My Family

If you are new to this blog and want to read the entire story chronologically - please start in January with "Our Story, Part 1"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Weekend at IKEA!

Last Saturday we were headed to Salt Lake so I decided to ask Ruth if she could meet us for lunch. (She just moved closer to us!) She was available so we made plans to get together at Ikea to shop and have lunch. We arrived first and we were all standing in the lobby looking out the glass windows waiting for her… Ava saw Ruth first and started running to her “Ruth, Ruth!!!” She then proceeded to give her a huge hug! It was a beautiful site. The boys were a little less dramatic, but I think they were happy to see her as well. (Bryan had to work so he wasn’t with us).

I was hoping that Cole would have the chance to talk to Ruth as we walked around the huge store. Ruth pushed Aubrey in the cart and Aubrey was talking her ear off for the first 20 minutes or so, but when she saw me again she wanted me to hold her (I felt bad taking her away from Ruth). We all just wandered around looking at different items, giving each child a chance to talk to Ruth privately if they wished. Ruth and I talked and she told me she didn’t want to have any of the children feel bad or singled out, so she was trying to talk to each of the individually. She did a great job.

Cole was unusually clingy to me most of the time we were together (which really surprised me). After buying a few kitchen items we headed back upstairs to have lunch. Cole sat across the table from Ruth and Ava and Aubrey sat near her as well. Cole finally opened up and started talking to her (nothing too serious, but at least having a conversation). He told me later that it is easier to talk via letters.

After lunch Mykel, Preston, Ava and Aubrey sat on the display couches and watched a movie while Ruth, Cole and I walked around the top floor looking at furniture for another hour or so (which was nice).

Cole and Preston bought Ruth a cinnamon roll to take home with her and Ava and Cole walked Ruth to her car to say goodbye. The kids were all in good spirits as we headed home.

I am so grateful that my children know who Ruth is and that she is willing to meet with them, talk to them, hug them and spend time with them. I think “knowing” her helps my children. On several occasions Ruth has told me that “knowing where her children are and that they are happy” helps her deal with her pain and loss as well. I do have to say that I know all open adoptions aren’t like this. Ruth has been very wonderful about allowing me space to be my children’s mother. Our relationship has evolved over time and changed due to each of our circumstances. I hope that our relationship will continue to grow so that each child can get to know Ruth personally and know what an amazing person she is and the huge sacrifice she made so that we could be a family.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What is NORMAL?

First of all I would like to thank those of you who have written me e-mails and made positive comments on my blog. I have found so many negative blogs (about adoption) and have been reading so much negative material I was beginning to doubt my abilities as a mother, but my strength is now renewed! Thank you for turning my eyes and heart back to the positive!

As I have been reading the book “The Primal Wound, Understanding the Adopted Child” there are several things that I agree with, and then there are several things that make me question whether the actions of my children are the direct result of being adopted or just normal actions of children growing up and finding out who they are. I tend to side with the latter. I took the book (The Primal Wound) back to the library yesterday, I couldn’t read anymore right now – the following is the last quote I typed from the book:

“Adoption, considered by many as merely a concept, is, in fact, a traumatic experience for the adoptee. It begins with the separation from his biological mother and ends with his living with strangers. Most of his life he may have denied or repressed his feelings about his experience, having had no sense that they would be acknowledged or validated. He may, instead, have been made to feel as if he should be grateful for this monumental manipulation of his destiny. Somewhere within him however, he does have feelings about this traumatic experience, and having these feelings does not mean that he is abnormal, sick, or crazy. It means that he is wounded as a result of having suffered a devastating loss and that his feelings about this are legitimate and need to be acknowledged, rather than ignore or challenged.”

Bryan is my oldest son. He was originally placed with our family when he was 2 ½ years old, a few months later his birth mother wanted to parent him so he went back to be with his mother and grandmother and then returned to our family 14 months later when he was almost four.

I don’t know everything about Bryan during his first four years of life but I know that his mother and grandmother took very good care of him. He is the oldest grandchild so I know he was given a lot of attention and love.

Bryan has always been exceptional… exceptionally smart, exceptionally obedient, and an all around exceptionally successful person. Bryan has a phenomenal memory and amazing recall of past events. He is always willing to help me, usually without being asked. (Is this because he is so depressed and deprived from being adopted, as the author of the Primal Wound would have me believe?) I don't think so!

Bryan receiving his Eagle Scout Award last year.

I often wonder, is Bryan's behavior “normal” or is he an exceptional over achiever due to some "unseen wound" that lies within him due to being adopted? Bryan knows he is adopted; we talk about it openly whenever he has a question. He can e-mail his birth mother at any time, call her on the phone, or talk to her on Facebook, if he chooses to do so. A few years ago when Ruth moved he even came with me and helped Ruth move into her new apartment.

