Tag Archives: adoption transition

Test Driving a Person

I test drove a human being today.

Or, to be more accurate, he test drove us.

Our first day spent together, just our family, in our own home.

Altogether, we handled beautifully.

Of course, there were a few glitches. For instance, we made him leave the park to go home for lunch… NOT cool. Also, Daddy ate the last bite of (his own) garlic bread, despite the fact that his son was clearly eyeing it for himself. To be fair, Daddy had shared almost everything on his plate already… but STILL.

It should be noted that this is a huge upgrade over the past versions of the man. 2000-2011 Daddy models DID NOT share food, AT ALL . He also brings some high-tech gadgets to the table (iPad, smart phone…), but it’s the standard features that we love best: swinging through the air, tickle games, carrying heavy things, general doting and, of course, keeping Mommy happy.

But the real question is: how does it idle? It’s one thing to fly down the highway of fun family time, but what about nap time? This is where the rubber really hits the road.

We used bedding from his other home. We stuck to the same routine. We followed the manual.

Superior engineering on the part of foster mom has ensured a set of reliable sleep cues: warm bottle, sleep sack, soother, blankies and lullaby music (Bach, because he’s classy like that).

Mom of the Year! A snuggle on the rocking chair and then right off to sleep. This was definitely the highpoint of MY day – holding a sleepy bundle of sweet, sweet boy in my arms, in the room we had so carefully prepared for him.

Pause to soak in this incredible moment…

He slept over 2 hours in his new bed, without complaint. Through the tantrum his big sister threw. Through the fight that ensued when she hit one of the other big sisters on the head with a book. Through the wailing. Through the extra tv/cuddle time as she changed into her pj’s and demanded milk in a sippy cup, along with HER blanket. It bodes well for us that he sleeps deeply.

There were several moments today that felt utterly surreal. We have been frustrated with the long wait periods, the endless streams of paperwork and the strange bureaucratic rituals we must complete. But suddenly they seem like so little, considering what’s at stake here. They are giving us a human being. And we get to keep him forever. How weird is that?

I remember feeling this same way at the hospital as we walked out with our brand new infant. “Seriously, they’re just going to let us walk out of here with this tiny person? They aren’t even blinking. It’s like it’s not even a big deal.”

But it is a big deal. Every time. And adoption is no different. In fact, it is a bigger deal, since our little person already has a personality and a routine and the ability to leap off the very top of the staircase and a desire to climb onto the counter and a need to rummage through every drawer in the house.

As we packed up all his things to take him back to his other home for the night, it was bittersweet. We’re big believers in the gradual transition, especially at this age, and so blessed that we are able to do it at all. But more than ever, it feels like he belongs here with us.

So here’s me, completely sold on the new kid. He does come with a warranty, right?

Snapshots of Adoption

Life is moving at warp speed these days. I should probably be running alongside, trying to keep up, instead of blogging. I should probably be doing the dishes or installing child proof latches on our valuables (by valuables I mean 23 Wiggles DVDs and 14 lbs of scrapbooking supplies I may never use again). I should probably try to catch up on sleep. I should probably be siphoning gas from our neighbours’ cars (driving 2-3 hours per day, often in two separate cars, is pricey).

But instead, I’m going to introduce you to the cast of a little show I like to call “Adoption Transition: Awkward is an Understatement.”

First up, Stranger Mommy

Not my favourite role, I’ll be honest, but a necessary part of the process. My son’s initial reaction to me was the same as to any stranger in his life. For a shy little boy with stranger anxiety, this means a few smiles and tolerating the briefest of touches. He doesn’t mind me, but he doesn’t welcome me either.

This is actually a good sign. He is very securely attached to his foster mom and caregiver. One day he will transfer that complete trust and reliance to me, which is infinitely easier than creating attachment where none has been before.

This is a test. I am not Mommy to meet my needs, but his.

The Other Women

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who feels this way. The other women in his life (foster mom, foster-sister and caregiver) are going against all their natural instincts: backing off so we can step in; spending time away so we can grow closer; letting him go so he can be part of our family. It is no small sacrifice, and they are grieving.

People who work in foster care have a bad rap. Some rightly so. But there are many others who are better than saints. Better because they are flesh and blood people who struggle and hurt and do their best and sign up to do it over and over again. All so children like my son can have what they need.

The Other Other Women

Three big sisters. An embarrassment of riches for any boy. They are getting a bit sick of playing the bit parts. The dialogue is repetitive “When do we get to see him? It’s not fair. You get to see him all the time… She took my iPod! It was just lying there. Moooooooom!”

The past 2 Saturdays have been spent with foster family, having a great time, sad to leave… B has decided her brother is okay, which is good since he is fascinated by her. L is angling for the role of second Mommy. C completely overlooked a TRAMPOLINE she was so focused on playing with her new brother. Now that’s love!

Reluctant Snuggler

Which brings us to the real star of our show – my son. He is charming. He is ridiculously cute. And he knows it. He can handle an adoring public, but he likes to stick close to home base.

Suddenly, we are changing the rules on him. And he’s not impressed, but he is beginning to rally.

Our first night alone got off to a rocky start: screaming and reaching for the door, then crying in heartbreak. But we both calmed down after about 15 minutes. He let me comfort him and there was some definite snuggle-age. We played and read books and sang songs until bedtime. After a brief protest, he cuddled with me and his bottle. And I rocked my boy to sleep in my arms! I can’t say that enough – I rocked him to sleep in my arms! And in fact I rocked this sleeping boy in my arms, long past him falling asleep.

The Daddy

Our final cast member is the hero of our story. On his second visit, his son went up to him, lifted up his arms and proceeded to snuggle with his new Daddy. That’s right, on day two! He still flinches away from me, but he LOVES his Daddy.

He runs to him when we arrive. He chooses him above everyone else. He climbs all over him. He plays “hockey” with the mini-sticks. He recruits him to swing him around in a big, green Rubbermaid. He rubs his scruffy face with his hands. Yesterday, he found a hairy belly under Daddy’s t-shirt and found that endlessly fascinating. This is the only Daddy he has ever known.

There are moments when I’m slightly envious, but altogether, I am thrilled! Glen was worried about bonding. He wondered if he would love this child the same as the others. He wondered if this child would love him.

When will he learn that I am ALWAYS right? 😉

So here’s me, at the end of our second week “visiting” S at his foster home. On Saturday, the whole family is coming to our house. The next two weeks, he will come home for increasing visits: 2 hours, 4, 7, overnight, 2 nights… until he comes home for good.

P.S. Sandra and John – I’m totally kidding about the siphoning gas thing, especially since I know you’re reading this. A dark parking lot where no one knows me is much more my style.

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