Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Tough Letter to Write

I have had a stack of 60 pictures on my night stand for weeks. Sitting there. Waiting. They need to be sent. They were intended to be sent a long time ago to someone who is waiting for them impatiently. And still they sit.

Today I finally wrote the letter that I haven't had the words or the inclination to write that will go with the pictures. Our relationship with the kids birth father has tended to be happy-happy. ME so happy to hear from him because I know how important it is to the boys, HIM so happy to hear from us because he wants to know about the boys. So when you are clinging to contact and its so infrequent over the years, rocking the boat by addressing the tough stuff is sometimes hard to do.

It was time, however, for me to lay some things out for him that are bothering the boys. It was my job to toughen up and tell him the truth. I never want to hurt him, but if in not hurting HIM, I allow him to hurt the boys? That's far worse.

I ran this topic past adoptee friends, first parent friends, friends from the African American community and came to the determination that sometimes things left unsaid do more damage than saying the truth, with love, but truth none the less.

Why not have the boys write, some may ask? To be blunt, they never would. They would rather the relationship die out than to make the effort on their own. Contact from their first parents is so rare, so sparse, that to expect them at 13 and 14 to be able to write a letter and express their hurt and anger over a parents actions is simply too much of a burden to bare. Add to that the dynamic that this parent was also their abuser - the relationships are tenuous and for now, its my job as their mom to protect them, more than it is to protect the feelings of their first father.

The issue at hand? His refusal to use their last names in correspondence. I so can fathom his pain, the loss it must be to have to write a different last name for your child. A child once your "Junior" now carries the name of another father. A child named after a murdered cousin, now carries the name of another. And because I can fathom why it is so hard for him, I have let it go for years. But now the time has come where the boys scoff when the letters arrive, knowing that he won't acknowledge their reality - their truth. And so I wrote. Buried deep in a long, long newsy letter I tried to share my heart, but with as much honesty as possible.

G, I need to address some things with you and let you know its very hard
for me to do. Sometimes I like to pretend everything is wonderful
and never address the hard stuff, but sometimes doing that is wrong. **** I've deleted some other stuff going on in regards
to one of the boys wishes about contact ****

... Remember he is still just a kid and not able to yet understand
all the grown up issues. And from a parental perspective, the needs of the
adults HAVE TO come after the needs of the kids. Their needs have to be
the most important. This brings me to my third, and hardest, thing for me
to address with you. Greg and Eric both have a real problem with the fact
that you will never write their last name on the letters or cards you send to
them. I am going to assume its not a prison regulation thing, but rather a
choice on your part (correct me if I am wrong).

Greg, I understand how hard it must be for you to realize that they
no longer carry your name but I need to ask you to think of it from THEIR
perspective. They don’t remember ever being “B**s” – and that name, to
them, is associated with a horrible and sad period of their lives. They
were abused, seized by DFS, went through many traumatic things and then sat in
foster care for 3 years waiting for you and L to get things together enough to
parent them – all as B's. It was NOT their fault, nor ours, that the boys
were available to be adopted – but to them, adoption and their new last names
are VERY significant. It’s not their responsibility to help you process
your grief at the loss of your sons and the fact they now carry the name of the
man who gets to be their dad.

I can understand how hard it is for you to face, but if you could please
think of it from their perspective, I think it would help them. Greg
isn’t “Little Greg” or Greg Jr. anymore – he is Gregory J J , Eric isn’t
Eric B's, he is Eric R J. They don’t remember anything different and
what is important – the MOST important thing – is that is how they view
themselves. I so, so, so understand from your perspective that you
miss the little boys who were your sons, in every sense of the word – but if you
want to have a relationship with them someday understanding who they ARE will
help them accept you. I am sorry to say this so bluntly, but it’s an issue
to them, and I hate to see things building up for them, when maybe you had never
thought of it from their perspective.

G we love you and love the support you have given the boys – your words are
always encouraging and exactly what they kids need from you. I am sorry if
anything I have said in here is hurtful – that is NOT my intention, but its so
hard in a 5 minute phone call to address the tough stuff, even when it needs to
be said. I know you would have never, ever wanted this role or
imagined this situation when you first became a father. I know that
sometimes the consequences for your youthful choices must seem too
difficult to bear but I hope you know that always, always we put the needs of
the kids first. We love them with an undying, forever love, as we know you
love them too.

Hugs, prayers and many good wishes,

So, what do you think?


Andy said...


It sounds exactly right. It's too the point, doesn't leave anything in question and is sensitive. I might have to hire you to write some of my hard letters.

((((HUGS))) for all of you.

Anonymous said...

I like it Jen...I think it is to the point in a common sense way which is what it needs to be. Aside from a few grammatical errors...*wink wink* you done good...your a good mom and those boys will always know that...

Unknown said...

LOL the grammatical errors are correct in the actual letter ... was rushing this afternoon to put this up. :) You are just like my sister.

Anonymous said...

That must've been a hard letter to write! I can see why you put it off. I'm sure that Sr. has a huge amount of guilt for what he wasn't able to do for his children. I'm sure he'd like a lot of things to be different for himself, but this is the reality and I hope that the letter helps him to deal with reality and come to grips with it in a healing way.

Anonymous said...

good for you, jen!
it was necessary, and like you said... the boys come first. They are blessed to have a mama bear like you who will always have their back!

Lala's world said...

I think it was totally the right thing to do/say. Morgans Bio-donor wouldn't refer to Jason as "dad" to her and even after her asking him too he wouldn't, not until I brought it up and had to quite harshly, it was the only way I could get through to him. I guess he is a wounded person seeing through things from his perspective and honestly selfishly! but you are right, the needs and protection of our kids comes first! ok I could go on and on!!

SabrinaT said...

Jen, I think it was a great letter.

Anonymous said...

Jen, I think your letter was absolutely valid, necessary and well written. You wrote it in a sensitive way, you were honest, and real. Hopefully Sr. can understand your boys point of view and make the changes he needs to make on their behalf.

Anonymous said...

Ouch to the line about "it was not their fault, or ours, that they were available for adoption". Because that makes it G's fault and I am not certain that particular thing needs to be said. The rest does though.

Unknown said...

But Brad -- the issue is that it IS a consequence directly for HIS behavior. The boys were adopted because they were abused and neglected - and then for 3 years he refused to cooperate to with a case plan. Never went to a meeting, never attended a visit - he was a dealer and a user and that was more important to him AT THAT TIME. (no longer, he is clean now but in prison for the next 20 years)

Because it is NOT the boys fault in anyway - and if HE has an issue with them having a different last name, he needs to deal with that himself, not put it on the kids for them to deal with his grief. That's my point -- they shouldnt have to carry any part of the burden for him. #1) they are kids and #2) its for HIM to process.

I know its harsh, I feel horrible its harsh (the facts that is) but again, he made the choices that resulted in these consequences - no matter if he wanted them or not, he did it. (and for a myriad of reasons too - I totally get that).

But I see your point too ... ugh this is hard stuff. Thanks for commenting.