Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Open Adoption and All of its Implications

Open adoptions are really becoming the norm these days.  Twenty years ago, it was still pretty common for the majority of adoptions to be closed, but research has found that route isn't the healthiest of options, in most cases.  I'm all for an open adoption.  We have two of them.  But, they aren't without their risks or pain.  We all want to be honest with our children, and I think more often then not, a little painful honesty is better than a bunch of softer lies.  I think kids tend to deal with the pain and move forward, knowing they can trust you more.  But it is hard.  Don't think it isn't.  It is hard to answer questions from your young child when the completely truthful answer would involve some form of "they don't want to see you," even if that is soften with a hundred logical, understandable reasons as to why.

I am not judging the birth families in any way.  Please know that.  I know there are circumstances.  But young children only comprehend so much about the whys of things.  And they internalize everything.  Everything is because of them, for good or for bad.  They don't understand that a person has an illness or great pain that prevent them from being a part of their lives, or from even wanting it.  What they really think is "I must have done something wrong for them to not want to see me."  

I have two sweet, loving boys who have close biological relatives who, for different reasons, don't want to see them.  When an adoptive family decides to accept an open adoption, there is some trepidation.  We did have concerns about an open adoption.  We worried about what kind of influences the biological families would bring, what kind of lifestyles they lead, and if they would ever say or do anything that would be hurtful to our boys.  Keep in mind both of my boys were drug babies, so these are real concerns. In the end, we decided the risk was worth it, and that they would have the opportunity to see for themselves, unbiased and unfiltered, and either have a desire to continue those relationships, or not.  The decision would be theirs. 

I stand by that decision.  And, we have great relationships with some of these family members.  But, there are those that we have no relationship with.   And, oh, when your child asks about those things, it can break your heart.  There are a few relationships I have not informed my oldest about yet, because he would be heartbroken to know about them and know they don't want to see him.  But, I have to tell him at some point.  I haven't lied to him, I just haven't told him everything yet, and that is the challenge we are faced with, too.  I am trying to protect him with just enough armor that he can be safe but still be able to move and grow and fight his battles. He is an extremely sensitive child, with a thousand questions on the tip of his tongue at any moment of the day.  He has a solution for everything....a way to fix EVERYTHING (at least in his mind).  But, he can't fix this.  He can't fix others.  He can't make them love him or want to see him.  Nothing he could do would make them change.  But he doesn't know that.  He still thinks that if thinks it should be so, then the world should bend to make it so.  And that it WILL bend to make it so.  I hope  he will understand someday that some people just struggle and it's not because he has done anything wrong.  I hope he can eventually sort through these relationships and deal with the damage in a positive way.  That he can sort it out and put it in its proper place in his life.  No bigger or smaller than it should be.  And I hope someday those people will decide that knowing this amazing boy is worth it.  It is worth any amount of pain.  It is worth facing guilt and heartache to know him.  He is worth it.  But, for now, we take it one question at a time.  One sensitive, yet honest answer at a time.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

It Has Only Taken Seven Years

Celebrating the completion of Ninja
Camp with an ice cream cone.
Something happened last week that hasn't happened to me in six years.  July 7th came and went without me realizing it.  it came and went and I forgot to be sad.  7/7/7 was supposed to be a lucky day, and as one that has always read a little to much into signs, I thought that it was an extra big sign that we would be given a child with that birth date.  I don't know what happened.  Maybe it was the craziness of returning from a twelve day vacation with family in Texas.  Maybe it was Summertime or sleep deprivation or loads of work to do.  Maybe it was my recent obsession with Brendan Coyle, leading me to Google/Youtube/Hulu/Netflix everything he has ever acted in so I could watch for hours as I worked in my shop into the wee hours of the morning.  Or maybe the recent finalization of S's adoption....miracle #2....has finally settled my heart.  Whatever it was, it took four days for me to realize Isaac's birthday had come and gone, tearfree and without the longing I often feel for our first son.  It's amazing how someone can be with you for only five months and losing them can cause years and years of grief.

My little guys share a birthday, in a crazy twist of fate.  I have two little left-handed boys born on the same day four years apart.  Maybe I got my sign after all.  They are the best.  They both have their own adoption story full of joys and sorrows.  D is five now and we have already had discussions about his adoption. S is one year old and oblivious to the  miracle of how he came to us.  But, someday we will start talking about it.  Someday soon.  It's a good thing.  Not without it's challenges, but nothing worth anything comes without a challenge.

My first ice cream cone
I tackled a fear this morning.  I did on ocean swim in preparation for a triathlon.  I love the ocean but I'm afraid of sharks, especially swimming out past the breakers.  I did it though, and I felt great for so many reasons.  I'm 43 and I'm running Ragnar and doing an open ocean swim.  I live in a beautiful place with two little boys that I wasn't sure were ever going to be a part of my life.  I will always miss my Isaac, but I am learning to see the joy and to keep moving forward, tackling life's challenges and relishing its opportunities.   I am learning to accept the pain of losing my baby and the fact that it will always be there, but it is a reminder that I have the capacity to feel love, and I don't regret that.  And this year, as his birthday came and went without a thought, I am learning that time really does heal us.  Or maybe its my two beautiful boys that are healing me.  Or my three beautiful boys teaching me, even if one is teaching me from a long way away.  It's only taken seven years.  Another number seven.....maybe it's a sign.   Happy belated birthday, sweet baby Isaac.