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Talk, talk, talk it out…

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We’ve been working on talking to the kids more openly about their adoptions. We’ve been realizing how important having a firm grasp on their history is to them.

We’ve also been learning that since they didn’t have all the facts, they were making up their own. And that they think about their former lives and adoption a lot. A lot more than we imagined. And we’ve been pretty liberal in assuming they think about it.

Here’s a few things we’ve learned:

Simeon thought his mother has been angry with him this whole time, thus the lack of contact.

Raj thinks he never had a father. Immaculate conception?

Lyberty thinks her their dad was a man who was living with them for a few months. And that their mom is getting their house ready for them to visit (oh, boy…)

And there’s so much more misinformation they’ve been perpetuating in their little minds.

This explains so much of the big feelings we’ve been wrestling. Of course they have big feelings! If it wasn’t a lack of information, it was an overabundance of misinformation.

And how easy is it to assume we know what they’re feeling or thinking. Or to assume that it’s impossible to know.

When really, all we have to do is ask.

So we ask. Every morning. And sometimes at night, too. And we’ll continue to ask until they tell us to “STOP TALKING ABOUT IT ALREADY!!!”

Their story, their thoughts, their memories, their ideas; those are all really important to them and their mental health.

If you have a child who’s in foster care or has been adopted (assuming they know – if they don’t you may want to take, I don’t know, 27 steps back or so), then I’d encourage you ask. You know “do you ever think about your adoption (or first family, or where you lived before, or what happened to you, or whatever)?”

I bet you’d be surprised to see how much they do think about it. And how much they may be willing to share. And how much they really want to know. I mean, if you’re where we’ve been, then it really can’t get much worse, can it? ***

*** knock on wood, spin around three times, and spit on your shoes or something – I know it can always get worse, I’m just saying…

So, I may be back?

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It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. It’s been a long while. 

I don’t even know if I remember all of our pseudonyms. So bear with me while I get in back in the swing of things. Or don’t. Because so much has changed that I don’t know if this is really what’s going to work right now. 

You see, since my last post almost a year ago, we adopted Lyberty, Raj and Cupcake. Maybe I’ll come back soon and tell their story in greater detail. Remind me to do that if you’re interested. But since adopting them, I’ve felt swamped. Busy. Overwhelmed at times. They’re great kids and we fall more and more in love with them each day, but each day is busy with four little ones. 

And lately, we’ve been really struggling with Simeon. It’s gotten really, really tough and while there are so many very good reasons why he struggles with his big feelings, we’ve been in a downward spin for the past, oh I dunno, 4-6 months or so, and it’s started to wear thin on me. 

A little bit. 

Ok.

A lot. 

And I remember that before, when things were tough, it was always so helpful to know that there was community out there. And that there were people who understood me. And it really made it not feel so overwhelming when I thought that our struggles might allow us to help other moms. So, I want to get back to blogging. 

It’s not easy to talk about the yuck that goes on at home. It’s really hard to ask for help. And sometimes I don’t even know what to share or how to ask. And Simeon’s dignity is important  to me. I don’t want to announce to all my friends and neighbors that he’s struggling in so many ways. Especially because people with the best of intentions don’t really understand. And make judgements about my child. And it strains those relationships. But I can’t keep it bottled inside much longer, either. 

I need to remember that I’m not alone here. I need to remember that it’s not always so bad. And sometimes I need to laugh at myself. 

If you’re out there and you’re still checking this blog [awkward wave] “He-ey. Thanks for staying in touch.” And if you’re new. “Friend, let’s chat. We need each other. If you don’t know that yet, let me tell you from experience – we NEED each other.” 

Seperation anxiety for the win!!!

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Simeon has never cared whether or not we’re around. He cares more about the opinion and attention of others than of us. He eagerly talks to strangers and for a while now I’ve feared would follow one off for nothing more than an approving smile.

Then this week we went on vacation and the place we were staying had a mini camp for kids. We let our kids go in the evening. The first evening I went back to pick him up, I opened the door to shimmery eyes. He ran across the room and clung to my hips choking back tears.

