July 24, 2015 § Leave a comment
As is common when I share something here about Cal, I received an email asking for more information from a member of our family. I responded as honestly as I knew to. I was then met by a familiar email, it’s not me (the writer of the email) it’s them (me and others), and then more about how this process has impacted their life and how I have made it harder. I would say we receive something of the sort from someone in our family every couple of months.
This was something we thought might happen when we went to get C. I have said it before, but communication is creating understanding. One person’s definition of a word or understanding of words is so different than another persons. I often find this to be one of the most difficult parts of this process.
I have been hesitant to post about this process here because this blog is public. It is not private and our family has total access to it, including the people that are most interested in any details I might post that involve C.
Let me be clear – this has not been a seamless transition. It has been really hard. Not with C, that has been incredible, obviously there are hard spots where there is expected trauma, it’s been discipline to bring structure and stability to him emotionally, and there are the 2.5 years that we missed entirely – which is clearly not breezy. The hardest part has been navigating the minefield of a family adoption and the expectations that brought.
Between J and myself, C has 7 grandparents, one great grandmother. Add his birth parents’ parents etc and he has 7 additional grandparents, he has additional great grandparents – he and his birth mom had lived with one set of grandparents or great grandparents for the majority of his 2.5 years. That’s right, between birth parents, parents, grandparents and great grandparents we’re hitting the 20 people mark. Can you imagine?
It’s been precious to see Justin’s & my family immediately absorb C into their hearts and spirits. To war with us for his transition and attachment. It’s been heartbreaking to see how difficult this has been for his birth family.
It has also been incredibly hard to be the target of their pain and frustration – the difficulty in fully grasping that as much as they want access, details, more information, more communication – they are now a part of a group of people larger than C’s pre-k class. If we gave every one of them ONE phone call or Skype date a month that would be almost EVERY DAY. This is before taking into account Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc. We have basically just not done phone & skype calls because of the demand it would be on C’s time. As you can imagine, I think this has been really hard on people.
C still hasn’t met J’s sisters, his cousins, or his great grandmother. This is a huge priority to us, but making it happen along with life and work feels really hard. We haven’t made it back to where we brought C from, which we really wanted to make happen once a year…
Have I mentioned we incorporated a toddler into our life – that it has been a larger process than just trying to manage familial expectations? That’s right – we actually brought him into our lives. As in he moved into our home and hearts. This often feels as if it comes second to trying to keep up with our family, C’s (and my) family, and life.
Let me assure you that his incorporation to our hearts hasn’t taken the backseat. We have simply had to learn to disappoint many people, to know that our choices may be painful for them – even impossible to understand, but our priority this year (or as long as it takes) has to be to our son and fostering his transition.
Why am I finally sharing this now? Because of the email I got this morning. I realized I have “censored” myself in an attempt to shield other people from pain, and to avoid opening myself or C up to further speculation, criticism (“we thought you were nice but you’re not” among many other friendly ‘observations’), and in large part to prevent the inevitable emails that come explaining to me why my perspective or actions are wrong or hurtful.
I will not make the blog private. I will not censor myself. I will not negate that every emotion those on this journey experience or feel is absolutely valid and legitimate – but I cannot be responsible for other’s emotions. I will (and have) fail(ed), get it wrong, hurt people unintentionally – or let’s be real – out of reaction (as I did this morning), but I can’t let fear of how others will react or respond drive me (can you tell I’ve been reading some Dr. Leaf and Danny Silk?)
I know that as I sought wisdom and council on the journey of a family adoption there have been few resources. So here we go. I will attempt to be as honest about this process as I have been every other in my life. May you all journey with me on this crazy course – learn, live, and fail with us as we try to do this the best way we know how. And perhaps being open and honest about the messy parts will offer some insight or help to others along the way.
Thanks for hanging in there with me over the last year as I’ve sought to find the right way to do this. I am not sure this is it, but I am committed to making the best decisions I can with the information I have and to failing forward.
