We had a visit on Saturday. It was not what I’d expected, and I’ve been sitting with my feelings for a bit, in part because I think they’re upsetting.

We didn’t find out until Friday morning that they were coming, whi9ch was stressful, but we got ready and washed Joey and they turned up a little after noon on Saturday. I had suggested that we go to a children’s museum, but Ruth felt that we should stay in and have “quality conversations” with Cricket. Boy, do I wish we’d gone out—he is thoroughly a manic, screeching two-year-old, and I think that might have worked out better if there had been more room for him to run around and tire himself out. Cricket is bright and engaging and completely besotted with Mr. Book—I’ll follow this post with a few pictures, and there are a few reasons that none of them include me. Cricket was not interested in me or in Joey, and Joey slept almost all day—unusual for him, and possibly a response to my stress.

Here’s the weird/cruddy part: Mr. Book and I discovered that we currently feel pretty neutral about Cricket. As soon as they left (at 6:30, and yet we were exhausted), Mr. Book and I started talking about that. I’ve come up with several possible reasons for the change:

  • Cricket is very clearly someone else’s child at this point. He looks different, has a different diet, and even behaves differently than he would if we were parenting him. He is honestly kind of annoying right now, which is I think partially just his developmental age (constant screeching) and partially their parenting (they have apparently chosen not to teach Cricket about using what I grew up calling an “inside voice”). I’ve heard birth parents talk about it being hard to watch someone else parent a placed child—perhaps this is my version of that feeling.
  • The seven-month gap between visits this time was the longest we’ve ever gone without seeing him. Nora mentioned hearing from someone that at this age, seeing someone once or twice per year is really a lot, and I smiled and thought Oh, please. We don’t see him and the relationship withers.
  • Joey. This might be the most interesting one, and it’s certainly the one I feel worst about. At one point, I was watching Cricket and though, I know what “my son” feels like, and this ain’t it. It makes me wonder how much of my grief was a longing to parent. Let me make something clear: I don’t think this would have happened if we had a close relationship with Cricket. But as it is, almost the entire connection was in my head, being maintained on a wish and a prayer. I can stop worrying about Cricket hating me for awhile; he doesn’t know me well enough to care.

I still feel a strong sense of obligation to Cricket, but I’m tired of having my hand sapped by his moms. Ruth asked whether we’d like to talk to him on the phone some time, and I responded quickly—Love to! Name the time!—and she never mentioned it again. After checking with her about his diet, I made brownies for them (him) at the visit: he wasn’t allowed to have one. Okay, you win. At dinner, Nora suggested that we should Skype with Cricket, and our response was disinterested: maybe. We’ll see. You can’t get us to reach out after nothing again right now. I gave a couple of shirts and a pair of shoes that he’ll probably never wear, and I just feel done. If they want to talk, they can reach out (okay, I did email them visit pictures they’d ask for). I’m not holding my breath.

That said, we’ll still do the same things for Cricket that we have been: holiday cards, birthday and Christmas gifts. But I’m not emailing or calling them, or trying to set up a visit, or even mailing them the pants they forgot here until they say something. I’m at the end of some kind of rope.