Photo by Shanna Hullender Photography

"Adopting one child won't change the world; but for that child, the world will change."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Haze

I always say that the kid's transitions into our home and family were so easy that sometimes I consider it a bit scary. When I really think about it, it seems too good to be true. However, then I have days like this when I stumble across something that takes me back to around them time we got them, and it everything seems like a blur. I honestly don't remember a lot about the first year we had the kids. I was trying to tell someone the other day about something that happened a couple of months before the kids came to us. As I talked, I just couldn't remember the specifics and confused myself. It wasn't anything important but it definitely frustrated me that I couldn't remember. It is a terrible feeling to have to call someone and ask them about something that happened in your own life within the last 4-5 years because your memory is so hazy.

I lost my job the day before we got the call about the kids. I really liked my job but the crazy thing is that I didn't get around to grieving the loss of it until about two years after the fact. Everything happened so fast, it is like I didn't have time to grieve, accept it and move on until Zippy started pre-school full-time. Then it hit me. Hard.

These are just a couple of examples of my mind playing tricks on me and I think it due to stress of our fast and dramatic lifestyle changes that came along with these kids. Now that the fog has lifted, I keep finding myself  so angry and upset with those that were around me and closest to me during those critical times. Those that failed to  lend a helping hand or recognize that I was struggling. In hindsight, I recognize that we were in a true survival mode. While, I hate that I can't remember much about that first year, I wouldn't go back in time and do it over again even if I could. It was that rough.

I recently received a baby shower invitation for a family member. This is her second baby boy in less than three years. I will admit to anyone that yes, I am bitter. No, it isn't anything to do with pregnancy or a baby. It just hurts me that no one, not one family member commemorated the arrival of my children. These hard feeling are not over stuff, the material things. It is about the fact that nobody in my small, once tightly knit family thought enough enough to buy them a toy, an outfit, blanket or whatever. The fact that they were so poor and needed so much makes it that much more painful. A year and a half ago, I said something about this to my uncle to which is replied "Well Shana, people look at you and Billy and they didn't think you needed anything." Oh, I thought it was the thought that counted and no one thought enough of them or us. I know with all my being that it would have been so much different had I brought triplets home from the hospital. However, there is no pomp and circumstance when you get three, poor foster kids.

I'm getting stronger each day. Each day that goes on, my situation with my family gets easier to deal with. I will never apologize. Ever. I know this blog drives my family crazy and it isn't my intention to inflict pain. However, these are my feelings and I'm not censoring them so some people can save face. I have nothing to apologize about because they wrote their own chapters in our adoption story.  I have had so many emails and FB messages from complete strangers pouring their love out to me and offering kind and encouraging words. I can't even begin to tell everyone how thankful I am when I get those little notes as they usually arrive at the times that I need them most.  As Easter approaches, I will surround by the family that I decide to create for myself and not those bound by blood. Everything is going to be all right.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

If Only I Knew Then What I Know Now

I would have never introduced my children to people with titles. Instead of introducing people as aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc., I would have simply have introduced them by name only. This, hopefully, would have set the bar very low and the adults involved wouldn't have had struggled to meet the minimal expectations that such titles hold. Without titles, family would have been no different than neighbors or acquaintances. So when the adults failed to rise to the occasion, my children would not have disappointed. Lord only knows they had already been disappointed enough by adults in their short lives.

For me, I found myself making a lot of excuses for my mom and stepdad. The kids wanted to spend the night, go stay at their house while I ran errands and such. I would have to make excuses because I knew that my mom did not like keeping my kids. My kids go through spells where they would ask to visit with my parents frequently. I found myself almost lying to my children at times. I have always been honest with my children about their biological family. I've always handled the questions with child appropriate answers but it is their life, and I have always felt like they were owed the truth. When I started having to answer pointed questions from my children on the lack of grandparent involvement and when I couldn't answer those questions truthfully, I started to get pissed. If I wasn't going to lie about their bio family, I sure wasn't going to lie about mine!