Love to you all. Me
July 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
I still battle with what needs to be public here and what is simply ours. We share our boy with so many people, so many people feel entitled to him, and the details of his life that I have responded by holding him tightly.
Our summer has been a new space for me. No school for either of us, I am just working, and hanging with Cal before school starts for him.
We’ve been thrilled to have a summer full of people and travel. For my little extroverted mini this has been absolute heaven. He loves ALL people, ALL the time… A bit tiring for me, but wonderful J & C.
We start swim lessons this week. We’ve been cooking at home a lot. I am trying to get our lives more organized in every area.
I will be here more. I have to find a way to establish a balance of writing publicly and privately and I am committed to doing it.
For now, just know, we are trucking along.
June 3, 2015 § Leave a comment
I read this blog post this morning and couldn’t stop laughing. I’m definitely guilty of talking about how my child never stops talking. I consider myself rebuked.
I’ve been reading a lot about the goings on at The Village Church. More compelling in context with the Duggar catastrophe. As many of you know, Matt Chandler’s Milk or Meat sermon from his first year at The Village is one of my all time favorites. He talks about the tendency of Evangelical Christians to gorge on worship, small group, and ‘powerful’ sermons without ever allowing the truth to sink in. He called it the worst form of bulemia. Chandler issued an apology this Sunday to the woman involved in the above issue… It sounded a lot like what I’ve read about the Duggar situation. I appreciate an apology, but what I’m looking for is change. In both of these instances the apologies issued feel as if the are preventative measures rather than a catalytic point toward change. Only time will tell. This is just my intuition. The more concerning thing to me is the silencing and covering up of the abused in an attempt to protect the reputed integrity of the abuser. Also, I know that in situations involving sexual abuse or transgression – truth is progressive, predominately as one is forced to face the factual evidence of their behavior. There’s a reason there are laws regarding abuse of minors, the church, while capable of being a powerful healing community is not the law of the land. They come under the authority of the laws of the land, and avoiding it because they know better is frightning and what we refer to in other countries as Sharia law. Just my thoughts – with my bias – through my lens.
Finally, I apologize for neglecting this blog. We are still struggling to find the appropriate balance of privacy for ourself and C, and sharing our experiences in a place that is so public and carefully read & watched by others. We’ll get there. I can say our life has been simple and sweet and our cups overflow with the joy of this boy in our home.
Love to you all. Thanks for reading.
April 27, 2015 § 2 Comments
So many of you have sent kind words and expressions of love lately. Wright’s birthday is May 2. The day after mine. I remember last year, one of the things PopZ said was that he didn’t want pain to always be associated with these days, that he hoped we would be able to experience these May days with full hearts. I think of that often.
I’m not sure we are there yet, but I carry hope that those days are ahead for us.
I think often of the dear family I shared so much with you about last year, Elisabeth Maxine Scholes. Who brought joy and miraculous life to her family for 373 days. I hurt physically for their loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
As for us, I have to say that we have spent the last year in a daze. I’m not sure how long shock lasted but it only now feels as if we can step back ever so slightly and look at the situation. The other day we were talking about trauma, vulnerability, and pain – we were able to see that so much of what hurt us and felt so uncomfortable to us during this time was inevitable. We were in so much pain that everyone and everything close to us hurt us. It would have been impossible for that not to be the case.
Then Cal came. So many people said to us, this must be so healing. Cal has brought a different dimension to our lives. My Papaw, whom I adored and spent a significant portion of my time with, passed away when I was 5. I was devastated and lonely. I ached for him. The next year I moved in with my other grandparents in Arlington. I adored my Grandfather and we were buddies – I loved being with him, I shadowed him. While the loss of my Papaw the year before may have somehow made me more grateful for Grandpa, he did not replace or fix the loss. Our hearts explode with love for our son, it’s almost hard for me to even imagine that he hasn’t always been here with us. He is so right for us. So right with us. I CANNOT imagine having a 7 month old baby AND Cal (though surely we would have managed it somehow.) None of this makes me LESS sad about what happened. It does not replace the baby we don’t have in our arms. It’s simply a lens we see things through, and if anything increases our incredible gratitude for the immeasurable gift our son is.
