Thursday, September 21, 2006

Not Much

Not much going on in terms of adoption these last few weeks. Just busy with fall activities and school. I did contact White Oak about help with sending Christmas Card and return address, etc. Still not sure. Need to talk with hubby but last two weeks our work schedules have been opposite and alone time has been nill. We did get a wonderful 1/2 day alone together yesterday, but thoughts were elsewhere and I didn't bring it up.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Last night I got out the paperwork from L and showed it to BJ. She glanced at it and looked away and said OK. Totally uninterested.

I said - OK well, you can look at this whenever you want, just let me know.

I talked to my step mom (whose kids are my age and were all adopted - but it was a taboo subject when I was growing up - at least to me who did not live with them). I asked her if my step sister would be willing to speak with BJ about adoption if BJ wanted that at some point in the future, although right now BJ doesn't want because she has never met my stepsister. She said she was sure she would, but how did this come up and why were we talking about it. My step mom tried to be gentle but she came from a different generation and while she was honest with her kids about adoption, I doubt it was ever encouraged to talk about. I know when my step sister was a teenager and going through a rough patch of rebellion, she once told me she wondered if Susan Lucci was her "real" mom and wouldn't that be cool.

Anyway, my step moms said "you know that they say not to encourage too much focus on adoption at this young age because their thinking is fantastical."

I know that kids are concrete and fantasy based until 11/12 when they develop the ability to think in the abstract. I have read many adoptee blogs talk about the adoptee experience of wondering what if I had been with a different adoptive family, the whole arbitrariness of it all.

But, I just kept thinking - if the adoptee is going to think/feel that -they are going to think/feel that regardless if you encourage them to express their thoughts or not. If BJ is wondering or worrying about stuff like that - I would much rather her talk to me about it than fester or feel alone and isolated or insecure.

I do think it might be possible to over do focus on adoption. If every single conversation on every day, or every trouble or triumph was related to adoption - it could get creepy like that movie the royal tannenbaums. But I don't think the encouragement of opennes and my sharing of my thoughts on things as they come up in every day topics is like that. Yes we are talking about adoption fairly frequently, maybe once a week or once every two weeks. Sometimes it might go in phases more or less than that. But BJ and I talk A LOT every day about 10 times as many other things too. There is balance.

I feel confident (most of the time) that for BJ, for her my bringing up of adoption issues as normal life stuff occurs is a positive. That it will allow her to explore and express all of who she is.

I have also had some loving friends question me this week about some of my thoughts and growth in this area. I think that is a positive as well, challenging me to refine, own and thoroughly think through my opinions and decisions. It is very different than someone being alarmed when I bring up the subject.

But the combination of being overwhelmed at work, back to school, BJs grief, the family reaction, and expanding my sharing with trusted friends, it feels kind of weird. The comments that say - amazing - wow, etc are nice but even then it makes me pause and say - why do women who are more proponents of biological connections than I am find this amazing and awesome? The comments from adoptees probably mean the most to me; hearing what they experienced and how they thought about it, or what they think it would have been like to be in BJs place in the converstation is what I crave and is the encouraging ones have been very comforting indeed. I want to talk more with these couple friends, but I feel like shrinking back from the family members. Just not going there, you know? Of course, I want to talk with BJ as often or as detailed as she wants.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

On Reading

I picked up my copy of "Twenty Things Adopted Kids wish their parents knew about Adoption" and just sort of browsed through the chapter titles again. The ones on - I need you to initiate conversations about my adoption, and on I need you to teach me about grieving caught my eye. I don't know if it was in those or somewhere else I flipped ( I have read it cover to cover twice, but it is that kind of book worth coming back to every so often). But something else really hit me.

It echoed something I had read on the blog of more than one adoptee last week. It talked about a great fear of being alone; of all aloneness triggering feelings of being left behind.

BJ doesn't like to be alone. Never has. We live in a three story house, moved here last summer. Our bedroom is on the second floor, the others on the third floor. BJ was having none of it. When hubby was away for work for several months, she slept in my room most of the time, and in the sitting area just outside my room the rest of the time. When hubby came home in January, we tried moving her back to her room again. She hated it. It was a battle. We little by little moved all of her stuff, and now instead of a living room on the second floor, BJs room is out. There is no door, you walk through that area on the way to our room. But she loves it. It now has all her stuff, bed dresser, books, toy box, posters, decorations. She may want privacy when she is older, but for now - close is better. Even in the day or evening, she never goes into another room to play or do something. If she goes out on the front porch, it is only for moments. She always needs to be around us. When I put her down for bed, story, song, hugs and kisses, if I then go back downstairs (mind you again her area is upstairs and the railing/banister looks down over the bottom floor) if she doesn't just conk out, she freaks - hating to be even that bit away from us.

She is generally a flexible kid - not a lot of separation anxiety, has handled our moves well. This is not an inflexible or nervous child. She just doesn't like to be alone.

Tonight, I put her down to bed at 8:30. At 9:30 when I went up for my bath, she was still awake. At 10:30 when I was getting out of my bath, she was still awake. She started telling me that she hates it when I am down stairs because she feels all alone.

