Thinking an Answer

Mia wrote:

Do you feel like Ruth kept her unusual personality under wraps when you were getting to know her prior to Cricket’s arrival, or is it more like she’s only weird/super protective about Cricket-related things, so there wasn’t anything to notice back then?

This comes on the heels of a strong desire of mine to ask her what, at this point, her ideal adoption would look like: What does she really want from me/us? I might ask, if I can think of a really neutral way to put it. I’m just curious to know how they want it to go, or what they wish we were doing differently. We talked about this stuff before the adoption, but looking back, we were all speaking in such vague terms that it was almost meaningless. I don’t mean to blame any one of the four of us—although I’m happy to blame the agency, a bit—because we had no idea what we were doing, either we expectant parents or those hopeful adoptive parents. They said that they wanted their kids’ birthparents to be like a part of their extended family, and that sounded pretty good; it didn’t occur to us to ask or them to tell what their relationships with their extended family looked like. We set some minimum levels of contact to go into the agreement, and I think those were reasonable.

One of the lousier things about the way our match worked was that I ended up telling them a lot of lousy things about myself (in case Cricket would inherit them) while trying to remain likeable, and they didn’t tell me any lousy things about themselves. Why would they? So I am saying: I’ve struggled my entire life with depression, the hospital kind; I have ADD; no, I smoked pot a few times in college (to help with the side effects of antidepressants, mostly), but I am not a drug user. And they are saying: We are friendly people, committed to contact, and we have a dog. Here are our wedding pictures. Come to our baby shower. I did see parts of Ruth’s personality that mostly impact me in a negative way now, but they were being implemented in really positive ways; she can really take charge of a situation and get things done, and there were times in the pregnancy when I was incredibly grateful for that. It is her ability and desire to control a situation that makes her incredibly effective when it’s called for, and I saw that ability without really seeing the desire, because she was very careful not to pressure me. She understood that she could not control my pregnancy or my decision, and while there were a few times when she would make an effort in that direction, by and large she was very careful—not to trick me, but to be a respectful and ethical person.

But now that Ruth is a mother, and doesn’t have to worry about pressuring me, she can work to get the control she desires. I think if I’d lived with them for the last trimester, I would have seen more of what she is like, but we just didn’t spend enough time together for that to come across. There are still things, major things, that they don’t know about my personality—I don’t think that those things affect the adoption, but there are things about myself that I keep private. I really wanted to be close friends with them, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, so I will probably continue to keep things back.

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4 thoughts on “Thinking an Answer

  1. I did a lot of care-taking during C’s pregnancy & there was a great moment when she said, “Ah you like to take care of everything & everyone” & I loved how she got my number! What you’re talking about here too is the imbalance of one family “having” the baby (possession 9/10ths of the law or whatever) … & I wonder how the different pieces, personality, imbalance of power or baby or whatever, along with how to forge a good relationship given all that comes together in many different open adoptions. In that way, this endeavor of open adoption is such uncharted territory, family by family still without too many landmarks or maps or whatever navigation metaphor we could choose.

    And every family has something “bad” or hard. That’s just the case. Whether you know what it is or not!

  2. “They said that they wanted their kids’ birthparents to be like a part of their extended family, and that sounded pretty good; it didn’t occur to us to ask or them to tell what their relationships with their extended family looked like.”

    I can imagine that’s a problem in lots of adoption relationships, maybe in any kind of major relationship. Who knows what to really ask the first time around? When I met my husband, he said he had a great relationship with his family. Only as time passed did I realize that in his family, you can have what to you is a “great relationship” with people and phone them only 3 or 4 times per year, and almost never visit. In my family, not calling someone for a week is pretty much the equivalent of sending them a telegram saying “I don’t love you”, so there was no way I could have known that in other families, people who really do adore each other could be so uncommunicative.

    As far as asking Ruth and Nora what their ideal would be, I think that’s a neat idea. Maybe having to think about what they want enough to put it into words would help them hone in on what’s really important to them. And it seems they’d kind of have to ask you for your ideal, too.

    • Mia – I feel like we’re from the same family!

      My boyfriend thinks he’s close with his Mom. They talk every several weeks. Huh??? My Mom and I talk almost every day and I think she’s under the impression that’s not enough!

      So yeah, he QUICKLY got used to what being a “close” family means to me – meaning he’s always at a bbq, kids birthday party, karate belt test, or some such event where my Nana can grope at him.

      Because that’s what MY extended family is. And I would think that’s what “treating like extended family” means. Contact. Togetherness. Not just adoration and love from afar.

      Very interesting in the context of adoptive/birth family relationships. Thanks!!

  3. i hear the song you’re singing re: Ruth not appearing as she seemed early on. 2 lunches does not equal enough time (from my experience, anyway) to get a clear picture. everyone is on their best behavior. it is not indicative, AT ALL, of “real life”. i’ve learned the hard way about holding back info. i really wish you could relax and not have to worry about Ruth & Nora during this time.

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