Tag Archives: birth family

Normal isn’t ALWAYS a Bad Word

santaSo, I’m not a big fan of Normal. I usually think being just like everybody else is pretty lame. BUT, there are times when it is a victory.

Normal, chatting about how big kids are getting and Christmas plans and rainy weather.

Normal, passing the baby around and squishing those chubby, chubby cheeks and reminding toddler hands to give “gentle touches.”

Normal, brothers jumping from tile to tile down the hallway and exchanging high-fives.

Normal, crying at the sight of Santa and reaching for Mama and scowling for the picture.

And if that normal comes to a meeting of birth family and foster parents and adoptive parents (and a social worker in a pear tree), when normal comes then, it’s called: SUCCESS.

Our first meeting around a conference table in a strange government office was tense and awkward, with gusts to civil. So I expected the same with this first Brothers Meeting.

I know that it wasn’t easy for any of us. Nana’s hands, and voice, shook as she explained who I was to her oldest grandson, again. “Your brother’s new mommy. He has two now.” Poppa shows up briefly, but quickly retreats. I think this is harder than he imagined.

Birth Mom was sweet and calm, just like I remembered. Seeing her side by side with our son, I can see the resemblance more than ever. It endears her to me. She is important. I guess I’m more secure than I thought.

I knew the baby would win me over (who can resist a chubby 1-year-old?), but it is the 4-year-old who steals my heart. He has that same energy and sweetness that makes our boy so charming.

It seems like many of my blog posts are filled with angst-y, ramble-y complaints and worries. The next day I rethink my emotional exhibitionism. Does the whole world need to know what a neurotic whiner I am?

It’s not that life is unceasingly hard; quite the opposite: our life is a happy, full one. But normal rarely drives me to write.

Yesterday was normal. When I hoped and prayed for civil, I got pleasant. What a nice surprise!

So here’s us, surprisingly content with our new normal: openness with birth family.

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Staking a Claim

He learned a new word. A word MOST parents of toddlers dread. But when he pressed his drooly little finger to my breastbone and said it, my heart grew 10 sizes.

“MINE!”

He also applied it vociferously to apple slices, a fuzzy blue blankie, Daddy’s iPad and every item he likes during a two day period. Then it slipped away, as most new words do these days. It makes infrequent appearances now while he channels his energy towards the newest, greatest, most exciting word. Yesterday it was “cookie.”

mineI know it probably wasn’t the profound statement I am making it out to be. He is trying on new vocabulary. He is possessive in the way of all 2-year-olds. He is the youngest of four and prefers to remain the center of attention at all times.

But I need these moments. I hold onto them with both hands. They are a gift of proof. Reassurance that the future we hoped for is reality and our faith is not in vain. This was meant to be. He is our son. He is MINE. And I am HIS.

This same week, while at Mother Goose singing time, some unknown element triggered a bout of grief. Whether it was the colour of shirt she was wearing or the way she had done her hair or the smell of her perfume, S latched onto one of the other Moms with a frantic grip. He screamed, “Mama! Mama!” and would not let her go. Lately he calls everyone “Mama,” so that part didn’t hurt, but the anguished cries as I pried him off of the poor woman… that stung. It happened several times until we finally left.

We have spent time with her before and since then. He doesn’t pay her much attention at all. Obviously, that day, he was reliving something. And I played it cool and acted like it wasn’t a big deal. I mentally rehearsed all that I knew about unpredictable grief and trauma, and reminded myself that this is not really about me at all.

Rejection is hard to take. Rejection from your own child is especially brutal.

So, when he reaches for me, when he fusses about me leaving the room, when he checks to makes sure I’m still there, when he makes strange, when he snuggles into a hug… I need it just as much as he does.

The greatest surprise of this adoption (apart from my pitiful stamina in the going-without-sleep-marathon) is how insecure I feel. In my mind I know that things are going well; that attachment is a process and although messy and overwhelmed much of the time, our family is thriving. But my heart is not so confident.

Tomorrow we are getting together with birth family. It will be our first outing with S’ two brothers. The three boys are being raised in different homes by different people, and none with birth mom. Hopefully they will sit on Santa’s lap so she can have the picture she wants so badly. Hopefully they will play nicely with each other. Hopefully the adults will play nice too.

So here’s me, once again, not as calm and mature about the whole thing as I thought I would be. Losing My Cool is becoming a theme. But I also hope that birth mom gets a good visit with the boys. She must already feel rejected and replaced. I’ve had only a small taste and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.


First Contact: Birth Family

I sifted my fingers through. I banked up the sides. I carefully patted it back into place. My little pile of worries and insecurities.

It doesn’t feel so little as I slog through traffic and construction on my way to The Meeting. I’m preoccupied by the width and breadth of it. I suppose it is to be expected, from a student of psychology and a writer… worse yet, a blogger. A whole lot of self-absorbed navel-gazing.

I prayed my way through a list of concerns, for each of the people attending, saving my favourite subject until last. Me. How do I feel? What am I thinking? How will this affect me?

But it isn’t about me.

We slipped in the door 7 minutes late. They were sitting around the table already: the social workers with Birth Mom, Nana and Papa. Pleasantries are awkward and Nana can’t even look us in the eye.

Because this is hard.

WE haven’t taken him away from them, but he is gone all the same. They need, need, need… beyond what we can provide. We promise the bare minimum. Better not to disappoint. “We’ll see” is the watchword. A couple of meetings a year, pictures every few months… but it’s not the same as being Mommy every day or Nana who bakes cookies or Papa who explains what “offside” is.

Suddenly my little pile seems insignificant. One uncomfortable hour cannot compare to years of loss. Years past and years to come. We find common ground in a strange place as Birth Mom admits “at first, I didn’t even want to come and meet you.”

But it isn’t about them.

We show each other our best sides. They share little bits and pieces about S and their family. We greedily store away each morsel. He got his hair from his Birth Dad. The curls remind them of his big brother. They are hockey fans too.

Most importantly, we joke to diffuse the tension. It works. We can laugh together and that is a relief. It’s proof positive that our boy has a sense-of-humour-gene in the mix. I’m relieved. Humourlessness is a serious issue (ha ha ha… don’t judge me).

Birth Mom is young and sweet. She speaks with confidence. She calls him her “Miracle Baby” – the little champ who fought his way through every problem. She is trying to do the same. She is lovely.

Nana is protective, sentimental, sad… she is still grieving. And Papa wants to fix it all, but can’t.

By the time we leave, we are friends of a sort. We’ve faced anger and tears and discomfort. We’ve come out the other side because we are on the same page.

It’s all about him.

As long as he is happy. As long as he is safe. As long as he KNOWS that he is loved by all his family, in all its forms.

I don’t expect every meeting to go this smoothly. It will get bumpy and hard and inconvenient. We’ve inherited a new branch of “in-laws” and all the troubles that come with it. But that’s a pile for another day.

So here’s me, putting our son ahead of my comfort. Because that’s what Moms do.


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