These Are the Days to Remember

I turned 35 today. We actually celebrated with cake and singing the other evening since my daughter and her mom had to leave after lunch today to return home.

I made a wish. It’s the same wish I’ve made every year since my oldest son came into the world.

I’ve written about how special days like holidays and birthdays feel bittersweet without my daughter present. Her birthday, obviously, is the worst. Followed by Christmas, the boys’ birthdays, and then my own. I like when I’m surrounded by all of my family, even the extended ones. It just feels right. So when she’s not with us, it feels… not right.

Our first visit occurred the weekend before my birthday. She was just four months old, a smiling little blob of a happy baby.

But it wasn’t on my birthday. My husband, then fiancee, and I drove away in our green mustang. It was my second experience driving away from my daughter, but it felt a thousand times worse than the first time. I cried so hard when we left that visit; it’s a long drive from the eastern side of Pennsylvania to mid-south-east Ohio. I felt empty, lost, angry, scared, and amazed all at the same time. I also had no one really to help me process what any of that meant as the facilitator didn’t offer me post-placement counseling, nor did they think that post-placement visits were “good.” They didn’t even really tell us they were an option.

It’s been many (many!) years since that first visit. And for once, it just so happened my daughter was able to stay and celebrate with me on my birthday.

And so this morning, my wish came true. All three of my children piled in my bed and wished me a happy birthday.

Best Birthday Ever (open adoption) -stopdropandblog.com

It’s likely I’ll never need another gift again, though she made me a great piece of clay art that will reside on my desk. (My office is becoming quite the art place!) I felt so whole and so loved this morning, the feeling of her leg against mine, my boys smooshed up against my other side. I’ve never “minded” my birthday, always celebrated it as another year around the sun, something to really cherish.

But this year? Takes the cake. Literally.

(Then the three women folk went shopping and had lunch and bought all of the Chucks in the world. Best. Birthday. Ever.)

 

Love is in the FLAIR at ModCloth

Got Adopted

Forever -stopdropandblog.com

This week a friend of mine finalized the adoption of a gorgeous little boy she’s fostered since he was only a few weeks old. You don’t need to know the intimate details of his story. You only need to know that this was a case in which the system worked. A little boy needed a family. He now has one. Forever. It was truly a happy day, and as the pictures popped up on Facebook, I cried happy tears, sent congratulations, and generally felt a sense of peace.

Later that night, my four person family unit sat around the dinner table. We talked our normal dinner table talk. Who did you sit with at lunch? What did you do at recess? Did you learn anything new? Was everyone kind today? And so on.

Knowing that LittleBrother’s best friend was absent, due to being the Big Brother of the Little Boy who was just adopted, I asked if his best friend was there. Yes, I ask leading questions. All good parents do.

“No, he wasn’t there. Baby B got adopted today.”
“I know! Isn’t that great.”

BigBrother looked at me like I had twelve heads.

“He got adopted today?”
“Yes.”
“So, like, he’s gone?”

And that’s when I realized that the children of birth parents don’t automatically associated adoption with staying put. Instead “got adopted” means that the child in question went away to be with a different family.

I instantly felt nauseated. I wondered if I could have avoided this conversation by talking more about what foster care means over the past year we’ve hung out with Baby B and family. But then that confuses things a little more for them, doesn’t it? If foster adoption means that a birth mother isn’t able to care for a child because of something she has done, does that mean that all birth mothers are poor parents? As adults, we can see the holes in that line of thinking—or most of us can—but at ten, the world is a little harder to understand.

So far my sons have associated adoption as a good thing that has bad sides. Their sister lives in a loving, permanent home with parents who welcome them as extended family. They know that they miss her, but that she is definitely part of their family as they are part of hers. It’s hard sometimes, but we all work through it together.

They don’t know that people judge me, their everyday mother, when I say that I’m a birth mother. They don’t know about the association to drugs, alcohol, or addiction in peoples’ minds. They don’t know that people, mostly of the pro-life camp, tell me I shouldn’t be sad because I “chose this” and “should have closed my legs.” They don’t think that I’m a bad mom, unworthy of parenting any children. They don’t view me as a danger. They don’t yet understand the unethical Baby Scoop Era or the ethical problems that still exist within adoption.

They just know that adoption took their sister and sometimes that sucks.

After I choked on my food for awhile, I began to explain.

“No, he didn’t go anywhere. Baby B will now stay with their family forever. Baby B’s birth mother couldn’t parent him for whatever reason, just like Mommy couldn’t parent Munchkin because I was so sick at the time, so Baby B’s mom took care of him until they could get all the papers in order and adopt him today. Now he will be there forever.”

More discussion went down. More processing happened. And not just for the kids, but for me, too. We’ve talked a lot about what adoption means in terms of their sister living with another family. But we haven’t talked a lot about their other friends who are adopted, and there are a number of them. I need to be more proactive at discussing the other side of things, if only so they don’t look devastated over dinner.

BigBrother got to make faces at Baby B while we were waiting for LittleBrother and his best friend to get baseball photographs taken this evening. In the car later, he spoke up.

“I’m glad that Baby B was adopted. I’m glad he’ll be here forever. He will just be part of our friend group, too, even though he’s younger.”

Yep. Forever.