Amanda Comments

Hi Susie!

I’m gonna go right out and say what I think pretty bluntly, so excuse my frankness.

As an adoptee, I would suggest future visits (or at least the next 1 or 2) be *without* your other children. Your young children, if they are not informed of the visit, will not miss this occasion to see their brother. Cricket, on the other hand, is most likely already aware of your distance. Yes, your first obligation is to your kept children. But a more logistical and immediate obligation to them does not nullify your obligation to Cricket. You are still his mother. Not his only mother, mind you, but one of them! And it disheartens me to see him consistently take a back seat to the needs of your kept children. Seeing him alone will likely eliminate his aggression, and will let you concentrate on HIM. The visits are about HIM.Not about your kept children, not about Ruth or Nora. They are about you, your husband, and Cricket. Leave your other kids with a babysitter for now- they cannot bond with Cricket at the moment anyway, given Crickets lack of enthusiasm for younger kids. You don’t have two children, you have three. Cricket has already been placed for adoption. Please stop giving him the short end of the stick.

One problem is that visits are likely to be two or three days in length; Joey has been away from me for one entire day ever, and he was a mess afterwards, angry at me and at his grandparents for a long time. I think it’s easy to say “leave them with a babysitter,” but in fact the boys have never been away from family, and I’m not comfortable leaving them with anyone but family for the foreseeable future—and that not for long—and their grandparents work full time and have their own schedules that don’t usually lend themselves to the addition of two small boys for longish periods of time. Mr. Book and I have talked about trying to visit with Cricket for a few hours without the littler boys, and I’ll pitch that idea to Ruth, but that would be the limit. Another problem is that Cricket is interested in his brothers, has asked about them every time we spoke over Skype or the phone, and according to Ruth likes my letters best when I talk about Kit and Joey. He wants to see them, even if in practice he doesn’t handle it very well. And still another problem is that in fact the visits do have to be about Ruth, at least to some extent, because keeping up a relationship with her is the only way to maintain any kind of a connection with Cricket.

I do want to do more for Cricket, and work on getting closer to him—I think I’ve made that clear in previous posts—but I am absolutely unwilling to let Joey and Kit’s needs take a backseat to his. He has three parental figures at his homes up north (Ruth, Nora, and Nora’s live-in girlfriend), all of whom are able to put his needs ahead of those of any other child; Joey and Kit just have me and their dad, and they are too little to understand why I would focus my love and attention on a strange boy instead of them. He gets the short end of the stick from us—of course he does. That’s lousy, and I don’t deny it, but when his needs are in conflict with those of his brothers, my obligation is first and foremost to his brothers—Ruth’s and Nora’s is exclusively to him. I hope you don’t mind my returning your bluntness in kind.

The only real solutions that I see involve more contact; either more visits, which would I believe make the boys more comfortable together and less likely to fight for the attention of the adults, or more Skype, which would give me a chance to talk to Cricket without having to care for his brothers at the same time. But I am never not ever going to push aside Joey or Kit for Cricket. If I were parenting all three, I’d be able to find a third way—heck, I have to do that now, with Joey and Kit together. They are both old enough to watch disapprovingly if I shift my attention to the other. What I can do with them, since I am mothering them both, is to say “Kit needs help, Joey. Let’s go help him” and include Joey in caring for Kit; hold both of them in my lap, which neither of them is completely wild about, but both accept as better than the alternative; and talk to them both for the benefit of them both about treating each other with respect and gentleness. I can’t do any of these things with Cricket, both because it isn’t my place and because the visits are so high-stakes and emotional for him as well as for me—he was stressed at the last visit, and that makes it impossibly hard for a little kid to learn and work together and be gentle.