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.