I had a little time alone yesterday and the grief came like a flood. Often I see that the challenge of incorporating a new life into ours has spared me from the waves of sadness that surely would have overhwhelmed me. There simply isn’t time for it. Life doesn’t stop for our loss.
I have thought again and again that I need to write more about the experience of adopting within family. It has, by far, been the most difficult and complicated part of this process. Honestly, the conflict and demand of that dimension of this process has consumed much of my emotional energy. When it is your family experiencing the loss of a child (that you’ve just been through) – many of them feeling as if they were spectators to the decisions that led to their loss – it’s almost impossible to not feel as if you need to ease their pain and grief, even at the cost of smoothly integrating your child into your family. It took me realizing I had no control over their loss or pain, that the best way I could love them was to love C with everything I had. My first priority was to our little nuclear family. The relentless support and emotional nurturing of PopZ and GBey have saved us. Justin’s parents and my Dad have been beacons of celebration and acceptance. You can’t predict or control how adoption will be received by your family, ours never blinked and have loved Cal as their own blood from the moment we said his name.
We haven’t done any of this perfectly. If anything the last year has been an example of failing and trying again. Of apologizing. Of having nothing to give and needing a lot. School, work, finances, and relationships have suffered (we’ve also been MIRACULOUSLY blessed in these areas – in ways we could have never dreamed or imagined.) I can say every step of the way we did the best we could in the moment.
This week, as the most painful of the memories of what we lost are raw and real, we reflect humbly and thankfully. Never have two people been more loved and supported. I’m ONE YEAR behind on thank you notes. ONE YEAR. If you know me, you know this is NOT ok with me – but I just haven’t been able to do it. I will. And I hope that the delayed letters will be met with grace. Honestly, I have lacked words, energy, and emotion to write the thank yous in the manner they deserve. A terrible rationale but the reality of where I am.
I don’t know how we will handle this weekend. Likely with little fanfare. Maybe we’ll try to go to dinner on Friday sans kiddo, and on Saturday we’ll begin some sort of tradition. We imagined it would be Montauk, but that feels like an extravagant expense in this moment, so we will do something that feels right.
It will be a busy week. Right now we are packing up for a move at an unknown date, to an apartment we are hoping we will get approval from the Condo board for. Hoping that will happen before we are supposed to be out of this one – where they are doing a major demolition project that can’t start until we are gone… Eeek.
Other than that we will huddle close and love deep – and we will give our best effort to moving toward experiencing these May days with thankfulness for what Wright’s life has brought us.
*** please excuse any typos. I’m not going to re-read or edit this or it won’t get posted.
April 10, 2015 § 1 Comment
I totally stole this idea from my friend Jill over at Short Stories from Long Runs (she happens to be having a Blue Apron giveaway so you should head over and enter to win.) I keep telling myself to get back on here and make myself write while I am in ULTIMATE procrastination mode – she gave me just the inspiration I needed.
So here’s my To Sum it Up Friday post.
Making: myself exercise. I’ve put on 15 pounds this winter. It’s always brutal when I start out, but I know I won’t regret it. Also, my friend Bunch told me I had to a while ago and I am afraid of her.
Cooking: Eeek. I have been a lazy chef lately.
Drinking: Margaritas. The James Beard award winning chef Lisa Fain of The Homesick Texan has opened a restaurant in NYC called El Original. Haley got us reservations last night during their soft opening. It was utterly disappointing. The food was super bland and not at all like any of the incredible recipes on her blog. Hoping it was opening week jitters and they’ll get in there and start making the crazy delicious recipes we all know and love from her!
