OART 22

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

Write a response at your blog–linking to http://www.productionnotreproduction.com/2011/01/open-adoption-roundtable-22.html so your readers can browse other participating blogs–and link to your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is perfectly fine; I’d appreciate it if you’d add a link back to the roundtable. If you don’t blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

One year ago many of us answered the question, “How will you be proactive in the area of open adoption in 2010?”

If you participated in the January 2010 discussion, revisit your post and give us the one-year-later update.

And whether or not you participated last year, tell us about your open adoption hopes or commitments in 2011.

How’d we do?

1. I will find a new model for our relationship with Ruth and Nora: not marriage, not friendship, but something else. I will take into account their wishes and my experiences, and rely less on my hopes.

Heaven knows my hopes of a year ago are no longer steering my approach to the adoption—I’m more cynical and less hopeful. I expect not to get pictures on time, I expect not to see replies to emails for weeks if at all, I expect visits to be cancelled; good things are now a pleasant surprise, which has been a silver lining. I’m trying not to think of this as a permanent change—things could get better!—but for right now, I think it’s what works best for me.

2. I will, with the aid of Mr. Book, figure out how we want to handle the pregnancy we hope for later this year and the baby who will follow in the context of the open adoption. What will our boundaries be? What are our hopes for the relationship between futurekid and Cricket? What are our obligations to Ruth and Nora?

Well, we have a baby now—we’re still working on the boundaries part. My biggest concern right now is about not wanting Joey to be disappointed the way I have sometimes felt disappointed and not letting my grief over Cricket impact him. I think we’ve got a couple of years before these would be current concerns, at least. I hope that the boys will feel like family to each other.

3. I will make very sure that I am not looking at futurekid as a replacement for my lost son—the one who isn’t Cricket, but who Cricket would have been. That potential child is gone forever; I need to be very clear about that before I name another baby.

I genuinely and regularly thank God that this has not been a concern. Joey is himself, and he’s perfect (okay, he has cradle cap in his eyebrows, but that’s within spitting distance of perfect 😉 ), and while he makes me wonder about Cricket sometimes, I am 100 percent not confused; I’m parenting the son who has been gifted to me.

4. I will be supportive of other people in adoption relationships on whatever side; the adoption blogger community has been very kind to me, and I want to give back.

I hope that I have lived up to this—certainly I have felt honored to know more and more of you.

5. I will make our home ready for a baby; I don’t just mean washing onesies. I will be sure that Mr. Book and I are as prepared as anyone can be—he’s going to need to read some baby books, I am going to need to pray, and we’ll do a lot of talking together. At the same time, I will not let myself obsess until I am actually pregnant: no crying when I see pregnant women or babies, no setting up a nursery, no imaging the hoped-for child. I will be present in my life.

Turns out I didn’t have to worry about the wait for too long! We are not babyproofed, but Mr. Book did some reading and we’ve both done a lot of laundry and gotten some practice at things like baths and diapers. There are things I thought we would need that haven’t been used yet—he hasn’t seen the inside of the crib as of today—and things that we’ve needed much more than I realized before (he is just the grubbiest baby, and could grow filthy sitting quietly in a sterile room. The baby bathtub has been a lifesaver). And of course there were things that we couldn’t have been prepared for. Mr. Book told me the other night that he had known (roughly) how hard it would be, and that he had felt ready for that, but that he really hadn’t expected it to be rewarding yet. He has been pleasantly surprised. Even the baby howling in his ear at night, he says, feels like an amazing gift.

6. I will be for Cricket what he wants, or what I think he wants: available, warm, and unobtrusive.

Well. Certainly I have been unobtrusive; I think that I have been available. I have not been warm. I’m still stiff and nervous around Cricket, and I don’t really expect that to be better now that (a) we haven’t seen him in coming up on seven months, and (b) he can have real conversations, which I see as bringing him one step closer to telling me that he hates me. I am nervous about seeing him again, and sort of unfocusedly angry about the long, weird break between visits, and of course not sure whether they’re actually coming at all. I’m not much of anything for Cricket at the moment.

As for the coming year—I’m not sure. I hope to have the boys meet. Modest, eh?

6 thoughts on “OART 22

  1. I liked reading your update. I think it will be a great thing to help Joey and Cricket build their relationship, and I hope/believe that they’ll feel like family. I wish R&N had been dependable in 2010, and I hope they try harder in 2011.

    I can imagine how much you want to protect the boys from disappointment. What you wrote about Cricket starting to have real conversations was poignant, and I can’t believe how long you’ve had to go between visits. This year Cricket may start asking R&N to see you guys, incl. Joey. My final observation is: Mr. Book sounds like an amazing dad.

  2. Having them meet is a great goal! I like it.

    I was a little sad as I read you call Joey the “child gifted to you” which seems to suggest that Cricket never was meant to be yours, wasn’t your gift. Do you believe this? I hope you don’t believe you were simply a vessel for him to make his way to R & N. 😦

    I am sure I read this through my hypersensitive adoptee lenses, but again, it makes me pause.

