Saturday, February 10, 2007

Before and After

Thanks to all who comment and encourage me in this journey. I am not any better of a mom than millions of women who try to put what they believe to best for their children first.

Anyway, here are two more conversations I want to record - they may not be as wonderfully handled as the last ones, but they are part of the ongoing picture of our family life and BJ's developing sense of self as it relate to adoption.

Last week - BJ and I are sitting on the couch with one of those lap desks in front of us. She is really mad at me because I am making her do her homework (I am such a mean mom). She has a lot of math. I help her by talking her through the first few problems then tell her to do the next couple. Won't let her have the TV, won't let her play with the dog,etc while doing her work. She is becoming increasingly frustrated as I intercept her stalling techniques. She really really doesn't want to do this homework due the next day - she is worried about approaching bed time and missing out on tv.

She says: I don't like you; I never wanted you to be my mom. She is shouting and angry, I believe she is angry about the homework right now. I say - people don't get to pick their parents. I didn't pick grandma. She says before I can say even though I am not adopted - but you were born to grandma. I don't want you, I just want L.

Amazingly this actually didn't hurt, I knew she was mad because she was trying really hard not to do homework and I was being fairly successful at taking away every excuse not to do it.

I didn't say anything and she calmed down and did her homework. She finished, had 15 min of TV before bed. As we walked upstairs she started singing, I love you mommy, My mommy is the best.

I said in my teasing voice - sure you love me as long as I am not making you do your math! She laughed and gave me a sheepish grin.

A few minutes ago, BJ was doing cartwheels across the living room. She layed down a blanket on the floor to do them on, the dog ran over and sat down in the middle. She screeched in a whiny voice - get off. The dog did not move. BJ kicked at the dog. I said - "Time Out!! - get on the couch - now!" She has been told before we don't kick the dog. She knew immediately - and started whining - I know I shouldn't but I wanted. I said "Stop" I started to tell her that the blanket on the floor.. she started yelling - I just want to be a normal kid. I don't want to be adopted. A's not adopted. I don't want to be adopted. I just want L right now.

I said - what does not kicking the dog and doing cartwheels on a blanket have to do with adoption?

She started whining again the dog wouldn't get off the blanket. I said please stop whining. She sat on the couch. THen she said can I get up? I said - are you ready to listen to me? She said yes.

I said it is OK to say however you are feeling. It is OK to say that you don't want to be adopted and that you want L. It is not OK to shout at me that you hate being adopted just because you are mad at me and want to get me off what we are talking about.

She said OK. Now she is doing cartwheels again and watching full house reruns. Jesse and Becky are getting married. She turns around and says, whats the thing after you get married? I say the reception? no, the honeymoon? Yes - do you have to go to that? I said,no but a honeymoon is just a nice vacation. Did you and Daddy? I said Daddy had to be at work on Monday so we stayed in a hotel in Lake Tahoe. BJ - Have I been there? - Me - Its up by grandma's - Oh! I am going to ask if I can go there.

Friday, February 09, 2007

She makes an announcement in public

Taking advice from a commenter, I reminded BJ about her comment that her friend did not believe her about being adopted and asked BJ if it woud be OK if I spoke to my friend (her friend's mom) about the fact that we adopted her.

BJ responded in this very casually adult manner, "I would rather tell her myself"


So, tonight we had a community event and these friends were there and we were going out after to get a bite to eat along with another adult that we haven't seen in several months but who both girls like a lot. BJ asked to ride in the car over with the friends. We do this all the time.

We get settled in the restaurant and start looking at the menu. BJ looks up and says MOM! (names of friends) don't believe I am adopted!

I looked at BJ and said in a pleasant upbeat but cautious voice... "You want to talk about this now?" (mostly because I was surprised in front of this other person after she wanted us not to tell ANYONE.)

She nodded yes. So I said, We adopted BJ when she was an infant.

The other two adults at the table's mouths fell open.

My friend said to BJ, I am sorry honey, I thought you were telling a story like when we tell bigger and bigger tall tales. (or something like that meaning I am sorry I didn't believe you but I didn't really think you were lying).

One of them (I don't remember which, maybe both) asked if there was any contact. I said no- it is a closed adoption through the county.

I said to my friend, I had never said anything because when we moved here BJ asked us not to. She is old enough, this is her story to tell.

Both friends immediately told me of people in their lives who were adopted and say they never want to search.

(I was a little surprised, I am used to the question about contact but not the assumption that not searching is something to be praised or somehow would be an encouragement)

I responded: "Well, I have a lot of information so when the time comes and she is ready, we should be able to have contact - we just don't right now. I actually hope she will want to have a relationship." There was a bit of silence as they digested that - nothing uncomfortable just a new approach for them, I guess. I felt the need myself to add something, and said "You see, I have a brother and two sisters that have a different mom. My brother was in and out of my life growing up but my sisters were raised in another country. I grew up with that feeling that there was this family, - out there - somewhere, and wanting that connecton. So I want that connection for her someday."

