Saturday, July 21, 2012

Honoring the change

On Friday I was camped in a coffee shop for awhile.  This is what was stirring in my head:

Yesterday I had the privilege of soaking up two dear friends for hours.  They are the kind of friends who understand my kids, love me (even the parts they don't understand) and we can be painfully honest about life and how much it can sometimes utterly suck. 

As always, our conversation turned to adoption.  As always, we nodded in agreement as we talked about how we've become "those" adoptive parents we swore we would never become.  As always, we understood why others sometimes look at us as anti-adoption or jaded, where we simply see adoption with much more reservation, preparation and strong, firm boundaries.

Some of you just read that paragraph and thought, "Wha? You totally lost me."  Others are agreeing so firmly they are rattling their eyeballs out of their heads right now.

We talked about international adoption and how it adds an even deeper level of loss and pain when a child is placed in an adoptive home.  Plenty of pain and loss exists - even with infant adoption - but is compounded when a child is placed internationally. It had extra meaning to me, as I had been thinking about the very same thing.

Wednesday I nestled in at the Austin airport, surrounded by plenty of ink and piercings and dreads and weird clothing.  There was also an array of sensible shoes and grandma hair and business suits, but it's Austin.  Those people didn't stare at me.  They're used to me.  They're used to ... whatever.

I landed in Boston and found myself befuddled as to where the heck the rental car shuttle buses were.  Once I finally ... slowly ... found myself inside said rental car, the sky had exploded in a horrendous downpour.  There I sat, in a car I had never driven, trying to figure out wipers and lights.  Trying to navigate myself out of Boston in the pouring rain.  Looking carefully to make sure I didn't need toll money for anything, only to find out (en route) that I needed toll money.


The roads were different.  The signs were different.  The layout of the city was different.  People honk up north for everything.  Not just if they are about to crash.  They honk just to say, "Hey, in case you're gonna' move over, I thought I'd let you know I'm already here."  And again - pouring rain.

I still have a lot of panic and fear around driving in the rain since an incident (read: accident) that happened several months ago.  So, the whole situation was compounded.  I was in sensory overload. 

The area of New Hampshire I was visiting does not get a lot of ... me.  So, there was an excessive amount of staring.  I'm used to it, in some areas of Texas, sure.  It was just one more little bit of "I'm not from here." 

Yesterday, while driving to my friend's home, I missed my turn about four times.  I'm used to flat.  I can see a turn well before I'm upon it.  Out here, it's beautiful, what with all the rolling hills and thick, lush trees.  I'm not used to that!  It took almost twice as long as I expected to make that drive.  It was frustrating.  I was able to enjoy the fun, but there is an added sense of - ugh.

I was trying to enjoy the drive, but I couldn't because I was constantly having to navigate.  UGH!

In all the conversation, and with the fact that I'm about to pick up my husband and toodle over to yet another new area in another state, I have been feeling an extra dose of compassion for our kids.  I love change and I love "different," but it always has an element of frustration, growth and stretching.  Within that truth, I have to remember I chose to do this!

Our kids didn't choose any of this.  They've been thrown into it, against their will, and they have all of these feelings and issues.  On crack.  Times a gazillion.  We forget that when we're trying to rush out the door.  We can move to another area of the country and crave our Shiner beer, but forget our kids crave their own tastes of home.  We forget that certain things trigger them, maybe even things they have yet to disclose, and they are not reacting or feeling any differently than we would in the same situation.

We forget.  I'm taking a moment to try and remember.


Nobody said...

And you know what's at the end of the windy road, and you know it's fantastic, and totally worth all the stress. Them? Not so much.

Diana said...

I'm one of those with eyeballs rattling out of my head right now. I suspect anyone who's been through a fraction of what we have and has been confronted with the stinging reality check that this gig isn't all unicorns and roses and there isn't always a "happily ever after" at the end of the journey has their eyes rattling out of their heads as well.

And yes, I agree 100% with the international aspect as well. What is really eating at me right now is there are gazillions of social workers out there who can approve families to adopt...and to adopt multiple kids at one time. Precious few of them have actually done this, have NO IDEA what these families are really getting into...and yet they blindly put their stamp of approval on things. Even the last social worker who approved us had only done a family foster adoption thing herself. When we called for help, she told us to do stuff that might or might not work now...but it certainly didn't work 5 years ago when I had a kid who didn't speak a word of English sitting on my shoulders trying to break my neck. Unfortunately for many families who go into this gig with stars in their eyes and their hearts on their sleeves, there's still precious little pre-adoption training happening, and there's even less help available from anywhere once the families get home.

Thanks for the reminder that my kids are craving their taste of home. I think a jar of pickled herring (usually reserved for special occasions) might just have to end up in our shopping cart today. After all, we are coming up on our 5 year anniversary this week. :-)

fallinginbedford said...

"... we've become "those" adoptive parents we swore we would never become. As always, we understood why others sometimes look at us as anti-adoption or jaded, where we simply see adoption with much more reservation, preparation and strong, firm boundaries."

Love this post. There is always someone or something to blame for our own sensory overload. Like the Boston drivers who honk for everything. We think our kids need to get used to, "normal."'s not normal for them. Great insight.

anya* said...

"I choose to do this, they didn't choose any of this."
It is so hard to remember this truth.
Thank you for the reminder.

Hedged in Beauty said...

I get it. As a NY'er "transplanted" south... I LOVE the "sounds of home" in the voices of NY'ers who have wandered down here... I often say "I can listen to you tawk all day!"

Just this week I told a friend after 21 years of living here I'm still experiencing "culture shock" trying to find an address on a "parkway." Where I'm from there's no building numbers for parkways... just pretty tree lined streets where trucks are not allowed to drive, ...and exits.

I didn't adopt internationally, nor across ethnic lines...

I "chose" this. This being "adoption" and this being our difference of culture.

I did not choose the events that led up to our kids to be eligible for adoption... no-one would knowingly choose that.

Anonymous said...

Love this, love you.

Robin said...

Thank you so much for the reminder. We're about to adopt from Liberia, and I needed to hear every bit of this. Although our little one, who has many special needs, wouldn't have a chance in the world of thriving (or, for that matter, surviving) in her home country, I have to remember constantly that this is going to be every bit as hard as parenting our other trauma kids has been - and probably harder. Thank you.

Sarah said...

Totally nodding here, too. There are so many levels of loss.

Melissa said...

Really well said!

One Crowded House said...

thank you for this....

Anonymous said...

What is even scarier is the pushback from PAPs onto social workers when they do the responsible thing, eg refuse to approve a family to adopt, say, 5 kids with severe special needs simultaneously. Or to insist families that have just completed an adoption wait a year (to give the kid a chance to settle into a new country or family or state or city or language or combination thereof).

Anonymous said...

beautifully said and I just yesterday watched your youtube video outcrazy the crazies. Saving those tactics for just the right moments....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! As we watch folks with good intentions but little prep/interest in prep adopt and further complicate little lives that have experienced so much pain, it's good to know that "those" adoptive parents do exist!

Chris said...

Thank you for the reminder - I try to remind myself of this all the time - I don't listen to myself very well - she says as her eyes rattle out of her head.... ;)