I just love you, he said.

The next night was easier, but still an emotional return.

This weekend my parents asked to have him come play by himself. When it was time for me to take him to meet my dad, he ran to Leo and began to weep in his arms.

I just love you, he said.

My heart sung!

Not because my boy was crying, was scared, was afraid we were sending him away, but because he didn’t want to go. Because even though he threatened to run away for the 258th time yesterday morning, he doesn’t mean it.

He just loves us. And he wants to stay and he’s becoming attached. This is an answer to our prayers.

And worth noting that the next week and a half marks 2 years 11 months, which just so happens to be the exact amount of time he spent in darkness before his whole world and our whole world changed. Forever.

 

It’s not you. It’s me.

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I see some of you have noticed my prolonged absence. Thank you for that.

Mostly, we’ve been absurdly busy. Apparently four children under five require a great deal of attention. Who knew?!

Seriously, though…

We have therapy 9 hours/week. Plus play dates and other outings leaves little time for blogging any more. I will try to be better though, promise.

In the mean time here’s life, in brief:

Cupcake: She’s starting to walk. And teethe. And squeal. And high five. And play peek-a-boo. And dance, etc. She’s buckets of fun right now. Except right now she has a fever, so she’s not exactly buckets of fun. But you get the idea.

Raj: He’s growing a voice which is nice most of the time. He is trying to be a bit of mouthy, though. We’re working on a balance. Everything in moderation, right? Other than that, he’s pretty much just getting into trouble with the rest of them.

Lyberty: Oh, this girl is my daily challenge. She’s beautiful and funny and creative. She’s also very anxious and hard to really connect with. Her affections seem more a barrier to intimacy. When she’s feeling anxious, she’s seriously off tha chain! Some days I can barely keep her reigned in, but she has enough moments of transparency to keep us going.

Simeon: Besides growing more handsome each day, he’s also facing his own daily battles. He struggles with anger. Mostly he struggles with the root of it, so when it over takes him, he blames the rest of us. He’s obsessed with becoming a mad scientist which I find completely delightful. He’s also showing great capacity to fiercely love and protect his siblings, which is a plus.

Therapy is helping me as much as it is them and I’m very thankful for it.

So that’s us as of late and in a nut shell. I’ll try to check in a bit more frequently. Lord knows I could stand to have someplace to brain dump once in a while.

That awkward moment when…

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You know that awkward moment when your husband goes out of town on business…

And you have a great day…

And you think “I’ve got this. They’ve got this. Things are really looking up…”

And it’s 11pm and you walk into your bathroom ready for a nice lavender soak in the tub while your sweet babies are all sleep breathing in chorus…

And you notice and box out of place…

And you look down and see that someone has left a heafty pile of poop in that box…

And you realize that even though it does get better, some things just get different. And your hurt children are still hurting. And their world really stinks. So sometimes yours does, too….

Then you can’t decide whether or not to laugh, or cry, or be angry, or just throw your hands up and go to bed, so you blog about it, but that doesn’t really help…

But then in your stream of concious brain dump (no pun intended here, of course), you realize that none of that stinky stuff really matters, because that big ol’ pile of poop just reminded you that you really are deeply in love with your kids (all of them, even the rogue pooper) and you’ll wade through their shit with them if you have to.

Yeah…. I really hate that, too.

 

How to celebrate an anniversary…

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Yesterday we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. 

It started with Leo taking Simeon to his psychological evaluation so he can begin receiving therapy to help with adoption transition while I cleaned the house and groomed the kids in preparation of a DFCS home visit. You know, how every normal healthy family ends their week….