The two girls by this time were bored with the conversation and were drawing on menus, playing games and picking their meals. The waitress had been by 3 times and we hadn't really looked at the menu.

I told my friend - "now that you know, you will start seeing things around the house and wondering how you missed it. It's not a secret, its just part of our family story. there are plaques on the wall (the adoption announcement) and scrapbooks that cover the adoption stuff. And you will start thinking about how I have never talked about a pregnancy or giving birth, how I have said when she arrived, etc.

Both of these women care about BJ a great deal and I know they wanted to ask more questions but were very sensitive to the fact that I was letting BJ lead what we spoke about and my checking. They kept a positive tone of voice and were affirming to BJ and I am thankful for that.

I am sure BJ listened to every word, I don't know what she will take away from their first reactions about not searching and my response supporting contact. When we were home and getting ready for bed I asked her how she felt about the conversation about being adopted. She said good,again with an upbeat tone. I didn't ask anymore.

I know my friend and she will have questions when it is just us, and that is fine. I know she was quite surprised. I forgot this in the retelling above, but one of the first things she said was... but she looks SO Much like your husband. I joked and said - gee thanks!

(like and not me? )- BJ does look a lot like me in general, if you look at specific features and compare to either hubby or I, you see that its not there -but most people I have found don't do that - BJ's coloring is smack dab in the middle of hubby and I, her face shape is generally like mine and her eye color is somewhat like his, so separate from adoption people comment on how much she looks like us and I have a couple baby pictures where we look a lot alike at the same age. I think that it might be possibe one of the reasons I have been so obsessed about getting a photo of L, other than having read that is the#1 question teen female adoptees ask (do I look like her), is that I want to see some of those features, and I want to see if we look like L ourselves.

But then I told them that while at first I found it offensive in the abstract, that the sw assigned to her had 5 home study certified families that the staffing had all found as good matches, so she actually sat down with photos and just chose the family that looked most like baby. While in general it doesnt seem right, I was glad we were picked for her - even if it was something as silly as hair color when hers fell out and changed color and mine was died at the time.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

We Just Can't Help It

So, on the way to church this morning BJ says to me, my friend S is small. I reply without thinking, Yes, but so is S's mom. BJ looks at me with her big eyes and this long expectant pause.

I say - do you want to hear this? Do you want to know about L?

BJ says yes. No heaviness, just yes. So I proceed.

L is (height) which is about the same as me, she is very slender - so you will likely be as well. She has (color) hair and (identifying mark). BJ giggles at identiying mark.

I said, I know, I think that kind is sort of cool. I don't personally care for tatoos, but I think that choice is sort of cool.

BJ: How do you know this?

Me: From the form she filled out for you.

BJ says - I want to ask you ONE questions. ONE Quesion?! She is animated and joyful.
OK, whats that.

What is L's birthmark (BJ has a small birthmark that in a place she can't see easily but its come up a few times in the last six months). I don't think she has one, or if she does its not on the paper. When it asks about identifying marks, that is where you would put it, but she just wrote the identifying mark. (confused look from BJ) Not everyone has a birthmark honey, I don't have one.

Conversation ends naturally and peacefully as we pull into the church parkinglot. BJ and I get out of car and she grabs my had as I walk and she skips into church.

I guess following her lead means minute by minute :)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

What do I say about this?

BJ told her best friend that she was adopted. Friend didn't believe her. I didn't hear the conversation. BJ just told me. BJ's friend's mom is a good friend of mine who doesn't know that BJ is adopted because last summer BJ asked hubby and I not to tell anyone she was adopted.

I don't know what to say to BJ. When she told me, I just said does A know what adopted means? BJ said ... YES MOOOOOOOM!

I am waiting for my fried to ask me, but she hasn't so apparently A didn't say anything to her mom. If mom asks me, I will obviously be open and honest. But I didn't expect that reaction for BJ.

Mansion full of big kids

Driving in the car (of course):

BJ: I wish we had a big house like that one.
Me: We need to be thankful for what we have. We have a nice house - its nicer than what we had in San Diego.
BJ: yeah, but (friend's) house is like out of a magazine.
Me: there will always be people who have more than us and people who have less than us. The point is to be glad for what you have.
BJ: When I grow up I want a Mansion
Me: Ok - study hard in school, work hard - save your money - you can have whatever kind of house you want.
BJ: I want a house like THAT (there are a lot of new "McMansions" popping up in our area)
Me: are you going to get married AFTER COLLEGE and have a lot of kids to fill up a big house like that?
BJ: I might not have kids.
Me: That is a lot of house for one person.
BJ: I might adopt... first four big kids and then two little kids.