The wonderful holiday season.  Too much to do with too little time.  Spending time with family and friends (for some that is good for others – not so much).  The joy and the innocence of children at this time of year.  The pain that this time of year brings to many.   The weight that this time of year adds.  Good thing there are New Year’s resolutions 🙂  Personally, my holidays have been filled with joy.  Watching my 4 precious boys during this time of year is pure joy.  I believe that this is my last year to have them all believe in the magic of Christmas (big sigh) so I am sucking up every last morsel of this year before the maturity of next year.  Very, very, very behind with my work but somehow it is all okay.  I hope everyone out there had a wonderful holiday season.  I hope that those in pain are on a healing path.  Happy Holidays!  I will be back soon.

Do you ever feel that this whole adoption thing is a battle?  First, there is the battle for the possession of the child.  Then, their is the battle for the loyalty of the child.  From my own personal observation, it seems that adoptive parents are the ones starting the wars and picking the battles (not all adoptive parents).  First, there is the battle for the physical possession of the child.  Adoptive parents who choose domestic adoption must first be nice to potential birthparents.  Some adoptive parents skip this part of the battle by choosing international adoption.  Don’t deny the truth of this.  Do you know how many times I have heard, “We chose xy country because we did not want to have to deal with birthparents.  We did not want to have to have contact with the birth parents after the adoption.  We want OUR child to know who his/her REAL parents are.”  Those comments are the subject of an entirely different post so they won’t be dealt with at this time.  Once the adoptive parents have won the initial battle and the child is in their possession, their true motives become evident.  Maybe they promised to send pictures and letters but they do not fulfill their obligations.  Maybe they send “pictures” but they make sure that they are out of focus or tops of heads are cut off.  Why?  Because they view the birthparents as the adversaries!  The birthparents are trying to steal the loyalty of the child.  Which brings us to the next battle, the emotional possession of the child.  This battle is “won” by making sure that the child grows up understanding that their loyalty must be with the adoptive parents.  Adoption discussion is tolerated only on a superficial level.  Searching would be a treacherous act.  After all, the birthparents are evil enemies who would only corrupt the child.  Seems to me that if these adoptive parents could only understand one basic fact, birthparents are not adversaries.  In most cases, birthparents are making the difficult placement decision because they want to provide their child with the best possible life.  They enter into the adoption process with good faith, and sometimes they are slapped in the face.  Why wouldn’t they be bitter?  Why wouldn’t they be on the defensive?  If adoptive parents would just realize that it is in the best interest of the child to honor that large part of the child that comes from the birthparents.  If adoptive parents would just realize that by honoring birthparents they are honoring the child.  Maybe then they would begin to realize that the honor and respect that they show to the birthparents results in a closer bond to the very child that they are so fearful of losing.  Maybe if they would stop viewing it as a battle then a wonderful period of peace could occur.

Disclaimer:  There are many wonderful adoptive parents out there who truly honor the child and the birthparent.  This post is not aimed at them.  There are birthparents who are abusive/neglectful and contact would not be advised.  I am simply speaking about many situations that exist.

Thanksgiving is often a time of reflection. What things in your life are you thankful for? I AM TRULY thankful that my birthmother chose adoption for me. Why is gratefulness by an adoptee often viewed as a bad thing? I have so much admiration and respect for my birthmother’s willingness to make that decision. She was already parenting a son and she knew that she was not doing right by him. My brother has told me stories about his childhood with her. About the times when he could barely get her to wake up because she had ingested some substance. About the times when he was very young and he was left outside playing alone in the dark while she was in a room with a boy with the door shut. He has many similar stories. My brother has struggled most of his life. Much of that is because of the parenting that he received. He is trying to decide what path he wants to take in his life. For the first time in his life, he is thinking of long term goals. He knows that he has wasted away more than 10 years by abusing drugs and alcohol. He has struggled with relationships. I know that my fate could have been the same, but it wasn’t because my birthmother made such a huge sacrifice. I love my life. I can’t imagine life without my wonderful husband and my 4 precious boys. So yes, I am thankful that I am adopted. And yet…. I am still so envious that my brother knew, really knew my birthmother. He knew her smell, her voice, and her laughter. It pains me at times to know that he knew her touch, her hugs, her kisses. There it is, the but. I am thankful but… It does not make me any less “grateful”, but oh how I wish I could have known her, talked to her, TOUCHED her. The feel of her arms around me would be heaven. I wish I knew if she ever held me. Her touch, that is what I grieve the most. I so wish she could know my boys, my treasures. I wish I could know her personality, not just hear what she was like but truly know her. I wish, I wish. But….since she is dead, it will never be. Thankful, but….

