October 17, 2007

Recap

K's visit ended at the airport Monday morning with an exchange of hugs and a "Love you!" tossed over her shoulder. It was a good weekend. K interacted with Puppy more than she ever has in past visits, and he returned the favor with lots of attention and smiles. Her confidence around him seems to be increasing, which I think makes Puppy more comfortable, as well. He had a great time with her. He would wake her up in the morning by wandering into her room saying, "Hi, K__! Hi, K__!" It was very important to him that she be included in various activities; he would always make sure she was coming along as we moved from place to place. I think it helps to have visits in the familiar, safe place for Puppy right now. T and I were able to give them more chances to be alone together than we would have otherwise. Their relationship--at least from my perspective--is at a nice place for his age.

My goal for this visit was integration: continuing to bring our worlds together by having K meet some of the folks who populate Puppy's daily life and giving them a chance to meet her. It was important to me that she see Puppy in his little social network, enjoy who he is amongst friends. There is something about seeing your child play and (usually) share with friends that gives parents warm fuzzies. Puppy's birthday party was a natural place for that to happen, with the adults mingling while kids ran underfoot. There was also an impromptu dinner invitation that resulted in a relaxed Saturday evening watching football with family friends. So I got more than I hoped for in that regard.

All in all, I think it was a successful visit.

Now for the navel-gazing: It exhausted me emotionally. I am terribly introverted, so having overnight visitors tends to drain me. There are also some specific things about my interactions with K which require a lot of emotional energy. One night when T and I had retreated to the privacy of our bedroom, I broke down in tears. I was feeling empty and tired of navigating all the different needs and wanting to just enjoy Puppy's birthday. I heard myself say, "Sometimes I just want to be [Puppy]'s only mom." I was so embarrassed to have said that, especially with K probably feeling the same thing a thousand times over in the next room. But it wasn't about wishing the adoption weren't open (I don't) or that Puppy weren't adopted (he wouldn't be Puppy) or even about feeling threatened in my role by K (I'm not). It was about wanting things to be simple when they're not.

If I were someone else, I would tell me not to be embarrassed. It was where my heart was at at the time, and I needed to deal with it so it wouldn't affect my actions toward K. But I need to figure out some way to honor those feelings and work through them in a way that doesn't leave me feeling so isolated. More than anything this weekend I wanted a peer I could call who would tell me, "I've felt that way, too. It's ok. You're doing fine." Or tell me to get over myself if that's what I needed. The point is I wanted to know there was someone who had been there before me. (T was wonderful and supportive and had some great insights, but he just isn't affected by our visits in the same way that I am. Which makes my sense of loneliness more acute.) I read stories of so many adoptive parents who express nothing but joy over their relationships with their children's first parents. They make me happy. They also make me wonder what is wrong that sometimes this is all incredibly draining for me?

I've been hesitating over this post, not wanting to look like a self-centered tool. I can't seem to wrangle the words to express what I am trying to say. But I want to put it out there so that if someone else has found herself there she can know that she isn't alone.

15 comments:

Dawn said...

I had a long conversation with Jessica last night -- not all adoption-related -- and hung up and had a flash of the same thought for the same reason. It's very hard, especially when you can see all sides of the adoption coin. (Let me yet again say how much I wish you lived nearby. I have no IRL adoptive mom friends who have such open adoptions and have these same kinds of feelings. It would be awfully nice to debrief over coffee with someone who gets all of it!!!)

Jenna said...

Obviously, I'm not an adoptive mother. However, I think you're emotions fall within the realm of normal. I know that, last year, during Nick's first birthday party, I was hit with the same overwhelmed feeling, wanting things to be "simple" and/or normal without having to worry about whether D was properly introduced, whether people were being polite to her and whether or not extended family members were being nice to my daughter. I just wanted to enjoy Nick's birthday! I felt insanely guilty for thinking those thoughts because it wasn't that I didn't want them there; I DID! But it's just a juxtaposition of the two worlds and slamming everyone into one room.. and my anxiety.. that all got the better of me.

Hang in. I think you did a fine job.

Corey~living and loving said...

I am also not an adoptive mother, but I am a mother, and I know you already know this, but your feelings do very much sound to me quite normal.
so many people only put forth the "good stuff". I do think that all those others that express the "love" for the situation, have probably felt some of what you are feeling, but didn't want to dwell on it. However, sharing it, like you have done here, serves to help those know that it is okay to feel what you feel, and it is even better to share those feelings with others.
so many hugs for you! This post was important, and I am glad you shared it.

