December 21, 2009

A Weekend With Beth

Beth leaves this afternoon; she came up on Saturday to spend the weekend with us. It's been a low-key, enjoyable time. Beth, Todd and Puppy went Christmas shopping at the bookstore while Firefly napped on Saturday. We ate dinner, exchanged presents. We watched "Elf" after Firefly went to bed, and found out it's a common holiday favorite of ours. (Todd: "I like the adoption themes in it, how affirming it is about wanting to explore all these different parts of your identity and know your birth family." Adoptee and birth mom Beth: "I just think it's really funny.") On Sunday we did church and headed out to see the lights at the zoo along with my mom and dad in the pouring rain. Firefly confirmed her status as the only true native of our rainy state (the rest of us are all out-of-state transplants) by being completely unfazed by the wetness. "Rain? What rain? LIGHTS! LIGHTS!"

Firefly has been cutely social all weekend, which I think Beth has enjoyed. She wanted nothing to do with anyone but her everyday parents the last time Beth was up here, which was tough. But she's been quite chatty and playful and Beth has returned the favor tenfold by showing her lots of love. Puppy just about lost his mind on Saturday evening that his sister was getting so much more attention than he was. So we can now add that to the list of quirkier parenting issues I've faced down: attending to a sibling's jealousy when the other child's first parent is visiting.

If there is anything noteworthy about Beth's visit, it is only how un-noteworthy it feels. I'm only speaking for myself, obviously--I don't know how loaded the time may or may not have been for Beth--but wasn't A Visit the way these times can sometimes feel in open adoption. (Says the woman who has an entire category of posts labeled "Visits.") Just a few days spent with someone we care about.

Of all our kids' first family members, Beth has been the most vulnerable and open with us by far about what placing and adoption has been like for her, including the difficult parts. She's also been the easiest of our first family relationships thus far. I have no idea if those two things are connected, but I find them interesting. I don't fault the other folks at all for not sharing as much; I'm a very private person and would never obligate someone to share something so personal as that, especially with the adoptive parents.  But five years ago, when we were just dipping our toes into open adoption, I wouldn't have guessed that our easiest relationship would also be the one in which more of the harder stuff was laid right out on the table. I might have guessed that would be an uncomfortable obstacle or a sign that something had gone wrong. But that hasn't been true at all with Beth. Which aligns with everything I've learned and am learning about adoptive parenting and not being afraid to talk about harder adoption stuff as it comes up for our kids, to see it as normal and healthy and not an indicator that things are going haywire. So much about being a good adoption participant always seems to boil down to that basic thing: setting my ego (and its insecurities) aside and just really listening. Holding up other people as more important than myself. Which is the most basic element of being a good friend or spouse or parent, really, yet something I seem to keep needing to learn over and over.

Because I have no closing--and simply because it's been awhile since I posted pictures--I'll leave you with a couple of recent photos of the kids:


Anonymous said...

I'm glad things went well!

It does make sense that the more open someone is about how things are going, the easier it is to cope and communicate. You aren't spending time wondering what the other person is thinking or going through - even if it's not pretty, it's a starting point. When we don't know for sure what's going on our minds project our fears and hopes into how we perceive the other person. Many times it's not even true, but it does influence our interactions.

I've found with our own children (adopted from foster care) that if they go through a stage of acting out, if we sit down and tell them the truth of the matter - it stops. Their past isn't nice or pretty and it's hard to talk about, but it's a starting point for coping. It's better for them to know then believe a story based on fear. If I share with them my own feelings, hopes and fears, they spend less time thinking I'm an evil stepmother like they saw on Cinderella.

We try a lot of different methods of forming relationships but the most effective so far has definitely been blunt honesty. It's wonderful when it becomes so natural that it's not even thought about - it's just the way things are.

Rachie317 said...

Once again, thanks for your honesty in regards to these visits! And the pictures are too cute!

Anonymous said...

Do you like having these visit weekends, or would you rather be able to have an afternoon visit more frequently? It sounds like you had a good weekend, but it's hard for me to imagine being "on" for a few days like that--I'm worn out after a day trip.

Your kids are adorable! Happy holidays to you all.

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