we find ourselves swirling with a hurricane of emotions that leave us simultaneously fighting waves of selfishness while stepping out of work for a moment to get tears of sorrow and compassion under control.

Somewhere in that hurricane, I confessed to my husband...sometimes I wish I was their only mama...  Sometimes I wish we didn't have to field the challenges of an open adoption.  Sometimes I wish we didn't have to be the front line defense, to take the first bullets to the chest in order to appropriately shield our precious kids from the intense hurt that lies in their history.

I quickly acknowledged how utterly selfish that is.  He quickly validated my feelings. 

I noted that I'll just have to do my best to reconcile the occasional spikes of motherhood identity confusion with our otherwise very normal life as parents. He noted that this is an aspect of this whole situation unique to me, as the second mama, that he does not have to deal with in his heart, as the only daddy they've ever really known or will know.

I used up a decent percentage of a box of kleenex, wishing my cubicle had a door to close.   He asked an understanding coworker to cover his task while he walked around the block.

And we went about our life.  Because...this is our life.   We have an open adoption and all the challenges that entails.  I am the second mama, and in Baby's case the third mama, and I have all the emotions that entails. The confusion, the selfishness, the compassion, the joy and the fierce love I have for these kids.