We are pushing four years since our kids came to live with us. Billy was so scared and very apprehensive about taking on three kids, truth be known. My mom was our biggest cheerleader and encourager. We thought we had a strong support network but that was just a facade. Then, we got the kids and then our family vanished into the thin air. For the longest, we were in survival mode and just doing what we well to make it through each day. I didn't have time to think about what and where my family was at the time. I made even made excuses for them. My mom and stepdad had moved close to us, as in less than a mile. I knew it was important for my mom to get very settled into their house and I knew that would take quite some time. However, a year passed, and then I realize that they have never taken my kids a mile down to the nearest McDonald's and bought them an ice cream cone. They have never taken all three of my children anywhere period. Maybe it was my kid's behaviors because they are pretty full of energy? Well according to my mom time and time again, they were "just being kids." To date, they have never kept my kids for an in-service day or even a half day when it was early dismissal at school. If a child spent the night, then it has to be one at a time and preplanned well in advance. We live a mile from the schools and they barely make it to one sporting event a season. It has not been uncommon for my kids to go 2-3 weeks at time without seeing my parents.

I think Facebook has contributed to the lack of family environment. I post a lot of updates and photos on Facebook. I think this made it easy for my family to be connected with our lives without having to be truly involved. Then there is always the photo sharing. They can then share the photos with their friends and it appears to the outside world that they are more engaged in the kid's lives than they actually are. As I've always said, the relationship with my kids and my family have never been anything more than a pony show.

At this point, I have lost my biological family too. I have grieved the loss of people in my life except instead of them being deceased, they are very much alive and doing fine. I have gone through the emotions of denial, grief, and anger, etc. Actually, I feel like I'm about step five of the seven step grief process. I don't really see me ever resolving this with my parents because I honestly don't feel relationships can be forged. I tried once and accepted the apology. However, actions speak louder than words. They continue to not have a real relationship with my kids and I certainly will not force one. At this point in my life, my life is less painful without them. I would never deny my children a relationship with my family even though I chose not to have one with them myself. However, my parents have not reached out. My husband is a nice man and they could contact him at anytime but they have not.

People often ask me "Why?" I don't know. Really, I don't. Is it because they are adopted? Ethnicity? I've over analyzed this situation and really the best thing I can come up with is selfishness. I think my parents are so set in their ways that there is no room for variation. They enjoy their free time by flittering around town, shopping, eating out, and rescuing stray animals. I think they enjoy doing their "thing" and sadly, that doesn't include my kids. They don't want to spend their time and money on my kids because they would rather spend it on themselves. Yes, that is my best guess.

Still to this day, it is hard for me to imagine my relationship with my family has turned out like this. I considered it healthy leading up to the arrival of our kids. I had a good, loving family, and a wonderful childhood. I never expected this. I feel so betrayed. But like my kids, I am a survivor and I will get through this.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Let The Good Times Roll

Well, it has been a year since I last blogged. When I reflect back over 2012, I feel like it was just a normal uneventful year for us. However in reality, it did deliver the constant change that is known as life. I went back to work full-time. It was hard (and still is) but Billy is self-employed and our healthcare has become so unaffordable. Fortunately, I really do like my job but it was still a huge change for us, or at least for me. I have accepted the fact that my house will never be as polished as it once was and that I will forever be frazzled, exhausted and shooting from the hip. I always say that I will rest when I die!

We were blessed with a wonderful lady, Jessica, that kept the kids at our house last summer. Well, they kept the roads hot and that warmed my heart because I didn't want the kids to miss out on library days, swimming, etc. just because I was working. Jessica is an angel sent straight down from Heaven. We all love her. I thought I had put my hurt feelings toward my Mom to rest in 2011 but they reared their ugly heads again in 2012. There has been a constant emotional war going on within myself for the last three years and a half years about the changes these adoptions have brought to our family dynamics. I am accepting the fact that I don't have to accept anything. Adoption is such a complicated, unnatural mess. It is so beautiful and yet so ugly all at the same time. Once upon a time, I thought of adoption as a story of purple unicorns riding in on bright rainbows spreading glitter with the swish of their tail. But now that I have lived it, I know that adoption is about loss. In order to gain through adoption, there has to be loss. My kids lost their biological parents but gained us. I gained my three, precious babies but have lost my parents in return. Would I do it all over again? You bet! Would I do things differently? You bet!

I pretty much discontinued this blog because I know it was hurtful to my family. However, I get approached so much about adoption that I really have a hard time keeping up with it all. This blog is where I usually refer people because this tells our story without me having to take time out of my already crazy schedule to answer everyone individually. While, I don't mean to hurt anyone, these are my rawest thoughts and feeling about adoption and our situation. I own every single word here. They are mine and I am not ashamed. So while, I won't be able to blog often, I'm going to be jumping in here this year and keep this blog relatively updated.