Conditions…

Another Christmas has come and gone, and I couldn’t be happier that all the holiday madness is over (for the most part!). The kids had a blast!  They opened up all their presents (AT 6:30 AM!), had our new favorite holiday tradition of Christmas Pancakes (just some green and red sprinkles in the batter)IMG_6440.PNG, went to my sisters, and spent time with family.  They haven’t stopped playing with their toys since Christmas morning.  You have no idea how fun it is to pry a toddler off of a balance bike while he grips the handle bars and wraps his legs around it, to the point that you just carry him AND the bike to the changing table and figure out how to NOT get poop on everything.  That LITERALLY happened!  Levi!  And my house is impeccable now that Noah got a mini vacuum that REALLY works. “Come on Nene, follow mama, and you clean, ok!?”  We haven’t had a scrap on the floor, what with the toy “real” vacuum, and our real human vacuum (Austin)!  Mary has been dying to ride her bike, but NY has had less than perfect Holiday weather filled with unseasonably warm weather with loads of rain, and the one day that was beautiful, we were just so busy, but she has flown her remote control hummingbird all over the house, and into ever single wall, sooooo…

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And since we are speaking of Mary, part of her adoption “contract”, if you will, is that her mom would sign over her rights under very specific conditions that have been agreed upon.  The two main conditions (which also have conditions!) are a monthly email with 2-3 pictures of Mary and a brief snippet of what her month has has been like, i.e. “she is doing well in school.  She scored two goals at soccer 2 weeks ago.  We’ll be on vacation next week and she’s looking forward to it”.  Simple as that.  Not über crazy and not too involved.  I get it.  She just wants to know OF her biological daughter, and I can’t say I wouldn’t be the same considering the circumstances.  She also gets a quarterly visit.  One visit every 3 months, 4 times a year.

Initially we thought everyone on our end would be ok with this, but we didn’t consider Mary’s behavior/emotional well being with the continuation of visits, and ALSO knowing that her birth mom has her baby sister and not her has been a real source of the constant PAIN IN MY ASS that I’m dealing with as far as Mary’s conflicting emotions are concerned.  We’ve noticed that this is a continuous cycle with Mary every time she does/doesn’t have visits, or whenever she does/doesn’t see her mom.  The behaviors, the anger, the sadness is the same regardless of whether these visits happen or not.  In August, mom missed her first visit, which led it be a little over 6 months since Mary had any contact with her birth mom.  She was great all summer, up until the week before she knew her visit was coming.  Then mom missed the visit, and all hell broke loose for about 6 weeks, behavior-wise. 3 more months pass.  Mom shows up in November, with a trove of gifts, which of course sends a whole slew of different messages.  And then the ” I really love my mom.  She’s a good mom because she buys me cool and pretty things” conversation happened, which was really hard to reign in because…ego…

I guess the whole reason I’m bringing this up is because her birth mom emailed me back this time, the day after Christmas (even though I send the monthly email on the first of each month, and she never writes back!) to ask for us to please consider inviting her to Mary’s birthday party.  That it would make her year, and that she would want nothing more than to share Mary’s special day.  Uh, EXCUSE ME!?!  Now?!  After 3 birthday invites?  So of course, despite trying my hardest, my alter Petty LaBelle showed up, and the response was so protective and almost guttural, verbatim, “Hi there.  Unfortunately, Mary is have a huge “Adoption Day Party” (her choice) and we’ve decided to forgo a 9th birthday party and will instead be spending a weekend at an indoor water park with her best friend and her favorite cousin.  Hope you have a Happy New Year.  Stay blessed! ~Petty Labelle” .

