The First of Several

The visit went pretty well. Best news first, the car went over tremendously with the kid. I tore the wrapping paper for him, but he wasn’t really able to figure out what needed to happen next, so he looked up at me and signed <help> <please>. I was charmed. “Of course, Cricket, I’d love to help you get this open!” When I had the car clear of its packaging, I handed it to Cricket—he immediately zoomed it along the floor, and thereafter alternated carrying it around and pushing it across the rug. Ruth said that it was a timely pick, that he’s been trying to push all his toys around recently. So, for the record, his first boyish toy came from us. From me, really. Mr. Book hadn’t even seen it; I tried to talk to him about it ahead of time, but he seemed to find that painful and I desisted. In terms of languages of love, I am the only one of the four of us who has this need to express love with gifts.

I didn’t play with him much; I was more reserved than I had hoped to be. At one point, late in the visit, it was suggested that one of us might read to him. My husband said that I should do it, and I actually panicked. I was trying to hide it behind a jokey sort of façade, but failed pretty completely. Nora read to him. I had three pieces of direct contact with him: I pretended to eat a toy horse for his amusement in the car; he sat in my lap for a bit during dinner; and when he was in the bath, I horsed around with him a bit. I know it looks bad, and I know that Ruth and Nora noticed.

He’s walking now, that funny, shuffling toddler walk; he’s signing clearly, although his signs are somewhat self-created. We went to a park, and there were some college students tossing a football around—Cricket was fascinated, and wanted badly to play. Nora tells me that he’ll be starting soccer this summer. He’s feeding himself expertly, although solely with his hands; I don’t know why, but I had subconsciously expected him to be using a utensil sometimes. Ruth tells me that he’s had a couple of tantrums, so true toddlerhood can’t be far away. While we were still at their house, I (quietly) made my husband promise that we’d never have to come back.

We’ve got two more visits vaguely scheduled: they’ll come here in a month or two, then we’ll go there a month or two later. But right now I am pretending that we won’t have any more visits. In some ways, I hate them. I should be writing a post-visit email to Ruth, being chatting and asking her for a date in April or May, but I’m not. I haven’t been feeling fantastic—nothing interesting, just acid reflux and nausea on and on and on—and am using that as an excuse, but it ain’t a great one. Always before, I have emailed her within 24 hours after a visit.

I imagine I’ll be talking about the visit all week. It’s on my mind. I wish that we’d gotten some pictures, but Ruth and Nora have a camera; we don’t. They brought it with us when we went out, but I don’t think they actually took any pictures, and I didn’t feel comfortable saying “Hey, we haven’t seen him in months, he’s walking and different and I’d love to have pictures of this.” I hate having to ask for things.

10 thoughts on “The First of Several

  1. That’s a lot of emotion in one post. {{{HUGS}}}}

    I’m sorry they didn’t take pictures… to me that seems like a no-brainer, but then I love to take pictures all the time.

    I’m glad he liked the truck!!

    I hope the next visit is easier on you.

  2. Hi, Susie,

    First I’ll echo Andy’s comment – lot of emotion in that post.

    Sorry to hear that it’s so hard for you to be your true self, but, under the circumstances it’s not really all that surprising.

    Also wanted to say that I hope you might consider backing away from the “I shoulds.” The only thing that your should do is take care of yourself and allow yourself the space you need to process and heal. What difference does it really make if you don’t send an e-mail 24 hours after the visit? When you’re up to it is the best time to do it as far as I can see.

    Anyway – I hope that you begin to feel a bit better, but it’s certainly OK to be sad, down, angry – whatever – for a while. Just try not to get stuck there for too long (that’s what my therapist tells me anyway…)

    Thanks so much for taking the time to keep the rest of us posted. Sending healing energy your way.

    Best and peace.

  3. I cannot tell you how valuable it is for me to hear your perspective on visits and your relationship in general. I am an adoptive mom and I know that I would want to know if one of my daughter’s first moms wanted more or different pictures. I really love giving pictures to them. I appreciate you sharing this with us, because it helps me to be more sensitive to things that they might not be comfortable sharing with me.

  4. I want to echo what everyone is saying: should is a pretty destructive word here. Where’s the map? Where’s the guidebook? Oh, there isn’t one. Taking care of yourself is hugely important.

    WHen you want/feel able to reach out via email you will & you could even say you’d love a recent picture in the email to hold the mental picture of the toddling Cricket (so glad he loved the truck).

    I echo Heidi in that I am both all about pictures & feel extremely grateful to you for sharing your experience so honestly; I hope it helps me be a better part of our triad. I am sure in part having thought about your visit this weekend, & wondered, upon our return from a week away, I sent Caroline & her family some updated/toddler-on-vacation photos (also, sent postcards all around while we were away, but I am inherently a correspondent).

    Feel & then also I hope feel better soon.

  5. Y’know, it’s funny–I hadn’t really realized how depressing I found the visit until I started to write about it. Introspection, woo! Thanks for the support, everyone; I did want to mention that a lot of my “shoulds” in this situation come from knowing that Ruth is watching and taking note. I want to present well. I don’t want it to be discernible that I’ve been thinking “Maybe we could just skip these next visits and wait until, I don’t know, later!” I want to appear grateful and gracious. Oh, well.

  6. I suspect that you appear gracious & grateful. I also think you might not realize how grateful Ruth is of you, for keeping connection to Cricket, for allowing him a wholeness that she believes serves him best. If this were really easy/breezy …. it’s not & if she sees/glimpses that, she can take more seriously what a gift you’ve given her, Nora & Cricket, not simply the adoption but the OPEN adoption.

  7. oh susie, I’m sorry this isn’t easier. I’m so glad cricket liked the truck and that you got to interact with him a bit. it must be so very hard. I echo everyone’s sentiments about being easy on yourself. I hope you don’t worry so much about what ruth thinks — truth is, she’s never been in your shoes and you are entitled to feel however you feel. you don’t need to be grateful and gracious all the time, even if they don’t want to hear about the rest of it. I really hope the visits get easier for you. and I agree you can definitely ask for a picture when you email next. also how cool that he is signing so well!

    you know, even though I know our daughter’s birth mom enjoys her visits and we have a very easy relationship, I still wonder how she’s really processing her loss around our contact and visits. I know it must be so hard, but of course I want her to remain in our lives…

  8. Thank you for sharing your raw perspective on your visit with Cricket. As a mother through adoption, and working hard on keeping relationships open with our children’s first families even under sometimes difficult circumstance, I NEED to hear what you have to say, if for no other reason, to understand the hesitancy of the first mothers of my children to “reach in and play” (etc) in the precious few moments we get to see them. It helps me have perspective and also, not give up and most of all, keep working hard at giving space for them to be just who they are, not someone I want them to be for our mutual children.

    It really breaks my heart to hear how you feel watched and in some ways, judged (at least that is what I am hearing) and not the least bit allowed to be yourself at these visits. What’s the use (for their sake and Cricket’s sake) if you can’t be all of who you are.

    And FWIW, as hard as it might be (and as wrong as it might be that you would have to ask), I would ask for more pictures.

    • I did ask for a picture a few days after I posted the entry, in an email containing deeply boring smalltalk–no word yet, but I’m glad that I asked–and glad if I can be of any help to you in your relationships with your kids’ birthparents.

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