Roni said...

I would bet that ALOT of mothers in adotion feel that way. No matter what side they are on.
I have a hard time sharing PooWee with his father. I know how important it is that he is apart of his life, yet I just want PooWee to myself.
Sounds like you have an awesome thing going on with K and you should be proud. I'm sure she really appreciates you.

Erin said...

Your post definitely resonated with me. It is hard, overwhelming, exhausting, isolating at times to cope with being in an open adoption.

Tammy said...

I wish I would have been able to be there to affirm what you were feeling as normal. As much as we fight (okay I...) some of these feelings, I too, long for things to be more simple. In our case, we aren't privilege to have the openness that you do so I'm not confronted with it. But even in trying to understand my feeling and worked through them, I have been where you are. Hugs to you and Puppy and K. So glad your visit was a great step towards an even more healthy relationship! And thanks for sharing this... I long for the possibilities of these relationships.

BlessedWithDaughters said...

You're not a self-centered tool. (although "tool" made me grin...)

A self-centered tool would use those feelings as an excuse to shy away from openness. Not you. You embrace openness in spite of the emotional exhaustion and turmoil and longing for simplicity that the openness creates.

Bravo to you for doing what is right rather than what is comfortable.

--Min

justenjoyhim/judy said...

Heather, I'm obviously not in an open adoption -- but bless your heart for being so . . . well, open about your feelings.

I think you sound like you did absolutely wonderfully with it all. I'm an introvert too (I like to describe myself as being an "extroverted introvert" -- heh), and I understand about being with people all the time and how much it can drain you.

Bless you for writing such an honest post.

Momo Fali said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. You are a far from self-centered as a person can get!

Heather.PNR said...

Wow. Thank you, all of you. I've been carrying your words with me today and they have been so healing.

Mandy said...

We are in an open adoption with my daughter's birthmom and it is exhausting emotionally and physically. She came for her first visit last summer and brought her son with who is autistic and it was such a stressful 4 days. We also wanted her to see what Asha's life all entailed but it was exhausting to squeeze all of that into 4 days and to try and keep everyone happy especially an autistic 5 year old who had special needs. I love being in an open adoption and love Asha's birthfamily to death but it is stressful because you don't really know them and how they do things or how they feel so it's constantly trying to interpret what they may want to eat, do or say to keep them comfortable and make them feel welcome. I know somewhat how you were feeling and you are completely in the realm of normal.

mama2roo said...

you're fine. Who of us doesn't want SIMPLICITY, but really who of us ever gets it? PUtting in all the hard work now, hopefully will build in for better simplicity down the road, ya know?? We should swap cell phone numbers.

Lauren said...

Oh, how we all (no matter WHAT our adoption experience is at the moment) sometimes wish for it to just be "simple".
Simple would seemingly make it easier for the kids; simple would make it less emotionally draining on us; simple would keep everybody happy all the time, right?

Mama2roo is right--we are putting in the hard work now, just holding on to the hope that one day it won't be this hard. Or maybe that one day we'll have developed better ways to cope with the hard stuff.

Beautiful post, BTW. I'm glad to hear of so many positives about the visit. :-)

Cloudscome said...

I can imagine that I would feel exactly the same way if we had visits with my sons' other mothers. I want to know them, but I know it would be hard for me for many of the same reasons. You are doing a great job! And I really appreciate you sharing it all with us so honestly. It is a great blessing to me.

Alexicographer said...

I know this post is old, but I found my way here from the 2009 Creme de la Creme.

I'm not an adoptive mom, though domestic open adoption was a path we were pursuing when our son was -- improbably -- conceived through yet another IVF attempt. One of my biggest concerns at the time was (and remains, to the point of no longer pursuing adoption as a way to grow our family further) that our family is already complicated enough and I hardly needed to add additional layers to it.

Now a grateful mom to a near-3 year old, I find I am constantly and repeatedly flabbergasted at how much the interaction he demands and deserves -- and that I love providing for him (mostly) -- exhausts me. Because I, too, am an introvert. I've never found anyone who can talk intelligently about how parenting (in my case an only) child can exhaust an introvert, and, eh. I can only imagine how the additional layers of an open adoption exacerbate that. For whatever it's worth.

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