When I asked Bryan what he thought about me keeping my blog “open” he responded that he wanted to keep it open. He said talking about adoption with his friends gives him an opportunity to meet new people and share his beliefs. He was very adamant about keeping my blog available for anyone to read.

(Thus it is still open right now).

I just got back from an awards assembly at his junior high school. Bryan was given the “Soaring Eagle” award (his school mascot is the Eagle) – and he had to be nominated by a teacher, I would like to share what his teacher wrote on his nomination form (the words in CAPS were like that on the nomination) – Bryan gave me his permission to share on my blog:

Camille (me) with Bryan holding his awards

“Bryan is an amazing student. It is not easy to skip a grade, but he did. He was too advanced in 7th grade so he became a 9th grader this year when he should have been in 8th grade normally. I LOVE having him in my computer tech class because he desires to learn all he can from me. I ALWAYS have his full attention when I teach – his eyes are always on me and he listens intently, soaking in all the information.

I LOVE the fact that he wants to learn all he can. He chose to sit front and center in the classroom. Whenever I am teaching and his classmates start talking, he is the first one to speak up and tell them to be quiet. Like I said, he wants to learn all he can, not to be held back by his classmates.

Bryan is a top notch student. The sky is the limit with him, nothing holds him back from achieving. He plows through to be a high achiever… can we clone him???

He is kind, helpful, and friendly with his new 9th grade friends, he fits right in with his fellow high value/high achieving students. He does choose his friends wisely. I am so impressed with Bryan.”

My children are as “normal” as any other teenagers I know with similar questions and concerns with regards to growing up. I decided to just keep focusing on the positive – it far outweighs the negative in my life, especially with regards to my children and our family. I believe my children know they are loved; inevitably they will still have questions with regards to their placement with our family, but we will continue to be open and honest as the questions arise.

We have been blessed beyond measure and I acknowledge my Father in Heaven for blessing me so abundantly!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

“If she could do that, what about you?”

I haven’t written for the past week because I have been trying to sort out my own feelings with regards to open adoption (debating on even continuing this blog) and also dealing with issues with my children as they explore their own feelings and try to make sense of being “adopted.”

“Even if the child recognizes that the adoptive mother is not the abandoning
mother, she certainly could become one. After all, if it happened once, it could
happen again. Frederick Stone points out that the question, whether spoken or
unspoken, “Why did my own mother not keep me?” is always followed by the
unexpressed but equally anxious thought, ‘If she could do that, what about
you.’” (The Primal Wound)
A few years ago my son Cole and I were out on a walk and he asked me a very interesting question, he said “can someone else adopt me?” I wasn’t quite sure what he meant but then he said “can you give me to someone else?” We talked about this for quite some time and I tried to make him understand that there was nothing that would make me give him up. But he asked “if I was given up once by my own mother (Ruth), couldn’t that happen again?”

Then a couple of days ago my boys and I were all in the kitchen together, my two younger sons were arguing and I said “you guys have got to stop arguing and try to get along with each other.” Then my oldest son said “maybe you should just adopt them to someone else.” I was so surprised/stunned by his comment; I didn’t even have an answer. I had to leave the room and try and compose myself before I told him "that wasn’t an option" ~ but sometimes the reality of adoption is hard.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

“Substitute Mother”

Tonight was Preston’s night. I bought myself a new cookbook (Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld) for Mother’s Day so Preston and I were off to buy all sorts of new ingredients for the recipes…. After two hours of talking, shopping and running errands we finally made it back home. When we pulled into the garage Cole came out to help us unload the groceries. Preston made the comment, “you are the best mom ever!” to which Cole replied “what do you mean, she is our only mom… well except for our birth mom.” Then Preston said to me “well yeah, Ruth is my birth mom, but you are my mother.”

Cole and Preston dressing up for their Valentine's Dance February 2010

I have been reading a book called book “The Primal Wound, Understanding the Adopted Child” by Nancy Verrier (as suggested by Gloria). Surprisingly there are several points and theories that I agree with, but there are other ideas that I don’t agree with based on my own experiences as an adoptive mother. The following is a quote from the chapter titled “The Connection with the Birth Mother.”

“I don’t believe it is possible to sever the tie with the biological
mother and replace her with another primary caregiver, no matter how warm,
caring, and motivated she may be, without psychological consequences for the
child (and the mother). An infant or child can certainly attach to another
caregiver, but the quality of that attachment may be different from that
with the first mother, and bonding may be difficult, or as many adoptees
have told me, impossible.”
And another quote from the chapter titled “Adoption as an Experience”

“Even if the adoptive mother has established a relationship with the birth
mother and aided in the birth of the baby, the baby will recognize her as an
imposter, a substitute for the mother with whom he spent the first nine months
of his life.”

