Photo by Shanna Hullender Photography

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

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.


  1. Thank you for blogging again! I admire your bravery and hope that when my hubby and I meet our forever kids, I can advocate for them as well as I think you do. Please keep sharing!


  2. Shana, you and your husband keep being the parents that those babies need! Again, so sorry this has happen.

  3. PS Beautiful letter from Shyne.