I remember that I was around 5 1/2 years old when I began to have unexplained medical problems. I remember doctor appointments and even staying overnight in the hospital for testing. I even remember some of the testing that was done. My mom has told me that they were sent to a therapist. He thought that I might be having some attachment problems. A potential problem that my mother promptly dismissed. She has told me many times about how dumb the therapist was. I know that the problems persisted for at least 6 months before they finally went away. It was cold when it started and I remember the testing continuing on at least through the summer. The cause was never found, but I have found it now. Adoption was causing my problem. I attended an excellent seminar last week. The seminar focused on attachment, grief in children, and the mind-body connection. It was wonderful! The speaker was discussing how children grieve anew throughout different developmental levels. She pointed out the fact that around the age of 6 children begin to understand the concept of subtraction. Children get the concept of addition earlier than that. In other words, children suddenly are able to understand (although they are not able to verbalize their thoughts and feelings) that not only did their adoptive family welcome them into the family but that someone gave them away. Often adoptees around this age will have behavioral changes and even unexplained physical ailments. A-ha! Thirty years of wondering solved with a simple statement. Relief! The presenter went on to stress how important it is for adoptive parents to help the child process the grief at the different developmental levels. I am not upset with my parents for not helping me understand what was going on at the time. How could they help me when they did not know. They were busy doing what the “experts” at the time were teaching them to do. It is amazing how liberating knowledge is.

After many prayers and 2 miscarriages our gift was turning 1!  We wanted to celebrate our son.  We knew this would be our last child so we went all out.  The guest list blossomed and before we knew it, it was a huge party.  My parents did not think that they were going to make it, so I did not worry about the fact that I had invited some of my biological relatives.  Of course what happens, suddenly my parents were going to be able to come.  Now I need to clarify something, and it gets confusing.  My biological cousin married a woman from a family that my parents knew.  My parents actually taught one of her brothers.  One of her brothers toilet papered my parents’ house and then when my parents caught him in the act they invited him in for hot chocolate.  Did you catch all of that?  So, my parents would know my biological relatives when they saw them.  My husband and I decided that if my parents had a problem with my biological relatives being there then it was their problem.  It gets so exhausting to try to keep the 2 worlds separated.  Besides, this was our celebration and we wanted them there.  Of course, I was very nervous about what would happen.  My mom’s reaction was as expected.  She did not acknowledge their presence.  My dad’s reaction surprised me.  He was so kind and spent a lot of time talking with them.  I could not believe it.  I have never loved my dad more than I loved him at that moment.  I was so proud of him and I felt so loved by him.  I told him later how much it meant to me.  It made me feel closer to him and it made me desire a closer relationship with him.  The perfect end to a wonderful celebration.

I frequently meet with adoptive parents who are in the process of adopting a child of a different racial and/or cultural background. Many of these adoptive parents are of the mindset that love is all it takes. They are ignorant of the importance of helping their child learn about their birth culture or their racial background. “Race does not matter to us.” That is a frequent quote from these parents. It may not matter to you, but it will most definitely matter to your child. I believe that it is important to open your eyes to the racism that exists around you. My 7 year old came home the other day singing a song that basically stated that Chinese people were dumb. He sang it in front of a mom who was driving carpool that week. We had a quick educational discussion in front of this mom. I then asked my son where he learned that song. Guess what, he learned it from that mom’s children. She obviously heard it and did nothing to correct it. I am glad that she heard me correct him because maybe it dawned on her that she should be teaching her children differently. Just a small example. Anyone who thinks that racism does not exist is living in fantasy land. If you are going to adopt a child of a different racial background then you must be willing to open your eyes and to be willing to help your child learn how to deal with the racism that he/she will face. Don’t believe me, read some of the blogs written by adoptees who were adopted transracially. They are powerful and eye-opening if you allow them to be.

I have several adoption related posts brewing in my head but I just have not had the heart lately to write them.  My very good friend delivered her quads prematurely (26 1/2 weeks).  Yes, they are the result of fertility treatments.  Two of the babies are doing great, one of the babies is doing very well, and one of the babies is not going to make it.  He has had severe brain damage.  Watching my good friend lose her longed for child is heartbreaking.  I hurt for women who struggle with infertility issues.  I hurt for my friend.