And now I feel HORRIBLE about it!  I mean, there was other stuff in the email that she wanted addressed (Mary’s current size, her favorite show/activity, what she’s into now [Descendants!], how her holiday was, what she got, etc.) which I had absolutely no issue with, but I was so caught up in the BS of kind of proving she’s OUR daughter now, that I forgot to be kind to her.  I can’t imagine the struggle.  I can ABSOLUTELY imagine what it’s like to not have my children, and it is the WORST feeling I have ever felt just THINKING about it!  And I should have been kinder, but also, the freaking audacity!  The times that we have invited her, she hasn’t shown up.  In fact, she promised Mary a cake, and fell of the face of the earth, so my “guarded” feelings about Mary’s day were totally warranted, but maybe my delivery was a little too much.

I’ll be kinder next time, placing myself in her shoes, but also, by being honest and beginning to address some of the issues we have with her, will communicate what OUR needs are to keep Mary’s heart safe and happy.  My gut tells me that Mary’s mom will be around, and despite everything, so long as the relationship improves and the honesty and trust us there, I’m pretty ok with that. In what capacity she’ll be around is still unclear, but I know their hearts are very connected, and I can’t see myself not honoring what my daughters heart is telling her, but I also know that sometimes we don’t make the best choices when we ONLY let our hearts lead the way.  Life experience is huge, and Mary has had tons but her loyalty is blinding…also, 8 years old!  Mary will learn things in her own time, as she should.  She will develop a relationship with her birth mom at some point, but for right now, we are in charge of those interactions, and reiterating who we are to Mary and to her birth mom, the gentle reminders of “you lost your opportunity to be in charge here” for birth mom, and also trying our damnedest to give love and hope and opportunity to the woman who gave us one of our most precious gifts…

We’ll always be somewhat indebted to her, and we should start reminding ourselves of that a little…img_6441

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18 thoughts on “Conditions…

  1. I’m sure this won’t be the most popular comment, but fuck her mom! If she wanted her kid, she should have done the work to get her back. You can’t have your cake and eat it too when it comes to this stuff, the one who loses is the kid.

    • I agree with this sentiment…for real for real! The thing is finding that balance. Do i feel that her birth mom will ever get it together? No, not completely… But do i feel that she is a good person who made mistakes like anyone else? Of course I do…it’s a really difficult sea to navigate, but I have to remember kindness even when I am expressing how all this BS is effecting everyone in my house. it would be so much easier to just not have her in our lives, but that’s not really our reality, ya know. But, i feel you!

      • We are on the other end of that thought, but our kids were a lot younger at removal so that makes a huge difference. We aren’t aiming to have any required visits at all, we will do email updates. Why put the kids through reliving all that trauma just so their bio parents can see them for a few hours a year? Really, what’s the point? I still want an open adoption so the kids can have an easier time connecting if they want to when they are older, but with very limited expectations

      • That was our goal too, but we also get that Mary is older and understand what is happening and was able to vocalize what her needs/wants are, and it’s important to us to be able to do that for her and honor that (within reason of course). But a frriend has been fostering a little girl who just turned 2 last week, and she’s had her since about 4 weeks old if im not mistaken, and BM just signed over rights to one visit a year, which my friend was not happy about. The baby has NO CLUE who her birth mom is, so in that situation i would say, EFF that BM! She shouldn’t get a damn thing! For what/ More trauma? So dumb! But each situation is different, and Mary is just too aware…

  2. I honestly wish I had your biological family issues. K and Z’s mother is an addict, and she’s threatened the caseworker. K wants to see her again as a “Screw you, look how much better off we are now” thing, which I have no idea how to even begin approaching.

    They both miss their older brother, but he’s in contact with their mom, and her behaviors aren’t really healthy, and I’m terrified of her finding out where we are. I would love for them to having a connect with their biological family, but I have no idea how to go about making that happen… or if it’s even really a smart decision to do so.