Reading: Books no one is interested in about marketing and politics. Also, a great book called Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years by Elizabeth Hainstock. It’s basically about how to create a home environment and lifestyle that is not only seamless with the school environment, but also ripe with opportunities for your child to learn. It’s really good.
Wanting: I am almost aching for spring. It sleeted on us yesterday morning in our commute. Not. Fun.
Looking: for apartments.It’s a long story, but we’ve basically been given the opportunity to move. We weren’t looking for it, but now realize we probably needed to be pushed to do it. We’ve been looking at two bedrooms. When we ask Cal if he wants his own room he says, “Oh yes! One with you and Daddy.” hmmmmm.
Playing: Spotter. Cal got a bike for his birthday because he had already outgrown the one we got him in September. We were looking for another strider since we have seen all the benefits gain from using them. However, as you all may well have guessed, he is not only too tall for any size of strider – he’s too tall for all the first sizes of kids bikes. So we got the bike sized for 5-7 year olds. Little muffin.
Eating: Carrot cake from Easter weekend at Jill’s (yes, the same Jill from the above blog.) She sent us home with HALF A CAKE. I think you can see why I need to be exercising.
Wishing: Someone would come organize & pack my house. C has been fighting a cold all week and the house basically looks as if something exploded.
Enjoying: Long walks with Cal and Jackeogh. The weather has been getting increasingly warmer and it’s just so nice to be outside more.
Loving: All the new emojies the new Apple update released, but sad that there’s no unicorn.
Hoping: I can get my act together and start focusing on all the stuff that needs to get done in the next couple of weeks.
Needing: Sleep. April is always very short on sleep.
Smelling: Wen’s SIXTHIRTEEN. For those of you who have been told not to wash, instead to rinse your hair daily, and wash every few days – this product is incredible. Also, it smells heavenly. (but it on Amazon for much cheaper.)
Feeling: Super Anxious. There’s a lot up in the air and a seemingly endless amount of unknown information that we have little to no control over. Trying to remind myself that time is not the enemy, and all of life is about waiting.
Wearing: A lot of stretchy pants and fleeces. My jeans are all a bit tight…
Following:My friend Kat’s incredible journey into Grad-School at Columbia. So thrilled for all that she’s going to bring to that school.
Noticing: How much C has been transforming before our eyes. He’s SUPER cuddly right now. Snuggles me all the time. Loves for us to carry or hold him, I probably get 50 kisses and 20 squeezes a day. It’s such a sweet stage that I am savoring, with a full knowledge that little boys outgrown covering their Mommy in kisses in public.
Bookmarking: All the things I want to go back and read when I have time. They are in a long line of things left over from every previous semester, but I am really going to try to get to them this time.
What about you guys? Anything from the above strike you? Is there something from one of the above categories that you should be sharing with all of us?
Happy Friday! I hope everyone has an excellent weekend. And don’t forget to click on the above link and register for Jill’s contest.
March 27, 2015 § 3 Comments
Let me unpack this idea.
Global domination of whom?
The best in comparison to whom or what? And then what are all the others? Just OK? Bad? Sloppy second!?
Being awesome rather than what? What’s our baseline for evaluating awesome? Normal? Average? Lame?
Social Science PhD Brené Brown actually does not allow such adjectives to be used in her home. This is because they are so fundamentally derogatory to someone. These concepts are impossible to use without utilizing comparison.
March 3, 2015 § 2 Comments
Two times this week I’ve talked to dear friends, pregnant, it feels like all our friends are pregnant – about what it’s like to live through the anniversaries of last year. This week is THE week. The week we found out for sure that Wright was a girl, that her chromosomal design was terminal, and that we didn’t know how long she’d make it. 23 weeks is what the answer turned out to be. As every pregnant woman around me marches happily along I tick through my pregnancy at those weeks. 17 weeks, felt her flutter, 22 weeks felt her slow down…
Sometimes you don’t need an ap to hop back to an exact moment. Sometimes you can’t stop yourself. Even when you wish you could.