Monday, August 2, 2010

Open Adoption In Real Life

We were shopping.  Two babies in the cart, selected items piled around them.  I spotted her glancing at us from the end of an isle.  Once.  Twice. She stared. I smiled at her, assuming she was family,  but she purposefully avoided my gaze.   

She approached us quickly as I navigated the cart past the racks of shoes.  "Come see aunty"  she said reaching for Jayde.  Jayde turned away and whimpered for me.  She tried again with Taya.  "Come see me!" she said forcefully.   Both girls just stared, solemnly.

I said hello.  I told her the nickname that Taya responded to if she wanted to get her attention.   She did not look at me.  She did not respond to me.  Again, she tried to grab Jayde from the cart.  I noticed the hospital bracelet dangling from her wrist. 

At that moment her cell phone rang and she became distracted.  I smiled a quick and anxious smile and bolted for the back of the store.  She found us again this time camera in hand.  She reached to pull Jayde from the cart and I stepped between her and the babies. 

"I am sorry, but you can't take their pictures unless I know who you are"  I said I clearly and as gently as I could. 

"Oh, I am their aunt" she said.  For the first time acknowleging my existence.  "They are my nieces and they love me" and again she tried to convince one to "come with aunty".  Again it was if I was an invisible, yet unwelcome, presence. 

The girls stared blankly at this related stranger.  Someone they have not seen in at least sixteen months.  The teenager accompanying us on our shopping trip tried to disappear behind me. 

I held the girls while she took their picture and then we left the store.  Quickly.   The thump of my adrenaline fueled heart rang in my ears for hours.

Later that same day, in a bid to escape the heat of the day and the smokey evening air, we took the girls to the park.   Off they ran playing and splashing with children.  A faintly familiar woman I had met many months before approached me with a smile as we both attempted to bundle our tired children up.   "The girls look so good" she said with a smile, "I cannot believe how big they are getting".    She watched as her children and my daughters chased each other on the grass.  Cousins.  We chatted and compared parenting notes and as we left the girls smiled and waved.

*************

We walked in the house today with cake in hand.  "aaappyyyy irtday L"  Taya said with a grin.  "Taya make cake! Taya make cake!"  she informed her other mother with an excited giggle.  For the first time ever, Jayde ran to her and asked for a hug.  The long days and long months of playing strange finally done.  

Two good visits in a row.  The last, Mother and babe spent painting toe nails and looking at pretties.   A girly-girl to her core, we, her mothers, both laugh at the reality of this little girl who is so different from both of us.  Today we sang happy birthday and shared a cake my daughters and I had baked for their other mother.   They cuddle.  Both girls' crawling into her lap.  Both girls demanding to hold her hand as we walk down the street.  Taya sleepily leaning on her lap as they sit on the floor sharing lunch from the same bowl.  They love her differently than they love anyone else.  I sense it.  I see it. It is what it is, and it is different. 

We say goodbye.  "Kiss please" Taya says over and over again.  Aunty, Grandpa, Uncle, Mother.  Kisses asked for and given.  She is buckled into her carseat.  She waves, she giggles, she blows kisses.  Then her Uncle climbs into the driver's seat of the truck in a simple attempt to see the car seat better to say goodbye. 

Taya screams. Panic written all over her face  "OUT! Mommy drive! OUT!!!  NO! NO!"  Turning to her mother standing by the open door of the truck she yells   "LOCK IT!! MOMMY DRIVE NOW!".  She cries until I am back in the driver's seat and her other mother closes the door with her inside. 

We drive away. 

*************

Openness is what it is.  It is neither easy or simple.  But it is.  This is our reality.  Some relatives will be crazy.  Some relatives will be kind.  Some moments with biological family will be heart warming and some will be sad.  There is tragedy and there is joy, there is peace and anxiety.   This is our reality.

7 comments:

J. said...

that is one of my biggest fears, the boys family all lice in the area and given the circumstances which caused them to be apprhended in the first place there is little contact with them but I am always afraid that we will run into them somehwere. It is a fine line and a hard choice, I commend you for being so open and for doing it for the girls.

Michelle, Dave & Babes said...

I need to thank you. Have been following your story for a while and we think about our opening up to our own measure of openness. We've had sibling contact all along, and have had an initial meeting with a grandmother. It's weird when you meet a total stranger and just burst into tears.

We're still not finalized, and the SW wants us to wait until we are for our son to have contact with grandma. But even now I know I feel better knowing more about her, and she just couldn't stop telling me how happy she was. It was worth it.

COME ON BABY said...

Just found your blog. This blog post was dark and wonderful and I loved reading it!!!!!! Thanks for sharing.

Me said...

I recently found your blog and find it such a heart-warming, true look at adoption and parenting. Thank you for sharing the life of open adoption in such an honest manner.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Thank you for sharing these stories. What a difficult, complex ride you are all on. God bless.

Kathy said...

I've followed your blog for a while. Your family is so beautiful. We were contacted this week by family member who found my kids on facebook. Their maternal cousin has been very respectful and kind, but their father has promised them the moon and the stars. He hasn't seen them in 8 years. I keep trying to write some kind of note to him...but I can't think of anything nice to say. I don't mind his involvement as long as he can be respectful of the family they have now.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your experiences. I never imagined I'd be dealing with something so difficult so soon.

Anonymous said...

I have used "tummy mommy". It makes all the difference in the world for me. "Do you want to send an email to your tummy mommy?" (I've no idea where she is but I type it.)

"What rooms do you want pictures of your tummy mommy in?" (FINALLY, I was able to meet her at court and form a rapport w/out anyone else there to interfere with 2 moms who love one child, they tried SO hard to keep us apart.) The pics go in every room he wants. Tummy mommy and sissy that he lost.

And that adorable little voice, chirping up while we stand in the airplane aisle, to tell the lady next to us, "I have TWO mommies! My tummy mommy and THIS MOMMY!" (Very excited, bewondered-that-he-has-finally-found-this, loving emphasis on THIS MOMMY).

Does this make sense? Tummy mommy doesn't have to be a hero, she can be sad today. Or off where we can't find her today.

Little 4-year-olds can ask, "Would you ask her in the email, does she know how to take care of me?" I can say, "Sure! ...Have you been wondering about that lately?" And there it is (my relief from the jealous instinct):

He knows, at 3, "No she doesn't," but he still loves her, and so do I, though being around her is full-on energy drain, and we can't do that often. We love "tummy mommy", in a unique and special way that recognizes that LittleBoy is better off here, with "THIS mommy!".

We love her, because she allowed us to be together by creating him, no matter how much pain preceded our uniting for her, or him, or me.