    • Oh, this post doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of who her birth mom is. I don’t really put that info out there. That’s her stuff, ya know? But we feel the same way. there have been issues with Mary’s birth family and other foster families,. We’ve avoided it at all costs, even asking the case workers to use out nickname and eliminate our last names. The only reason her BM knows it know is because she had to sign the TPR paperwork that had EVERONE’s offical government names! I’ll be honest, sometimes I think Mary does that too, that “screw you” thing, when she wears her soccer pullover with her new last name on the back to her visit. And her biological half sister is pretty much at home with BM all the time (paternal grandmother has custody and they live down the street, access 8am-9pm with weekends unsupervised) so that’s really hard for Mary too. A lot of resentment…it’s intersting to see these emotions/situations unfolding as time passes and incidents happen…

  3. I can’t imagine navigating the complexities of foster/adoption. You’re needing to balance so many complicated needs and feelings, and there is grief and loss no matter what. I continue to be really impressed with how you do all of this with heart and grace and kindness towards everyone. I hope that, as time goes on, a more clear path for M emerges where she doesn’t feel quite as conflicted, but it will probably always be kind of hard for everyone. Thanks for being who you are!

    • I think that is the hardest part…that wild but sometimes ridiculously scarily calm sea of complex feelings of grief and loss. We grieve for Mary and what she lost every day. But we also grieve for ourselves too. That feeling of never being enough, although fleeting, but very real. I think too sometimes that as foster parents we see ourselves (not US in particular because I feel that being educators of the tiniest humans has made us slightly desensitized to the “we may never see you again” thing) as saviors. And we forget that every one is a human that makes mistakes, some worse than others, and some with definitely more severe circumstances, but human…. Today, I had to put the “love and kindness” stuff to the forefront…thanks for your words friend…

  4. Haha great description of trying to pry a toddler off his bike- know this struggle all too well. I also had to laugh at Petty LaBelle. I’m like a broken record because I feel like I commend you and Callie every time you post about Mary’s mom, because man that is just such a difficult situation. Through the ups and downs and the inconsistencies her birth mom has with her, Mary’s constant always has and always will be your family. You give her the space to explore and vent her feelings and prove to her what unconditional, predictable love is. Petty LaBelle may rear her head from time to time because you are human, but try not to feel too bad when she does, because it’s really just your mama bear side trying to protect your cub.

    • Thank you…i have to remind myself constantly, that like myself, some of these things wont make sense until possibly having kids herself, and that’s ok too! Her HEART will know it, and that’s enough for me….

  5. Ugh, We don’t have this situation, but we have a complicated relationship with Hope’s first family. And yeah, sometimes it is emotional yoga trying to balance everyone’s needs. It’s hard. We sometimes fall short, but we try to do better next time. It’s a journey. And yeah, you KNOW how pretty I am… Girl… Smh. It’s hard done days. 😀

    • I honestly think the “petty” is the hardest part to control. If it was my homegirl, psssh! But this is a woman that could some day go back to my daughter and say, “All those times I tried to be nice to your adoptive mom and that heiffer….” and I don’t want that. So, keeping my cool, and being respectful(?) is the best way.

    • It’s true. And we’ve gotten really good at seeing the signs that Mary is about to have a pretty difficult time. So, we’ll be mindful of that for sure, and I’ll be honest, sometimes, it feels like when Mary’s mom gets custody of the newest addition, she’ll run off and we probably wont hear from her again, although for Mary’s sake, despite all the craziness and feelings, wouldn’t bet he best thing…But yes, we know (for the most part) exactly how to navigate…thank you for the reminder!

    • She responded, but I’m sure, you already know how that response went. “I understand. Holidays are hard. Tell her I said happy birthday. I’ll send more crap with the case worker in 2 weeks” She doesn’t ever really address the real issue here, which has always been her inconsistency. And she will never acknowledge that she is ONLY a good mom when she is PRESENT, which isn’t often. So, ya know, same old. Nothing ever really gets resolved because it’s difficult for me to deal with people that can’t own their ish! When i mention all the times that she has failed to do the right thing, especially after she asks something ridiculous like, “Why don’t you like me”, her counter is always, “It was someone else’s fault” so i can only entertain that for so long. I know this relationship (or lack there of) will take time to mend and restructure, so I’m here and ready for when she grows up.

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