So, I took her into my room, and we closed the door and sat down and I said:

Me: I was reading a book today that said that sometimes people who were adopted..
BJ: like me
Me: yes, sometimes they have this feeling whenever they are alone that they feel left behind and abandoned, because that is what it felt like when they were little babies.
BJ: MOM! That books is TRUE! That is what I feel like. I don't like it when you guys go downstairs or when you are not here and grandma goes upstairs.
Me: Is that how you feel inside, or is that some thing I just said and put in your head?
BJ: That isnt just what you said, thats how I feel. All adopted people feel like that too.
Me: You think?
BJ: Uh huh.
Me: OK. So, now we know that you might feel like that even though, I will never ever leave you.
BJ: You might.
Me: No, I won't. Do you think I might leave you because you don't have L?
BJ: Yes.
Me: I don't know everything about L..
BJ: Why?
Me: All I have is what she wrote for you. I will give it to you when you are 18.
BJ: I want to see it now! I want to see her handwriting (can you believe that, a seven year old who intuits how intimate it is to know someone's handwriting)
Me: Ok, I have to go find the papers, you have (activity) tomorrow night, so on Thursday we will get the papers out so you can see her handwriting.
Me: But what I was saying was that while I don't know everything about her situation, I know that some things were different. I don't think L's parents took very good care of her. They didnt keep her from the drugs. Her situation is sad, but it is not my situation. I am not going to leave you. I am not going to get sick with drugs. And I pray everyday that she is getting better. This is part of adoption, some sad - some happy. What happened to L is very sad, but God took that bad stuff and he still used it for some happy stuff. We have each other. And someday, you will have L too.
Me: Honey, did I ever tell you she is a nurse?
BJ: So she has to take care of herself.
Me: I think so. I pray every day she is getting better. And we are going to send her a christmas card
BJ: But she didn't get the card we sent before.
Me: I don't know, maybe she did but she is so sad missing you, or maybe she is waiting for me to send a photo.
BJ: What if she dies.
Me: She isn't dying.
BJ: What if she does, what if she dies one minute ago.
Me: I had a friend who finds people and she helped me and she knew someone like a police officer and that friend of a friend checked up on L and they found some stuff that tells us she is not dead. She is OK.
BJ: Could you call your friend and ask them to check up on her one more time?
Me: I can email her, but I know L is alive honey.
Me: Honey, what I really want you to know is that I will never leave you. I am going to tell you that all the time. I know your heart might not believe it, but maybe your head will. What else can we do to help you feel that I will never leave you.
BJ: When we go to disneyland we need to take walkee talkees. I want to get lost so I know that I can just call you.
BJ: And you can lock me out of the house and I will just walk around.
Me: I am not going to lock you out of the house. I am not going to lose you. I am never going to leave you.
Me: Are you ever afraid to talk to me about adoption stuff?
BJ: No.
Me: That is good. We can talk about ANYTHING.
BJ: But you are not adopted.
Me: Would you like to talk to someone who was adopted.
BJ: No one in our family was adopted.
Me: That is not true - (M's) kids were adopted. Would you like to talk to your Aunt MB? Or would that be weird cuz you don't really know her.
BJ: that would be weird.
Me: Let's see who else do we know that was adopted? My friend _'s daughter _.(BJ looks up)
BJ: Some kids at school know I am adopted.
Me: That is ok - you can tell whoever you want.
BJ: I don't want them to know, I just couldn't keep it in.
Me: You just had to let it out.
BJ: Yeah.
Me: But they are your friends, so that is ok. Is there anything else we need to talk about tonight?
BJ: OK. Can we talk about animals. At sea world there were those manatees that got hurt in their tails.
Me: you need to go back to bed, it is very late.
BJ: I really care about the animals, I want to talk about them.
Me: We can talk about that tomorrow.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Tonight, after bath and laying out clothes for first day of school tomorrow, BJ wanted to watch 10 minutes of TV before going up for story and bedtime. We went downstairs and turned on the Disney Channel. They were showing a movie we have seen a number of times before.

BJ likes the movie... Snow Dogs.

She likes the dogs, she likes the fun. I like the movie too.

Except the first 10 minutes.

See the premise of this show is that the main character was adopted and never knew it until his first mother passes away and he is served with a summons to appear for the reading of the will. THEN his adoptive mother tells him he was adopted (a grown man, presumably in his 30s). He faints, then cuts to a scene on the beach where he wonders if he was meant to be someone else, then cut to the reading of the will. After the reading of the will, a friend of the deceased, asks him if all he wants to do is go through her stuff, and the adoptee asks - do I owe her anything else? She pawned off her kid.

That's the first 10 minutes.

I changed the channel a couple times, talking about how the beginning of the movie didn't have the dogs in it anyway (what she leaves him are her bobsled dogs, her most cherished posession).

We finally ended up back there, with nothing on. I should have just turned it off.
Anyway, I am OK with the part where he is confused and angry I guess. But the whole she never told him and fainting thing, and his confusion. SO not OK for BJ. But again, she has seen this before.

So, sitting there with BJ and hubby and my mom who is visiting. I couldn't not say something. I didn't want to make it a big deal, or turn any mention of adoption into this huge formal conversation. But I couldn't just let such negative messages go by.

So, After he fainted, I just said, sort of in the direction of the TV. He is shocked and surprised because he was never told of the adoption. That is not right, a person deserves to know that. That is why he fainted.

I just don't want messages that adoption is bad, shocking, something to be ashamed of hitting her at this age, and right now where we are just exploring what it means to her personhood. There certainly is enough grief and loss in adoption without media putting it out as something horrible.

My hope and what I work for is that she never has to "re-examine" her life, because her adoptive history will have always been a part of it. She will likely have some "re-visiting" when she shares with L her growing up, but I don't want her to feel like she lived a "fake" life.

For adults, this movie's reaction isn't necesarilly alarming, especially with the set up of not knowing about the adoption until adulthood. And certainly as the film progresses and he learns about his first mother, searches for the identity of his father, and yet embraces and loves his adoptive mother continually - it is an integrated and lovely story. But those first 10 minutes. And 10 minutes is all we had tonight.

It's almost as bad as the Lilo and Stitch movie (which I DON'T let her watch the original, only the tv cartoons) That one had me up in arms. A DISNEY cartoon, where the social service CPS worker is the bad guy, and repeatedly threatens to remove the child from her sister's care after. Who in the world thought that was appropriate for children!!!