I am not na├»ve enough to believe that my children will never have questions about their birth mother or long to be with her and spend time with her, we have dealt with those issues from day one. But I also don’t believe that my children can’t love me as their mother. I don’t believe they see me as a “substitute” mother any more than I see my children as “substitute" children.

I thought of it this way ~ as a mother if you have more than one child you know that you can love all of them. My children are all different with their own personalities, quirks, dreams and ideas, but it doesn’t mean that I love one of them less. It is the same with family members. I have four brothers and five sisters and I love all of them, each one has special meaning to me and my life. It is the same with my friends. I have more than one “best” friend, some friends I can share personal and intimate details of my life with, others I see on a more casual basis, but I love each of them for what they mean to me.

I think it can be the same for my children loving more than one mother. I am not trying to “sever the tie with the biological mother and replace her” – I know that is an impossibility, but I don’t believe that my children see me as a “substitute” – they only see me as their mother.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy "Mother's" Day!

"If a mother and father can love more than one child, then certainly a child can love more than one mother or father." Author: Unknown

My friend Tracey has the above quote on her blog and I love it because it is what I believe. I think a real fear of adoptive mothers is that their children will someday grow up and want to go back to their “real” mothers (and then where does that leave us?)
Ava, Bryan, Ruth, Preston and Cole

When my husband and I were first approached with adoption he was in favor a “closed” adoption because his fear was that when our children turned 18 they would find their “real” parents and we would be left in the dust.

When my oldest son Bryan came back to live with us he told his brothers that I was not his “real” mother and that Ruth was their “real” mother. At the time I was very hurt by this, although I knew that he was right. It has taken me time to realize (and be okay with) the fact that I will never by my children’s “real” mother in the sense that I was not the one who carried them in my womb and gave birth to them. I am finally confident enough in myself and who I represent to my children to not feel jealous when my children want to see their “real” mother.
I could never deny them the opportunity to see Ruth, nor deny Ruth the opportunity to see them. Time and life experiences have a way of helping you see things differently, for which I am grateful. I could never imagine the loss that Ruth feels as I am the “mother” who gets to spend every day with my children.

Today was no exception; it was one of those wonderful days as a mother….

* Holding Aubrey as she slept ~ my favorite!
* Boating with my children (sunshine, abundant smiles and laughter)
* Cooking and Eating s’mores with our friends and Ava saying “this was a perfect day.”
* Going to the store with my son and having him share his thoughts and ask for my advice.
* Cole hugging me and telling me he loves me.
*Watching my kids laugh.

Another wonderful evening in our backyard... Mykel and Preston

This afternoon I realized something: my joy comes from being with my children and seeing them happy. These moments I have with my children are so precious, I have to remember to savor them and relish the opportunity I have as their mother, no matter if I am the "real" one or not! :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

What a difference a day makes!

First of all, WELCOME BACK! Thanks for joining me; I sure hope I didn’t miss sending an invite to anyone!!!

Usually when I have a bad day or am talking to someone who is having a bad say, I say “tomorrow is another day” or “what a difference a day makes” – my own advice has definitely rang true the past few days!

Like I mentioned previously, last week was one of those weeks, I was getting hammered by negativity with regards to my blog; I was reading an array of pessimistic posts and books that made adoptive parents out to be the slated as some of the worst people on the planet and then it happened…

I knew the day would come, I wasn’t ready for it. I thought I was but I wasn’t.

…the day one of my children would ask Ruth “why” – why she had “given them up” and if she still loved them?”

My son Cole wrote a letter to Ruth last week…My first concern was that his words would be hurtful to Ruth… and then I just prayed she would write him back so he wouldn’t be hurt. Today he received two letters in the mail, both from Ruth. I gave them to him as soon as he got home from school. He ran to his room and shut the door for some privacy. I gave him about 20 minutes and then I decided to knock on his door to make sure he was okay.

He opened the door and I could tell that he was smiling. I smiled back and gave him a hug. He held onto me and cried on my shoulder for a minute and then continued to hug me. He said with a grin, “she answered all of my questions.”

I asked him if sometime in the future I would be allowed to read what she wrote, he said “you can read them right now.” He then said “I think I hurt her.”

I read Ruth’s beautiful words describing to Cole why he was with us and that she still loved him but she didn’t know if he wanted to hear that from her. I am not going to quote what she wrote because it was a personal message to Cole, but suffice it to say that she wrote exactly what he needed to hear. After I read the letters I reassured him that I didn’t think Ruth was hurt.

I am so grateful she took the time to write him back, that she answered his questions, and that she was not offended by his words. Thank you Ruth, you have blessed my life in so many ways!

(Ruth has not asked to be invited to view my blog, I think it is too painful for her right now…)