Leo came home bearing a chinese food feast. All three of my guys put on button downs and neck ties. Lyberty and Cupcake wore pretty pink dresses and I wore a white blouse, with a pretty white head band over long curls – very wedding-ish. We enjoyed dinner, snuggled on the couch and looked at our wedding book, rescued Cupcake from choking to death on some legos, yelled at the kids for being squirrelly, you know, how every normal healthy family spends an evening…

Then the best part of the night: our vow renewal. Simeon served as officiant, Raj man of honor, Lyberty maid of honor and Cupcake obstacle course/flower girl. We played a recording of the song I walked down the aisle to as Lyberty and I made our way down the hallway carrying dollar store flower bouquets to the fireplace where the boys stood waiting. Simeon called us all together, then charged Leo and I to “be nice. be respectful. Kiss.” So Leo and I promised to be nice. be respectful. and kiss always. Then we kissed to peals of laughter and retching sounds from our children. You know, how every normal healthy vow renewal ends…

We all skipped around the living and dining room in a grand processional. Then gathered at the table for a cake cutting. Leo and I cut cake and fed each other pieces. We toasted with wine (the kids had Italian soda) and Simeon played photographer which resulted in lots of wonky pictures, most of which have been deleted.

After dessert, we marched the kids to bed and Leo presented me with an anniversary gift for us to share. One that is sure to bring us many days and nights of fun: bananagrams. You know, the traditional 9th anniversary gift of word games.

I would say that the night was far from traditional. And it lacked a certain romantic magic I think I imagined marriage would hold at times, but it was sweet and it was fun and if there is anything I can say for the last nine years of my marriage, it’s that it has been the sweetest, most fun endeavor of my life.

Feeling blessed.

I’m happy-sad-scared-excited… how’re you?

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Termination was granted.

It was a very long day. Very long.

But it ended with 1st mom grabbing me in a big hug. She thanked me for loving her babies. Said she knew we would take could care of them. She asked for pictures.

It was really encouraging, strange, unnatural. It seemed too soon to be making peace with the end. I guess that’s was problem all along – a misalignment with reality.

So… here we are moving forward with adoption. And it’s most surreal.

Mostly because we didn’t plan to be here again, so soon, with so many. But also because it’s just happened so fast.

We told the kids pretty soon after. Lyberty is at peace. She’s longed for a home, a mom and a dad. She’s ready for this. She wants normalcy and predictability. Raj doesn’t really want what he’s had, but he doesn’t know that this is such a great idea either. He longs for a fantasy that will never be achieved. He said he “wants to live with Mommy and [another family member] in [a fun kid place]” What he knows is that as good as this is, it’s not what life is supposed to like. He wants a fantasy. For the record, he is super pumped to be “brudders” with Simeon. So he was at least able to find something to be optimistic about.

Our play therapist is wonderful and has been here to talk with the twins already. I’ve also asked her to make a referral so that she can take Simeon on to her case plan as well. He’s been having big feelings lately. He swings from excitement over growing the family to suffing this wave of defiance and anger. He says he wants to adopt these kids and he still wants more (ha!), but that he sometimes feels sad and angry and doesn’t know why.

I completely get it. I’m kind of experiencing the very same thing. I suspect he’s nervous that he’ll end up being less treasured, less precious. I think the idea of this big family forever is a little scary (AMEN!), but I think the most disconcerting thought of all is that his adoption day will be less special if they get one, too. He’s made a few comments in passing that lead me to believe that while he doesn’t mind sharing life, he doesn’t really want to share the wonders of adoption day. And I completely get that, too!

Even though we haven’t even technically transitioned to our permanency worker and it will easily be many, many months before we’re there, I’ve begun talking to him about some of our plans. I want him to know that his adoption day will forever be a special and precious event that cannot be rivaled. We’ll simply do things a little different for the other kids. That reassurance has brought him the most peace.

And last night I broke out the shutterfly book from his first year with us. We snuggled and remembered those amazing months. We giggled conspiratorially while the other kids settled into bed. We stole 20 minutes from the night and remembered what a precious, precious gift he is. And I think, I hope anyway, that those precious memories will help both of us find and create memories like that for the other kids.

Growing our family feels like the right thing to do. These kids really are an incredible fit and we’re starting to really love them. There are many good times. But I think we need to be honest with ourselves about the growing pains we are and will be experiencing over the next few months. It’s ok. In fact it’s good. It isn’t always easy, but the best things never are. And we really are excited about what the next few months will bring.

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