August 14, 2007

Leaving the Plant in the Pot

So, the visit with K and her mom.

First, for my own memory's sake: K brought her new dog, a tiny little thing. Puppy chased the dog all over the yard, squealing the whole time. I think the dog was a little freaked out by the crazed creature running after her. When K finally crated her, Puppy kept telling us that the dog had gone "night-night". He would look through the holes of the crate ask, "Out? Out?"

She told me about her plans for two last tattoos, one Puppy related. We talked about her friend drama. We started coordinating her trip up to see us in the fall.

Every time Puppy said, "Mama," I felt self-conscious. I can't remember, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't saying it yet when she visited us this spring. So it was the first time he had called me that in front of her, or at least the first time I was aware of it.

Puppy kept trying to engage K, especially after we went inside, bringing her toys and touching her leg. K's mom played with him and read him a book. K read him a book at the end, after I put Puppy in her lap for a picture.

As K's mom left, she turned around and said, "K doesn't have this with her biological family. It's hard." And then she walked away.


I don't want to go too much into what was so difficult for me about Friday evening, simply because I don't think it's fair to K. And, frankly, I realize how lucky I am to have these concerns, to be analyzing the quality of contact instead of yearning for any contact at all. I traipse around saying that open adoption relationships have their blessings and difficulties, just like all relationships do. This was an example of that. External, unrelated circumstances affected people's moods and left us less prepared to show grace to one another.

Even though we communicate with K a fair bit by phone and internet, being together in person pokes different adoption-related hurts. That can take a good deal of emotional energy even when everyone is at their best. But I believe spending time together is also an important part of dealing with those hurts, so it is worth it. I'm also wary of trying to analyze what is going on for K, beyond what she shares with me. I try to be aware of the possibilities, in order to be as sensitive as I can. But who am I to say what she may be feeling?

I had a house mate right after college who would say relationships are like potted plants. If you keep pulling a plant out of the pot to study its roots, you will eventually kill it. You need to tend to it, and feed it, but also just leave it alone to grow. Quit looking at the roots and let it thrive.

I think of that image often, but especially this week. Sometimes you have to stop analyzing the relationship and just continue living it. Sometimes you need to trust the roots are there. Keep the plant in the pot and give it room to grow. So for now I'm leaving this plant in its pot.


Dawn said...

Jessica has a Madison-related tattoo, too. She just got it this summer. Things will get easier. Just keep trudging on. {{{{Hugs}}}}}

Mandy said...

You fascinate me. You say so many things that I think but can't get them to come out correctly. As for the being called "mama" in front of the birthmom I never thought of how that would be. With our last visit with my daughters birthmom she was not talking yet. I don't think it will be too weird or uncomfortable but who knows until it happens. I always look forward to reading your blog.

Clementine said...

I like that metaphor about the potted plant. Thanks for sharing the reality of your open adoption situation.

Anonymous said...

I like the potted plant, too.

Hang in there.

Tammy said...


something clicked when I first read this post. I've come back a couple times to respond and haven't gotten it done for many reasons.

If you've read over at my place and I think you have, you know I have less than ideal relationships with the first parents of my kids. I wish it were more and I have spent a great deal of energy examining my place in these relationships and what I could have done/if there is anything I can do to make things better. And then carry around loads of guilt because upon examination, me the doer person, can't do a thing but feel guilty about the fact I can't do a thing to make things better.

Maybe I should just do what I'm doing, which is keeping the door open as wide as I possibly can, keeping them updated as much as I possibly can, and waiting. And raising their kids as they asked me to. And keep on praying that K and V will find a way to health and wholeness and room for all of us to be the family they've said they wanted but can't commit to right now.

Bless you for writing the good and the bad of this... I feel less alone today, knowing that I'm not the only one whose heart's desire for that ideal relationship is still in the works.

On another note... I am still working on my take on your thoughts on "open adoption as covenant". Hopefully I'll get time in the next few days to get my thoughts completely worked through. It's all good...

call me mama said...

Thank you for this post. We just met with our second son's birth mom on Friday. I fear she hasn't touched on feelings yet regarding her role in her son's life- or her relationship with us. She was holding H and kept pointing at me and my husband and saying look, there's J and there's M. He knows us as mama and papa (well as much as a five month old knows any title). What a night. I was happy to retreat to our little bungalo and snug the babies. I fear the day he calls us mama and papa in front of her. What a kettle of fish. So depressing.

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