March 04, 2008

The Visit, Puppy, and Me

The Visit
When we were initially exploring open adoption, I imagined the first post-placement visits as terribly tense and uncomfortable. Maybe they are in some circumstances, but that hasn't been true for us. Not to say there wasn't an iceberg of emotion underneath the surface on Saturday, but we had a pleasant time together. Ms B came along with two dear friends we are also getting to know. There were gifts and pictures and much agreement over Firefly's perfection.

We're still getting to know one another, so we don't have the benefit of being able to read the other people well. I'm trying hard to not overanalyze the time, because I will only fret over how much I don't know about what Saturday was like for Ms B or exactly how many times I put my foot in my mouth (likely many).

I've read that gaining a sibling through adoption often is an impetus for adopted kids processing some of their own adoption. Puppy is barely over two years of age, so I didn't know how much that would be true for him. But I've kept it in the back of my mind.

Because we were out-of-town longer than we expected when Firefly was born, my parents ended up bringing Puppy to us for a night. He visited Ms B and Firefly in the hospital and saw them together. (I had gone back and forth on whether that would be helpful or not. It ended up being fine.) Soon after we returned home with Firefly he asked why Ms B hadn't come home with us, too. I think he understood that Firefly belonged with us and also belonged with Ms B, and was trying to make sense of that.

Then on Saturday, he and I were hanging out with Firefly before Ms B came over. He knew we were getting ready for her visit and that she was coming to see Firefly. He looked at Firefly and got thoughtful.

"[Ms B] coming? She her birth mom. [Firefly] have birth mom. I have birth mom too? [K]. [K] birth mom." (When he's deep in thought he speaks in sentence fragments.)

He paused, so I said, "Yes, that's right."

"I miss her," he told me. This is the first time he's verbally expressed anything like that. (He and I decided we should call K on the phone.)

I think it is beginning to sink in for him that there is a break in continuity when a child is placed for adoption. And maybe he is starting to work out for himself what it means when we say that he was with K and R before he was with us.

Lately after every visit with K or Ms B I want to have a biological child. I get mopey and gruff. It only lasts for a day or two, but it's driving me up the wall.

What really gets me is that this is pretty much the only time I feel this way. I'm proud of our family and beyond content with my children. Heck, half the time I feel bad for all those pregnancy-only moms out there who don't know how amazing adoption can be. So I'm not coming by this desire honestly, because if I were I would feel it other times, too. Not just after hanging out with my kids' first families.

I don't imagine I would love a non-adopted child any more or less than Puppy and Firefly. But I'm guessing there would be differences in my experience of raising a bio kid, because there wouldn't be the added layer of adoption. I can't change (and don't want to change) the fact that my kids have dual family trees. Yet sometimes--like after a visit--I'm hyper-aware that most parents don't need to do what we do. There is no adoption to navigate. And my mind escapes to the unwanted fantasy of having a bio child. I don't think it's really about the hypothetical child at all. It just seems so enticingly...uncomplicated.


Dawn said...

I absolutely relate to that feeling that it would be nice to sometimes have less complication. I totally get what you're saying there! Sometimes processing everything feels emotionally exhausting and there are times I'd just like to phone it all in!

Corey~living and loving said...

WOW what a great post.
I am in awe of the range of emotions you must go through day in and day out. I am thinking of you all in this adventure.

Anonymous said...

The BF and I were having a conversation about bio-children the other day. She's a fost/adopt mom, too...she said it a little differently and I'm still processing how I feel about what she said. She said, "I adore my (adopted) kids, but I feel like I want a child I don't ever have to think about sharing with someone else."

Still not quite sure what my reaction is. Part of me cringes, and part of me gets what she means.

Great post, H.


Anonymous said...

I can relate to this, too, and its interesting to note when it comes up. I think its great that you're mindful of that, and open to whatever feelings you have. I also relate to thinking visits would be laden with emotion and having them feel more comfortable... and at the same time never ever wanting to speak for what the experience is like for our children's first mothers.
(I too am a mom in open adoption- I just started a blog but barely know how to use it. I'm trying to put the link here but it might not work)

call me mama said...

Open adoption moms unite! What an awesome post. My friends often comment on the amount of photos we take of our boys. I've explained, its not all for us. I am documenting for us for them, for their first families, and extendeds as well as our families and friends. Sometimes I wish I could put the camera down- or diminish its use. It would be much easier to take pics just for us.
We can't have a bio kid. But we don't need one. (Don't get me wrong- more power to those who can!) We are happy that, though each will handle their adoptions differently, they will share the common bond that built our family.

Heather said...

It's nice to know that other mamas feel similar things!

hope548 said...

That was extremely insightful. I am early on in the process of adopting our first and it's great to be able to read from someone who's much later in the journey. I imagine I too will sometimes resent that added layer that others don't have to worry about. It sounds completely natural. I think it's wonderful you are so open to relationships with the first families. I know you're just writing to get your feelings out, but know that it is helpful to others as well.

Clementine said...

I was just thinking about this, too. Our friend L. recently gave birth to her first child and I'm struck by the difference in our experiences of early motherhood (and not only because our little one was hospitalized for so long). L. is so focused on the physical acts of parenting, on establishing breastfeeding and counting diapers, whereas we were utterly focused on the emotional acts of parenting, on bonding with our new daughter and capturing every moment on film (just like Call Me Mama in your comments; is this a common adoptive mama thing?). Also, L. is only responsible to herself and to her wife for the care of their son, but we were/are responsible to Hester's first family as well.

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