A Safe Place to Land

A Safe Place to Land

School is over. Summer break is upon us. All is well in life.

While rifling through everything the boys brought home, I found BigBrother’s writing notebook. He saw me reading it and told me to keep on reading. I read a lot about Star Wars and Pokemon. I read a piece about his best friend.

And then I found a poem.

I see my sister
I hear my sister
I see dogs
I see a pool
I hear dogs
I feel warm and cozy
I smell dogs
I feel sad
I am leaving

I cried over the pierogies and kielbasa I was making. I sent a photo of the poem to Dee, to my husband. They responded in kind.

This is what parenting after placement looks like. It’s finding poetry dripping with love and loss. It’s holding little boys when they cry about missing their sister. It’s answering questions about adoption and permanency and sex and genetic while trying to pay attention to road signs.

We’ve never told the boys to keep their sister’s existence “hush hush.” When we stopped by BigBrother’s scrimmage during their visit out here in April, he introduced her to one of his best friends as his sister. I watched a moment of confusion cross the boy’s face, and then he offered he a cookie.

I’ve seen the look of confusion cross others’ faces. Last year, a family whom we were just getting to know, one who hadn’t been to our house yet, let the look briefly cross their brows when BigBrother announced we couldn’t come over because we were heading to his sister’s house. I don’t wear my “I’m a Birth Mother” pin to the school, on outings, to church, or really anywhere. I don’t own one.

I’m more than one title, one role.

But I do not hide my daughter. Her photo graces the family wall and hangs out in other rooms of our house. I talk of her on Twitter, Facebook, and here on this blog. My employers know her as simply one of my children; she just lives in another house. Each boy has written about her almost every year in their writing journals. She’s their sister. They love her. It’s their life.

I took the poem to BigBrother’s room that night and told him I really liked the way he expressed himself with words. He explained that his reading teacher taught them that technique. I asked permission to share it here on the blog, and he said, “Of course.” He told me to acknowledge his teacher; she really was an asset to his learning this year and I’m thankful she brought poetry into my life.

I’m also thankful he felt safe enough in reading class in public school to write something about his sister. It says something about the atmosphere of her classroom. It says something about the way my husband and I along with Denise and her husband have worked to make a safe place for these kids to discuss and share their feelings, whether they be about adoption or life in general.

I wish they didn’t need to endure the negative aspects that accompany adoption. But it’s their reality. I cannot shield or protect my sons from all the sadness and loss in the world. We’re coming on the second anniversary of my grandmother’s death. Loss and sadness—grief—we cannot escape this life completely unscathed. Yes, oh yes, I’d do anything to take the pain from all three of my children, but I cannot. I cannot do that any more than I can protect them from future loss.

All I can do for all three of my kids is be present. I can answer any and all questions posed of or at me. I can take the anger they feel at the situation which they did not choose and refuse to reflect it back at them. I can be patient. I can be honest. I can show them my own grief and how I process it.

I can be a safe place to land.

I can be a mother to them all.


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I’m Glad I Live With You

I'm Glad I Live With You

I had a day.

Lots of things contributed to the having of the day, but let’s just say that by the time bedtime rolled around, I found myself emotionally depleted.

I climbed into LittleBrother’s bed along the wall and hugged his legs as he worked on the Rubik’s Cube.

Let me pause here and say that the Rubik’s Cube contributed to the having of a day. The cubed object was thrown this morning before 8:30 because one brother wouldn’t believe that the other brother actually got one side to work. I’m gonna burn that stupid block.

I listened to the twisting and turning of the cube, which also works my nerve, thus contributing to the day, and worked to slow my breathing down. I’d started the diffuser in his room while they showered, so his room smelled of citrus-y joy and peppermint. And little boy.

“Can I just sleep here?”

“Yes. Let’s have a sleepover.” He paused. “Can we?”

“Probably not tonight. You still have school tomorrow and I have to work. Though sometime this summer for sure.”

I continued to breathe and he continued to turn the cube. I felt my shoulders let go and the weight of my body sink into his bed. It’s the most comfortable bed in the house, though no one really knows why. It’s where we go when we all want to let the weight of the day melt away. Maybe it’s why he sleeps so well. Maybe I should have a sleepover more often.

As The Day seemed to roll away, the sound of the twisting cube, the dog breathing, the other child talking to himself as he got ready for bed, the everything of every day seemed to fall away in the moment.

“I’m glad you’re my Booey.”

“I’m glad you’re my mom. And that I live with you.”

And slam.

He’s got his sister on the brain as we have a visit scheduled for the near future. I’m sure his eight year old brain, one that had grown in understanding and confusion about what adoption means for us as a family and to him as a person in the family, has been running hard over thoughts and feelings. The past few visits leave him a mess when we come home or when they leave; he understands the permanency, the forever family part of adoption but, looking at the lot of us, he doesn’t understand the why of it all.

Why can’t we all live together as one happy family? Why didn’t my mom just keep my sister? If my mom gets sick again, would she give me up too? Are we safe?

He’s had lots of questions for me lately, ones I won’t share in detail. But he’s processing what family means, what mom means, what siblings mean, what “blood” means, and what family can mean. I answer them as best I can, usually while driving or at seven o’clock in the morning, his knobby knees pushing into my back as he crawls into my bed this time.

He asks questions all the time, about all kinds of things. “Mommy, can I ask you a question,” is a sentence I hear a least a hundred times a day. But when he asks a question about his sister, about my pregnancy, about my health, about adoption, he just blurts it out. There’s not warning. There’s no time to think. It’s just out there, floating above our heads. And the longer I wait, the more his faith in his mom as The Be All And End All ebbs.

And so I answer. I answer as best I can. With age appropriate terms and such. I do the best I can. It’s all I can do, in any parenting endeavor.

“I’m glad you live with me too, Booey.”

It’s true.