  3. “he can have real conversations, which I see as bringing him one step closer to telling me that he hates me”

    This comment makes me sad, although I can see (I think) where it comes from.

    I hope I can respond in a way that is understandable and not too kooky.

    I doubt any time soon Cricket will say he hates you, but that could be just a euphemism for a lot of potentially hurtful feelings that Cricket may have and express, or not express.

    When Tomtom was three, this seems to be the pinnacle of the “I hate you” statement esp. following instruction that child has to put away toys, leave/go see a friend, etc. The parenting classes I was going to were telling me to say, “Well that really hurts my feelings, Mommy loves you…” etc. which seemed really problematic to me, as I couldn’t get my head around guilt-tripping a little child.

    Instead, I employed the poweful parenting tool of “nevertheless” which kept us on task and spoke to what I think is the real underlying motivation of that statement, “I hate the power you have over me” It actually worked like a charm. He didn’t start “hating” me again until he was 14, and in what is oddly one of my favorite memories of adolescence he told me that, after I told him to clean his room, not only did he hate me, but all his friends did and I had no idea how many friends he had.

    I didn’t laugh until I was away from him, but nevertheless worked again there. I was totally okay with the entire population of grade 9 at his high school hating me for wanting a tidy home.

    Weirdly, I think I was so secure in Tomtom’s love for me because my own mother did give me away; I knew if I still loved her,how deep and abiding love for one’s mother is. I mean I realize it is different for me because I was the day-to-day parent. The angry emotions I felt toward my own mother were similiar though. I hated the power she had over me.

    While I have never expressed, “I hate you” explicitly to my mother, I am an adoptee who has displayed some very real and I imagine frightening feelings of anger and abandonment. Much to my occasional dismay, I have always loved her.

    I mean she is my mom, as much as I love my adoptive mom, I have a bond with my mom, that has been a source of pain, but she is also the source of my “me-ness” my ancestry, my genetic traits, my physique, my talents, and faults, reaching back to eons before her.

    What I am trying to get to, is maybe instead of fearing an expression of what I would see as anger and hurt vs. hate, is maybe getting used to the idea that children can express hate to their parents, and the parents are okay with it. Not threatened by it. I know it is all very Buddhist and I have no real right to call myself Buddhist because well, I don’t care that much. The contrary and hopefully helpful idea that being hated by one’s children is okay, because well it is mostly temporary and kind of what we are here for.

    I know some people will guffaw or get offended by that last sentiment. I know some people threaten their kids with physical violence if they express angry sentiments at their parents, but I think that is all so unnecessary. I think child vs. parent anger is kind of a required part of healthy growing-up and well, my kid is grown now and he is incredibly grounded and awesome. So maybe I have cred, maybe I am delusional and just got lucky. Either way, Tomtom and I are very close and love each other very much.

    While you and I are very different people, I have shared some of your demons, depression and anxiety, over-thinking etc., which can take a person to some really dark places. I am not in those places now, and in memory they are kind of hard to believe. One memory though, from my darkest night, (there are always those annoying gifts from darkness, pshaw) Nevertheless, one horrible night, I discovered that there is a lot more power in loving than being loved.

  4. Your comment about fearing that Cricket will say he hates you struck me as well. I think it’s because he *could* say that and I know it would hurt you but I don’t think his underlying feelings would really be hate. I know your open relationship with Cricket has been different than my son’s (M) relationship with his first mom (J) so maybe I’m projecting but . . .

    J did not want any openness at first. We really did and slowly, slowly we built a relationship with her. When M was 2 1/2, J invited us to meet her. I was so, so excited and it went great. M seemed excited, too, at the time. After the meeting, though, he started saying he didn’t like J. He didn’t want to look at her picture, he didn’t want to talk about her, he didn’t want to talk about adoption. Just, “I don’t like J.” He’s a precociously verbal little guy, so over time I’ve been able to get a better idea of what’s going on. I think he didn’t feel threatened by the *idea* of J, but meeting a real-life, honest-to-goodness person who somehow had “mother” attached to their name freaked him out. He has said he doesn’t like J because he is scared of her (she’s very nice!) and specifically that he doesn’t want her to “take him away.” It makes me so anxious about proposing another visit with J because I don’t want M to say “I don’t like you” to her — I think it would hurt her and I fear that it would confirm to her that she should have kept it closed. I’ve been taking it slow with M, talking about his feelings towards J and trying to calm his fears, because I really want them to know each other. We have made some progress — he’s more willing to talk about adoption and seems to feel more secure but he does still say he doesn’t like J.

    Sorry, it’s early and I feel like I’m rambling. Just sort of wanted to say to you and to myself, if Cricket does say it? It’ll be okay and it’s not really that he hates you. This adoption stuff is tough, and they’re little.

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