Writing through my emotions can be a double-edged sword. It’s a huge help with processing what’s happened and trying to make sense of whatever turmoil is swirling around in my head, but when I write in the heat of the moment…well, sometimes I end up with swirly turmoil.
And that’s okay. I said up front that RFTM is not about being pretty or fancy or all wrapped up with a nice bow on top. My life is messy. I feel big feelings, sometimes good & sometimes bad, and I tend to let those feelings out. (We’re gonna go with the concept that it’s healthier that way.) Like your own house things around here get real, and my lucky family now has a blogger in their midst. Oh joy.
So yesterday’s murky waters of open adoption dropped a whole lot of turmoil onto the blog.
Some amazing things came out of that. Besides the fact that the post helped me make sense of emotions running rampant, it made its way out into the community and actually touched people. I think on a fundamental level we all want to be seen, so yesterday was very affirming.
I also heard from so many of you – some here, some on Facebook – and your messages mean a great deal to me. To C. and Kristine: thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and stories in the comments. The adoption community is amazing…adoptees and adoptive parents are all on their own journeys, and there’s something to be learned from each one of them.
T-man’s simple comment in the car elicited such a strong response in me, one that might seem excessive in this stand-alone context, so I thought I’d take some time today to fill out the picture a little more.
The terms we use in our house have everything to do with relationships. We have an open adoption with T-man’s birthmom so that’s what we call her. We’ve talked about biology but we’ve never met his birthfather, so without a relationship there that’s what we call him. BrightSide and I are dad and mom.
This all goes back to my own feelings about the words themselves, so you can disagree if you’d like. Mother and father make me think of biology; mom and dad make me think of relationships. That’s pretty much all there is to that.
Anyway, I often hang out with T-man before bed, which is when we’re most likely to have those talks. You know the ones. They start out with Can I ask you something? or I feel weird asking this. or I have a strange question. I never really know where those conversations will end up which is a little nerve-wracking for a born and bred control freak, but I’m rolling with it because I want T-man to feel comfortable talking to me.
And we have. Talked about anything. He’s asked me questions that have made my insides shrink – topics that make me afraid, embarrassed, or uncomfortable because I didn’t grow up asking questions so I’m flying blind. But we talk, about all of it, because I’d rather he hear it from me than go trolling around the internet or asking his friends.
Then there are some questions he can only ask me, because only I can answer them.
A while ago we were in his room when T-man wanted to talk about family. He was feeling a disconnect, and the best way he could describe it was to say that he felt like I was “just some lady he lives with who takes care of him.” Oomph. Punch to the gut but again, there are no rules when it starts with Can we talk?
So I tried my best to explain to him why he is so much more to me than just someone I take care of. T-man was processing the whole sex and babies thing, and the concept that I didn’t “have” him but considered him far more than a kid under my roof was a stumbling block. The fact that he’s a different color than me further complicates things, but that’s another post entirely.
We had a good talk that night, and by the time I left his room it felt like he’d truly heard my promise that we’re forever family. That he’s not just someone I feed and clothe, but a part of me that I love deeply and whose life I’d put before my own. I knew we hadn’t magically solved the issue forever and ever, amen, but at least we’d worked on it.
T-man is trying hard to figure out who he is. Every kid goes through this stage, but he has a lot of extra baggage thrown in. Being born to his birthmother. Being raised by BrightSide and me. Plus being part of a family with two white parents and two biracial kids. It’s a lot to assimilate.
So he’s working on this issue, and it’s been quite a roller coaster ride. Sometimes he seems fine. Other times he’s confused and withdrawn and feels separate from our family. I take it day by day and hope I’m providing the love and support he needs.
Now that a few days have passed I’ve gained some perspective, and when I read back over yesterday’s post I think I see where the pain came from. It wasn’t so much that T-man called Miss C his mom; it was that we were back to the place where I wasn’t.
There’s a thin line between these two points, and it’s a distinction I can’t expect an 11-year-old to fully grasp. So yesterday’s post was all those messy adoptive mom feelings pouring out. Today’s is the clear-headed mom’s view of a boy who is still figuring out how he fits into the world.
We’re all a work in progress.